Africa Media Review for July 18, 2023

Sudan: A New Generation Faces Growing Prospect of another Genocide in Darfur
Twenty years after the Darfur genocide began, the children of those who survived are fleeing a new wave of violence that increasingly resembles the 2003 mass slaughter. Like their parents two decades ago, they’re escaping towns in Sudan’s western Darfur region that are being burned to the ground in what appear to be coordinated attacks, leaving behind their family members who have been killed. Once again, they say they’re being targeted by Arab paramilitary groups for their non-Arab background. Some men and boys have been shot on the spot if they admit to belonging to the Masalit ethnic group, according to survivors, and those who escape may never be able to return. … Humanitarian workers say they’re stunned that the echoes of the 2003 genocide have so far not resulted in more international funding for aid groups or stronger sanctions. “The response from the international community is far below what we should expect on this scale of violence,” said Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, a crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW). Washington Post

Wagner Group Disinformation Endangering Irish Troops in Mali, Researchers Warn
Disinformation campaigns by Russian private military contractors Wagner Group are endangering Irish troops serving overseas in Mali and elsewhere, researchers have said as a senior Defence Forces official warned of the impact of “non-state actors” attempting to discredit missions. … EU and UN military officials are increasingly worried about the impact of Wagner-run disinformation campaigns targeting its troops in Mali, the Central African Republic and elsewhere. Brig Gen Seán White is the director of communications and information systems at the EU Military Staff (EUMS) where he is in charge of advising on matters such as cyber defence and disinformation tactics. … The campaigns use social media and other networks such as WhatsApp and compliant media to spread rumours about EU missions, including that their troops are pillaging country’s natural resources or arming militant groups, experts say. This has led to increased aggression and distrust towards EU deployments and demands that they leave the country, allowing Wagner to increase its influence. … Often, Wagner’s purpose in spreading disinformation about western deployments is to distract from their own actions, including the involvement of Wagner troops in the Moura massacre which killed hundreds of Malian civilians in March 2022, said Dr Sam Ramani, an international relations lecturer in Oxford University. Irish Times

What Will Be the Effect of the Suspension of the Ukrainian Grain Deal?
On Monday, July 17, Russia announced the suspension of the Ukrainian grain export agreement. … The situation is very different from that of the end of February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, closing the Black Sea to shipping – Ukraine’s main export route for agricultural products. At the time, Ukraine was the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil and the fourth biggest exporter of wheat and corn. The opening of the corridor on August 1, 2022, brought relief to importing countries, particularly in the Mediterranean and Africa, bringing down world prices, which had reached unprecedented levels in May. In two years, Ukraine has seen its grain production almost halved, with forecasts of 25 million metric tons of corn and 17.5 million metric tons of wheat for 2023-2024, compared with 42 million metric tons of corn and 33 million metric tons of wheat in 2021-2022, according to the latest report from the US Department of Agriculture. … Moreover, food aid itself could be undermined, as “Ukraine is a supplier to the World Food Program: around 8% of Ukrainian wheat exports have gone to the WFP, destined for countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa,” Cherif pointed out. Le Monde

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu Declares State of Emergency over Food
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has declared a state of emergency to tackle rising food prices and shortages. Some of the initiatives include using money saved by the recent removal of a fuel subsidy to provide fertiliser and grain to farmers. Protection is also to be increased for farmers, many of whom have abandoned their land after becoming the target of gangs that kidnap for ransom. Poorer households are to be helped too with $10 (£8) a month for six months. “I assure all Nigerians that no-one will be left behind in these strategic interventions,” said Mr Tinubu, who took office in May. A UN report in January projected that 25 million Nigerians were at high risk of food insecurity this year – meaning they would not be able to afford enough nutritious food every day. Concerns about food insecurity have been longstanding in Nigeria – Africa’s most-populous country, which has also been battling widespread insecurity for several years. More than 350 farmers were kidnapped or killed in the 12 months up to June 2022 alone, according to a Nigerian security tracking website. Many of these attacks have taken place in the north of the country. BBC

Political Killing in DRC Casts a Shadow over Plans for December Elections
Found riddled with bullets in his car on one of the highways of the capital Kinshasa on Thursday morning, the body of Chérubin Okende will certainly haunt more than one political candidate. Okende was an elected member of parliament for the party of Moise Katumbi, a leading opposition politician. Okende was due to contest the presidential election in December in the central African nation. Katumbi told RFI that he believes the murder is “a political assassination” and an attempt to silence the opposition. The death occurred in the middle of an important week in DRC’s electoral process: those who want to participate in the parliamentary elections had until 15 July to register as candidates. Trésor Kibangula, a Congolese political analyst at the Ebuteli think tank, told RFI that Okende’s death creates an athmosphere of “hysteria” in the political life of the country. “This type of public political assassination [has] been really rare in recent years,” he said. He added that what is even more worrying is the “shrinking” of the democratic space. “Some demonstrations have been recently forbidden,” Kibangula explained. “Politicians have been arrested, so, of course, some political actors are afraid.” RFI

AU Disburses around R36m to East African Community Standby Force in DRC
The first tranche of the African Union (AU) Peace Fund has been allocated to the East African Community (EAC) for its standby force in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This was announced by Bankole Adeoye, the AU’s commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, at the end of the AU Summit’s mid-term review in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday. The DRC is due for elections in December this year, and instability in the east could have negative effects on the smooth running of the polls. “US$2 million [about R36 million] from the AU is being disbursed for the first time to the East African Community (EAC) regional force, which is based in eastern DRC,” Adeoye said. … While in successive meetings at AU and regional bloc levels, heads of state have spoken with one voice for collective security, funding has been a major challenge. Adeoye said the issue of funding has been taken a notch up with the mobilisation of African resources. News24

Zimbabwe Rights Groups, Opposition Furious Over Signed Patriotic Bill
Rights activists and opposition groups in Zimbabwe say President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s signing into law a so-called “Patriotic Bill” is a grave attack on fundamental freedoms and rights. The new law authorizes harsh penalties, including the death penalty, for anyone found guilty of “willfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe.” Zimbabwe’s main opposition party and human rights groups are calling Mnangagwa to repeal the bill he signed into law last Friday. “We condemn their signing into law of the unconstitutional ‘Patriotic Bill,’ which will criminalize free speech and freedom of association which are protected under our constitution,” said Fadzayi Mahere, spokesman for Citizens Coalition for Change. … Mahere called on Zimbabweans to, as he put it, “vote decisively for change” in the August 23 general election. Obert Masaraure is spokesman for another rights group, the Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe. His group says the new law is vague in its definition of offenses. … Amnesty International said the new law is evidence that Zimbabwean authorities are “bent on closing civic space as well as suppressing any form of dissent.” VOA

Zimbabwe Opposition Launches Election Campaign amid Setbacks
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, launched his election campaign on Sunday after multiple bans of planned rallies. Chamisa promised to tackle corruption and end the ruling elite’s misuse of the country’s mineral resources. “All we see is poverty, unemployment and millions going to the diaspora,” he told a large crowd of supporters in Gweru, some about 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Harare. Chamisa’s party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), claimed the government had blocked over 90 of its rallies since the group was founded early last year. “They have been banning our campaigns, but no one will ban us from people’s hearts,” Chamisa said to thunderous applause in Gweru. He is hoping to achieve an unprecedented victory in local, parliamentary, and presidential elections on August 23. “You cannot stop an idea whose time has come,” he said. “They can stop our meetings but they cannot stop people from loving me.” DW

Al-Shabab Imposes Blockade on Baidoa Town in Somalia
Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has condemned the militant group al-Shabab for imposing a weeklong blockade on the southwestern town of Baidoa. Authorities say the Islamist group has cut off supplies in and out of the area, worsening hunger caused by record drought and insecurity. Al-Shabaab set up the blockade Tuesday, cutting off transport to and from Baidoa, the capital of South West state. The blockade, which comes ahead of a planned government military offensive in the region, has affected businesses and resulted in price hikes as vehicles transporting goods from towns such as Mogadishu are stranded. Hussein Mohamud, the chief of staff for Somalia’s president, said the blockade demonstrates that al-Shabab is at war against the people of Somalia. … The Somali government says it is on course to launch Operation Black Lion, which will focus on South West and Jubaland states in the southern part of the country. Government forces with the help of local militias reclaimed part of the central area of the country from al-Shabab control last summer in the first phase of the offensive. VOA

Mandela Goes From Hero to Scapegoat as South Africa Struggles
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela is everywhere. The country’s currency bears his smiling face, at least 32 streets are named for him and nearly two dozen statues in his image watch over a country in flux. Every year on July 18, his birthday, South Africans celebrate Mandela Day by volunteering for 67 minutes — painting schools, knitting blankets or cleaning up city parks — in honor of the 67 years that Mr. Mandela spent serving the country as an anti-apartheid leader, much of it behind bars. But 10 years after his death, attitudes have changed. The party Mr. Mandela led after his release from prison, the African National Congress, is in serious danger of losing its outright majority for the first time since he became president in 1994 in the first free election after the fall of apartheid. Corruption, ineptitude and elitism have tarnished the A.N.C. … Faith in the future is collapsing. Seventy percent of South Africans said in 2021 that the country is going in the wrong direction, up from 49 percent in 2010, according to the latest survey published by the country’s Human Sciences Research Council. Only 26 percent said they trusted the government, a huge decline from 2005, when it was 64 percent. New York Times