THIS WEEK AFRICA: Peace; Peace, South Sudan

Ade Agbabiaka
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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s words in a summit this week forms our quote of the week:

“The most important thing is providing leadership. This is not a task for presidents or prime ministers, or former presidents or former prime ministers, but for all those in positions of responsibility who have a chance to contribute to a better world.”

That notwithstanding, the best thing, as it were, to report this week, is the peace celebration in South Sudan. After a long period of dragging of feet, the country has finally celebrated the peace. The hope of the continent now is that we hear no more trouble, at least, for now.

But while we celebrate that peace, from the economically troubled Zimbabwe, we almost had another big something coming but it was cut off as quickly as we heard it!

A popular preacher in the country, Prophet Walter Magaya, had claimed that he had in possession, newly made and India-tested drugs that could cure patients of the dreaded virus. He made the boast to his congregation, during a church service.

Enter World Health Organisation. They refuted his claim and the police joined in the dance, raiding his office in Harare.

After all the hullabaloo, the prophet ate his words and apologised, saying he was earlier excited when he made the announcement. Men, all the ‘hopes’ he had raised in Zim’ HIV/AIDS patients deflated faster than they had formed. It is just another story to keep the media busy in the end. But then, imagine if such a great breakthrough was true!

Here is his apology (to all of us, of course!):

“According to what I have learnt, the authorities of Zimbabwe and all the regulatory authorities were supposed to scrutinise, analyse and be satisfied with what I was holding before I prematurely announced.

“The apology that I carry is an apology of saying we rushed to announce what we were carrying without the authorities analysing it but at the same time, I want to salute the Ministry (Health) which has handled me like a child and showed me the way. The reason of the rush was because of …the excitement which overwhelmed me. I spoke before I looked into authorities regulations. For me to come and apologise, it is a sign of regret that I rushed the announcement.”

But the Zimbabwean authorities may still do a chemical analysis those ‘prophetic’ products and see.… the prophet may have something else in there.

In the spirit of fake news (L0L), we talk about Gabon and the ‘death of Ali Bongo Ondimba. Late last week, the Gabonese president was taken to a hospital abroad for some emergency treatment which turned out to be ‘stress and fatigue related’. Bongo works too much, it seems.

The situation took another turn, however, when a Cameroonian-owned TV station -Vision 4- reported that the president was dead. The Gabonese authorities were so angry that they slammed the station with a six months ban. Now, that’s how you protect the life of a president!

Paul Biya and his men wasted no time to wash their hands off the information, which gave the Gabonese a go-ahead, since there was no more protection from the Cameroonian government.

Okay, that’s it with the fake news.

Somewhere in Nigeria’s Abuja, there were gunshots for two days as if the country was in any war. It was just a ‘fight’ between Nigerian forces and a group of unarmed Shiite Muslims. Well, they were ‘armed’ somehow, if you considered stones as such.

Since 2015, leader of the group, El Zakzaky has been detained by the Nigerian government after a clash that led to the death of many members of the group. They refused to grant him bail after court injunctions.

So this week, the group in Abuja provoked soldiers with stones when they refused to dismantle a roadblock they had made during a protest, leading to repressive attack from the military. About 16 were reportedly killed on the first day.

The United States issued a concerned statement that sought investigation on the matter two days ago, as it was already beckoning global attention after it continued into the next day.

Meanwhile, Nigerians are divided over the certificate saga of their president, Muhammadu Buhari. The president had failed to present his West African Senior School Certificate during the 2015 elections and also failed to do so this time, saying it was in possession of the military.

You know in Buhari’s secondary school days, there was no photocopying gadgets so he only had one copy which he submitted to the military and the military cannot almost exist without the certificate in their possession so they cannot release it. But the presidency has dismissed that as ‘a dead issue’.

In another development, the long-standing problem between  the Nigerian workers and the government on the increase of the minimum wage is rather growing without a solution yet. The labour union has set 6 November for another strike action.

The union has set its price on thirty thousand naira; after all the deliberations, the governments agreed to pay twenty-two thousand, five hundred naira. The two groups are now set for a full blown war nest week.

In neighbouring Cameroon, some Cameroonians carried out a medicine-after-death anti-Biya protest days ago, asking him to go. Laughable, considering he just won an election.

But the sadder news was about the US missionary who was shot dead in southern Cameroon ealier in the week.

Charles Wesco, his wife Stephanie, and their eight children had moved to Bamenda, a major city in Cameroon’s northwest province, less than two weeks ago. After years of missions to Africa, the Wesco family had decided to permanently move to the country from Indiana after a visit there in 2015. The family has decided to go back to the US, without their father.

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana is under fire from the opposition that his ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ programme is all fake, based on the loans he was still getting.

The president however, fired back to educate his critics on the difference between ‘aids’ and ‘loans’. That sounds funny though. But the president made it clear that loans are different from aids and his programme was still achievable and will ensure a Ghana that would no longer need aid by the time his plans are fully carried out. Probably, the anti-aid programme will not work without loans.

Still on loans, President Kenyatta of Kenya has also hit back at perceived doom-sayers who are alwasy pointing at the negativities of Chinese debts. The president said he was not bothered about the debts because it was more about partnerships for Kenya’s economic progress. 

“I would be worried if the debts we have taken from China are used in recurrent expenditure. We have utilised our debts to close the infrastructure gap which will help improve businesses and increase job opportunities for our young men and women.”

A report has shown that Kenya may be losing its status as the economic status in the east Africa region with the speedy development in Ethiopia, following the reforms of Abiy Ahmed. According to the Standard Media, the report ranks Kenya third on the continent after South Africa and Morocco in attracting investors with 67 FDI projects. According to EY, Kenya marked a 68 per cent increase in the number of investment projects last year, compared with the previous year, despite the General Election jitters.

In contrast, Ethiopia was ranked fifth with 62 projects, marking a 288 per cent increase in the number of projects funded last year compared to a similar period in 2016. This has seen Ethiopia rise seven spots in the index. It ties with Kenya and Nigeria at nine per cent in terms of the share of FDI to sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally on Kenya, a foreigner from Holland was re-arrested for having sexually assaulted three young girls aged between 8 and ten. The man was to face the law in 2016 but escaped. Now, he is back in the country and they have nabbed him to answer for the charges in a statement released by the security outfit.

From Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed went on his first visit to Europe this week as he visited France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Macron was full of admiration for the PM and did not reserve his commendations for the reforms on-going in Ethiopia. Abiy also plans to be in Germany this month.

In Tanzania, series of reports on President John Magufuli’s ‘high-handedness’ keep emerging. All along, the president has been under fire for dictating the use (or not) of contraceptives by Tanzanian families as he strongly said that they should stop getting involved with family planning activities.

But a report released by the Mo Ibrahim foundation has revealed that African countries have underperformed in terms of catering to their rising youth population, a sharp contrast to Magufuli’s stance that his Tanzania needs more children.

This week however, the president is still in the news for beginning a clamp down on homosexuals in the east African country.

The Gambia this week, received the royal company of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker on Wednesday. The royal couple is in the Gambia to kick off their 9-day tour of Africa.

Prince Charles and Bowles will be in Africa on behalf of the British government on their tour. They will also visit Ghana and Nigeria while they are there. The couple will return to London before Prince Charles’ 70thbirthday on Nov. 14.

A protest in Guinea’s capital this week, raised eyebrows when it led to a death and injuries. Since the first week of October, teachers have been on a stand-off with the government on pay issues and it is a perfect time for the opposition to get busier.

Amnesty International raised concerns at the number of protesters killed in Guinea – three in the last fortnight and 18 this year – urging the government to “take all necessary measures to ensure the situation does not spiral out of control”.

In Tunisia, nine persons, were injured in a bomblast earlier in the week. The Tunisian Interior Ministry said eight of the injured persons were police officers. The suicide bomber was a thirty-year old woman.

In another news, Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi was in meeting with Agela Merkel, the German Chancellor. One of the things they discussed was Libya.

The chancellor raised concerns over the rise of various armed groups and how they can restore peace to Libya.

Police in Egypt had to step in to save the Egyptians from potato sellers’ knives when the price of the commodity rose to cut-throat levels. The traders began hoarding potatoes to make more money.

Potatoes are in short supply in Egypt so the sellers had to make good of it but according to reports, the police were raiding shops and selling points to ensure that whoever had potatoes sold them to the customers and at the normal prices. Great policing there, one must say.

Meanwhile, Egypt is hosting five other Arab nations in a war games event in its western region. Forces from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan will take part in the November 3-16 exercises codenamed “Arab Shield.”

We pay tributes to the first female journalist in Niger Republic, Mariama Keita, who died this week, at 72. Born in 1946 in the capital Niamey, Keita was the director of Voix du Sahel, the state radio station where she started as an editor and presenter. From 2003 to 2006, she was president of the body responsible for media regulation in Niger.

Rest on, Madame Keita.

Senegal is planning to build a new city in order to decongest the over-populated capital city of Dakar.

In the same spirit of development, Mali is preparing to have its own independent power project ‘soon’.

We now go down south, where Zambia received the body of its former freedom fighter, Mama Chibesakunda Kankasa, who died in South Africa, late October.

Mama Kankasa was laid to rest on Friday, in a national military burial.

Now, something strange went down in South Africa’s city, Durban. A child was denied a much needed blood transfusion in a hospital, by its parents. Reason? They were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The doctor in charge of the treatment had taken the matter to a court which gave an immediate injunction for the child to be given the blood but the parents remained adamant, willing to risk the child’s life if there was no alternative. That is as complicatedly religious as it can get.

Seven persons died in a rural setting fire outbreak, including a baby and seven-months pregnant woman. Firefighters continued fighting the bonfire 450 km east of Cape Town. The raging fire that began last week has burned 16,600 hectares and led to the evacuation of three suburbs, where about 1,500 people lived.

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