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This Week in Africa
August 25, 2023
Chale Wote! Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“ZANU-PF will keep on ruling and ruling and ruling for eternity.” – Zimbabwe incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa at campaign rallies
Zimbabweans went to the polls on Wednesday to elect a President. There was very little hope that the polls would be free and fair as incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa has ruled the country with fear and repression and the economy is gripped by hyperinflation. Mnangagwa has a long and violent history in Zimbabwean politics. Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor, is running for the second time as leader of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change. Chipo Dendere explains his uphill battle, especially because ZANU-PF has great organizational strength across the country and has stifled support of the opposition in urban areas – through coercion and patronage. Here is a good explainer of the race.
While there was large turnout, many onlookers expressed concern over irregularities, even calling it shambolic. Police arrested 41 people for their role in counting votes. Most of those arrested were from civil society groups, who play an important role in protecting the integrity of the polls. Zimbabweans are now anxiously awaiting the results, as the result appears very close according to parallel vote tabulations. Analysts are concerned.
Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga urges people not to “feel they are on the brink of extinction.” Fadzayi Mahere, one of the country’s most prominent young opposition leaders and a fierce critic of the government, continues the fight.
Expansion of BRICS
BRICS added six new members this week, including Ethiopia and Egypt. South Africa hosted the Summit. Zainab Usman summarizes what took place. Joe Asunka worries that these additions will further subordinate the voices of African countries.
Wagner in Africa
Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that the Wagner Group does not exist in Mali, but instead blamed the West for considering Russians, Malians and others “third world scum.” Read more about Russia’s new mercenary marketplace. Now that Prigozhin is presumed dead, what will it mean for the group in Africa?
Coup in Niger
ECOWAS rejects the Niger junta’s proposal of a three-year transition to democratic rule. Niger observers link coup to president’s support for EU migration policies. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs presents a new strategy for security assistance to Africa. 15 US-backed officers had hand in 12 West African coups, but the State Department doesn’t know anything about them. Joseph Sany outlines how to respond to Niger’s coup and prevent the next one. Yvan Guichaoua & Nina Wilen provide three reasons why the latest coup in Niger is different from past ones in the Sahel.
African international relations
The US is offering grants to companies willing to support workers in DR Congo’s informal cobalt mining sector. This is what a US-DR Congo-Zambia electric vehicle batteries deal reveals about the US’s new approach toward Africa.
Ken Opalo argues that the United States should decouple its West Africa policy from France. France’s time is up in the region. China tries to increase its clout in Africa amidst its rivalry with the US. Ethiopia seeks assistance for post-conflict reconstruction. Why is civilian support for military coups rising in Africa?
Struggle for rights and freedom
Meet the feminists at the front of the Sudanese resistance. Challenges mount for Darfur Joint Force after failure to protect civilians. Only two in ten Africans said their government is resolving unemployment. Black market AK-47s flood Sudan’s capital. South Africa is losing its democratic credentials. Basil Ibrahim and Kevin Donovan analyze Kenya’s recent protests. Jamie Hitchen explains that President Bio’s second term begins under a cloud in Sierra Leone. Nyema Richards argues that young people are the real peacekeepers in Liberia.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
This looks cool: Atlas of Informal Settlement. Tom Courtright discusses a half century of Ugandans using boda bodas to get places, often madly. Learn more about everyday politics, collaborative governance and water infrastructures in Ghana. This is an interesting article about Ghana versus e-waste. Armelle Choplin’s Concrete City: Material Flows and Urbanization in West Africa looks awesome.
Campaign rallies and political meaning making
Check out the special issue on the meaning of campaign rallies in Africa, edited by Dan Paget, Nicole Beardsworth, and Gabrielle Lynch. Paget’s article explores political rallies and representative claim-making in Tanzania. George Bob-Milliar and I contributed “The social embeddedness of elections: Ghana’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns.” Hannah Waddilove examines campaign rallies and performing elite alliance-building in Kenya. There will be more articles coming out—and I’ll be discussing the implications of the findings soon.
Emma Elfversson, Thao-Nguyen Ha, and Kristine Hoglund explain how a rural versus urban environment shapes trust in Kenya’s police. This article examines climate change, cash crops, and violence against civilians in the Sahel. I can’t wait to read Luke Melchiorre’s “Generational populism and the political rise of Robert Kyagulanyi – aka Bobi Wine – in Uganda.” This is a neat special issue on protest, identity, and politics in eSwatini. Vito Laterza and Casey Golomski outline the customary nationalism that is in crisis in eSwatini. Get a copy of Bryson G. Nkhoma’s Bettering their foods: Peasant production, nutrition and the state in Malawi, 1859–2005.
The week in development
People are eating much less fish around Lake Victoria as climate change has depleted the seafood stock. Kenya plans a $13.8 billion railway to Ethiopia. Twiga lays off 33 percent of its staff. Somaliland’s hospitals are overburdened as its conflict escalates. This is how African wealth has grown since 2000. Can information and alternatives to irregular migration reduce “backway” migration from The Gambia? Does Zambia have a copper fantasy?
And check out Ventures Weekly Africa newsletter.
Africa and the environment
Africa climate week kicks off on September 4. African Arguments has published this series of pieces that provides a glimpse of climate challenges across the continent. The climate future looks like this commune in South Africa. Lorraine Chiponda argues that the Climate Summit must dare to speak the unspeakable. Kenya’s pitch for green growth sparks justice concerns. This is an important piece on the politics of conservation on the continent.
This is a cool event: Climate emergencies in Africa and the crisis of imaginations.
And kosua ne meko is the best way to eat eggs. Every day during my dissertation fieldwork I would eat one of these before I got on the tro tro. They’d get me through the days.
All the best,
Jeff and Phil