The Western community's recent travel ban on African countries was met with disdain worldwide, especially in Africa. The Malawi president Lazarus Chakwera was even quoted ‘the unilateral travel bans now imposed on SADC community countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for. Covid-19 measures must be based on science, not Afro phobia.’ According to official reports, the B. 1. 1. 529 variant was first reported from South Africa.
But further studies have shown that Omicron did not originate from South Africa (SA). The variant was already present in the Netherlands before it was identified in SA. However, other countries were rapid to issue travel bans against the SADC community where some of those countries had not detected any Omicron case. So, it came out as a blanket ban.
It seems SA is getting punished for reporting Omicron cases detected along with its SADC allies. There is rising fear and criticism that the travel ban will disincentivize countries from reporting detected cases or samples of new variants. At the same time, other countries had detected samples of B. 1. 1. 529 way before SA. Moreover, it's dumbfounding that lands in the EU and US with detected Omicron cases did not issue travel bans against each other. It appears as if the prohibitions were targeted against the African community, specifically the SADC community.
Other African nations issued travel bans against their fellow brotherly countries in perplexity. That is less likely to be a threat than some nations that were not issued bans. As Cyril Ramaphosa criticized, 'The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.' World Health Organisation informs that travel bans are not an effective means of preventing the spread of Covid 19.
The African countries that have been put on the red list are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. President Mokgeetsi Masisi of Botswana told CNN that recent travel bans announced by several countries following the detection of Omicron variant are 'a manifestation of near imperialist thinking'.
Moreover, African countries have been affected by vaccine nationalism and hoarding, making it challenging to meet their vaccination targets. It is a result of the failure of diplomacy to manage and govern Covid-19. The rise to unilateralism and afro phobia has been a threat to multilateralism. The ban will profoundly affect African countries' economies and undermine their ability to recover from the pandemic. Furthermore, the decision will impact marginalized communities disproportionately. It exposes the African communities to weaponized necropolitics, the tendency of Western nations to subjugate poorer SADC nations and cripple their economic activities.
In addition, the hypocrisy of other African nations to impose travel bans on other African states is equivalent to Xenophobia. It is upon African countries to solely depend on intra trade in Africa and fight systematic racism. Instead, the International community is scapegoating Africa.
Please feel free to leave your comments.