African Overview: Kenya, Togo and South Africa

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By: Santiago Mayor / Source: Notas Periodismo Popular / The Dawn News / February 5, 2018

Nasa leader Raila Odinga holds up the Bible as he swears-in himself as the ‘people’s president’ at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. AFP PHOTO

African Overview is a column in Notas.org.ar that contributes to fill the information vacuum on that continent and seeks to strengthen the circulation of South-South information.

In this edition we bring information about Kenya, Togo and South Africa.

Opposition politicians detained and television channels closed in Kenya

Last January 29, the opposition’s political leader, Raila Odinga, claimed himself as “the President of the people” of Kenya after failing to present himself and denouncing fraud in the repetition of last year’s elections (the first elections were nullified after the opposition denounced them) in which Uhuru Kenyatta prevailed. The inauguration, which also named a parallel parliament, took place in the Uhuru park of Nairobi, the capital of the country.

The Executive Power informed that the act was illegal, and it could even be sanctioned with the death penalty according to to the Criminal Code of Kenya.

While the authorities didn’t prevent the realization of the act, they took measures afterwards. The first being the banning of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), an organization constituted by the opposing Super National Alliance to carry out protests against the government.

At the same time, on January 30 the three main private television channels (KTN, NTV and Citizen TV) were closed. The channels were warned about covering the inauguration of Odinga as president, since it implicated the broadcasting of a crime.

While the Supreme Court issued a ruling that considered the measure as unconstitutional, the Executive power maintains the closure while they carry out an “investigation”.

Finally, the security forces detained the senators Ruaraka Tom Kajwang and George Aladwa for participating in the organization of the parallel presidential inauguration and administering the oath to Odinga. Paradoxically, the latest has not been arrested. While there were no declarations about it, it is assumed that an action of this characteristics would deepen even more the political crisis.

Togolese Opposition continues protests despite the demand for international mediators

On Sunday, the capital of Togo, Lomé, was shocked due to the mobilizations of thousands of people that marched and participated in streets blockades.

The measure was taken despite the fact that 14 opposition parties had agreed with the international mediators of the governments of Ghana and Guinea to suspend the protests. “It is our constitutional right to protest, and if we want to do it, we will do it”, declared the leader of the opposition, Jean-Pierre Fabre.

Opposition supporters walk along the street during the protest calling for the immediate resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe in Lome, Togo, September 7, 2017. /REUTERS

The main demands are the limitation of the presidential term to two periods of 5 years (as it was established by the Constitution of 1992), the change in the Electoral Code to re-establish the plurality voting system of 2 rounds -currently, the candidate that wins is the one with the simple majority- as well as allowing people to vote abroad.

To achieve this, the opposition has been carrying out constant mobilizations since August that have been strongly repressed (the number of casualties was estimated to be more than 20 in December).

While the government decided to push forward some of the reforms -mainly the one that refers to the possibility of presidential re election-, the opposition rejects it since it wouldn’t be retroactive and it would allow the current president, Faure Gnassingbe, to extend his administration for 10 more years.

The leader has been in charge since 2005 when he started a coup d’etat after the death of his father leaving a toll of 500 deceased. Later on, he triumphed in the elections of 2010 and 2015 meaning that his current term will end on 2020.

Togo achieved its independence from France in 1960. Seven years later, a coup d’état leaded by Gnassingbé Eyadéma managed to replace the government. Eyadéma lead the country until 2005 when he passed away of a heart attack. However, on 1992 he installed a multi-party system which limited the presidential mandate to 2 terms of 5 years each. This was modified in 2002 to guarantee a new re-election of the Chief of State. Thousands of Togolese people are marching against this reform.

Cape Town rations the usage of water and could be left without a supply by April

The municipality of Cape Town established April 16 (update May 11) as the potential ‘day zero’ in which the inhabitants of the second most important city of South Africa (more than 3 million inhabitants) will open their faucets and have no water at all.

A strong drought has left the dams that supply the city in a capacity of 26,3% (of which 10% is not apt for human consumption) which has forced to the local government to establish a limit of 50 daily liters per capita as of February 1. An increase of the tariff also entered into effect that seeks to reduce consumption.

The so called level 6B of restrictions includes the prohibition of perforations in search of subterranean waters; control on irrigation limiting it to one hour on Tuesdays and Sundays before 9am and after 6pm; and the measurement of extraction from wells and permits of the Water and Sanitation National Department for its bottled sale.

On the other hand, a desalination plant will start functioning on March to purify sea water. With a cost of around 19 million dollars, in the first stage it will generate two million liters of water per day and 7 millions when it gets to its full capability.

Nevertheless, the Mayor’s Office clarified that, on its own, the desalination plant won’t be enough to avoid ‘day zero’. It is for this reason that the Office is evaluating to advance on other projects like the possibility of using subterranean waters in the zones of Table Mountain (the second biggest aquifer of the world, Cape Flats and Atlantis Silwestroom.

As if this is not enough, Mayor Patricia de Lille (Democratic Action) will be submitted to a censorship motion put forward by her own party which accuses her of corruption and incapacity to face the crisis.

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