Africa which can sometimes be seen as one of the most staid and immovable continents when it comes to issues of social change may have a lot in store for them this year. With the extensive influence of social media, the growing prominence of the world-wide web, its citizen’s involvement in varied international discussions and an unrelenting curve of modernization, it is seeming more and more likely that people can go toe to toe with governments, status quo and even organizations and come out on top.
We’ll enumerate below a few of the social changes that are already in motion and will probably gain more momentum in the course of the year.
Social Change In Education
Heralded by the Fees Must fall protest movement, a student led movement that began in October 2015 in response to increase in fees in South African universities and later joined in by underpaid staff who worked for private contractors with demands for direct employment. This protest which began in the University of Witwatersrand and stealthily spread to other universities in the country, is a case study of the social change that is expected in Education this year.
On Monday, protesters disrupted registration at Wits University, forcing the University to suspend on-campus registration till Wednesday. Also, students at several tertiary institutions at Guateng have vowed to intensify efforts in their campaign for free education. There promises to be more of this type of protests to come for a while yet as students attempt to beat their governments and school authorities into shape to provide them with the best possible education.
Despite the almost none victories won for gay rights in most African countries, its defenders do not seem to be going away. With a lot of quiet concessions by various governments like Mozambique who decriminalized homosexuality in its penal code in 2015 and international interest on the level of threats of trade bans, aid freezes and other policy changes from Western governments who intend to make gay rights a non-negotiable aspect of human right discussions and considerations, we have probably only seen the beginning of this social battle.
Accountability From Politicians
Very much expected are various discussions challenging the over-extending of term limits and accountability of African leaders. With cases like the Democratic Republic of Congo’s incumbent President Joseph Kabila, who is expected to try to extend his term by delaying presidential elections which are already slated for November 2016. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has already secured constitutional agreement to be re-elected for a third term, President Yahya Jammeh has already managed to erase term limits from the constitution.
Demands for leaders to be more accountable has taken the shape of rants and movements on social media, with praises being showered on the leaders that from the activists point of view are doing better with the example of new Tanzanian leader John Magufuli. South Africa’s President Zuma can expect a continuation of the ‘Zuma Must Fall’ campaigns.