KW 16: Africa CDC to distribute one million coronavirus tests, New payment service in South Africa, 40 years of Zimbabwe’s independence

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Africa CDC to distribute one million coronavirus tests: More than one million coronavirus tests will be rolled out starting next week in Africa to address the big gap in assessing the true number of cases on the continent. Around 15 million tests will be required in Africa over the next three months, the head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said Thursday. One projection estimates more than 10 million severe cases of the virus in the next six months. The initiative to accelerate testing comes as the African continent braces for its turn in the pandemic.

Lesotho’s PM sends army into streets: Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has deployed the army on the streets to restore order. Thabane accused unnamed law enforcement elements of seeking to undermine democracy. The decision comes a day after the constitutional court ruled against his decision to suspend parliament. Thabane is accused of murdering his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane and has so far resisted pressure to resign. He was involved in bitter divorce proceedings with Lipolelo when she was shot dead three years ago. Thabane was charged in connection with the killing in February and has since been released on bail. The case has shocked many in Lesotho.

New payment service in South Africa: An app designed by British startup Electroneum uses the cryptocurrency ETN to enable people in low-income countries to make small purchases without needing a bank account. Thanks to the technology, buyers and sellers can make cashless payments using smartphones and QR codes. In South Africa, the company offers a special incentive to promote the use of the app. After activating a personal account, small amounts are paid out to the customer for one week. At the end of the week, the account must be reactivated so the customer can continue to receive the payments. Up to three US dollars are paid each month in South Africa and other countries.

More police violence in Nigeria: Nigerian security forces killed 18 people in two weeks while enforcing lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the National Human Rights Commission said. It said the killings were carried out by the Nigerian Correctional Service, the police force and army. The commission said it had received 105 complaints of alleged human rights violations in the first two weeks of the lockdown. Nigerian police and the military have repeatedly been accused by rights advocates of using excessive force but have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Mali holds second-round elections: In the first round of legislative elections held in March, local observers in the capital Bamako put voter turnout at 7.5%. And with 171 confirmed coronavirus cases and 13 deaths in Mali, it’s feared even more that the 7.8 million eligible voters will stay away from the second round. As for security matters, the abduction of six candidates for parliamentary seats ahead of the first round is still at the forefront of many voters’ minds. Most prominent among those abducted is opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who lost the presidential race to the current officeholder in 2018. Attempts to liberate Cisse have so far been unsuccessful.

German government plans to finance training center in Mali: Germany wants to finance a new training center in Sévaré near Mopti in central Mali to improve the training of Malian Armed Forces (EUTM). So far, 14,000 Malian soldiers have been trained as part of the EUTM program. However, the German government still sees a clear need to catch up on the efficiency of the program. Confidential government papers have criticized that the armed forces are “unable to meet expectations due to the internal fabric, lack of structural reforms, and inadequate capabilities – especially equipment.”

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Poor people particularly affected by corona measures: Although many African countries reacted quickly and effectively to the pandemic, measures such as curfews and the way in which they are implemented often hit the poorest people in Africa. A famine is looming in parts of Kenya due to the imposition of curfews. Jakkie Cilliers of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria said that for many people, a lockdown meant choosing between illness and starvation. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also pointed to the special circumstances in Africa: “We cannot impose exit restrictions like developed countries because many citizens don’t even have a home.” African police forces are increasingly taking drastic and often violent measures to enforce curfews. Cilliers assumes that Africa will “continue to experience excesses and great brutality”.

40 years of Zimbabwe’s independence: Tens of thousands of people traditionally flock to independence day festivities around the country on April 18th to honor the struggle that freed Zimbabwe from colonial rule in 1980. This year, because of the ongoing global pandemic, Zimbabwe has canceled what would have been its 40th celebration. The coronavirus crisis aside, a growing number of Zimbabweans don’t believe they have that much to celebrate on the day. Under the early rule of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe build an excellent education and health care system that were the envy of the continent. But over the decades, this has drastically changed. Zimbabwe’s economy is now run down, and its citizens are struggling to make ends meet, despite the country possessing abundant natural resources including gold, diamonds and iron ore.

Two decades of Kagame ruling in Rwanda: Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda as president for 20 years. Kagame is popular with many of the country’s citizens despite his authoritarian style. During his tenure, the country achieved relative prosperity – an unlikely success story after the civil war and genocide in 1994. The dissident David Himbara, who was Kagame’s “private secretary” a few years ago, describes the president as aggressive, uncontrolled and violent. Human rights organization Human Rights Watch has accused the dictator of murder, political arrests and illegal arrests. But author Jean-Paul Kimonyo, who is currently advising Kagame, describes him as “a figure of light for Rwanda, Africa and the whole world.” During his reign, Kagame learned to take on different roles, says Kimonyo: “First, he asserted himself with the military, then he became a statesman and a reformer, and finally he gained international renown.”


Swarms of locusts in Ethiopia have damaged 200,000 hectares (half a million acres) of cropland and driven around a million people to require emergency food aid, according to the United Nations.


“The pandemic is already having a devastating impact on Africa, which will deepen with increasing infection rates. It is a setback to the progress we have made in eradicating poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.”

South African President and head of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, on the consequences of the coronavirus for the African continent.


China wants to prevent discrimination against Africans: Africans living in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou say they have been evicted from their apartments and refused entry to restaurants as part of a xenophobic campaign against black people that is ostensibly aimed at curbing the transmission of the coronavirus. Governments across Africa, as well as the African Union, have been summoning Chinese ambassadors for remonstrations about the treatment of their citizens. “We treat all foreigners in China equally and we reject discrimination,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday. “In response to the African side’s concerns regarding their citizens in Guangdong, provincial authorities have rolled out new measures and we believe that by working together, we can resolve this properly.”

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