Africa Media Review for June 9, 2022

Nigeria: Bandits Kidnap over 80 Villagers in Katsina
Locals who fled from Kwari village in Jibiya Local Government Area of Katsina have said that over 80 people were kidnapped by bandits who invaded the community and set their food barns and local shops on fire. The over 2000 villagers who were now taking refuge at a primary school in Jibiya town, said among those that were whisked away to the forest by the bandits,were children, women including pregnant ones and others. They alleged that the authorities have not come to their aid with any assurance. Speaking in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service monitored by Vanguard on Thursday, one of the IDPs said they were forcefully chased out of the village by the rampaging gunmen. According to the woman, “they came with full force at 5.30 pm and invaded us, we were not aware of their coming. They opened fire, shot sporadically and burnt down shops and our food barns.” Vanguard

Nigeria: Tinubu, Influential Ex-governor of Lagos Wins Ruling Party’s Candidacy for President
Influential former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu won Nigeria’s ruling party’s 2023 presidential primary on Wednesday, where he will face another veteran of Nigerian politics, Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the main opposition party. “I declare Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential candidate of our party in the upcoming 2023 elections,” said Atiku Bagudu, the election official of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary held in Abuja, the capital. Voters in Africa’s most populous country are due to go to the polls on Feb. 25, 2023, with President Muhammadu Buhari stepping down at the end of his second term, as stipulated in the constitution. Security will be a major issue in the elections, as the country is plagued by almost daily criminal and jihadist violence. Sunday’s massacre of 22 people in a church in the southwest of the country, a region virtually untouched by violence, was a cruel reminder. “No destructive force can take Nigeria backwards,” Bola Tinubu said after his victory, praising the work of the security forces and calling on them to “continue the fight for the survival of the nation. AfricaNews

Zimbabwe Leaning to Russia as Others Shun Moscow for Invading Ukraine
As much of the world is shunning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Zimbabwe this month hosted Russia’s third highest ranking official. Analysts say Zimbabwe is looking to Russia for fuel as well as cooking oil and wheat that it used to get from Ukraine, while Russia has its eyes on Zimbabwe’s minerals. During a visit to Zimbabwe last week, Valentina Ivanovna Matvienko, chairperson of the Federation Council of Russia, said Moscow would improve trade relations between the two countries given that the West was shunning them. Alexander Rusero, who heads international relations studies at Africa University in Zimbabwe, says the nation’s ties with Russia are both ideological and historical. He says the relationship goes back to when Russia supplied arms to the now-ruling ZANU-PF party as it fought for Zimbabwe’s independence in the late 1970s. … Harare-based independent political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya says Russia has an interest in Zimbabwe’s minerals, such as gold and platinum. VOA

Ethiopia Committed to AU Mediation to End Tigray Conflict: Official
The Ethiopian government is committed to the ongoing mediation process, under the auspices of the African Union (AU), which aims to find a political solution to the conflict in the country’s north, an official has said. The Prime Minister’s Office Press Secretary, Billene Seyoum, on Monday said that the Ethiopian government is committed to ending the civil war. However, the peace process is complex and takes some time, she said. “Any peace process is long. It is not easy. It is a complex,” Billene told reporters. Ethiopia attaches great importance to the African Union mediator, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ms Billene added. The announcement came a few days after African Union Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, met with Tigray leaders and federal officials over the conflict in the north. … A diplomatic source on Tuesday told The EastAfrican that the AU Special Envoy is working to create trust between Tigray leaders and federal government. “The AU mediation body wants to ensure unfettered delivery of aid to Tigray and bring about a negotiated ceasefire between the two warring parties,” the source who sought anonymity told The EastAfrican. The East African

Tunisia: Lawyers, Judges Protest President’s Action
The Tunisian lawyers’ weeklong strike continues. On Wednesday, judges held a protest outside the capital’s courts when dozens of lawyers and activists gathered on the steps of the Palace of Justice in Tunis. Some shouted “Down with the coup” and others chanted, “Judicial authority, no police orders.” All protesters denounce last week’s decision by President Kais Saied to dismiss 57 judges. “Regarding the President’s decision to fire these judges – it’s an illegal and false decision because the decision didn’t follow the laws and rules, lawyer Amel Miladi said.Those very laws are made to protect citizens, and judges, those are laws that are anchored in Tunisian constitutional law.” In a televised address on June 1st, President Kais Saied’s removed judges accusing them of corruption, sexual harassment as well as protecting “terrorists”. Then, hundreds of judges unanimously voted over the weekend to hold a sit-in and strike. Since then, courtrooms across the North African country have been closed. This move by Saied is just the latest sign of a power struggle between Tunisia’s President and the judiciary. AfricaNews/AP

TikTok Found to Fuel Disinformation, Political Tension in Kenya ahead of Elections
TikTok is fueling disinformation and political tension in Kenya ahead of its August general elections, new research by Mozilla Foundation says. Mozilla made the conclusion after reviewing 130 highly-watched videos sharing content filled with hate speech, incitement and political disinformation.This was in contradiction of TikTok’s policy against hate speech, and sharing of discriminatory, inciteful, and synthetic content. While the short videos, shared by 33 accounts, were in breach of TikTok’s guidelines and policies, Mozilla Tech and Society Fellow Odanga Madung said the videos were not purged from the short video platform, which is among the most popular social sites in the East African country. Madung interviewed several TikTok content moderators and concluded that their unfamiliarity with the political context in the country may be one of the greatest contributors to why some of the inflammatory posts were not taken down, leading to the spread of disinformation on the social app. Madung reviewed content shared through “popular political hashtags, names of political candidates, key locations, political parties, and ethnic communities” earlier this year. The videos included coded language and derogatory terms (like madoadoa), which are flagged as hate speech in the country and banned by Kenyan National Cohesion and Integration Commission, the body that is mandated to reduce inter-ethnic conflict. TechCrunch

Kenya Audit Finds 250,000 Dead People on Voters’ Roll
Kenya’s electoral agency says an ongoing audit of its voters’ roll has found the names of nearly 250,000 deceased voters on the register. Nearly half a million more voters were found to have duplicate records and more than 226,000 people were registered using documents that do not belong to them. Others had registered with invalid documents, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said in a statement on the anomalies that affect more than a million people. IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said that because of the “implementation of the preliminary audit findings” the commission would delay certifying the final register for publication. The commission said earlier that it would publish the register of voters on or before 9 June but has pushed that to 20 June as it seeks to address the findings by KPMG, the firm contracted to do the audit. Electoral irregularities in past elections in Kenya have led to deadly violence. This year’s elections will be held on 9 August. BBC

Mozambique’s ‘Repressive’ Anti-Terror Bill Threat to Journalists – Media Organisations
The amendment of the Anti-Terror Bill that critics say will result in media repression is now before Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi for approval. The bill, which passed through Parliament on 19 May 2022, calls for a maximum penalty of 24 years for people found guilty of terrorist-linked activities, including anyone spreading misinformation about the country’s insurgency in Cabo Delgado. On 3 June, Nyusi received the amendment bill, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Commission on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, António Boene confirmed. The Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (MISA) Mozambique chapter said it was concerned the law would seek to charge anyone who was involved in the “reproduction of statements.” Since reproducing statements is associated with journalism, “equated with citing sources or interviewees”, the media has been put on notice. The bill also included prison terms that range between 12 and 16 years for people who publish classified information about terrorism. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has suggested Nyusi should return the bill to the National Assembly to address concerns raised by media practitioners. News24

Senegal’s Opposition Calls for the Interior Minister to Resign after Rejection of Electoral List
In Senegal, the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition is keeping pressure on the APR party of President Macky Sall and his coalition. Thousands of supporters of the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko demonstrated Wednesday in Dakar. They denounced what they called maneuvers by the President to politically eliminate his opponents. Their protest came after the Constitutional Council rejected the national list of Yewwi Askan Wi, led by Sonko’s party. This means he is barred from participating in the July 31’ election, the opposition figure adamantly reaffirmed his determination. “From now on, Ousmane Sonko said to his supporters, stay tuned. We will give you clear instructions, because the fight has only just begun. If the government decides to eliminate the list of Yewwi Askan Wi (the opposition coalition, ed) in the legislative elections, let it know that there will be no elections in Senegal. Or if there are elections, we will face Benno Bokk Yakaar (the coalition in power, ed).” AfricaNews/AFP

Horn of Africa Braces for ‘Explosion of Child Deaths’ as Hunger Crisis Deepen
An “explosion of child deaths” is likely and imminent in the Horn of Africa unless the international community takes immediate action to prevent a new hunger disaster, UN humanitarians warned on Tuesday. To illustrate continuing deep concern about emergency levels of malnutrition in Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF reported meeting parents who had to bury their emaciated children by the roadside, as they trekked hundreds of kilometres to seek medical help. The alert follows four successive seasons of failed rains in the east African region – a situation not seen in at least 40 years – which have left 386,000 children in acute need of lifesaving treatment for severe malnutrition in Somalia alone. This is worse than in 2011, when famine claimed the lives of 250,000 mainly children in Somalia, explained Rania Dagash, UNICEF Deputy Director for eastern and southern Africa: “The lives of children in the Horn of Africa are also at an increased risk because of the war in Ukraine and I think it’s important to emphasise this, because Somalia alone used to import 92 per cent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, but now supply lines are blocked.” As a direct result of rainy season failures and the Ukraine war’s impact on global supply chains, the cost of life-saving therapeutic food that UNICEF uses to treat children with severe acute malnutrition, is projected to rise by 16 per cent globally over the next six months. UN News

Sudanese Farmers Warn of Failing Harvests as Hunger Rises
On the fertile clay plains of Sudan’s Gezira Scheme, farmers would have normally started tilling the soil weeks ago before planting out rows of sorghum, or peanuts, sesame and other cash crops. Instead, in a country stalked by sharply rising hunger, swathes of the 8,800 square km (3,400 square mile) agricultural project lie untouched. Farmers who spoke to Reuters say the government, which has been cut off from billions of dollars in international financing following a coup in October, failed to buy their wheat under promised terms earlier this year. That, they say, means they did not have the money to fund the new crop now. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further complicated the outlook, driving prices for inputs such as fertilizer and fuel to new highs. That puts current and future seasons in jeopardy, the farmers say, in an unstable country where the humanitarian situation has deteriorated and it is unclear how authorities will afford to finance imports of increasingly pricy food. Reuters

Sudan: Critics Slam Fresh Dialogue as Disingenuous
Sudan’s military leadership is embarking on talks with civilian groups. But critics warn that the supression of opposition to military rule continues and that the country’s economic crisis is getting worse. Following eight months of political stalemate, the Sudanese military leadership on Wednesday embarked on talks with civilian opposition groups. The fresh dialogue comes after military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan last month lifted the state of emergency which had been in place since the 2021 coup that brought him to power. He also recently released 125 protesters and called for “a fruitful and meaningful dialogue that achieves stability during the transitional period.” This appears to be in contrast to his earlier position that he would only step down once a new elected government was in place. Despite the easing of the military’s grip, more than 70 activists remain in detention and only last weekend, another unarmed protester was shot dead by the military, making him the 100th fatality in anti-coup demonstrations, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors. The UN’s Integrated Mission for the Support of the Transition in Sudan (UNITAMS) has welcomed the new attempt at dialogue. DW

Belgian Royals in DR Congo: King Philippe Laments Racism of Colonial Past
Belgium’s King Philippe has decried the racism meted out in the Democratic Republic of Congo under the colonial rule of his ancestors. “This regime was one of unequal relations, unjustifiable in itself, marked by paternalism, discrimination and racism,” he said. King Philippe is on a week-long visit to DR Congo at the invitation of President Félix Tshisekedi. The king was speaking in the grounds of DR Congo’s parliament in Kinshasa. “On the occasion of my first trip to Congo, here, in front of the Congolese people and those who still suffer from it today, I wish to reaffirm my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past,” the 62-year-old monarch said. Belgium’s colonial record in DR Congo was one of the bloodiest in Africa. Earlier on Monday King Philippe handed over a giant Congolese mask, one of about 84,000 artefacts taken during the colonial era which Belgium has agreed to return. The mask, called Kakungu, was previously exhibited at Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa. … King Philippe said the object was on “indefinite loan” to DR Congo. It is currently not legally possible for Belgium to donate objects from a federal collection, according to Belgian news site, vrt news. … After the handover an agreement was signed to open cultural collaboration between DR Congo’s National Museum and the Royal Museum for Central Africa, but the details have not been made public. King Philippe’s aunt, Princess Esmerelda told the BBC it was right that the looted objects were returned. “Former European colonial powers should own up to the past,” she told the BBC’s World Tonight programme. BBC

Congo’s Tshisekedi Says ‘Goal is to Build Something New’ with Belgium
Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi said he wants to “build something new and above all something that is constructive” between Congo and Belgium. Addressing a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in Kinshasa, Tshisekedi said as the seat of the European Union, Brussels was of great strategic importance to his country. “The past is both glorious and sad, I would say. But the aim here is to build something new and, above all, something definitive that is constructive for both our countries,” he added. Early on Wednesday, King Philippe decorated the last surviving Congolese World War II veteran, an AFP correspondent said, during a historic visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Belgian sovereign landed in DRC’s capital Kinshasa on Tuesday afternoon for a six-day visit billed as an opportunity for reconciliation between the vast central African country and its former colonial master. He also decorated 100-year-old Corporal Albert Kunyuku, who enlisted in Belgium’s colonial Force Publique in 1940 and saw service in Burma – the former name of Myanmar. AfricaNews/AFP

DRC Accuses Rwanda of Sending Disguised Soldiers across Border
The armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have accused Rwanda of sending special forces in disguise into the country’s territory, marking the latest flashpoint in an escalating dispute between the two neighbours over resurgent violence in its east. DRC’s military alleged that 500 Rwandan soldiers had been deployed in the Tshanzu area in North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda, in a statement issued on Thursday. It said the soldiers were wearing a green-black uniform different from the regular Rwandan apparel. The statement also called on the local population to exercise caution as well as denounce anyone seen in such clothing. It added that M23 rebels, allegedly backed by Kigali, had attacked a group of United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Rutshuru area, also in North Kivu, injuring three Tanzanian peacekeepers. The Reuters news agency quoted a spokesman for Rwanda’s army as saying the claims were false. Meanwhile, a government spokeswoman told Reuters that Kigali would not respond to baseless accusations. Kinshasa has accused Kigali of actively supporting the M23 rebel group, which in recent weeks has been waging its most sustained offensive in eastern DRC since capturing vast swaths of territory there in 2012-13. Al Jazeera

How Women in East Africa are Reshaping Tech
When law professor Douglas Branson published the book The Future of Tech is Female in 2018, he must have imagined that the global tech industry would soon be led by women. Four years later, that future is evident in east Africa. For a long time, men dominated all senior and c-suite tech roles in the region. But as more women gained opportunities and skills, they’ve not only joined the tech industry in droves—in 2019, women made up 30% of people in tech in sub-Saharan Africa—they’re increasingly sitting in positions of power, creating tech products and services that impact more people. Their impact on the sector has been hard to ignore. In Kenya, women-led medium-sized enterprises accounted for 48% of such businesses in 2021, which contribute around 20% to the country’s GDP. Through leadership of local and Silicon Valley companies, women are brushing aside hurdles in tech. Meanwhile, organizations in every east African nation have popped up to mentor and train more girls who are becoming the next generation of startup founders. A decade ago, most of the top tech jobs in east Africa were held by men. Now a series of new appointments is changing the narrative that women cannot handle complex technologies. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones