Africa Media Review for June 6, 2024

South Africa’s President Attends a Key Meeting of His Party over How to Form a New Government
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was meeting with senior officials of the African National Congress on Thursday to decide how to go about forming a government after the party lost its 30-year grip on power and left a post-election deadlock. The party’s National Executive Committee was meeting in Johannesburg to work through a split within the party’s ranks over which direction to take. ANC lost its long-held majority in last week’s vote but remained the biggest party, and now needs some form of agreement with others to run Africa’s most industrialized country. ANC has indicated it’s leaning toward a government of national unity that would bring together many of the political parties in a broad agreement, rather than a direct coalition with the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, or DA…The National Executive Committee that includes more than 80 of the ANC’s top officials is expected to be the body to decide on which direction it will take.

South Africa: More Public Order Police Deployed to KwaZulu-Natal amid Post-election Tensions
A second group of more than 300 members of the Public Order Policing Unit (PoP) has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to reinforce the security presence in the province in response to fears of an outbreak of violence in the wake of the elections. Even though the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party took 45% of the vote in the province, it is challenging the outcome of the election, while its leader, Jacob Zuma, on Saturday threatened “trouble” should the result be declared. The party has threatened to go to court — along with 25 others — making unspecified claims of vote rigging by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), but there is anxiety in the KwaZulu-Natal of a repeat of the July 2021 riots. On Tuesday, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure made the additional deployment as social media mobilisation against the results continued. Mail & Guardian

A Former President’s Daughter Used X to Bombard South Africa with Conspiracy Theories
Experts who spoke to WIRED say that X, formerly Twitter, was a major source of election-related mis- and disinformation in the lead-up to the vote, which dealt a major blow to the ANC. And [Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, daughter of former South African president Jacob Zuma] was a super-spreader…In the days following the elections, Zuma-Sambudla has continued to imply that the election was rigged in the ANC’s favor, even though the party lost its long-held parliamentary majority…After Elon Musk took over the company,…he laid off most of the people working on trust and safety. As part of this, the entire Twitter Africa staff was cut…In a report prepared for the IEC and shared with WIRED, [Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), a media and human rights watchdog] found that a vast majority—68 percent—of 200 pieces of content reported through the Real411 portal that were ultimately found to be disinformation came from X. And a great deal of that content was tied to Zuma-Sambudla…[Sherylle Dass, regional director at Legal Resources Center] believes that X’s lack of moderation has been a boon to Zuma-Sambudla and her supporters, potentially laying the groundwork for future election-related violence…And [Bulanda Nkhowani, sub-Saharan Africa campaigns director at the tech accountability nonprofit Digital Action] says that even if the country avoids postelection unrest, “an attack on the electoral processes is part of an overall attack on democracy.” Wired

Sudan, El Fasher Conflict: 1,280 Civilian Casualties and Hospital Closure Looms
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced on Wednesday that the conflict in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, has resulted in 1,280 casualties, including both deaths and injuries. They further expressed grave concerns over the potential closure of the only functioning hospital, which has been bombed three times in one week. The actual number of casualties is expected to be higher than reported, as civilians face extreme difficulty accessing the southern hospital, the only one operational in El Fasher. Additionally, some residents are burying the dead without autopsies…They highlighted that the intense fighting in El Fasher, with ongoing bombings of homes, markets, and hospitals, means there is no safe place for civilians. Mass casualties are occurring almost daily…There are fears of ethnic massacres against civilians if the RSF takes control of the city amidst increasing polarization between Arab tribes and the Zaghawa tribe, with accusations against the army of exploiting this polarization. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: RSF Commits Massacre in Al-Jazirah Village, Leaving Nearly 100 Dead
The neighbourhood Resistance Committees of Madani announced on Wednesday that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) stormed the village of Wad Al-Noora in the 24 Al-Qurashi locality of Al-Jazira state, killing nearly 100 people. The Committees of Madani released a video showing the burial of dozens of victims in a public square amidst a large gathering of residents…The statement emphasized that the incident in the village was a full-scale massacre carried out by the RSF, while the army remained “stationary inside Al-Manaqil locality”…Since taking control of Al-Jazirah late last year, the RSF has been raiding villages in the state, committing heinous crimes against unarmed residents, including killing, kidnapping, forced displacement, and looting of properties, including crops and household furniture…They added, “The RSF’s solution is to join the militia ranks to ward off barbaric attacks, protect the villages from chaos, and expand militarization until Al-Jazira’s communities are fully militarized.” Sudan Tribune

EU Expected to Impose Sanctions on Six Sudanese Military Figures Fuelling War
The EU intends to impose sanctions on six Sudanese military figures who are fuelling the conflict that has led to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, European diplomats have said. EU foreign ministers meeting later this month are expected to approve sanctions against six individuals from the rival forces who have been fighting for control of Darfur, the vast, largely arid region of western and south-western Sudan. The list includes three people from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group and three from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), according to three EU diplomats. They would be subject to asset freezes and travel bans. EU officials approved the names on Tuesday, but the final list could still change…The EU’s move to impose sanctions on the six people follows asset freezes against six mostly military equipment companies controlled by the RSF and SAF in January. The bloc has faced criticism from human rights defenders of being slow to act in the face of horrifying atrocities. The Guardian

At Least 16 Killed by Suspected Islamists in Eastern Congo, Local Official Says
At least 16 people were killed by a suspected Islamist rebel group based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, an official from the local administration said on Wednesday. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), allied to Islamic State, started as a Ugandan insurgency but has operated from the jungles of eastern Congo for almost three decades. “We believe that the ADF are the perpetrators of this attack, they took advantage of the departure of the military in the area to come and kill the population,” local official Fabien Kakule Viriro told Reuters. The victims were hacked to death with machetes while they were in their homes or in the fields, the official said, adding that some were executed while they were trying to escape. Reuters

Seven Soldiers Killed in Attack in Northern Benin Park
Seven soldiers were killed by attackers suspected of being Islamist militants in northern Benin’s Pendjari National Park, two security sources and two diplomatic sources said on Wednesday. The Beninois soldiers were killed in an ambush, said the sources, two of whom said it took place near the town of Tanguieta. Benin’s northern neighbours are insurgency-plagued Burkina Faso and Niger, making it vulnerable to cross-border attacks by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. In April, unidentified gunmen attacked a border crossing with Niger, killing three people and wounding one, a local mayor said. Reuters

Little Protection for the Vulnerable, Even on Major Migration Routes: UNHCR
Conflicts in Sudan and across the Sahel region have compromised protection for migrants who continue to face “unimaginable horrors” on major migration routes to Europe, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday. A new report from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) confirmed that each year, hundreds of thousands of people risk their lives to migrate from sub-Saharan countries in Africa without access to immediate assistance, shelter or information about the dangers they may face including from traffickers – even though the location of major movement hubs is well known. Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said that the absence of critical services placed refugees and migrants “at great risk of harm and death” and also triggered dangerous secondary journeys. “Our capacity to partner directly with local authorities is missing. Yet, those local authorities are there, they are located on those routes that are used for migrants and refugees, they are located in places where humanitarian actors cannot be present, either because of safety concern or because authorities don’t want humanitarian actors to be present”, he added. UN News

Mali Financial Workers Union Calls for Strike after Leader Arrested
A worker’s union in Mali has called on employees of banks, insurance companies, micro-finance institutions and petrol stations to temporarily stop work from Thursday after the arrest of its secretary-general. The National Union of Banks, Insurance Companies, Financial Institutions and Businesses of Mali (SYNABEF) said its secretary-general, Hamadoun Bah, was arrested on Wednesday. In a statement, it called for employees to halt work from Thursday until Saturday following an emergency meeting of its executive bureau…[SYNABEF’s former secretary-general, Aguibou Bouare,] said Bah was arrested after a complaint was filed by a member of a bank’s union committee, accusing the secretary-general of forging a document related to an internal union matter. Separately, a coalition of political parties and associations known as the Synergy of Action for Mali has called for a protest on Friday against the high cost of living and ongoing electricity cuts in the West African Sahel country, which has been ruled by a junta since 2020. Reuters

Veronica Nduva set for swearing-in as EAC Secretary-General on Friday
President William Ruto’s nominee for the Secretary-General of the East African Community (EAC), Veronica Nduva, will be sworn in on Friday during the bloc’s Heads of State Summit… The summit is taking place at a time when the regional bloc is facing a critical cash crunch…Only Kenya has up-to-date remittance records at the EAC. Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda have relatively small balances…The change of guard at the EAC was triggered by the recall on March 8 of Peter Mathuki, who was besieged by legislators over accountability claims at the Secretariat. Amid a crescendo of accusations of unauthorised expenditure by the regional legislative assembly, President William Ruto recalled Dr Mathuki and nominated him as Kenya’s ambassador to Russia. And Parliament cleared him to take up the new job. The EastAfrican

Court Halts Appointment of Kenyan as EACJ Judge
The Kenyan High Court has blocked the appointment of Zablon Muruka Mokua as a judge of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) after his selection was challenged by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK)….[T]he LSK has challenged his nomination arguing that he is not a jurist of recognised competence worth being nominated as a judge and that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was not involved in the process of his nomination…Further, the LSK said the nomination process of Mr Mokua was shrouded in secrecy thus flouting the national values and principles of governance of rule of law, participation of the people, inclusiveness, equality, protection of the marginalised, transparency and accountability. The EastAfrican

Ethiopia: Human Rights Commission Urges Release of Detainees Following End of State of Emergency in Amhara Region
Following the expiration of the state of emergency in the Amhara region, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called for the “continued release of individuals” imprisoned under the decree. Reports indicate that nineteen prisoners detained at the Awash Arba military camp were released last Saturday following the completion of “rehabilitation training.” For the past ten months, the EHRC has been monitoring the impact of the state of emergency on human rights, investigating violations and gaps in its implementation. The findings have been published in a series of reports. With the state of emergency now concluded, the EHRC emphasizes the need to release detainees held under the decree, return to regular law enforcement procedures, lift movement restrictions in various areas, and restore social services. Prominent figures like Christian Tadele, a member of the House of People’s Representatives; Yohannes Buayalew, a member of the Amhara Region Council; and Kassa Teshager, a member of the Addis Ababa City Council, were among those detained under the state of emergency. The state of emergency in Amhara was declared on 04 August, 2023, following intensifying clashes between the federal government and the Fano militia. The parliament extended the initial six-month period by an additional four months on 02 February, 2024. Addis Standard

Why Egypt’s Price Rise on Subsidised Bread Matters
Subsidised bread is supplied under a decades-old programme that combines food subsidies and bread allowances. Subsidy card holders receive an allowance of five flat, round ‘baladi’ bread loaves per day per family member per loaf. The price was increased from 0.05 Egyptian pounds ($0.0011) to 0.20 pounds per loaf on June 1. Subsidy card holders also receive 50 pounds per family member per month to buy other food items at subsidised prices including vegetable oils, sugar and flour…Because of rising global wheat prices and successive currency devaluations, Egypt’s food subsidy bill has increased with time. The finance ministry said in March it would allocate about 125 billion pounds for bread subsidies in its 2024/25 state budget, after 91 billion pounds last year, according to the supply minister…In 1977, President Anwar Al Sadat tried to raise the prices of bread and other subsidised goods. Riots began soon afterwards and he backtracked. Reuters

Microsoft and G42 Announce USD 1 Billion Digital Ecosystem Initiative for Kenya
Microsoft Corporation and G42 have announced a comprehensive digital investment package in Kenya in partnership with the Republic of Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy. As part of this initiative, G42, in collaboration with Microsoft and other stakeholders, will spearhead an initial investment of USD 1 billion. Among the key priorities for Kenya is constructing a state-of-the-art green data centre by G42 and its partners, which will host Microsoft Azure in a new East Africa Cloud Region. The initiative will include four additional pillars that will be pursued with local partners: (1) local-language AI model development and research; (2) an East Africa Innovation Lab coupled with broad AI digital skills training; (3) international and local connectivity investments; and (4) collaboration with the government of Kenya to support safe and secure cloud services across East Africa. Space in Africa