Africa Media Review for January 7, 2022

Three Protesters Shot Dead in Sudan Anti-military Rallies
Security forces shot dead three protesters and fired tear gas in Sudan on Thursday as crowds thronged the capital Khartoum and other cities in more anti-military rallies, medics and Reuters witnesses said. At least 60 people have died and many more have been wounded in crackdowns on demonstrations since a coup in October that interrupted efforts to bring about democratic change, according to a group of medics aligned with the protest movement. The people killed on Thursday were all protesters and died from shots fired by security personnel during rallies in the cities of Omdurman and Bahri, across the River Nile from Khartoum, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said. Protesters attempted once again to reach the presidential palace in the capital to keep up pressure on the military, whose coup halted a power-sharing arrangement negotiated after the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir. The military has justified the coup as a “correction” needed to stabilise the transition. They have said peaceful protests are permitted and those responsible for causing casualties will be held to account. … As in previous demonstrations, mobile phone and internet services were largely cut from late morning, Reuters journalists and Netblocks, an internet blockage observatory, said. Reuters

Sudan’s Donors Warn against Appointing New PM without Civilian Nod
Sudan’s major Western donors say they will not work with a new Prime Minister if the PM is appointed without the input of civilian movements in the country. In a joint call, two days after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok quit office following weeks of protests against the military junta, the European Union, UK, US and Norway said a replacement must be a product of dialogue. The US, UK and Norway are often known as ‘Troika’ on Sudan. And, alongside the European Union, have been financial supporters of the transitional project in Sudan, which now faces a threat of stalling after Hamdok quit office on Monday. “His resignation as Sudanese Prime Minister, two months after the military’s unconstitutional seizure of power, reinforces the urgent need for all Sudanese leaders to recommit to the country’s democratic transition and deliver on the Sudanese people’s demands for freedom, peace, and justice. No single Sudanese actor can accomplish this task on their own,” the donors said in a joint statement. … Mélanie Joly, the Canadian Foreign Minister, also added her country’s voice on donors’ call for a civilian-led leadership. … The EU and the Troika said they will continue to support the transition, but it must be based on the 2019 power sharing arrangement, otherwise known as the Constitutional Declaration. The East African

Nigeria: Bandits Burn Down Five Zamfara Communities, Kill Many People
Hundreds of residents from five communities in Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas of Zamfara State have been trouping into Anka town after bandits killed many people in their villages. … A lawyer, who is also a member of Zamfara Charity Organisation, said he saw many of the displaced villagers taking refuge at the Anka local government Secretariat. “Before I left for Gusau this morning I counted over 500 people, mostly old women, ladies and children. The attack started from Tuesday night to Wednesday,” the source, who pleaded anonymity, said. He said local volunteer workers on the orders of the Sarkin Zamfara Anka were supporting the displaced persons. … An anonymous source who spoke to VOA Hausa as monitored by this paper said the attacks started from Barikin Daji in what was described as a fight between the bandits and Yan Sakai (the unofficial vigilante members). “They had been fighting since yesterday (Tuesday night). What scared us was how they were able to displace Kurfar Danya. You know it was said that Kurfar Danya was impenetrable, but I swear to God, they (banidts) have burnt down the whole village. … Speaking to Premium Times, Abubakar Gero, a youth leader in Bukkuyum local government area, confirmed that the attacks started in Kurfar Danya. “The attacks were connected. The bandits started attacking communities from Bukkuyum. We gathered that they came in their hundreds because the villagers used to resist any attempt to attack their village. Premium Times

Gunmen Abduct Three Chinese Workers in Nigeria’s Niger State
Nigerian police say gunmen have killed two local workers at a hydroelectric dam project in Niger state and abducted three Chinese workers. Police said in a statement Thursday that the incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon. They say heavily armed gunmen opened fire in broad daylight on Chinese expatriates and local staff working on a hydro-electric transmission project near Gussase village in central Niger state. Niger State police spokesperson Wasiu Abiodun said the police tactical team immediately responded to the attack, exchanged fire with gangs and rescued four other Chinese nationals and two local workers in the process. The local workers later died in the hospital of gunshot wounds, authorities said. Commissioner of police in Niger state Monday Bala says authorities are working to rescue the three Chinese abductees. VOA

Ethiopia Denies Mistreating Deported Tigrayans
Ethiopia has disputed a recent report issued by a rights group that said it is mistreating thousands of Tigrayans deported from Saudi Arabia. Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dina Mufti described the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report as an irresponsible move to undermine the government’s efforts. “The report is not only unsubstantiated but an irresponsible move that aimed to discredit all the efforts that the Ethiopian government has been doing to relieve the pains of our citizens that have returned from Saudi Arabia. “We have repatriated more than 40,000 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia in just a couple of months regardless of which ethnic group that they belong to,” Mr Dina said. HRW on Wednesday said hundreds of Tigrayans who had been deported from Saudi Arabia, where they had sought work, were arriving at Addis Ababa airport only to be detained in congested and squalid conditions. The East African

Russian Troops Deploy to Timbuktu in Mali After French Withdrawal
Russian soldiers have deployed to Timbuktu in northern Mali to train Malian forces at a base vacated by French troops last month, Mali’s army spokesperson said Thursday. Mali’s government said last month that “Russian trainers” had arrived in the country, but Bamako and Moscow have so far provided few details on the deployment, including how many soldiers are involved or the Russian troops’ precise mission. The Russians’ arrival has generated sharp criticism from Western countries, led by former colonial power France. They say the forces include contractors from the mercenary Wagner Group, which they accuse of human rights abuses in other countries. Mali’s government has denied this, saying the Russian troops are in the country as part of a bilateral agreement. VOA

Detained Ugandan Satirical Novelist Tortured in Custody: Lawyer
A Ugandan satirical novelist and critic of President Yoweri Museveni and his son have been tortured in captivity, his lawyer has said. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who won the PEN Pinter Prize International Writer of Courage award last year, was arrested on December 28 and has yet to be charged in any court. On Wednesday, lawyer Eron Kiiza said that Rukirabashaija displayed signs of being tortured when security personnel brought him to his house on Monday to search for evidence. “He appeared to be vomiting, he was urinating blood, there were torture marks on his legs and feet, he was in deep pain,” Kiiza told Reuters news agency. Kiiza added that Rukirabashaija had not been allowed visits by his lawyers or relatives since his arrest. … Rukirabashaija has written several books, including his famous The Greedy Barbarian, a satirical novel about a fictional country that tackles themes of corruption and greed. The novel is widely seen in Uganda to mirror the political life of Museveni, 77, and his government. He has been critical of Museveni, who has ruled the country since 1986, and his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a military general widely seen as being prepared to take over the presidency from his father. Over the last two years, Rukirabashaija has been arbitrarily arrested twice and detained incommunicado. Al Jazeera

French Ship Rescues Two Groups of Migrants in the Mediterranean
Authorities in Tunisia have rescued two groups of up to 100 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. A rescue ship announced that it rescued 31 migrants from a drifting wooden boat before reaching another group of migrants that managed to seek refuge in an oil platform located around 120 km off the coast of Tunisia. The migrants were rescued by a French vessel, the Louise Michel, one of several ships operating in the Mediterranean, and handed over to Tunisia’s National Guard. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 115,000 people arrived by sea in Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta last year. Around 1,800 died or went missing according to the UN. AfricaNews

At Least 9 African Countries Set to Produce COVID Vaccines, Africa’s CDC Chief Says
As omicron continues to make its impact across the globe, scientists in Africa are rapidly learning more about the new coronavirus variant. Omicron was first identified in southern Africa in November. Dr. John Nkengasong, the director of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The World’s host Carol Hills that so far in South Africa, omicron cases have quickly peaked and declined, with fewer hospitalizations than variants like delta. “We see omicron as a virus that transmits very, very quickly. But then the severity in South Africa has not been comparable to what we saw with the delta variant,” he said. Africa remains the world’s least vaccinated continent against COVID-19, with about 10% of the continent’s population fully vaccinated. Only seven African countries have met the global target of vaccinating 40% of their populations against COVID-19 by the end of 2021. However, Nkengasong said Africa’s political leadership mounted a “very robust response” early on in the pandemic and that this “extraordinary coordination and collaboration” has helped to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Africa. The World

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Endorses ‘Sham’ Zanu-PF Elections
ZANU PF leader, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has endorsed the ruling party’s internal election results without any changes to preliminary results announced earlier, despite the polls having been marred by violence and allegations of rigging. Addressing a press conference after a meeting by the politburo on Wednesday, Zanu PF national political commissar Mike Bimha said complaints about violence and irregularities raised regarding the elections did not affect the results. The elections were blemished by chaos and massive rigging especially in Harare, where Goodwills Masimirembwa won, Mashonaland Central which was taken by Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembel and Manicaland province which was won by Mike Madiro. In those volatile provinces, party members have since threatened to vote for the opposition MDC Alliance in the 2023 general election as a way of demonstrating their disgruntlements over widespread rigging. New Zimbabwe

Analyst: Release of Corruption Report a First Step in Repairing South Africa’s Democracy
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says a scathing report by an inquiry into state graft marks “the end of an era” of corruption. But analysts say it’s only the beginning of efforts needed to restore public trust in South Africa’s political institutions. For more than three years, South Africans watched the public proceedings of a national inquiry into graft under the tenure of former President Jacob Zuma. That’s why its findings of systemic corruption released by Justice Raymond Zondo late Tuesday didn’t come as a surprise. … Narnia Bohler-Muller is a professor with South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council. “Now people want to see consequences and accountability,” she said. “People are losing trust in government and in democracy, so we don’t want to go to a point beyond no return. I do really think that we may be saved by a response that is going to be a proper implementation plan and action. If that doesn’t happen, then I don’t know, then we will not be living in a democracy.” She says public trust in government has been on the decline since 2009 — coinciding with Zuma’s time in office. … The public still has months to wait for any government action. Two more reports from the inquiry will be released in the coming weeks. President Cyril Ramaphosa will then deliver the full report to parliament by the end of June before implementing its recommendations. VOA

Vaccines, Trade and Infrastructure as Chinese FM Visits Africa
China voiced its opposition to unilateral sanctions on Eritrea during a visit Wednesday by its foreign minister to the Horn of Africa nation. The United States slapped sanctions on Eritrea last year over the brutal conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia, a move Asmara branded “illicit and immoral.” Eritrean and Ethiopian forces have been accused of carrying out rape and massacres in the war-hit northern region of Tigray, and Washington has repeatedly urged Asmara to withdraw its troops. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with President Isaias Afwerki and Foreign Minister Osman Saleh on Wednesday on the first leg of a three-nation African tour. … Wang’s trip to Eritrea, one of the world’s most closed-off countries, will be followed by visits to Kenya and the Comoros. To the dismay of the West, China has ramped up its involvement in Africa in its search for resources and has embarked on an infrastructure-building blitz under the so-called Belt and Road investment strategy. China is the continent’s largest trading partner with direct trade worth over $200 billion in 2019, according to official Chinese figures. AfricaNews/AFP

Kenya and China Sign Six Trade Agreements
Kenya and China have signed six trade agreements and promised to form a joint working group to address trade barriers between the two countries to reduce trade imbalances. During the bilateral talks and the signing of the agreements between Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Kenya expressed optimism that the agreements will increase its export to China and improve the economy of its people. … The two countries have agreed to collaborate on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) to boost digital economy in Kenya, continue in the development of regional transport for economic hub on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and creating market of Kenyan agricultural products. … The Chinese minister said China will continue to strengthen and deepen its cooperation with African countries. ​He added that China will continue supporting Kenya in realising industrialisation and modernisation at a faster pace. … ​Mr Wang said China will donate one billion vaccines to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The East African

Morocco and China Agree to Implement the Belt and Road Initiative
Morocco and China have enhanced their cooperation as they signed on Wednesday the joint Belt and Road implementation plan. Nasser Bourita the Moroccan minister of Foreign Affair and the Ning Jizhe Vice-Chairman of the Chinese National Commission for Reform and Development signed the joint belt and road implementation plan, on Wednesday. Launched in 2013 under the name One Belt, One road, the plan aims to facilitate trade a technological cooperation facilitate trade, research and technological cooperation, seals a strategic partnership between the two countries. When implemented, the deal should see the two nations create joint ventures in the energy industry. China also vows to encourage Chinese businesses to invest in Morocco while granting funds for large development projects in the African country. Morocco was the first Maghrebi country to adhere to the Belt and Road initiative. The convention signed by Morocco and China also plans to include Africa in order to form a tripartite cooperation in the sector of sustainable development. It is on the continent that the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, started on Tuesday, January 4, his traditional first overseas trip of the year. AfricaNews

The Gambia: Will Yahya Jammeh be Tried by an African court?
The Gambia’s judiciary is officially calling for former head of state Yahya Jammeh to be prosecuted. It is now up to his successor, Adama Barrow, who has just been re-elected president, to set the legal machine in motion. … On 24 December, Justice Minister Dawda Jallow released the report written by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), further tightening the noose around Jammeh. … In the report, which was submitted to President Adama Barrow on the eve of the 4 December 2021 presidential election, the TRRC recommends prosecuting Jammeh, who had established an authoritarian system based on terror and impunity. … In its report, the TRRC states that the “best option” would be to create a hybrid court supported by either Ecowas or the African Union and based in Dakar. Not only is Senegal close to The Gambia and therefore to the evidence, but it also hosts the Extraordinary African Chambers, where Chad’s Hissène Habré was both tried and convicted. … The president and his justice minister are expected to submit a white paper, which will outline their strategy for implementing the TRRC’s recommendations, by 25 May 2022. The Africa Report

Cameroon Deploys Military to Troubled Regions for African Football Championship
Cameroon has deployed troops and armored cars to towns that will be hosting matches of the Africa Football Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in its troubled Southwest region. Cameroon is hosting the continent’s top soccer tournament beginning Sunday, but the region’s anglophone separatists have threatened to disrupt the games. Residents of Cameroon’s Southwest region towns of Buea and Limbe say in the past two weeks there has been a noticeable increase in troops and military trucks on the streets. The troubled Southwest region is one area of Cameroon that will be hosting Africa’s top soccer championship, the Africa Football Cup of Nations (AFCON). … Cameroon’s military confirmed that troops have been deployed to Buea and Limbe to protect football players, officials, and fans for the tournament. A spokesman declined to comment on the number of troops and armored vehicles deployed. The southwestern towns will host group matches for teams from Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, and Tunisia. Anglophone separatists fighting in Cameroon’s west to break away from the majority French-speaking nation have vowed to disrupt the games. … Within the past two months Buea has reported at least six attacks by separatist fighters. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones