Africa Media Review for March 21, 2023

Blinken Accuses All Sides in Ethiopian Conflict of Committing War Crimes
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the US has formally determined that armed forces on all sides of the conflict in northern Ethiopia have committed war crimes. “After the department’s careful review of the law and the facts, I’ve determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia,” Blinken said at a press conference for the release of the State Department’s 2022 Human Rights Report. Blinken traveled last week to Ethiopia where he met with leaders and he did not raise the war crimes determination…He also accused the Amhara forces of “the crime against humanity of deportation, or forcible transfer, and … ethnic cleansing through their treatment of Tigrayans in western Tigray.” Blinken said that the US “will partner with Ethiopia as it implements a credible transitional justice process for the benefit of all victims and affected communities.” Just last week, US officials who participated in a workshop with Ethiopian government officials on transitional justice with other international specialists, he said. He also praised steps the Ethiopian government has taken towards transitional justice. CNN

Senegal President Says Controversial Third Term Constitutional
Senegal’s president has rejected claims that it would be unconstitutional for him to seek a controversial third mandate, again refusing to confirm whether he plans to do so in an interview published Monday. The opposition claims that Senegal’s constitution prohibits Macky Sall — who was elected in 2012 and again in 2019 — from running again in the next election, scheduled for February 2024. In an increasingly tense political climate, the opposition has repeatedly alleged that Sall intends to override the constitution to do so. Senegal’s constitution was revised in 2016 to shorten presidential terms to five years from seven. It states that “no one can exercise more than two consecutive terms.” AFP

Facebook Content Moderators Sue Meta Over Layoffs in Kenya
A group of Facebook content moderators in Kenya is taking the platform’s parent company Meta and two outsourcing companies to court, a tech rights group said Monday. A total of 43 workers for outsourcing company Sama, who moderated Facebook content, are bringing the lawsuit for what they allege was unlawful dismissal under Kenyan law. Sama, which was hired by Meta to moderate Facebook content from Nairobi in 2019, informed 260 content moderators at the start of the year that were being laid off, according to Foxglove, a technology justice nonprofit that is supporting the lawsuit. It came after a TIME investigation found low pay, trauma and alleged union-busting at the hub and a former employee began legal proceedings against Meta and Sama for what he alleges was unfair dismissal for union organizing, among other claims. Foxglove says that Facebook is not eliminating the content moderation work, but has rather switched to another outsourcing firm, Majorel, at what it says is “a fraction of the pay and in worse living conditions.” Majorel currently handles TikTok’s moderation in Kenya, according to Foxglove. TIME

Arrests As Kenya Opposition Leads Anti-Government Protests
At least three Kenyan legislators and several protesters have been arrested and then released for participating in protests in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, in which opposition supporters demanded the resignation of President William Ruto. Opposition leader Raila Odinga joined thousands of demonstrators and announced weekly demonstrations until the president resigns or the cost of living goes down. Odinga’s convoy of dozens of cars drove around the city after being blocked from accessing the central business district. He made public addresses on several stops and his motorcade was teargassed several times by police. In response his supporters pelted stones at the police. Odinga asserted that his car was shot at by the police and his party spokesperson shared a photo of a shattered windscreen online. AP

Kenya Receives 30,000 Tonnes of Wheat From Ukraine
Kenya has received 30,000 metric tonnes of wheat from Ukraine to help families affected by drought and famine. The donation is part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s ‘Grain from Ukraine’ (GfU) humanitarian programme. The fifth maize shipment from Ukraine was received on Monday by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, together with Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, member of the International Coordination Group for the Prevention of Hunger (ICGPH), and Ambassadors from the donor countries to the programme. This shipment was supported by the UN World Food Program (WFP) with financial assistance from the governments of the United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and the Czech Republic…According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, over 5.4 million people in Kenya will likely experience acute food insecurity in March and June this year. About 970,200 children will likely suffer from acute malnutrition in 2023. Capital FM

Rwanda Is ‘One of the Safest Countries’, Claims UK Home Secretary Ahead of Controversial Asylum Deal
After returning from a weekend trip to Rwanda, United Kingdom Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the country was “one of the fasted growing economies” and “one of the safest countries.” As such, the UK government would push ahead with the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership. The partnership, to be activated through the Illegal Migration Bill, will deny the right to seek refugee protection to people arriving irregularly in the UK, such as those risking their lives to cross the English Channel in small boats. The asylum seekers will face detention and deportation, without having their individual circumstances examined. News24

French Journalist, US Aid Worker Freed in West Africa
A French journalist and an American aid worker who were kidnapped by armed groups in the Sahel region of Africa have been freed after years in captivity, authorities said. Olivier Dubois, a reporter with France-based publications Liberation and Le Point, and Jeffery Woodke, a Christian humanitarian worker from the United States, arrived at the airport in Niamey in Niger on Monday…The release came just days after the US’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visited Niger in a bid to boost ties to the West African nation, which has emerged as a key partner in the fight against armed groups in the Sahel. It was the first visit to Niger by a secretary of state in US history. “I’m very pleased we are now seeing that come to fruition today,” Blinken said, thanking his team, and Niger, for their efforts. “We won’t rest until they’re all home, like Jeffery reunited with their families.” Al Jazeera

Malian Military Junta Presents New Constitution
Malian Military Junta, Colonel Assimi Goita, has met with religious leaders, politicians, and civil society, in order to promote the newly drafted constitution…Report says this Constitution is the starting point of the vast reform project initiated by the transitional authorities in Mali for the return to civilian power…Meanwhile, the referendum for its adoption was previously scheduled to be held on March 19, but since Friday, March 10, the authorities have announced its postponement to a later date arguing there is a delay in the distribution of new biometric identity cards and that the National electoral body wasn’t fully operational. Voice of Nigeria

A Week On, Brutal Cyclone Freddy Still Taxes Southern Africa
Over a week after Cyclone Freddy’s second and more devastating landfall in Malawi and Mozambique and nearly a month since it battered Madagascar, the effects are still being felt as locals, officials and aid workers continue to uncover the full extent of the cyclone’s destruction. In Malawi the death toll has reached 447 people, with 282 others missing and close to 400,000 people still displaced, authorities in the country said. Malawi’s southern region, including the financial capital of Blantyre, was the worst affected. In Mozambique, some 66 people have died and 59,000 are still displaced, according to local authorities. Many people, including children “are traumatized by the cyclone,” said Palal Areman, from the aid agency Save the Children and based in Blantyre. “They were brought to the hospital with head injuries, broken limbs, and bruises, while others looked worried or had no family members.” The United Nations emergency fund released $5.5 million to Malawi to assist communities affected by Cyclone Freddy on Monday. AP

South Africa Aware of Legal Obligations Regarding Putin Visit
South Africa is aware of its legal obligation, a spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday, referring to a proposed visit by Vladimir Putin after an international court issued an arrest warrant against the Russian leader. Russian President Putin was expected to visit South Africa in August to attend a BRICS summit. “We are, as the government, cognisant of our legal obligation. However, between now and the summit we will remain engaged with various relevant stakeholders,” spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said. While there has been no official confirmation of Putin’s visit, he has been expected to attend the 15th BRICS summit, as he did in 2013. But such a visit would place Ramaphosa’s government, which has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in a precarious position after the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday. “We note the report on the warrant of arrest that the ICC has issued,” Magwenya said. Reuters

Pupils Injured in Zimbabwe When Classroom Collapses Into Illegal Mining Shaft
At least 18 primary school children were injured in Kwekwe, in Zimbabwe’s Midlands province, when their classroom collapsed into an illegal mining shaft. Globe and Phoenix Primary School is close to two gold mines and illegal gold panners had tunnelled under the school to extract the metal. Pupils, desks and chairs were swallowed up into the illegal mining shaft on Thursday morning. Some pupils escaped through windows as the classroom caved in. The injured pupils aged between 10 and 11 have been treated and discharged from  Kwekwe General Hospital. Kwekwe Central MP Judith Tobaiwa, who visited the school, said there had been warning signs. “It’s not long ago I recommended immediate action after visiting the school and noticing the signs. It’s important for authorities to listen,” said Tobaiwa. Times Live