Africa Media Review for December 8, 2023

West Africa Court Refuses to Recognize Niger’s Junta, Rejects Request to Lift Coup Sanctions
West Africa’s top court on Thursday rejected a request by Niger’s junta for a lifting of coup-related sanctions imposed by its neighbors, ruling that the junta is unconstitutional and therefore lacks the authority to make such a request. Following the July coup that toppled Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS imposed sanctions including shutting borders with the member country, suspending financial transactions and freezing Niger’s assets…Niger challenged the sanctions at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in the Nigerian capital Abuja arguing they were causing severe hardship for Niger’s citizens, including by curtailing supplies of food and medicine. Niger’s coup leaders asked for a provisional halt to the sanctions pending a final judgement on the issue…Niger’s deposed president, Bazoum, is still detained by the junta. ECOWAS has demanded his unconditional release and reinstatement as one of the conditions for lifting the sanctions. AP

Nigeria: Parliament Indispensable to Ensuring Peace, Stability in West Africa – Reps Speaker
[The Speaker of the House of Representatives Abbas] Tajudeen  spoke on Thursday in Abuja at an international roundtable conference on ‘The Role of Parliaments in Security Sector Reform and Governance in West Africa’…The speaker listed the roles of the parliament in helping to fight insecurity in the subregion including enacting laws that define the mandate and operations of security agencies, as well as laws that protect human rights and ensure accountability within the security sector…Aside from the above, Mr Tajudeen said oversight is another fundamental aspect of parliamentary involvement in security sector governance. Through oversight mechanisms such as hearings, inquiries, and reports, parliamentarians can hold security agencies accountable for their actions, performance, and adherence to legal frameworks. This oversight function serves as a check on potential abuses of power and ensures that security institutions operate within the boundaries of democratic governance. Premium Times

Rebels in Congo Take Key Outpost in the East as Peacekeepers Withdraw and Fighting Intensifies
Armed rebels seized a town in eastern Congo on Thursday after violently clashing with the army, which has taken on an expanded role as peacekeeping forces withdraw from the mineral-rich, conflict-stricken region. Military officials and residents of Mushaki told The Associated Press that M23 militants had penetrated the town and occupied key military outposts, leading many to flee…M23 is a large and powerful rebel group that operates near Congo’s border with Rwanda, a mineral-rich region where armed groups have long waged campaigns of violence and been accused of mass killings…Mushaki is a pivotal transport hub that paves the way to larger cities in east Congo’s Kivu region…M23’s offensive comes during ongoing fighting that has caused further displacement since a cease-fire broke down in November 2022. Peace efforts appear to have stalled. The new round of fighting also comes amid questions about the region’s long-term stability as Congolese leaders in Kinshasa push regional and international peacekeeping forces to withdraw. AP

RSF Turned Media Premises into Detention Facilities: Sudanese Journalists Union
The Sudanese Journalists Syndicate has denounced the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)’s use of the buildings of the Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) as detention centres and the subsequent sale of SBC equipment in Omdurman markets. In a statement, the syndicate affirmed that witnesses who were detained at the SBC facilities in Omdurman confirmed the RSF’s utilization of these structures as makeshift prisons…The syndicate vehemently condemned this irresponsible behaviour, asserting that it exposes the country’s historical heritage to the potential of destruction, devastation, and eventual extinction. The syndicate further disclosed that the RSF had vandalized and looted the Sudanese 24 and Al-Balad channels in Khartoum, as well as the BBC office in Khartoum. Equipment belonging to the Blue Nile Channel was also reportedly observed for sale in Omdurman’s Libya Market. Sudan Tribune

Egypt’s Sisi Poised for Third Term as Gaza Distracts from Economic Troubles
Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is set to secure six more years as Egypt’s president in an election held in the shadow of the nearby war in the Gaza Strip, despite growing unease about the country’s economic performance. Over nearly a decade in power, Sisi has presented himself as a guarantor of stability in a volatile region, a message that has added traction in a year when two conflicts, in Sudan and Gaza, have erupted on Egypt’s borders. Critics see the Dec. 10-12 election as a non-event after a decade-long crackdown on dissent. And while the result has not been in doubt, economic pressures including soaring prices have driven public debate and stirred criticism of Sisi’s record…Sisi announced that his campaign would be curtailed to save funds for aid to Gaza, though giant posters showing his face have proliferated on roadsides and buildings…Sisi has overseen a far-reaching crackdown since leading the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. He retains the support of a military establishment that has gained further political and economic influence under his rule. Reuters

Zimbabwe Court Bars Opposition MPs from Crucial By-Elections
A Zimbabwe court on Thursday barred most opposition candidates from running in by-elections on Saturday that could take the ruling Zanu-PF party closer to changing the constitution…The Harare high court ruled in favour of Sengezo Tshabangu, whom the [opposition Citizens Coalition for Change ] (CCC) leadership says is an impostor. In October, claiming to be the party’s interim secretary general, Tshabangu had the seats of 14 CCC lawmakers declared vacant by parliament. This triggered by-elections in nine constituencies the CCC won under a first-past-the-post system in a disputed election in August. The recalled MPs sought to win their seats back in the new votes scheduled for Saturday. Tshabangu argued that they could not run under the CCC banner without his approval and won in court…Zanu-PF victories in the by-elections would take it closer to the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to amend the constitution…The case has sharpened political tensions that have been high in the southern African country since an August 23 vote that international observers said fell short of democratic standards. AFP

ANC Veteran of 60 Years Mavuso Msimang ‘Painfully’ Severs Ties, Tenders Devastating Resignation
Mavuso Msimang, deputy president of the African National Congress Veterans’ League (ANCVL), has resigned from the party after more than 60 years. Msimang said…that ‘For several years now, the ANC has been wracked by endemic corruption, with devastating consequences on the governance of the country and the lives of poor people, of whom there continue to be so many’…Msimang’s resignation will be a blow to the ANC, which is desperately struggling to hold on to any chance to retain power in next year’s national elections. Msimang, who spent many years in exile, served in the armed wing of the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe in the 1960s and was the then banned organisation’s Chief of Communications…He…was later appointed to several positions including Head of SA Tourism, CEO of the State Information Technology Agency and the Director-General in the Department of Home Affairs. He was voted in as the Veteran’s League deputy president earlier this year. Daily Maverick

Who Is Ghana’s Masked Presidential Contender?
Giant billboards featuring a man in a mask and the simple message “leadership for the next generation #thenewforce” have appeared in major cities across Ghana in recent weeks…The campaign issued a statement late last month in which it said the identity of the masked person will be revealed in “the shortest possible time,” along with “policy objectives and goals”…Ghana will hold presidential elections in exactly a year. Power has alternated between the two main political parties — the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — since the country’s switch to multi-party democracy in 1992…It is unclear who the man behind the mask on the billboards is, but most people believe it is a businessman named Nana Kwame Bediako, also known as Cheddar… Despite growing support for the #thenewforce campaign, a new party would have to compete for the third force slot with the Movement of Change, a political group founded by a former trade minister who left the ruling NPP. Semafor


UK paid Rwanda extra £100mn for asylum scheme
The UK government has paid Rwanda an extra £100mn as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s troubled plan to send asylum seekers to the central African nation, taking the total cost so far to £240mn. The additional payment, [was] made in April but revealed in a Home Office letter to MPs on Thursday evening…Earlier this month [Sir Matthew Rycroft, the top civil servant in the Home Office,] said there would be further payments made towards supporting asylum seekers in Rwanda if the policy became operational. But he initially declined to answer MPs questions on the total cost of the scheme, saying the information was “commercially sensitive.” He stressed the extra payments were not linked to the new treaty signed this week between London and Kigali as part of UK government efforts to rescue the policy. Financial Times


UN Says Africa Faces Unprecedented Food Crisis, with 3 in 4 People Unable to Afford a Healthy Diet
At least three-fourths of Africans can’t afford a healthy diet, and a fifth are undernourished due to an “unprecedented food crisis,” United Nations agencies said in a report released Thursday with the African Union Commission. The continent’s 1.4 billion people are confronting high levels of hunger and malnutrition as the hit on world grain supplies from Russia’s war in Ukraine compounds the ills of African conflicts, climate change and the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said…In 2022, as many as 342 million Africans were “severely food-insecure,” the report said. That represented 38% of the 735 million hungry people around the world, it said…The agencies noted he continent is still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19. They said 57 million more Africans have become undernourished since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total of the undernourished to nearly 282 million last year. AP

Where Have All the Grasshoppers Gone?: Uganda’s Insect Traders Struggle to Find Protein-Rich Bugs
The insects are a welcome part of Ugandans’ daily diet: they are high in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids and when fried and sprinkled with salt make a nutritious crunchy snack. The insects, locally known as nsenene, appear twice a year, in April and May and from October to December…This year has been different, however. November is known as “musenene” – the month of the grasshopper – because swarms are seen, and caught, almost every day, particularly in central Uganda, their main breeding ground. But the insects appeared for just seven days last month…Grasshopper populations have been dwindling for years as the forests, grassland and swamps in which they feed and breed are destroyed. The country has lost almost a third of its forests in the last three decades. The central region has seen the most intense clearance of protected habitats. This year has been the worst on record for grasshopper populations. The Guardian

Down to the Wire: The Ship Fixing Our Internet
A four-person repair team is working a double shift to splice together one of the undersea cables that carries the internet between Africa and the rest of the world…The four are among the nearly 60 crew members on board the Leon Thevenin, sub-Saharan Africa’s only dedicated fibre-optic repair vessel…Near to the shore, cables often break due to human interference (being sliced through by an anchor, for example)…Deep at sea, breaks are more rare – but when they happen they are usually the result of geological change such as undersea rockfall. One of the most recent was caused on 6 August by rockfall in the Congo Canyon – one of the world’s largest undersea canyons, located just off Africa’s west coast – which snapped three of Africa’s most important fibre threads…It took the crew a month to sail around the Cape of Good Hope to make the repairs. Shortly after that, they restored another three cables in Angola which brought 750,000 people back online…[T]he ship used to do three or four repairs per year. So far in 2023, it has done nine repairs. This is a sign of progress: more cables have been laid to respond to Africa’s increasing digital connectivity, and more cables mean more breakages. Mail and Guardian