Africa Media Review for March 11, 2022

African Union Urges Putin to End Conflict
Senegalese President and chair of the African Union Macky Sall has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to seek a lasting cease-fire in Ukraine. Sall’s talk with Putin comes just a week after Senegal abstained from a U.N. vote to condemn the Russian invasion. African nations have interests in seeing an end to the war but also in not upsetting Putin. Sall’s request as chairman of the African Union Wednesday was a contrast to his actions as Senegalese president a week prior, when Senegal joined 16 other African countries in abstaining from a U.N. vote to condemn the Russian invasion. Senegal is considered a beacon of democracy in West Africa, so the move came as a surprise to many. “[Non-alignment] has been the default posture for many African countries over the years where they prefer not to get involved or not to get in between great power rivalries,” said Joseph Siegle, the director of research for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “And so, it isn’t a vote of support for Russia, but a vote for trying to maintain neutrality.” … Luckily, the African Union does have some sway, [Abdou Rahmane] Thiam said. … “Russia also needs Africa. It’s in their best interest to listen to the spokesperson of the African Union.” VOA

Ramaphosa Says South Africa Has Been Asked to Mediate Russia-Ukraine
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday South Africa had been asked to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and that he had told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call it should be settled through negotiations. Ramaphosa did not say who had made the request or give more details on how he planned to work with the two sides. “Based on our relations with the Russian Federation and as a member of BRICS, South Africa has been approached to play a mediation role,” Ramaphosa said, referring to the emerging market group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. There were no immediate announcements from Moscow or Kyiv confirming South Africa’s role. … South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has strong historical ties to the former Soviet Union, which provided training and support to anti-apartheid activists during the Cold War era. Reuters

Sudan Looks to Gold to Boost Economy, Denies Russian Smuggling
Sudan’s military rulers this week announced an emergency committee to address the country’s collapsing economy and pointed to its gold mining as a possible boost. Sudan’s ambassador to Russia has denied reports that Moscow has been smuggling gold from Sudan in preparation for sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. But Sudanese analysts say gold smuggling is rampant, including to Russia. State media on Thursday said the ruling Sovereign Council’s second in command, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemeti, met with gold miners who vowed to supply the central bank with gold. … Sudan’s exports dropped 85% in January and prices for everything are quickly rising — one of the main sparks for the 2019 uprising that led the military to oust former president Omar al-Bashir. … Late last month, Hemeti began a week-long visit to Moscow as much of the world was criticizing Russia for preparing to invade its neighbor. The Kremlin’s invasion began as Hemeti met with Russian officials to discuss expanding and strengthening cooperation with Sudan. After the general’s trip to Moscow, he reaffirmed a Bashir-era deal for Russia to open a navy base in Port Sudan, which for Russia to open a navy base in Port Sudan, which — if carried out — would be Russia’s first in Africa. VOA

Sudan Tribal Clashes Kill 17 People in Darfur
At least 17 people have been killed and dozens injured in renewed violence in the past 24 hours in West Darfur, Sudan, according to a local activist and aid worker. Sharaf Jumma Salah, a West Darfur resident and activist, said Friday that tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs left at least 46 people injured, and that dozens of houses in four villages had been burnt down in the area of Jebel Moon. Fighting earlier this week also killed at least 16, in the same area. Adam Regal, spokesman for the General Coordination Body for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, said on Thursday that the violence started that morning and went on for hours. He said a communications cut had made it difficult to obtain complete information from the remote area. Regal blamed local Arab tribal militias known as janjaweed for the attack. Clashes in Jebel Moon erupted in mid-November over a land dispute between Arab and non-Arab tribes. Dozens have been killed since then and authorities have deployed more troops to the area. Sporadic fighting has continued, however. Sudan has seen unrest following an October military coup that rattled an already fragile democratic transition. … The instability has led to deteriorating security conditions in other parts of the country, like the war-wrecked region of Darfur. AP

Troops Deployed to Contain Cameroon Communal Clashes
Cameroon has deployed troops to a village in the west of the country after clashes between two ethnic groups, the Esu and the Mbororo. Authorities say members of the Esu burned scores of homes and buildings after armed Mbororo killed the Esu’s traditional ruler Wednesday for failing to stop Esu youth from joining anglophone separatists. The Cameroon government says armed men on Wednesday night attacked and killed Kum Achou Albert, the traditional ruler of the Esu. Esu is a village in Menchum, in the English-speaking North West region on the border with Nigeria. … The government said while in Wum, Achou asked civilians to reconcile for peace and return to the western regions, where separatists have waged a battle against the government since 2017. … The military said it deployed troops to Esu and surrounding villages but did not say how many troops were deployed. Civilians say many Mbororo and non-Mbororo youths have been arrested. The Mbororo ethnic group has always complained that it is the biggest casualty of Cameroons separatist crisis. Group members say separatist fighters have stolen and either slaughtered or sold thousands of cattle belonging to Mbororos.

UN Warns of Clashes in Libya as Armed Groups Mass Near Tripoli
The UN on Thursday warned against “provocation” in Libya that could lead to clashes, citing reports of armed elements mobilising around the capital Tripoli, as rival governments vie for power. Tensions have simmered since the country’s eastern-based parliament swore in a prime minister earlier this month in a challenge to interim premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah. Dbeibah has refused to hand over power to Fathi Bashagha, an ex-interior minister named by parliament as premier, and says he is the country’s rightful steward until elections are held. … Video footage and pictures posted online Thursday purportedly showed convoys of militiamen loyal to Bashagha massing east of the Libyan capital, feeding expectations that they were poised to enter Tripoli. … An AFP correspondent witnessed dozens of pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns and other military hardware east of Tripoli, along a coastal road. Construction tycoon Dbeibah was appointed early last year following a landmark 2020 ceasefire with a mandate to lead the country to elections that were due to take place in December 2021. … But bitter disputes over the constitutional and legal basis of those elections and the presence of controversial candidates led to the vote being indefinitely postponed. AFP

Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament Outlines Factors Responsible for Coups and Instability in West African Countries
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Right Honorable Dr. Sidie Mohammed Tunis, has said that Constitutional abuse and deficit in good governance principles, the lack of transparency in the electioneering processes, corruption, as well as civil unrest resulting from unplanned change in Constitution, are factors to which coups d’états have been hinged. As a result, he observed: “Africa democratic processes appear weakened, thereby impacting negatively on the image of ECOWAS. In addition to the above, the policy of isolation, as a result of imposed sanctions, seriously undermines regional integration”. … He told his distinguished audience that “the situations in the Republics of Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, exacerbated by the failed coup in the Republic of Guinea Bissau, are threatening issues that require our urgent attention … I wish to reiterate that it is a matter of concern that the transitional plans in those countries seem expansive and vague, making it difficult to identify priorities and assess progress. … we have gathered as a Committee of the Whole to deliberate on one agenda, perhaps the most important regional agenda at the moment, that being the Political and Security situation in the ECOWAS Region; Retrogression of Democracy and the Resurgence of unconstitutional Change of Government, with key emphasis on Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.” Front Page Africa

Zimbabwe: Police Ban Chamisa’s Marondera Rally
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has banned Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s rally scheduled for Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera Saturday. The rally was party of CCC leader Nelson Chamisa’s whirlwind campaign ahead of the upcoming legislative and municipal by elections. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has since approached the High Court seeking to overturn the ban. In a letter sent to the party candidate for the town’s urban seat Caston Matewu, signed by the officer commanding Marondera district, police indicated the application was invalid because of insufficient notification time. … CCC had notified police of a “mini car rally” around the stadium. … This is the second time Chamisa has been barred from addressing supporters. Two weeks ago, Chamisa’s rally in Gokwe rally was banned on the eleventh hour despite the High Court having cleared it. Thousands of his supporters however still braved the police to trail him as he strolled around the farming town. Chamisa’s rallies have so far been well-attended.

Ethiopia: Opposition Figure under House Arrest, Electoral Board Demands his Release
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has condemned the house arrest of chairman of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Dawud Ibsa. According to the board, Dawud has been under house arrest since May 2021. The Board led by Bertukan Midekssa wrote a letter to the Federal Police Commission and National Information and Security Services (NISS) confirming the house arrest. The Board believes his house arrest is unacceptable under any legal ground. According to local media reports, plain cloth government securities are guarding him in his house, and there is tight security detail to the community with him, said the Electoral Board. The National Electoral Board has also deployed an investigative team to Benishangul Gumuz, South Ethiopia, South West Ethiopia, Sidama, Oromia and Addis Ababa to look into politicians that are reportedly arrested. AfricaNews

How Burkina Faso Became the Epicentre of Conflict in the Sahel
[…] What started as a rebellion in neighbouring Mali by marginalised Tuaregs in 2012 has now set the entire Sahel region ablaze. By tapping into deep-seated tensions among communities, under-governed spaces and security issues, various armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) are grabbing territories, controlling economic activities and triggering political instability. Burkina Faso has had its fair share of the crisis, largely driven by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), the fastest-growing violent group in the world. According to a recent UN report, almost one in every four people in Burkina Faso, a country of 20 million people, need urgent humanitarian assistance. An estimated 1.7 million people have also been displaced due to the insecurity. Recent data shows that the landlocked country has now replaced Mali, the birthplace of the conflict in the Sahel, as the epicentre of the crisis. … Burkina Faso has had its fair share of the crisis, largely driven by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), the fastest-growing violent group in the world. According to a recent UN report, almost one in every four people in Burkina Faso, a country of 20 million people, need urgent humanitarian assistance. An estimated 1.7 million people have also been displaced due to the insecurity. Recent data shows that the landlocked country has now replaced Mali, the birthplace of the conflict in the Sahel, as the epicentre of the crisis. Al Jazeera

Pfizer, CDC Africa Sign MoU to Supply Covid-19 Pills to Africa
Africa is set to receive coronavirus pills following an agreement signed between Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pfizer Pharmaceutical company on Thursday. The COVID pills by the name Paxlovid are intended for use soon after symptoms develop in people at high risk of severe disease. Paxlovid has nearly 90% effectiveness in preventing hospitalization compared to Placedo in adults at risk of severe illness. According to the Africa CDC director John Nkengasong, the paperwork for the deal between the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Pfizer is now in the hands of the African Union’s legal office – after which a formal announcement will be made. AfricaNews

Scathing Reports Find US Military Failures in 2020 Kenya Attack
Military investigations have found poor leadership, inadequate training and a “culture of complacency” among U.S. forces undermined efforts to fend off a 2020 attack by militants in Kenya that killed three Americans, U.S. officials familiar with the probes told The Associated Press ahead of the release of the findings, expected Thursday. Two military reviews of the attack by al-Shabab militants are scathing in their conclusions that there were failures across the board at the Manda Bay air base, where senior military leaders said there was a “deeply rooted culture of a false sense of security.” The attack also wounded three people and destroyed six aircraft; at least six insurgents were killed. … Air Force Major General Tom Wilcox, who was part of the team that did the second review, said that “none of the negligence that we found contributed to the primary cause of the loss of life or damage. However, we did find that they potentially contributed to the outcome, to vulnerabilities on the airfield.” VOA

Uganda’s “First Son”, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba Has Not Retired – Army
President Yoweri Museveni’s son has not retired from the Ugandan army despite his social media announcement. According to the army spokesperson, Brig-Gen Felix Kulaigye, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is also the commander of Uganda’s land forces, is still active and has not even applied for retirement. Gen Kainerugaba, widely believed to be Mr Museveni’s successor, on Tuesday (8 March) posted on Twitter that he had retired from the army after 28 years of service. … Mwenda said the retirement tweet was an error by Gen Kainerugaba’s social media handlers. Despite the denials, many Ugandans continue to believe that Gen Kainerugaba has resigned to succeed his father in the next presidential election. AfricaNews

Low Rainfall Pushes Parts of Southern Africa into Food Insecurity
Low rainfall has pushed southern Madagascar, south-western Angola, north-western Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe further into food insecurity. … After a government meeting on Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said the country’s cropping season had been negatively affected by climate change. “Cabinet wishes to advise the nation that, overall, the first-round crop and livestock survey confirmed that climate change is upon us and affecting agricultural production,” she said. … In south-western Angola, 1.58 million people are facing acute levels of food insecurity. … FEWS NET, in its periodical analysis, said below-average rainfall in southern Mozambique is expected to result in a poor to failed harvest. Areas that experienced floods have a chance to recover through post-flood production if they have enough seeds to replant. As for Cabo Delgado and Niassa, “conflict-affected areas are expected to remain in crisis, with areas receiving regular humanitarian food assistance likely to remain stressed”. News24

Africa Could Be Hit Hard by Loss of Ukrainian Grain Exports, Institute Says
African countries may be hit hard by any continuing halt to Ukraine’s grain exports caused by the war, a report from Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) said on Friday. “The war in Ukraine could significantly worsen the supply of cereals used in food production in African countries, making food more expensive if Ukraine ceases to be a grain supplier,” the institute said. … Grain importers globally have been hit by surging prices, with wheat around 14-year highs following the sudden stop of exports from Ukraine and a sharp reduction from Russia. The conflict has closed grain export ports. Russia and Ukraine contribute nearly 30% of global wheat exports along with large volumes of animal feed grains and edible oils, with shipments massively cut by the fighting. Reuters

Ethiopia’s War Endangers Ancient Relics
Many Ethiopians were shocked when the news spread that Ethiopian antiquities could be bought on the online marketplace eBay, as well as on other trading sites. The items listed for sale included centuries-old scrolls and Christian Orthodox bibles, often offered at below-market prices. One antique manuscript cost just €688 ($754). Manuscript expert Hagos Abrha Abay, an Ethiopian academic based in Germany, was one of the first to draw attention to the eBay listings when he tweeted screenshots in February highlighting the breadth of Ethiopian antiquities on offer. eBay has since removed from their listings a number of Ethiopian artifacts that lack evidence of provenance. … There are strong suspicions that numerous Ethiopian antiquities being offered online have been looted during the country’s ongoing civil war between government forces and Tigray fighters, now in its 15th month. Experts have been warning for more than a year of the plundering of churches, monasteries, mosques and museums in Tigray and neighboring regions in Ethiopia’s north. DW



Photo: Adam Jones