Africa Media Review for February 21, 2023

South Africa Risks Backlash for Russian Naval Exercises, but Its History with Moscow Runs Deep
The frigate Admiral Gorshkov – carrying hypersonic Zircon missiles, according to President Putin – has a “Z” and “V” crudely painted in white on its blackened smokestack, just like the Russian tanks and artillery pieces that rolled into Ukraine a year ago. It is participating in a 10-day naval exercise in the Indian Ocean alongside South African and Chinese warships, war games that South Africa says have long been planned. But the timing of the exercises has Western diplomats privately incensed and publicly critical, and they risk an embarrassing backlash for the government in Pretoria. “The timing of these exercises is particularly unfortunate and will focus the world’s attention on South Africa during the anniversary of the war. I don’t think Western nations are going to let this one slide,” said Steven Gruzd, head of the African Governance and Diplomacy Program at the South African Institute of International Affairs. “It is very disturbing, that South Africa is hosting a military exercise with the country – an aggressor, invader – that is using its military force against a peaceful country, bringing destruction and trying to eliminate the Ukrainian Nation,” said Liubov Abravitova, Ukraine’s ambassador to Southern Africa. CNN

He’s Energized Nigeria’s Young Voters. Will They Turn Out for Him?
“A new Nigeria is possible,” he told the crowd in his distinctive high voice. “For the first time, government is going to care about you.” For eight years, the citizens of Africa’s most populous nation — 70 percent of them under the age of 30 — have been governed by Muhammadu Buhari, who previously ruled the country as a military dictator, in the 1980s, long before most of them were even born…According to polls, many of these new voters support Mr. Obi, a former state governor challenging the traditional two-party hegemony by running with the lesser-known Labour Party. He is seen as the candidate of the youth, though far from young at 61; his main rivals are in their 70s. Mr. Buhari, who is 80, served the maximum of two terms…Nigeria, and particularly its young people, have had an extremely tough few years. Large groups of schoolchildren have been kidnapped, by extremists or ransom seekers. Youth unemployment nearly tripled during the Buhari years. Demonstrators in peaceful protests against police brutality were themselves shot dead by security forces in 2020 as they sang and waved the flag by a tollgate in Lekki, an upmarket Lagos suburb. New York Times

Investors Already Bet Nigeria’s Next Leader Has No Chance of Fixing Fiscal Crisis
Nigeria’s bond market is already betting that the nation’s next leader — whoever it is — won’t be able to repair the shambles left by the previous administration. Africa’s most populous country is in the midst of a fiscal crisis, driven by soaring debt service payments that will soon cost more than the government generates in revenue. The three main candidates vying to replace outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari at an election on Saturday have promised to right the ship, but bond performance suggests investors aren’t buying it. Bloomberg

Nigeria Election 2023: Fact-Checking Claims by the Candidates
With Nigeria’s presidential elections looming, candidates seeking to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari have been making claims about key issues. We have looked at statements by Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), as well as by opposition politicians Atiku Abubakar from the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi. BBC

Suspected Rebels Kill 8 Police Officers Ahead of Nigeria Election
At least eight Nigerian police officers have been killed in separate attacks by suspected rebels in the country’s southeast just days ahead of presidential elections. The killings come as more than 90 million people are registered to vote this Saturday to elect a successor to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who is stepping down after two terms in office…Police have blamed the attacks on a rebel group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is fighting for the independence of the ethnic Igbo people in southeast Nigeria. The IPOB and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network, have denied responsibility for the frequent attacks in the region. The violence has stoked fears about the ability of Nigeria’s security forces to protect voters at the polls this weekend. Festus Okoye, an official with Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said the commission might not be able to deploy to some polling stations because of security concerns. Al Jazeera

50 Soldiers Die in Burkina Faso Attack
The army in Burkina Faso says more than 50 soldiers were killed in an attack by presumed Islamists in the north. It said in a statement that 51 bodies had been found so far, several soldiers were still missing and three wounded soldiers had been evacuated from the scene. However, the military had said earlier on Monday that eight had died in what it described as intense fighting in Oudalan province. It claimed it had killed more than 100 of the assailants, though that number has not been independently verified. Meanwhile, this year has seen an upsurge in fighting in northern Burkina Faso, with more than 100 deaths reported in the first six weeks. BBC

France Eyes Ivory Coast After Burkina Faso Boots out French Troops
France’s defence minister pledged on Monday to boost military support to Ivory Coast, as Paris adjusts its strategy in West Africa after neighbouring Burkina Faso ordered French troops to leave and vowed to curb a worsening Islamist insurgency solo…Underscoring the insecurity, the Burkinabe army on Monday said at least 51 soldiers had been killed in an ambush the previous week – one of the heaviest death tolls in a single attack on Burkinabe forces in recent memory. During an official visit to the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan, the French minister, Sebastien Lecornu, declined to comment on Burkina Faso’s decision even as he re-emphasised France’s commitment to engagement with security issues in West Africa, where the Islamist insurgency is spreading. Reuters

As Cyclone Nears, Mauritius and Madagascar Brace for Floods, Storm Surge
Mauritius grounded flights and shut its stock exchange as tropical cyclone Freddy approached the island in the Indian Ocean on Monday, while emergency teams braced for heavy rains, floods and landslides in four regions on Madagascar. The cyclone, packing wind gusts of up to 120 km per hour (75 miles per hour), posed a direct threat to Mauritius, its weather service said…Authorities on the island of Madagascar – about 1,130 km west of Mauritius towards the coast of Africa – said they were expecting a direct hit by late Tuesday, between Mahanoro in the east and Manakara in the south east. Reuters

Donor Fatigue, Somalia Aid Cuts Worry Aid Workers
Aid workers in Somalia say they are concerned about a likely reduction in humanitarian support as the country grapples with its worst drought in decades. Donor fatigue compounded by multiple crises around the world that also require humanitarian support could reduce the level of funds Somalia appeal receives, the aid workers say. “The main reason why there’s a donor fatigue is because, as you can imagine, Somalia has been receiving humanitarian assistance for over three decades now and the situation has not been changing,” said Mohamed Abdi, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. Voice of America

Rebels and Troops Clash in DR Congo Despite Summit Call
“There have been clashes since 5:00 am with the M23” in the Kitshanga area, northwest of the main eastern city of Goma, a security source said. “They are rebels, they don’t care about summits,” said local civil society leader Toby Kahangu, referring to the meeting last week in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Friday’s summit was the latest bid by the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) to silence the guns in the mineral-rich region, where fighting has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and inflamed regional tensions. The meeting called for a ceasefire and for all armed groups to withdraw from occupied territory by March 30. AFP

Sudan, Armed Groups Sign New Implementation Agreement for Juba Peace Agreement
The Sudanese military-led transitional government and several armed signatories to the Juba peace agreement on Sunday signed a two-year new implementation matrix for implementing the pact. The transitional government in Khartoum and the armed groups signed a peace agreement on October 3, 2020, but the lack of money, the power struggle between the civilian and military components and a coup d’etat in October 2021 complicated the implementation process. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwean Opposition Girds for ‘Rough’ Election
Five months before the next election in Zimbabwe, many avoid uttering the name “Nelson Chamisa” in public when talking about the main rival to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The southern African country is more and more like a “dictatorship”, the 45-year-old lawyer told AFP. His Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) party is bracing for a “rough” presidential and legislative election campaign against Mnangagwa, known as “the Crocodile” for his ruthless cunning. A date has yet to be set for the votes, which are expected to be early in August. But the odds are stacked up against the opposition. “It’s going to be a rough campaign, hard hat equipment is necessary,” said Chamisa in his office in the centre of the capital, Harare. AFP

Body of Soccer Star Who Died in Turkey Quake Arrives in Ghana
The remains of Ghanaian football star Christian Atsu arrived home Sunday following his death in Turkey’s devastating earthquake. Atsu’s coffin, draped in Ghana’s flag, arrived by plane in Accra and was received by his family and with military honors. The 31-year-old athlete was discovered dead on Saturday following the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit southern Turkey and Syria on February 6, killing more than 46,000 people in both countries. It was a solemn moment Sunday evening as the Turkish Airlines carrying the body of the former Premier League footballer touched down at the Kotoka International Airport. To the sound of a lone trumpet, six military pallbearers hoisted the casket onto the tarmac, where a sizeable crowd of family members, football fans, diplomats and state officials watched with sadness and tears. Voice of America