Africa Media Review for August 25, 2022

‘Large-Scale’ Fighting Shatters Lull in Ethiopia’s Tigray
Ethiopia’s military has launched a “large-scale” offensive for the first time in a year in the northern Tigray region, Tigray authorities alleged Wednesday, while the government countered that Tigray forces attacked first. It’s a significant setback to mediation efforts as millions of people remain starved of food and other needs…For their part, an Aug. 23 letter signed by Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael and shared with The Associated Press said Tigray leaders had “conducted two rounds of confidential face-to-face talks with senior military and civilian officials” — the first confirmation of direct talks. But it said “unacceptable conditions have been inserted into the peace process,” and urged the international community to step in quickly.All sides have committed abuses in the conflict. On Wednesday, the United Nations said Tigray forces “forcibly entered” a World Food Program warehouse in the regional capital, Mekele, and took 12 fuel tankers meant for the delivery of badly needed humanitarian aid. AP

Mali: Russian Mercenaries Project the Kremlin’s Power Far from Its Troubles in Ukraine
Russia’s conventional forces are getting bogged down in Ukraine. But in weak-but-resource-rich states, its military diplomacy is becoming more entrenched and unbridled. This year, Wagner mercenaries have deployed alongside Malian forces across the West African nation’s central and northern states. Since March, Russian fighters have been involved in at least six alleged massacres, according to survivors, Western and United Nations officials and human-rights organizations, causing tens of thousands of people to flee across the border to Mauritania. U.N. investigators, in an unpublished report viewed by The Wall Street Journal, said a joint force of Malian and “white-skinned” fighters raided a group of herders near the border with Mauritania, executing dozens of them. While the incident took place as part of an operation against jihadists, there was no fighting and the herders were unarmed, survivors told the Journal in interviews. In several cases, Wagner sent geologists to scout resource-rich regions in southwest and central Mali ahead of its mercenaries, Western security officials said, adding that the timing suggests that Wagner is using military force to clear populations from areas where jihadists operate so that the company can access them for exploration and mining. Wall Street Journal

Angolan President Joao Lourenco Secures Early Poll Lead, Opposition ‘Calm and Tranquil’
Angola on Thursday eagerly awaited the outcome of the most tightly contested vote in its democratic history, with early results showing a wide margin for incumbent Joao Lourenco but the opposition also claiming a lead. Ballot counting began after polls closed on Wednesday in the oil-rich nation, where multi-party polls were only introduced in 1992. Preliminary results published overnight by Angola’s electoral commission gave the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) 60.65% of the vote with 33% of ballots counted. The main opposition the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) led by charismatic leader Adalberto Costa Junior was at 33.85%. AFP

Mozambique’s Jihadi Rebels Launch New Offensive in North
A new offensive by Mozambique’s Islamic extremist rebels in the embattled northern province of Cabo Delgado has increased the number of displaced by 80,000 and undermines the government’s claims of containing the insurgency. The rebels have expanded their area in a campaign that has lasted for more than two months. The new offensive, which started in June, follows a period of relative calm when the commander-general of Mozambique’s national police had declared that “the war against terrorism is almost at an end.” That claim proved to be hollow as the fighters have struck further south than ever before, burning villages and beheading civilians in the Ancuabe, Chiure and Mecufi districts which had previously been untouched by the conflict since it began in October 2017. The latest bout of violence brings the total number of people displaced in Cabo Delgado to just under 950,000, according to estimates by the International Organization for Migration. AP

South African Unions Go on Protests Against High Cost of Living
Hundreds of South Africans protested in the executive and legislative capitals of Pretoria and Cape Town on Wednesday, against inflation that has soared to a 13-year high. The protests were led by the trade union group Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a longtime ally of the governing African National Congress. Labour unrest often affects sectors such as mining during wage negotiations, but it is rare for COSATU, South Africa’s biggest union, to lead a national protest. Union officials said more protesters were expected to join the marches as the day progressed, though it was not immediately clear if a call for a national shutdown to take place in more than 10 major cities would be successful. The Department of Public Service and Administration said in a circular to government departments that state employees participating in the COSATU-led protests, which were supported by unions from other federations, would not be paid. Protesters holding placards saying “Stop Taxing Basic Food Items” sang as they marched through central Pretoria towards Union Buildings, which houses the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa, a founding COSATU member. Al Jazeera

Somalia’s President Vows ‘Total War’ Against Al-Shabab
In a televised speech Tuesday night, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that his government will launch a “total war” against al-Qaida-affiliated militant group al-Shabab, after the group staged a deadly hotel siege in Mogadishu on Friday, killing at least 21 people and wounding more than 100. Mohamud said that it is time to come together to defeat the enemy and said the military’s recent operations in parts of the country gained significant ground, including in central Galmudug state and Southwest state. His remarks were made after he met with the country’s security council to discuss the latest attack on Hotel Hayat in the capital. Voice of America

China Locks Out Kenya from New Debt Relief Deal
The elevation of Kenya to the middle-income status saw China lock the country out of a new list of African nations that will receive a Beijing debt relief this year, under a plan by the world’s second-largest economy to help 17 poor states in the continent saddled with its huge loans forego their repayments. The deal announced last week will see Beijing forgive 23 matured interest-free loans for 17 unnamed African countries, which are classified as least developed countries. Beijing made the announcement during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that seeks to boost ties between China and its African allies…Chinese authorities in Nairobi said Wednesday Kenya was left out of the deal as it is classified as lower-middle income, which the new Beijing scheme does not apply to. East African

Rwanda’s President Kagame Resumes In-Person Citizen Outreach
Rwandan President Paul Kagame will on Thursday begin a four-day in-person citizen outreach programme in the western and southern provinces, the first in three years and the second in his third term. During the tour that runs until Sunday in the districts of Ruhango, Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe and Karongi, Kagame is expected to have interactions with ordinary citizens mainly focused on local government service delivery. He will also hold closed-door sessions with opinion leaders…The tour comes ahead of the country’s next year’s parliamentary elections, and presidential elections in 2024…Kagame’s last virtual presence in September 2020 covered various topics including the government’s Covid-19 response, Paul Rusesabagina’s trial, and Rwanda’s relations with neighbouring countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. East African

France’s Macron Heads to Algeria in Bid to Heal Wounds
French President Emmanuel Macron is heading to Algeria for a three-day official visit aimed at addressing two major challenges: boosting future economic relations while seeking to heal wounds inherited from the colonial era, 60 years after the North African country won its independence from France. The visit comes less than a year after a monthslong diplomatic crisis between the two countries that stirred up post-colonial tensions and as war in Ukraine has reinforced Algeria’s status as a key partner to provide gas to the European continent. In recent years, Macron has made unprecedented steps to acknowledge torture and killings by French troops during Algeria’s 1954-62 war of independence, in a bid to appease the two countries’ still rancorous relations. Yet the series of symbolic gestures has fallen short of an apology from France for its actions during the war — a longstanding demand from Algeria. AP

Sudan’s National Accord Forces Announces Political Vision
The National Accord Forces on Tuesday signed a political declaration aiming to achieve civilian rule and the formation of a sovereign ruling body for the next 30 months. The members of the Forces for Freedom and Change-National Accord) breakaway faction, aka National Accord Forces (NAF), signed four documents that pave the way to complete the transitional period and prepare for elections, chairman Mubarak Ardol tweeted around noon. He mentioned the political declaration, constitutional amendments, criteria for choosing a prime minister and the government, and the proposed programme for the transitional government. The NAF proposes the formation of a cabinet of 26 ministers, the formation of a legislative council of 400 members, and describes the tasks of the new transitional government, as well as the powers of the prime minister. The role of the military in the government should be limited to security and defence councils, which are to be chaired by a civilian head of state or the prime minister. The declaration also calls for an investigation into the June 3 massacre in 2019, when more than 100 peaceful protesters were killed in an attack by government forces on the sit-in in front of the Khartoum army command. Dabanga

Fact-Check: Did Gov’t Forces Kill Top Insurgent Leaders in Northeast Nigeria?
The Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Nigeria’s President, Ajuri Ngelale, claimed in an Arise TV interview on Saturday, Aug. 20, that the government knocked off the leadership of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram last year.  “I think this has been totally muted in the media in this country is the fact that in 2021 we knocked off the top two threats to this country in terms of the fight against insecurity. We took off the battlefield Abu Musab Al-Barnawi of ISWAP, and we also took off the battlefield Abubakar Shekau,” the presidential aide stated. But did government forces really take the leaders out of the battlefield? The death of Shekau was not a result of the direct intervention of security forces but a cumulation of the rivalry with ISWAP, which broke away from the original Boko Haram in 2016. In May last year, the Boko Haram leader was killed during the battle for the group’s Sambisa stronghold. HumAngle

Nigeria: Government Moves Against Brain Drain
Disturbed by the migration of doctors, nurses and other medical workers to Europe and America for greener pasture, the Federal government has floated a policy to ensure that every deserting doctor or nurse is replaced immediately. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja, insisted that Nigeria does not have a shortage of doctors and other health workers. Ehanire, who described the proposed policy as ‘one for replacing one, said: “I have heard the complaints that doctors are leaving the system. But actually, we have enough doctors in the country because we are producing up to 2,000 to 3,000 doctors every year in the country, and the number leaving is less than 1,000. Just that the recruitment process needs to be smoothened.” Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Ifedayo Adetifa, said there was no shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, but rather, a paucity of arms to uptake the vaccine. Guardian Nigeria

We Asked AI to Write About Violence in Zamfara, Nigeria. This Is the Result.
Since 2011, Zamfara State in Northwestern Nigeria has suffered from a wave of banditry, as gangs of armed bandits terrorise citizens. This violence has left thousands dead and many more wounded and caused widespread displacement.  These gangs attack isolated farms, and small villages, rob people and their properties, kill men and take away women and children as captives. Some are released after a ransom is paid; others remain captive for months or years. In 2016 alone, about 40 villages were attacked by these armed bandits who came with horses and camels to cart away all they could from their victims. The gang members are believed to be Fulani cattle herders who have been forced out of their natural habitat because of desertification caused by unsustainable deforestation for firewood and the construction of large-scale farms for export crops such as palm oil. HumAngle

UK-Backed Africa Infrastructure Fund, Managed by Ninety One, Plans to Raise R8.5bn
Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund plans to raise as much as $500 million (R8.5 billion) over the next three years to invest in infrastructure projects on the continent. The EAIF needs the new capital to embark on its next growth phase, said Martijn Proos, director at London- and Johannesburg-listed firm Ninety One, which manages the fund. “We are open to Africa, we are open for business where there are good opportunities,” he said in an interview. The EAIF was established by Private Infrastructure Development Group in 2001 and substantially funded by the governments of the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. It provides mainly debt capital and has invested $2.1 billion in over 90 projects on the continent. In an effort to bolster interest from investors, Proos said the fund this week received its first-ever credit rating, from Moody’s Investors Service — a foreign currency long-term issuer rating of A2 with a stable outlook. Bloomberg News



Photo: Adam Jones