Africa Media Review for March 12, 2024

‘Catastrophic’ Malnutrition in Bandit-Hit Northwest Nigeria, MSF Warns
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Monday warned of “catastrophic levels of malnutrition” and an escalating humanitarian crisis in northwest Nigeria. Militias in the region, known locally as bandits, routinely attack communities, loot villages and carry out mass kidnappings for ransom, driving what the international aid group called a “neglected humanitarian emergency”. MSF said its teams in five northwestern states treated 171 465 malnourished children last year and admitted 32 104 to hospital for life-threatening malnutrition, a 14% rise on the previous year…In December, fighting between armed groups and the army in the northwest forced MSF to evacuate some of its staff in Zamfara state, where clashes broke out around a hospital — a move which highlights the challenges humanitarian groups face in the region. AFP

Nigeria: Customs Intercepts N250m Worth of Yam Tubers Meant for ‘Illegal Exportation’
The Nigeria Customs Service, Eastern Marine Command, has seized food items valued at N250 million, intended for “illegal exportation” to Cameroon. Three truckloads of yam tubers and other assorted items, were being loaded into a boat for exportation in Ibaka, Oron, in Akwa Ibom State, when they were intercepted. The Customs Area Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, Mike Ugbagu, disclosed this while briefing reporters at the Command’s headquarters in Port Harcourt on Thursday…Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has directed the customs to return all seized grains to their owners, a measure he said will boost food sufficiency…Mr Adeniyi emphasised that the presidential directives was on a condition that the owners of the grains will sell them in local markets so as to help address the problem of food scarcity. Premium Times

Nigeria’s Constitution Review Makes Women’s Inclusion a Priority
Nigeria’s constitution is getting a revamp, and this time a committee tasked with the responsibility says women’s inclusion in political offices is a priority. Women hold a tiny fraction of the seats in Nigeria’s National Assembly. Three of the 109 senators and 15 of the 360 members in the House of Representatives are female. The chair of the House constitution review committee, Benjamin Kalu, spoke [last] week during a dialogue with women-centered and pro-democracy groups ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday. Kalu said the ongoing review of the constitution will address gender imbalance in Nigeria’s politics. He also said the 10th National Assembly will revisit gender bills that failed to progress during the previous administration…Despite Africa recording an increase in female political participation in recent years, women’s representation in Nigerian politics is among the lowest in the world, at about 4%. VOA

US Sanctions Money Launderers Connected to Al-Shabab
The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned 16 entities and individuals Monday for their role in fundraising and money laundering for the terrorist group al-Shabab…Those sanctioned in connection with them were operating throughout the Horn of Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, according to a Treasury statement. Those sanctioned will have all U.S. assets frozen, and Americans will be barred from working with them. In 2022, similar sanctions were imposed by the United States on other individuals connected with al-Shabab…Al-Shabab has funded itself by extorting businesses in Mogadishu and collecting taxes in the areas under its control. VOA

South Africa’s Ruling Party Fields Election Candidates Who Have Faced Graft Allegations
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said Monday that six officials facing accusations of corruption have been included on its list of candidates for this year’s election, bringing more scrutiny on a party that already has had its reputation badly damaged by graft. ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula told reporters that four of the six were included provisionally and were still to be cleared by the party’s internal integrity committee having been implicated in a national commission of inquiry into corruption that exposed massive government graft during the administration of former President Jacob Zuma. Another 14 officials implicated by the corruption inquiry were either disqualified from standing or were not nominated as candidates, Mbalula said, without disclosing their names. AP

Sudan: Heavy Clashes Erupt in Khartoum as Ramadan Begins
Intense fighting erupted between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on several fronts in Khartoum on Monday, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. This comes despite a recent resolution by the United Nations Security Council urging both sides to cease hostilities during this sacred period. A military spokesperson announced via the army’s Facebook page that the army’s special action forces engaged the RSF in Al-Kadro suburb, north of Khartoum Bahri. Further reports indicate heavy artillery bombardments launched by the army from Omdurman targeting RSF positions in the Al-Nahda neighbourhood, the Sports City, and nearby campgrounds. Local sources confirmed to Sudan Tribune the occurrence of these explosions. Sudan Tribune

Egypt to Organise Meeting between Sudan’s Rival Military Leaders: Hamdok
Abdallah Hamdok, head of the anti-war coalition, Tagaddum, announced that Egyptian officials agreed to facilitate a meeting between the leaders of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Cairo. Previous attempts to convene the military leaders in both Ethiopia and Uganda proved unsuccessful. Hamdok hoped that Cairo, due to its close ties with Sudan, could encourage a breakthrough. He emphasized the critical role of ending the war, highlighting the devastating consequences for both nations…He disclosed that his discussions with Egyptian officials centered on three pressing issues: establishing a ceasefire to halt the fighting, delivering critical humanitarian aid to those impacted by the conflict, and addressing the significant administrative challenges faced by Sudanese citizens residing in Egypt. Sudan Tribune

2 Dead and 38 Rescued from a Migrant Boat Near Spain’s Canary Islands
Spanish maritime rescuers said they pulled 38 people alive and recovered the remains of two others from a migrant boat that had set off from West Africa and was trying to reach the Canary Islands. The boat was spotted by a merchant vessel 76 nautical miles (140 kilometers or 87 miles) south of Gran Canaria Monday evening. Four people in critical condition were evacuated to a hospital in two helicopters while 34 others were taken to the port of Arguineguín by boat, Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service said. Among the survivors were seven women…Nearly 12,000 people fleeing poverty, conflict and instability in West Africa arrived in the Canaries in the first two months of the year, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry, more than six times the number for the same period last year. AP

African Development Bank Chief Criticizes Opaque Loans Tied to Africa’s Natural Resources
The head of the African Development Bank is calling for an end to loans given in exchange for the continent’s rich supplies of oil or critical minerals used in smartphones and electric car batteries, deals that have helped China gain control over mineral mining in places like Congo and have left some African countries in financial crisis. “They are just bad, first and foremost, because you can’t price the assets properly,” Akinwumi Adesina said in an interview with The Associated Press in Lagos, Nigeria, last week…Linking future revenue from natural resource exports to loan paydowns is often touted as a way for recipients to get financing for infrastructure projects and for lenders to reduce the risk of not getting their money back…He highlighted the uneven nature of the negotiations, with lenders typically holding the upper hand and dictating terms to cash-strapped African nations. This power imbalance, coupled with a lack of transparency and the potential for corruption, creates fertile ground for exploitation, Adesina said. AP

African Union to Give Logistics, Financial Aid to SADC Troops in Congo
The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council on Saturday endorsed the deployment of foreign troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), overruling protestations from Rwanda, which saw support for them as a threat. The Southern African Development Community Mission (SAMIDRC) was deployed on December 15 last year. Following the endorsement, the African Union Commission is required to provide necessary logistical and financial support to the mission. SAMIDRC, whose deployment was approved by the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), replaced the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), whose mandate expired late last year. The AU approval now means that the forces can draw logistical support from the relevant organs of the continental bloc. The East African

Kenya: Draft Rules Pushing for Women Candidates Could Lock Raila Odinga out of Top AUC Job
Law drafters at the African Union are making another bid that could lock out Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga by proposing to restrict the next race for the Commission chairperson’s seat to female contenders. Mr Odinga is the Kenya government-endorsed candidate to replace Chadian diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat. But a proposal circulated to member states on Tuesday says only female contenders should be eligible in the next contest, even though the seat will be rotating to the Eastern Africa region. The proposal is contained in the revised draft report — Preparations for the Election of Senior Leadership of the African Union Commission in February 2025…There has been only one-woman chairperson in the history of the African Union, South Africa’s Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma, who served one term between 2012 and 2017. Until 2021, there was no restriction on who becomes deputy, even though the rotation practice was often that the deputy did not come from the same region as the chair. The East African