Africa Media Review for July 12, 2023

Ugandan President and His Son Are Accused of Crimes Against Humanity
A trove of testimonies from more than 200 people who accuse senior Ugandan officials, including the president and his son, of torture, killings and other crimes against humanity has been submitted to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a lawyer for the complainants said on Tuesday. The filing is an effort to bring international scrutiny to what human rights observers have called a brutal government crackdown on opposition groups and activists in the East African nation in the months before and after the country’s bloody 2021 elections. The briefing accuses nine top Ugandan officials of abuses, including President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country with an iron grip for almost four decades, and his son, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who has been maneuvering to succeed his father. A total of 26 officials are accused of aiding and abetting the incarceration and systematic abuse of Ugandans, particularly supporters of the musician turned opposition leader Bobi Wine, who ran for president in 2021. New York Times

Sudanese City Becomes Center of ‘New Phase’ of War
As the war in Sudan heads into its fourth month, Omdurman — the city across the Nile River from the capital, Khartoum — has become the site of some of the most fierce fighting between the two forces battling for power: the army and its rival, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Patients were admitted in droves in recent days to one of the few functioning health facilities left in Omdurman, their bodies riddled with bullets or sliced by shrapnel from airstrikes. Some victims were dead by the time they were brought in, their passage hindered by street battles in Omdurman, once a bustling business hub and home to many universities, hospitals and political and cultural institutions. “It’s been like hell,” said Dr. Rashid Mukhtar Hassan, the human resource manager at the health facility, Al-Nau Teaching Hospital, in a phone call. The Rapid Support Forces have extended their hold on the capital, according to residents, military analysts and humanitarian officials in touch with those stuck in the war zone. The clashes have intensified as the army has tried to block the paramilitary group’s supply routes coming from its stronghold in Darfur, in western Sudan. … “We are entering a new phase of the conflict where this is now becoming a war over supply lines,” Mr. Boswell said. “And Omdurman is at the heart of it.” New York Times

Sudan’s Army-Aligned Foreign Ministry Rejects African Peace Bid
Sudan’s army-aligned foreign ministry has rejected a regional summit proposal to consider deploying peacekeeping forces to protect civilians, dashing tentative hopes it might help efforts to end the country’s three-month war. The East African regional body the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) suggested on Monday that the rival sides consider the deployment of a regional force and new peace negotiations. The mediation offer was the first in weeks after talks in Jeddah were suspended by the United States and Saudi Arabia after numerous ceasefire violations. … Tuesday’s foreign ministry statement did welcome an upcoming summit held by Egypt – widely seen as closer to the army than to the RSF – to be held later this week. Al Jazeera

After the Success of Its Army in Mozambique, Rwanda Expects Economic Rewards
Companies affiliated with the powerful Crystal Ventures holding company, the financial arm of Kigali’s ruling party, are already present in Mozambique. … The arrival of the Rwandan soldiers in Cabo Delgado province, the setting of Africa’s largest industrial project and a jihadist insurgency, was decisive. The soldiers, deployed in July 2021 in the north of Mozambique when insurgents linked to the Islamic State (IS) had taken over the Palma district, close to TotalEnergies’ future gas site and the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia, managed to partially secure the province in just a few weeks. TotalEnergies, a French company, which had had to suspend its activities because of the danger, is now reportedly about to resume its work. Three months after the start of the counteroffensive, Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, came to Mozambique to congratulate his troops. “We have shown what we can do with limited resources,” he said on September 24, 2021. … This intervention by 3,000 Rwandan soldiers and police officers was partly financed by the European Union (EU) under the European Peace Facility, a mechanism that enables it to “support partners in the fields of defense in order to prevent conflicts and strengthen international security.” The Rwandan military benefited from assistance worth €20 million… Two years later, [Kagame’s] military diplomacy has given him a certain political influence on the ground, as is true in the Central African Republic. Le Monde

Mozambican Accused in $2 Billion ‘Tuna’ Scandal Is Extradited to New York
The former finance minister of Mozambique, accused of helping orchestrate a financial corruption scandal that nearly caused the collapse of his nation’s economy and defrauded American investors, was extradited to the United States from South Africa on Wednesday to face charges in Federal District Court. Manuel Chang, the former minister, is suspected of signing off on about $2 billion worth of loans concealed from public view and partaking in a scheme to embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars. He faces charges in the U.S. of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. The authorities accuse Mr. Chang and members of the country’s political elite of luring investors with the promise of development projects in the tuna fishing industry and maritime security in Mozambique, a southern African nation on the Indian Ocean. About half a billion dollars went missing, with investigators alleging the money was used to pay bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials and former bankers. New York Times

Free, Fair Election? Zimbabwe Government Cracks Down on Opposition.
Opposition party supporters in Zimbabwe chanted and sang freedom songs outside a courthouse Sunday following a decision to ban them from holding a rally six weeks before elections. The court in the town of Bindura upheld Friday’s police order that the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party could not hold the rally to officially launch its election campaign because the venue was unsuitable. The CCC had appealed in court against the order. The decision increased tensions in the southern African nation, which has a history of violent and disputed elections. … The yellow-clad CCC supporters who gathered outside Bindura Magistrates Court sang “Dictatorship remains. When will this country be free?” … “We are getting into a match with both legs tied,” said CCC lawyer Agency Gumbo. “They would rather keep the opposition at the courts than on the campaign trail.” There was “an uneven playing ground that shows that the democratic process has been corroded,” Mr. Gumbo said. CSM

Latest Zimbabwean Poll Says Chamisa and the Opposition Should Win Next Month’s Elections
The poll found a large majority of Zimbabweans think the country is on the wrong path and that the economy is getting worse. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party would win next month’s Zimbabwean elections by a margin of between 8% and 9% – if the elections are free and fair – a new poll suggests. The poll of 2,000 registered voters, conducted by Elite Africa Research in June, found that if the elections were held then, 47.6% of respondents would vote for Chamisa in the presidential poll, while 38.7% would vote for President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Similarly, the poll found that 47.7 % of respondents would vote for Chamisa’s CCC while 39.6% would vote for Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party in the parliamentary elections. The presidential, parliamentary and local council elections are all scheduled to be held on 23 August. … The survey results, if replicated on 23 August, would mean Zimbabweans would have to go to the polls again soon after, as no presidential candidate would have won more than 50% of votes in the first round. In that case, a second round of voting would have to be held between the top two candidates to ensure the winner gets more than 50% of the votes. Daily Maverick

‘We Have the Energy’: Historic Political Wins for Women in Sierra Leone Hampered by Election Disputes
… Before the vote, 19 per cent of local politicians were women, dropping to 13 per cent at national level, according to Trócaire. While welcoming the new [30 percent] quota, women candidates who spoke to The Irish Times expressed concern it was misinterpreted. The latest election was the first with a district block proportional representation system of voting. Because voters were voting for parties, and not individual candidates, the party decides what order of preference candidates will win seats in. Women highlighted that this meant each woman candidate was usually being ranked behind two male candidates. … More than a fortnight after election day, on Monday, Conteh had still not heard if she retained her seat. It took a week for both Sesay and Kamara to find out that they failed to win seats, though Kamara disputes the results. She says the tally of results form signed by both parties, and observers, does not match up with the final announced results of the election, which saw equal numbers of ruling party and opposition candidates elected in her area. … In protest, the main opposition party, the APC, have now refused to accept seats at all levels of government. Irish Times

Madagascar: Presidential Election to Be Held at the End of the Year
The Madagascan government on Tuesday called on voters to go to the polls in November and December to re-elect current president Andry Rajoelina or choose a successor. … This announcement merely endorses the proposed date put forward by the Independent National Electoral Commission. … The situation on the Indian Ocean island state is tense, not least because of the controversy surrounding President Andry Rajoelina’s dual French-Malagasy nationality. Having been naturalised as a French citizen on the sly in 2014, Andry Rajoelina would lose his Malagasy nationality, in accordance with the Malagasy nationality code. Without his Malagasy nationality, he will be unable to run the country or stand for election. But this version of events is vigorously contested by the TGV presidential party. AfricaNews with AFP

Senegalese Opposition Figure Charged with Insulting President Sall
Birame Souleye Diop, an opponent of Senegalese President Macky Sall, was charged on Tuesday with offending the head of state, his lawyer announced. … On 3 July, Macky Sall announced that he would not stand for a third term in the presidential election scheduled for next year. At a press conference the following day, Mr Diop warned against a possible U-turn by the Head of State. “I warn the next candidates of the APR (the presidential party): Avoid eating at his house, avoid drinking his water, he is capable of poisoning you and saying: as we have no more candidates, I’m coming back. And to do it Ouattara-style. Beware”, he said, before apologising. Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara had chosen Amadou Gon Coulibaly to succeed him, but the latter’s death from heart problems at the age of 61 prompted Mr Ouattara to stand again for the 2020 presidential election, even though he had announced that he did not want to run for a third term. Mr Diop was arrested the day after the press conference. AfricaNews with AFP

South Korea Launches ‘K-Rice Belt’ Initiative with 8 African Nations
South Korea has initiated the “K-rice belt” project with eight African nations to enhance their food security by providing high-quality rice varieties and sharing agricultural expertise. This initiative, part of South Korea’s official development assistance (ODA), aims to supply high-yield rice varieties, agricultural machinery, and support the construction of irrigation systems and other necessary facilities in Africa. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya, and Guinea Bissau to facilitate the implementation of the project. The primary objective of the “K-rice belt” initiative is to harvest approximately 2,000 tons of rice varieties in Africa this year. By 2027, this figure is expected to rise to over 10,000 tons per year, which would be sufficient to feed approximately 30 million people annually in underdeveloped nations. BNN

DRC: Kenya Ex-President Kenyatta Expected in Goma to Assess Peace Progress
The facilitator of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uhuru Kenyatta, is expected in Goma on Wednesday July 12, 2023. He will be received by Congolese Minister for Regional Integration-Mbusa Nyamwisi and the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of defence-Jean-Pierre Bemba. Together with members of the Congolese government, the former Kenyan president is expected to assess the peace process in the eastern part of the DRC, where the ceasefire between the FARDC (DRC army) and the M23 rebels is still fragile, and where armed groups have been imposing their law for years. Kenyatta’s arrival comes at a time when the ceasefire is beginning to break down, with sporadic fighting between the M23 and the ‘Wazalendo’ armed groups who claim to be defending Congolese territory. The agenda for the Goma meeting includes a discussion on the cantonment of the M23 in the Rumangabo camp in North Kivu, in the east of the country. Nation

Iran’s President Begins a Rare Visit to Africa ‘To Promote Economic Diplomacy’
President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Kenya on Wednesday is the first to the African continent by an Iranian leader in more than a decade. He is also expected to visit Uganda and Zimbabwe and meet with the presidents there. Africa is a “continent of opportunities” and a great platform for Iranian products, Raisi told journalists in a briefing. He didn’t take questions. … Iran’s leader specifically mentioned Africa’s mineral resources and Iran’s petrochemical experience, but the five memoranda of understanding signed on Wednesday by the Islamic Republic and Kenya appeared not to address either one. Instead, they addressed information, communication and technology; fisheries; animal health and livestock production and investment promotion. AP

Kenya Searches for Cash to Meet Debt Bills
For union boss Constantine Wesonga, there is a clear reason for the Kenyan state’s failure to pay its workers on time – its $70bn of total public debt. “We’re having a crunch time because of the debts [built up] by the previous regime,” said Wesonga, secretary-general of Kenya’s public universities union. “So the government, whatever they collect now, first they pay the debt, then they collect for salaries.” In addition to delayed delivery of state employees’ wages – “for the first time” in Kenya since it gained independence from Britain in 1963, according to opposition lawmaker Opiyo Wandayi – President William Ruto has faced mounting criticism for slashing subsidies, implementing austerity measures and aggressively collecting taxes. The measures are part of the government’s bid to find enough cash to meet creditors’ demands and avoid the defaults and forced restructurings of African peers such as Zambia and Ghana. Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s predecessor, borrowed heavily from Beijing and the international financial markets to fund rail, road and port projects. But many of these schemes have failed to generate enough income to pay back debts. About $5.9bn of Kenya’s $36.6bn external debt comes from China, with the rest from domestic, other bilateral and multilateral lenders as well as eurobonds, according to March data from the treasury. FT

African Migrants in Tunisia: “We Need Help”
The remote militarized zone between Tunisia and Libya is as inhospitable as a region can be. There is nothing but sand and sea water, it is generally barred for visitors, humanitarian organizations or any form of trespassing. This is where Tunisian authorities had dropped off around 800 Sub-Saharan migrants for days until they were picked up again by Tunisian authorities on Monday night. According to several news agencies, people were left to their own device, and the news outlet Al Jazeera reported that around a dozen people died, while others had started to drink sea water out of desperation. … In February 2023 increasingly authoritarian President Saied had already caused a wave of violence against migrants after he had said that migrants entering the country had the goal of altering the demographic structure of Tunisia, alleging that this threatened to transform Tunisia into an “African” instead of an “Arab-Muslim” country. DW

Migration within Africa
For decades, the matter of Africans migrating has usually been discussed through the lens of conflict or irregular migration, which is often termed as “illegal”, across stormy seas and into the often unwelcoming arms of Europe. Even though accurate migration data is hard to come by, the United Nations says more than 31 million Africans live outside the country of their birth. The majority of those movements are within the continent – only a quarter go to Europe. That is because the default setting for many Africans is to move within the continent than elsewhere. It is mostly cheaper and sometimes easier. Within the eight regional blocs, there is freedom of movement and trade. So a Ghanaian living as an expatriate worker in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, can patronise Nigerien meat sellers, have a Burkinabe housekeeper and drink coffee with Nigerian and Malian colleagues – with none of them needing a visa to be there. Al Jazeera

‘There’s Nothing in Mali’: The Timbuktu Salesman Roaming Senegal
On a recent Monday afternoon, waves rolled onto the beach and palms swayed in the breeze, another beautiful day in the Senegalese beach town of Cap Skirring – just not for Almounzer Dicko. The Malian salesman, with a blanket full of goods splayed out on the sand, has not sold anything all day. The tourists – mostly Europeans escaping from the colder months – have largely returned home for the season. “Today had nothing,” he said. “There’s nobody.” This beach town is more than 2,000km (1,242 miles) away from Dicko’s hometown, in the Timbuktu region of neighbouring Mali. But Dicko is no stranger here, either. He has been in Senegal since October, selling the types of leather and silver artisanal goods – from letter openers to rings to necklaces – that Mali’s ethnic Tuaregs have developed an international reputation for. His lifestyle is well-known in West Africa. It is that of a salesman constantly on the move, seeking greener pastures not in Europe but much closer, whether just the next town over or perhaps just across the border. Then maybe, if all goes well, the next border, too. … His current goal is to make enough money so he can eventually learn to read and write. Al Jazeera