Africa This Week 5822: Commonwealth Games victory, South Sudan’s peace deal, Compaore’s apology, and others
On August 3rd, Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala became the first ever Kenyan in 60 years to win the Commonwealth Games 100m title after blistering through the final in a time of 10.02 seconds. Having missed out at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Indoor Championships, and the World Championships last month, where he reached the semis in all, the Kenyan put daylight between himself and defending champion from South Africa, Akani Simbine, who timed 10.13 seconds to clinch silver while Sri Lankan Yupun Abeykoon settled for bronze in 10.14 seconds. Like Kenya, Nigeria’s Adijat Olarinoye and Rafiat Lawal have claimed two gold medals in the women’s 55kg and 59kg categories respectively and set new Commonwealth Games records alongside a few others. With their respective records, they’ve positioned Nigeria to the 9th position on the medals table.
In Rwanda, as part of the government’s move to improve the livelihood of teachers in the country, the Rwandan government have announced that primary school teachers will get an 88% pay rise starting in August. According to the communique released through the country’s education ministry’s official Twitter page on Monday, secondary school teachers too will have their pay increased by 40%. The communique noted that the net salaries of certificate holders in the teaching profession which currently start at Ksh.5,856 will be increased to Ksh.11,010. This is a further improvement from the March 2019 10% increment to massively improve the welfare of teachers and promote the quality of education in public and government-aided schools for general education, and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
In Malawi, following instructions from the country’s minister of Finance, the Malawian Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda has written Columbia Gem House of Vancouver, USA demanding US$309.6 billion as a claim for unpaid tax revenue in respect of ruby and sapphire minerals extracted from Chimwadzulu Mine in Ntcheu District by the US company’s subsidiary, Nyala Mines Limited. Malawian government had earlier indicated that ruby and sapphire at Chimwadzulu Mine are mined and sold to the world market by Nyala Mines Limited through Columbia Gem House in the USA, which then sends it to China for cutting and polishing. The polished minerals are then sent back to the USA and marketed through Trigems, which is a retail outlet for Columbia Gem House owned by Eric Brauwart. Some news agencies also reported that there will be a claim of 15% collection costs on the same US$309.6 billion and failure to pay or indicate how the US company intends to settle the said sum, “Malawi reserves the right to institute criminal proceedings on money laundering and tax evasion charges against Columbia Gem House and Nyala Mines Limited – and all persons involved in the evasion of the taxes”.
In South Sudan, in a new “roadmap” to the peace deal denounced by some foreign sponsors, the country’s unity government has again announced a two-year extension of the post-civil war “transitional period”, due to end in 2023. Earlier, the end of the “transitional period” was planned for 2022 after several postponements but was pushed back to February 2023 due to the lack of progress on several provisions of the peace deal that ended a bloody five-year civil war between sworn enemies President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in 2018. According to reports, the non-implementation of provisions contained in the 2018 agreement was partly due to ongoing re-emerging disputes between the two rivals. Since independence, the world’s youngest country has been plagued by politico-ethnic violence and chronic instability. Despite immense oil resources, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world and has been hit hard by an economic and food crisis.
In Nigeria, following a failed attempt at the country’s legislative plenary on July 27th to introduce a motion seeking President Muhammadu Buhari’s impeachment, the Nigerian opposition senators have given President Muhammadu Buhari a six-week ultimatum to resolve the country’s insecurity crisis. Citing a series of attacks on the country’s capital, Abuja, the senate minority leader, Senator Philips Aduda said the motion was blocked by Senate’s president Ahmed Lawan, and this prompted the opposition senators to leave the plenary. The motion introduced by the opposition senators requires support by two-thirds of senators, but unfortunately for them, the parliament is controlled by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party rendering unlikely any successful impeachment vote. In related news, Nigeria’s President Buhari also came under heavy criticism over the approval of N1,145,000,000 for the purchase and supply of 10 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles to the Niger Republic. The Nigerian Government has defended this move saying it was to enable the neighbouring country to safeguard its territory in the best interest of Nigeria’s security, and that it was not the first time Nigeria was supporting her neighbours.
Following Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) claim and request for repatriation of the cultural items earlier this year, Oxford University is set to return almost 100 artefacts that were looted by British colonial forces in 1897. The objects, including bronzes, were taken from Benin City by British troops, and are currently held in the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The university has also stated that the claim is currently in process, and it anticipated that it would be considered by autumn.
In Angola, the general elections draw nearer, and the tone of the country’s electoral campaign has risen again, with the opposition accusing the ruling party of using “dirty tricks” to win another term for President Joao Lourenco. They are also criticizing the electoral process and accusing the media of unfair and inequitable coverage. And to avoid chaos and incessant violence, the Electoral Commission resolved in a meeting held with reporters and senior ruling party officials to warn parties against spreading division-influencing and violence-inciting messages.
In Somalia, mixed reactions greet the country’s prime minister’s move by naming former al Shabaab group co-founder and spokesperson Mukhtar Robow as religion minister in the country’s new cabinet. This move is seen by many as strategies to help strengthen the fight against the insurgency, but it can also provoke clan clashes. Robow once had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head before he split from al Shabaab in 2013 and he was arrested by the previous government in December 2018 in Somalia’s Southwest region as he campaigned for the regional presidency.
Following the allegations of fraud and issuance of warrants by Mali’s supreme court against former finance ministers Boubou Cisse and Mamadou Igor Diarra, and ex-defence minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, the three former ministers have denied all allegations and stated that they are ready to clarify their reputations. The former director of the government-owned Malian Solidarity Bank, Babaly Bah, is also cited in a warrant. Four of them were alleged of “forgery” and mismanagement of public assets in a case that reportedly involves a $60-million order in 2015 from South African firm Paramount for armoured vehicles, part of which was not delivered. According to reports, the alleged scam occurred under the country’s last elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita who died in January after being toppled in a coup in August 2020.
In Burkina Faso, mixed reactions trail ex-president Blaise Compaore’s apology to the family of Thomas Sankara. In a letter read out to the media by the government spokesman, Compaoré asked the family of Thomas Sankara and the Burkinabe people for forgiveness for all the crimes committed under his rule. Compaore seized power in the West African country in a 1987 coup in which Sankara was assassinated, and a court handed him a life term in absentia in April 2022 for his role in the assassination. However, while Compaore’s apology has been applauded by some, the manner and sincerity of his request for pardon have been questioned by many who insisted Compaore must face the justice system. “If they had simply put at the end of the letter, ‘I place myself at the disposal of my country’s justice system’, I would have applauded.” says one Burkinabe.