Africa Media Review for February 5, 2024

Assessing Mali’s Non-Transition
Mali’s military junta marked the fourth calendar year since seizing power in an August 2020 coup by indefinitely postponing elections that were to facilitate a transition back to democratic civilian rule…This failure to maintain the transition timeframe fits a pattern of unkept claims the junta has made since seizing power. Coupled with the military regime’s announcement that it is withdrawing from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), all indications are that the junta is intent on holding power indefinitely. In the meantime, security and economic conditions have worsened substantially under military rule—affecting the livelihoods of millions of Malians. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Senegal’s President Calls Off a National Election. His Critics Call It a Coup.
Senegal’s president has canceled the election for his replacement three weeks before voting was set to take place, saying that a dispute between the legislative and judicial arms of government needed to be resolved first…President Macky Sall said that he was repealing the decree convening the electoral body, effectively postponing elections indefinitely. But his opponents said he was essentially carrying out a coup d’état, and accused him of treason…In the wake of the announcement of the canceled election, experts scrambled to assess the legality of the president’s move. One said that by canceling the decree convening the electoral body when he did, the president was violating the constitution and the electoral code. Another said only the constitutional court could postpone the election, and then only if one of the candidates died. The New York Times

Senegal Police Fire Tear Gas at Protest against Election Postponement
Riot police fired tear gas outside Senegal’s National Assembly on Monday as crowds tried to gather to protest the postponement of the Feb. 25 presidential election, a move that caused anger and unrest over the weekend…Outside parliament, armoured police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse around 100 people who had gathered to protest. They also made arrests, Reuters reporters said…At least two female presidential candidates were detained when police in riot gear broke up protests in the capital Dakar on Sunday, firing tear gas and rounding up participants. The authorities also took local television channel Walf off air on Sunday and revoked its licence, Walf said in a statement. Reuters

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, 82, Dies after Cancer Diagnosis
Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, 82, died in hospital early on Sunday, the presidency said, weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. Geingob had been in charge of the thinly populated and mostly arid southern African country since 2015, the year he announced he had survived prostate cancer. Vice President Nangolo Mbumba takes the helm in Namibia – a mining hotspot with significant deposits of diamonds and the electric car battery ingredient lithium – until presidential and parliamentary elections at the end of the year…Geingob served as trade and industry minister before becoming prime minister again in 2012. He won the 2014 election with 87% of the vote but only narrowly avoided a runoff with a little more than half the votes in a subsequent poll in November 2019. Reuters

Two SA Peacekeepers Wounded in DRC Attack, M23 Suspected
Suspected M23 rebels fired on a UN helicopter Friday wounding two South African peacekeepers in DR Congo’s volatile east while an explosive device went off in a major city injuring two others. The head of the UN’s MONUSCO peacekeeping mission Bintou Keita strongly condemned the attack saying such strikes can constitute “a war crime”. The helicopter was attacked in the Karuba region of the restive Nord Kivu province, the UN said, adding that one of the peacekeepers was seriously injured. It was able to land in the provincial capital Goma and the injured soldiers were admitted to the hospital. In New York, the UN Secretary General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said the two wounded were South African. On Friday, an explosive device went off in Goma wounding two people, with authorities blaming the M23 militia. AFP

Suspected Militants Kill Four Nigerian Police Officers
At least four police officers were killed in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state after a gun battle with suspected Islamist insurgents, a police spokesperson said on Saturday. Borno has been the heartland of an insurgency by Boko Haram and splinter outfit Islamist State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for more than a decade in the northeast, where they continue to carry out deadly attacks against civilian and security targets…Nigeria is grappling with widespread insecurity, including armed bandits who kidnap for ransom in the northwest, deadly farmer-herder clashes in the central belt and separatist and gang violence in the southeast. Reuters

Nigeria: Supreme Court Made Suspicious N12 Billion Payments, Unauthorised Sale of Assets – Audit Report
Nigeria’s Supreme Court spent over N12 billion in breach of financial regulations for five years, the latest audit report of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF) has revealed…Highlights of the issues raised concerning the transactions totalling N12.335 billion in the 2020 audit report include – payments for contracts without budgetary provisions, diversion of government assets for private use, inflation of contract price, irregular award of contracts and overpayment to contractors, among others…Lawyers and anti-corruption activists have questioned the illegality of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in concealing the judiciary’s budget details from public scrutiny, even sometimes doing so in resistance to Freedom of Information requests. Premium Times

South Sudan: 37 People Killed in Disputed Oil-Rich African Region of Abyei in Fighting Linked to Spiritual Leader
Thirty-seven people were killed over the weekend in fighting apparently tied to a land feud in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei, an official said Sunday. The bloodshed came a week after 52 people died in a land dispute in the same region. Information Minister Bolis Koch in Abyei, which is claimed by South Sudan and Sudan, said the fighting erupted in Rum-Ameer, Alal and Mijak counties with an attack by armed youth from South Sudan’s Warrap state who were backed by fighters loyal to spiritual leader Gai Machiek from the country’s Unity state. Koch said the fighting left 19 people dead and 18 injured Saturday and claimed the lives of 18 more people Sunday, including four women and three children. He said 1,000 head of cattle also were stolen. AP

Kenya Takes Up Mediation of South Sudan Peace Talks
Kenya [last] week took over the mediation role in talks between the government of South Sudan and the holdout groups that did not sign the 2018 peace agreement…President Salva Kiir late last year requested Kenya to take over the Rome process, which has been initiated by Community of Sant’ Egidio,a lay Catholic association. President Ruto said that Kenya is making the necessary arrangements to take over and have the process transferred to Nairobi. On January 27, President Ruto received a list of government delegates from President Kiir, delivered by Presidential Special Envoy Albino Aboug in Nairobi. During the Italy-Africa Summit in Rome, Dr Ruto held discussions with officials of Sant’ Egidio and said Nairobi would also work closely with the former mediators. The East African

Killing of Four More Humanitarian Workers in 2024 Brings Toll in Ethiopia to 46 since 2019: UN
The latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reveals that since the beginning of 2024, four Ethiopian aid workers have lost their lives. Among the deceased, two were in the Amhara region, while the remaining fatalities occurred in the Afar and Gambela regions. The report also discloses that a total of 46 aid workers have lost their lives in Ethiopia since 2019, with 36 of these victims directly linked to the conflicts in northern Ethiopia. OCHA indicates that while humanitarian workers are not deliberately targeted by armed individuals, the inherent instability of the security environment and the presence of numerous armed groups in the country, including local militias and armed civilians, present significant risks to aid personnel and relief efforts. Addis Standard

Eritrean Troops Are Accused of Abducting Farmers and Stealing Livestock in Ethiopia’s Tigray
Eritrean troops are abducting farmers and stealing hundreds of livestock in border regions of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, 15 months after a cease-fire ended a civil war there and called for their withdrawal, according to an aid memo seen by The Associated Press. The memo prepared on Jan. 31 by the Ethiopia Health Cluster is based on an assessment of two districts near the Eritrean border by U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations…The memo was provided to the AP by an official from a U.N. agency on condition that its name not be disclosed…Eritrea was a key ally of Ethiopia’s government in the two-year war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, Tigray’s former ruling party. Its troops stand accused of human rights abuses, including massacres of civilians and sexual enslavement. AP

Malawi Journalist in Hiding After Exposing Government Corruption
Investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe, who exposed the Malawian government’s planned purchase of 32 armored vehicles from a company implicated in corruption, is in hiding, fearing arrest by the military. In a story published Monday, Gregory Gondwe, who works with Platform for Investigative Journalism, quoted unnamed military officials saying the Malawi Defense Force paid a firm associated with businessman Zuneth Sattar millions of dollars for military equipment. Sattar is facing allegations of corruption…Gondwe told VOA from an undisclosed location Friday that he has gone into hiding following a tip from military sources about plans to arrest him…This is the second time in three years Gondwe has faced arrest for publishing a story about the government’s dealings with Sattar. VOA

New Poll Confirms ANC Slide – Desperate South Africans Want New Options
The largest poll yet of voter sentiment shows South Africans want to vote in this year’s general election and are looking for options in numbers not seen since 1994. Like three previous polls, it found that the governing ANC was waning in popularity and would garner only 39% of the votes if the elections were held tomorrow…Voters’ interest has been piqued by the Multi-Party Charter (MPC), an 11-party agreement to form a coalition after the election. The latest poll, which interviewed 9,000 people, is a baseline survey by University of the Witwatersrand Professor of Urban Governance David Everatt for Change Starts Now, Roger Jardine’s start-up political movement…The survey also found that five of SA’s nine provinces could be run by coalition governments after the elections — more than the five major parties have pencilled in. Daily Maverick

Tyla’s Win Over Burna Boy and Davido at Grammys 2024 Fuels South Africa-Nigeria Rivalry
South African singer Tyla’s victory at the Grammys, beating four Nigerian nominees, has fuelled the rivalry as the two nations prepare to face off at the Afcon semi-finals on Wednesday…Tyla won for her song Water in the Best African Music Performance, over Davido, Arya Starr and Burna Boy…Nigerian Afrobeats giant Burna Boy was nominated in a total of four categories but did not walk away with a golden gramophone, yet his spellbinding performance at the award ceremony left the audience in awe. Despite the fierce rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa, Davido extended his congratulations to Tyla on X and told her to “keep soaring”. South Africa was also represented by comedian Trevor Noah who was at the helm of the prestigious award ceremony as he was hosting for a fourth time. BBC