Africa Media Review for February 28, 2022

Professional Military Education Institutions in Africa [Infographic]
Africa has recently experienced a spate of coups and increasingly politicized militaries, underscoring the need to strengthen military professionalism in Africa. This politicization obscures the genuine progress that has been made in building a professional officer corps within certain African militaries, even if that progress is partial and varies widely across the continent. Strengthening professional military education (PME) institutions is one way to improve military professionalism in Africa. Effective PMEs can instill a commitment to democratic civil-military relations and citizen security, shape a strategic vision, advance understanding of national and regional security strategy development, and enhance a service ethos within the officer corps. 42 out of 54 African countries have a military academy, 26 countries have a Command and Staff College, and 18 countries have a War or Defense College. These are relatively evenly distributed across Africa’s subregions. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

UN ‘House on Fire’ Climate Report Key to Action
A new science report from the United Nations will spell out in excruciating detail the pain of climate change to people and the planet with the idea — the hope really — that if leaders pay attention, some of the worst can be avoided or lessened. … Monday’s report is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a heavy hitter group of hundreds of scientists the UN asks to issue major reports every five to seven years about climate change. The scientists do three main reports. The first, on what’s known about the science behind climate change and general projections of future warming, came out last August and got nicknamed “code red” by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. After Monday’s report, the second, a third report comes out in several weeks. It will be on options to confront climate change. Monday’s report is about the impacts, what climate change has done, is doing and will do to people and the world we live in. Hayhoe said if she were to give this report a nickname like the last one it would be: “Your House Is On Fire.” “It is a massive compendium of how climate change is affecting us here, now, in ways that matter to our lives,” Hayhoe said in an email. “It shows how we can and must prepare for the impacts we can no longer avoid.” … a key point in these reports: The future isn’t set. It depends on what’s done in governments, businesses and homes. AP

UN Climate Report: ‘Atlas of Human Suffering,’ Worse, Bigger
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said Monday if human-caused global warming isn’t limited to just another couple tenths of a degree, an Earth now struck regularly by deadly heat, fires, floods and drought in future decades will degrade in 127 ways with some being “potentially irreversible.” … “There’s real existential threats,” report co-chair Debra Roberts of South Africa told The Associated Press. Since the last version of this impacts panel’s report in 2014, “all the risks are coming at us faster than we thought before,” said report co-author Maarten van Aalst, a climate scientist for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, mentioning floods, droughts and storms. “More of it will get really bad much sooner than we thought before.” “Every bit of warming matters. The longer you wait… the more you will pay later,” said report co-chair Hans-Otto Poertner of Germany told the AP in an interview. By 2050, a billion people will face coastal flooding risk from rising seas, the report says. More people will be forced out of their homes from weather disasters, especially flooding, sea level rise and tropical cyclones. … And eventually in some places it will become too hot for people to work outdoor, which will be a problem for raising crops, said report co-author Rachel Bezner Kerr of Cornell University. … Study authors said much of Africa, parts of Central and South America and South Asia are “hot spots” for the worst harms to people and ecosystems. AP

Nigeria: Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022
After years of back-and-forth movements by the Executive and the National Assembly with regard to attempts to improve the country electoral process via legislation, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assented to the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022, declaring that the new legislation is aimed at revolutionalising elections in Nigeria. … Following the development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, summoned an emergency meeting in Abuja, which would hold today to discuss the implementation of the new law. National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, who disclosed this in a statement, described the development as historic, noting that it was the fourth time since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria that the Electoral Act was repealed and re-enacted. According to him, the new law contains many progressive provisions that would facilitate the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. … Earlier, INEC’s Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Victor Aluko, told The Guardian in an interview that the commission was thrilled by the development. Aluko urged Nigerians to expect the best from the commission as the 2023 general election draw closer. The Guardian

Nigeria Jihadists Kill 27 People in Four Attacks
Jihadists in northeast Nigeria have since Friday killed 27 people in four separate attacks, security sources and residents told AFP on Sunday. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), who split from rival Boko Haram jihadists in 2016, has escalated attacks in recent weeks, despite ongoing military operations. Late on Saturday, ISWAP killed 24 civilians in three villages in Borno state, an anti-jihadist militia leader and a resident told AFP. They said the civilians were targeted for helping troops fighting the militants. Military spokespeople and local officials have not yet confirmed the attacks and did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment. The villages are on the fringes of Sambisa forest, a major jihadist hideout. Fighters drove into Sabongarin Kimba, Mandara-Girau and Ngama villages in Biu district, targeting residents, the sources said. … He said soldiers had enlisted the help of villagers to clear shrubs along the highway linking the villages, which the militants use as cover for ambushes. The attacks were “punishment for the residents’ aiding soldiers,” he added. The Defense Post with AFP

US Restricts Visas for Somali Officials Accused of Undermining Democracy
The United States barred on Friday travel by Somali officials and other individuals to the United States, accusing them of “undermining the democratic process” in Somalia. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States imposed the visa ban after Somalia pushed back to March 15 parliamentary elections due to have been completed Friday. “We are now imposing visa restrictions under this policy against a number of Somali officials and other individuals to promote accountability for their obstructionist actions,” Blinken said in a statement issued by the State Department. … The parliamentary election, which started in November, is an indirect process that involves clan elders picking the 275 members of the lower house, who then choose a new president on a date yet to be fixed. Data from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows 4.3 million people in Somalia are affected by drought, with 271,000 displaced as a result. The al Qaida-linked al Shabab group, which frequently carries out gun and bomb attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere in Somalia, has also been an impediment to the election. In mid-February, a suicide bomber targeted a minibus full of election delegates, killing at least six people in Mogadishu. Reuters

Sudan Coup Media Curbs – Journalists Lament Mass Violations
From the day of the [October] coup, the internet and mobile phone communications were blacked-out across Sudan in a junta-enforced outage that lasted more than three weeks. To this day, the junta frequently uses its influence to shut down communications, whenever a mass public demonstration is planned. Journalists and correspondents of national and international news channels and agencies are facing increasing violence a, especially when covering the ongoing campaign of pro-democracy marches calling for a return to civilian rule. In a new video journalists offer Radio Dabanga first-hand testimony about their detention (including torture) by security forces, physical attacks on newsrooms and offices, and pressure that is being brought to bear by the junta on independent news gathering and distribution. Press representatives also offer their thoughts about the future of the media and the press in Sudan. Most recently, a leading figure in Forces for Freedom and Change, confirmed the existence of an organised and systematic campaign against the social media pages of influential activists by unknown parties. Radio Dabanga

Ethiopia: Tigray Conflict Engulfs Neighbouring State
When the bombs started to fall on Afar, people scattered. In the chaos and panic families were ripped apart. A young father lost two of his children, killed by ricocheting rocks. A grandmother had to leave behind her dying son-in-law, a bullet wound in his back; his wife still hasn’t heard the news. A 28-year-old woman doesn’t know if three of her five children are alive or dead. All of them are nomadic people from Ethiopia’s north-east Afar region, and survivors of the latest round of bloodshed in the country’s devastating civil war. In makeshift shelters that have sprung up around Afdera, a hardscrabble merchant town beside a volcanic salt lake, they talk about homes destroyed by shelling and villages looted bare. Afar’s authorities estimate that more than 300,000 people have fled the fighting since January. The war’s tremors were first felt in northern Afar in late December, when volleys of gunfire and artillery shells flew across the border with Tigray, the rebel region fighting the central Ethiopian government. Both sides accused the other of firing first. But in January, troops led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) mounted fully fledged incursions into multiple Afar districts. TPLF forces now occupy five of them. The Guardian

Zimbabwe Police Use Dogs, Tear Gas Against Opposition
Zimbabwean police Saturday used dogs and tear gas to break up the country’s main opposition party rally as President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivered an address a few kilometers away unhindered. Police descended on thousands of unsuspecting members of the Zimbabwe Citizens’ Coalition for Change waiting for their leader, Nelson Chamisa, to address them in Gokwe, about 300km southwest of Harare for VOA News. The police used dogs and tear gas to disperse the rally for allegedly violating COVID-19 regulations barring more than 100 people from gathering. Fadzayi Mahere, spokeswoman of Citizens’ Coalition for Change, was among them and blames President Emmerson Mnangagwa. “We saw a regrettable selective application of the law by the Zimbabwe Republic Police. So, the police, on Mr. Mnangagwa’s instructions, made an about turn and purported to prohibit our rally, contrary to law and constitution. No explanation was given why our rally was banned, whereas Mr. Mnangagwa’s rallies are allowed to proceed. A further concern is the abuse of COVID regulations as a weapon to shrink the democratic space. As the Citizens’ Coalition for Change we continue to demand a level playing field.” VOA

Mozambique’s ‘Trial of the Century’ Puts Elite under Pressure
With 19 high profile defendants and huge public interest, the only place in Mozambique deemed big enough for its blockbuster corruption trial was a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Maputo. Over the past several weeks, ordinary Mozambicans have been glued to the television for the so-called “trial of the century,” an attempt to hold the country’s elite to account for more than $2bn of fraudulent debt that ultimately bankrupted the resource-rich country. Viewers have been rewarded with drama galore. There was an attempt to cut an electricity transformer at the prison and what many saw as a suspiciously well-timed power cut, all allegedly designed to stop the broadcast of criticism of President Filipe Nyusi by his rival and predecessor Armando Guebuza. Nyusi, who was defence minister at the time the loans were taken out, “says that he knows nothing” about what happened, said Guebuza, whose son is one of the defendants and allegedly received Ferraris, BMWs and Rolls-Royces as kickbacks for the fraudulent deal. This month’s attack by Guebuza on his chosen successor makes it clear how much is at stake. The two men fell out over the scandal and the outcome will be critical to a power struggle in the ruling party Frelimo. Nyusi is not on trial and has denied any wrongdoing. Analysts warn that the trial could prompt Nyusi, who succeeded Guebuza in 2015, to seek an unprecedented third term in the hope that he would avoid judicial scrutiny. FT

Twitter Space Aids Stranded Nigerians in Ukraine
A live audio chat has been taking place on Twitter for Nigerian students caught up in the conflict in Ukraine. During the Twitter Space, advice was shared – mainly warning that people should not travel alone. People shared their experiences in different parts of the country a day after Russian troops invaded. Numbers were shared of Nigerian contacts in Poland, and other neighbouring countries, if people managed to cross borders. Rawlings Onyi, a Nigerian in Poland, has been posting the information on his Twitter feed. There have been some reports that Nigerians were being denied entry into Poland. One person, whose Twitter profile says she is based in Poland, told the forum she was at the Poland-Ukraine border and Nigerians were being allowed in, though some said those with expired documents had been turned back. “So there’s a long queue but a lot of students have been able to get into Poland from the border,” she said. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones