Africa Media Review for June 23, 2022

Kenya Elections: 280 Organisations Petition Kenyatta to Ensure No Internet Interference
A coalition of more than 280 organisations from 105 countries has written to President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to guarantee that there will be no interference with the internet during the general elections. The election on 9 August will seek to decide the country’s fifth president. Kenyatta, 60, has chosen to rally behind political journeyman Raila Amolo Odinga, 77, from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Odinga is Kenyatta’s chosen successor ahead of his deputy, William Ruto, from the ruling United Democratic Party. Due to the high-stakes election and historical experiences, calls have been made for “communication channels [to] remain free, open, secure, inclusive and accessible before, during, and after the general election.” “As the people of Kenya prepare to vote for their representatives across the country’s 290 constituencies and 47 counties, it is essential that your government adopts and prioritise[s] measures to ensure that the election process is inclusive, free, and fair by providing everyone with unfettered access to information and avenues for free expression, assembly, and association – both offline and online,” the group said in an address to Kenyatta. News24

No Limits: Campaign Spending Spikes Ahead of Kenyan Elections
On August 9, Kenyans head to the polls to vote in a highly contested race to decide the country’s fifth president. The incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, who is nearing the end of his second five-year term, is constitutionally barred from seeking another term. Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, are the main contenders to succeed him. In Kenya’s personality-driven politics, ideologies do not hold as much sway as ethnicity and money, which comes in handy for robust campaigning. The 2022 elections are unlikely to be a departure from that. Ahead of the August polls, there has been a display of opulence by the politicians and their backers, leading to questions from members of the public on the sources of these funds. For instance, there has been a spike in the number of helicopters owned or leased by politicians during election cycles, according to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). In March, former KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe said that by the end of 2020, there were 67 registered helicopters, most of which were owned by politicians. Data from the South African Revenue Service also revealed that Kenya imported 325 helicopters for lease from South Africa in 2020 alone. Al Jazeera

Surge in Voter Registration in Nigeria – INEC
Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reported an unprecedented increase in the number of Nigerian youth who are coming forward to be registered to vote in the upcoming general elections. With the outcome of recent primary elections in the country, Nigerians have shown renewed interest in registering, collecting and /or transferring their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) ahead of next year’s general election. According to INEC, there was a voter base of 84,004,084 for the 2019 election and hopes to add at least 20 million new voters to its existing voter base. However, there are efforts by individuals to ensure massive registration and collection of PVCs ahead of the polls. Some youths say they have decided to put things right by registering to exercise their civil rights. “Gone are those days we said let them go and vote and we sit at home but now we need to come out and do the right thing for the country to be good, not minding the weather which is not comfortable,” said Mary, a student. “I have to put up my effort to register to vote because we are tired and we want the betterment of our country. We are tired of the corruption, the subsidy, the power everything, we are feed-up and want something better,” said a university student, Ogogu Racheal. Onyeka Nwaizu, a civil servant says he believes the factor that motivated the surge is a result of a new movement in the country. AfricaNews

‘AU Has Not Withdrawn from Sudan Trilateral Mechanism’
The African Union has refuted earlier reports that the bloc is to withdraw from the AU-IGAD-UNITAMS Trilateral Mechanism*, established to support Sudan through the next phase of the political process. A statement by the AU Liaison office in Khartoum today, attributes the earlier reports in news outlets including the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), to “inaccurate interpretations of the speech of the Special Representative of the African Union”, Mohamed Belaiche. The statement confirms that the AU has not withdrawn from the Trilateral Mechanism in which it participated actively in its establishment and its operations in a serious way.” The AU underlines: “The head of the mission confirmed that he did not attend some activities due to the lack of transparency and respect of all parties, as well as a strict commitment to non-exclusion in political process – which are required for/should ensure its success.” This is In line with the principles and values of the Continental Organisation, the statement concludes. SUNA reported that “the AU has decided to suspend its participation in the facilitated meetings of the dialogue, attributing this step to turning of the dialogue into exclusionary tracks far from transparency and honesty”, following joint press statements by the AU Special Representative, Mohamed Belaiche, and the Forces for Freedom and Change (National Accord) group on Tuesday evening. Dabanga

Algeria, Niger, Nigeria Resume Talks on Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline
Algeria, Niger and Nigeria held talks this week on the revival of a decades-old project to pipe gas across the Sahara, a potential opportunity for Europe to diversify its gas sources as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues. The three countries have set up a task force for the project and designated an entity to update a feasibility study, said Niger’s oil ministry in a statement on Wednesday, following a two-day meeting in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. The Trans-Saharan gas pipeline is an estimated $13bn project that could send up to 30 billion cubic metres a year of supplies to Europe. The idea was first proposed more than 40 years ago and an agreement signed between the countries in 2009, but progress stalled. The revival talks come at a strategic time, as the European Union seeks to wean itself off Russian gas following the invasion of Ukraine, and is seeking alternative sources. “(The pipeline) should allow Europe to diversify its sources of natural gas supply but also allow several African states to access this high-value energy source,” said the statement. With a length of 4,128 kilometres (2,565 miles), the pipeline would start in Warri, Nigeria, and end in Hassi R’Mel, Algeria, where it would connect to existing pipelines that run to Europe. Nigeria also took steps this month to move forward on another long-awaited pipeline, which would go through West Africa and Morocco to Europe. Al Jazeera

Libya’s Bashagha Says He Supports Removal of Foreign Fighters
Libya’s parliament-appointed Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha said on Wednesday his government supported removing all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, guided by a committee set up to safeguard a ceasefire after the 2014-2020 conflict. In an interview with Reuters in London, where Bashagha is trying to drum up support for his government to take over in Tripoli, the leader said he was a “big supporter” of the 5+5 committee which agreed foreign fighters should be expelled. The 59-year-old said his government in the eastern city of Sirte had begun its work despite Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who was installed as prime minister last year through a U.N.-backed process, rejecting its move, leading to a standoff. Since April, groups in the east have forcibly closed many Libyan oil facilities to demand that Bashagha take power in the capital, blockading much of Libya’s oil output and putting new pressure on world energy prices. Asked about the presence of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group in Libya, Bashagha said the group was in Libya but he stood by the 5+5 ceasefire committee, which includes five officers from each side of the 2014-20 conflict, that every foreign force should be out of the country. “We support that approach strongly, strongly, strongly,” he said via a translator, adding that he did not have any relationship with Moscow and that he would work through the 5+5 committee. The role of the Wagner Group in Africa has been put in the spotlight since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, with fears that it could further destabilize the region. Voice of America

Climate Change Exacerbates Illegal Immigration-Experts
With the world food crisis worsening due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the focus is now turning to Africa for solutions. However, experts say it is still too early as the continent is not ready. “It is well known that productivity, particularly among farmers, is very low. The green revolution that dramatically changed productivity and production, particularly in Asia and also in Latin America, has not really had that impact in Africa. I think one of the concerns is that the markets are not working particularly well in Africa,” said Jakob Svensson, an expert from Stockholm University. Climate change is also an important factor. The Horn of Africa, for example, is facing its worst drought in decades. The United Nations warns tens of millions of people on the continent are at the verge of starving. Many flee in search of a better life as some make their way to Europe. Between January and May this year, FRONTEX recorded the arrival of some 86,000 illegal migrants. During the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a slight decrease in the arrival of illegal migrants in Europe, but it was temporary. “Right now we are seeing a much more desperate situation. We are seeing whole families leaving West Africa and we are seeing that there are new routes. Typically, the route that had the most deaths was the Central Mediterranean route where people arrive from West Africa, across the Sahara Desert, and had a lot of problems, especially in Libya,” said Cátia Batista, a Professor of Economics at the Nova School of Business and Economics. AfricaNews

Africa Must End Food, Pharma Import Dependence, AfDB President Says
Africa must wean itself off dependence on food and medicine imports, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said, as the institution approved creation of a pharmaceutical tech foundation and began processing requests for food relief. Africa was hit hard by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as many countries are still struggling to rebound, they are facing rising inflation and food shortages aggravated by the war in Ukraine. “Africa should not allow itself to be vulnerable in excessively depending on others, whether it is for vaccines or whether it is for food,” AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Kigali. “The fact is that when you are dependent on others, you are also very highly vulnerable to any shock of any kind.” The bank last month approved a $1.5 billion financing facility for emergency food production, with the aim of averting a looming food crisis. The funds are meant to help 20 million farmers produce 38 million tonnes of food. Adesina said the bank had already received requests from countries to draw on the fund. “Once those things come to our board, they are swiftly reviewed and approved, and the money is out at the door,” he said. Meanwhile, the AfDB’s board this week approved the creation of a new Africa Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation. Adesina said the foundation would allow Africa to leverage intellectual property rights, protected technologies and innovations to expand Africa’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing sectors. Reuters

Burkina Faso to Create Military Zones to Fight Jihadi Rebels
Burkina Faso’s ruling junta says it will create two military zones where civilians must vacate their homes to allow the army to battle jihadi rebels without any hindrances. The two zones will be established in the country’s hard-hit East and Sahel regions and the ministry of defense will form a new brigade to unite all security forces, said a statement by the military’s National Operations Command. “Any human presence or activity is forbidden in these areas at the risk of exposing oneself to the effects of the military operations that will be carried out there. Resident populations will be given time to move to more secure areas,” said the statement. It did not specify the deadline by which civilians had to leave. The move is the latest attempt by Burkina Faso’s military junta to secure the West African country amid escalating attacks by jihadi rebels linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. In January, mutinous soldiers ousted the democratically elected president, saying they could do a better job at securing the nation. But five months into their rule the situation is deteriorating. Earlier this month jihadis killed at least 80 people in Seytenga in the Sahel region’s Seno province, one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since last year when at least 160 people were killed in Solhan. AP

Senegal’s Opposition Supporters Bang Pots and Pans in Noisy Protest
Senegalese honked car horns and banged on pots and pans in the capital Dakar on Wednesday evening in the latest protest organised by the political opposition ahead of legislative elections next month. Senegal’s main opposition coalition, Yewwi Askan Wi, asked its supporters to come to their windows, balconies and doorways and clang lids together at 8 p.m. to signal their anger over the disqualification of their candidate list in the upcoming poll. The demonstration followed street protests last week that were banned by authorities and turned violent as police fired tear gas and water cannons during clashes with protesters. Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko said three people were killed in the June 17 protests, one in Dakar and two in the southern region of Casamance. Several opposition politicians were also arrested, adding fuel to Wednesday’s demonstration. “I’m here to protest for justice,” said Ibrahima Soumare, a 47-year-old tour guide wearing the colours of Senegal’s flag and holding two large pot lids on which he had written “No to dictatorship” and “Protesting is a constitutional right”. The coalition’s candidate list was disqualified from the July 31 poll for technical reasons, according to a court ruling. Tensions have run high in Senegal since major protests broke out last year after Sonko was arrested on rape charges, which he denied. Reuters

Malawi Coalition Govt Teetering on Brink of Collapse as It Grapples Corruption
By limiting his vice president’s powers, firing the police boss, and suspending numerous senior government officials implicated in corruption charges, Malawi’s president Lazarus Chakwera’s actions could spell the end for the Tonse Alliance of 2020 which brought him to power. If the coalition collapsed, Chakwera would be setting himself up as a “single term” president, said political analysts in Malawi. On Tuesday night, Chakwera announced that he had suspended the “delegated duties” of his deputy Saulos Klaus Chilima. Vice president Chilima is the leader of the United Transformation Movement (UTM) political party. Because of the coalition arrangement, Chakwera said he could not fire him, but that he would curtail his powers. “As for the vice president, his office is unique, in that the constitution does not provide for his suspension or removal from it by the president because he holds that office by the will of Malawian voters which I respect. “As such, the best I can do for now, which is what I have decided to do, is to withhold from his office any delegated duties,” he said in a televised address. Chilima is the highest-ranking official alongside the inspector-general of police George Kainja and Prince Kapondamgaga, the state house chief of staff, and John Suzi Banda, the chairperson for the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, to be suspended on allegations of receiving kickbacks from UK-based businessman Zuneth Sattar in exchange for government contracts. “It’s tense. The alliance has since last year been berated for its failure to deliver particularly on the corruption promise and suddenly one of its principals becomes the face of a corruption investigation. “His supporters feel Chakwera will make him the fall guy and taint him. The alliance won’t survive this,” said political analyst James Phiri. News24

Building of South Sudan Palace Begins amid Food Crisis
The construction of a new presidential palace has begun in South Sudan’s capital, Juba – with President Salva Kiir attending a ceremony to mark the start earlier this week. The project is funded by the government and will take about two years to be completed, according to James Deng Wal, the executive director in the Office of the President. It is unclear how much it will cost, but the country is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis that the UN says has left half of the population food insecure this year. The new building will house the president’s office and will be a venue for other government activities. Mr Deng said its construction would provide work for South Sudanese citizens including engineers, architects, artisans and administrative staff. He said once completed, the building would rival other modern State Houses in East Africa. BBC

Remains of Congolese Independence Leader Lumumba Returned Home
The coffin of slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba returned to his home on Wednesday for an emotionally charged tour and burial, more than six decades after his assassination. A plane took Lumumba’s mortal remains – a tooth that ex-colonial power Belgium handed over to his family on Monday – from Brussels to Kinshasa for a nine-day trip around the Democratic Republic of Congo. The coffin and an accompanying delegation then flew to the central province of Sankuru, where the country’s first post-independence leader was born in the village of Onalua in 1925. “Mr first prime minister,” the DRC’s police and armed forces “are lined up to pay their respects to you on your return to your native village”, a police officer standing to attention solemnly said, in front of the coffin as it arrived at the aerodrome in the town of Tshumbe. From there, it was taken 25 kilometres (15 miles) to Onalua, where two days of tributes are planned. Transported by an army vehicle covered with a Congolese flag, the coffin arrived at the village square to the sound of tam-tam drums. A podium in the national colours of yellow, blue and red, tents and banners bearing Lumumba’s face had been set up. The remains will visit sites symbolically important to Lumumba’s life and be laid to rest in a mausoleum in the capital Kinshasa on June 30, following three days of national mourning. France 24

‘De Facto Lethargy’ in Central African Republic, Despite Escalating Attacks
“The fears legitimately nurtured by the civilian populations who are still suffering the harmful effects of persistent ceasefire violations […] continue to be reported,” said Valentine Rugwabiza, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its French acronym, MINUSCA. Noting that the mission maintains a frank and constructive dialogue with the CAR Government on human rights, she said it is working with authorities on the ground to adopt preventive measures, combat impunity and rehabilitate victims. While CAR had been registering positive steps towards restoring peace and stability, following the adoption of its Joint Road Map for Peace in October 2021, many report that progress is now languishing. The Road Map was itself an attempt to more fully implement a 2019 peace agreement, known as the Khartoum Accord, which was signed between the Government and 14 non-State armed groups. CAR has been grappling with conflict since 2012, as fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition killed thousands and left two out of three civilians dependent on humanitarian aid. Despite the holding of a “republican dialogue” involving several constituent groups in March, recent weeks have seen fresh attacks against civilians by non-State groups, as well as militias affiliated with the Government. Targeted attacks against humanitarian workers and certain ethnic groups, including the Fulani and the Gbaya, have also been reported. UN News

South African Leader Gets Final Chapter of Corruption Report
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has received the final chapter of a report on an extensive judicial investigation into corruption. Chief Justice Raymond Zondo handed over the last installment of the report, reportedly 1,000 pages long, to Ramaphosa. The earlier segments of the report have laid bare the rampant corruption in government and state-owned companies during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure from 2009 to 2018. Speaking at the handover of the final chapter, Ramaphosa emphasized that he didn’t know what’s in the conclusion, not even the commission’s findings on his own testimony. “Not for once has the chief justice even wanted to discuss the evidence that I have presented to the commission. And he has said that he has a chapter or so dealing with evidence that I presented at the commission but I don’t even know what that is because of the high regard I have for him,” said Ramaphosa. “He could have made a negative finding against me, which I will accept,” Ramaphosa said. Ramaphosa has already received four installments of the report which have been made public and have damning findings against politicians and business people linked to his ruling African National Congress party. The earlier parts of the report recommended that many people be criminally prosecuted. AP



Photo: Adam Jones