KW 22: Opposition in Burundi accuses government of electoral fraud, Lesotho’s prime minister resigns, Africa as an international drug hub

– NEWS –

Medical drones in Malawi: Wingcopter, the developer of autonomous delivery drones for humanitarian and commercial applications, has been named one of nine winners of the #SmartDevelopmentHack. Through this global hackathon, the German economics ministry solicited innovative digital solutions to tackle the challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak in low- and middle-income countries. Wingcopter, alongside its partners Unicef and the African Drone and Data Academy, came up with the concept to use Wingcopter drones to improve health supply chains during the pandemic and to open up new long-term opportunities for youth in Africa. The 18-month project will involve setting up a locally operated delivery drone network in Malawi, giving on-demand access to medical supplies such as test kits or vaccines.

Opposition in Burundi accuses government of electoral fraud: Burundian police detained more than 200 opposition electoral observers during this week’s election, the spokesman for the main opposition National Freedom Council (CNL) told “Reuters” on Friday, alleging voting irregularities. An official at the justice ministry, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the detainees were currently on trial. There were few international election monitors on Wednesday after the government said they would have to spend 14 days in quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The electoral commission said the allegations of fraud had to be addressed by the courts and not by them. The government did not respond to requests for comment about the accusations.

Dozens of dead elephants in Botswana: Botswana is investigating the mysterious deaths of dozens of elephants in the country’s treasured Okavango Delta. Twelve carcasses have been discovered in the past week, all with their valuable tusks still present, suggesting that poachers are not the culprits. Another 44 dead elephants were found in March, the environment ministry said. Botswana, in the south of Africa, is home to the world’s largest elephant population. A search is underway for more dead. Samples from the carcasses have been taken for analysis, and the public has been cautioned against eating meat from any dead elephants they find.

Remains of top Rwanda genocide suspect found: The remains of Augustin Bizimana, one of the most wanted suspects of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, have been found, a UN war crimes prosecutor said. They were discovered in a grave in Congo-Brazzaville. DNA tests confirmed his identity and that he had been dead for 20 years. He was defense minister when about 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. Bizimana was indicted in 1998 by a UN tribunal on 13 charges, including genocide, murder, rape and torture. The announcement of his death follows the arrest in Paris last weekend of Felicien Kabuga, who is accused of being the major financier of the killers during the genocide.

Lesotho’s prime minister resigns: Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has resigned after months of pressure over his alleged involvement in the murder of his estranged wife in 2017. In a televised address Tuesday morning, Thabane said the time for him to retire “from the great theater of action, take leave from public office” had come. The official resignation comes after the 80-year-old Thabane repeatedly said that he would retire. Thabane’s former wife, Lipolelo, was shot by gunmen shortly before his inauguration as Lesotho’s prime minister. The couple were separated and had been pursuing a divorce before her death. His current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, has been charged in the murder and has been granted bail. The country’s police also sought to charge the prime minister with Thabane’s murder, but his lawyers argue he should be granted immunity against prosecution.

Ghana plans new state airline despite coronavirus crisis
Currency CFA to be abolished in former African colonies
Terrorist attack on Niger forces
A lot of praise for African coronavirus politics – but also a lot of doubts about official figures


Ethiopian Airlines’ standstill leads to forced isolation of many countries: Ethiopian Airlines has been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis, just like all airlines worldwide. The CEO of the largest airline in Africa, Tewolde Gebremariam, warned a few weeks ago: “In the four months to the end of April, we recorded a loss in earnings to the equivalent of more than 500 million euros. Ethiopian Airlines is in a serious operational, financial and commercial crisis.” Things went surprisingly well for the airline before the crisis. It was the only African airline to make profits. Most of its 125 aircraft are now at a standstill. In total, African airlines could lose 6 billion dollars in passenger revenue, says Katherine Kaczynska of the International Air Transport Association IATA. There is a risk of massive job cuts that could cost up to 3.1 million people their jobs. Although there are no jobs to be cut at Ethiopian Airlines, the consequences of the standstill can still be felt. Smaller African countries such as Burkina Faso or Equatorial Guinea in particular are in forced isolation. In a lot of places, Ethiopian Airlines is the only African airline that flies to these countries.

African intellectuals call for Felix Klein’s resignation: A number of African intellectuals, including the Senegalese social scientist Felwine Sarr and the sociologist Jean Bernard Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso, have sent an open letter with a petition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, condemning anti-Semitism accusations against historian and philosopher Achille Mbembe. The letter calls for the resignation of the German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein, accusing him of turning the fight against anti-Semitism into an instrument to promote racism and social division and deeply damaged Germany’s image in Africa. In April, Klein said Mbembe should be uninvited from the Ruhrtriennale, where Mbembe was supposed to hold a speech. Klein accused Mbembe of using anti-Semitic arguments in his theories and of working with the controversial BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of Israeli artists and scientists. In one of his books, Mbembe compares Israel’s settlement policy with South Africa’s apartheid regime. The festival was canceled anyway because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the debate about Mbembe had already begun. Apart from the latest letter, many international scientists have shown solidarity with Mbembe and criticized the German government. The open letter states that “the fundamental right to criticism, freedom of thought and expression, academic and artistic freedom and freedom of conscience” is at risk.

Africa as an international drug hub: Not only are the legal supply chains partially interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the supply of drugs such as cocaine is also disrupted. Cocaine usually arrives at Africa’s western borders, which are considered poorly guarded, by ship or plane. Corrupt customs authorities, the lack of transparency in the banks and poor money laundering laws make it easy for the drug cartels to sell their goods or exchange money. Guinea-Bissau is the largest place for cocaine trade in Africa. Cocaine travels from West Africa to Europe via the Sahara. Drugs are not the only thing that is smuggled. Human traffickers and arms dealers also use this route. Refugees are often used by the Nigerian mafia to transport illegal goods. The Nigerian mafia is now working in an international network with, amongst others, South American drug dealers. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has already made the fight against drug trafficking a priority. Drug trade is now increasingly moving to East Africa in countries like Uganda. Provisions have already been made there because of the pandemic. “We saw the closure of the airport and the curfew approaching, and we stocked up a lot beforehand,” says an anonymous drug dealer from Kampala.


More than 100,000 people in Africa have been infected with the coronavirus.


“It is now taking its toll that in the 1990s, many countries were given strict austerity measures by the International Monetary Fund due to their over-indebtedness and did not expand their weak health care systems.”
Economist Robert Kappel talks about the poor health care in many African countries.


Food packages for Kenyan runners in the pandemic: Kenyan runners are suffering as a result of major sporting events being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sports Minister Amina Mohamed therefore wants to support the athletes with food packages. Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who is considered the fastest man in the world, supports this initiative with his foundation. “Up to eighty percent of them make their income from races in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world,” says Kipchoge. “You need races to get food on the table, and that has become difficult since the entire season has been canceled.”

Newsletter subscription
Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter with a compact overview of African topics:
Previous editions

Weitere Politbriefings

Unsere Digibriefings