There’s a joke that Zimbabwean comedians are known to make: “You have freedom of expression – but not freedom after expression.” Comedians in the country often have to deal with personal and physical attacks for being too critical of the government. Ask the popular stand-up comic Gonyeti, who was abducted and tortured in 2019 for speaking her mind. Politics scholar Amanda Källstig unpacks the findings of a new study on women comedians in the country, who have found that the mic makes them able to speak out about sexism and oppression, despite the challenges they face.

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa became president of the country’s governing party, the African National Congress, in 2017 at a tumultuous moment in the party’s 110-year history. He narrowly won enough votes for the top job after a fractious campaign, taking over a party that had become synonymous with factionalism, deadly battles for positions and rampant corruption under his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa was elected party leader on a clean governance ticket, committing himself to putting the party on a path of probity. It’s not been easy, and he’s come in for fierce criticism for doing too little too late against those frustrating his efforts. But recent events suggest his fortunes are changing for the better. Mashupye Maserumule argues that Ramaphosa appears – finally – to have stood down his adversaries, and put down his stamp of authority.

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Arts, Culture and Society Editor

Zimbabwean stand-up comedian Munya Guramatunhu. Courtesy Tirivashe/Munyaradzi Guramatunhu

Women stand-up comedians in Zimbabwe talk about sex – and the patriarchy

Amanda Källstig, University of Manchester

Despite the challenges of being a female comedian, the women who do choose to perform feel emboldened to speak out in ways that can resist sexism.

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa as well as of the ruling party, the African National Congress. Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ramaphosa appears – finally – to have his grip on South Africa’s ruling ANC

Mashupye Herbert Maserumule, Tshwane University of Technology

Ramaphosa is set to go down in the annals of history as an ANC president who presided over a tumultuous epoch in the party's evolution.

Health + Medicine

People with HIV are still dying from a treatable, but neglected, disease: all it needs is a plan

Gilles van Cutsem, University of Cape Town

Cryptococcal ceningitis is one of the main causes of death of people with HIV. The tests and medicines to diagnose and treat it exist but remain inaccessible to most. A global strategy is needed.

Poor nutrition changes the way a body fights infection: this might protect against severe COVID-19

Burtram C. Fielding, University of the Western Cape; Dewald Schoeman, University of the Western Cape

Deficient leptin levels caused by malnutrition might protect against severe COVID-19 and related death. This could be another reason for the lower than expected COVID-19 deaths in Africa.

Business + Economy

How trade deals explain the behaviour of West African elites

Michael E Odijie, UCL

EU trade partnership is more important to some African countries than regional or continental trade.

Former minister’s memoir is a candid critique of South Africa’s political economy

Mills Soko, University of the Witwatersrand

Rob Davies is critical of economic policy, starting with the Mandela administration. He reserves particular criticism for its macroeconomic policy framework introduced in 1996.

From our international editions

Why the Al-Aqsa Mosque has often been a site of conflict

Ken Chitwood, Concordia College New York

The Masjid al-Aqsa of Jerusalem is linked in the Quran to the story of the night journey of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and has deep religious meaning for Muslims across the world.

Faith in numbers: Is church attendance linked to higher rates of coronavirus?

Ryan Burge, Eastern Illinois University

Public health officials and religious conservatives fought over church closures. Data now shows that those who attended worship more frequently in the pandemic reported higher rates of the virus.


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