Africa Media Review for June 13, 2023

Most Senegalese Don’t Want Three-Term Presidents – Afrobarometer
The majority of Senegalese citizens are not happy with the way democracy is working in their country and are strongly opposed to a third presidential term, a recent Afrobarometer survey has found. The report adds the vast majority of Senegalese reject presidential dictatorship (89%), one-party rule (87%) and military governments (71%), and affirm their preference for democracy (84%). This attitude over limiting presidential terms has been strong since 2013 when President Macky Sall, 61, replaced Abdoulaye Wade as head of state. Wade had attempted to force a third term, but the electorate rejected him for Sall, then a rising champion for democracy. “Eight out of 10 citizens (79%) have campaigned in favour of limiting presidential terms to two, and have done so since 2013,” Afrobarometer said. … Sonko has a robust youth following, and many are starting to believe that Senegal’s democracy is backsliding under Sall. … With current developments, if he pushes for a controversial third term, Sall could stretch his rule to 15 years. However, like Wade, there’s a youthful challenger in his way and an agitated electorate. News24

In Senegal, Ziguinchor Counts its Dead after Violent Riots
Clashes between law enforcement and supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko have left at least 23 people dead across the country, including five in the capital of Casamance. … Clashes with the Senegalese police began on June 1, just after Ousmane Sonko, the mayor of Ziguinchor, was sentenced to two years in prison for “corruption of youth” (Sonko, tried in absentia, was acquitted of charges of rape and death threats brought against him by Adji Sarr, a massage parlor employee who was 20 years old at the time of the events, between December 2020 and February 2021). As for Tall, he did not join the riots. “He was a hard worker who rode his scooter day and night,” his friend said. “He wasn’t political, or pro-Sonko.” … What exactly happened on June 4? On the fourth day of violence, local residents recall a “hot” evening during which police – in plain clothes and in uniform –”fired more live bullets than tear gas.” “The people are a firing range,” said a man in his 20s. At around 9 pm, the crowd of young people and the police had been facing off for some time, first around Castor, a nearby neighborhood, and then in Néma 2. Those who witnessed the suppression of the demonstrations described tear gas being thrown at the base of houses, the fumes coating the hot air in living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. “My young children fainted,” said one mother. Le Monde

Zimbabwe Charges 39 Opposition Supporters Over Violence
Zimbabwean authorities charged 39 opposition activists with political violence over the alleged “demolishing” of a ruling party office on Monday, as tensions grow ahead of national elections in August. Prosecutors said the group attacked an office of the ruling ZANU-PF party, in Nyatsime, south of the capital, last week. The ruling ZANU-PF party has been in power since independence in 1980. The group “destroyed several houses and also assaulted members of the Nyatsime community thereby causing massive destruction to property and inflicted serious injuries on them,” prosecutors said. The incident comes as rights groups and opposition parties have complained of a clampdown ahead of the vote. … Members of the group are supporters of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Zimbabwe’s leading opposition party. CCC’s leader Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, is hoping to replace President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, who is seeking a second term in the August 23 vote. Analysts are bracing for a tense ballot in a country where discontent at entrenched poverty, power cuts and other shortages runs deep. Critics have accused the government of using the courts to target opposition politicians and say there has been an increase in arbitrary arrests and repression. VOA

More Than 1,100 Dead in Besieged El Geneina, West Darfur
Activists reported from El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, that the number of civilian casualties since the start of the attacks on the city on April 24 has risen to at least 1,100 deaths. People who are still present in El Geneina are unable to leave because the town is almost entirely besieged since Wednesday. West Darfur doctors compare the situation in the region with the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The number of dead has risen to more than 1,100 according to local activists. More than 2,100 people were wounded, the activists told Radio Dabanga yesterday. On Wednesday, large groups of gunmen, supported by paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) renewed their attacks on the already mauled city. The attacks, looting, and burning continued until Friday. “Most parts of El Geneina are now besieged by these gunmen and the RSF,” one of the sources said, and added that “snipers have been deployed in the city as well, while government forces and police are nowhere to be seen. Dabanga

Ruto to Lead IGAD Direct Talks with Sudan Generals
Kenyan President William Ruto will lead three other leaders in the Horn of Africa in an attempt to have direct talks with warring Sudanese generals, signalling the most concerted effort yet to resolve the conflict in Sudan. The decision was reached on Monday after the Ordinary Summit of the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad ), which created a quartet of countries to seek Sudanese peace. The quartet is an expansion of three countries; South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti which had been attempting to have direct sittings with Sudanese warring parties to no avail. But as Djibouti will now chair the Igad Summit, the new four countries will be led by Kenya and include South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. East African

Eritrea Rejoins East African Bloc Nearly 16 Years after Walkout
Eritrea has rejoined the East African bloc, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), nearly 16 years after the politically isolated state pulled out of the body, Information Minister Yemane Meskel said Monday. “Eritrea resumed its activity in IGAD and took its seat” at a summit organized by the seven-nation bloc in Djibouti on Monday, Meskel said on Twitter. He said the country was ready to work toward “peace, stability and regional integration.” The authoritarian state suspended its IGAD membership in 2007 following a string of disagreements, including over the bloc’s decision to ask Kenya to oversee the resolution of a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. … Dubbed the “North Korea” of Africa, Eritrea was sanctioned by the United States in 2021 after sending troops into Tigray. In a rare news conference in Kenya earlier this year, Isaias dismissed accusations of severe rights abuses by Eritrean troops in Tigray as “fantasy.” Human Rights Watch in February called for fresh sanctions against Eritrea, accusing it of rounding up thousands of people, including minors, for mandatory military service, during the Tigray war. The country sits near the bottom of global rankings for press freedom, as well as human rights, civil liberties and economic development. VOA/AFP

South Sudan’s Sluggish Peace Deal and Unsteady Road to Elections
[…] In 18 months, South Sudan is supposed to hold its first presidential elections, the culmination of the peace agreement signed nearly five years ago to pull the young nation out of fighting that killed some 400,000 people. While large-scale clashes have subsided, violence in parts of the country persists, killing 2,240 people last year, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Earlier this month at least 20 people were killed and more than 50 wounded during inter-communal clashes in a United Nations protection camp in the north of the country. Implementation of the peace agreement has been sluggish. The elections, originally scheduled for this year, were postponed until December 2024. Other key elements of the deal have not been implemented, sparking concern that the country could see a return to war instead of a transfer of power. “We are going to go for (the) electoral process without meeting the benchmarks that create a conducive environment for the conduct of elections,” said Edmund Yakani, executive director for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a local advocacy group. “The return of the country to violence is more evident than the country staying in stability.” AP

Malian Soldiers Cast Ballots during Early Voting Ahead of Constitution Referendum
Members of Mali’s security forces have cast their ballots during early voting ahead of the new constitution referendum. The referendum slated for June 18 is a major milestone on the road to elections promised for February 2024. On Sunday, June 11 soldiers cast their ballot in Bamako in early voting. … The draft constitution strengthens the power of the president and under it the president rather than the government appoints the prime minister and ministers. The president also has the right to sack them as well as dissolve parliament. But there are sections of the draft that have already triggered controversy. A part that says Mali is an “independent, sovereign, unitary, indivisible, democratic, secular and social republic” has got Imams, a poweful religious class in the sahelian nation, contesting the principle of secularism. AfricaNews

Fate of Jailed Fighters Still Unknown Months after Ethiopia Truce
[…] Almost a year on from the truce, peace is gradually been cemented in Tigray. … But some details from the war remain unclear. The fate of hundreds, maybe thousands of fighters and other prisoners of war (POWs) – all of Tigrayan ethnicity – detained during the war, is shrouded in silence. … Human rights organisations also have little inkling of how many people are still missing. “We don’t have this sort of data at this moment,” Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch told Al Jazeera when asked whether the organisation had an estimate of the number of people detained or missing in connection with the war. Restriction of movement by the Ethiopian government during fighting has also made it difficult to estimate the overall human cost, said Kjetil Tronvoll, professor of peace and conflict studies at Oslo University and Horn of Africa researcher. This and a “lack of transparency and access to information on the governmental clampdown on Tigrayan communities across Ethiopia inhibited any credible assessments of the casualties of war and number of Tigrayan detainees in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in the country,” Tronvoll said. Al Jazeera

UN Calls for Halt to Libya Migrant Detention, Expulsion
The United Nations on Monday called on Libya to treat migrants and asylum seekers with dignity, highlighting concerns over their treatment including arbitrary detention and mass expulsion. War-torn Libya is regularly criticised for its handling of migrants, with rights groups alleging horrific treatment by smuggling gangs and inside state-run detention centres. “Libyan authorities have arrested thousands of men, women and children from the streets and their homes or following raids on alleged traffickers’ camps and warehouses,” the UN’s Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement. Many, including “pregnant women and children”, are held in “overcrowded and unsanitary” conditions, UNSMIL said. … Libya is a key launchpad for migrants who are often fleeing conflict and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. They seek to reach Italian shores just 290 kilometres to the north across the Mediterranean Sea. The route is the world’s deadliest migratory sea crossing. News24/AFP

Rwanda: Kigali Signs Agreement to Host African Medicines Agency
The Rwandan government and the African Union Commission (AUC) on Saturday concluded agreements for the establishment of the headquarters of the first ever African Medicines Agency in Kigali. On 10 June, Rwanda signed an agreement with the African Union to host the headquarters of the African Medicines Agency in Kigali. The signing comes just a few days after the Rwandan authorities officially agreed to host the AMA’s headquarters on their territory. In 2019, the African countries adopted the treaty establishing the Agency, which came into force in 2021. Its creation is part of the African Union’s strategy to reduce the continent’s dependence on pharmaceutical products supplied by foreign countries. Africa imports 97% of the pharmaceutical products it needs. The agency should regulate and harmonize this market on the continent, encourage production in Africa and counter the traffic in counterfeit medicines. AfricaNews

Angola: President Announces Creation of Cybersecurity Academy
Angolan head of State João Lourenço has announced plans for the installation of a cybersecurity academy in the country. João Lourenço made the announcement when delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the 3rd edition of ANGOTIC 2023 on Monday in Luanda. The president said the academy is meant to ensure a safe and strong telecommunication service and information technologies in defence of the users. He also spoke of the creation of regulatory conditions for the use of telecommunications networks. João Lourenço said that, in partnership with the other interested parties, efforts were redoubled to guarantee trust and security in the use of service networks with a focus on the protection and defence of critical infrastructures and vital information services. The statesman also added that measures had been taken to promote free, safe and efficient use of cyberspace by public and private entities. ANGOP

Child Labor on the Rise, ILO Says
Some 160 million children worldwide are still being put to work, according to the International Labour Organization. It estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, 72 million children are affected. The International Labour Organization, a specialized United Nations agency, first set aside June 12 to mark World Day Against Child Labor in 2002. Some 21 years since its inception, the ILO’s most recent report cite conflicts, crises and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for an increase in child labor. It has “plunged more families into poverty — and forced millions more children into child labor.” According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF, population growth, recurring crises, extreme poverty and inadequate social protection measures have led to an additional 17 million girls and boys engaging in child labor in sub-Saharan Africa over the past four years. … Speaking at an event in Geneva to mark the occasion, ILO Assistant Director General Manuela Tomei said child labor is on the rise for the first time in 20 years. … Child labor has deep historical roots in Africa. It is common for children to assist their families in activities such as farming. However, the ILO differentiates between traditional family work and exploitative child labor that deprives children of their rights and education. Cameroonian labor expert Alex Soho says poverty is the main driving factor for many communities to rely on child labor across the African continent. “The income is so low that they cannot afford to hire adult labor, so they have to rely on their kids,” Soho said. DW

South Africa’s Governing ANC Party Expels Former Top Official
South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) said on Monday it has expelled former secretary general Ace Magashule after he was found guilty of violating the party’s constitution. Magashule was suspended from the day-to-day running of the ANC in May 2021 as part of tougher rules for party members charged with corruption. Shortly after his suspension, Magashule attempted to suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa saying he had the authority to do so as secretary-general, which failed. The ANC said its disciplinary committee found Magashule guilty of violating several rules of the party’s constitution, which include failing or refusing to comply with stated party policy, resolutions and regulations. The decision to oust Magashule – who is aligned with former leader Jacob Zuma’s faction within the party – was made after he failed to respond to why he should not be expelled from the party, the ANC said in a statement. Reuters

Well-Built Cities, Services Could Rekindle African Economies
African governments will need to ramp up investments in urban infrastructure and the service industry to help revive the economic growth needed to eradicate absolute poverty. As Africa’s population continues to grow fastest in the world, a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) shows that, despite positive signs at the start of this century, Africa’s economies took a different turn in the second decade and might get into a deeper plunge if nothing is done now. Compared to other emerging economies like India and China, Africa’s GDP grew at a relatively slower pace between 2000 and 2019 and even slower over the last decade. … “Gaps in infrastructure and skills, along with relatively high hurdles to conducting business, low levels of intracontinental trade, and dependence on natural resources, were obstacles to Africa’s growth,” said the report. East African

Cameroon Opposition Figure John Fru Ndi Dies at 82
John Fru Ndi, a towering figure in Cameroonian politics over several decades, has died aged 82. He founded the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) in 1990 and was at the frontline of multi-party democracy in Cameroon, defending English-speaking minority rights in the country. According to a press release from his SDF colleagues, Fru Ndi died in the capital, Yaoundé, on Monday evening after a long period of illness. His career included several presidential bids and he claimed to have been the true winner of the 1992 election, that saw President Paul Biya re-elected. Fru Ndi surprised everybody in 2018 when he decided not to run for top office. He was preparing to retire as a leader of his political party later this year. BBC