/ 21 September 2021

Africa in brief: 11-18 September

Drought In Kenya
Drought has left nearly two million Kenyans at risk. (Photo by Noor Khamis/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Way more jabs lost than reported

South African pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare was forced to destroy 30-million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine earlier this year – not two-million, as originally reported. This was revealed by the chair of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, this week. The South African firm had to bin the doses of the J&J jab in June after US authorities discovered that batches of the vaccine produced at an Emergent BioSolutions factory in the US may have been contaminated before they were shipped to Aspen for finishing. Aspen referred The Continent’s queries to J&J, which had not responded at the time of publication. Olatunbosun-Alakija said that the fact the true number of vaccines lost was not public knowledge was a testament to the pharmaceutical industry’s ongoing lack of transparency about Covid-19 vaccine supply.

‘In some respects, the situation has deteriorated’

The UN says the situation in Burundi is “deteriorating” despite President Évariste Ndayishimiye’s pledges to end repression. “Not only have grave human rights violations continued to occur, but in some respects the situation has deteriorated” since Ndayishimiye’s took office in June last year, the UN’s Doudou Diene said.

Twitter to return ‘very, very soon’ 

Nigeria’s minister of information, Lai Mohammed, has confirmed that the country’s Twitter ban will come to an end soon. To reach an agreement both parties had to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s”. “It’s just going to be very, very soon, just take my word for that,” he said. All the Nigerians already circumventing their country’s ban will surely be relieved. 

Drought disaster

The National Drought Management Authority says Kenyans in 23 counties will be in need of “urgent” food aid thanks to a crippling drought. That’s approximately 2.1-million people. 

Israel and Egypt elites wave flags

Israel, needing to seek legitimacy in Palestine, seems to have found friendship in the militarised leadership of Egypt. Its newly minted prime minister jetted in this week for the first official visit in a decade. There were lots of flags.

UN to withdraw peacekeepers

The UN announced this week that it will remove as many as 450 Gabonese peacekeepers from the Central African Republic over allegations of sexual abuse. An investigation has been opened by Gabon’s government. 

If there’s smoke…

After an investigation, this week the BBC’s Panorama said it had evidence “that suggests one of Britain’s biggest companies paid a bribe to the former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.” That company is British American Tobacco. It told the BBC that it commits to the highest standards of corporate conduct. Which is not technically a denial: given the tobacco industry’s track record on health, the environment and governance, its “highest corporate standards” are at a fairly low bar.

EU: You need help. Mali: *gets help*. EU: Not like that

Mali’s military government is reportedly nearing a deal with Russian paramilitary firm Wagner. This prompted France’s defence minister, Florence Parly, to caution the country against the move at a parliamentary commission. “If the Malian authorities entered into a contract with Wagner, it would be extremely worrying and contradictory, incoherent with everything that we have done for years and we intend to do to support the countries of the Sahel region.” Because of course you should only purchase violence assistance from your colonisers. 

Thieves, traitors and hidden regimes

President Kais Saied says Tunisia is run by “the mafia” and has vowed to take on corrupt politicians. “[We have] an apparent regime, of institutions, and a real regime, of the mafia… Dealing with thieves or traitors is out of the question.” Media are speculating whether this means he’ll implement a provisional government and a constitutional revision. 

José dos Santos returns home

Former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos has returned to his home country after living in Spain for the past two years. The 79-year-old and his family stand accused of corruption, nepotism, looting state coffers and siphoning off the country’s oil revenues for personal benefit. Dos Santos himself enjoys presidential immunity from prosecution until next year. It is unclear how long he plans to stay in the country. 

This article first appeared on The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here