Africa Media Review for December 11, 2023

In Focus: Military Professionalism
Military professionalism is a standard of conduct exercised by members of the armed forces to effectively provide security for citizens while upholding the values of service to the public, subordination to democratic civilian authority, allegiance to the constitution, political neutrality, and respect for the rule of law and human rights. Military professionalism is not the result of a single event but is a culture that must be constantly reinforced, refined, and perpetuated. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Sudan’s Generals Agree to Meet in Effort to End Their Devastating War, a Regional Bloc Says
Sudan’s warring generals agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting as part of efforts to establish a cease-fire and initiate political talks to end the country’s devastating war, an African regional bloc said Sunday…In a meeting of the leaders of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, a grouping of East African countries, both Sudanese generals agreed to “an unconditional cease-fire and resolution of the conflict through political dialogue,” and to hold a “a one-to-one meeting,” the bloc said in a statement Sunday. Burhan, who chairs Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, attended the meeting Saturday in Djibouti, which holds the rotating IGAD presidency. Dagalo, whose whereabouts are unknown, spoke by phone with IGAD leaders. The statement gave no further details, including when and where the two generals would meet. AP

In Coup-Hit West Africa, Regional Leaders Recognize Niger’s Junta but Seek Fast Return to Democracy
West African heads of state on Sunday officially recognized the junta in power in Niger, but said their sanctions to reverse the July coup in the country would remain even as they initiate steps for a “short” period of transition to civilian rule. A team of heads of state would engage with the junta “to agree on a short transition program” as against the three years the soldiers earlier proposed, Omar Alieu Touray, president of the regional bloc of ECOWAS Commission, said at the bloc’s meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja…The leaders also requested the immediate and unconditional release of Bazoum who has been detained since the coup in July. They were, however, silent on his reinstatement as president. The regional sanctions on Niger would only be eased if the junta agrees to the demands made by ECOWAS, Touray said, adding that failure to do would lead the bloc to “maintain all sanctions including the use of force and (to) request African Union and all other partners to enforce the capital sanctions on members of the CNSP and their associates.” AP

Egyptians Head to Polls in Second Day of Presidential Vote
Egyptians voted on Monday in the second and penultimate day of a presidential election in which Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to sweep to a third, six-year term amid a grinding economic crisis and war on Egypt’s border in Gaza…Critics see the election as a sham after a decade-long crackdown on dissent…Two Reuters reporters saw voters being bussed into polling stations, and one saw bags containing flour, rice and other basic commodities being handed out to people who showed ink stains on their fingers indicating they had voted. Plainclothes police have been heavily deployed. The National Election Authority said turnout on the first day of voting on Sunday had been high. Egypt’s fast-growing population of 104 million is struggling with soaring prices and other economic pressures, though headline inflation has dipped slightly from record levels, reaching 34.6% on Sunday. Reuters

Congo’s President Makes Campaign Stop Near Conflict Zone and Blasts Rwanda for Backing Rebels
A fiery President Felix Tshisekedi rallied thousands of supporters at a stadium in a conflict-stricken eastern region of Congo on Sunday, making one of his final campaign sweeps through the country in the lead-up to elections later this month…The election has resurfaced long simmering questions about overlapping conflicts in eastern Congo and neighboring nations such as Rwanda. Tshisekedi and many of the two dozen candidates running against him, including former oil executive Martin Fayulu and businessman Moise Katumbi, pledge to stem violence and displacement. Tshisekedi has long accused Kagame and Rwanda of providing military support to M23, the latest iteration of Congolese Tutsi fighters to seize towns in parts of mineral-rich North Kivu…Beyond the speech, Tshisekedi sought to project symbolic power by visiting North Kivu’s capital. The rebels have taken over large parts of the region and since last week they have overcome volunteer self-defense groups and Congolese soldiers to seize major nearby towns.Despite his plea for votes, it is questionable how deeply the election will reach into North Kivu and other conflict-stricken regions.  AP

Congo Election Commission Seeks Urgent Help to Distribute Voting Materials
Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission (CENI) has asked the presidency to provide aircraft urgently to help distribute voting materials, just two weeks ahead of national elections, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Friday. The request highlights the logistical challenges to delivering the Dec. 20 vote as scheduled across Africa’s second-largest country, given its lack of paved roads and deep insecurity in rebel-plagued eastern provinces. In the letter dated Dec. 5, the head of the CENI said the commission needed four Antonov planes and 10 helicopters to get voting materials to hard-to-reach areas…A CENI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the need for additional air support was due to delays obtaining printed election materials and the rainy season making some roads impassable. Voters in the mineral-rich Central African country are mulling whether to back Tshisekedi or one of his two dozen challengers. They say his first term failed to address the deep inequalities that have left 26 million people dependent on humanitarian aid. Reuters

Zimbabwe’s CCC Vows to Challenge ‘Judicial Coup’ That Promises Zanu-PF a Supermajority
Zimbabwe…was due to hold nine by-elections on Saturday, but most opposition candidates were taken off electoral lists by courts in a chaotic runup to the vote…A nationwide election in August saw the 81-year-old Mnangagwa seal a new term and his ZANU-PF secure 177 of the 280 national assembly seats, with the CCC taking 104. But two months later, 14 CCC lawmakers were kicked out of parliament and nine by-elections ordered. The other five seats are decided by proportional representation. An obscure political figure, Sengezo Tshabangu, declared himself the CCC’s “interim secretary general” and said that the 14 were no longer party members and could not keep their seats. CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, a former preacher, protested that Tshabangu was not a party member and that no expulsions had been agreed. But the parliament speaker from ZANU-PF still ordered new elections. Courts ruled last week, confirmed by the Harare High Court on Saturday, that the opposition candidates could not stand again in their old seats…Results of the vote are due to be announced in the coming days. AFP

UN Struggles to Fund Peacekeeping as Nations Demand End to Missions
The United Nations’ top peacekeeping official defended the organization’s missions worldwide as concerns grow that they’ve gone into retreat as African leaders demand their withdrawal from Mali to Congo. Under Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said Wednesday that the force operates on a $5.5 billion budget, which is less than that of the New York City Police Department, even though its force is much larger, with 70,000 personnel worldwide. He told delegates at a U.N. peacekeeping ministerial meeting in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, that efforts had been hampered by divisions among member states. The majority of U.N. peacekeeping missions are in Africa, including in Central African Republic, Sudan and Western Sahara…The operations, which require approval from the U.N. Security Council to be extended, have gradually gone into retreat in Africa. In June, leaders in Mali requested the United Nations withdraw peacekeeping forces. Leaders from Congo made a similar request to the Security Council in September. AP

Philip Mpango: Tanzania Orders Social Media Crackdown over VP Death Rumours
Tanzanian authorities are investigating social media users accused of spreading false information about Vice-President Philip Mpango’s health. Mr Mpango resurfaced on Sunday after being absent from public view for over a month, sparking relief and ending widespread rumours he had died. Information Minister Nape Nnauye has ordered investigations into those who spread the speculation…The vice-president was last seen in public on 31 October while representing President Samia Suluhu Hassan during a virtual meeting of leaders from the Southern African Development Community…While reacting to Mr Mpango’s call for social media users to be more responsible, the information minister ordered the relevant state agencies to take action against those who spread speculation about the VP’s whereabouts…In 2018, Tanzania enacted tough laws against the spread of “fake news”, which critics see as a way of curbing freedom of expression. BBC

Cop28 Failing on Climate Adaptation Finance So Far, African Group Warns
Fair and equitable finance for climate adaptation is a matter of life and death for the African continent, but talks at Cop28 so far have failed to deliver, the chief negotiator for the African group has warned. Adaptation is being discussed as part of the global stocktake (GST), the assessment of where the world is on delivering the commitments made in the 2015 Paris agreement. The long-awaited global goal on adaptation (GGA) – a collective commitment proposed by the African group in 2013 and established under the Paris agreement – to drive political action and finance for adaptation on the same scale as mitigation, is also due to be completed in Dubai. But progress has been slow, and countries have yet to agree on measurable targets and guidelines, let alone come up with a workable framework and finance agreements that fairly reflect the burden on developing countries especially in Africa. It is unclear whether the promised outcome will be delivered, as countries have so far failed to agree on the draft text…“We are in an adaptation emergency and our vulnerable populations are suffering. The world must act and take steps to close the adaptation gap with quality financing so that Africans do not get left behind,” said Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, a Zambian who is head of the African group of negotiators. The Guardian

South Africa: Inside the Battle to Decarbonise the World’s Dirtiest Refinery
The Secunda mines-to-refining complex is the world’s largest carbon emitter by volume. The plant, owned by South Africa’s biggest chemical company Sasol, emits more carbon dioxide than Portugal…After decades of turning abundant South African coal into synthetic fuel under a process first developed by Nazi Germany, Secunda is now at the centre of a dispute about the pace at which Sasol should ditch its dirty habits…At stake is the long-term future of Sasol itself, one of the country’s most technologically sophisticated companies and its biggest taxpayer…Sasol…produces one-third of South Africa’s fuel, exports speciality chemicals worldwide, and employs more than 30,000 people. Secunda drives about 40 per cent of its earnings…More immediately, Sasol must meet government air-quality standards at Secunda by reducing sulphur dioxide and so-called NOx gas emissions. Sasol says it will meet NOx standards by 2025 but cannot hit required levels of S02 emissions without shutting down some of its boilers. Financial Times

New Sickle Cell Therapies Will Be Out of Reach Where They Are Needed Most
Three-quarters of the world’s sickle cell patients are in sub-Saharan Africa. Several million of them are believed to be sick enough that they would be eligible for the new therapies, compared with some 20,000 in the United States…Two key factors put it out of the reach of patients in Africa. First, price: The treatments are far too expensive for governments that struggle to pay for basic health services. In some cases, there may be substantial additional costs, such as for a patient’s extended hospital stay to receive gene therapy. The second barrier is medical infrastructure: Administering the treatment is a monthslong process at medical centers that can perform stem cell transplants. Patients must have their cells harvested and flown to a lab for manufacturing, undergo grueling chemotherapy and endure a long hospitalization…The mutation that causes sickle cell is thought to have arisen 7,000 years ago in West Africa. (Worldwide, most people with the disease are of African ancestry.) The New York Times