In South Africa, “social grants” providing income support to poor households have a long history. More than 17 million citizens, almost one-third of the population, receive a cash transfer from the state each month (South African Social Security Agency, 2019). The largest social grant programs are the Child Support Grant (CSG), the Old Age Pension (OAP), and the Disability Grant. All target low-income households (Zembe-Mkabile, 2017).
“We’re all in this together” is a mantra of the COVID-19 crisis as leaders and activists argue for global and all-of-society responses to the pandemic (e.g. World Health Organization, 2020; African Union, 2020). At the same time, public fears have highlighted social fissures through acts of intolerance and violence against Chinese people, citizens of Asian descent in many countries, and even Africans in China (e.g. DW, 2020; Guy, 2020; Kandil, 2020; Al Jazeera, 2020).
Dans le but d’éviter une propagation exponentielle de la maladie à coronavirus sur le continent africain, la plupart des états ont mis en place différentes dispositions, y compris la fermeture des centres éducatifs (RepublicofTogo.com, 2020; Burns, 2020; Gamba, 2020). Au Togo comme dans d’autres pays, tous les établissements scolaires et universitaires, tous les centres de formation publics, privés, laïcs, et confessionnels sont fermés jusqu’à nouvel ordre (Portail Officiel de la République Togolaise, 2020; BBC News, 2020; van Fleet, 2020; Le Monde, 2020).
Every few years, since 2008, South Africa is rocked by xenophobic violence. Houses are burnt, shops are looted, and people are killed, injured, or forced out of their homes and communities. This violence usually erupts under the pretext that foreigners take opportunities from South Africans.
« L’accès à des soins de santé de qualité et leur disponibilité sur l’ensemble du territoire demeure des impératifs-clés pour améliorer [l’Indice de Développement Humain] de la Côte d’Ivoire. L’équité dans ce domaine est aussi un défi à relever », peut-on lire dans le Plan National de Développement 2016-2020 (Ministère du Plan et du Développement, 2016).
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented pressures on governments, economies, and families, posing what many observers consider the largest global peace-time challenge since the Great Depression a century ago (Goodman, 2020; Rogoff, 2020). In South Africa, the government moved swiftly after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on 5 March (Mkhize, 2020), turning away arrivals from countries considered high risk (Fabricius & du Plessis, 2020).
Zimbabwe has been on lockdown since March 30 to inhibit the spread of the new coronavirus,1 though the mining and manufacturing sectors have reopened under rules set by the World Health Organization and public health authorities (Mugabe, 2020). To help “vulnerable groups,” the government announced it had set aside $600 million for cash transfers to 1 million households and support to small businesses over the next three months (Kubatana.net, 2020).
In September 2019, a bill was tabled in Malawi Parliament proposing a constitutional change from a unitary to a federal system of government (Nyale, 2019). The bill was referred to the Legal Affairs Committee of the House for further scrutiny and is expected to be back on the floor for deliberation once the committee prepares its report.
In late March, the Ghanaian government locked down parts of the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and deployed security personnel to enforce the restrictions. In announcing the measures, President Nana Akufo-Addo said he was aware that many citizens operate in the informal sector, depend on their daily earnings to survive, and rely on essential services not readily available in their homes or compounds. He asked key stakeholders from the private, informal, and religious sectors to support implementation of the partial lockdown.
The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi (1995) stipulates that “every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.” In the aftermath of the 2019 general election, the country has been engulfed in a series of protest marches. Led by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) of civil society organizations, the protesters continue to demand the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) members on charges that they mismanaged the election (Chauluka, 2019).
Dans le contexte de la pandémie du coronavirus, beaucoup d’emplois sont menacés et les individus sans sources de revenus sont de plus en plus vulnérables. Avec les mesures de distanciation sociale partiellement ou entièrement en application dans beaucoup de pays, les petits commerces et affaires sont fragilisées voire anéantis.
More than half of all Africans go without needed medical care at least once in a given year, a new analysis of Afrobarometer survey data shows. Across the continent, citizens identify health as the second-most-important national problem they want their governments to address.
Even before the threat of overwhelming demand due to COVID-19, about one in five Africans faced a frequent lack of needed health-care services, including almost two-thirds of the poorest citizens.
More than half of Africans say their governments are failing them when it comes to one of their top priorities – the provision of clean water and sanitation services, a new Afrobarometer analysis shows. Half of survey respondents say they went without enough clean water for home use during the previous year – a particular concern considering the importance of proper hygiene for preventing the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
A decade-long civil war (1991-2002) and a 2014 Ebola outbreak left Sierra Leone’s health- care system in a poor state, including inadequate infrastructure and staff (Ministry of Health and Sanitation, 2017). With 1,165 deaths per 100,000 live births recorded in 2017, Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal and infant mortality (United Nations Population Fund, 2017).
Sierra Leone dropped by 18 places on the Global Peace Index between 2018 and 2019, ranking now at No. 52 out of 163 countries, and is listed among the five sub-Saharan countries recording the worst deterioration due to political and economic instability (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019; Sesay, 2020).
After an unstable political history of autocratic rule, coups and counter-coups, and a destructive decade-long civil war, Sierra Leoneans want to live in a democracy with elections and multiparty competition, according to findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey.
They are divided, however, on the question of whether people holding dual citizenship should be allowed to participate by voting, and a majority would deny them the right to stand for office.
Last May, Malawians went to the polls for their sixth national election since the country returned to multiparty democracy in 1994. The outcome was the most disputed election result in their history, marked by legal challenges, six months of court hearings covered live on leading radio stations, and an unprecedented series of public demonstrations led by the civil-society Human Rights Defenders Coalition demanding the resignation of commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) (Sabola, 2019; Nyondo, 2019; Chiuta, 2019).
In December 2017, the National Assembly of the Gambia established a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to draft the country’s third Constitution (Freedom Newspaper, 2018).
Botswana is the oldest multiparty democracy in sub-Saharan Africa, boasting 11 successful national elections since independence in 1966. The country’s Constitution provides for a parliamentary system with two chambers: Parliament, which makes laws, and the House of Chiefs (Ntlo ya Dikgosi), which serves in an advisory capacity on matters of tradition and customs. Except for a few sub-districts where chiefs are elected, chieftainship is a hereditary institution based on tribal lineage.
Tunisia has been a model of successful democratic transition in the Arab world since its revolution in 2011 (Caryl, 2019). While Libya, Yemen, and Syria have descended into civil war, Egypt and Bahrain into repression and authoritarianism, Tunisia is the only Arab Spring country where democracy has survived (Chulov, 2018).
Accountability forms a central pillar of democratic governance. While free and fair elections help promote government of, by, and for the people, what happens between election days can be equally important. Respect for the rule of law and other government branches are as essential in the day-to-day business of governing as they are for ensuring high-quality elections.