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Vaccinations, Viruses, Coups and Accountability

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on February 18, 2022 17:46

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African news does not inspire confidence these days. While politicians make announcements regarding measures to combat COVID, populations suffer, and a new outbreak of polio raises concern. In the end, criminality, lack of trust and governance drags on into a series of coups.

While truck convoys against vaccination seem to be the fashion these days, not many truck drivers were ready to defy the latest outbreak of polio in Malawi. The first case of wild polio in five years seems to be of the same DNA as that found in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where religious fanatics prevent vaccination and urge the population to rather put their faith in God. Sounds familiar...

The local Government and the African branch of the WHO is actioning a campaign of vaccinations and surveillance, hoping to protect especially children against this dangerous disease for which there is no cure except for the vaccine.

A new polio vaccine being administered. Photo WHO.org. https://www.afro.who.int/news/pursuing-endgame-novel-polio-vaccine-rollout-africa

In the Chad basin, the endemic Boko Haram insurgency drags on, and the government of Mali now seems to be ready to defy the regional states. Having decided to send home French troops and rely on mercenaries, also Russian Wagner contractors, the military government seems on track to reduce even the remnants of democracy.

Other countries in this region lost the opportunity presented by the COVID crisis to regain what shaky trust the people still had. Instead of consultation with a population on the verge of poverty, draconian lockdown measures were implemented, making it hard for small farmers and pastoralists to survive. Financial support is mired in controversy, which probably adds to the people's reluctance to be vaccinated. At 4.2%, Niger has the highest vaccination rate in this region. 

The Sahel region, wracked by military take-overs and violent anti-government demonstrations, armed groups like Boko Haram flourish on anti-government propaganda, including demonizing the COVID vaccination campaign. Instead of investing in their health sectors, Governments rely on policing, restrictive measures and military interventions, further alienating their populations. 

In Mozambique, having seen the regional military intervention against the armed, Isis-inspired insurgency in the mineral-rich Cabo Delgado province stall, the Government now seems to be ready to recognize internal grievances as a driver for the conflict. A newly drafted counter-terrorism strategy, the Resilience and Development Strategy for the North, is expected to be tabled soon and would be funded by donors. 

It intends to create social cohesion, peace and reconciliation through dialogue and inclusive justice. But will politicians accept the blame for the failures? Some influential politicians still insist that the problem is foreign influence and it seems unlikely that the ruling party would accept that the failure of its governance has created the social inequity, frustration and political exclusion that has been characteristic of the region.

And in the week a coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, attributed Martin Fayulu, brought troops onto the streets. Fayulu was widely believed to have won the 2018 Presidential elections which saw Felix Tshisekedi appointed. Tshisekedi's security advisor, well-connected power broker Francois Beya, was taken in custody.

17 Presidential and Parliamentary elections will take place in Africa this year. Watch this space. 

 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on February 18, 2022 17:46

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Source: NYT
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