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Africa in brief: 4-11 September

Tunisia nets yet another victory

There were no surprises in Kigali last Sunday when Afrobasket defending champions Tunisia beat Côte d’Ivoire in the African basketball championship, retaining the title they won at home four years before. The Tunisian Eagles of Carthage led 47-34 at halftime and survived a second-half comeback by the Ivorian Elephants to win 78-75. 

JZ plays ‘get out of jail sick’ card

Former South African president Jacob Zuma has been released from his 15-month prison sentence because of ill health. The 79-year-old had served less than two months of his jail term for contempt of court when he was freed on Sunday. The nature of his illness is unknown. And the prisons official who released him owes a great deal to Zuma. President Cyril Ramaphosa shuffled Arthur Fraser to this position in an attempt to weaken him without firing him. Which is to say that playing the short game always comes at a cost. 

DRC hit by deadly meningitis crisis

The World Health Organisation has declared a meningitis epidemic in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Last week it was reported that there were 261 suspected cases and 129 had died. Those numbers constitute a “high case fatality ratio of 50%”, the organisation’s Africa branch noted. “We are moving fast, delivering medicines and deploying experts to support the government’s efforts to bring the outbreak under control in the shortest possible time,” regional director Matshidiso Moeti said. 

Bolt ‘monetising women’s fears’

Kenyan commuters who use the taxi-hailing service app Bolt have complained about the inflated prices of rides from women drivers. One Twitter user posted about the steep pricing of the women-driven rides, noting that: “Charging more for the same distance because of ‘safety’ is monetising women’s fears because they are unable to vet & guarantee safety with regular male drivers. Flawed strategy.” The service responded by saying that “we increase prices when there are more customers than our online drivers can handle”. 

Military leaders free Condé critics

After the coup and ahead of Wednesday’s Economic Community of West African States meeting, military leaders in Guinea released about 80 prisoners. Those released were opponents of President Alpha Condé. “I hope that the junta will do something so that Guineans can get along, so that Guineans can move forward, because we are more than 60 years into our independence and it’s dragging on,” said democratic activist Mamady Onivogui after his release. 

Kanu sues Buhari for $12-million

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is being sued by detained separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu, who claims his human rights have been violated. Kanu faces terrorism and treason charges and is asking the government to apologise to him, free him, stop prosecuting him and to allow him to return to his base in the UK. Kanu is seeking to be paid damages of five-billion naira ($12-million). He is expected back in court at the end of October. 

Nova wins over island nation

Opposition candidate Carlos Vila Nova has won São Tomé and Príncipe’s presidential election, prevailing over the governing party’s Guilherme Posser da Costa, a former prime minister, in the run-off. The former infrastructure minister took 57% of the vote and will replace Evaristo Carvalho, who declined to seek a second term. 

Get a jab or lose your job

Zimbabwe’s government is giving its employees an ultimatum: get vaccinated or resign. The minister of justice noted that state employees who thought they had a choice in the matter were mistaken. Churches and restaurants have also been ordered to allow only people who have been vaccinated onto their premises. 

Do all athletes look the same to you?

Britain’s education secretary confused Marcus Rashford with Maro Itoje. The former is a football player who forced the UK government to feed hungry children. The other plays rugby for England. Not that we’re surprised: the country that would seek to lecture African countries on so much while cutting foreign spending and allowing its companies to evade taxes is currently a statue to the power of mediocre white men. It wasn’t long ago that its Africa minister confused Zimbabwe with Zambia. While he was in Zambia. 

Ethiopia dealt another bad hand

This week Ethiopia became the latest African country to confirm the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19 within its borders. The country is trying to meet its target of vaccinating at least 20% of its population; to date, it has vaccinated more than 2.5-million people of 114-million.

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