Africa Media Review for July 21, 2022

Mali Expels UN Peacekeeping Mission Spokesman
Malian authorities on Wednesday ordered Olivier Salgado, the spokesman of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, to leave the country within 72 hours.  The move comes after Mali’s military government ordered the temporary suspension of troop rotations by MINUSMA.  Mali has been at odds with its neighbors since the military seized power in August 2020. The recent arrest of the Ivorian soldiers further increased tensions between Mali and its neighbor, Ivory Coast. Mali claimed that the 49 Ivorian soldiers were “mercenaries” who sought to topple the country’s junta. They were arrested after arriving at Bamako airport aboard a special flight. In turn, Salgado said the soldiers were working for a German company contracted by MINUSMA…MINUSMA, or the United Nations’ Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, was created in 2013 to help the West African nation cope with a bloody jihadi campaign. Mali has been battling an Islamist insurgency that emerged after an uprising in 2012 and has since spread to neighboring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions across West Africa’s Sahel region. DW

Lesotho Sets 7 October Election Date
Lesotho says it will hold general elections on 7 October, in the latest round of polling in the landlocked southern African country. The date was contained in a notice dated 19 July and signed by the head of the country’s electoral commission, Mpaiphele Maqutu, but published on Wednesday. A mountainous kingdom of two million people entirely surrounded by South Africa, Lesotho has suffered repeated bouts of instability and army interference in politics. The elections were announced after King Letsie III dissolved parliament, in line with procedures to prepare for new polls. The outgoing parliament failed however to pass a law on electoral reform aimed at ending political volatility. The proposed changes would have prohibited lawmakers from switching party allegiance within the first three years of their tenure. Lawmakers elect a prime minister to head government, and the premier usually comes from the party with the majority in 120-seat parliament. The proposed reforms would have also made the king commander of the armed forces – a move aimed at preventing political leaders from meddling in the security services. Between 2012 and 2017, Lesotho held three elections that resulted in fractious coalitions and turbulence. AFP

Somalia Renews Push to Join East African Community
Somalia has renewed interest in joining the East African Community (EAC), cementing the desire of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to stabilise ties with neighbours. President Mohamud, who won the presidential polls in May, was expected in Arusha on Thursday as a special guest to attend the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State. And Villa Somalia, his official residence, said his trip would also be about renewing his push to join the regional bloc. “President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is leaving tomorrow (Thursday) for Arusha in Tanzania to seek support for to join the East African Community (EAC), which if possible will benefit the Somali people,” his office said on Wednesday. Mr Mohamud had attempted joining the EAC in his first term between 2012 and 2017, but the bloc initially refused the application, citing sporadic conflict and weak institutions in Somalia. But Mogadishu got back its hope after an equally troubled South Sudan was admitted in 2016. East African

Explainer | Why UN’s Trade Arm Believes African Countries Should Build More Diversified Economies
The majority of African economies (83%) rely on commodities – mainly cocoa, copper, gold, and oil – leaving them vulnerable to shocks such as pandemics and wars. As such, the continent should not neglect the transformative role of high knowledge-intensive services, like information and communications technology services and financial services, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its latest report titled “Rethinking the Foundations of Export Diversification in Africa”…African countries should diversify their exports to cushion against shocks such as the most recent Covid-19 pandemic.  Not only did Covid-19 negatively impact most African economies, it also led to about 58 million more Africans being exposed to the reality of sliding into poverty.  According to figures released by the UN last year, the number of people who lived under the poverty line of $1.90 (around R32) per day increased from 478 million in 2019, to 490 million in 2021. It said this was “37 million people more than what was projected without the pandemic”. Thus, the report said the figure could rise, considering the war in Ukraine that had negatively affected food security and production in Africa. News24

Report: Africa Countries Partly to Blame for Food Insecurity
Economic and trade experts are calling on African countries to increase trade with each other and revive their agriculture sectors to overcome food insecurity and slow economic growth exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. The global food crisis has led to some 300 million Africans being food insecure. The crisis in Africa has multiple causes: persistent drought in eastern Africa, high food and energy prices, and the cutoff of wheat exports from Ukraine. Speaking online to journalists Wednesday, Stephen Karingi, the head of trade at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said African countries also share some blame for the situation. “Our food markets are experiencing a shock that is coming from outside the continent but why we are experiencing this shock is because we have very low intra-African trade in agriculture and agro-foods,” Karingi said. “If we had done better and unlocked the full potential of the agricultural sector, we wouldn’t be experiencing what we are experiencing today.”…The commission said as of May of this year, 23 African countries had failed to address the food crisis because they were at high risk of debt distress or were in debt distress. Voice of America

Financing Africa’s $100 Billion Annual Infrastructure Gap Just Got Trickier
If Africa wants to leapfrog its infrastructural hurdles, then it must look beyond its own pockets to bridge its huge financing gap. This emerged during the Africa 50 general shareholders meeting held in Marrakech, Morocco on July 19. Africa 50 is an investment bank for infrastructure in Africa that focuses on national and regional projects in energy, transport, ICT, and water. Despite an uptick in financing from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the continent still requires between $68 billion to $108 billion every year to build better infrastructure. Chair of the Africa 50 board and CEO of AfDB Akinwumi Adesina told delegates that public funds are not sufficient in funding transport, electricity, water, and internet connection projects in a time when the continent is facing economic strife due to the war in Ukraine, global inflation and an acute dollar shortage. Quartz Africa

Illicit Drugs: Africa’s Growing Silent Crisis
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes substance abuse as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. It says that illicit drug use has adverse health and social consequences because it puts a heavy financial burden on users, their families and society. “The government has forgotten us. We are left homeless, sick at home, or sick in the streets, so we have no choice but to support each other,” Yassir Abdallah, a recovering addict in Malindi, told DW. The UN estimates that by 2030, the number of drug users in Africa will have increased by 40%. Across the continent, drug addicts often face discrimination and a lack of support, making it difficult for them to regain their lives even if they stop using. “Such persons need treatment and critical attention,” said Richard Opare, a former addict who is now a drug addiction management professional in Ghana’s capital, Accra. “When they walk into the [rehabilitation] centers, many of the drug addicts are not ready,” he said. DW

Candidate’s Unexpected Rise Could Affect Outcome in Kenya Presidential Election
Just weeks before Kenya holds a presidential election, analysts say the unexpected, growing popularity of one candidate could deliver some unpredictability to the outcome. George Wajackoyah ranks a distant third behind front-runners Raila Odinga and William Ruto. But according to one poll, his platform to legalize marijuana is winning support. Wajackoyah and another candidate, David Mwaure, are political newcomers in Kenya. Opinion surveys indicate that Wajackoyah is highly unlikely to win the August 9 election. But his approval among Kenyans is rising. One recent survey by Trends for Insights Africa showed he had an approval rating of 7%, which would translate to about 150,000 votes on election day. The leading candidates, former Prime Minister Odinga and current Deputy President Ruto, are far ahead at 50 percent and 25 percent respectively. But Wajackoyah’s seemingly small number of votes could affect the outcome, possibly by denying Odinga a majority or Ruto the votes to force a runoff. Mark Bichache, a political analyst in Kenya, said he sees potential impact in Wajackoyah’s candidacy. Voice of America

Kenya Elections 2022: Why the Ethnic Factor May Be Losing Its Power
Politicians often exploit historic grudges and cultural differences to incite violence so they can win elections. This cynical strategy is as old as time and its tragic consequences continue to be experienced the world over. In Kenya, ethnic identity has been used to grant privileges – sometimes it’s the only qualification considered for a job, a vote in the election, or even in accessing mundane favours from someone in a position of authority. It has been weaponised to humiliate and frustrate others – a situation that breeds a siege mentality in those bearing the brunt, and a sense of entitlement among those benefiting from it. Politics therefore becomes a zero-sum game, at the expense of addressing pressing issues that could better people’s lives. Kenya saw horrific ethnic-based violence after the disputed 2007 election, when more than 1,500 people were killed, hundreds more were injured and 600,000 were forced to flee their homes. BBC

South Sudan: CEPO Urges Kiir, Machar to Utilize Post-Transitional Period Roadmap
A civil society entity has urged South Sudanese leaders to utilize the post-transitional period roadmap, saying it is a chance to renew pledge for successful political transition of the country from violence to peace through genuine implementation of the peace accord. Last week, South Sudan President Salva Kiir received a roadmap that guides the country towards the end of the transitional period to pave way for the conduct of peaceful and democratic elections in the young nation. A roadmap was presented by a four-member committee appointed by Kiir. “Our leaders should show the rest of the world that they are ready to exercise their primary responsibility for peace and stability to prevail in South Sudan. The nation needs peace and political stability for growth, development and a better future,” said Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO). Sudan Tribune

Amnesty Urges Probe into Ethnic Massacre of 450 in Ethiopia’s Oromia
The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) has denied the accusations, saying government-allied militias were responsible for the 18 June massacre in the west of Ethiopia’s most populous region, which has seen an increase in violence in recent months. The assault began around 9 am, when armed men allegedly belonging to the OLA surrounded villages in Tole Kebele, according to nine witnesses interviewed by the human rights group. Government forces arrived hours after the attack ended, despite villagers alerting district officials after the first bullets were fired. The attackers carried out summary executions of ethnic Amhara, while also looting and burning homes, in claims corroborated by satellite imagery which showed evidence of fires breaking out in the area, Amnesty said. The Amhara make up about 10 percent of the regional population. RFI

SA’s Ramaphosa to Face Subpoena over Phala Phala Farm Scandal
South Africa’s corruption watchdog has said it will invoke subpoena powers to get answers from President Cyril Ramaphosa over the alleged concealment of a theft at his luxury farmhouse. On Tuesday, the Public Protector’s Office said a deadline for Ramaphosa to answer questions related to the break-in expired on Monday, after it denied a request for an extension. “We intend to subpoena the information we require from the president,” watchdog spokesman Oupa Segalwe told AFP via text message. In June, the watchdog opened a probe over potential breaches of the executive ethics code after Ramaphosa was accused of bribing burglars to keep quiet about a February 2020 heist at his game farmhouse, where it is alleged $4m in cash was stolen. The case, which has piled pressure on the president amid heightened tensions within the governing African National Congress (ANC) party, stems from a police report filed by former national spy boss Arthur Fraser last month. In June, he was heckled in parliament by opposition legislators. Fraser alleged that robbers broke into Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in the northeast of the country where they found the cash hidden in furniture. Al Jazeera

Sudan Opposition Blame Junta, and SPLM-N Agar, for Blue Nile Hostilities
The Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC) hold the 2021 “coup authorities” responsible for the crimes that occurred during the clashes in Blue Nile state, Kassala, and in other areas. The Communist Party of Sudan lay the blame at “attempts by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction led by Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar) to seize power and disrupt the fragile peace in the region”. The FFC-CC said in a statement yesterday that “there are historical roots for these violent events, but that they could be ignited these days because of the absence of a national project of the coup authority, which lacks any popular political support”. According to the Communist Party of Sudan “the explosive situation in the southern Blue Nile region comes as a result of the attempts of the leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction led by Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar) to seize power and disrupt the fragile peace in the region. “That what is happening in the region is a clear indication of the failure of the Juba Peace Agreement,” the party said in a statement yesterday. The El Roseires Resistance Committees also pointed to the hostility between supporters of the SPLM-N Agar and those who support the faction of Abdelaziz El Hilu in neighbouring South Kordofan. On Friday, they described the violence as “a spill-over of a conflict between the two SPLM-N factions of the SPLM-N in a press statement and accused the “coup authorities’ of “negligence of their duties because they ignored warning signs and chose not to act even after the first attacks.” Dabanga



Photo: Adam Jones