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Storm Clouds Over Africa

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on June 25, 2021 15:20

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Thunderstorms bring life-giving water to Africa, but also destructive floods and hail. There are signs that destructive storms are brewing in a few countries. It is not too late to avert disasters.

Storm clouds over Africa. Author's photo

Ahead of Presidential elections in 2023 the Zimbabwe Government announced the resurrection of its national Youth Service, also known as the Green Bombers. This organisation has been implicated in violence against potential and actual opponents of the ruling elite in this Southern African country. Violence, denial of rights, threats and killings are well documented

The predictable use of violence to determine the outcome of elections may, however, take place against an unexpected background. In past years as many as 3 million Zimbabweans fled their country to seek work, many in South Africa, where their presence has caused increasing resentment among locals. Many are undocumented, but many hold special work or residential permits.

http://thelatest.com/uploads/tlt/995d5e1c2c01b20d1b3ce22e30688e3f.jpg
Soldiers in Zimbabwe's capital. Photo public domain

The South African Government has now put renewals of these permits on hold and the expectation among Zimbabweans in South Africa is that these will be cancelled and all Zimbabweans forced to leave. Many sense increasing animosity among South Africans.

Should a massive number of relatively well-trained people return to Zimbabwe, not only will the South African economy suffer, but the Zimbabwean Government will face a serious threat to its ability to control events as most of these returnees are unlikely to support the ruling party. At present more than 50% of the population lives under the poverty line.

Remittances by Zimbabweans in the diaspora make up a significant proportion of the economy, and should this cease the already unstable economy will face serious problems. At the same time crop performance in the agricultural sector has been falling in recent years, also due to poor agricultural policies. It is a truism that, when famine threatens, governments fall.

In Cote d’Ivoire, once the jewel of West Africa, terrorism has become entrenched in regions where governmental failures provide fertile ground for extremism to flourish. 

Our Lady of Peace Basilica, Cote d'Ivoire. Photo Felix Krohn, Flickr

Previous elections were seen as tainted, and not representing the will of the people, effectively dividing the country in two and leaving the north ungoverned. The return of exiled leader Laurent Gbagbo, recently acquitted on charges of crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court, presents a challenge and an opportunity. Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in the divisive elections of 2010, when post-election violence claimed nearly 3 000 lives.

Ivorean militants with an armoured vehicle of the French Foreign Legion. Photo Jonathan Alpeyrie, CC BY-SA 3.0

The political structures in Cote d’Ivoire are crumbling. Gbagbo’s return could restart the process of healing, of building a national consensus, and of trust in the social contract in this nation.

Winston Churchill said it: It's better to talk than to fight. Now, if only Africa could learn that. 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on June 25, 2021 15:20

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Source: BBC

A conflict in the Tigray region is threatening to destabilise East Africa. This is why.

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