Africa Media Review for July 21, 2021

Tanzanian Police Arrest Chadema Leader Freeman Mbowe
The leader of Tanzania’s main opposition party Chadema and other members were arrested early Wednesday ahead of a planned conference to demand constitutional reforms, the party said. Freeman Mbowe and 10 Chadema members were rounded up in the dead of night in the northwestern port city of Mwanza, it said on Twitter. “We condemn the repression of the rights of Tanzanians with the strongest force. These are signs that the dictatorship that existed during the rule of President John Magufuli continues,” the party charged. “Freeman Mbowe was accosted by an army of police officers in his hotel when he arrived at 02:30 am and was arrested together with other leaders,” it said. While the other Chadema members were taken to Mwanza police station, there was no information about Mbowe’s whereabouts. … The arrests come four months after Tanzania’s first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March following the sudden death of her predecessor Magufuli. There have been high hopes that President Samia would usher in a change from the autocratic rule of her predecessor… Tanzania was long seen as a haven of stability and democracy in an otherwise volatile neighbourhood, but alarm grew over Magufuli’s increasingly authoritarian rule. AFP

South Africa Unrest Hits 40,000 Businesses, Government Says
At least 40,000 South African businesses were looted, burnt or vandalised during widespread rioting that broke out after the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma, the government said Tuesday. Hundreds of shopping centres and warehouses in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province were ransacked beginning on July 9. The rampage later spread to Johannesburg, inflicting a devastating blow to an economy already battered by the coronavirus. Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, told reporters that “40,000 businesses were affected” in KZN. The total losses to the national economy are estimated to be 50 billion rand ($3.4 billion), according to a government statement. In KZN, 161 malls and a similar number of liquor outlets and distributors were “extensively damaged,” Ntshavheni said. More than 200 shopping centres and 100 malls were looted or burnt, while at least 1,400 ATMs were damaged and 300 banks and post offices vandalised in the southeastern province. Meanwhile a total of 90 pharmacies were destroyed “beyond revival” as the country grapples with a brutal coronavirus third wave. Ramaphosa told business leaders Tuesday that “there is virtually no part of the economy that has not been affected by the violence.” AFP

Inquiry Recommends Delay to South African Local Government Elections
An inquiry recommended on Tuesday delaying local government elections planned in South Africa on Oct. 27, saying it doubted they can be free or fair during the coronavirus pandemic. It was not immediately clear what impact a delay would have on the outcome of the elections. The governing African National Congress (ANC) is widely expected to win them though recent unrest has highlighted frustration with its achievements. Voters are due to choose local, district and metropolitan councillors in the elections. South Africa is in the grip of a severe “third wave” of COVID-19 infections and has fully vaccinated only around 3% of its 60 million population. The inquiry found it was “not reasonably possible or likely” that the municipal vote would be free and fair in October, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who led the inquiry established by the Electoral Commission, told a news conference. It recommended the election be deferred only once and to the earliest possible date, but not later than the end of February 2022. The inquiry’s recommendation is not binding on the Electoral Commission. The chair of the commission said he hoped for an agreement on the way forward in the next few days. Reuters

‘A Wake-Up Call’” Neighboring Countries Felt Shockwave of South Africa’s Unrest
South Africa’s neighbors felt the shockwaves of days of unrest and looting, prompting some to rethink their economic reliance on the regional power. In Namibia, the effect was immediate. In commenting on the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said the unrest in South Africa threatened Namibia’s oxygen supply. … The unrest also affected burials, with the majority of coffins imported from South Africa. … For President Hage Geingob, it was a wake-up call about Namibia’s reliance on South Africa for basic goods. … For observers, though, it was a warning about what could happen if Namibia failed to address the same socio-economic challenges that created fertile ground for South Africa’s unrest. News24

Africa’s UN Security Council Members Meet in Kenya for Strategy Planning
Diplomats from Africa’s three representatives and that of the Caribbean at the UN Security Council gathered in Nairobi Monday for a three-day retreat to work on a common agenda as the continent faces three crucial crises. The diplomats from hosts Kenya, Tunisia, Niger and the Saint Vincent and Grenadines, often known within UN circles as A3 Plus 1, are meeting for a common agenda on peace and security. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said in a statement the group is strategising on the “execution of her peace and security mandate at both the UN Security Council and at the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).” He was referring to the AU’s 15-member body which usually advises on action to be taken when member states face security trouble such as in events of unconstitutional changes in power. … The Council has recently discussed the situation in Tigray, deploring the humanitarian situation. They also discussed the filling of the controversial Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), asking riparian countries of the Nile to tone down inflammatory remarks, as well as the situation in Somalia where the much-delayed elections are due later this month. The EastAfrican

#Pegasusproject – African Leaders on Potential Spyware List
The phone numbers for 14 heads of state, including South African president Cyril Ramaphosa; Egyptian prime minister Mostafa Madboulyas; the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI; former Moroccan prime minister Saad-Eddine El Ohtmani; and former Ugandan prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda were selected as people of interest by clients of Israeli spyware company NSO Group, according to a Washington Post report. NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale, according to a major investigation into the leak of 50,000 phone numbers of potential surveillance targets. The Pegasus Project is a collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organisations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, who conducted forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware. The names of the 14 heads of state include France’s Emmanuel Macron and Pakistan’s Imran Khan. The list containing their names also contained phone numbers for more than 600 government officials and politicians from 34 countries. AllAfrica

Nigerian Yoruba Activist Detained in Benin – Reports
A Nigerian activist accused by the authorities of plotting a violent insurrection has been detained in neighbouring Benin and is due to be sent back to Nigeria, according to reports in Nigerian media on Tuesday. Sunday Adeyemo, more commonly known in Nigeria by his nickname of Sunday Igboho, was arrested on Monday at Cotonou airport while on his way to Germany, according to media reports citing a lawyer and other Nigerian sources with links to Igboho. … If confirmed, the arrest would be a further sign of intensifying efforts by the Nigerian government to go after people seen as a threat to national security, even beyond Nigerian borders. … Igboho, who belongs to the Yoruba ethnic group that is one of Nigeria’s three largest, has risen to prominence in recent months with calls for herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic group to be driven out of Yoruba lands in the southwest of the country. Conflict between farmers and herdsmen is a common problem across Nigeria and has led to deadly clashes in several states. Igboho’s whereabouts had been unknown since the DSS raid on his Ibadan home in southwestern Oyo State on July 1. The DSS said at the time that its agents had exchanged heavy gunfire with Igboho’s guards, two of whom were killed. The DSS said Igboho and his group were planning “to wage a violent insurrection against the Nigerian state,” and called on him to turn himself in. Reuters

UK Asks Nigeria to Explain Circumstances of Separatist’s Arrest
Britain has asked Nigeria to explain where and how Nnamdi Kanu, a separatist leader who holds British citizenship, was arrested after Kanu’s lawyer alleged he had been detained and mistreated in Kenya before being sent back to Nigeria. Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group which wants part of southeastern Nigeria to secede, was on the run outside Nigeria for four years until he was brought to court in Abuja on June 29 and told he would face trial. The Nigerian authorities have refused to say where Kanu was arrested, while Kenya’s ambassador to Nigeria has denied his country was involved. … Kanu faces 11 charges including treason, terrorism and illegal possession of firearms. His case is due to resume in court in Abuja next week. IPOB wants a swathe of the southeast to split from Nigeria. The region attempted to secede in 1967 under the name Republic of Biafra, triggering a three-year civil war in which more than a million people died, mostly from starvation. The Biafran enclave was reabsorbed into Nigeria after the war, but despite an official “no victor no vanquished” policy adopted at the time, discontent has continued to simmer in the region. Reuters

One Hundred Kidnapped Villagers Freed in Nigeria
One hundred kidnapped villagers in northwest Nigeria were freed Tuesday, police said, following negotiations with their abductors who had held them hostage for 42 days. Heavily armed gangs — called bandits by locals — have long plagued northwest and central Nigeria by looting, stealing cattle and abducting for ransom. In this instance, on July 8 gunmen stormed Manawa village and seized 100 residents, including women and children, and took them to their forest hideout, a spokesman for Zamfara state police said in a statement. Hostages are usually released after ransom payment, with those whose families fail to pay often being killed by the captors — but Mohammed Shehu said that this time, the release was “unconditional” and had been secured “without giving any financial or material gain” to the gang. A source familiar with the negotiations told AFP the bandits agreed to release the kidnapped villagers after the police and state authorities “assured them no action would be taken against them for the kidnap.” AFP

U.S. Military Conducts a Drone Strike against Shabab Fighters in Somalia
The United States conducted a drone strike against Shabab militants in Somalia on Tuesday, the first such military action against the Qaeda affiliate in East Africa since the Biden administration took office in January. The strike was carried out by military aircraft against Shabab fighters who were attacking members of the Danab, an elite American-trained Somali commando force, near the town of Galkayo in the country’s north, said a Pentagon spokeswoman, Cindi King. … Mrs. King said the Danab commandos were being advised remotely by American trainers when they came under attack. … Galkayo is a divided city that sits on a fault line between two major clans, and it is on a major smuggling route used by militants traveling between Al Shabab’s heartland in southern Somalia and the northern part of the country. The city has been a focus of Shabab interdiction efforts by the Danab and other Somali government forces. The New York Times

Mozambique: The Cyclones Destroyed Everything. Climate Change Will Likely Make Things Worse
Almost everyone here is looking for work. In January of this year, Cyclone Eloise hit the area, ripping the roofs off houses and causing heavy flooding that put many of the region’s farmers out of work. A month earlier, Tropical Storm Chalane roared through. And in 2019, Cyclone Idai, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, decimated the region. The southeastern village of Buzi, built on the bank of its namesake river, has been one of the worst-affected areas. Nearby, the river feeds into the Mozambican channel, an arm of the Indian Ocean. When the storms hit, torrential rainfall caused water levels to surge. The riverbanks burst, and water flooded the town. Homes, livelihoods and lives were lost in an instant. … Global warming is heating up the oceans, which breeds ideal conditions for cyclones and storms to develop. They eventually make landfall, destroying everything in their paths. Mozambique contributes only a fraction of the world’s greenhouse gases, yet its people are some of those suffering the most from climate change. The compounding disasters that have hit the Sofala region where Buzi is located have made it nearly impossible for the population to recover and rebuild. Each time people make progress, another weather disaster knocks them down again. VICE

‘We’re Falling Apart’: Tunisia Turns to Private Clinics as Hospitals Buckle under COVID-19 Surge
Tunisia is experiencing its worst wave of Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, with more than 100 people dying of the virus each day. With public hospitals overcrowded and under-resourced, the government wants private clinics to take on a larger share of the burden. But the question of who will foot the bill remains unanswered. [Video] France24



Photo: Adam Jones