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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 2nd February 2023

'Democratic backsliding' slows growth and social investment

Blue Lines

The deaths of prominent local investigative journalists within three days in January in Rwanda and CameroonJohn Williams Ntwali and Martinez Zogo – and in Eswatini of human rights lawyer Thulani Rudolph Maseko, highlight the perils facing activists across Africa. The three were guilty of nothing more than talking truth to power.

Journalism organisations want investigations into these deaths – all widely believed to have been politically motivated. But there is little sign that international condemnation will exert much traction. In Morocco, lawmakers voted to suspend relations with the European Parliament after it dared to adopt a resolution censuring the Rabat government's record on press freedom and human rights. Across the border in Algeria, members of the Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme learned of a court decision effectively disbanding their organisation.

In its annual census, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported a 50% uptick in the killing of journalists, with at least 41 media workers killed in 'direct connection with their work'. And in its latest report, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation warns that governance in Africa has flatlined since 2019, pointing to 'an increasingly perilous security situation and widespread democratic backsliding'. This authoritarian wave could stall growth and progress in education and health, it concludes.