Africa Media Review for June 17, 2024

South Africa: It’s Cyril as President Again – but for How Long?
Cyril Ramaphosa has been re-elected President of South Africa. The election of the president went to the vote after the United Democratic Movement nominated EFF leader Julius Malema as President. This stretched out a long day for the newly minted Members of Parliament who first entered the house at 10am on Friday. Presiding over proceedings Chief Justice Raymond Zondo read out Ramaphosa’s name after 11pm. The 71-year old will be inaugurated into his second full term on Wednesday 19 June in Pretoria, after winning the nod from the newly-constituted National Assembly with 283 votes. Ramaphosa’s retention of his position is intimately linked to the wider political deal-making which has seen the ANC enter into a government of national unity with the DA, the IFP, and possibly other smaller parties…The South African Constitution prevents state presidents from holding power for more than two full terms; Ramaphosa initially completed the unfinished term of his successor Jacob Zuma, which does not count towards the two terms. As such, he could technically hold power until the next general elections in 2029. Daily Maverick

South Africa: Zuma Slams GNU as ‘White-Led Unholy Alliance’ as MK Party Decides to Join Progressive Caucus
UMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party leader Jacob Zuma has referred to the recently formed Government of National Unity (GNU) as “nonsense”, adding that the party’s legal counsel has been instructed to dispute the manner in which the public broadcaster, the SABC, has been describing the political pact. The GNU consists of the ANC, DA and IFP, and together they have an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly. Reports have emerged that Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance and Patricia de Lille’s Good have joined the GNU…Zuma’s press conference follows the MK party’s decision not to attend the first National Assembly sitting of the 7th administration on Friday. MK put out a statement on 10 June saying that as part of its ongoing protest against the election results, its 58 MPs would not attend the first sitting of the National Assembly. The party has claimed that election results were rigged, but has provided no evidence to support its claims. It tried to interdict the National Assembly sitting, but the Constitutional Court dismissed its application. The party said it has applied to the Electoral Court to have the elections set aside….On Sunday, the MK party announced that it would have its members sworn into the National Assembly with the intention of joining the opposition, under the Progressive Caucus banner. The Progressive Caucus consists of the EFF, United Democratic Movement, Al Jama-ah, United Africans Transformation, African Transformation Movement and the Pan-Africanist Congress. Daily Maverick

3 Killed, UN Peacekeepers Wounded in Eastern DR Congo
A Romanian “mercenary” and two Congolese soldiers were killed, and a U.N. peacekeeper was wounded in three separate incidents in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, several sources said Sunday. A security official in the east of the country told AFP on the condition of anonymity that a private military contractor was killed, and three others wounded Saturday by a missile strike on a Congolese army base around 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Goma. The origin of the strike was not confirmed…Since the start of the month, around 150 people have been killed in attacks attributed to the ADF, which originated in neighboring Uganda and most of whose members swear allegiance to the Islamic State Group. Also, around Butembo, a MONUSCO (U.N. mission in the DRC) convoy was attacked by unidentified armed men Saturday evening as it returned from a mission. One peacekeeper was shot in the leg during the attack. AFP

Surge in Rebel Attacks Sparks Deadly Protests in Eastern Congo
At least seven people have been killed in unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, local officials said on Saturday, after people took to the streets to protest against a surge in deadly attacks by suspected Islamist rebels. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group affiliated to the Islamic State, are alleged to have killed more than 40 people in an attack on Mayikengo village this week and over 80 in attacks on other villages in the province the previous week. The insecurity has fuelled public frustration, leading to the killing of two soldiers and their driver in Lubero territory by a crowd who torched their vehicle overnight on Friday, local official Julio Mabanga told Reuters. On Saturday, further clashes in the area between security forces and local residents led to the deaths of another three people: a civilian, a soldier, and an agent of the ANR national intelligence service, Mabanga said. Reuters

Pope Francis Calls on World Leaders to Help End Slaughter of Civilians in the DRC
The Catholic Church’s Pope Francis has sent an SOS to world leaders, asking them to do everything in their power to end violence and preserve the lives of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), the Pope said: “Among the victims, many are Christians killed in odium fidei [in hatred of the faith]. They are martyrs…Official statistics show Catholics in the DRC make up 49% of the population. Last year, on his tour of Africa, the Pope made a two-day stop in Kinshasa and held a mass. During the mass, he raised concerns about the security situation in the DRC and the resource curse. News24

F.B.I. Director Makes Rare Visit to Africa as Terrorism Threat Grows
Christopher A. Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, paid a rare visit to sub-Saharan Africa [last] week to discuss counterterrorism strategies with regional partners at a time when both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are gaining momentum on the continent…Mr. Wray’s visit to Kenya — the first by an F.B.I. director in 15 years, officials said — comes after President Biden last month hosted the Kenyan president, William Ruto, for a state dinner and pledged to designate the country as a “major non-NATO ally.” The move reflects the White House’s determination to deepen relations with the East African nation…The F.B.I. has worked closely with the Kenyans since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to track down Qaeda operatives. In 2020, the F.B.I. and the State Department helped Kenya establish a terrorism task force modeled on the ones that the bureau relies on in cities across the United States. It was the bureau’s first joint terrorism task force outside the United States, according to the F.B.I. The New York Times

600 US Troops Remain in Niger as Withdrawal Continues
About 600 U.S. military personnel remain in Niger, as American troops continue to withdraw from the country before a mid-September deadline, according to a senior U.S. defense official. “We are on track to be done before the 15th of September,” the senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security issues. However, the official cautioned that the rainy season could potentially slow withdrawal efforts. Last month, U.S. and Nigerien leaders agreed to a phased withdrawal of American forces from Niger after being in the country for more than a decade. At that time, there were about 900 U.S. military personnel in Niger, including active duty, civilians and contractors, according to two U.S. officials, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity ahead of the withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement between the U.S. and Niger confirmed protections and immunities for U.S. personnel and approved diplomatic clearances for withdrawal flights “to ensure smooth entries and exits.” American forces were deployed in Niger to help local militaries combat Islamist terrorists in the Sahel. VOA

‘We Need the World to Wake Up’: Sudan Facing World’s Deadliest Famine in 40 Years
Sudan is facing a famine that could become worse than any the world has seen since Ethiopia 40 years ago, US officials have warned, as aid deliveries continue to be blocked by the warring armies but arms supplies to both sides continue to flow in. With much of the world’s attention focused on Gaza, the scene of another human-made famine, Sudan is already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and is slipping towards a humanitarian disaster of historic proportions, with far less media coverage and global concern. A UN humanitarian appeal for the country has received only 16% of the funds it needs. “We need the world to wake up to the catastrophe happening before our very eyes,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, told reporters. She was speaking as El Fasher, the capital of the North Darfur region and a former humanitarian hub, faced its second month under siege by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)…While humanitarian aid has faced constant obstruction, both sides in the war continue to receive weapons, the US officials said: the SAF from Russia and Iran among others, the RSF in particular from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a US ally. The Guardian

Sudanese Army Rejects Talks with RSF, Vows to Fight On for “True Peace”
Yasir al-Atta, Sudanese Army’s Assistant Commander-in-Chief stated that peace will only be achieved through the defeat of the Rapid Support Forces, and reiterated their negotiations for any settlement their preserve the paramilitary group. Al-Atta who leads the military operations in Khartoum told his troops on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha to pay no heed to the media reports and rumours about the resumption of negations stressing that and proposition to return to the negotiating table is met with absolute rejection…Al-Atta seemingly intended to reply to a statement by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo “Hemetti” who repeated his readiness to resume talks with the Sudanese army over the end of the war. Sudan Tribune

Human Rights Violations, Abuse Threaten Reconciliation, Peace in Ethiopia
United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk is calling on warring parties in northern Ethiopia to lay down their arms, warning that human rights violations and abuses amid hostilities continue to endanger reconciliation efforts. “I urge the parties to the conflict to halt ongoing hostilities and to resolve differences through peaceful means,” Türk said in a statement issued Friday to coincide with the release of a U.N. report updating the human rights situation across Ethiopia between January 2023 and January 2024. The report finds the human rights situation in the northern Tigray region has improved significantly following a November 2022 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, while violent conflict has led to a serious deterioration of human rights in the regions of Amhara and Oromia…The report cites a litany of human rights violations and abuses committed by government security forces and armed groups, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, followed by killings of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, and attacks on civilian property. VOA

Zimbabwe Police Arrest Opposition Leader and 80 Youths, Says Lawyer
Zimbabwe police have arrested opposition leader Jameson Timba and 80 youths for holding a political gathering which authorities said was unauthorized, their lawyer said on Monday. Timba took over as interim leader of Citizens Coalition for Change after former leader Nelson Chamisa quit the party in January, alleging it had been hijacked by the ruling ZANU-PF party. The arrests were made on Sunday…CCC party spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said the arrests were “regrettable” and showed “democratic regression”. Police were not immediately available for comment. The law requires that political parties apply for clearance with police before holding a public gathering. Sections of the law have been used in the past to clamp down on the opposition and ban political rallies. Reuters

With an Election 4 Months Away, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi Takes Up Acting
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has put his acting skills to the test in a two-minute short film showcasing the achievements of the first five years of his administration, ahead of general elections in October 2024. His Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since independence in 1966. The short film might as well be an election manifesto, as he addresses questions from supposed opposition supporters who feel that he has underperformed – giving him a chance to make forward-looking pledges, such as maintaining a ban on vegetables from South Africa…When the crowd disperses, without further questions, Masisi is left alone on set. He then talks about his employment creation drive, youth empowerment, allocation of land and access to water. Masisi also talks about how he has contained electricity prices in the past five years – even though, in 2020, Botswana hiked electricity charges by 22% to help a then loss-making Botswana Power Corporation. News24

For Senegalese Fishermen, Eid al-Adha Is Now a Source of Anguish, Not a Joyful Occasion
The upcoming holiday of Eid al-Adha should have been a joyful occasion for millions of Muslims in Senegal. But skyrocketing prices, record unemployment and growing inequalities have turned Tabaski — as the holiday is locally known — into a source of anguish for many in this West African nation…Fishing makes up three percent of the national GDP, and provides around 50,000 direct and 500,000 indirect jobs, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations…Fishermen have been hit in recent years by climate change and uneven battle with industrial trawlers from China, Russia and Europe who are now operating in Senegalese waters…For Senegalese households, Tabaski usually means a tenfold increase in expenses, Momar Ndao, the president of Senegal’s Association of Consumers, told The Associated Press. But this year, Ndao said, “the number of people that can afford to celebrate Tabaski in the traditional way is lower”…On Thursday, three days before Tabaski, the authorities announced they would lower the prices of basic goods. However, it remained unclear when these changes would be implemented. AP

Where the N.B.A. Sees Its Future
The N.B.A. has been promoting basketball in Africa for more than 20 years, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort. The aim is to cultivate an immense potential fan base, the way it has in China, while also tapping into the rich talent pool on the continent. Much of the league’s work is concentrated in Senegal, where it operates an academy for high-school-age players, an N.B.A. Africa office and the headquarters of the Basketball Africa League…The B.A.L. was announced in 2019 with FIBA, the sport’s international governing body. Its first season was in 2021…The N.B.A. has generated plenty of good will by building courts, libraries and homes; administering basketball camps and other development programs; and supporting gender equality…With the B.A.L., the N.B.A. accomplished something it couldn’t do in China: help establish a league that it could operate. The 12 teams in the league play in three conferences, which include the six champions from leagues in Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. The New York Times