Africa Media Review for January 4, 2022

Sudanese Forces Seal off Roads as Pro-Democracy Rallies Planned
Sudanese security forces have beefed up security in and around Khartoum as pro-democracy protesters called for mass rallies in a bid to keep up pressure on the ruling military following the resignation of civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Activists on Tuesday said authorities closed roads in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman in an effort to prevent demonstrators from reaching key government buildings. … Tens of thousands of people have continued taking to the streets despite a heavy security crackdown that has killed at least 57 protesters and wounded hundreds since the coup, according to a medical group. … Tuesday’s protests have been called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the popular uprising that al-Bashir’s removal. The protest movement insists on a fully civilian government to lead the transition towards elections, a demand rejected by the generals who say power will be handed over only to an elected government. … “[Hamdok’s] removal, as far as [protesters] are concerned, removes the last fig leaf that was covering this regime and what remains is a full-fledged military dictatorship,” Ahmed el-Gaili, a Sudanese lawyer and legal commentator, separately told Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera

Sudan Braces for ‘the Worst’ after Prime Minister Resigns
The military in Sudan is in control once again, jeopardizing the country’s already fragile hopes of a successful transition to democracy. With the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Sunday night, Sudan has no civilian government to help steer a country that was just emerging from a dictatorship that lasted three decades. There are now fears of an escalation in the confrontations between protesters and security forces that have gripped the capital, Khartoum, and beyond in recent weeks, resulting in the deaths of at least 57 people, a doctors group said. A vast country of about 43 million people in the northeast of Africa, Sudan has neither the political structures nor the independent political bodies in place to legitimately appoint a new prime minister, analysts said, dampening further the country’s hopes of exchanging a military dictatorship for democratic rule. “It is very clear that the military and its alliance won’t hand over power peacefully, so they will try to crush the peaceful resistance,” said Dr. Sara Abdelgalil, a Sudanese doctor and a former president of the doctors’ union. “We are expecting the worst.” …  U.S. Senator James E. Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Mr. Hamdok’s resignation “completes” the military coup of Oct. 25, and urged the military to “hand over power to elected civilian leaders.” The New York Times

Sudanese Prime Minister’s Resignation Triggered by Military Reneging on Deal, Sources Say
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s resignation on Sunday was triggered after the military went back on a “non-interference” agreement struck in November and relaunched the feared national intelligence agency, according to Sudanese political sources speaking to CNN. … Hamdok previously stated a key demand of the November 21 deal was independence in his choice of political appointees, as he sought to bring the country back from the brink of chaos following the October 25 military coup. But the military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, made clear its unhappiness with Hamdok’s choice of undersecretaries and general secretaries’ appointments at various ministries… In addition to reports of interfering in Hamdok’s political appointments, Sudan’s military leadership announced a rebranded relaunch of former dictator Omar al-Bashir’s notorious national intelligence service (NISS) on December 30. It is now known as the General Intelligence Service (GIS). Previous CNN investigations have implicated the agency in the deaths of protesters. Its continued influence, sources say, was another “red line” for Hamdok, rendering the relationship with the military untenable. “The restoration of arrest and search authority to the intelligence service and the continuation of repression against the demonstrators was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the Burhan-Hamdok agreement,” a senior source in the civilian leadership told CNN. CNN

African Human Trafficking Fugitive Nabbed in Joint Operation
Kenyan police arrested a man sought in connection with human trafficking since 2017 in a joint operation with Dutch authorities and Interpol. 53-year-old John Habeta was taken into custody at Schiphol International airport in Amsterdam on 25 December after his arrest in Kenya. Kenyan police arrested Habeta in Nairobi on 16 December in a sting operation co-ordinated between authorities in The Netherlands and Kenya with the support of Interpol General Secretariat headquarters. Habeta allegedly smuggled dozens of men, women and children to Europe from east Africa. Acting on globally sourced Interpol intelligence, the Interpol national central bureau (NCB) in The Hague alerted the Kenyan NCB to the fugitive’s presence in Nairobi on 10 December. An Interpol Red Notice – or international fugitive alert – published the same day for people smuggling and use of fake identity documents to carry out transcontinental smuggling operations, triggered surveillance and arrest on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital. The Dutch national remains in custody in The Netherlands until trial where, if convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison. defenceWeb

Niger Police Seize More than 200 KG of Cocaine from Mayor’s Truck
Police in northern Niger have seized more than 200 kg of cocaine worth around $8.7 million that was being transported in the local mayor’s official truck, two police sources said on Monday. The mayor and his driver, who were in the vehicle at the time, were arrested with 199 bricks of cocaine at a checkpoint on the road heading north out of the desert trading hub of Agadez on Sunday, the sources said. A statement from Niger’s Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking (OCRTIS) confirmed that there had been a record seizure of more than 200 kg of cocaine in Agadez, but did not give details. West Africa, most often a transit route for illegal drugs on the way from South America to Europe, has registered a series of record busts in recent years. Senegal seized more than two tonnes of pure cocaine from a ship off its Atlantic coast in October, and Gambian authorities seized nearly 3 tonnes last January from a shipment originating in Ecuador. Reuters

Nigeria: Amidst Military Offensive, Notorious Bandit Turji Releases 52 Kidnap Victims
A few days after military operations in Zamfara State killed two leaders of terror groups and their followers, another kingpin, Bello Turji, has released dozens of victims his group kidnapped. Mr Turji has released 52 kidnap victims as part of his efforts to appease the Zamfara State government towards granting him an amnesty. Informed sources in the state including a Government House official confirmed the development to this newspaper on Monday. Premium Times reported how Mr Turji wrote a ceasefire letter to President Buhari, Governor Bello Matawalle and the emir of Shinkafi. … Governor Matawalle was a proponent of dialogue with bandits towards persuading them to drop their arms and embrace the law. But he discarded the policy after some so-called repentant bandits returned to the forests to resume their criminal activities after being paid off by the state government. Premium Times

Turkey Secures Larger Piece of the Pie in African Arms Market
Geopolitics, imports of military hardware, security and Covid recovery topped the agenda in the most recent Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit held in Istanbul. As Turkish President Recep Erdogan sat down with a host of African leaders on December 18, his country’s military dealings with the continent was top of the agenda. The value of Turkey’s arms sales to Africa in 2021 rose by 700 percent to $328 million, from $41 million in 2020, according to data from Turkey’s General Assembly of Exporters. President Erdogan said Turkey and African countries agreed on a joint action plan for partnership in peace, security, infrastructure and trade. African leaders and Ankara adopted a joint declaration that committed them to “further strengthen and deepen the co-operation in the interest of the states and peoples.” Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda and Somalia are some of the Eastern African countries that have defence pacts with Ankara, offering a market for rifles, tankers and drones. The EastAfrican

COVID-19: Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi in Isolation after Testing Positive
Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi is in mandatory self- isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 in routine testing, a government spokesperson said on Monday. “The president does not have any symptoms and will continue to receive close medical monitoring by his medical doctors,” John-Thomas Dipowe, acting permanent secretary for Government Communications, said in a statement. Vice President Slumber Tsogwane will assume the president’s responsibilities until further notice while Masisi is in isolation, Dipowe said. New coronavirus infections have risen sharply in the diamond-rich Southern African country since the detection of the Omicron variant late last year, to an average of 2,500 every three days from under 300 over the same period before Omicron. Reuters

Mozambique President and Wife Test Positive for COVID-19
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and his wife Isaura have tested positive for Covid-19 and are isolating, the president’s office said on Monday. Nyusi and his wife took rapid tests and were asymptomatic but immediately decided to isolate while awaiting their PCR results, the presidency statement said. Mozambique’s coronavirus infections are at their peak, data from a Reuters tracker show, with the average number of new cases increasing for seven days in a row. In total, it has recorded over 2 000 Covid-19 related deaths and 192 000 infections during the pandemic. Reuters

Suspect Charged with Arson in Fire at South Africa’s Parliament
Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a 49-year-old man with arson, theft and housebreaking in connection with the large fire that devastated the complex containing South Africa’s Parliament, gutting the National Assembly building and destroying lawmakers’ offices. The suspect, Zandile Christmas Mafe, is accused of starting the fire, which started early Sunday and was not fully extinguished until Tuesday morning, along with charges of contravening state security laws, because the structure is a site of national strategic importance. Mr. Mafe, who lives in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township according to court documents, did not enter a plea, although his lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, said he plans to plead not guilty. He remains in custody, and prosecutors have opposed bail, citing the severity of the charges. Security officials arrested Mr. Mafe at the Parliament complex on Sunday morning, spotting him shortly after the fire was reported. He was caught with stolen property, the police said, although they did not give further details. … More than 60 firefighters battled the blaze, supported by crew from South Africa’s Air Force. At one point, the wind was so strong that firefighters could not risk using aerial platforms. Instead, Mr. Smith said, they pulled “death-defying Spider-Man moves,” climbing up the side of the building to prevent the fire from sweeping into Tuynhuys, the official office of the president and one of the oldest buildings in the city. The New York Times

A Crisis of Faith in South Africa
Thembokwezi is a neighbourhood of Khayelitsha, a sprawling, overcrowded township overlooked by Table Mountain that has long been infamous for high levels of gang violence, drug abuse and unemployment. South African police are stretched very thin and so a network of neighbourhood watch organisations play a key role in fighting crime here. Thembokwezi is more prosperous and safer than much of the rest of the township, and those who live here want to keep it that way. “We work with the police of course … but if we fold our arms as a community, the criminals will run amok,” said Phindile George, the leader of the Thembokwezi neighbourhood watch, which counts 50 volunteers including Msweswe and Madasi among its members. Across South Africa, tens of thousands of people are making similar resolutions. Some teach, secure reliable electricity supplies, organise vaccination drives, repair roads, deliver protective gear to hospitals or distribute water. Many work almost alone, others in NGOs or for wealthy businesses that are now setting aside large sums for philanthropic work. … The retreat of the state from everyday life in the continent’s most developed country has widespread consequences, changing the way people think, behave and interact, especially in a time of crisis. The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was almost universally revered, provided a moment of paradoxical hope as well as grief: reminding many South Africans of what they have in common after many months where circumstances have conspired to drive them apart. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones