Ep7: Ghana’s election campaigning, Covid-19 vaccine in Africa, Liberia’s controversial referendum & rogue MPs in Tanzania
Africa Calling podcast looks at some of the week's top stories from the African continent, including reports from the field and analysis with regional experts. This week we’re talking about the end of election campaigning in Ghana, and finding out about the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines across the African continent. We also hear about a controversial constitutional referendum in Liberia; how opposition MPs in Tanzania have gone rogue, efforts to eliminate HIV-AIDS in São Tomé, rising child abuse in Mozambique during the Covid-19, and the Cameroonian winner of a French literary prize.
Voters prepare to go to the polls on 7 December in presidential and parliamentary elections, with incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo up against former President John Mahama, two long-standing rivals. As campaigning draws to a close, the two political heavyweights trade barbs over policy including free education, agriculture, small-scale mining and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ghana’s economy has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns and both candidates have vowed to implement measures to kickstart job creation and protect the most vulnerable from the economic fallout. Correspondent Zubaida Mabuno Ismail reports from the Ashanti and Eastern regions as the campaign draws to a close.
“Presidential candidates are mopping up their campaigns in both strongholds and swing areas...In 2016, candidate Akufo-Addo won the elections by 53% while president John Mahama garnered 44%,” says Mabuno Ismail.
Covid-19 vaccination campaigns
Countries around the world are racing to secure coronavirus vaccines to save their people from the continued spread of Covid-19, and the African continent is no different. However, African countries face major challenges with buying vaccines and organising mammoth mass vaccination campaigns. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is aiming to roll out vaccines by mid-2021 and hopes to cover 60% of the population. But what will a gap between vaccination campaigns in different regions of the world mean? And does Africa have the cash needed to compete with richer countries buying up all available vaccine stocks?
“We are very concerned as a continent that once these vaccinations start in the developed world, there will be stringent conditions that says that you have to have a vaccine certificate in order to travel,” says John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC.
“I think vaccine roll-out will start in some parts of Africa early in the new year, it's not clear what proportion of the population will have been vaccinated by mid-year,” says Kevin Marsh, senior advisor to the African Academy of Sciences.
Liberians vote in a midterm senatorial election and constitutional referendum on 8 December that are seen by some as a litmus test for the country’s democracy. Changes to the constitution involve a number of provisions reducing term lengths for the president, MPs and senators, as well as recognising dual citizenship. However, the referendum has sparked controversy over the possibility that it paves the way for football star-turned politician President George Weah to stand for a third term in office. Correspondent Darlington Porkpa reports on the lack of awareness amongst Liberian voters about the implications of the proposed changes.
“Liberia’s post-war recovery is once again being tested ahead a special senatorial election and constitutional referendum,” says correspondent Porkpa.
The main opposition Chadema party has expelled 19 rebel female MPs for allegedly forging documents and taking an illegitimate oath without the party’s consent. Chadema recently rejected the results of the country’s presidential polls, which handed incumbent President John Magufuli another term in office. RFI Kiswahili journalist Victor Abuso talks about the impact of this expulsion on Tanzania’s main opposition party.
“It’s been a very long week for the opposition in Tanzania, the decision surprised a lot of Tanzanians, they didn’t expect that,” says journalist Abuso.
São Tomé and Príncipe
As the world marked World AIDS Day this week, São Tomé and Príncipe has been lauded as a country with one of the lowest rates of HIV in the Central African region.
“The problem of HIV-AIDS in São Tomé and Príncipe remains stable, but we want to be able, by 2030, to elimate HIV-AIDS,” says Bonifacio Sousa, the national coordinator of the HIV-AIDS programme.
Child abuse in Mozambique spiked in the first nine months of 2020, coinciding with a Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“Mozambique registered 1,434 cases of sexual crimes of which 1,099 are children,” says Simione Mulha, child protection coordinator for World Vision, speaking to RFI Lusophone correspondent Simione Mulha.
Cameroonian writer Djaili Amadou Amal was awarded this week the Goncourt High School prize, a sort of younger sibling of France’s prestigious Goncourt prize, for her book Les Impatientes.
“This represents so much for me, that we can talk about violence against women, forced child marriage, and that young people have chosen this story,” says Amadou Amal.
And on a musical note, Alison Hird picks the world debut of a song that involved 197 musicians - one from each country - to produce Together is Beautiful. Lots of African artists are on board, including Venacio Mbande Junior from Mozambique paying the mbira; guitarist Freddy Macha from Tanzania; Kamilla Arku from Liberia on the piano; Nli Kwartey Owoo from Ghana on the talking drum, and you might recognize Olgha NK from Cameroon. She was on World Music Matters earlier this year. Enjoy!
This episode was recorded and edited by Thibault Baduel and Cécile Pompeani.
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