African Overview: Burkina Faso, South Africa, Tanzania and South Sudan

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The African Overview by Notas-Periodismo Popular is an attempt to fill in the informative vacuum that the great media deliberately leaves around this continent, and an attempt to strengthen the South-South axis of information.

By:  Santiago Mayor / Source: Notas- Periodismo Popular / The Dawn News / May 1, 2017

Officials and ministers of the former leader of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, arrive for the first day of their trial at the justice palace, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Bonaventure Pare
Officials and ministers of the former leader of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, arrive for the first day of their trial at the justice palace, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Bonaventure Pare

The Trial in Absence against former Burkinabe dictator Blaise Compaoré has begun

The trial against former Burkinabe dictator, Blaise Compaoré, and 31 officials of his government (1987-2014) began this week. They will be tried for the events occurred in 2014 when a popular uprising overthrew their government. In an attempt to stop the uprising, the coup government murdered 27 people. Compaoré was President and Defense Minister at the time.

After the coup, the transition government led by Michel Kafando assumed office, with the obligation to call elections for the following year. In September 2015, militaries linked to Compaoré attempted a putsch against Kafando. However, the attempt was suffocated.

Finally, on November 29, 2015, the first democratic elections since the country’s independence in 1960 took place, and the winner was current president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who also suffered a putsch attempt last October. The action was led by members of the dissolved Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), who obeyed to the former dictator exiled in Ivory Coast.  

Since then, the Ivorian government started complying to the requests of the Burkinabe Judicial Power, specifically regarding the extradition of former officials of the dictatorships. However, they ignored the requests to extradite the former dictator, who now is a naturalized Ivorian.

Compaoré arrived in power in 1987, when he gave a putsch and murdered his former comrade, revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, with the support of Ivory Coast. That is why he will also be judged for the murder of Sankara and the crimes against humanity perpetrated during his presidency.

 

South Africa celebrated a new anniversary of “Freedom Day”

 

A protester gestures at the Freedom Day rally organised by the newly-formed Freedom Movement in Pretoria, South Africa on April 27. This year’s Freedom Day was marked by anti-Zuma protests across the country. Photo credit: New Vision
A protester gestures at the Freedom Day rally organised by the newly-formed Freedom Movement in Pretoria, South Africa on April 27. This year’s Freedom Day was marked by anti-Zuma protests across the country. Photo credit: New Vision

Last week, South Africa celebrated “Freedom Day”, the day that commemorates the country’s first democratic elections on April, 1994, by which the people elected Nelson Mandela, of the African National Congress (CNA), as President.

On that day, the CNA won with an alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Syndicates (Cosatu), with 62% of the vote. It was the first election where black people could vote and be elected after the end of the apartheid regime.

“For millions of South Africans, freedom meant access to services that were denied to them before, like water, sanitation, housing, electricity, roads, medical attention and education”, said the current president, Jacob Zuma, in the central act celebrated in Manguzi, North KwaZulu-Natal.

Zuma recognized that on that day “political freedom” was achieved, but ”economical freedom is still difficult to reach”. He admitted that in the young South African democracy, “most of the black people are still economically devoid of power and are not satisfied with the economical benefits of liberation”. He highlighted that  “white families win over five times more than black families”.

The CNA was founded on 1912 with the objective of defending the rights of the country’s black majority. Nelson Mandela, their main leader, was a lawyer and left-wing militant who was sentenced to prison in 1962 and only released 27 years later. However, during his stays at several jails of the regime, he became the main denunciator against the racist government of South Africa.

When he was liberated, the first country he visited was Cuba. It was an homage to the fundamental role that the little Latin American country had played in the liberation of the African countries and specifically in the battle against South Africa’s apartheid.

 

Almost 10,000 officials fired in Tanzania for possession of fake titles

John Magufuli, president of Tanzania, demanded the resignation of 9,932 officials (2% of Tanzania’s public employees) after receiving the results of an investigation initiated in 2015.

The investigation revealed that these people had faked academical and professional skills through the falsification of titles and certifications. For this felony, they may receive sentences of up to seven years in jail.

“This people have been occupying public seats without being qualified. They have stolen from us, as regular criminals do”, the president declared and asked to make the names of these people public.

In the framework of this investigation the police confiscated in 2016 several machines and tools designed to forge academical certificates during an operation in the city of Dar es Salaam, the most populated city and capital of the country until 1996.

After his assumption as president in 2015, Magufuli announced that he was going to begin a campaign against corruption, and this resolution is a part of that campaign.

The 76% of South Sudan’s girls do not go to school

The “Plan International” NGO denounced that in South Sudan 76% of girls stopped going to school due to the war that started in 2013.

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, executive director of the organization, pointed out that “South Sudan’s girls are facing a triple tragedy in the form of a brutal conflict, famine and denial to their educational right”. In that frame is that “thousands of kids, mostly girls, stopped going to school to assist in their houses or to gather food”.

The civil war in the world’s youngest country began when the current president, Salva Kiir —of the Dinka ethnicity—denounced a putsch by his Vice President, Riek Machar —of the Nuer ethnicity—,who is currently in exile. Even despite several attempts to bring the sides togetherwere made, including the signing of a peace agreement that lead to a National Unity government on April 2016, the conflict persists until today.

The UN announced last year that half the population suffers from famine, a situation that has worsened up to the point that people are gathering seeds and leaves to eat. In these communities, international help does not arrive because the food emergency has not been formally declared.

Likewise, the international organism criticized the government for spending on weapons while millions of citizens are suffering from a humanitarian crisis for more than three years.

 

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