Africa Media Review for February 7, 2022

African Union Condemns ‘Wave’ of Military Coups
Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan have all been suspended from the AU. At a summit in Addis Ababa, AU delegates decried “the wave of unconstitutional changes of government.” The African Union on Sunday “unequivocally” condemned a wave of military coups and attempted putsches across the continent. An unprecedented number of member states have been suspended from the bloc as a result of the military power grabs. West Africa’s recent surge in coups began in Mali in 2020, followed by another in Guinea the following year. Meanwhile, gunmen recently tried to overthrow the president of Guinea-Bissau in an attack that lasted hours but ultimately failed. Last month Burkina Faso joined Guinea, Mali and Sudan in being shut out from the union, after disgruntled soldiers in Ouagadougou toppled President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. … “Every African leader in the assembly has condemned unequivocally… the wave of unconstitutional changes of government,” Bankole Adeoye, head of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, told the media. “Do your research: At no time in the history of the African Union have we had four countries in one calendar year, in 12 months, been suspended,” Adeoye added. DW

AfricaCDC Elevated to Health Agency of AU
African heads of state and government have made a historic decision to elevate Africa centres for disease control and prevention (AfricaCDC) status to an autonomous health agency of the African Union (AU). At the ongoing 35th ordinary session of the assembly of heads of state and government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the agency was given full powers to operate autonomously. This independence means that among other things, AfricaCDC will now have the legal, institutional, and operational autonomy to, for instance, serve as a channel to mobilise financing to build the necessary capabilities and to acquire vital continental assets for disease prevention and control. … Until now, the agency was subsumed within the African Union commission operating under the commissioner for social affairs making it difficult to make decisions in case there is a need for an urgent response of deployment of resources to fight disease. “This also indicates the growing importance of health with the Africa Union,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, The group CEO at Amref health Africa. Nation

Food Prices Approach Record Highs, Threatening the World’s Poorest
Food prices have skyrocketed globally because of disruptions in the global supply chain, adverse weather and rising energy prices, increases that are imposing a heavy burden on poorer people around the world and threatening to stoke social unrest. The increases have affected items as varied as grains, vegetable oils, butter, pasta, beef and coffee. They come as farmers around the globe face an array of challenges, including drought and ice storms that have ruined crops, rising prices for fertilizer and fuel, and pandemic-related labor shortages and supply chain disruptions that make it difficult to get products to market. A global index released on Thursday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization showed food prices in January climbed to their highest level since 2011, when skyrocketing costs contributed to political uprisings in Egypt and Libya. … In Africa, bad weather, pandemic restrictions and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan have disrupted transportation routes and driven up food prices. Joseph Siegle, the director of research at National Defense University’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, estimated that 106 million people on the continent are facing food insecurity, double the number since 2018. “Africa is facing record levels of insecurity,” he said. The New York Times

Africa Is Not Responsible for Climate Change but Bears the Brunt of It – President Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa was participating in a virtual meeting of the African Union Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change on Sunday when he made the comment. He said the Covid-19 pandemic had set back multilateral processes, including those around climate change. “It is imperative that we do not lose momentum and that climate change is not relegated to the periphery of the global development agenda,” he said. “Africa is experiencing the worst impacts of phenomena associated with global warming, such as droughts, floods and cyclones. “Climate change impacts are costing African economies between three and five percent of their GDPs. Despite not being responsible for causing climate change, it is Africans who are bearing both the brunt and the cost.” He added that last year, the continent spoke with one voice at COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland. “The complex Glasgow Climate Pact strives to strike the right balance by accommodating the differing national circumstances and capacities among the nearly two hundred parties. The aim is that all are enabled and empowered to contribute their fair share as well as to enhance their climate ambition. News24

Cyclone Kills at Least 10 in Madagascar, Destroying Homes and Cutting Power
A cyclone killed at least 10 people in southeastern Madagascar, the second to hit the Indian Ocean island in just two weeks, triggering floods, bringing down buildings and cutting power, officials said on Sunday. One of the worst-hit towns was Nosy Varika on the east coast where almost 95% of buildings were destroyed “as if we had just been bombed” and floods cut access, an official said. Cyclone Batsirai swept inland late on Saturday, slamming into the eastern coastline with heavy rain and wind speeds of 165 km/h (100 mph). It was projected it could displace as many as 150,000 people. The damage from the storm compounded the destruction wreaked by Cyclone Ana, which hit the island, with a population of nearly 30,000,000, two weeks ago, killing 55 people and displacing 130,000. … Cyclone Ana that struck the Indian Ocean Island nation on Jan. 22, leaving at least 55 dead from landslides and collapsed buildings and causing widespread flooding. After ravaging Madagascar, Ana moved west, making landfall in Mozambique and continuing inland to Malawi. A total of 88 people were killed. Reuters

South Africa: It May Only Be a Matter of Time before There Is More July 2021-Style Unrest – Report
The official report into the civil unrest of July 2021 has warned that it may only be a matter of time until more unrest occurs, as the conditions that led to last year’s violence and looting remain firmly in place. … The report offered several recommendations, such as Cabinet taking responsibility for the unrest; the establishment of an early warning capability; better intelligence coordination; that problems within the security apparatus be addressed; and that Ramaphosa draw up a national security strategy that should be reviewed at three-year intervals or when circumstances require. It also recommended a change in the appointment procedure of the National Police Commissioner; that the government should look into introducing basic police training to military recruits so they can perform better when assisting the police; and that additional assets like key contributors to food production be listed as critical infrastructure. “Our review highlighted yet again the urgent need to build an equal, inclusive and just society, if there is to be lasting peace and stability,” the report said. It urged the “reimagining of the social compact, and giving dignity to all,” as deep radicalised poverty and inequality “will only see greater insecurity, which will require more diversion of resources to security.” defenseWeb

Poaching, Bankruptcy and Apathy Blight Africa’s Most Famous National Park
Africa’s oldest wildlife sanctuary is struggling to survive as it tries to fend off increasingly sophisticated international poaching networks amid a lack of funds… Kruger National Park in South Africa was established in 1926 and until Covid-19 lockdowns was reportedly one of the world’s most profitable reserves, attracting more than one million visitors a year to stay in everything from luxury lodges to basic camps. About the size of Wales, it is home to about 30,000 elephants, 490 different species of birds, including 15 types of eagle, and five million acres of magnificent forests and grasslands. But tourist numbers have plummeted thanks to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, leaving both rangers and people living on the park’s borders vulnerable to being bribed by poaching syndicates with deep pockets. These groups are creating ever more complex schemes to get hold of animal parts to illegally ship to buyers in China and Vietnam, with one animal of particular interest: rhinos. The rhino population fell by nearly 800 to hit 2,809 last year. Only 250 deaths are officially poaching-related, but no one can explain what has happened to the others. Telegraph

Tunisian Judges Accuse President of Seeking Control, Setting Up New Struggle
Tunisian judges on Sunday rejected President Kais Saied’s moves to disband the council that oversees them, a move they see as undermining their independence, setting up a new struggle over his consolidation of power. Saied announced overnight he was dissolving the Supreme Judicial Council, one of the few remaining state bodies still able to act independently of him, the latest in a series of moves his opponents call a coup. In July he suddenly suspended parliament, dismissed the prime minister and said he could rule by decree, and has since said he will rewrite the 2014 democratic constitution before putting it to a public referendum. Saied has vowed to uphold rights and freedoms won in the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy, but his critics say he is leaning increasingly on the security forces and fear he will take a harsher stance against dissent. Tunisia’s dire economic problems and a looming crisis in public finances risk undermining Saied’s declared plan to reset the 2011 revolution with a new constitution, raising the possibility of public unrest. … The Supreme Judicial Council head, Youssef Bouzakher, early on Sunday said its dissolution was illegal and marked an attempt to bring judges under presidential instruction. Reuters

EU Slaps Sanctions on 5 Top Mali Officials, including PM
The European Union on Friday imposed sanctions on five senior members of Mali’s transitional government, including Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, accusing them of working to obstruct and undermine the transition from military to civilian rule. The move comes days after Mali coup leaders ordered France’s ambassador to leave in what was the latest episode in a growing diplomatic crisis between the impoverished Sahel region country, its African neighbors and European partners. But the sanctions weren’t linked to the expulsion. Others hit by the EU’s asset freezes and travel bans include members of the inner circle of Col. Assimi Goita, who put himself in charge last year after dismissing the civilian leaders of Mali’s transitional government. EU citizens and companies are forbidden to grant the five access to funds. Tensions escalated further, notably with the EU and other international partners, when Goita postponed the next presidential vote by four years, until 2026. The West African regional group ECOWAS imposed tough economic sanctions in response, and the Europeans are following suit. AP

EU Demands Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Uganda
The European Union (EU) has condemned the continued torture and violation of human rights in Uganda and demanded that those who violate the laws should be held accountable and personally liable for their actions. “During the recently concluded Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Uganda Human Rights Commission and several other stakeholders pointed out the persistence in Uganda of torture. …” On February 7, the EU delegation issued a statement together with the diplomatic missions of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden in Uganda. … The EU further noted that arbitrary arrest of people by security services, holding them in ungazetted places of detention for prolonged periods of time, torturing them, not bringing them before a court within the mandatory time limits, are violations of Uganda’s national legislation, regional and international commitments as well as specific presidential guidelines. ST

Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Make a Comeback
Sudan’s once-notorious secret police are back in action, abducting people whom it is feared might never be seen again. Last month, in the middle of the night, about 30 armed men in plainclothes stormed into the Khartoum home of Amira Osman. The trained engineer is a prominent women’s rights activist here. She is also a member of the Sudanese Communist Party. It is believed that she was arrested by the General Intelligence Service (GIS) formerly known as the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) but the authorities have not commented. Ms Osman’s older sister, Amani, who is a human rights lawyer, described what happened. “We were shocked,” she told me. … The UN mission in Sudan has called for Amira to be released. Her arrest is just one of several since December, when the GIS were allowed, once again, to take people without informing their families, or lawyers, of their whereabouts. So far, one other prominent women’s rights activist in Khartoum and dozens from the neighbourhood resistance committees organising protests against Sudan’s military rulers have been arrested. BBC

‘Democracy Is Life’: The Grass-Roots Movement Taking On Sudan’s Generals
In a bare, dusty field in a neighborhood north of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, about a hundred people — gray-haired men in white robes and turbans, young women in jeans and T-shirts, mothers with their children in tow — gathered on a recent evening to discuss what they see as their nation’s most pressing need: democracy. For more than six hours, over sweet milky tea and doughnuts, they debated how to dislodge the military from its grip on power, cemented on Oct. 25 when a military coup suddenly put an end to Sudan’s two-year-old transition to democratic rule. Across this vast nation of more than 43 million in northeast Africa, hundreds of similar groups, known as resistance committees, are convening regularly to plan protests, draw up political manifestoes and discuss issues like economic policy and even trash pickup. They are committed to nonviolence, though they have paid a high price. On a makeshift stage in the dusty field, in the Kafouri neighborhood, 16 photographs were on display — one woman and 15 men, “martyrs” from the neighborhood. They are among 79 people who have been killed in the protests since Oct. 25, according to a doctors’ group. The New York Times

Senegal defeats Egypt in its first Africa Cup of Nations victory in history
For the first time since 1972, Cameroon hosted the Africa Cup of Nations. This year, Egypt took on Senegal. [Photographs] The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones