Africa Media Review for July 20, 2023

Fourteen Civilians Killed in RSF Drone Strike on Civilian Gathering in Khartoum
At least 14 people were killed in a drone strike conducted by the Rapid Support Forces on a gathering of civilians south of the capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday. As the war enters its fourth month, the paramilitary forces have escalated their tactics, employing drones and MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems) against the Sudanese army, a development observed earlier last month. “The rebel militias targeted civilians who gathered to welcome the army soldiers in the areas of Al-Azuzab and Wad Ajeeb with a drone. The attack led to the death of 14 civilians and the wounding of 15 others,” stated the Sudanese army spokesman. The military official further disclosed that the army managed to destroy about 9 RSF combat vehicles and killed a number of its fighters while repelling an attack in the Al-Ashra area and Al-Dabbasin Bridge in Abu Adam, south of Khartoum. … According to witnesses who spoke to Sudan Tribune, the Sudan Air Force intensified their sorties on Wednesday, targeting RSF sites in Omdurman and Khartoum North. Meanwhile, the Sudanese army shelled the positions of the paramilitary forces in Old Omdurman and several locations in Saliha, south of Omdurman. In the southern part of Khartoum, RSF reinforcements arrived in various areas of the Kalakla suburb. Witnesses reported that the militiamen allegedly looted shops in the Laffa market and occupied residential homes, continuing a pattern of such actions observed since last April. Sudan Tribune

Political Activist Tortured in Sudan Military Detention
Sudan’s Emergency Lawyers has accused military intelligence officers in Merowe, Northern State, of torturing a political activist. A member of the Sudanese Congress Party was held in Khartoum and taken to an unknown destination. Emergency Lawyers said in a statement yesterday that the military intelligence department of the 19th Infantry Division began detaining members of resistance committees and other activists in Merowe about 12 days ago. A number of them were released after a few days, but political activist Shareef El Hamdabi and others are still being held incommunicado. The statement said that he was beaten on the head when he was held inside his home and quoted “well-informed sources” that reported about his exposure to torture in detention. … Reports about sexual assaults and rapes, and enforced disappearances are also increasing. Dabanga

At Least Two Killed after Kenyan Police Fire on Protesters
At least two people have been killed during anti-government protests in Kenya, as police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against the cost of living and tax increases. Demonstrators hurled rocks at police and burned tyres in the streets on Wednesday, while the security forces fired teargas in the third round of anti-government protests called by the opposition this month. Clashes between police and protesters led to two deaths in the opposition bastion of Kisumu, said George Rae, CEO of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hospital. “There are two bodies recorded at the morgue with gunshot wounds,” he told AFP by telephone, adding that 14 others were hospitalised. In Nairobi’s Kangemi area, health records worker Alvin Sikuku told the AP that two injured men were brought into the Eagle Nursing Home clinic. “Police are using live bullets,” he said. One man was shot in the back and severely wounded, and the other was shot in the leg. The Guardian

Escalating Violence in Congo Displaces More People and Demands Urgent Response, UN and Aid Group Say
The United Nations warned that violence in northeastern Congo has escalated significantly, with more than 40 civilians killed in three days. More than 600 people have been killed and 345,000 displaced in Ituri province so far this year, according to Stephane Dujarric, a United Nation’s spokesman. “We strongly condemn this violence and call on all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law and human rights responsibilities,” Dujarric said Tuesday. Conflict has simmered in eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups fight for control of valuable mineral resources and some to protect their communities. Mass killings by rebel groups are frequent, and the violence has triggered an exodus of refugees. The statement comes on the heels of two attacks in the country’s northeast that left nearly two dozen people dead. Such attacks often uproot entire communities, and many residents flee to nearby displacement sites which are ill-equipped to receive them, compounding an already dire situation. The United Nation’s response plan for Congo is only 30% funded. AP

Tension ahead of Zimbabwe Elections: Minister Calls Cop a ‘Dog’, Journalists Run for Their Lives at Rally
Things are getting heated in Zimbabwe ahead of next month’s general elections, with a minister hurling abuse at a senior police officer investigating Zanu PF activists and the alleged assault of journalists, all while the fate of a former Zanu PF minister hangs in the balance. Assistant Inspector Chester Matsa of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is trending online after a viral recording of a telephone conversation in which he stood his ground against the deputy minister of tourism, Barbara Rwodzi. “I will finish this with you in front of [Police Commissioner General Godwin] Matanga; you’re an idiot… Do you think CCC will win? You’re a dog! You’re a dog! Go and file a complaint wherever you want; you’re a dog. Stupid!” Rwodzi can be heard saying in the recording. The context is that police were handling a matter involving a Zanu PF activist identified as “Fidelis Danger”, who went to the Chirumhanzu South constituency, where the deputy minister is a candidate for the ruling party, and tore up Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) posters. … Annahstacia Ndlovu, a stringer for Voice of America; Lungile Ndlovu, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation; and Pamenus Tuso, a stringer for South Africa’s Sunday Times, had to run for dear life in Bulawayo on Monday when a group of Zanu PF supporters, who terrorised vendors and forced them to attend a party mini-rally in Bulawayo, beat up the journalists for filming the episode. News24

Zimbabwe Opposition Turns to Door-to-Door Campaigns
[Video] Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change, has turned to door-to-door campaigning ahead of next month’s election, saying police are turning down its applications for public rallies. The police acknowledge refusing to authorize a number of opposition rallies but say they are also turning down requests to rally from the ruling party. Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare. VOA

One Dead, 41 Injured In Unexplained Johannesburg Blast
A body was found in central Johannesburg early Thursday after an unexplained blast ripped through a main road at rush hour the previous evening, the emergency services said. “(In the) early hours of this morning, we managed to recover a body of a male person on site where the explosion occurred,” Emergency Management Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said. Forty-one people were injured, he said. Witnesses reported chemical odours and escaping vapours after the blast, which damaged the road surface and overturned vehicles, including minibus taxis. The road was closed as investigators went over the area. Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, said a preliminary inspection did not reveal the cause of the explosion. … Emergency services initially blamed underground gas pipes but the city’s privatised gas company, Egoli Gas, said it was “unlikely” this was the case as customers were still receiving their supplies uninterrupted. AFP

Wagner Forces Return to CAR before Divisive Referendum
The Central African Republic is confident that its July 30 referendum will go ahead — with the help of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries. Analysts consider Wagner’s involvement an overt act of political interference. The government of the Central African Republic (CAR) has expressed confidence that an incident-free referendum on a new constitution will take place later this month — with the help of hundreds of fighters from the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, who arrived back in the country last Sunday. Government spokesperson Albert Yaloke Mokpem said the fighters were there to simply secure the constitutional referendum process, as many fear another uptick of violence. However, many analysts have a different take on the group’s involvement. Samson Itodo, the founder of Yiaga Africa, an NGO that promotes democracy across the continent, questioned the reasoning behind the continuous deployment of Russian fighters in CAR, warning of serious political implications. “I think we should be worried as a continent about Russia’s increasing influence in shaping domestic politics within the Africa region. And this interference needs to be resisted because CAR is naturally endowed with gold, with diamonds,” Itodo told DW. “So, the big question is, why Wagner forces? Why is Russia deeply interested in the politics of the country?” DW

Putin Agreed in June Not to Come to Summit, but Ramaphosa Had to Consult BRICS Partners before Going Public
President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined in a court affidavit the tortuous and stressful diplomatic consultations Pretoria went through before announcing on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not, after all, attend next month’s BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. An additional affidavit filed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the DA’s court application demanding that South Africa should arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he comes to the country, reveals that Ramaphosa started consultations with BRICS heads of state about the issue after bilateral talks with Putin on the sidelines of the African Peace Mission in June in St Petersburg, Russia. Daily Maverick understands that is when Ramaphosa reached an agreement with Putin about not attending the summit in August, but he had to also consult with the other BRICS member states. Ramaphosa first spoke to Brazilian President Lula da Silva about the matter on the sidelines of the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris, held on 22 and 23 June. However, the President wanted his affidavit to be kept confidential until after he spoke to the Chinese and Indian heads of state. Daily Maverick

Brazil Wants to Resume ‘Good, Fruitful’ Relations with Africa, Says Lula
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Wednesday he wants to resume the “good and fruitful” relations his country used to have with Africa when he was in office for the first time in the 2000s. During a trip to Cape Verde on his way back from the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels, Lula said he looks forward to visiting “several” African countries this year and the next as “Brazil has the potential to help Africa in several aspects.” Lula, who took office in January for his third non-consecutive term, mentioned his country could have helped African nations to purchase COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. “Now I want to have meetings with African leaders so we can see how Brazil can advance in helping the African continent,” the leftist leader said after meeting with Cape Verdean President Jose Maria Neves. Reuters

Night-Time Curfew Imposed in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region
Authorities in the western Ethiopian region of Gambella have imposed a night-time curfew after scores were killed in fresh violence. The curfew prohibits movement between 19:00 and 06:00. The regional government has not specified casualty figures but vowed in a statement to hold to account “members of the leadership” that it said were involved in the “disturbance of peace”. According to local media, the violence began earlier this week and has had ethnic dimensions with at least two areas witnessing clashes. Sources in the regional capital, Gambella city, said businesses and offices were closed on Wednesday. The region, which borders South Sudan, has seen recurring violence in recent months. In May, at least seven were reportedly killed and more than a dozen wounded in clashes in Gambella city. Last year the city was raided by rebel fighters from neighbouring Oromia region with dozens killed. BBC

Ethiopia War “the Most Deadly” as World Sees Record High Battle-Related Deaths in 2022 since 1984—Report
A new report by the non-profit Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) revealed that with more than 100,000 fatalities, the war in Ethiopia, which was third deadliest in 2021, became the most deadly conflict in the world in 2022, as the year records highest battle-related deaths from state-based conflicts than in any year since 1984. The report which was published on Thursday said more than 204,000 battle-related deaths were recorded worldwide in active state-based conflicts during 2022, with the wars in Ethiopia and Ukraine accounting for 89% of the deaths. “While the war in Ukraine gained most attention, the parallel war between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was more lethal. The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) estimates that about 81,500 battle-related deaths occurred because of the war in Ukraine, while 100,200 battle-related deaths resulted from the parallel war between the Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF” the report said. The report underlined that documenting war crimes and battle-related deaths in Ethiopia has been difficult, and “casualty figures should be understood as a conservative baseline. … PRIO also said that the other war in Ethiopia, between the government of Ethiopia and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), was one of the seven conflicts in the world that have increased in severity in 2022 from the top ten list. Addis Standard

South Sudan: Helping Displaced Women Help Themselves
Amid an ongoing crisis and continuing financial hardships, women from Bentiu have turned to income-generating projects. They need more than the basic necessities provided by NGOs and aid agencies. DW met some of them. A decade-long crisis in South Sudan has pushed women living in camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Bentiu, Unity State, to seek alternative ways to survive. Most women and their families were displaced by floods four years ago that wiped out their villages and destroyed their livelihoods. Others were displaced when fighting between government forces and fighters loyal to the current vice president Riek Machar erupted a year after South Sudan gained independence in 2011. “We thought that once the war was over, life would return to normal and be good,” Angelina Nyataba Manyuong, one of the women who receive support from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), told DW. “We now have another war against the floods that displaced us and destroyed our villages.” “When we lived in the village, we had cattle and goats and were able to take our children to school. But everything is now gone, and IRC has helped us rebuild our lives,” she added. NGOs like the IRC support women in Bentiu by helping them form groups and teaching them life skills, such as knitting and setting up market stalls and restaurants. With the income generated from products and savings, the women can better care for their families. DW

Mandela Day Blues as South Africans Worry about Ongoing Corruption
[Video] South Africans marked Nelson Mandela International Day to honor the anti-apartheid hero and late president’s birthday on July 18. But almost 10 years after Mandela’s death, the events stand in stark contrast to the socio-economic segregation and corruption that still haunt South Africa. Vicky Stark reports from Cape Town, South Africa. Camera and video editing by Shadley Lombard. VOA