Africa Media Review for July 6, 2023

Dozens Dead in Khartoum Shelling Havoc
At least 24 civilians reportedly died in fighting in and around the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and its adjacent city Omdurman; more than 20 in Omdurman on Tuesday and four more in Khartoum on Wednesday. The Sudan capital and it’s adjacent city Omdurman saw shelling by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) targeting neighbourhoods under the control of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The shelling lasted all morning, while the Air Force flew sorties over the city all day. Radio Dabanga sources on the ground report that the RSF have formations in the Bad Nuwabi and the new market. At least four civilians died when shells fired by the SAF landed in the market. Violent SAF-RSF confrontations were also reported in the area of El Shajara armoured corps military base. Listeners from Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that the confrontations began early in the morning and continued until noon on Wednesday, indicating that the Air Force carried out sorties throughout the day. More than 20 people were killed, and dozens wounded, during heavy fighting in Omdurman on Tuesday. Dabanga

UN Voices ‘Shock and Condemnation’ as Gender-Based Violence Soars across Sudan
The UN’s top humanitarian officials on Wednesday voiced shock and condemnation over increasing reports of gender-based violence in Sudan as the military power struggle there continues. The violations include conflict-related sexual violence against internally displaced and refugee women and girls forced to flee for their lives. Agency chiefs from humanitarian coordination office OCHA, the human rights office (OHCHR), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO), called for an immediate end to the violence, including sexual violence as a tactic of war to terrorize people. They demanded prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into all alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law; and for perpetrators to be held accountable. … The UN chiefs also stressed the need to swiftly scale up gender-based violence prevention and response services in Sudan as well as in neighbouring countries, where those fleeing violence have sought safety as refugees, to meet the soaring needs. UN News

Civilians Killed in Suspected Burkina Jihadist Attack
Around 15 civilians were killed Wednesday by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, security and local sources told AFP, sparking an exodus of people fearing further bloodshed. “Terrorists carried out an attack early this morning in Sorgha,” in the eastern province of Gnagna, “which cost the lives of about 15 inhabitants, including women,” a local official told AFP. The attack was confirmed by a resident and security sources. Burkina, one of the world’s poorest nations, is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from Mali in 2015, and has seen more than 10 000 civilians, troops and police killed, according to an NGO count. News24/AFP

Amnesty Says ‘Atrocities’ Committed by Both Sides in Anglophone Cameroon’s Conflict
In a report released Tuesday, Amnesty International has found new evidence of abuses in the country’s Northwest Region – one of two western regions where anglophone militants declared independence from the majority francophone state in 2017. The declaration of an independent state of Ambazonia – which has never been recognised internationally – triggered a crackdown by the government in Yaoundé. The new investigation sheds light on militias in Cameroon’s northwest region that are drawn from the Mbororo community – Fulani herders with a long history of conflict with sedentary farmers. The report says that civilians are “caught between the army, armed separatists and militias.” “The Mbororo Fulani populations have been quickly targeted by armed separatists, in part because they are perceived as supporting the authorities in power.” “As the situation deteriorated, militias mainly composed of Mbororo Fulani – supported or tolerated by the authorities – committed abuses against the [settled] population.” The report also documents what it says are killings, rape and property destruction by the defence and security forces themselves. According to the human rights NGO, “the government has announced the opening of investigations on human rights violations committed by armed forces’ elements. “However, for many cases, there has been no further information released, raising impunity concerns. RFI

It’s Business as Usual for Wagner Group in Africa, despite Russian Turbulence
In the wake of the recent short-lived mutiny, a leading scholar at the National Defense University tells Israel Hayom Putin faces a dilemma: He can allow the Wagner escapades to continue in Africa unhindered – thereby generating further influence and some resources for the government; or he can alternatively attempt to take over these operations but lose the very influence and benefits Wagner brings the Kremlin. The short-lived Wagner Group mutiny in Russia about a week ago has had Russian President Vladimir Putin and his propagandists go into action by launching a media blitz aimed at making this episode – which laid bare the total lack of governance in the federation – fade from public memory and have it replaced with a narrative that “unity of the nation prevailed over polarization.” The Russian Foreign Ministry has launched its own messaging campaign, dialing up Wagner Group clients in Syria and even more so in Africa and letting them know that the activity of the mercenaries will continue even though now they will have to report directly to the Kremlin. In the week following the clashes, the roughly 6,000 Wagner Group forces stationed in Africa have continued their operations without having to endure the turbulence of their comrades in Russia. “We have been following the impact the mutiny may have had on the region [Africa] but so far we have yet to see any significant change, apart from rumors on movement in Libya,” the All Eyes On Wagner (AEOW) project, which monitors the group’s activities, told Israel Hayom. “Our contacts on the ground indicate that it is business as usual in Mali and the Central African Republic,” it added. Israel Hayom

Millions Left with No Aid as West Africa Suffers Worst Hunger Crisis in 10 Years
The U.N. World Food Program said Wednesday that millions of hungry people in West Africa are without aid as the agency struggles with limited funding to respond to the region’s worst hunger crisis in a decade. Nearly half of the 11.6 million people targeted for food aid during the June to August lean season are not receiving any assistance, the agency said in a statement. It warned that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of joining armed groups, getting married early or engaging in “survival sex” in their desperation to survive. “We’re in a tragic situation. During this year’s lean season, millions of families will lack sufficient food reserves to sustain them until the next harvests in September,” said Margot Vandervelden, WFP interim regional director for Western Africa. “We must take immediate action to prevent a massive slide into catastrophic hunger,” she said. AfricaNews/AP

Nigeria: Over 10,000 Children in North-West Treated for Malnutrition in Four Months
The Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it provided inpatient treatment to 10,200 severely malnourished children with medical complications in the country’s North-west region in four months. The organisation also said it admitted 51,000 children to its outpatient feeding programmes within the same period. The MSF, in a statement sent to journalists on Tuesday, warned that the current humanitarian response in the region is insufficient to avert a potential catastrophe in the coming months. … MSF said the admissions are expected to rise significantly in the lean season when food stocks run low. The lean season in Nigeria is between May to August. “The numbers of malnourished children that we’re receiving in our facilities are a strong indicator that the further we get into the lean season, the more cases we’ll receive,” the statement quoted MSF medical coordinator Htet Aung Kyi. “Raging conflict in the deep north-western states, especially Katsina, Sokoto, kebbi and Zamfara states, has led to the death and displacement of hundreds of people in a decade. Premium Times

Nigeria Triggers National Response Plan for Annual Deadly Floods; 14 States on Alert
Nigeria’s government activated its national response plan ahead of what is expected to be another round of annual flooding related to climate change, putting several states on alert, authorities told The Associated Press on Thursday. Following floods last year that killed more than 600 people, the National Emergency Management Agency said it was preparing for another dangerous deluge. The agency requested support from the country’s air force and activated its offices to be ready to respond quickly across the country, spokesperson Manzo Ezekiel said. … Nigeria experiences deadly flooding every year, often as a result of ignored environmental guidelines and inadequate infrastructure. However, an unusual amount of rain and the release of excess water from a dam in neighboring Cameroon resulted in record deaths last year and destroyed more than 340,000 hectares (about 840,158 acres) of land in 33 of the West African nation’s 36 states and in the capital city. Less rain is expected this year, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency said. But extreme weather combined with human activities such as building on waterways could cause flooding in several states. “As a result of climate change, we’ve been seeing extreme weather events like unusual rainfall (and) unusual heat,” Ibrahim Wasiu, the head of the meteorological agency’s forecasting unit, said. “Climate change plays a role.” AP

Deadline on Africa’s Contested Borders Nears
African countries have only four years from now to resolve their disputed borderlines. The deadline set for the demarcation or re-fixing of the territorial boundaries that have been disputed by nations is 2027. This was revealed by Frederic Gateretse Ngoga, a representative of the African Union (AU), during the launch of a peace caravan aimed at addressing the matter. “This is a complex and expensive matter,” said Ngoga on Sunday. “The AU is keen to ensure this is done, even though only a few countries have ratified a convention to its effect,” he said. The Niamey Convention, which aims to ensure the peaceful resolution of border disputes, has been signed by 18 out of the 55 AU member states to date. … “Unresolved border issues have the potential to escalate into violence and threaten peace and security,” he observed. Such crises can also undermine regional integration efforts by “creating insecurity in border communities and the movement of people, goods and services”. Poorly defined and marked borders in Africa present an impending risk that can derail the desired goal of a more united and prosperous continent. The Citizen

Ethiopia: Upper House Votes to Form 12th Regional State
Ethiopia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday “unanimously” gave the green light to the creation of a 12th regional state, called the “Southern Ethiopian Region”, after a recent referendum in the south of the country. “Considering the desire expressed through a referendum by six zones and five special districts previously integrated into the SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region), the House of Federation has accepted (…) that they organize themselves in (new) regional state”, announces the Upper House in a press release. These six zones and five districts will therefore form the “Southern Ethiopian Region”, continues the Chamber, without specifying the terms or deadlines for this future organization. … The “Southern Ethiopia Region” is the third region to come into existence since Mr. Abiy leads Ethiopia, after Sidama in 2020, and the South-West Ethiopia Region at the end of 2021, both of which have already emerged from a split with the SNNPR. AfricaNews/AFP

A Chinese Mining Company Has Opened a Giant Lithium Processing Plant in Zimbabwe
A Chinese mining company formally opened a $300 million lithium processing plant Wednesday in Zimbabwe, which has one of the world’s largest reserves of the metal as demand surges globally because of its use in electric car batteries. Zimbabwe has the largest lithium reserves in Africa and has in recent years drawn investors in battery minerals from Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, although China is the dominant player. The plant opened by Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe, an arm of Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, has a capacity to process 4.5 million metric tons of hard rock lithium into concentrate for export per year, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said. … Lithium is a key component for electric vehicle batteries. To cash in on demand, Zimbabwe last year banned the export of raw lithium ore. In doing so, it joined countries like Indonesia and Chile that are trying to maximize their return on deposits of lithium, cobalt and nickel by requiring miners to invest locally in refining and processing before they can export. AP

South Africa: Mining Gas Leak Claims 17 Lives
At least 17 people have died, including children, after a gas leak at an informal mining town near Johannesburg in South Africa, officials said on Thursday. “It’s not a nice scene at all… It’s painful, emotionally draining and tragic,” said Gauteng province premier Panyaza Lesufi. The incident was initially reported as a gas explosion but emergency services later discovered upon arrival that the problem was a leak from a cylinder containing a toxic gas. … Lesufi tweeted videos from a shack in the informal settlement of Angelo where at least four gas cylinders can be seen on metal stands. The video also shows what Lesufi said was the cylinder responsible for the leak lying on the floor next to the entrance of the shack. “The cause of the incident is alleged to be a nitrate oxide gas leakage from a cylinder used in an illegal mining activity in and around the settlement,” said William Ntladi, a spokesperson for the emergency services. “Apparently, the illegal miners used the gas to extract gold from the soil.” DW

South Africa: Former President Jacob Zuma Suffers Another Blow with Ramaphosa Private Prosecution Dismissal
The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has set aside former president Jacob Zuma’s private prosecution against President Cyril Ramaphosa, with costs, News24 reports. Zuma brought the case against Ramaphosa shortly before the African National Congress’s national elective conference in December 2022, in which he accused Ramaphosa of being an accessory after the fact, following the alleged leaking of Zuma’s personal medical records. The judgement reads: “Mr Zuma’s private prosecution of Mr Ramaphosa in respect of the charges set out in the summons and grounded on the allegations set out in the summary of facts attached to the summons is interdicted.” Zuma also brought a lawsuit against lead state prosecutor Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughn accusing Downer of leaking the medical records to Maughn. Downer was the prosecutor in Zuma’s arms deal trial, whom Zuma accused at the time as being “hell-bent” on prosecuting him. AllAfrica

‘Shared Status’ Fuels Closer Taiwan and Somaliland Partnership
This year has not been the best for Somaliland’s international reputation. After breaking away from Somalia in 1991, the de facto independent country cultivated an image as an “oasis of stability” in the Horn of Africa, conducting disarmaments and democratic elections despite lacking international recognition. But presidential elections scheduled for last year were delayed, and in February, long-held clan tensions erupted into fighting around the city of Las Anod (Laascaanood) leaving dozens dead and wounded, and prompting tens of thousands of civilians to flee. The United Nations has called for an investigation into the deaths while the United States has expressed concern at the “democratic backsliding”. But Taiwan, another self-governed territory without international recognition, has stood by Somaliland. … After losing multiple formal allies to China in the past few years, Taiwan surprised observers by announcing “highly official relations” with Somaliland in 2020. Since then, Taipei has established a modest presence in the territory – with several dozen individuals spread across the Representative Office, Technical Mission, Medical Mission, and a recently established outpost of Taiwan’s state-owned oil company CPC. Al Jazeera