Africa Media Review for June 13, 2024

South Africa: Things Don’t Fall Apart— the Centre Starts to Hold as Government of National Unity Takes Shape
The [Inkatha Freedom Party, the fifth-biggest party with 3.85% of the vote]’s formal announcement that it will enter the government of national unity (GNU) brings the number of parties inside to five. This graphic shows that the ANC, DA, IFP, Patriotic Alliance (PA) and Rise Mzansi have 68.4% of the national vote — enough to proceed while talks continue. The five parties have all publicly said they will join a GNU and give some shape to Friday’s inaugural sitting of the National Assembly, where a Speaker and President will be elected in a session overseen by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. The five are also substantial enough in numbers and leadership to offer a centre to hold South Africa as it enters its first unity government in 30 years after the ANC lost the 29 May election. … With a centre of consensus that is broadly social democratic, if conservative-populist on some of their respective policy planks, South Africa can fashion a craft to set sail into what is often called its uncharted new territory. The five parties have a similar economic outlook: all believe in a mixed economy with redistributive policies, including social income support and better education policies. Daily Maverick

UN Security Council to Vote on Demand for Halt to Siege of Sudanese City
The United Nations Security Council is likely to vote on Thursday on a British-drafted resolution that demands a halt to the siege of al-Fashir in Sudan’s North Dafur region by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), diplomats said on Wednesday. The draft text, seen by Reuters, also calls for an immediate halt to the fighting and for de-escalation in and around the city and the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians. … Top U.N. officials warned the Security Council in April that some 800,000 people in al-Fashir were in “extreme and immediate danger” as worsening violence advances and threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.” The draft Security Council resolution “demands that all parties to the conflict ensure the protection of civilians, including by allowing civilians wishing to move within and out of Al-Fashir to safer areas to do so.” … It also calls on countries “to refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support efforts for a durable peace and reminds all parties to the conflict and member states who facilitate the transfers of arms and military material to Darfur of their obligations to comply with the arms embargo measures.” Reuters

Evidence of Iran and UAE Drones Used in Sudan war
Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been accused of violating a UN arms embargo by supplying drones to the warring sides in the 14-month conflict that has devastated Sudan. … In March, Mr Zwijnenburg identified one more version of the Zajil-3 captured in a satellite image of Wadi Seidna. “[It is] an indication of active Iranian support for the Sudanese army,” he says, although Sudan’s governing council has denied acquiring weapons from Iran. “If these drones are equipped with guided munitions, it means they were supplied by Iran because those munitions are not produced in Sudan,” Mr Zwijnenburg adds. In early December, a Boeing 747 passenger plane belonging to Iranian cargo carrier Qeshm Fars Air took off from Bandar Abbas airport in Iran, heading towards the Red Sea before disappearing from radar. … According to a UN report presented to the Security Council earlier this year, aviation-tracking experts observed a civilian aircraft air bridge allegedly transporting weapons from the UAE to the RSF… The route starts from Abu Dhabi airport, passes through Nairobi and Kampala airports, before ending at Amdjarass airport in Chad, a few kilometres from Sudan’s western border, and Darfur, where the RSF has its stronghold. The UN report also cites local sources and military groups reporting that vehicles carrying arms unload planes at Amdjarass airport several times a week, before travelling to Darfur and the rest of Sudan. BBC

Conflicts Drive Number of Forcibly Displaced People to Record High
The latest annual assessment from the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) said a sharp rise in the number of people forcibly displaced during 2023 had brought the total to a record high of more than 117 million. Conflicts were largely to blame with many, such as those in Ukraine and Sudan, showing little sign of ending. Widespread violence meant that the 8.8 million people forcibly displaced in 2023 … eclipsed the previous record, set the year before, after a series of year-on-year increases over the past 12 years. … In total, 1.5% of the world’s population is now forcibly displaced – nearly double the proportion of a decade ago. The UNHCR – which said its figures included refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and others in need of international protection – warned that the total had continued to increase in the first four months of this year and was already likely to have exceeded 120 million, more than twice the population of Italy. … The UN agency said a fifth of those forcibly displaced were now in the poorest countries in the world, such as Chad and Sudan. Guardian

Africa’s Great Green Wall to Miss 2030 Goal Says UN Desertification President
Africa’s Great Green Wall, which is meant to restore degraded landscapes and boost economies across the continent, is low on cash and unlikely to meet a 2030 completion goal, the president of the most recent UN summit on desertification told Reuters. Launched in 2007, the project to reinstate 100 million hectares of land is only 30% complete, said Alain Richard Donwahi, president of the 2022 U.N. summit held in the Ivory Coast, who has access to the analysis of how it is progressing. The project aims to restore an 8,000 kilometre-long (5,000 mile-long) corridor from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and benefits some of the world’s poorest countries at the edge of the Sahara Desert, including Ethiopia, Mali and Sudan. “It is an understatement to stress that we are not in line with our common objective to complete by 2030,” Donwahi said ahead of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in Bonn on June 17, where he will seek renewed support for the landmark project. Reuters

Senegal Starts Producing Oil as President Promises Benefits
Senegal’s President Bassirou Diomaye Faye has said profits from the sale of oil and gas will be “well managed” as the West African state started producing oil for the first time. Australian energy giant Woodside described the extraction as a “historic day” and a “key milestone” for the company and the nation. The Sangomar deep-water project, which also has gas, aims to produce 100,000 barrels of oil per day. It is expected to generate billions of dollars for Senegal and boost its economy. … Mr Faye, who was elected president in April, has been keen on renegotiating the deal as part of reforms he promised during the election campaign. Speaking to students on Tuesday, he said that the earnings would be “well managed”, and that an “inter-generation fund” had been set up for the benefit of “your generation and those to come”, the AFP news agency quoted him as saying. Senegal’s move to renegotiate oil and gas contracts has been seen by some analysts as making investors jittery, but government supporters say it is vital for the West African state to increase its stake in projects so that the nation benefits from its natural resources. BBC

Nigeria’s President Says Economic Reforms Will Continue despite Hardships
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu said on Wednesday economic reforms would continue despite increasing hardships that have fuelled public anger, and promised to send an executive bill to parliament soon to set a new minimum wage. Tinubu, who came to power a year ago, removed a decades-old petrol subsidy that kept prices artificially low and devalued the currency, sending inflation soaring to 33.69% in April, its highest level in nearly three decades and eroding incomes. In a television broadcast to mark Democracy Day, Tinubu acknowledged hardships caused by the reforms, which also include higher interest rates and the partial removal of electricity subsidies, but he said this would create a stronger foundation for future growth. “Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil,” Tinubu said. Reuters

Ugandan Oil Pipeline Protester Allegedly Beaten as Part of ‘Alarming Crackdown’
A man campaigning against the controversial $5bn (£4bn) east African crude oil pipeline (EACOP) is recovering in hospital after an alleged beating by the Ugandan armed forces in the latest incident in what has been called an “alarming crackdown” on the country’s environmentalists. Stephen Kwikiriza, who works for Uganda’s Environment Governance Institute (EGI), a non-profit organisation, was abducted in Kampala on 4 June, according to his employer. He was beaten, questioned and then abandoned hundreds of miles from the capital on Sunday evening. … According to the International Federation for Human Rights, Kwikiriza is one of 11 campaigners against oil projects who have been targeted by Ugandan police, military or government officials in the past two weeks. In November a further group of 11 students were arrested and are still awaiting trial after staging a peaceful march against the pipeline in Kampala. Guardian

As China Scrambles for Zimbabwe’s Lithium, Small Miners Are Left Behind
Zimbabwe has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of lithium – which is an essential component of the rechargeable batteries used in things like mobile phones and electric vehicles. … While the Chinese will help Zimbabwe’s target to generate $20bn from mining by 2030, there is a price to be paid by the locals from the hunt for lithium by miners from the Asian nation. Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), an organisation which defends the rights of communities affected by extractive industries, said the Chinese extractive model is detested by patriotic and responsible Zimbabweans. “They bribe powerful politicians to buy their silence when they violate people’s rights,” Maguwu told Al Jazeera, echoing accusations that have been made against Chinese mining companies that they have evicted villagers from ancestral lands without following due process, and that they are responsible for environmental, air and water pollution in lithium-rich areas across Zimbabwe. Al Jazeera

At Least 80 Passengers Killed in the Latest Boat Accident in Congo
A boat carrying more than 270 passengers has capsized on a river near Congo’s capital of Kinshasa, leaving more than 80 dead, President Félix Tshisekedi said Wednesday. It was the latest deadly boat accident in the central African country where overloading is often blamed, including in February when dozens lost their lives after an overloaded boat sank. A statement quoting Tshisekedi said the locally made boat capsized late Monday in Maï-Ndombe province along the Kwa River. … He said the boat hit the edge of the river bank and broke up. Congolese officials have often warned against overloading and vowed to punish those violating safety measures for water transportation. But in remote areas where most passengers come from, many are unable to afford public transport for the few available roads. AfricaNews with AP

Highly Potent Opioids Are Showing Up in Drug Users in Africa for the First Time, Report Says
Traces of highly potent opioids known as nitazenes have for the first time been found to be consumed by people who use drugs in Africa, according to a report released Wednesday by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, a nonprofit organization. Nitazenes, powerful synthetic opioids, have long been in use in Western countries as well as in Asia where they have been associated with overdose deaths. Some of them can be up to 100 times more potent than heroin and up to 10 times more potent than fentanyl, meaning that users can get an effect from a much smaller amount, putting them at increased risk of overdose and death. The report focused on Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau and is based on chemical testing of kush, a derivative of cannabis mixed with synthetic drugs like fentanyl and tramadol and chemicals like formaldehyde. Researchers found that in Sierra Leone, 83% of the samples were found to contain nitazenes, while in Guinea-Bissau it was identified in 55%. AP

New Ukraine Peace Push Seeks Middle East and African Partners
Countries from the Middle East and Africa are expected to take part in a Ukraine peace summit this weekend in an attempt to end the two-year war. The talks in Switzerland will address the implications of Russia’s invasion on the world food market, as organisers try to bring countries outside Europe into the fold. … About 90 countries and organisations are involved, of which half are from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America, Swiss President Viola Amherd said on Monday. … The fighting between two of the world’s top agricultural producers has damaged grain exports and Black Sea shipping lanes, sending food prices spiralling in parts of the Middle East and Africa. The Kremlin has raised global alarm with what Ukraine’s allies say is dangerous nuclear rhetoric and risky military manoeuvres near the Zaporizhzhia atomic plant. … “What we can achieve by way of agreement is a recognition of international law, that there can be no peace dictated by Russia,” one German official said. “If the signal goes out from the conference to Ukraine, to Russia but to the rest of the world too that a large part of the international community can agree on these principles, then progress has been made.” National

Kenya Govt Partners with Meta to Create Revenue through Digital Content
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has promised to pay Kenyan influencers for content published on its platforms from June. With around 20 percent of the Kenyan population using social media, more and more young people are aspiring to become content creators. France24