Africa Media Review for June 3, 2024

South Africa’s President Urges Parties to Find Common Ground in Talks after Election Deadlock
President Cyril Ramaphosa called Sunday for South Africa’s political parties to overcome their differences and find “common ground” to form the first national coalition government in its young democracy. His comments came in a speech straight after final election results were announced confirming that no party won a majority in last week’s vote. Unprecedented coalition talks were set to start to find a way forward for Africa’s most industrialized economy. Ramaphosa’s African National Congress party had already lost its 30-year majority after more than 99% of votes were counted by Saturday and showed it couldn’t surpass 50%. The ANC received 40% of the votes in last week’s election in the final count, the largest share. Without a majority it will need to agree on a coalition with another party or parties for the first time to co-govern and reelect Ramaphosa for a second term. South Africa’s national elections decide how many seats each party gets in Parliament and lawmakers elect the president later. AP

Disinformation Nation — a Concerted Campaign to Destabilise SA Post Elections
Attempts to discredit the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the electoral process began well ahead of the polls. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has produced a report it presented to the IEC on 31 May showing that pre-election disinformation was most prevalent on X. A word cloud produced by MMA shows how prominent the words “vote rigging” and “MK” were in advance of the elections, as if the ground were being laid to discredit the results should they not land favourably for Jacob Zuma’s party…In the days before the elections, the X hashtag #Dontstealourvotes was used to spread lies about both the IEC and the DA, with the party accused of stealing votes…South African political leaders have two weeks from the declaration of election results to put together coalitions. It is a frighteningly tight timeframe, which is why the campaign to delegitimise DA-ANC political cooperation is likely to accelerate and intensify online – while an ANC-EFF-MK coalition is presented as the more socially progressive, politically palatable alternative. Daily Maverick

South Africa: Zuma threatens IEC, and daughter Duduzile attacks its Commissioner Janet Love
The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) is under attack from the surging MK party. In a late-night visit to the IEC results centre on June 1, the party’s leader, former president Jacob Zuma, warned at a press conference: ‘Nobody must declare tomorrow. People will be provoking us.’ He added: ‘Don’t rush us. Nobody is going to announce tomorrow. We have more information to give.’ When asked what evidence the party had of vote-rigging, MK said it was subjudice, a legal concept that no longer exists in South African law as it is meant to protect a jury from influence. Instead, it is often used to shield information or spread disinformation under the cover of a mock legality. Zuma’s threat and demand are unprecedented in 30 years, where all parties which have run for elections have abided by IEC rules and felt fairly treated by its intricate system of consultation with party liaison committees…Zuma has a beef with the IEC, which stopped his candidature. As his start-up has romped into third position nationally and is KwaZulu-Natal’s largest party by far, he has steadily upped the ante against the electoral body, finally issuing the ominous warning. Daily Maverick

Nigeria Workers down Tools as Economic Crisis Bites
Nigerian unions began an indefinite strike on Monday, closing schools and public offices, impacting airports and shutting down the national power grid after talks with the government failed to agree a new minimum wage. The worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation in Africa’s most populous country has left many Nigerians struggling to afford food. The main Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) urged workers to down tools after the government refused to increase its minimum wage offer beyond 60,000 naira ($45) per month, according to local media…Government buildings, petrol stations and courts in the capital Abuja were closed, AFP journalists saw, while the doors to the city’s airport were also shut and long queues formed outside. AFP

Nigerian Lawmakers Seek to Curb Central Bank’s Role in Economic Policy
Nigerian lawmakers are seeking to limit the central bank’s control over economic policy by proposing to set up a committee to coordinate monetary and fiscal policies, headed by the finance minister, according to a bill in the Senate. The proposal by a member of the ruling party comes as inflation in Africa’s most populous nation hit a 28-year high of 33.69% in April amidst sluggish economic growth and currency woes. Under the proposed law, the central bank would be in charge of monetary policies as before, but a new committee headed by the finance minister would be responsible for coordinating monetary and fiscal policies. Some economists said that adding a committee to coordinate monetary and fiscal policies could severely weaken the central bank…The International Monetary Fund has previously warned Nigeria about interfering with the independence of the central bank, arguing that it could hamper the country’s ability to tackle inflation and restore stability. Reuters

Sudanese Diplomat Confirms Commitment to Russian Naval Base on Red Sea
Mohamed Siraj, Sudan’s Ambassador to Russia, reaffirmed his country’s dedication to constructing a Russian naval base on the Red Sea…On May 25, Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Army Yasir al-Atta disclosed that his government would approve an agreement signed by the former regime in 2019 to establish a logistical centre for the Russian navy on the Red Sea. He added that a military delegation would travel to Russia in the coming days to discuss Sudan’s military needs in weapons and munitions, while another delegation led by Malik Agar, including senior ministers, would head to Moscow afterwards to discuss economic cooperation, including mining and agricultural projects…For Russia, establishing a naval base in Sudan offers a strategic advantage, providing access to the Central African Republic and potentially opening routes to other landlocked Sahel countries. In response to these statements, the Sudanese Congress Party voiced its strong opposition to the construction of the Russian military base, asserting that the “Port Sudan government”, established through the October 25, 2021, military coup, lacks legitimacy and thus has no authority to enact agreements affecting the Republic of Sudan. Sudan Tribune

El Fasher Clashes Threaten Golo Reservoir, Key Water Source
Escalating violence in and around El Fasher, North Darfur, has jeopardized the main water source for over 130,000 children, according to UNICEF. On May 26, the RSF captured the Golo water reservoir, a critical resource for an estimated 270,000 people, but the army and allied groups managed to retake it the next day. In a statement related to this incident, UNICEF says the ongoing fighting over El Fasher poses a grave threat to the health and well-being of children and families already displaced by the war…[Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa] warned that damage or destruction of the reservoir would cut off families and children from safe water, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases in a region already ravaged by conflict. Children suffering from acute malnutrition and weakened immune systems would be particularly vulnerable. Sudan Tribune

South Korea’s Yoon Hosts Africa Summit to Tap Minerals, Vast Export Market
Africa’s rich mineral resources and its potential as a vast export market are at the top of South Korea’s agenda as it hosts a summit with the leaders of 48 nations this week with plans for aid on industrial infrastructure and digital transformation. Africa is a “crucial partner” for South Korea to further its industrial advances and “cooperation with Africa is not a choice but a necessity”, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo said. At least 30 heads of state are attending the summit on Tuesday, with delegations from 48 countries participating. Yoon and the chair of African Union, President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania, will issue a joint statement, Yoon’s office said. On Wednesday, South Korean business leaders will host a business summit focused on investment, industrial development and food security. “Africa’s strategic importance has never been greater,” Kim said. South Korea is one of the world’s largest energy buyers and is home to leading semiconductor producers and the world’s fifth largest automaker making a push for electrification. Partnership with Africa with 30% of the world’s critical mineral including chrome, cobalt and manganese is crucial, Yoon’s office said. Since Friday, Yoon has held meetings with the leaders of Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Ethiopia and is scheduled to meet separately the heads of other states including Zimbabwe, Togo, Rwanda and Mozambique on Monday. Reuters

Presidents Ruto, Samia Eye Trade Deals with South Korea
State House in Nairobi said the visit offers Kenya an opportunity to discuss a bilateral deal with South Korea to help balance their trade and investments…President Ruto’s trip to South Korea is the second, having visited in November 2022. At the time, the two sides agreed to a line of credit worth up to $1 billion for various sectors under what was known as the Framework Arrangement Partnership. However, the actual disbursement depends on the Korean Parliament approving every funding request…Tanzania too is pursuing a similar arrangement and President Samia’s office said on Sunday they had already launched discussions for an EPA. An EPA is supposed to guide on issues of quality, sanitation, taxation and exemptions of exports, as well as decide quotas for imports…Tanzania sees the EPA as a way to elevate its ties with South Korea as well, to a strategic relationship, and is eyeing investments in the blue economy, development of natural gas, and the creative industry such as film, transport and labour exports. The EastAfrican

Kenya Supreme Court Rules That EACJ Can’t Review Its Decisions
Kenya’s Supreme Court has declared that its decisions cannot be subjected to review by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ). In a blow to opposition leader Martha Karua and Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, the country’s apex court said decisions rendered by the regional court over judgments that have been finalised by the Supreme Court have no legal consequences..Attorney-General Justin Muturi had sought the opinion of the court on the legal consequences and effects of decisions of the EACJ on Kenya’s sovereignty… According to Mr Muturi, the decisions of the EACJ end up conflicting with judgments issued by the Supreme Court. Mr Muturi added that if this trend continues, he is apprehensive that the purported exercise of an appellate jurisdiction by the EACJ over decisions by national courts might pose a conflict with Kenya’s commitment to the rule of law. The EastAfrican

NGO Wants EU-Kenya Trade Partnership Annulled
A Kampala-based NGO has gone to the East African Court of Justice seeking orders to block Kenya and the EAC Secretary-General from implementing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Nairobi signed with the European Union. The Centre for Law Economics and Policy on East African Integration (CLEP-EA), a think tank and research centre, says Kenya violated the EAC Treaty by signing the trade agreement…The agreement builds on negotiations for an EPA with the EAC partner states at the time – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda – which were finalised in October 2014. Kenya and the EU signed the EPA on December 18, 2023 and Kenya is the only EAC member to ratify the EU-EAC EPA seeking more access to the European market…CLEP East Africa alleges that Kenya did not notify the EAC Secretariat and other EAC States about the renegotiated and/or amended EPA with the EU thus breaching the Protocol for EAC Customs Union and the Common Market. The EastAfrican

East African Community in Limbo as Funding Crisis Paralyses Operations
Many programmes of the East African Community (EAC) have stalled in the past few months due to a cash crunch blamed on non-remittance of dues amounting to about $40 million by partner States. By press time, some of the regional body’s workers were yet to be paid their May 2024 salaries, and a number of organs and institutions had suspended their activities due to lack of budget. The East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the region’s legal watchdog, announced that it was suspending sessions due to financial constraints. The EastAfrican

Tanzania New Parties Cry Foul over Registration Delays as Polls Near
As Tanzania braces for civic elections in five months and a general election next year, questions are being raised on another key aspect, the registration of new political parties. Two new parties have voiced their frustrations over delays and other hurdles in securing registration certificates in time for the local government elections in October, amid reports that the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties has blocked all new registrations for the time being. The fledgling Independent People’s Party (IPP) and Action for Human Justice (AHJ Wajamaa) claim they have paid the required Tsh1 million ($384) fee for provisional registration but are still awaiting word from the registrar’s office. They say the unexplained hold-ups amount to denying them the right to participate in the elections at ward, council and parliamentary levels, and paint a poor picture of Tanzania’s democratic process at a particularly sensitive time. The EastAfrican

Poor Facilities Cost African Teams Home Advantage in World Cup Qualifiers
Nearly half of the African countries hosting World Cup qualifiers over the next week are being forced to host their matches in neutral venues as the Confederation of African Football continues to clamp down on poor facilities. Some 17 of the 43 countries who have a home game scheduled in qualification for the 2026 World Cup between Wednesday and next Tuesday are barred from using their own stadia because they are not up to standard. The list includes Kenya, who are one of the three countries designated to co-host the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2027, and Benin, whose stadium in Cotonou is in disrepair less than two years after a major renovation. CAF have taken a firm line on tardy facilities over the last two years in an effort to force countries to improve pitch conditions and other facilities like changing rooms and stadium lights…Benin, Congo and Madagascar are the latest countries to be banned from using home venues but South Sudan will end a lengthy exile as they play at home at a newly built stadium in Juba in their Group B derby with neighbours Sudan next week. Reuters