Wed Sep 20 12:07:47 EAT 2017
Alarm as multiple woes, politics dog Africa
As the fourth and last quarter of the year approaches, Africa continues to be engrossed in titillating political drama amid seemingly endless political squabbles that seem to have become the order of the day.
- Uncertain situations in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Togo continue to dominate media headlines, with base politicking seemingly relegating development agenda to the backburner.
Dar es Salaam. As the fourth and last quarter of the year approaches, Africa continues to be engrossed in titillating political drama amid seemingly endless political squabbles that seem to have become the order of the day.
Uncertain situations in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Togo continue to dominate media headlines, with base politicking seemingly relegating development agenda to the backburner.
As Kenya remains uncertain in view of the presidential election slated for October 17, in Togo there is mounting turmoil following recent protests, amid calls for fresh ones.
South Africa is also in the limelight as the country’s Supreme Court prepares to hear an appeal relating to 800 corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma that were dropped earlier.
The development comes even as Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the president’s former wife and chairperson of the African Union Commission, is reportedly poised for a Cabinet appointment.
Major elections are looming in the country, including the one for the leadership of the ruling ANC party slated for December.
The looming appointment is therefore widely viewed as a ruse to perpetuate the Zuma dynasty amid a fluid situation in neighbouring Angola following recent elections.
In the latter country, the opposition Unita party has been mulling a boycott of parliament, as if taking the cue from its Nasa coalition counterpart in Kenya.
In the meantime, and sadly for the ordinary people of the continent, the erstwhile dream of Africa’s heralded economic renaissance seems to have practically dissipated.
Paradoxically, the continent’s political class – mainly made up of the economic elite – seems to be interested in little else but the relentless struggles for power and political dominance.
The result is that for the time being the imperative of true leadership seems to be lacking even as politicians determined to attain power at all costs go for each other’s throats.
Unfortunately, the African continent is currently convulsed in sporadic woes that seem to be endless, as even a cursory glance at media headlines reveals.
Among recent concerns are such disasters as last month’s landslide and flooding that hit parts of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital.
According to a preliminary World Bank report, the disaster inflicted an estimated $30 million worth of damage on the economy of the country.
Apart from the loss of human lives, there was massive damage to health and education facilities, industry, transport and housing, with the latter sector particularly hard-hit.
Just last week the World Bank said it was providing a $82 million recovery package to be expended on short, medium and long-term projects in a bid to revitalize the economy.
Ironically, these amounts look like loose change when compared to the mind-boggling expenditures involving African elections, during which all stops are pulled in a spending frenzy.
The bungled General Election held in Kenya on August 8, for instance, was widely billed as possibly the second most expensive election in the world.
In a continent notorious for its mendicant tendencies and general dependency on donor funding, the costs of the Kenyan poll shot to well above a massive figure of 500 million US dollars.
Other African countries are equally extravagant during electoral periods, with little thought given to serious economic crises and the general welfare of seriously impoverished populations.
Back to natural disasters, the situation has been alarming in the tiny island nation of Cape Verde, which was recently hit by the worst malaria outbreak in decades.
According to media reports, during this year the country recorded the worst malaria outbreak in over two decades, with a total of 184 cases of infections recorded since January.
The figure was the highest figure since 1991, with the capital Praia alone having recorded 170 cases during the current crisis.
Elsewhere on the continent Madagascar, yet another island nation, has been reeling from the effects of an outbreak of pneumonic plague.
In a country that has witnessed an outbreak nearly every year since 1980, the current one has resulted in some fatalities, according to the health ministry.
At the same time, some 349 people were treated for the plague, outbreaks of which have been blamed on factors such as rats fleeing forest fires, poor hygiene and inadequate healthcare. That aside, a major meeting slated for September 20 is expected to assess the current situation in war-torn South Sudan, which is still in the stranglehold of a massive humanitarian crisis. According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, the number of people displaced in the country rose to nearly four million during the first half of this year.
While there are 1.9 million internally displaced people, two million others who have fled to neighbouring countries, with million of them are based in Uganda alone.