Africa Media Review for January 24, 2023

South Africa ‘Plays China and Russia’ Card Against US with Joint Naval Exercise
South Africa is likely to use China and Russia as “bargaining chips” in its dealings with the US after announcing a joint drill with the two countries in the Cape Route waters, defence analysts have said. The exercise is also seen as giving a further propaganda boost to Moscow after it recently announced that its forces had seized the small town of Soledar after months of reverses and heavy losses. The joint exercises dubbed “Mosi” – which means “smoke” in local Tswana language – will be held between February 17 and 27, the South African military announced on Thursday. South China Morning Post

South Africa, Russia Deepen Military Ties
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Pretoria on Monday for talks with one of Moscow’s most important allies in Africa. The visit comes as South Africa prepares for joint naval drills with Russia and China next month…This is Lavrov’s second African visit in six months. It comes ahead of the Russia-Africa summit, which last year was postponed to July 2023 due to the war on Ukraine. A South African official, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak, said Lavrov would also be visiting Eswatini, Botswana and Angola on his trip…Russia has officially remained silent on its politics with Africa. But, as [Irina] Filatova sees it, Moscow is relying on private military companies like the Wagner Group to act as “door openers.” “Officially, [the military groups] are not incorporated in the strategy at all. But what we see is that they always come first when there’s some instability, and then they help secure those in power who have built relationships with Russia,” she told DW. DW

Slain Eswatini Human Rights Defender Thulani Maseko Was a ‘Lone Beacon of Light’
Messages of condolences have poured in from across southern Africa for the murdered human rights lawyer Thulani Rudolf Maseko, while the Eswatini government “disassociates” its officials from the killing. Maseko was shot and killed by unknown assailants outside his home in Mbabane, Eswatini’s capital, on Saturday. A firebrand critic of King Mswati III, Maseko was killed two weeks after the Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched its 2023 report, which highlighted Eswatini’s failure to address the ongoing human rights crisis and government’s crackdown on the opposition. Many in civil society and opposition spaces believe Maseko was assassinated…”It was not a robbery. Everything points to silencing a harsh critic of the regime,” said a civic society activist…Ugandan opposition stalwart Bobi Wine called Maseko “an incredible icon.” News24

Slain Zambian Man’s Family ‘Not Convinced’ Remains from Russia Are His
When the body of Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda was returned to Zambia last year, it should have led to closure for his grieving family. Instead, the controversy surrounding his death on the battlefield in Ukraine has only deepened. The 23-year-old was a student at a Moscow university when he was arrested while working as a courier for carrying a package containing drugs, and sentenced to nine years in prison. His family say he had no idea what was in the package. After Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the mercenary outfit Wagner offered early release to prisoners in exchange for fighting on the front lines.  In September, Nyirenda was killed in the fighting in Ukraine. His remains were repatriated to Zambia on 11 December. But his family are not convinced that the remains are actually his…“When the coffin was opened, they only found pieces of bones that were assembled into a skeleton, there was no flesh,” said a source close to the family. A DNA test was carried out in South Africa but the results were inconclusive.  The Nyirendas plan to bury their son on the family farm in the Chongwe district east of Lusaka, but cannot do so until the identity of the remains is confirmed. Mail & Guardian

Canada Says Cameroon Warring Parties Agree to Enter Peace Process
The government of Cameroon and some separatist factions in the English-speaking regions of the country have agreed to begin a process aimed at resolving a conflict that has killed over 6,000 people, Canada’s foreign ministry said. “Canada welcomes the agreement by the parties to enter a process to reach a comprehensive, peaceful and political resolution of the conflict,” foreign minister M Mélanie Joly, said in a statement on Friday. The statement said Canada had accepted a mandate to facilitate the process and the parties have agreed to form technical committees to begin work on confidence-building measures. The armed conflict, which began in 2017, stems from a perceived marginalization of Cameroon’s English-speaking community by the French-speaking majority in the central African state. Reuters

Missing Cameroonian Journalist Found Dead
A Cameroonian journalist’s mutilated body was found outside the capital five days after he disappeared. He had reportedly discussed on his radio show an embezzlement case involving an individual with government ties…Martinez Zogo was managing director of the privately owned Amplitude FM radio station and the host of its popular daily program Embouteillage. He went missing last Tuesday when his badly damaged car was found outside a police station in a suburb near the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde…Media freedoms in Cameroon face constant threats by the authoritarian government. In 2015, a reporter for Radio France International was imprisoned for two years on terrorism charges that rights groups said were a sham. AFP with Reuters

Ex-President Obasanjo and Nigeria’s Elites Trade Pre-Election Verbal Blows
No Nigerian election would be complete without Obasanjo, twice Nigeria’s head of state — first in military fatigues and then in civilian garb — picking up his pen. In an open letter entitled “My Appeal to All Nigerians, Particularly Young Nigerians”, Obasanjo, 85, accused the current administration of creating “a hell on earth”, as he endorsed the third-party candidate Peter Obi. Young Nigerians, who make up the bulk of the population in a country with a median age of 18, could change the course of history, he wrote. “You have the numbers. Get up, stand up and make your numbers count.” In an interview with the Financial Times in London, Obasanjo shredded Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency, saying he had failed on everything from managing the economy, which has stalled during his eight years in office, to dealing with the wave of kidnappings that blight the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Financial Times

Burkina Faso: For Reporter, Trauma Comes with Exposing Ugly Truths of a Brutal Conflict
For Mariam Ouédraogo, retelling the stories of the lashings and rapes of women by armed groups in Burkina Faso can be as traumatic as when she was documenting these atrocities as a journalist. But it is a horror she is asked to replay again and again, at a great toll. Ms. Ouédraogo, winner of the most prestigious international award for war correspondents, is frequently invited to discuss her reporting, and the ordeal of doing so never gets easier. New York Times

Three African Countries Lose UN Voting Rights over Unpaid Dues
South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon have lost their voting rights at the United Nations for non-payment of dues..These countries can’t participate in votes in the 193-member General Assembly, the U.N. chief said in a letter circulated last week. Gabon is serving a two-year term on the Security Council though its voting rights there are not affected…The General Assembly however decided Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia who are also owing keep their voting rights. They have been granted an exemption. Africa Feeds

S. Sudan’s Kiir Directs Payment of UN Membership Arrears
Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Friday, the Presidential Affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Kiir directed the Finance ministry to pay the outstanding arrears to the UN. Media reports show South Sudan currently owes the world body $196,130. “This is unfortunate, but the good news is that His Excellency President General Salva Kiir Mayardit has directed the minister of Finance and Economic Planning to look into that. You know the situation of our economy but we are also aware of our obligations,” he explained. Marial was reacting to reports that South Sudan and other countries were denied voting rights at the UN General Assembly for failure to pay arrears. Sudan Tribune

Pope Francis Heads High-Powered Christian Leaders Delegation to Africa
A high-powered delegation of the heads of the Catholic and Anglican churches as well as the Church of Scotland will travel to Africa next week in what will be a first of its kind visit centred on politics, human rights, and religion. The three leaders are Pope Francis, 86, of the Catholic Church, Senior Bishop Justin Welby, 67, the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and retired Reverend Iain Greenshields, 68, who is the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. News24

Yellen: Russian Oil Price Cap Could Save African Countries $6Bn Annually
Russia’s war in Ukraine is hitting Africans particularly hard by exacerbating food insecurity and putting an unnecessary drag on the continent’s economy, United States Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has said. Yellen noted that ending the war would be the best thing to help the global economy, but estimated that a group of seven-led price cap on Russian crude oil and refined products to limit Russia’s revenues could save the 17 largest net oil-importing African countries $6 billion annually…G7 countries and Australia implemented the oil price cap on December 5, banning the use of Western-supplied maritime insurance, finance and other services for cargoes priced above $60 per barrel. A Reuters report stated that a further cap on Russian refined petroleum products, such as diesel and fuel oil, is due to take effect on February 5. Yellen said the United States was working with African leaders to mitigate the damage caused by Russia’s “illegal and unprovoked war” in Ukraine, which along with COVID-19 had slowed growth and pushed millions of Africans into poverty and hunger. ThisDay

Sudan Framework Agreement: Justice and Military Reform Conferences May Be Postponed
According to Siddig Tawer, leading member of the Socialist Arab Ba’ath Party and member of the Sovereignty Council during the government of PM Abdallah Hamdok, the current political process is “at a real impasse.” Several other politicians believe the conferences for discussing the remaining four issues will go ahead as planned.  He explained to Radio Dabanga that “there are reports that the dialogue conferences between the signatories of the Framework Agreement on (transitional) justice and on reform of the security and military institutions will be postponed until after the formation of a new transitional government.”  Tawer said he is convinced that there are no guarantees for the implementation of the Framework Agreement. “El Burhan has repeatedly threatened to overthrow any government that does not suit their whims,” he said. Dabanga

Raila Refuses to Recognise Ruto’s Presidency in Kenya
Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has said his political coalition does not recognise William Ruto as the President of Kenya and declared the new Kenyan government as “illegitimate”. Mr Ruto beat him in last August’s poll, but Mr Odinga – who appeared at Nairobi’s Kamukunji Stadium along with his running mate Martha Karua, and other allies – repeated claims that the results were manipulated. Claims that had already been rejected in court. He declared that he and his movement “reject the 2022 election result totally”, which was received with great cheers and applause from an adoring crowd. “We cannot and we don’t recognise the Kenya Kwanza regime,” he continued. The 2022 election was Mr Odinga’s fifth attempt at the presidency, but he was beaten by Mr Ruto who was declared winner in the absence of four election commissioners who dissented and accused the commission chairman of delivering what they called “opaque” results. BBC

Suspected Islamists Kill 23 in East DR Congo Attack
Suspected Allied Democratic Forces fighters have killed at least 23 people in an attack in eastern DR Congo, local officials said Monday, in the latest violence in the turbulent region. The attack occurred overnight on Sunday in the village of Makugwe, in the Beni area of North Kivu province, said local civil society figure Roger Wangeve, who put the death toll at 24. “The ADF surprised 17 people in a small bar where they were drinking beer, and executed them,” he said. Wangeve added that militants also looted and torched several homes and shops in the village, and carried off several villagers into the bush. AFP

South Africa: How Nelson Mandela’s Former Prison Guard Is Keeping His Legacy Alive
Reflecting after years at Mandela’s side, years in which he saw his friend slowly but surely topple the old order, Mr Brand says: “Mandela was fighting for the freedom of the country, he was prepared to go to the gallows for freedom for his people. “Even when he was doing things that were wrong, he was doing things which were right for people of the time.”…In his memoir Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela hints at why he kept his prison officer at his side even after being freed. Mr Brand, he writes, “reinforced my belief in the essential humanity even of those who had kept me behind bars”. Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 already negotiating with South Africa’s leadership for the changes that would see the country’s first democratic election a few years later. Independent



Photo: Adam Jones