Africa Media Review for April 4, 2024

Ex-Leader of South Africa Legislature Is Arrested on Corruption Charges
The lawmaker who resigned as the leader of South Africa’s top house of Parliament this week was arrested on Thursday on charges that she had taken bribes in her earlier role as defense minister. The arrest of the lawmaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, followed a tense, weekslong standoff with law enforcement officials over a corruption case that has dealt a blow to the governing African National Congress two months before a critical national election…A.N.C. leaders have faced a litany of corruption allegations over the years that have ignited public furor as the country and many of its citizens struggle economically. The New York Times

South Africa: ‘Unfair’ — MK Party Appeals Decision Blocking Zuma from Polls, Cites ‘Deficiency’ in Objections
The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said in a briefing last week that it would be upholding submitted objections to Jacob Zuma’s participation in the elections. The objections say his appearance on the MK party list is in violation of the 1996 Constitution which prohibits anyone who has been sentenced to direct imprisonment for 12 months or more with no option of a fine from standing in elections. However…[t]he basis of the [MK party’s] argument is that while Zuma was sentenced to 15 months for contempt of court for failing to appear before the State Capture Commission in 2021, he only served three months of the sentence before being granted medical parole…Another point raised in the court documents is that contempt proceedings do not equate to criminal proceedings wherein a conviction of an offence can be made – they simply invoke a criminal sanction or threats such as the sentence of imprisonment imposed on Zuma. Daily Maverick

South Africa Election 2024: ‘You See Skeletons’ – the Deadly Migrant Crossing
Many migrants risk all to reach South Africa, making a notoriously dangerous journey across the border from Zimbabwe. Having fled poverty and desperation elsewhere in Africa they feel they have no choice. But as elections approach, xenophobic sentiment is on the rise and South Africa’s government is under pressure to tighten the border…The migrants who make it have survived a difficult trek through the bush. It is lawless and unforgiving territory. Wild animals and gangs of criminals are a constant threat. Stories of theft, beatings, rapes and even killings are common…[The road from Musina towards the Limpopo River, which separates South Africa and Zimbabwe] is a thriving, illicit, cross-border marketplace…Last year President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launched a new border force. Mike Masiapato, the commissioner of the Border Management Authority (BMA), told [BBC] he was sending 400 newly trained officers to the border and procuring drones, body cams and motorbikes to improve surveillance. BBC

Zimbabwe Declares Drought Disaster, the Latest in a Region Where El Nino Has Left Millions Hungry
Zimbabwe declared a state of disaster Wednesday over a devastating drought that’s sweeping across much of southern Africa, with the country’s president saying it needs $2 billion for humanitarian assistance. The declaration was widely expected following similar actions by neighboring Zambia and Malawi, where drought linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon has scorched crops, leaving millions of people in need of food assistance. AP

Timber Hustling: Lia, a Thriving Hub for Congolese Mahogany Trafficked to Uganda, Kenya
For at least 25 years, high-ranking Ugandan officials have turned a blind eye to pillaging hardwood from the Congo Basin in the DRC, according to the UN. The illegal, and rampant, deforestation continues as a small village turns into a timber station…[The] timber station opened in Lia [a rural border point situated along the Uganda-DRC frontier] in 2022, bringing in more money, traffic, people and cut wood…Lia doesn’t operate like other borders where trucks or people pass through to their destination. It’s a stopping place for some, working as a timber exchange point and market of sorts…Besides traders significantly under-declaring their raw material tonnage to cheat taxes, bribery also aids the movement of timber trucks loaded at checkpoints and weighbridges en route to Kampala or Kenya…The ease with which traders turned Lia into a market without checks and easy bribes has made the hamlet a hub for traders. The Africa Report

Togo Delays April 20 Elections over Political Reforms
Togo’s government on Wednesday, April 3, postponed legislative elections due to be held on April 20 until an unspecified date, shortly after lawmakers approved highly contested constitutional reforms. The presidency said “consultations” were needed over the changes that triggered opposition claims the reforms passed in March aimed to keep President Faure Gnassingbe in power in the West African nation…Togo’s opposition parties did not immediately react to Wednesday’s decision, which was read out on state television as breaking news. Le Monde with AFP

Somalia Sends Away Ethiopian Ambassador over Port Deal – Officials
Somalia sent back the Ethiopian ambassador on Thursday, and closed two consulates in the semi autonomous region of Puntland and another in breakaway region Somaliland due to rising tensions over a port deal, two Somali officials said. Landlocked Ethiopia agreed to a memorandum of understanding on Jan. 1 to lease 20 km (12 miles) of coastline in Somaliland…Ethiopia said it wants to set up a naval base there and offered possible recognition of Somaliland in exchange – prompting a defiant response from Somalia and fears the deal could further destabilise the Horn of Africa. In February, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said his country would “defend itself” if Ethiopia goes ahead with the a deal. Reuters

Senegal’s New President Announces Oil, Gas and Mining Sector Audit
Senegal will conduct an audit of the oil, gas and mining sectors, newly elected President Bassirou Diomaye Faye told the nation in a televised speech on Wednesday, while also reassuring investors they were welcome in the country…The audit is one of the first policy moves announced since the 44-year-old former tax inspector’s inauguration on Tuesday…Senegal’s first offshore oil development is due to start production in mid-2024. The Sangomar oil and gas project operated by Woodside Energy is expected to produce about 100,000 barrels per day. Reuters

Ivory Coast Bets on Solar as Part of Renewables Drive
Ivory Coast officially opened a 37.5 megawatt (MW) solar power plant on Wednesday in what the government said was the first step of a plan to integrate more renewable energy into the power sector. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is seeking to become a major power supplier in West Africa. It produces most of its roughly 2,250 MW of power from oil and gas and already exports electricity to Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Mali. By 2030, the country wants 45% of its energy mix to consist of renewable energy. Reuters

Ivory Coast Regulator Postpones Main Crop Cocoa Contracts
Ivory Coast contracts for the 2023/24 main cocoa crop between exporters and the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) that could not be completed due to a bean shortage will be postponed to prevent exporters from defaulting, a CCC note seen by Reuters showed…According to the note dated Tuesday, export contracts for April, May and June can be postponed until the end of June and their price will stay the same. That delay will prevent exporters and grinders from defaulting by allowing them to secure sufficient volumes to fulfil their contractual obligations. The CCC said it will provide financial support to those who will have to buy beans at the new fixed farmgate price of 1,500 CFA francs ($2.47) per kg, up from 1,000 CFA francs/kg stipulated in the main crop contracts. Reuters

Ghana to Raise Cocoa Farmgate Price by up to 50%, Cocobod Says
Ghana will raise the fixed farmgate price paid to cocoa farmers by up to 50% in an effort to share profits from rising global prices and deter farmers from bean smuggling, a spokesperson at the country’s cocoa marketing board Cocobod said on Wednesday. Cocoa prices have more than tripled over the last year as disease and adverse weather in Ghana and neighbouring Ivory Coast pushed the global market to a third successive deficit…A source familiar with Cocobod’s thinking said Ghana was aiming to “neutralise” the impact of Ivory Coast’s price hike, given its potential impact on smuggling. Reuters

On Ghana Trip, Ruto Makes Case for Raila’s AU Bid
Kenya’s President William Ruto on Wednesday secured support for Azimio la Umoja Coalition and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga’s bid for the chairmanship of the African Union Commission (AUC) from Ghana after President Nana Akufo-Addo pledged his support. It was the first such pitch by President Ruto in West Africa since they had some form of ‘handshake’ with his erstwhile nemesis Odinga whom he has since publicly backed to seek the AU top seat…[In return], Ruto said Kenya will support Ghana’s bid for the position of Secretary General of the Commonwealth for the period 2024-2029. The EastAfrican

Families Are Pleading for Answers after Mass Kidnapping by Extremists
One month after suspected Islamist militants abducted more than 100 people in this remote area of northern Nigeria, their families are pressing local authorities for news of the missing — mostly girls and young women — and pleading with foreign governments for help with their rescue. In a dilapidated camp for displaced people, Alkhali Adam, the father of an 11-year-old boy who was kidnapped,…said government authorities have barred the families of those who were kidnapped from talking about what happened, saying that community leaders should speak for them…The displacement camp is one of several created in recent years as Nigerians fled violence by Boko Haram and the Islamic State group. The situation in the camps, run by the United Nations and its partners along with the Nigerian government, is dire, said Alkhali Adam, explaining that families do not have enough food to eat and that their children have been forced to go increasingly far to search for firewood for cooking. The Washington Post