Africa Media Review for August 16, 2021

In Zambia Election, Opposition Leader Storms to Decisive Win over President
The leader of Zambia’s main opposition party sailed to victory in the nation’s presidential election, according to results announced on Monday, staving off strong-arm tactics from the incumbent governing party that had stoked fears of a rigged vote. The opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, a businessman who had lost five previous bids for the presidency, captured more than 2.8 million votes in the election, which was held Thursday, unseating Edgar Lungu, who drew 1.8 million votes. Mr. Lungu had governed the southern African nation since 2015. Analysts saw the victory by Mr. Hichilema, 59, who leads the United Party for National Development, as a resounding rebuke of Mr. Lungu’s shepherding of an economy that was in tatters. Zambia, a copper-producing nation, has been marred by huge inflation, stifling debt, rising food prices and unemployment. On top of the economic problems, activists and opposition politicians warned that increasingly repressive tactics from Mr. Lungu’s government would cause an erosion of the country’s democracy, which was seen as a model across the continent after Zambia’s founding father, Kenneth Kaunda, reluctantly stepped aside when he lost the first multiparty elections in 1991. … “We will not bring the military out on the streets,” [Mr. Hichilema] said. “We will not arrest civil society activists speaking out in the interests of the people. And we will act quickly to stop the plunder of state resources.” The New York Times

Amid Shortages, Africans Scramble to Be Fully Immunized
At a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, tempers flared among those waiting for scarce AstraZeneca jabs, with some accusing others of trying to jump the queue. Nurses intervened, telling them the accused had been waiting since the previous day and averting violence in what has become a tense atmosphere as Ugandans jostle for vaccinations. In the aftermath of a brutal wave of infections driven by the delta variant, many Ugandans seeking a first dose of vaccine are competing with hundreds of thousands who have waited months for a second dose. But the country now has only 285,000 shots donated by Norway. The delta surge has touched off a vaccination rush across Africa that the slow trickle of donated doses can’t keep up with, compounding the continent’s vaccine disadvantage compared with the rest of the world. The urgency to obtain a second dose across much of the world’s least vaccinated continent contrasts sharply with rich countries now beginning to authorize third doses. … Less than 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated and African countries have received just over 100 million vaccine doses, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AP

Tunisia’s Saied Is in Charge, but for How Long?
[Tunisia is m]ore than halfway through a 30-day suspension of parliament that Saied ordered last month — and later hinted at extending — after seizing emergency powers amid Tunisia’s many crises. Since then, the 63-year-old president has moved swiftly to crack down on alleged corruption, lifting parliamentary immunity and arresting officials tied to the phosphate industry, but also targeting lawmakers critical of him. He enlisted the army, which so far appears to support him, for a major COVID-19 vaccination drive to fight a galloping pandemic. But Saied has yet to replace the government he ousted in late July or offer a comprehensive plan for emerging from the political and economic turmoil gripping the North African country. Some hoped he might set milestones Friday, which marked an important date for Tunisian women’s rights. But instead of making a keynote speech, he visited female artisans. … a U.S. delegation visiting Tunis on Friday urged Saied to “urgently” appoint a new prime minister and swiftly restore the country’s parliamentary democracy. VOA

DR Congo Accepts US Military Help against ADF Militia
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has authorised US special forces to help the Congolese army battle the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group linked to ISIL (ISIS). The ADF, which the United States has deemed a “terrorist” group, is considered the deadliest of dozens of armed militias that roam the mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Catholic Church in the country says the ADF has killed about 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017. “President Felix Tshisekedi authorised the deployment of American anti-terrorism experts in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said a statement from the presidency on Sunday. The US forces will boost the Congolese army’s fight against ADF in the national parks of Virunga and Garamba, it added. The mission will last several weeks and is specifically directed against the ADF. AFP

Nigerian Navy Critical for African Security and Stability – USN Commander
Nigeria, which has the largest navy in the Gulf of Guinea region, is critical for Africa’s security and stability, a US Navy (USN) captain has said. Captain Chad Graham, Commanding Officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, was speaking after being received by the Nigerian Navy’s Chief Operation Officer, Western Naval Command, Apapa, Commodore Daupreye Franklin Matthew. The visit formed part of a three day sea training exercise involving Ghanaian, Nigerian and US marine and naval assets. Graham said: “Maritime engagements with many navies working together improve inter-operability and collective capability, absolutely necessary for a busy area such as the Gulf of Guinea. “We’re happy to be working with our Nigerian partners to plan at sea multi-national engagements and look forward to a successful event demonstrating our commitment to maritime security in the region.” He is reported by the Nigerian Navy as saying: “Nigeria is the lynchpin for Gulf of Guinea maritime security; our sailors are excited to work with their counterparts at sea and engage with Nigerian communities ashore.” defenceWeb

Quit While You’re Ahead: Why Boko Haram Fighters Are Surrendering
A rash of surrenders by Islamist insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast is being hailed as a military victory, but close watchers of the 12-year conflict say it marks the culmination of a power struggle within the jihadist movement, and the start of a new and more dangerous phase. More than 1,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families have handed themselves over to army units in recent weeks in the southern Borno state towns of Konduga, Bama, and Mafa – including what the military has described as the group’s “chief bomb expert”. And hundreds more fighters have reportedly surrendered across the border in neighbouring Cameroon. In staged ceremonies, troops have handed out food and clothes to groups of solemn men holding placards in English, some reading: “Nigerians please forgive us;” “peace is the only way;” and “surrender and live.” The “massive surrendering” is the result of a “recent escalation of offensive operations,” the military said in a triumphant statement earlier this week. But analysts argue that the unprecedented scale of defections has more to do with the fallout over the death of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau. The New Humanitarian

Attackers Kill 22 Nigerian Commuters on Road near Plateau State Capital
Attackers killed 22 commuters on a road near the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau state, a morgue attendant told Reuters, in the latest outbreak of violence across Africa’s most populous nation in which scores of civilians have been killed this year. Armed attackers have increasingly targeted Nigeria’s roads and unrest has been roiling several regions. In Jos, capital of Plateau state in the country’s middle belt, a morgue attendant who asked to remain anonymous said security forces had brought 22 bodies to the hospital on Saturday. A military spokesman said in a statement that troops had responded to a distress call on Rukuba road in the Jos North local government area and had arrested 12 suspects, after an unspecified number of people were killed and injured. It appealed for further information and said it had stepped up security patrols in the area. Elsewhere three children in northeastern Borno state were killed by unexploded ordnances left on a bridge, according to Unicef. Two children sustained mild injuries and three others were in critical condition. Reuters

Arrest of Influential Tech Entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong in Cameroon Sparks Global Criticism
One of Africa’s best-known tech entrepreneurs has been arrested in Cameroon, provoking a storm of global criticism over human-rights abuses in one of Africa’s most entrenched dictatorships. Rebecca Enonchong, an investor in African tech startups and board chair of the AfriLabs network of innovation hubs, spent a third night in police custody in the city of Douala on Thursday after her arrest this week on accusations that remain unclear. Ms. Enonchong, 54, was reportedly accused of contempt of court, but no formal charges have been filed against her. “This is a blatant disregard for the rule of law,” AfriLabs said in an online petition calling for her release. Over her 20-year career, Ms. Enonchong has been hailed by groups such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum as one of Africa’s most influential entrepreneurs. Based in the United States, she also has corporate offices in Cameroon and elsewhere in Africa. Last year, Forbes magazine listed her as one of the 50 most powerful women in Africa. Ms. Enonchong has repeatedly criticized Cameroon’s authorities for alleged corruption and repressive actions, which many analysts believe was a factor in her arrest. The Globe and Mail

FM Hamdok Announces Mechanism ‘to Protect Sudan’s Transition’
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok yesterday announced the formation of a mechanism “to create a broad consensus” for the implementation of his initiative to protect the country’s transition to democracy. In a press conference at the Council of Ministers on Sunday evening, Hamdok said that the mechanism was formed after wide consultations, in order “to reflect diversity and express the richness of the political arena.” The goal of the mechanism, to be chaired by Maj Gen Fadlallah Burma (Retd), President of the National Umma Party (NUP), is “to represent the largest number of Sudanese society and its various sectors.” It will be “a body that seeks to achieve the greatest degree of consensus within Sudanese society” during the country’s transition to democracy. The transition period is set on 39 months, after which general elections will be held. The start of the period was postponed from August 17, 2019, when the Constitutional Charter was signed by the military and the Forces for Freedom and Change, to October 3, 2020, the date of the signing of the Jube Peace Agreement by the Sudanese government and a number of rebel movements. Two months ago, Hamdok announced the initiative National Crisis and Transition Issues – The Way Forward, “to find a way out of the national crisis and issues of democratic transition” in his country. Radio Dabanga

Oromo Liberation Army Threatens to Block Road Linking Ethiopia to Kenya
The main rebel group in Ethiopia’s Oromoa region on Saturday warned that it could cut off a major highway that links Ethiopia to Kenya, in what could directly affect trade with Nairobi. The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a militia group allied with the proscribed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said they had mounted an offensive that could block the main highway from Moyale, the only modern border post between Kenya and Ethiopia, which was only launched last December. If taken over, it will be the first time the conflict in Ethiopia would directly affect Kenya, Ethiopia’s neighbour to the south. OLA news sources claim that its fighters are rapidly advancing on the western and southern fronts of the Oromia region. In the southern front where the Ethiopia-Kenya highway passes through, the rebel group claimed to have controlled the entire Gujji zone and parts of the Borena zone bordering Kenya. Nation

France Suspends Military Cooperation with Ethiopia
France has suspended a military cooperation agreement with Ethiopia, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, amid heightened concern over the conflict in the north of the country. The agreement reached between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Emmanuel Macron in March 2019 was suspended in early July, two official sources familiar with the matter told AFP, on condition of anonymity. Macron and Abiy had reached an agreement in which France would lend 85 million euros ($ 100 million) to support the ambition of landlocked Ethiopia to build a navy. Abiy received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea. But international partners are increasingly concerned about his leadership as conflict in the northern Tigray region escalates. Northern Ethiopia has been in conflict since November, when Abiy sent troops to overthrow the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray, which dominated national politics for nearly three decades before Abiy took over. its functions. He said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on Federal Army camps. But as Abiy promised a quick victory, more than nine months later, the TPLF made strides in neighboring Afar and Amhara regions. AFP

Malawi to Take Over SADC Chairmanship from Mozambique
Malawi will Tuesday take over the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairmanship from Mozambique. This will take place at the 41st Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe that will run from August 17-18, 2021. The summit will have a limited number of attendees due to Covid-19 protocols. During the 41st Summit, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera will take over from Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi who assumed the chairmanship of SADC on August 17, 2020 during the 40th SADC Summit. Prior to the summit, SADC Organ Troika Summit will meet Monday. … The Summit will be held under the theme “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”. The Theme seeks to accelerate the implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020–2030, in particular, the Industrialisation and Market Integration pillar. Two weeks ago, the US Embassy and CDC Malawi, in partnership with University of Maryland – Baltimore, donated 7,000 masks, 1,000 face shields, hand sanitiser, and other personal protective equipment to support the Malawi Government in safely hosting the summit. The EastAfrican

Food Shortages and Ruined Livelihoods: Malawi’s Vanishing Lake Reveals Human Cost of Climate Change
The impact of climate change is already being felt on the shores of Lake Chilwa in Malawi. As many as 1.5million people live in the wider Lake Chilwa basin, which is one of the most densely populated regions in the world’s third-poorest country. Nationally, 3 people in 10 have no access to clean water near their home, and the changing climate is making it even harder for people to get water as droughts dry up sources and flooding can contaminate them. Photographer Dennis Lupenga spent time with the communities, gathering images to tell their stories, highlighting the daily realities of facing extreme weather and the need to help the world’s most vulnerable people adapt to the climate emergency they have done little to cause. Jonathan Farr, Senior Policy Analyst for Climate Change at WaterAid said: “The link between climate and water is clear. Longer droughts, extreme flooding, and rising sea levels are threatening people’s access to clean water, trapping them in a cycle of poverty.” Telegraph

Hunger Looms amid New Locust Invasion, COVID, Drought and Floods
On Monday, a dark cloud of desert locusts recently floated over the city of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. For more than 40 minutes the moving swarm of locusts covered the city in the Galgodon valley. On Tuesday, remnants of the swarm still hovered over the city. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) said last week on Tuesday that it was concerned about the anticipated re-emergence of the stubborn pests in the northernmost parts of Eastern Africa. The region has already undergone multiple cycles of infestation with the persistent insects. The larger East African region has over the past two years been in and out of the throes of economic and humanitarian crises due to the desert locusts, which arrived from Yemen, first entering Ethiopia and Somalia in June 2019, before spreading across borders into Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Chad. Tens of thousands of hectares of farmland and pasture have been damaged by the locusts. The EastAfrican

Ivory Coast Reports First Ebola Case in 25 Years
Ebola has resurfaced in Ivory Coast for the first time in 25 years, health officials said, after an 18-year-old woman from neighboring Guinea tested positive for the hemorrhagic fever in the nation’s bustling commercial capital, Abidjan. It is the first Ebola case in a major West African city since 2016. It comes about two months after Guinea declared the end of an outbreak that killed 12 people this year in the country and as a third wave of the coronavirus pummels hospitals across the region. “It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than 4 million people,” Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement. “However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent.” … Health leaders in West Africa say they know how to manage the menace. Thousands of Ebola vaccine doses are on the way from Guinea, officials said late Saturday, and health workers — as well as people suspected to have come into contact with Ebola cases — will receive the first shots. The Washington Post

Netflix First Original Series from Nigeria Drops Highly Anticipated Trailer
It is one of the most anticipated Nollywood films of all time and the trailer for King Of Boys: The Return Of The King was released Monday amid frenzy from fans of the crime and political thriller, who call themselves the KOB Army. The seven-part project is Netflix’s first Original Series from Nigeria and a sequel to the highly acclaimed 2018 King of Boys movie directed by leading director Kemi Adetiba. Fans can now take a peek at what to expect, as formidable businesswoman Eniola Salami, played by Nollywood veteran Sola Sobowale, returns to Nigeria after a five-year exile eager to mete out blood-curdling punishments to her adversaries. Following the success of the first installation, which made over N450 million ($1M) at the box office, Adetiba announced a sequel was in the works… After a two-year wait, she revealed that the sequel initially intended to be a movie will be a Netflix Original limited series. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones