It’s been two months since Tanzania’s new president took over following the death of the controversial former head of state John Magufuli. The early weeks of Samia Suluhu Hassan’s presidency raised hopes that she was committed to steering the country down a more democratic path. Not so fast, warn Nic Cheeseman, Alitalali Amani and Hilary Matfess. Tanzania’s tendency to veer towards authoritarianism predated Magufuli and can be traced further back to the undemocratic track chosen by the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi. Democratic progress in Tanzania will therefore take more than just a new leader.

Significant tracts of Table Mountain, the iconic flat-topped range at the tip of Africa, were burnt to cinders earlier this week in the wake of a fire that swept through the University of Cape Town campus and surrounding suburbs. Alanna Rebelo and Karen Joan Esler examine the environmental factors that led to the disaster, arguing that it was undoubtedly due to environmental negligence by various authorities.

A range of countries have taken steps to drive down consumption of food and drinks shown to be bad for our health. To understand what’s happening in east and southern Africa, a dozen researchers spent over three years looking at the opportunities for exploring such policies in seven countries. Their findings have just been published. In their article, Agnes Erzse and Karen Hofman take a look at why data are so important to the design of any interventions, while Mulenga Mary Mukanu explains how Zambia has struggled to balance public health with economic policy. You can find articles on the rest of the research here.

Moina Spooner

Commissioning Editor: East and Francophone Africa

Supporters of ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM - Party of the Revolution) drive with the party’s flag on their heads on a motorcycle. DANIEL HAYDUK/AFP via Getty Images

The roots of repression and the prospects for democracy in Tanzania

Nic Cheeseman, University of Birmingham; Alitalali Amani, Yale University; Hilary Matfess, Yale University

There may be significant limitations to the political reform that can be realised by new president Samia Suluhu Hassan.

A wildfire spread across the slopes of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town. Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Why the fire on Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain was particularly devastating

Alanna Rebelo, Stellenbosch University; Karen Joan Esler, Stellenbosch University

Fire hazards are influenced by three factors: weather, an ignition source and fuel loads. The first two are unpredictable. But fuel loads can be managed.

Health + Medicine

Why African countries need reliable local data on sugary drinks taxes

Agnes Erzse, University of the Witwatersrand; Karen Hofman, University of the Witwatersrand

Without reliable, local and timely data, countries will miss the potential of sugar-sweetened beverage taxation as a public health intervention.

Zambia must find a way to balance the economy and public health in tax policy

Mulenga Mary Mukanu,, University of the Western Cape

Tension between the government’s economic and public health priorities is preventing stronger fiscal measures to address nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases.


South Africa has failed to champion human rights in the world. But that’s changing

Eduard Jordaan, Rhodes University

South Africa frequently invokes its celebrated constitution that is based on human rights, but has often failed to live up to its ideals.

The history of protest songs in Tunisia and their link to popular culture

Alessia Carnevale, Sapienza University of Rome

The 1970s and 1980s saw a new genre of popular protest - its spirit would be felt even in 2011 when protests toppled a dictator.

From our international editions

European Super League: why punishing the breakaway 12 could backfire badly

Adrian R Bell, University of Reading; Andrew Urquhart, University of Reading; Chris Brooks, University of Reading

Everyone seems united against the new proposals, but can they really be stopped?

Ivermectin: why a potential COVID treatment isn’t recommended for use

Gordon Dent, Keele University

The antiparasitic drug was thought to be a potential treatment for COVID-19, but there isn't sufficient evidence to recommend its use, despite widespread support online.

En Français

Qu’ont fait les hôpitaux chinois lors de la pandémie de Covid-19 ?

Jack Stennett, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD); Lola Traverson, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD); Renyou Hou, Université Paris Nanterre – Université Paris Lumières; Valery Ridde, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD)

Une étude internationale consacrée à la résilience des systèmes de santé publique face à la pandémie offre une vision détaillée des multiples mesures adoptées en Chine.

La musique rap est toujours aussi misogyne. Est-ce possible de la changer ?

Sylvie Genest, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

L’industrie du rap promeut des chansons obscènes, sexistes et dégradantes pour les femmes. Mais il y a de l'espoir et le changement pourrait venir du milieu musical lui-même.


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