Countries in the four cardinal points of Africa witnessed much tumult today (March 20).
Angry citizens of Kenya in the east, South Africa in the south, Nigeria in the west, and Tunisia in the north—with a combined population of 343 million— protested against the high cost of living, seeking constitutional reforms.
Led by opposition leaders, they took to the streets, calling out their respective president’s inaction to address economic and political hurdles bedevilling their countries.
Julius Malema, the leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, led citizens in various cities to push for president Cyril Ramaphosa’s resignation following an endless cycle of economic crises facing the country.
South Africans are suffering
Even before the protests began, at least 87 people had been arrested across the country for alleged public violence. The police and soldiers have been deployed to prevent criminal activity and maintain public order.
South Africans have faced a prolonged economic downturn with no hope of recovery under president Ramaphosa’s regime. The country of 59 million is battling a critical energy crisis. Analysts say it could lose $13 billion due to load shedding alone this year.
Kenyans are angry their “hustler” president lied to them
Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who lost in the last general elections, led demonstrations today against what he deemed a deliberate increase in the cost of living, caused by new taxes and an inability to control inflation. Many Kenyans have accused president William Ruto of emptying the pockets of the poor.
“We elected him to bring down the cost of living, but he is making life and business difficult for everyone. He lied to us that once he’s sworn in, life would be bearable,” Rodgers Kimutai, a small-scale trader in the capital Nairobi told Quartz. “He claimed to be a hustler like us, but he has pushed us further down than before.”
Odinga still claims he won the presidential race last August, maintaining that he will never acknowledge Ruto as a legitimate president. He has called for a reinstatement of the four commissioners sacked by Ruto’s government from the electoral body.
Despite being deemed illegal, the demonstrations continued as planned in the country of 53 million with running battles in the capital and in Kisumu, the western lakeside city and Odinga’s political backyard.
Kenya’s currency has been in a “free-fall” since the start of the year, with an acute dollar shortage jacking up fuel prices and the cost of production.
Nigerians have low confidence in Tinubu’s administration
Nigeria has been in a churn since the declaration of veteran politician Bola Tinubu as president in February. The opposition has alleged irregularities in the elections that led to Tinubu’s ascension.
The main opposition party candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, have led protests against both, the polls and the rising cost of living in the west African nation of 219 million.
Nigerians have had it rough with a depreciating currency, inflation, insecurity, and a rise in the cost of living. Many fear that not much will change as long as former president Muhammadu Buhari’s party remains in power.
Tunisians accuse their president of grabbing power
Thousands of Tunisians rallied in the streets of the capital Tunis today, protesting president Kais Saied’s perceived autocratic rule.
They want Saied to resign for orchestrating what they feel was a coup last July, pushing for unpopular constitutional amendments.
They accuse him of cracking down on dissenting politicians, labor union figures, judges, a prominent businessman and the head of an independent radio station. Angry demonstrations have been organized in the nation of 12 million, mostly by the Islamist Ennahdha party and a movement calling itself “Citizens Against the Coup.”