/ 2 September 2021

Africa in brief: 28 August- 4 September

Bio Mobutu Hissen Habre
Brutal: Hissène Habré in N’Djamena in 1983. The former dictator died in prison this week, aged 79. (Photo by JOEL ROBINE/AFP via Getty Images)


Poor Jacob Zuma goes for broke

Jacob Zuma is running out of money but he still has a lot of lawyers’ bills to pay. “Dear people of South Africa and the world, please lend a helping hand,” asked the Jacob G Zuma Foundation in a request this week for support for the former president’s legal fees. Zuma is in prison after being convicted of contempt of court, and faces separate corruption charges relating to the 1999 arms deal. If the former president really did dip his hands in the cookie jar — he denies all charges — he forgot to save any for a rainy day. And now it’s pouring.


Uganda welcomes Afghan refugees

The Ugandan government confirmed the arrival of 51 Afghan refugees on Wednesday who, it is understood, will be given temporary accommodation in the country at the request of the United States, which will pay so it doesn’t have to do the right thing. The welcome extended by the government of Yoweri Museveni to these refugees is in stark contrast to the failure of Western nations to provide a safe haven for many Afghans attempting to flee the country after the Taliban takeover, including some who worked directly for Western embassies or occupying militaries as translators, embassy staff and security.


Five dead after attack in Dar

A gun battle broke out between an armed man and police outside the French embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Wednesday. Early reports did not classify the incident as a terror attack. The gunman attacked two police officers, took their guns and shot sporadically towards the embassy. The inspector general of the city’s police forces said that the gunman was believed to be Somali and that the attack could be linked to neighbouring Mozambique, where an insurgency is taking place. Five people died, including the gunman.


Hissène Habré dies in prison

Former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré died in a Senegalese prison this week at the age of 79. Doctors had been treating him for Covid-19. Habré ruled Chad in brutal fashion between 1982 and 1990, after seizing power in a coup. His administration was accused of murdering more than 40 000 people, and torturing at least 200 000 people. In 2016, after a decades-long fight for justice, Habré was convicted in a special court of charges relating to these crimes and sentenced to life in prison.


Nigeria’s Latifat Tijani bags Olympic gold

The first African gold at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo was won on Thursday by powerlifter Latifat Tijani, from Ogun State in Nigeria. She lifted 117kg to claim the medal, just one kilogramme shy of the world record. Her strong finish was all the more impressive given her shaky start in the final, when she struggled with her first lift of 105kg. “My coach said I should go and fight for gold. I talked to myself: ‘What is wrong with you, why are you losing 105, I must catch it’. And I got it.”


A natural census

The Kenyan government is financing a national census for the country’s animal wildlife population, which is hoped will help respective ministries to plan for the future and develop conservation efforts further. Several endangered species including the world’s last two northern white rhinos live in Kenya; and dolphins, whales and endangered turtles transit through Kenya when they migrate. The census – the first of its kind – will also provide data for the conservation of marine life.


SAA to fly again

After being grounded for 15 months, aircraft bearing the livery of SAA will take to the skies again on September 23, the newly privatised airline announced on Wednesday. Only a handful of routes will be operational at first, with flights going from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo. The state has poured in hundreds of millions of dollars each year, a subsidy of travel for the rich that has been criticised in a country where the poor have little in the way of safe public transport.


Good news from malaria trial

A new approach to treating malaria has delivered promising results. After concluding a trial in Burkina Faso and Mali, researchers concluded that giving children a booster dose of a malaria vaccine just prior to the rainy season — when the disease is most prevalent — reduced deaths and illnesses from the disease by 70%. The trial, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, involved 6 000 children under the age of 17 months. The World Health Organisation estimates that malaria kills more than 400 000 people a year.


A stamp of approval

All post from the Chagos Islands will have to bear Mauritius stamps, as opposed to United Kingdom stamps, according to new guidelines from the Universal Postal Union. Postcards from the island have previously carried the phrase “British Indian Ocean Territory”. The United Kingdom continues to illegally occupy the islands in contravention of several United Nations decisions. The UK has said it will not relinquish its power until the islands are no longer needed for security reasons.