Africa This Week: Zimbabwe struggles to contain cholera outbreak; Comoros’ Supreme Court approved plans by incumbent President to run for another term; Opposition parties in DR Congo’s presidential election ask court to force electoral commission to publish final voter roll; Cameroon receives Mosquirix malaria vaccine; Nigeria and Germany sign two agreements on renewable energy and gas exports, and others
This is another Alafarika’s weekly news brief, where we look at some of the top news stories making headlines across the African continent.
Zimbabwe is struggling to contain a cholera outbreak that has infected more than 1,200 people and killed 155 since February. The government on Friday declared a state of emergency in Harare, where most of the new cases have been reported, and imposed restrictions on public gatherings and food vending. Residents in some areas have resorted to using contaminated water sources due to poor sanitation and a lack of clean water supply. Health workers are urging people to treat their water before drinking and to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of the disease.
Comoros’ Supreme Court on Thursday approved plans by incumbent President Azali Assoumani to run for another term in a poll. Some opponents are threatening to boycott if certain conditions, such as the release of political prisoners, are not met. Assoumani, a former coup leader, has won three elections since 1999, but the opposition has accused him of rigging the polls and cracking down on dissent. The opposition is demanding the release of former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was jailed for life for “high treason,” and other political prisoners. The opposition also wants a more independent electoral body and no military interference in the vote. Some opposition supporters and leaders have threatened to boycott the election if their conditions are not met.
Six opposition candidates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s presidential election filed a petition to the Constitutional Court on Thursday to force the electoral commission to publish the final voter roll, which they say is marred by irregularities and fraud. They include Martin Fayulu, who claims he won the 2018 election, and Denis Mukwege, a Nobel laureate. They accuse the commission of favoring President Tshisekedi’s coalition and hiding the true number of registered voters, which was over 43.9 million in a provisional roll. The U.S. and the Catholic Church have also expressed concerns over the transparency and credibility of the electoral process. The election is scheduled for Dec. 20.
On Tuesday, Cameroon became the first African country to receive the Mosquirix malaria vaccine from GSK, a British drugmaker, as part of a global effort to combat the deadly disease. The vaccine, also known as RTS, has been tested in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi and will be rolled out in nine more countries next year. Cameroon received 331,200 doses of the vaccine on Tuesday and will start vaccinating children aged six to 24 months in 42 health districts next month or early next year. The vaccine is expected to reduce the mortality and morbidity of malaria, which kills nearly half a million children under five in Africa every year. A second malaria vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, R21/Matrix-M, is also in the pipeline and could be available by mid-2024.
Nigeria and Germany signed two agreements on renewable energy and gas exports on Tuesday, boosting their economic ties and cooperation on the green energy transition. Nigeria’s Union Bank and Germany’s DWS Group will invest $500 million in renewable energy projects in rural Nigeria, while Nigeria’s Riverside LNG and Germany’s Johannes Schuetze Energy will export 850,000 tons of natural gas to Germany annually, reducing gas flaring in Nigeria. The deals were welcomed by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who attended the G20 Compact with Africa summit in Berlin, where Germany pledged to invest 4 billion euros in green energy projects in Africa by 2030.
Joseph Boakai was elected president of Liberia in a close race against the incumbent George Weah, who conceded defeat on Monday. Boakai, a former vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, won 50.64% of the vote, while Weah, a former soccer star, got 49.36%, according to the final results announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC). The election was held on Nov. 28 and was the second round of a presidential contest that began in October with 10 candidates. Boakai and Weah emerged as the top two contenders after none of them secured more than 50% of the vote in the first round.
Zambia on Monday reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF on the second review of its Extended Credit Facility, which will unlock another $184 million in loans once the IMF board approves it. The IMF praised Zambia’s efforts to restructure its debt with official and private creditors but said the country may need to tighten its monetary policy and build its reserves to curb inflation and boost its external resilience. However, Zambia’s debt-restructuring plans hit a snag after the government said it could not rework its $3 billion of Eurobonds due to objections from some of its official creditors, including China.
A village in eastern Congo was attacked by suspected militants on Thursday night, leaving at least 14 people dead and others fleeing for safety. The attackers are believed to be rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and often uses machetes and hatchets to kill civilians. The village of Makodu, located in North Kivu province, was raided at night when locals were sleeping in their homes. The assailants used knives and firearms to kill their victims before escaping. The mayor of Oicha, the nearest town, said calm had returned to the area, but the residents were afraid. Some of the bodies have been taken to Oicha’s morgue, while some survivors have headed for safer places.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Friday became the new chair of the East African Community (EAC), a regional economic bloc that aims to promote trade, security, and cooperation among its members. He succeeded Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who handed over the role at the 23rd Summit of EAC Heads of State in Arusha, Tanzania. Kiir, who will lead the EAC for one year, urged the leaders of the bloc to work together to address the common challenges faced by the region, such as climate change, food security, waste management, and pollution. He also expressed confidence in the EAC’s ability to tackle peace and security issues, especially the conflicts in Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Madagascar’s incumbent president Andry Rajoelina on Saturday secured a new term in office after winning the presidential election with 58.9% of the votes, according to the election commission. He received more than 2.8 million votes, surpassing his performance in the 2018 election, when he won in a second round with 2.5 million votes. He thanked the Malagasy people for their choice and pledged to continue working for the development of the country. However, the election was marred by low turnout and boycott calls from 10 of Rajoelina’s 12 rivals, who accused him of rigging the vote and violating the constitution. They said they would not recognize the results and demanded a new election. The Constitutional Court has to validate the results before Rajoelina can be sworn in for his second term.