Africa Media Review for June 24, 2022

Malian Army Strikes Jihadists After Civilian Massacre
Mali’s army on Thursday said it had carried out air strikes against al-Qaeda-affiliated Macina Katiba jihadists in the country’s centre following the massacre of at least 132 civilians last weekend. It carried out strikes between Monday and Wednesday around Bankass and Segue, near where the mass killing took place, and also further afield around Djenne and Tenenkou, the army said in a statement. “These actions resulted from efforts to search for and gather information on the perpetrators of the attacks against civilians on 18 June,” the statement said. The army did not provide any assessment of the operations, which no other sources have confirmed. Mali suffered one of its worst civilian killings over the weekend, the latest in an ongoing series of massacres across the Sahel. According to the government, 132 civilians were killed in Diallassagou and two surrounding villages, a few dozen kilometres from the town of Bankass. The UN, France and other international observers have expressed grave concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Mali. RFI

Cabo Verde: ‘Unprecedented’ Food Insecurity Triggers Social and Economic Emergency
Recent hard-won gains in food security and nutrition are at risk, the UN agency said, forcing the government this week to declare a social and economic emergency. Unless urgent action is taken, the crisis will severely disrupt food access and agricultural production, putting more lives in jeopardy as the country depends largely on food imports to meet its needs. “The current levels of food insecurity are unprecedented. Unless appropriate measures are urgently taken, the local agricultural production, livestock and the livelihoods of rural communities are under severe threat,” said Dr. Gouantoueu Robert Guei, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and its representative in Senegal.  The crisis is driven by a combination of factors, including years of drought, which have led to significant drops in food production and losses of grazing land.  COVID-19 also dealt a severe blow as the country is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of its gross domestic product, while nearly 70 per cent of the population is employed in the sector. The pandemic has disrupted the economy, resulting in a nearly 80 per cent decline in tourism revenues in only two years. UN News

Libya: New UN Mediation in Geneva
“I am pleased to confirm that House of Representatives Speaker Aguila Saleh and High State Council Speaker Khaled el-Mechri have accepted my invitation to meet at the UN offices in Geneva on 28-29 June to discuss the draft constitutional framework for elections,” the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, said on Twitter. “I commend the leaders of both chambers for their commitment to seek consensus on the outstanding issues after the joint committee meeting last week in Cairo,” she added. Meeting in Cairo from 12 to 19 June under the auspices of the United Nations, representatives of the parliament, based in eastern Libya, and the High State Council (HSC), which acts as the Senate and is based in Tripoli (west), failed to reach an agreement on the text that is supposed to govern the presidential and legislative polls that were initially scheduled to be held in late 2021. The foreseeable holding of presidential and parliamentary elections, postponed indefinitely to December 2021, seems highly unlikely due to strong differences between political rivals and tensions on the ground, with increasingly recurrent armed clashes between rival militias in Tripoli. Two governments have been fighting for power since March. The one in Tripoli, which was launched in early 2021 under the aegis of the UN to lead the transition to elections, and a government formed in March and supported by parliament, which has temporarily taken up residence in Sirte, as it is unable to take up its duties in the capital. AfricaNews with AFP

Tunisian Police Arrest Ex-PM Jebali on Suspicion of Money Laundering
Tunisian police on Thursday arrested former prime minister Hamadi Jebali, who is also a former senior member in the Ennahda party, on suspicion of money laundering, his lawyer told Reuters. Police in the city of Sousse seized Jebali’s phone and his wife’s phone and took him to an unknown location, according to a statement by his family on Facebook. Jebali’s arrest raises opposition concerns over human rights since President Kais Saied seized control of executive power last year, in a move his opponents called a coup. The interior ministry declined to comment on Jebali’s arrest. The ministry called a press conference for Friday, without giving any details. Jebali’s defence team said they met him at his detention centre. “Jebali told us he will not answer the investigators’ questions and he entered into a hunger strike as the issue has a political motivation and nothing to do with money laundering”, Jebali’s lawyer Mokhtar Jemai said. Ennahda was the biggest party in Tunisia’s parliament before Saied dissolved the assembly and seized executive powers last year, a move the party and other critics condemned as a coup. Saied said the move was temporary and was needed to save Tunisia from what he saw as a corrupt, self-serving elite. France 24

Threats Made to Tunisia President’s Life – Government
The interior ministry in Tunisia has said it has confirmed information that there are serious threats to the life and safety of President Kais Saied. A ministry spokesperson also said that police forces had foiled what was it described as a terrorist attack on Thursday. The announcement comes as Mr Saied continues to rule effectively by decree – with a referendum scheduled next month on a new constitution that his opponents say will further strengthen his powers. BBC

New Mass Action Planned for June 30 as 13 More Injured in Sudan Protests
At least 13 people were injured during demonstrations in neighbourhoods of Khartoum, Khartoum North (Bahri), Omdurman, and in Wad Madani on Monday. On Tuesday the cities saw new protests of activists and organisations preparing their followers for widespread national mass action across Sudan – and possible closure of Sudan’s borders* – in the Marches of the Millions of June 30. People took to the streets in massive processions in Omdurman, Khartoum Bahri, and the South Belt of Khartoum, as well as in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira state on Wednesday, to demand the overthrow of the ruling military junta, that seized power in military coup in October last year. During the marches, which began after the completion of the Secondary School examinations, protesters chanted slogans demanding full civil authority. They also chanted support for the planned June 30 Marches of the Millions. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors confirmed that 13 cases of injuries were recorded in the June 21 demonstrations in Khartoum and Khartoum Bahri, including six head injuries from solid objects. The doctors’ report indicated seven isolated cases of injuries to the body as a result of stone throwing and stampedes. Dabanga

Nigerians Blame Fuel Shortage on Ukraine War, Fixed Prices
Nigeria is grappling with widespread fuel shortages that are forcing motorists to spend hours in lines to buy gas and causing prices to surge for transportation and basic commodities. Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused prices to import fuel go up by more than 100% but retailers complain they can only charge the price set by the government, causing them to operate at a loss. The government’s promises that the shortages will soon end have not improved the situation. Fuel retailers are pleading with the government to deregulate the market to allow them set their own prices. But the Nigerian government this week insisted that the pump price must remain the same. “The war in Ukraine has caused an increase in the diesel price (but) you have not allowed them (retailers) to increase the price … to recover that cost. So where are they going to get the extra money?” asked Clement Isong, CEO of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria. Nigeria’s current gas shortage — the third in 2022 — is because gas retailers are struggling with rising costs, Isong said. The cost of transporting gasoline to the depots has gone up by 80% in the past few months, he said. “People are suffering,” he said, urging the government to allow higher prices. “What we are saying is, do it (raise the price) slowly, let it not stay fixed,” said Isong. AP

Broken Promises: Cameroon’s Troubled Disarmament Initiative
John Ngah* is a keen amateur footballer, but at the end of each game, when his team mates head off to their families, he heads back to the Buea Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre (DDRC) – his home for the past two years. The 22-year-old is a former combatant in a separatist movement that since 2016 has been fighting for the independence of the country’s two English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions, otherwise known as “Ambazonia”. He joined the “Amba boys” in 2018, frustrated by what he regarded as the “marginalisation” of anglophones in the majority French-speaking country – especially when it came to finding public sector jobs – and the “intimidation” he said he witnessed of young English-speaking men by the security forces. Two years on, disillusioned by his experience in the bush, and by what he saw as a secessionist struggle that had lost its direction, Ngah made his way to Buea, the main city in the Southwest region, and gave himself up – swayed in part by government promises of job training and reintegration. “The movement has changed,” he told The New Humanitarian. “It’s now about kidnapping, stealing, and demanding ransoms [from civilians abducted on the pretext of supposed crimes].” Both the government security forces and the separatist rebels are accused of killing civilians, sexual violence, and torture – violence that has forced more than 640,000 people from their homes. A splintering of the secessionist movement, with rival leaders either abroad or in prison, means local commanders enjoy considerable autonomy and impunity. New Humanitarian

Ethiopia’s Struggling IDPs Face Dilemma: Stay or Return Home?
Internally displaced persons in northern Ethiopia’s Afar region have been leaving some camps due to lack of food and shelter. The U.N., warning that returning home may not prove any better, is calling for more international support. Many people were forced to flee their homes because of fighting between Tigray regional forces and federal troops and their allies. Others fled record drought that has decimated livestock herds and left millions of Ethiopians hungry. Myra Muhammed, a mother of three, walked 400 kilometers in January to reach a camp in Dubti, northern Ethiopia, only to find it overcrowded with 30,000 IDPs. The camp doesn’t have enough food or shelter, leaving Muhammed debating whether to return home, though she and her family lack support there, too. Muhammed is not alone. Afar disaster officials say at least 8,000 internally displaced persons returned home in June because of shortages and the closure of one camp. Voice of America

S. Africa’s Ramaphosa Could Have Done More to Curb Zuma-Era Corruption, Report Finds
The last damning findings of a four-year probe into state corruption in South Africa under ex-leader Jacob Zuma, published Wednesday, suggested that President Ramaphosa could have acted against some of the allegations against his predecessor. Receiving the report Ramaphosa, who was then deputy to Zuma, described the graft as an “assault on our democracy.” The report was handed to Ramaphosa at his Pretoria offices by the head of the investigating panel and chief justice, Raymond Zondo. The pillaging and mismanagement of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises during Zuma’s nine years in office, when Ramaphosa was his deputy, has been dubbed “state capture.” In all, it took more than 400 days for an investigating panel to collect testimonies from around 300 witnesses, including Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa’s answers to some questions about what he knew of the corrupt activities were “opaque” and “unfortunately leave some important gaps”, the report said. And whether he could have acted to curb the graft, “the wealth of evidence before this commission suggests that the answer is yes”, it said. “There was surely enough credible information in the public domain… to at least prompt him to inquire and perhaps act on a number of serious allegations. “As the Deputy President, he surely had the responsibility to do so.” Ramaphosa did not immediately respond to the contents of the report, but said it “provides us with an opportunity to make a decisive break with the era of state capture.” France 24

Protests Force South Africa’s Eskom to Widen Power Cuts
South African state power company Eskom said it would be forced to widen electricity cuts this weekend as labour protests linked to deadlocked wage talks disrupt operations. The utility company, which has struggled to meet power demand in Africa’s most industrialised nation for more than a decade, has been implementing rotational outages since the start of the week. But it will increase the severity of the outages across the weekend. “While exploring possible solutions to unlock the deadlock with the unions, Eskom appeals to its labour partners and striking employees to embrace the higher purpose of putting the people of South Africa first,” the company said in a statement on Friday. Eskom said earlier that the protests had included incidents of intimidation of working employees and blockades on roads leading to power stations. The company has asked the police to restore order. The negotiations with trade unions including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa broke down on Tuesday. In the past, Eskom’s wage talks have turned fraught, too, leading to similar protests which hampered operations. The loss-making utility, saddled with a huge debt pile approaching 400 billion rand ($25bn), is trying to contain costs as part of turnaround efforts under Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter. Al Jazeera

Angolan Ex-Leader dos Santos in Intensive Care -Portuguese Media
Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second biggest oil producer for nearly four decades, is in intensive care at a clinic in Barcelona, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, citing a source close to him. Dos Santos, 79, has been receiving medical treatment since 2019, but his health deteriorated and he was admitted to an intensive care unit, Lusa reported on Thursday, without saying when this occurred. The Angolan government did not respond immediately on Friday to a request for comment on the former president’s condition. One of Africa’s longest serving leaders, dos Santos stepped down five years ago. His rule was marked by a brutal civil war lasting nearly three decades against U.S.-backed UNITA rebels – which he won in 2002 – and a subsequent oil-fuelled boom. Between 2002 and 2014, as oil production grew and prices boomed, Angola’s economy expanded tenfold, from $12.4 billion to $126 billion. But little of that wealth trickled down to the poor, while those closest to dos Santos became super-rich — including his daughter, Isabel, whom Forbes labelled Africa’s richest woman and youngest billionaire, worth about $3 billion. Reuters

Climate, Malaria Highlighted as Commonwealth Leaders Meet
Leaders of Commonwealth nations are meeting in Rwanda Friday in a summit that promises to tackle climate change, tropical diseases and other challenges deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit for Commonwealth heads of state in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, is the culmination of a series of meetings earlier in the week that have reported some success in efforts to improve the lives of people in the 54-nation bloc that is home to 2.5 billion people. Those numbers are set to rise with the expected admission into the Commonwealth of the African nations of Togo and Gabon, which have asked to join the bloc despite having no colonial history with Britain. The Commonwealth comprises mostly former British colonies, but countries such as Mozambique and Rwanda — a former Belgian colony with an Anglophile leader — have in the past launched successful bids to join the group whose titular head is Queen Elizabeth II. Rwanda’s hosting the summit is contentious to some who cite the East African country’s poor human rights record under Paul Kagame, an authoritarian leader who has been de facto leader or president since the 1994 genocide. Other critics are unhappy with what they see as an illegal and cruel deal with Britain to transfer migrants thousands of miles to Rwanda. That agreement faces legal hurdles, and the first group of migrants is yet to arrive in Rwanda. AP

Ten Stories on Drought and Disaster Risk Reduction
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on 17 June to raise awareness about the risks. This year’s theme, “Rising up from drought together”, focuses on the need for early action to avoid more disastrous consequences.  “We’ve been here before. We know what acting slowly does,” Jeremy Taylor of the Norwegian Refugee Council told The New Humanitarian for an April report on the unprecedented drought that’s pushing the Horn of Africa to the brink of famine.  As experts call for a paradigm shift from “reactive” disaster responses to “proactive” preparedness and risk reduction-based approaches, here’s a selection of our recent reporting that lays out the scale of the problem and offers some paths forward. New Humanitarian



Photo: Adam Jones