Africa Media Review for April 11, 2024

Mali’s Junta Suspends Political Party Activities until Further Notice
Mali’s junta has issued a decree halting political party activities, government spokesperson Abdoulaye Maiga announced in a statement read on state television on Wednesday evening. The decree suspends until further notice all activities by political parties and “associations of a political nature” on the grounds of maintaining public order, the statement said. Mali has been under military rule since August 2020, the first of eight coups in West and Central Africa over four years, including in its neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger. Mali’s current junta seized power in a second coup in 2021 and later promised to restore civilian rule by March 26, 2024 following elections in February of this year. However, the junta said in September last year that it would indefinitely postpone February elections for technical reasons, sparking outrage among political groups. Many reacted again after last month’s transition deadline passed without a vote, with some of Mali’s main political parties and civil society groups on March 31 calling for a time frame for elections. Reuters

A Decade On, Tragedy of Nigeria’s Chibok Girls Endures outside the Spotlight
A decade after that fateful night in April 2014, the world has largely forgotten the plight of the so-called Chibok girls. But for the victims and their families, the tragedy is ongoing…Abductees who have returned home have struggled to resume their interrupted lives. Some are raising children fathered by their captors. Others have waited years for funds promised by the government to continue their education. Those who spent the longest time in captivity have often had the most difficulty reintegrating with civilian life. Dozens freed only in the past few years are living inside a military-run rehabilitation camp with surrendered Boko Haram fighters they married in the bush, according to the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, a charity that advocates for them…Roughly 90 Chibok girls are still missing. Based on the accounts of former abductees, the Murtala Muhammad Foundation believes a third of those have died in captivity. Reuters

Togo Bans Protests over a Canceled Presidential Election as Tensions Rise
Togo’s government said a planned three-day protest this week over the arrest of opposition figures and new legislation scrapping president elections was illegal, a move that heightened tensions in the West African nation that has been ruled by the same family for almost 60 years. The interior and security ministries said the protests set to begin Thursday would seriously disturb public order…The government last week arrested nine opposition activists for engaging in political activities at a market. All nine were released on Tuesday evening. A statement from the public prosecutor’s office said they were arrested for disturbing public order. A spokesman for those arrested, Thomas Kokou Nsoukpoe, called the arrests arbitrary and abusive. AP

Malawi Police Arrest Journalist over Fraud Story
Police in Malawi have arrested a newspaper journalist over an online story published last year exposing fraudulent activities involving a corruption suspect charged with conspiracy to defraud the Malawi government. The journalist, Macmillan Mhone, who works for the daily Nation Newspaper in Blantyre, was arrested Monday following the story he allegedly wrote in August of last year when he was working for the online publication Malawi24. The story exposed fraudulent activities involving corruption suspect Abdul Karim Batatawala, who was charged with conspiracy to defraud the Malawi government…Golden Matonga, the chairperson for the Media Institute for Southern Africa in Malawi, called on police to release the journalist without conditions. “Malawi is one of [the] beacons of hope for democracy,” said Mantonga. “To see this backsliding of our democracy is saddening for us in the journalism profession and also for everyone who wished our democracy to continue to grow.” VOA

Ethiopia’s Rights Body Calls for Investigation into the Killing of a Prominent Opposition Figure
Ethiopia’s state-appointed rights commission on Wednesday called for an investigation into the killing of a prominent opposition figure recently released from prison. Bate Urgessa was gunned down on Tuesday night in his hometown of Meki in Oromia, Ethiopia’s biggest region, according to the Oromo Liberation Front, or OLF. He was a political officer with the OLF, a legally registered opposition group that boycotted elections in 2021. The OLF said it has information indicating that Bate “was shot dead,” adding that it’s investigating…An outspoken critic of the government, Bate spent several stints in prison over the years…In February, he was arrested alongside Antoine Galindo, a French journalist, as the two met at a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. They were accused of working with rebel groups in a “conspiracy to spread chaos.” Galindo was released after one week, and Bate was released a few days later. AP

Disinformation on Cholera Led to Mozambique Ferry Disaster, Officials Say
Disinformation over a cholera outbreak has been blamed for the deaths of almost 100 people after an overcrowded makeshift ferry sank off Mozambique. At least 96 people, many of them children, drowned with another 26 still missing after the converted fishing boat capsized late on Sunday. Officials said the vessel was crowded with panicked passengers attempting to flee the mainland after the spread of false narratives over the disease…Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, is no stranger to fatalities caused by the deliberate spread of false information relating to cholera. In January a wave of disinformation about the causes of cholera led to the murder of at least three community leaders and the destruction of 50 houses in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. Conspiracy theories have gained traction at a time when the southern African country is battling a genuine cholera outbreak with, according to government data, almost 15,000 cases of cholera and 32 deaths recorded since October. The Guardian

Djibouti Entry for AUC Chairmanship Race Divides Eastern Africa Vote
Djibouti’s entry into the race for the next African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson on Tuesday could see member states in two key blocs in the Eastern Africa region take sides ahead of the voting next year. Djibouti officially confirmed it was fronting its Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf as a candidate for the next AUC chairperson, becoming the third person to show interest in the continental top post. Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga and Somalia’s former Foreign Affairs minister Fawzia Adam had announced their candidature earlier. But while the post will only be contested by countries in Eastern Africa, Djibouti’s entry means there won’t be unity on one candidate for now, continuing a past trend. The EastAfrican

Angola Signals Support for Raila Odinga’s AU Commission Bid
Angola has signalled that it will support Kenya’s bid for former prime minister Raila Odinga to win the African Union Commission chairmanship, amid growing public support for Nairobi’s candidate. Angola’s Ambassador to Kenya Sianga Samuel Abilio said his country would “stand in solidarity” with Kenya to ensure Mr Odinga wins the top seat. But Mr Abilio remained diplomatic about whether Angola had made a formal commitment to do so…Rwanda and Ghana have made similar pledges and President Ruto said members of the East African Community had promised to support Odinga, although Somalia has also endorsed a candidate. On Wednesday, Kenya struck a deal with Ghana that will see Accra support Mr Odinga’s bid for the chairmanship of the African Union Commission. The EastAfrican

Zimbabwe Informal Traders Ditch ‘Worthless’ Zimdollar before New Currency Debuts
Zimbabwean informal traders are refusing to accept the local dollar for fear it will be worthless in a few weeks, when the government’s new gold-backed currency enters circulation at the end of April. The Southern African country is replacing its collapsing Zimbabwean dollar with the new currency – called Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) – in the hopes that it will be more stable and help bring down inflation. Wary of the country’s third attempt at a new currency in a decade, traders mainly in the cash-driven informal sector are opting to transact in U.S. dollar. Reuters

Angolan Fishermen Blame Chinese Trawlers for Declining Fish Stock
[VIDEO] In the port of Benguela on Angola’s Pacific coast, fishermen and fish traders are struggling to make ends meet. They say their catch is getting smaller and they blame illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers. VOA

Uganda Taps into Islamic Banking Market with Entry of Salaam Bank
Uganda government’s move to pass legislation allowing Islamic banking, and the subsequent licensing of Salaam Bank, show a growing demand for Sharia-compliant financial services. Salaam, a subsidiary of a Djibouti-based lender by the same name, opened doors formally in Kampala last month, underscoring what officials said was to serve a growing niche of clients. Uganda now joins other regional peers such as Kenya and Tanzania, which have opened a window for the issuance of financial services and investment products based on Sharia principles…Uganda President Yoweri Museveni last month officially launched the operations of Salaam Bank, the first Islamic lender in the country, after more than 20 years of waiting, giving Ugandans a chance to access both Islamic and conventional banking products. The EastAfrican

Elephant Deaths Trigger Kenyan Call for Tanzania to Curb Hunts
In the rolling grasslands of the Amboseli wildlife park, conservationists fret about an emerging threat to Kenyan elephants that are crucial to its tourism business: licensed hunters across the border in Tanzania. The two East African neighbours manage elephant herds differently. Tanzania issues some trophy hunting licences to wealthy sport hunters every year, while Kenya gets all its revenue from wildlife safaris…Conservationists and Kenyan officials, however, are now urging Tanzania to restrict trophy hunters to its heartland, to protect Kenyan elephants, after three of them were shot across the border in recent months. Reuters

Tanzania Receives Electric SGR Trains from South Korea
Tanzania has received delivery of the first batch of electric locomotives that will run on the newly built standard gauge railway (SGR) that is due to start operations in July. A set of five electric multiple unit trains and three passenger coaches arrived in the country last week and were received by the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC)…The electric trains are expected to cut travel time between 300km distance from Dar to Morogoro from five hours on the old metre gauge railway to less than two hours…Tanzania’s $7.6 billion SGR project, runs over 1,600km from Dar to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria and Kigoma along Lake Tanganyika, is being built in five phases by contractors from Turkey and China. The EastAfrican