Africa Media Review for March 1, 2024

Chad Opposition Leader Killed in Army Attack on Party Headquarters, Govt Says
Yaya Dillo Djerou died on Wednesday “where he had retreated, at the headquarters of his party…,” government spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah, who is also communications minister, said. It came after Chad on Tuesday announced it would hold a presidential election on May 6, which both Deby Itno and Dillo — who were cousins from the same Zaghawa ethnic minority — planned to contest…Dillo, who led the opposition Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF), was accused of having led an attack against the offices of the internal security agency overnight on Tuesday to Wednesday…Speaking to AFP on Wednesday, Dillo denied any involvement in the incident, denouncing the claim as a “lie” and politically motivated. “I wasn’t present,” he said. “The desired goal is to prevent me, to physically eliminate me…to make me afraid so that I don’t go to the election,” Dillo said…Dillo, 49, had been an armed rebel turned minister and finally an opposition chief considered a dangerous rival for his cousin. He was a candidate for the presidency in 2021 against his uncle, Idriss Deby Itno. He fled the country in February of that year after security forces attempted to arrest him at his home. The commando-style raid left several dead including his mother and one of his sons. AFP

French Journalist Detained in Ethiopia Released after a Week
Antoine Galindo was “freed after a week in prison and was able to leave Addis Ababa to return to Paris,” Paul Deutschmann, an editor-in-chief at [Africa Intelligence], told AFP. Galindo, who heads the publication’s East Africa section, had travelled to Ethiopia to cover the African Union summit earlier this month and was arrested on February 22. Authorities accused the 36-year-old reporter of conspiring “to create chaos” in the country…Galindo was arrested at a hotel in Addis Ababa while meeting an official from the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) party. He was brought before a judge on Saturday, who ordered his detention be extended until March 1…Ethiopia has expelled several foreign journalists since the end of 2020. But prior to Galindo’s detention, authorities had not arrested a foreign journalist in more than three years. AFP

Guinea Trade Unions Suspend Nationwide Strike
Guinea’s trade unions have suspended a nationwide strike that had paralysed the West African nation and its mining sector since Monday, a statement said on Wednesday. Guinean Trade Union Movement, an umbrella group for multiple workers’ unions, said in the statement that it was suspending the strike following the freeing of a detained union leader, Sekou Jamal Pendessa on Wednesday, one of their key demands. It added that the unions were open to resume negotiations with the government over their remaining grievances. These include lowering food prices, lifting internet restrictions, and the application of a wage deal reached with the government in November. The strike had disrupted operations at several mines in the world’s second-largest bauxite producer. Reuters

Tunisian Labour Union Says Authorities Detain a Top Official
Tunisian authorities have detained a top official in the country’s biggest labour union, the UGTT union said on Thursday, adding that the decision have political motivation and aims to hit union rights. The detention of Tahar Mezzi, who is the deputy secretary-general and the head of private sector in the union, comes two days before a huge protest called by UGTT against what it called “violation of union rights and the disruption of social dialogue”. The UGTT did not say on what grounds Mezzi was detained. Tunisian authorities were not immediately available for comment. Since last year, police have arrested at least four senior union officials. The UGTT, which has about 1 million members, had been a critical voice after the arrest of activists, businessmen and journalists since President Kais Saied seized most powers in 2021 when he closed Parliament, a move that the opposition described as a coup. But the voice of the union, which was widely seen as biggest force in the country, has been significantly diminished since last year after the arrest of some of its officials. Reuters

Sudan’s Burhan Arrives in Libya as War Leaves More than 8 Million Displaced
Sudan’s army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, was in Libya this week on his first visit to the country as the Sudanese civil conflict raged on. Burhan arrived in Tripoli on Monday for a one-day visit and met with Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the prime minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government. According to SUNA (Sudan’s official news agency), Burhan briefed Dbeibeh on the latest developments in the country in light of what he described as the “rebellion” carried out by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) against the state and “the grave violations it committed.” For his part, Dbeibeh stressed his government’s support to achieve peace and stability in Sudan, SUNA reported. The Sudanese leader also held talks with Libyan Presidential Council head Mohammad Younes Menfi…The Sudanese army has repeatedly accused foreign countries of sending weapons supplies to the RSF in Sudan…According to a report by The Guardian in May 2023, [military strongman Khalifa Hifter’s] forces in eastern Libya have sent fuel, weapons and ammunition to the RSF inside Sudan. Al-Monitor

UN Experts: Sudan’s Paramilitary Forces Carried Out Ethnic Killings and Rapes That May Be War Crimes
Paramilitary forces and their allied militias fighting to take power in Sudan carried out widespread ethnic killings and rapes while taking control of much of western Darfur that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, United Nations experts said in a new report. The report to the U.N. Security Council, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, paints a horrifying picture of the brutality of the Arab-dominated Rapid Support Forces against Africans in Darfur. It also details how the RSF succeeded in gaining control of four out of Darfur’s five states, including through complex financial networks that involve dozens of companies. AP

Sudan’s War Leaves Deep Scars in Geneina, a City of Two Massacres
For two months from mid-April and then again for a week in early November, Geneina [the capital of West Darfur state in Sudan] was convulsed by fighting that rapidly developed along tribal lines, pitting Masalit and other non-Arab people in support of the army against the RSF and allied Arab militia. More than 10,000 people died in the city – mostly from the Masalit population – and thousands more fled west over the border to Chad…Arab civilians also died in the violence, many in shelling from army tanks that still stand abandoned in Arab neighbourhoods…Hundreds of Masalits were also killed in a massacre in Ardamata on 5 November, following the army’s complete withdrawal from the Geneina area…For now, the biggest threat in Geneina comes from the air. As it struggles to stem the tide of RSF advances, the army has launched bombing campaigns on RSF-controlled territory, driving a new exodus of civilian populations. The Guardian

Five Countries Pledge Personnel for Haiti Security Mission, UN Says
The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin and Chad have formally notified the United Nations of their intent to contribute personnel to an international force to help Haitian national police fight armed gangs, a U.N. spokesman said on Thursday…The United Nations Security Council authorized in October a foreign security mission to Haiti, a year after the Caribbean country asked for help to fight violent gangs that have largely overrun its capital Port-au-Prince. The 15-member council’s resolution requires countries to inform U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of their participation in the security mission. While approved by the Security Council, the mission is not a U.N. operation…Kenya stepped forward last year with a pledge of 1,000 police, but a local court later barred the move as unconstitutional. Kenyan President William Ruto has said the plan will go ahead, however it has not yet notified Guterres. Reuters

Nigeria Unveils Big Rate Hike as Hardship Prompts Worker Protests
Nigeria’s central bank delivered its largest rate hike in absolute terms in around 17 years on Tuesday to tame soaring inflation, amid nationwide trade union protests over price rises that have left people struggling to meet their basic needs. Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Olayemi Cardoso said the 4-percentage-point increase to 22.75% was needed as previous rate hikes had not cooled price pressures enough. Inflation has reached almost 30%, its highest in almost three decades, driven by a steep fall in the naira currency , the removal of a fuel subsidy, fiscal deficits and conflict in food-producing parts of Africa’s most populous nation and biggest economy. Labour unions protesting on Tuesday said two of President Bola Tinubu’s key reforms – allowing the naira to devalue twice in less than a year and scrapping the fuel subsidy – were making people’s lives a misery…In an effort to ease the pressure on vulnerable households, [Tinubu’s] government this week approved the resumption of direct cash transfers to those in need. Reuters

Ghana Electricity Supplier Briefly Disconnects Parliament over Debt
Ghana’s state-run electricity supplier, ECG, briefly cut off power supplies to the parliament building on Thursday in an effort to push the legislature to honour its 23 million Ghanaian cedi ($1.8 million) debt, an ECG spokesperson said. A video shared by local media showed lawmakers exclaiming in the dark parliamentary chamber after the power was shut off, eventually joining together in a chant of “dumsor, dumsor” – black-out in the local Twi language. ECG has decided to cut power after the legislature failed to “honour demand notices to pay up,” ECG’s communications director William Boateng told Reuters. Soon after, “they paid 13 million cedi ($1 million) and promised to pay the rest in a week, so our guys reconnected them”…The strong-arm tactics come as the West African country’s power sector grapples with widespread unpaid debts that have led to a sharp increase in outages amid a standoff between power producers and the government. Reuters

Congo Opposition Spokesman’s Death Ruled a Suicide
[Cherubin] Okende, a former transport minister who was also a member of parliament and spokesman for the Ensemble pour la Republique party, was found dead in his car in July. “According to the results of the investigations, Cherubin Okende committed suicide,” Firmin Mvonde Mambu, prosecutor general of the Court of Cassation in Kinshasa, said. Mvonde Mambu said Okende’s office was searched and that he had written “I am at the end of my rope” in a diary three days before his death…At the time, Mvonde Mambu told reporters that Okende had died by gunshot and that his body was found in a car, with the motor still running and a gun on the passenger’s seat…Okende’s party said at the time of his death that he had been kidnapped and murdered. “This is absurd, because it doesn’t correspond to the facts as we know them,” Herve Diakiese, a spokesperson for Ensemble party leader Moise Katumbi, told Reuters on Thursday after the ruling. “His body was found riddled with bullets, he was kidnapped in front of the Constitutional Court,” Diakiese said. Reuters

Somalia Lobbies Ex-foreign Minister Fawzia Adam for AUC Chairperson Seat
Somalia has formally began lobbying for its ex-Foreign Affairs minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam to be the next African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson in what could bring a direct challenge to Kenya’s Raila Odinga. Since January, there had been speculation that Ms Adam, the first female Foreign Minister in Somalia and who served under the first term of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, will enter the race. But it is only on Wednesday that her government began lobbying for votes…Daud Aweis, Somalia’s government spokesman and Minister for Information, had earlier indicated that the government would support Adam’s candidature as it marks a turn-around for his country on international stage…Before becoming Foreign Affairs minister, a post she served between 2012 and 2014, Ms Adam was previously a diplomat and later became an activist…But she has had a controversial past. She once supported the secession of Somaliland from Somalia and even tried to compete for the presidency of Somaliland. The East African

Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Former President of Tanzania, Dies at 98
Ali Hassan Mwinyi, a schoolteacher turned politician who led Tanzania as its second post-independence president and helped dismantle the doctrinaire socialism of his predecessor, Julius K. Nyerere, died on Thursday in Dar es Salaam, the country’s former capital. He was 98…Mr. Mwinyi was 60 when he took over the presidency in 1985 as the handpicked successor of Mr. Nyerere, who had volunteered to step down after governing his country since its beginnings of independent nationhood as Tanganyika in 1961 and its merger with Zanzibar in 1964 to create the state of Tanzania. At the time, the peaceful transition was seen as precedent setting in a continent that had gained notoriety for political violence as the prime agent of change or succession. The New York Times

South African City Copes with Climate Change by Chopping Down Trees
[S]cientists in South Africa have determined that invasive tree species are sucking up so much groundwater that the area is better off eliminating the trees. Invasive black wattle, pine and gum trees crowd the jagged slopes that encircle this region’s sprawling wine lands, displacing native vegetation and choking off precious water that would otherwise trickle into the city’s reservoirs. Projections by hydrologists working for the Greater Cape Town Water Fund — a consortium of government, businesses and conservation groups — show that getting rid of foreign tree species can produce an extra two months’ worth of water for Cape Town much more cheaply than other solutions such as desalination. So far, crews brandishing chain saws and handsaws have cleared 120 square miles over the past three years, with a similar area yet to be razed. This month, the Nature Conservancy, which is leading the project, released the Water Fund’s first statistics, which are based on 4.5 years of preliminary data measuring water flow in six catchment areas. They show that a catchment area covered by native fynbos vegetation averages 34 percent higher flow per year than an adjacent catchment invaded by pine trees. The Washington Post