Africa Media Review for January 23, 2023

Tanzania Opposition Holds First Rally in Six Years
Tanzania’s main opposition party has held its first mass rally since the lifting of a 2016 ban, raising hopes of greater political freedom in the East African nation. President Samia Suluhu Hassan this month lifted the ban on Chadema imposed by her hardline predecessor John Magufuli, who was nicknamed “Bulldozer” for his pugnacious style. Hassan, in power for 22 months, is seeking to break with some of Magufuli’s policies and has made overtures to the opposition…“We have been silent for almost seven years but finally, our right is restored and we are ready to move ahead,” Mary Dismas, Mwanza resident, told AFP news agency. The move was cautiously welcomed as a gain for democracy by rights groups and the country’s opposition. AFP

Gunmen Kill Eswatini Opposition Politician Thulani Maseko
Gunmen in Eswatini have killed a prominent opposition politician and human rights lawyer at his home, a spokesman has told AFP, hours after the country’s absolute monarch challenged activists opposed to his rule. Thulani Maseko was shot dead on Saturday night by unknown attackers in Luhleko, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Mbabane, opposition spokesman Sikelela Dlamini said. The spokesman said he was told “assassins shot him through the window while he was inside (the) house with his family”…Maseko was a leading human rights lawyer and columnist in Eswatini who had a pending court battle with King Mswati III over the monarch’s decision to rename the country Eswatini by decree. AFP

Burkina Faso’s Military Government Demands French Troops Leave the Country Within One Month
The military government of Burkina Faso has demanded the departure of French troops from the country, according to the government press agency Agence d’Information du Burkina (AIB). France has exactly one month to remove its troops from Burkina Faso, according to the terms of the 2018 agreement, AIB reported, citing sources. The military government “denounced last Wednesday, the agreement which has governed since 2018, the presence of the French Armed Forces on its territory,” AIB reported Saturday. France still has 400 special forces based in Burkina Faso, according to Reuters, to help fight Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State after years of violence in the region. CNN

Burkina Faso Unrest: Dozens of Kidnapped Women Freed
Security forces in Burkina Faso have rescued 66 women and children after they were kidnapped by suspected militant jihadists in the north of the country last week, state TV reports. In an unprecedented mass kidnapping, the victims were seized while gathering food in an area hit by an insurgency. They were found on a bus at a security checkpoint some 200km (125 miles) south of where they were taken, reports say. It is not clear if their captors have also been detained. BBC

West Africa: Why Kidnappers in West Africa Now Target Women
Kidnapping by militants in Western Africa is nothing new. However, security experts say many criminals are now abducting women and children to use them as bargaining chips for political attention and fundraising. At least fifty women in two localities, north and west of the town of Arbinda, in Burkina Faso’s northern region, were kidnapped by Jihadists just last week, local authorities confirmed…Some security experts have said that the latest kidnappings by Jihadists in parts of West Africa signify desperation to create regional chaos. Daouda Diallo, Secretary General of the Collective against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities in Burkina Faso, a civil society group, told DW that the kidnapping of the women was unprecedented. “This is the first time we have seen an abduction of several dozen women. Sometimes we have recorded isolated cases, but women were mostly able to move around more than men,” Diallo said. DW

Arab States Boycott a Regional Meeting in Divided Libya’s Capital
The snub underlines Arab divisions over the Tripoli-based government, whose legitimacy is contested by a rival administration in the war-scarred country’s east. Regional heavyweights Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were not represented at all at the gathering — a preparatory session ahead of a foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo. Four members sent lower-ranking ministers or ambassadors while Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit was also absent. Najla al-Mangoush, foreign minister in the Tripoli-based administration, condemned what she called “attempts by certain sides to crush Libyans’ desire to transform Arab solidarity into a reality.” AFP

Tunisia Detains Critic of President, Says Lawyer
Plain clothes security officers in Tunisia detained a prominent critic of President Kais Saied in the early hours of Saturday after a military court ruling, his lawyer told Agence France-Presse. Seifeddine Makhlouf had been found guilty of insulting police during a standoff at Tunis airport in March 2021. Makhlouf, head of Islamist nationalist party Al-Karama, shouted “down with the coup” and “long live Tunisia” before being bundled into a car, according to a Facebook video posted by the lawyer. AFP

Malawi: In a Nation That Nearly Wiped Out Cholera, the Disease Is Surging Back
Not long ago, Malawi looked like a shining success story in the global fight against cholera, a largely waterborne bacterial disease that mostly affects low-income countries. National vaccination and sanitation efforts had all but eradicated the disease in Malawi, reducing the number of recorded cases to only two in 2021. Over the past 11 months, though, this landlocked sliver of a nation in southern Africa has recorded more than 28,000 cholera infections and at least 900 deaths. Health experts say cholera typically kills only about 1 percent of infected people. But the death rate in Malawi has been three times that, hovering around 3.3 percent, with hospitals lacking basic supplies and many people seeking help only after falling very ill. It is the country’s worst cholera outbreak in two decades. New York Times

Al-Shabaab Claims Bomb, Gun Attack in Downtown Mogadishu
“Terrorists blasted a vehicle loaded with explosives onto a perimeter wall of the Mogadishu mall which is next to the Banadir administration headquarters,” police officer Abdullahi Mohamed told French news agency AFP. Witnesses said the explosion damaged nearby buildings and gunfire could be heard near the mayor’s office. “There is gunfire going on inside the vicinity of the main building but we don’t know what is happening inside,” a witness who runs a business near the offices said. “There are some casualties but the whole area is cordoned off and we have been asked to move away by the security forces.” RFI

Yellen in Zambia to Discuss Debt to China, Public Health
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in Zambia on the second leg of her African tour, a stop aimed at promoting American investment and ties while she’s in a capital city that is visibly dominated by Chinese dollars…But the growth that the country has experienced has come with a heavier debt burden. Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign to default when it failed to make a $42.5 million bond payment in November 2020. Negotiations over how to deal with the debt load have been ongoing. How Zambia’s debt is renegotiated with the Chinese will provide a test case for how lenient China will be with other overextended nations that face debt distress. AP

Cape Verde: Cabo Verde ‘On the Frontlines’ of Climate Crisis, Says Guterres Ahead of Ocean Summit
How can a country secure a sustainable future if 99.3 per cent of its territory is water? UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday arrived in Cabo Verde, the 10-island archipelago off West Africa’s Atlantic coast that is exploring innovative solutions to help answer that important question. The answer goes back to 2015, when the national Government detailed a strategic plan on how the blue economy would be a central part of the island nation’s future, as well as to a series of investments that have been made since then…The Secretary-General called the blue economy “a fundamental opportunity to promote sustainable development in the archipelago” and said the UN looks forward to working with its government and people to “translate this ambition into reality.” The Prime Minister of Cape Verde, José Ulisses Correia e Silva, said that his country wants to be “better known and have more relevance” in the international arena, and the Ocean is the sector where they want their voice to be heard…Cabo Verde’s commitment might not be enough. As Mr. Guterres warned, the country is “on the frontline of an existential crisis” – climate change. “Sea level rise and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems pose existential threats to the archipelago,” he explained. “I am deeply frustrated that world leaders are not giving this life-and-death emergency the necessary action and investment.” UN News Service

Madagascar: Innovative Relief Project Offers Hope for Sustainable Future

Madagascar is among the 10 countries most vulnerable to disasters in the world and is considered the most cyclone-exposed country in Africa, according to WFP. The UN agency added that Androy and Anosy regions are at the sharp end of the climate crisis and have high rates of chronic malnutrition among children under five. The Rapid Rural Transformation (RRT) initiative combines two climate risk mitigation strategies to assist people: better natural resource management through enhanced agricultural techniques to protect food production and diversifying their livelihoods to withstand climate shocks. UN News



Photo: Adam Jones