Africa Media Review for March 1, 2022

West African Bloc Condemns Russia’s Invasion

The West African regional bloc Ecowas has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a statement, it urged both parties to agree to a ceasefire and to resolve the crisis through dialogue. Ecowas also called on the two countries to ensure the safety of Africans living in Ukraine. Its statement came as Russia and Ukraine began face-to-face talks for the first time since Russian forces entered Ukraine five days ago. Ukraine’s delegates have said they want an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from their territory. BBC

Guns for Hire: How Shadowy Wagner Mercenaries Support Russian Soldiers in Ukraine Conflict

The planes started moving in late December and early January. Onboard the secretive military aircraft from Libya were hundreds of hardened mercenaries of the Wagner Group, the shadowy umbrella of private military contractor firms linked to Vladimir Putin’s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin. Their destination was the same place where the so-called “little green men” first came to international prominence in 2014: Ukraine. … In 2014 in Ukraine, Wagner fighters battled side by side with Russian regular forces as well as pro-Kremlin militias, often serving as praetorian guards to maintain order among frequently intoxicated and undisciplined forces. Since then, the Wagner mercenaries have been deployed as guns for hire in the Middle East, Africa and even Latin America. They are used by authoritarian governments to hunt down rebels and secure key installations from attack. The United States has imposed waves of sanctions against Wagner as well as Mr Prigozhin over alleged human rights abuses and destabilisation efforts in the developing world as well as disinformation campaigns that have targeted western nations. … The United Nations is currently investigating the killing of more than 30 civilians at the alleged hands of Wagner mercenaries and forces of the Central African Republic in a 16 January operation targeting a rebel group. The Independent

Resistance Committees in Sudan Capital Release New Charter ‘To Overthrow October 25 Coup’

The Khartoum Resistance Committees announced their proposal of a People’s Authority Charter aiming at uniting the revolutionary forces in the country. The charter, announced by the resistance committees in a press conference, stipulates the overthrow of the October 25 coup, and the accountability of all those involved in it. It also proposes the cancellation of the entire August 2019 Constitutional Declaration signed by Sudan’s then ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). It asserts that independent technocrats should be appointed as ministers who are to assume their sovereign and executive duties immediately after the coup is overthrown. The charter stipulates the formation of a Legislative Council of the forces of the living revolution, the review and restructuring of the security institutions (intelligence, police and army) and the formation of a unified national army after the dissolution and integration of all members of state militias, including the Rapid Support Forces within the army. With regard to the economic aspect, the charter emphasizes building a national economic programme that balances public debt management and economic development programmes based on mobilizing internal resources, with the Ministry of Finance’s mandate over public money. Radio Dabanga

Two Sudanese Killed in Fresh Anti-Coup Protests in Khartoum

Sudanese security forces on Monday killed two protesters as they used excessive violence to disperse demonstrators who managed to reach the presidential palace. The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD), in two separate statements, announced that an unidentified person had been killed by live bullets in the head in Omdurman. The other was shot in the abdomen and chest with a cartridge rifle in Bahri. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Sudanese capital in a protest called “Power to the People” organised by the Resistance Committees, four months since the start of anti-coup protests on October 25, immediately after the coup. … security forces again fired bullets on the protesters and attacked hospitals. Also, they hunted protesters when they started their withdrawal far from the Republican Palace. On Sunday thousands of mothers and fathers held a rally in Khartoum city to voice their support for the continued protests carried out by Sudanese youth, as they now started the fifth month. Sudan Tribune

UN Says 440 Civilians Killed in South Sudan Clashes

At least 440 civilians died in brutal fighting between rival factions in southwestern South Sudan over just a few months last year, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The report comes on the heels of a warning by the United Nations last month that the world’s youngest country risked a return to war, with bouts of interethnic violence and political infighting threatening to undo even the limited progress made in implementing a stuttering peace process. “Grave human rights violations and abuses, including hundreds of killings, were committed against civilians during fighting in Tambura County, Western Equatoria State,” according to the joint report issued Tuesday by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office. It blamed members of the armed forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rivals in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) of Vice President Riek Machar, and “their respective affiliated militias” for the violence. Between June and September last year, at least 440 civilians were killed in fighting between rival groups in Tambura county, 18 injured and 74 abducted, the report found. The Defense Post with AFP

Nelson Chamisa Supporter Stabbed to Death at Political Rally, 22 Others Seriously Injured

Political violence in Zimbabwe ahead of by-elections in less than a month claimed the life of a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporter in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hometown of Kwekwe on Sunday. Twenty-two others were admitted to Kwekwe General hospital with serious injuries. According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Mboneni Ncube, 35, died upon arrival at the hospital. He is believed to have been a victim of Zanu-PF supporters who waylaid CCC supporters going to a rally addressed by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. “Suspected Zanu-PF youths intercepted people in CCC T-shirts who were walking to the rally, and threw stones at them. The skirmishes, about 400m from the venue, resulted in the deceased being stabbed thrice with a sharp object on the back, and died whilst admitted at Kwekwe General Hospital,” the police statement said. … Addressing the press on Monday, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa said his party has not retaliated to Zanu-PF’s attacks because he leads a generation of peaceful youths. “Brutality is seasonal, violence is not permanent, power is temporal, you are your own enemy- (ZanuPF). Change is coming. That’s why you are behaving like this… we want a fight of ideas and civilisation, not where stones are being used. You say you are Goliath, I am David,” Chamisa said. News24

Chinese Company Removed as Operator of Cobalt Mine in Congo

A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sidelined the Chinese owner of one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt mines, a major victory for the Congolese government as it seeks to become a bigger player in the global clean energy revolution. The ruling, which removes Chinese leadership of the mine for at least six months, stems from a dispute over billions of dollars in payments the Congolese government says it is owed by the Chinese owner, China Molybdenum. Backed by Chinese government financing, the company bought the Tenke Fungurume mine in 2016 from an Arizona-based mining company. The mine figures prominently in the Chinese government’s effort to dominate major supply chains for minerals and metals needed in the production of batteries for electric vehicles. Cobalt is essential for electric vehicles because it extends battery range. It is now trading at a three-year high. … Congo’s president, Felix Tshisekedi, last year named a commission to investigate allegations that China Molybdenum might have cheated the Congolese government out of royalty payments from the mine. The New York Times

‘We Woke to Bulldozers’: Nigeria Slum Clearance Leaves Thousands Homeless

The bulldozers rolled into Urualla, Port Harcourt, early on 30 January. By the end of the day, hundreds of people were homeless, their belongings scattered and lost, as government clearances of waterfront slums in the southern Nigerian city got under way. Over six days, the homes of more than 15,000 families in eight slum communities in the Diobu area of the city were destroyed. Another three neighbourhoods are earmarked to be cleared. … Megan Chapman, co-director of Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), an advocacy group working in Port Harcourt, said the move “can only be seen as a land grab. There is no other explanation for it.” “Presumed criminality doesn’t justify demolition. They should do their investigation and arrest the people responsible, charge them to court and prosecute them for the offences committed,” she said. … Residents of Elechi waterfront community said they learned of their evictions when security forces came to the neighbourhood on 19 January to mark the buildings for demolition. “When we saw that happen, the secretary of the community confronted one of them. The man said we were given a seven-day notice,” said Barika Nwideezua, whose family has lived in Elechi for more than 60 years. “On the day the notice expired, we observed Black Wednesday.” The military, police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps supervised the demolition. The Guardian

African Govts Begin Repatriating Its Nationals from Ukraine

Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalis, Moroccans, and other African nationals studying and working in Ukraine, have been trying to escape across the Ukraine border to neighbouring countries, along with thousands of people trapped in the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Nigeria will start repatriation flights to countries bordering Ukraine, for its citizens who are willing to return home, according to foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama. Onyeama said about 5,600 Nigerians are still in Ukraine, most of them students. Efforts are underway to ensure they move to safety in neighbouring Romania, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. Ghanaian students will be received by officials from the countries’ diplomatic missions, honorary consuls, and officials of the Ghana students’ associations. They are expected to return to Ghana in the coming days. More than 1,000 Ghanaian nationals are currently studying or working in Ukraine. DR Congo Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said on Twitter he will be meeting with the Polish ambassador to help with the passage across the border of about 200 Congolese, mostly students. Many Africans had complained of discrimination at border crossings after being prevented from boarding trains and busses that were carrying foreigners fleeing the conflict. AllAfrica

In North Africa, Ukraine War Strains Economies Weakened by Pandemic

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week threatens to further strain economies across the Middle East already burdened by the pandemic, drought and conflict. As usual, the poorest have had it the worst, reckoning with inflated food costs and scarcer jobs — a state of affairs that recalled the lead-up to 2011, when soaring bread prices helped propel anti-government protesters into the streets in what came to be known as the Arab Spring. In a region where bread keeps hundreds of millions of people from hunger, anxiety at the bakeries spells trouble. In Egypt, the world’s top importer of wheat, the government was moving in the wake of the Russian invasion to find alternative grain suppliers. In Morocco, where the worst drought in three decades was pushing up food prices, the Ukraine crisis was set to exacerbate the inflation that has caused protests to break out. Tunisia was already struggling to pay for grain shipments before the conflict broke out; the war seemed likely to complicate the cash-strapped government’s efforts to avert a looming economic collapse. The New York Times

Climate Change Is Hitting Africa’s Staple Crops, Increasing Parasites – UN Report

Climate change has significantly reduced crop yields in Africa, with wheat and maize being among those negatively affected in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, a new study shows. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday released its Working Group II report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. This report follows on the Working Group I report released in August 2021, which provided scientific evidence of the physical changes to climate. The most recent report sheds light on the irreversible consequences of global warming beyond 1.5°C for people and ecosystems in different world regions. The report shows that in Africa, climate change has reduced agricultural productivity growth by more than a third (34%) since 1961. This is more than any other region. “Future warming will negatively affect food systems in Africa by shortening growing seasons and increasing water stress. Global warming above 2°C will result in yield reductions for staple crops across most of Africa compared to 2005 yields,” the report read. Fin24



Photo: Adam Jones