Africa Media Review for April 22, 2022

Mali Junta Says Sticking to Two-Year Transition
Mali’s ruling junta has announced the launch of a two-year transition “process” before elections are held, in defiance of West African bloc partners. The military seized power in August 2020 and has been under pressure to return the nation to democratic rule. In March, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded the organisation of elections within 12 to 16 months. But the bloc’s mediation has failed to persuade Bamako to limit the transition period. Choguel Maiga, the prime minister installed by Mali’s military, said: “We cannot go below 24 months unless we decide to postpone or not to carry out certain actions until the end.” However, ECOWAS still wants elections held in no more than 16 months, and Maiga said discussions continue with the regional grouping. “We hoped from week to week to find an agreement with ECOWAS to enter into an acceleration process (…) but we reached a point where we lost three months of discussion and today we decided not to wait any longer,” Maiga told the National Transitional Council (CNT), which acts as a legislative body. AfricaNews with AFP

Former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki Dies at 90
Former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has passed away at the age of 90. President Uhuru Kenyatta made the announcement in a televised address on Friday. “It is my sorrowful duty to announce to the nation the passing on of H.E. Emilio Mwai Kibaki, the Third President of the Republic of Kenya. H.E. Mwai Kibaki lived a dedicated life of public service. We salute a notable father figure in the chronicles of our nation. A leader who strove so hard and accomplished so much for his country. A nation he so deeply cherished and served with commitment and an unbending will to improve the lives of our people,” President Kenyatta said. “As we mourn this immeasurable loss, we recall with eternal gratitude President Kibaki’s patriotic journey in service to his country, which can be traced way back to Kenya’s fight for liberation,” he added. He added that Kibaki will be remembered as a gentleman in Kenyan politics and a brilliant debater with immense contributions in the country’s finance ministry. Kibaki, who also served as Kenya’s fourth Vice President ended the late President Moi’s more than two decades rule in 2002 when he took over power as Kenya’s third President. Radio Tamazuj

France Says Russian Mercenaries Staged ‘French Atrocity’ in Mali
The French army says it has filmed Russian mercenaries burying bodies near a Malian military base to falsely accuse France’s departing forces of leaving behind mass graves. The video, filmed with a drone and seen by AFP on Thursday, shows what appear to be white soldiers covering bodies with sand near the Gossi base in northern Mali. The claim came after a Twitter account using the name Dia Diarra, who describes himself as a “former soldier” and “Malian patriot”, posted pixelated images of corpses buried in sand and accused France of atrocities. “This is what the French left behind them when they left the base in Gossi … We cannot keep silent!” the account wrote. France’s general staff called the Twitter video an “information attack” and said the profile was “very probably a fake account created by Wagner”, a private Russian mercenary group. France’s army said comparing the photos published on Twitter against images taken by a special sensor allows them to “draw a direct line” between Wagner’s activities and what has been falsely attributed to French soldiers. “This manoeuvre to discredit the Barkhane force. It seems coordinated. It is representative of multiple information attacks French soldiers have faced for several months,” it said. France, the US and others have accused Wagner mercenaries of deploying in Mali as Paris winds down its almost decade-long military operation in the west African country. Guardian

EU Sanctions Founder of Russian Mercenary Force
The founder of a notorious Russian mercenary force has been added to a European Union sanctions blacklist. Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, who is closely linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian defence ministry, was added to the list of individuals sanctioned by the EU on Thursday for his role in undermining the “territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” “[Prigozhin] is the founder and unofficial head of the Wagner Group, a Russia-based unincorporated military entity, responsible for the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine,” the Council of the European Union said in a statement. Prigozhin’s companies benefitted from large public contracts from the Russian ministry of defence after the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Russia in 2014, and had benefitted from the occupation of eastern Ukraine by Russia-backed separatists, the Council said. The Wagner Group founder and another businessman, Ukrainian national Serhiy Vitaliyovich Kurchenko, who the Council said controls a number of large metallurgical, chemical and energy plants in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine, were added to a list of 1,093 people and 80 entities subject to EU “restrictive measures”, over war in Ukraine, and that include asset freezes and travel bans in EU member states. Al Jazeera

Malaria Vaccine Reaches More Than One Million Children in Africa
More than one million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have now received at least one dose of the first malaria vaccine. Data provided by the UN’s World Health Organisation suggests that the pilot programme launched in April 2019 was safe and “substantially reduced severe cases” of the disease. The “RTS,S” vaccine could save the lives of 40,000 to 80,000 children per year in sub-Saharan Africa and high-risk areas. The new vaccine works against the mosquito-borne parasite, Plasmodium Falciparum, the most deadly parasite worldwide and the most prevalent in Africa. About 90% of the world’s malaria cases are in Africa, where 260,000 children die each year. Malaria is a very old disease and it can be fatal if not treated in time. More than $155 million has been mobilised by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) to enable the delivery of these vaccines. World Malaria Day is marked on April 25th. AfricaNews

Ramaphosa Urges End to Ukraine War During Talks With Zelenskyy
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an end to the conflict in Ukraine during talks by phone with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, warning that the war threatens food security in Africa. Rampahosa said on Thursday that the pair had discussed the “tragic human cost” of Moscow’s offensive as well as its “global ramifications.” “We agree on the need for a negotiated end to the conflict which has impacted Ukraine’s place in global supply chains, including its position as a major exporter of food to our continent,” he tweeted. Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat and corn, among other foodstuffs, to Africa and the weeks-long war in the country has disrupted supplies and sent prices climbing, spurring fears of a hunger crisis. Al Jazeera

Ramaphosa Extends SANDF Deployment to Mozambique by a Year, at Cost of R2.8bn
President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in Mozambique for a year, at a cost of R2.8 billion. This is the longest extension of the deployment by Ramaphosa. He initially deployed 1 495 SANDF members in July last year. This was extended by three months in October and then again in December. In March, he extended the deployment by one month, from 15 March to 15 April…Since 2017, a jihadist organisation, called Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah, has been waging a violent insurgency in Cabo Delgado. In 2020, the violence escalated. Apart from the SADC deployment, the Rwandan defence force was also supporting the Mozambican defence force. By February, close to a million people had been displaced by the conflict, with the death toll at more than 3 000. In June 2021, a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Governments, held in Maputo, approved a regional mission to assist Mozambique, called the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). The South African forces are part of this mission, along with soldiers from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. The initial deployment was until October 2021. News24

European Union Provides More Funding for Mozambican Military
The European Union has provided another €45 million in funding for Mozambique’s military, and this will include equipment, supplies and training. The European Union Council said it adopted a decision on Thursday amending the assistance measure for support to the Mozambican Armed Forces under the European Peace Facility (EPF) adopted in November 2021, adding a further amount of €45 million. This additional support brings overall EPF support for Mozambique to €89 million in total. “The assistance measure aims to strengthen EU support for capacity building and the deployment of the units of the Mozambican Armed Forces trained by the EU Training Mission in Mozambique (EUTM Mozambique). This support consists of the provision of integrated packages of equipment and supplies in conjunction with EU training missions. The aim is to ensure that the training is as efficient and effective as possible, enabling EUTM-trained troops to be fully operational and self-sufficient upon deployment,” the EU said. DefenceWeb

Italy Consolidates Gas Deal With Congo As It Boycotts Russian Imports
Italy is another step ahead in its venture to increase its export of natural gas as the country signed a new deal with the Republic of Congo on Thursday. The Italian delegation paid a visit to Angola and now Congo Republic this week to line up LNG contracts. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced the deal alongside Congolese foreign minister Jean Claude Gakosso in Brazzaville on Thursday, saying that the Russian attack on Ukraine has obliged Italy to diversify its sources of energy. Italy like most countries in Europe is trying to cut its reliance on Russian natural gas imports quickly, with leaders recognizing that their payments help fund Moscow’s war, but Umberto Triulzi, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Rome, Sapienza, believes Italy doesn’t has the proper arrangement for such a swift change. AfricaNews with AFP

Rwanda Jails Chinese National for Torturing Mine Workers
A Chinese national has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for torturing local mineworkers in Rwanda after a video showing him whipping a man tied to a post went viral on social media. Sun Shujun, the manager of a mine in the west of the country, was convicted on Tuesday along with an accomplice following his arrest last September. “It is clear that (Sun) tortured the victims and issued corporal punishment with malicious intent, and this is a grave crime,” judge Jacques Kanyarukiga ruled, ordering him to serve a 20-year term in prison. Sun, who was in court for the verdict, acknowledged assaulting two workers, saying he beat them because he was “frustrated and fed up of them constantly stealing minerals.” The 43-year-old had argued for his release, saying he compensated the two by paying a total of more than one million Rwandan francs ($1,000) and signing a “reconciliation letter”. However, the prosecution – which had accused him of assaulting four people – argued that the victims had accepted the payments “because they were traumatised and afraid of him”. Another manager at the company, Ali Group Holding Ltd, was found guilty of helping Sun and sentenced to 12 years in jail. A third defendant was found not guilty. Last September, a 45-second clip of one incident was widely shared on Twitter, showing a visibly enraged Chinese man using a rope to flog a man huddled on the ground and tied to a pole, as a small group of people in orange jackets looked on. Al Jazeera

‘We Are Not Trading Humans,’ Say Kagame on Rwanda’s Deal With UK Over Refugees
Rwandan President Paul Kagame says the UK approached him over the sending of refugees to his country as he had helped refugees during his time as African Union (AU) chairperson. Speaking at a virtual seminar hosted by Brown University, a private Ivy League research university in the US, Kagame on Wednesday emphasised: “We are not trading humans beings, please. This is not the case. We are actually helping.” Last Thursday, the UK unveiled a plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda. This, after an initial payment of R2.37 billion to the Rwanda government since it would take responsibility for the refugees. Rights groups described the move as “cruel” and “callous”, and wondered why Rwanda was accepting the possible deal when Ghana and Kenya rejected similar offers in the past. But Kagame said he was for the idea because in the past he had helped with the rehabilitation of African refugees trying to cross into Europe from Libya. News24

Ethiopia: ‘We’ve Finished Our Tears’: Tigray’s Main Hospital Exhausts Food
The main hospital in Ethiopia’s war-ravaged region of Tigray has sent home 240 patients after food supplies ran out last week, officials have said. The decision by Ayder Referral Hospital in Tigray’s capital Mekelle underscores how little food aid is reaching the region despite the government’s declaration in March of a unilateral truce to allow aid deliveries. One hospital official, who asked not to be named, said about 360 patients remained who were able to buy their own food. New patients without food or money were being turned away, he said. Those who had to leave included babies with meningitis and tuberculosis and a 14-year-old boy with HIV, two nurses told Reuters. Tedros Fissehaye, a paediatrics ward nurse, said patients and their families went hungry on Thursday, April 14. On Friday, April 15, he said he had to tour the wards and tell them there would be no more meals. Ten patients left. “Nobody cried. We have finished our tears for months now. But every nurse was so sad,” he told Reuters. “The families said, pray for us, instead of dying here let’s go home and die there.” Another pediatric nurse, Mulu Niguse, said the hospital had run out of 90 percent of medication, but last month had received some HIV pills and tried to treat other diseases with any antibiotics they could scrounge. The discharged children would likely die, she said. Al Jazeera

Sudan Intelligence Authorities Torture and Arrest Activist
Intelligence authorities tortured and arrested Musab El Hadi, a member of the El Gedaref Resistance Committee, at 9:00 a.m before releasing him later on at 17:00 p.m, on Tuesday. The El Gedaref Resistance Committee condemned the arrest of El Hadi, saying that “he was beaten, tortured, and threatened by the intelligence authorities”. According to the committee, El Hadi was accused by the authorities as “defaming individual intelligence personnel”. Homes of the Darfur lawyers stormed in Khartoum In Khartoum, the Darfur lawyers Commission revealed that a number of their homes were raided by the authorities who were in four-wheel drive vehicles. In a statement by the lawyers, Abdelmalek Moussa El Haj Yousef was raided three times in the past week and authorities “terrorised his elderly and diabetic mother”. They added that, “the ongoing and repeated prosecutions and arrests of lawyers and activists, reveals the hypocrisy behind Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan’s statements to release all detainees within a short period of time.” Dabanga

UN World Food Programme: ‘Sudan Faces Significant Increase in Food Insecurity’
Amid Sudan’s recent inflation of the Sudanese Pound (SDG), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported on 19 April, the national average retail price of food in Sudan has significantly increased, making “nutritious food unaffordable for many families.” The WFP said that the average retail price of sorghum in Sudan during March was SDG198 per kilo, marking a sharp rise of 20 per cent compared to February. While the price of wheat flour stood at SDG681 pounds per kilo, a marked increase of 14 per cent compared to the previous month. The average price of a goat SDG18,958 per head was down slightly by 1.33 per cent, compared to the previous month. The price of peanuts reached SDG11,548 per sack, representing a significant increase of 14 per cent, compared to the previous month. The WFP stated, “the average cost of the WFP domestic food basket rose to SDG349.93, a sharp increase of nearly 20 per cent, compared to the previous month”. As a result of food insecurity and Sudan’s recent economic decline, the prices of crops and foods are expected to increase during 2022.

Why Nigeria’s Not Deploying Adequate Technology To Tackle Insecurity – NSA
Nigeria’s security agencies are not deploying adequate technology to combat insecurity because of its difficult procurement process, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, has said. The NSA stated this while briefing journalists at the State House in Abuja. He also attributed the non-deployment of adequate technology to its expensive nature. The comment by Mr Monguno, a retired major general, comes on the heels of heightened insecurity across the country. While highlighting the challenges faced while procuring technological devices to fight insecurity, Mr Monguno said the government is trying its best to meet up with its responsibilities. “So the first question has to do with why is it so difficult to deploy technology. One, technology is expensive. Technology takes time to acquire these things since inherently we do not produce these very, very delicate equipment. “It’s not as if the government is not making any effort to acquire but we need to know who to acquire this technology from, where, when and there are certain processes. “For now, I know we have but the plight is that there are inadequate, so to the government, it’s a continuous process. That’s what I can say about the issue of deploying technology,” he said. He added that one of the major causes of insecurity in Nigeria is the porosity of the country’s borders. Premium Times

Suspected Extremist Attack Kills 9 in Northeastern Nigeria
An attack by suspected Islamic extremist rebels has killed nine people in northeast Nigeria, police and witnesses said Thursday, one of several deadly attacks this week in the troubled region. At least 15 people have been killed in attacks in northeast Nigeria this week. The suspected Boko Haram members stormed Geidam, a border town in Yobe State, and opened fire on residents, according to witnesses. Those killed include two women and a retired inspector of police, said Dungus Abdulkareem with the Yobe State Police Command. The militants came on foot and “began to shoot,” resident Babagana Umar told The Associated Press. “We all thought it was soldiers shooting until we began to hear people screaming and running,” Umar said. “They burned down a school before storming a local alcohol and relaxation joint (where) the terrorists shot at some persons and then tied others’ hands from behind and slit their throats.” No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack. The Islamic State group, however, claimed responsibility for an explosion in neighboring Taraba state that killed six people earlier in the week. That attack targeted a “gathering of Christian disbelievers inside a crowded bar” in Taraba, the group said. AP

Aspen in Talks With African Leaders on Low COVID Vaccine Orders
Aspen is in talks with African leaders about how to raise demand for Covid-19 vaccines after the continent’s biggest drugmaker warned a lack of orders may force it to stop making the shots. Discussions are “underway and I assure you it’s been elevated to the highest level on the continent,” John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC, said at a briefing on Thursday. “I’m sure more details will be provided in coming days, once we have more details from Africa’s political leadership.” Nkengasong last week appealed to African countries to place orders with local manufacturers including Durban, South Africa-based Aspen, which makes doses on behalf of Johnson & Johnson and in March said it agreed to make the shots under its own brand.  Since then, Aspen has been contacted by the vaccine alliance Gavi and Covax, the World Health Organization-backed initiative supplying low-to-middle-income countries, Nkengasong said. “To regionalise vaccine manufacturing in Africa is an important tool to guarantee our collective security globally,” he said. While reported Covid cases in Africa dropped slightly in the last week, Nkengasong urged countries to test more. The coronavirus test positivity rate is high, with about 11% of those tested for the virus found to be infected, he said. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones