Africa: The announced Corona disaster

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… and what happened to it

Announced disasters occur often, but not always. And so the African continent has so far been relatively spared the catastrophic effects of the Covid19 pandamism that are emerging elsewhere – such as in countries such as the United States, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Not that Africa would have been left untouched by the global spread of the disease. On March 31, 2020, i.e. at the end of the month that marked the turnaround in dealing with the pandemic in many European countries and often caused the lockdown in one form or another, five countries remained in Africa (out of a total of 54 that the Continent since the Sudan split in July 2011) without officially registered Covid19 cases left.

These were Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Burundi, Malawi and Lesotho; so without exception around states that are relatively cut off from international traffic flows. Four of the five countries mentioned are landlocked countries, i.e. all with the exception of the coastal state of Sierra Leone, which in turn was hit by a devastating civil war at the beginning of 2000 and by the Ebola epidemic in the previous decade and (despite beautiful Atlantic beaches) knows no mass tourism.

In the past decade, South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, but also Burundi (as a result of the highly controversial election of 2015) were drawn to the list just cited by civil wars or civil war-like conflicts.

But already on the evening of March 31, the next country dropped from the list of countries spared by Corona: In Burundi, the government gave the first two cases of lung disease Covid 19 known. As if the crisis-ridden East African country did not already have enough problems. Since then, his incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has been a powerful evangelical – in 2015 he boxed his constitutionally prohibited re-election for a third mandate, despite the fact that the term of office was limited to two – died at the age of 56 – officially from heart failure. But many be right speculate in reality Covid-19 responsible for his demise.

The ruling party CNDD-FDD had recently had its successor, army general Evariste Ndayishime, voted in the midst of a local Covid19 epidemic that is officially denied by the authorities (according to them, there is only one death in the country to date as a result of Covid19) ), and still fills the hospitals.

In the meantime, at least some emerging Covid-19 diseases have been officially recorded in all of the above-mentioned countries, from officially registered 17 cases (without deaths) in the inland region of Lesotho, which is enclosed by South Africa, to 1,354 cases and 56 deaths – as of June 26, 2020 – in Sierra Leone.

Nevertheless, the total number of Covid-19 cases and deaths from the disease is far lower than in Europe or North America, despite a larger total population (Africa currently has a good 1.2 billion people). The entire giant continent counted on June 26 this year, according to available numbers, 9,070 dead and 347,836 known infections.

On the same day, the United States, with a population of over three hundred million, had around 2.5 million officially registered cases of illness and 126,000 deaths. Now it may be that in African countries, as elsewhere, not all cases of illness have been officially registered and recognized. Nevertheless, it would hardly be possible to hide a large number of deaths with specific lung damage from the international media and the world public; this would at best be possible in North Korea and perhaps in the Northeast African dictatorship of Eritrea, if at all.

At the beginning of April this year it became known that political and military milieus in France – which continues to play a significant role as neo-colonial powers in North, West and Central Africa – were considering that several African state apparatuses would be under the influence of the Covid19 – pandemic and its consequences collapse, could implode. So far, this has not happened either.

In principle, such a scenario is still conceivable in some countries, since the state apparatus concerned primarily serves the self-sufficiency of a narrow social group and its clientele (sometimes, but not always, defined in “ethnic” terms). However, as a direct consequence of the emergence of the Covid 19 pandemic, such events have so far failed to materialize.

Measures were also imposed in numerous African countries, some of which reproduced those in European countries, and in some cases represented a direct copy of parts of the decisions, for example in France.

Mobility restrictions were imposed all over the continent, at least in most countries in the form of entry bans, airport closures or quarantine regulations for arrivals from European or Asian countries. In addition, there are also domestic or inner-city restrictions on movement, but only rarely with general exit restrictions such as in Congo-Brazzaville – with the exception of workers in systemically relevant activities – or for the residents of the capital region of Antananarivo in Madagascar.

Due to the impossibility of the authorities to determine general curfews for a population that has no financial reserves in relevant parts and would literally be without food without their daily income, the mobility restrictions often took the form of exit bans at certain daily or earlier times Night times. For example, in the West African Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. or in Senegal from 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

In the former case, these nocturnal exit bans have since dropped again; in the second case, regarding Senegal, they remain in force until July 2. However, these exit bans, which only apply to certain times, were combined with the closure of certain locations where many people could meet, e.g. restaurants (e.g. in the Côte d’Ivoire until mid-May and in Senegal until June 4th, since then there has been a mask requirement ), certain markets, schools or sports facilities.

South Africa has been arriving since March of this year Ban on alcohol serving and sale added, which has not only negative aspects in the violence shaken by endemic violence. However, the government got there because of it notorious incompetence at crisis management under growing criticism.

This general profile of government measures generally poses a significant problem in African countries; because even where the state pays a kind of short-time work allowance, in principle this only affects those government employees or private employees who have legally regulated employment contracts. Relevant sections of the population work, be it in the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa, in the so-called informal sector, without statutory regulation or social security.

The North African Morocco – although one of the countries with the greatest social inequalities worldwide, an authoritarian ruling monarchic regime and partly still semi-feudal relations – created a somewhat intelligent solution for this by the ruling monarchy introducing a kind of unconditional basic income for the duration of the epidemic for the in the broad “informal sector” busy people.

Households can therefore receive between 800 and 1,200 dirhams (one euro corresponds to almost eleven dirhams) of secured payments, even without proof of a regular income before the epidemic. Such help came to 4.3 million people, usually the “heads of families” were counted, benefit.

In the official language, a distinction is made between Ramedistes, i.e. Social security workers or holders of a health insurance card within the “informal” sector (from RAMED for Régime d’assistance médicale) and people without any health insurance coverage or non-ramedists. From the beginning of April, the first distributed financial aid, and for that Non-Ramedistes began paying out on April 23.

Morocco was also a country with rigorous controls during the Corona crisis; in Casablanca and other cities like Oujda patrolled the army with tanks on the streets and controlled the passes of those found in public spaces.

It happened on a weekend in April alone, which corresponded to the Christian Easter weekend in Europe 4,300 arrests in the country due to non-compliance with exit restrictions.

One started on June 11th of this year Measures weakened in Morocco, at least in “Zone 1”. The country was divided into two zones depending on the virulence of the virus. The main problems in Morocco include the “case clusters”, which can be found in a number of companies (mostly producing for the world market and characterized by over-exploitation) such as food and fish canning factories. Many jobs are from Contamination risks affected. At times i.Ü. also the country’s Salafists, to take political profit from the Corona crisis however, their activities have been curbed by the authorities.

In other countries on the continent, the repressive component of crisis management predominated. For example, the West African Côte d’Ivoire Abuses reported by violent police. The latter was commissioned criminal mobility restrictions and especially the closure of the most popular in the country maquis (Outdoor restaurants) and bars.

In the past few weeks, however, these restrictive measures have been gradually lifted: on May 14th of this year, they were allowed in the Côte d’Ivoire maquis and reopen pubs, schools on May 21st; on May 31, the border closed and the state of emergency declared due to Covid19 ended. Among those with Covid19 in the country officially until June 20 of the year. 6,874 cases and 49 deaths from the pandemic also counted in April one of the closest advisors to President Alassane Ouattara.

Abuses and abuses by security forces have occurred in a number of countries on the continent, including them Uganda and Kenya recorded. The acute problem of enforcing exit restrictions and barriers in connection with the Corona crisis coincides in a large number of cases with structural problems such as a lack of training, underpayment of members of the security forces (and generally civil servants), corruption and impunity.

A number of state leaders, in a recognizable way, made politics directly using the measures. Guinea, for example, was banned from the second week of March this year Crowds of people from one hundred people, from March 19th onwards from 20 people.

This did not prevent the government from calling the population into the polling stations, which were hardly protected against the spread of the disease, on March 22nd, in order to get one violently controversial constitutional change to enforce, which should allow the current President Alpha Condé a third term, which was previously prohibited by the constitution.

The opposition called for a boycott of this vote. (Violence by police and government militias on the same day in the city of Nzérékoré suspected of 66 deaths). In this context, it became very clear that the incumbent government of the country only used the restrictions on assembly to curb the temporarily massive protests by parts of the population that had lasted since October last year.

The international press has claimed that Covid is 19 an ally, Yes “the best ally of (President) Alpha Condé” and currently get whose business. The result of this is, among other things, that the population is largely boycotting anti-Covid19 protection measures (which may be justified in principle), because what this government is supposedly fighting couldn’t be that bad – especially since this disease in the country so far mainly, yes largely affects the elite.

Economically, many African countries are naturally affected by the short and medium-term effects of the Covid19 crisis. At the level of the “West African Monetary Union” (UEOMA), economic growth was expected to decrease to +2.7% at the end of April this year, instead of the originally predicted +6.6%.

In the medium term, however, the region is at risk of recession if the effects of the crisis are prolonged. At this point in time, the “Conversion Pact”, by means of which the countries of UEOMA wanted to strive for greater standardization of their respective economic levels – roughly comparable to the “convergence criteria” laid down in the Maastricht Treaty 1991/92 within the European Union -, exposed.

Further horror scenarios of international organizations, which resulted in twenty million jobs could disappear or fifty million threatened by hunger have so far not occurred. Perhaps not because the Covid19 pandemic has not yet hit the African continent to the extent that was sometimes expected, as explained above. Of course, the description of threats is always only one of several possible processes.

Ramon Schack

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