Data Report: Trends of repression and resistance
1. General Data on human rights violations collected over the past five years appears to show a marked and steady increase in the use of state and state-sponsored violence against, and arbitrary arrest and detentions of, political opponents and critics in Cameroon and Zimbabwe, while in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria state violence has tended to peak during elections, often securing wins and new terms for the orchestrators, before diminishing again afterwards. Repressive violence in Nigeria has been... 1. General Data on human rights violations collected over the past five years appears to show a marked and steady increase in the use of state and...
Evelyn Groenink
Repression and resistance: how a new generation challenges African autocrats and their international allies A transnational investigation by Ngina Kirori, Emmanuel Mutaizibwa, Chief Bisong Etahoben, Elizabeth BanyiTabi, Theophilus Abbah and Brezh Malaba ‘It’s your man who did this!’ shouts a woman at a village meeting in Nakuru County, Kenya. She is filmed by Kenyan journalists as she points at another woman, a supporter of a powerful local politician known for associating with gangsters. In the... Repression and resistance: how a new generation challenges African autocrats and their international allies A transnational investigation by Ngina...
Evelyn Groenink
'There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river and go upstream to see who is pushing them in.' (Ascribed to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu) Executive summary Many young people are risking everything to leave home in search of greener pastures within and outside Africa. They are pulled by promises of jobs and wealth, but they are also pushed: by autocratic leaders who treat state coffers as piggy banks and political opponents as criminals. Aware, urbanised,... 'There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river and go upstream to see who is pushing them in.' (Ascribed to the late...
Theophilus Abbah
At 2 AM on March 28th 2022 Olanrewaju Suraju, the head of the Human and Environmental Development Agency (HEDA), was asleep beside his wife in their bedroom in Abuja when they suddenly found themselves under attack by men who had broken into the house. The men, who made off with laptops, mobile phones, and cash, could have been mistaken for ordinary criminals were it not for the fact that they mysteriously told the couple that they were ‘acting on information and instruction.’ Nigerian burglars... At 2 AM on March 28th 2022 Olanrewaju Suraju, the head of the Human and Environmental Development Agency (HEDA), was asleep beside his wife in their...
Chief Bisong Etahoben and Elizabeth BanyiTabi
10-year old Ekukanju* and his six younger siblings have been out of school for the past ten months. Their father, a journalist, was forced to go into hiding for his anti-corruption reporting and can no longer work to pay for their schooling and care. ‘We are staying with our mother and uncle here in Douala’, Ekukanju says sadly. ‘But uncle has a large family of his own so even feeding is difficult. I am thin like this because of under-feeding.’ Community members who have started to help the family... 10-year old Ekukanju* and his six younger siblings have been out of school for the past ten months. Their father, a journalist, was forced to go into...
Ngina Kirori
‘It is your man who is doing this’, shouts the woman, standing tall and pointing her finger. She’s speaking at a community meeting in Mawanga, Nakuru County, in central-western Kenya, and the man she is talking about is a local political candidate for one of Kenya’s main political parties. She’s referring to a recent spate of rapes and murders of women in the neighbourhood. In June 2022, three months before Kenyans went to the polls, five women were murdered in Mawanga in the span of two weeks. All... ‘It is your man who is doing this’, shouts the woman, standing tall and pointing her finger. She’s speaking at a community meeting in Mawanga, Nakuru...
Brezh Malaba
Where other countries’ governments might shroud their repressive tendencies with plainclothes agents and unmarked vehicles, Zimbabwe proudly owns its repression of what it calls ‘bad apples’. Ruling ZANU-PF party spokespersons and politicians openly blame all the country’s ills, including the state’s own human rights violations, on the actions of these ‘agents of the West’. Judging by the data from Zimbabwean human rights organisations there must be a lot of these agents, or at least a lot of... Where other countries’ governments might shroud their repressive tendencies with plainclothes agents and unmarked vehicles, Zimbabwe proudly owns its...
Emmanuel Mutaizibwa
‘How do you remove a dictator from Amsterdam?’ asks a tweet, posted after an audience of two thousand in the Royal Carré Theatre in the Netherlands is fired up with righteous anger at the actions of Uganda’s autocratic leader, General Yoweri Museveni. It is November 12th 2022 and the crowd has just seen a documentary about the thwarted presidential bid of Ugandan opposition leader and Afrobeat star Bobi Wine, who attended the screening. The film portrays the ongoing oppression and torture of... ‘How do you remove a dictator from Amsterdam?’ asks a tweet, posted after an audience of two thousand in the Royal Carré Theatre in the Netherlands is...
Charles Mafa
The challenge of a New Dawn in a thoroughly damaged country Those who heard and saw Zambia’s new president Hakainde Hichilema speak during his recent worldwide tours, which were meant to garner support for his fight against corruption and a ‘New Dawn’ for his country, would likely have been tempted to pull out their chequebooks. Here was a man of integrity, a former good governance activist and political prisoner who had succeeded in winning the trust of his people, and the elections, in his... The challenge of a New Dawn in a thoroughly damaged country Those who heard and saw Zambia’s new president Hakainde Hichilema speak during his recent...
Josephine Chinele
After last week’s suspicious arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau director Martha Chizuma, the Government of Malawi has been playing a frantic blame game. Anxious not to be seen to be defending corruption, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo swiftly suspended the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Steven Kayuni, whose original complaint had led to the arrest of Chizuma. Meanwhile both the Ministries of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as well as the Presidency put out preemptive statements to clarify... After last week’s suspicious arrest of Anti-Corruption Bureau director Martha Chizuma, the Government of Malawi has been playing a frantic blame game....
Josephine Chinele
Martha Chizuma, Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director and a key corruption fighter who featured in a recent ZAM story, has been arrested. Still in her pyjamas, Chizuma was detained at her Lilongwe home at 4 AM on Tuesday after the building was surrounded by heavily armed officers. She was taken to Namitete police station, located fifty kilometres from Lilongwe City. The event comes two weeks after the ACB’s arrest of Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima, who is alleged to have received... Martha Chizuma, Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director and a key corruption fighter who featured in a recent ZAM story, has been arrested. Still...
Jack McBrams
Malawi’s laws outlaw abortion. However, faced with a predicament of having to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, thousands of young Malawian girls and women turn to unconventional methods. But when the process goes south, they run to the hospital for care. Scores lose their uteruses, and a chance to bear children. Many of them do not make it out alive from the hospital. Hundreds of Young Women Die from Hazardous Abortions Lonjezo (her full identity withheld) from Dedza, was barely 12 when her... Malawi’s laws outlaw abortion. However, faced with a predicament of having to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, thousands of young Malawian girls and...
Taiwo Adebulu
When the force isn’t with you: one community’s fight for the light it needs to live and trade. Temitope Meshach, who runs a bakery in South Ondo Senatorial District, Ondo State, Nigeria, has a mixer and oven that can produce four cakes at once. However the heavy equipment requires an adequate electricity supply to function, and she has not been able to use them since the lights went off in her area ten years ago. ‘I have a generator but the capacity is not enough’, she says, adding that the same... When the force isn’t with you: one community’s fight for the light it needs to live and trade. Temitope Meshach, who runs a bakery in South Ondo...
Anneke Verbraeken
The Dutch and UK governments spent millions on sponsoring the rehabilitation of a crucial road in eastern DRC. Thirteen years after the project was launched, very little has happened. “We are a misery-cliché of decades-long wars, hunger and rape. The world is used to us dying here.” [Text in Dutch below] When I first met Byombe in 2010, he had been taken under the wing of Jules, a human rights activist and entrepreneur. Byombe had been working in the illegal mines in Walikale and Jules tried to get... The Dutch and UK governments spent millions on sponsoring the rehabilitation of a crucial road in eastern DRC. Thirteen years after the project was...
ZAM Reporter
A new documentary examines the people and landscapes that oil leaves behind. At the end of the documentary ‘All die na die’, by Muhammad Akinyemi for HumAngle Media, the image is overlaid with a soundtrack of laboured breathing, as if the viewer’s own lungs were doing the fighting. The powerful sound and images convey what it must be like to live in the Niger Delta, where illegal oil tapping and refining done by local strongmen results in an omnipresent soot which coats heads, hands, bodies and... A new documentary examines the people and landscapes that oil leaves behind. At the end of the documentary ‘All die na die’, by Muhammad Akinyemi for...
James Onono Ojok
Gulu, the de-facto capital of Northern Uganda, looks a lot better than it did twenty years ago when Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army was ravaging the region. A World Bank-aided roadbuilding programme and sudden booms in investment bring new possibilities for development, revenue collection and funding sources. If managed well, Gulu City will continue to become a metropolis. But the city’s administration continues to frustrate progress, threatening future development and sometimes even claiming... Gulu, the de-facto capital of Northern Uganda, looks a lot better than it did twenty years ago when Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army was ravaging the...
Mukudzei Madenyika
Inside the Brain Drain Destroying Zimbabwe's Health System After Zimbabwe reached independence in 1980 the state introduced free health care for citizens, with new clinics and immunisation available countrywide. But then training of doctors and upkeep of hospitals stalled, and three decades of neoliberal reforms and widespread corruption, in concert with sanctions targeting the ruling ZANU-PF party, have left the health system ravaged. Now many medical workers are voting with their feet. Zimbabwe’s... Inside the Brain Drain Destroying Zimbabwe's Health System After Zimbabwe reached independence in 1980 the state introduced free health care for...
Estacio Valoi
When British mining outfit Gemfields Group Ltd launched a local partnership in Northern Mozambique, hopes were high that the taxes earned from this new company’s operations would help a historically disadvantaged region to develop. Several years down the road, amid a series of broken promises, hope is waning. But what went wrong? How millions of dollars don’t end the misery on the ruby fields. "We could say that there was an error," says Vicente Chicote, the police commissioner of Mozambique’s... When British mining outfit Gemfields Group Ltd launched a local partnership in Northern Mozambique, hopes were high that the taxes earned from this new...
Josephine Chinele
Not every civil servant in Malawi is corrupt- many just want to do their job and be paid. But rot within Malawi’s state systems makes honesty very difficult. How ‘the cartels’ protect their grip on power. As a van with ‘Central Medical Stores’ written on its side in bold text arrives at the health centre in Nsanje, the southernmost district in Malawi, residents quickly surround it. They are surprised, because actual deliveries of health supplies to the area are a rarity. But disappointment quickly... Not every civil servant in Malawi is corrupt- many just want to do their job and be paid. But rot within Malawi’s state systems makes honesty very...
Bettie Johnson-Mbayo
Award-winning Liberian journalist and ZAM network reporter Bettie Johnson-Mbayo and her husband Dr Moses Mbayo were recently assaulted by a group of men working for Marvin Cole, a Representative in the Liberian government. The attack was a punishment for parking their vehicle near his driveway. The couple and four friends had still been inside the car on the roadside at the time, on their way to pay their respects to a local family who had suffered a bereavement. But rather than take action against... Award-winning Liberian journalist and ZAM network reporter Bettie Johnson-Mbayo and her husband Dr Moses Mbayo were recently assaulted by a group of men...
Adejumo Kabir
The story of a government that fails to help cattle herders, an army that fails to fight bandits, a train that fails to safely get from A to B, and the bandits who benefit from this mess. Any passenger trying to travel between Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and Kaduna, the northern region’s hub about 200 kilometres away, comes away with the impression that the loose bands of thugs locally known as ‘bandits’ are now more powerful than Nigeria’s government and army. For a long time, making the journey by... The story of a government that fails to help cattle herders, an army that fails to fight bandits, a train that fails to safely get from A to B, and the...