Africa Media Review for January 6, 2022

ECOWAS Rejects Mali Junta’s Hopes of Five-Year Transition to Civilian Rule
The mediator of West Africa’s regional bloc, Ecowas, has delivered a message to Mali’s junta leader ahead of a summit on Sunday to address the timetable of a transition to civilian rule. Mali’s military took over the country in August 2020. The message, the details of which have not been revealed, came during a meeting between former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan – who heads a delegation of Ecowas mediators in Mali – and Interim President Colonel Assimi Goita, who lead the coup that toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. … Speaking to diplomats in Bamako, Jonathan made it clear that an extension would not be acceptable. Magassa said a member of the mediation delegation pointed out to journalists that five years is longer than the term of a democratically elected president in Nigeria. The junta’s proposal has been rejected by local parties and associations, and Ecowas insists on elections on by February, as initially planned. At a summit in December, Ecowas leaders maintained sanctions against dozens of junta members and their families, and threatened further “economic and financial” measures if elections are postponed. RFI

South Africa’s President Is Urged to Root Out Corruption
The damning findings by the state commission of inquiry — chaired by the country’s deputy chief justice and which gathered evidence for more than three years — will be a crucial test of Ramaphosa’s ability to root out corruption that has hobbled the South African state, legal specialists and Amnesty International say. … By releasing the report to the public, Ramaphosa has put pressure on various state officials to act without delay, Olwethu Majola, an expert in international anti-corruption law at the University of Cape Town, told The Associated Press. … “Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law which infringes on basic human rights. In South Africa, access to basic services is largely crippled by the mismanagement of public funds,” Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said. “The state has a duty to protect the human rights of all who live in the country. It is clear from Justice Zondo’s report that the state has failed to do this,” she said. Graft has prevented the South African government from providing all citizens with basic services that are their right, she said. Nearly 28 years after South Africa ended apartheid and achieved democracy, almost a third of the country’s 60 million people still do not have reliable access to safe water and 14 million people do not have basic sanitation, said Mohamed. AP

China to Appoint Horn of Africa Envoy amid Ethiopia Crisis
China’s foreign minister says his country will appoint a special envoy to the Horn of Africa region, where Ethiopia and Eritrea have been fighting forces from Ethiopia’s Tigray region and Somalia is in the grip of a political crisis caused by a long-delayed election. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in comments to reporters during his Thursday visit to Kenya, didn’t say when the appointment would be made. He urged countries in the Horn of Africa, a strategic but at times turbulent region, to hold a peace conference and said China’s envoy could provide “necessary support” for that process. The announcement came as the United States’ special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, is again visiting Ethiopia in the hope of taking advantage of a relative lull in the country’s conflict to press for a cease-fire and path to peace. … China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has been blamed in part for blocking action on Ethiopia’s war that some other members have sought. The war has killed an estimated tens of thousands of people and created a vast humanitarian crisis, with the Tigray region under a government blockade since late June. AP

Gabon and Ghana Join Powerful UN Security Council
The U.N. Security Council got five new members Tuesday, as Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates formally took up the posts they won in an election in June. Gabon and Ghana each have been on the council three times before and the UAE once. The 15-member council is the U.N.’s most powerful body. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members, with veto power. Other members are elected by the 193-member General Assembly for two-year terms that are allocated by global regions. The African continent’s non-permanent seats on the Security Council, were held by Kenya, Tunisia and Niger. South African and Senegalese presidents had last year called for a permanent representation of the African people in the council. AfricaNews with AFP

Burhan Declines EU-Troika Calls for Dialogue in Sudan
Sudan’s coup leader rejected calls by the Troika and the European Union to appoint a new prime minister in accordance with the Constitutional Declaration, which gives the right of his nomination to the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). After the resignation of Abdallah Hamdok, the Troika and the European Union on Tuesday urged the Commander in Chief of the Sudanese army Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to select a prime minister after a dialogue with his partners in the transition. … In response to this call, al-Burhan through his military spokesman declined the call of the main supporters of the economic reforms in Sudan. … Al-Burhan has already refused a mediation by the African Union to settle the ongoing crisis in Sudan saying he prefers internal efforts. On October 25, the Commander in Chief of the Sudanese army dissolved the transitional government and arrested the prime minister, government officials, and political leaders. Also, he declared a state of emergency in the country. The military leader accused the FFC forces of seeking to achieve partisan interests and neglecting the transition’s reforms. In fact, he was angered by their calls for the implementation of the security reforms, which would end the army’s economic privileges and hand over the Sovereign Council’s chairmanship to civilians… Sudan Tribune

Burundian Troops in Eastern DR Congo, Say Local Sources
Burundian troops have been sighted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to local sources on Wednesday, with one saying the troops were after Burundian rebels holed up in the area. “Burundian forces entered (the district of) Lemera on Sunday, December 19,” the Lemera area’s chief, Edmond Simba Muhogo, told AFP. “They were estimated to number more than 380 troops, and they were clearly commandos. They came through the centre of Lemera… and went on to attack the Burundian rebels,” he said. Lemera lies in the territory of Uvira in South Kivu province, which borders Burundi. The troops are currently deployed in the Congolese districts of Bijojo and Bibangwa, the chief said. The rebel group is the RED-Tabara, a force estimated to number between 500 and 800 men that has a rear base in eastern DRC and has been accused of a string of attacks in Burundi since 2015. … In September, RED-Tabara also claimed responsibility for an attack on the international airport of Bujumbura, Burundi’s economic capital. AFP

Senegal Launches $1 Billion Deep-Water Port Project South of Dakar
The Senegalese government has launched one of its most ambitious infrastructure projects – the construction of a multi-million deep-water port. The project, estimated to cost $1.13 billion, is being developed by the Emirati logistics firm DP World. It will be the second container terminal in the West African country, after the Port of Dakar. The new project is located at Ndayane, a small settlement some 50km south of the Senegalese capital. DP World will develop and operate the 300ha container terminal, according to the agreement signed in December 2020. The agreement entails a joint venture between the Port Authority of Dakar (PAD) and the Dubai-based logistics provider, to be implemented by a subsidiary of DP World in Senegal – DP World Dakar, which will be responsible for financing, designing and developing the land and marine infrastructure on a 600ha area. According to details of the agreement, at the initial stage of the project DP World will develop roughly 840m of quays and a 5km marine channel that can accommodate ships up to 366m in length. During this phase, DP World will invest nearly $837 million. The second phase will see the addition of a 410m container quay along with further dredging works, which will allow the port to manage vessels measuring up to 400m. It is expected to spend about $290 million in this phase. The EastAfrican

Africa CDC Says Severe Lockdowns No Longer Tool to Contain COVID-19
Africa’s top public health official said on Thursday that severe lockdowns were no longer the best way to contain Covid-19, praising South Africa for adopting that approach when responding to its latest infection wave driven by the Omicron variant. “We are very encouraged with what we saw in South Africa during this period where they look at the data in terms of severity (of infections),” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told a news conference. “The period where we are using severe lockdowns as a tool is over. We should actually be looking at how we use public health and social measures more carefully and in a balanced way as the vaccination increases.” South Africa experienced a steep rise in Covid-19 infections from late November, around the time it alerted the world to Omicron, with new infections peaking in mid-December at an all-time record. … Nkengasong added that he feared that Covid-19 could become endemic on the continent given the slow pace of vaccination… “Unless … by the end of this year the continent actually scales up its vaccination to above 70% or 80%, my worry is that we might … be into a scenario where Covid becomes endemic,” he said. AFP

Rising Prices Fuel Protests in Malawi
For Malawian hardware shop owner Isaac Phiri, rising prices over the last year have made it almost impossible to do business — the price of paint has doubled in a year and bags of cement are up by a third. The planned unveiling of a new 5,000 kwacha note ($6) — the previous largest note was K2,000 — only brought home how costs are hurtling beyond the means of Phiri and other traders in Mtandire, a Lilongwe shantytown. … The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index has risen sharply, adding to the hardship in economies where governments are less able to throw money at the pandemic response, and food and fuel take up a bigger share of household budgets. In import-reliant and landlocked Malawi, where inflation is expected to have been 9 per cent in 2021 and the economy is expected to have expanded by about 2 per cent, high fuel and food prices bring a clear political risk. Already in recent months, thousands have taken to the streets of major cities in protest at high prices. … At stake in Malawi is one of Africa’s biggest democratic success stories in recent years. In 2020, the army, the judiciary and mass protests ensured the peaceful rerun of elections after an initial poll in 2019 delivered victory for the incumbent through rampant fraud. Lazarus Chakwera, a pastor turned politician, was the continent’s first opposition leader to win such a rerun. … Malawi has sought a loan from the IMF, but this is on hold pending a special audit into evidence that the previous government overstated foreign reserves to win fund support. In December the police arrested the ex-finance minister and former central bank governor over the alleged misreporting. FT



Photo: Adam Jones