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East Africa | People to watch in 2019

Posted on Monday, 28 January 2019 10:10

BURUNDI | Antoine Kaburahe
Stand up and be counted

The exiled Burundian-Belgian journalist and publisher has been a key critical voice highlighting the governance problems in Burundi. The 58-year-old founded the weekly paper and monthly magazine Iwacu. He has been in exile since November 2015, when the government accused him of participating in a failed coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza, who pursued a controversial third term that deepened the country’s political crisis. In 2017, Kaburahe and human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa published the book Rester Debout to get the word out about Burundi’s worsening human rights situation.

By Leonce Bithario

TANZANIA | Fatma Karume
Critical scion

A scion of the Karume political dynasty – her father, Abeid, was the first president of Zanzibar – Fatma Karume shot into the limelight after being elected president of the Tanganyika Law Society in April 2018. Since then, she has emerged as one of the sharpest critics of Tanzanian president John Magufuli’s leadership style and the ruling party. While Karume maintains she has no interest in politics, but only in the rule of law, her criticism of the establishment has confounded observers. Speculation is rife as to what signal the Karume family might be sending. What will be next for Fatma when she steps down from the law society’s presidency in 2019?

By Joseph Burite
Photo: Joseph Rubambe

ETHIOPIA | Lelise Neme
Empowering industry

Lelise Neme is among a handful of women appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to high-profile positions. At just 26, the new chief executive of Ethiopia’s Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC) is also the youngest. Hailing from Abiy’s region of Oromia and with a background in engineering, Lelise made lightning-quick progress up the regional bureaucracy, starting at the newly established Oromia Industrial Parks Development Corporation and becoming director general of the regional agency for industrial development. Next year will be critical for the IPDC, with two new parks to open and another expanding.

By Tom Gardner
Photo: all rights reserved

UGANDA | Robert Kyagulanyi
People power

In Kyagulanyi, a member of parliament and popular singer going by the name of Bobi Wine, the Ugandan regime faces a new type of opposition figure. He does not belong to any political party; has no historical links with the ruling regime; belongs to the Catholic faith, the largest faith-based institution in the country; and professes his love for the King of Buganda, the largest kingdom in the country. President Yoweri Museveni is worried about Kyagulanyi and his ‘People Power’ slogan, with many eyes in Kampala focused on how the upstart will play his hand in 2019.

By Marshall VAN VALEN
Photo: Brian Inganga/AP/SIPA

KENYA |Isaac Awuondo
Big-time banker

As managing director of the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), Isaac Awuondo is in charge of making Kenya’s largest privately owned bank into a rival of the banks owned by big multinational financial institutions. He is helped by two big factors: one is that the family of President Uhuru Kenyatta is a big shareholder in the bank; and the other is that CBA is the partner of part-government-owned telecom Safaricom’s mobile-money lending app M-Shwari, which is recording huge revenue growth. Awuondo is also chairman of the board of the state-run Kenya Airports Authority.

By Nicholas Norbrook

RWANDA | Victoire Ingabire
Political fighter

To some Ingabire is a fearless politician who returned to Rwanda in 2010 to run for the presidency, while others see her as an extremist Hutu trying to distort Rwanda’s unity and reconciliation. She has a tense relationship with President Paul Kagame, whose government released her in September 2018 from a 15-year jail term. She was arrested in 2010 for forming an armed group and criticising the government’s narrative on the 1994 genocide, which prevented her from contesting the election. She said that she hopes her freedom is a sign of a political opening in Rwanda and immediately called for the release of more political prisoners.

By Clement Uwiringiyimana
Photo: Jean Bizimana/REUTERS

This article first appeared in December-January 2019 print edition of The Africa Report

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