Africa Media Review for March 26, 2024

Senegal: Ruling Party’s Presidential Candidate Concedes to Anti-establishment Faye
Senegal’s anti-establishment candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye is set to become president after his main rival on Monday, March 25, recognized his victory in elections that came barely days after he was freed from prison…Faye, 44, has promised left-wing pan-Africanism and to renegotiate gas and oil contracts, with Senegal due to start production on recently discovered oil and gas reserves later this year…His main rival from the governing coalition, Amadou Ba, recognized Faye’s win in the first round of the vote and offered his congratulations, a statement said…Faye had appeared clearly ahead of 62-year-old former prime minister Ba, according to provisional results from individual polling stations published by local media and on social networks. Official results are expected before the end of the week. An absolute majority was required for a first-round win…Faye was released from prison 10 days before the election under a rapidly passed amnesty law, together with opposition figurehead Ousmane Sonko. He had been jailed last year on charges linked to a standoff between Sonko and the state. Sonko was barred from running in the presidential race. Le Monde with AFP

Togo Adopts a New Constitution
Togolese lawmakers adopted a new constitution on Monday, March 25, moving the country from a presidential to a parliamentary system and giving parliament the power to elect the president of the small West African country. The president will be chosen “without debate” by lawmakers “for a single six-year term,” and not by the public, according to the new text. The vote comes less than a month before the next legislative elections in Togo, but it is not yet known when the change – which was approved with 89 votes in favor, one against and one abstention – will come into force. Currently, the president can serve a maximum of two five-year terms. The change to the constitution, proposed by a group of lawmakers mostly from the Union for the Republic (UNIR) ruling party, was adopted almost unanimously. The country’s opposition, which boycotted the last legislative elections in 2018 and denounced “irregularities” in the electoral census, is poorly represented in the national assembly. The new constitution also introduces the position of “president of the council of ministers” with “full authority and power to manage the affairs of the government and to be held accountable accordingly”. Le Monde with AFP

South Africa’s ANC Fails in Bid to Ban Former Leader Zuma’s Party from Polls
A South African court on Tuesday dismissed the ruling party’s case demanding a rival opposition party be deregistered and banned from participating in the upcoming election. The Electoral Court said the ruling African National Congress party’s objection to how the Independent Electoral Commission handled the uMkhonto weSizwe Party’s registration had no merit, adding it should have addressed the Electoral Commission before filing a court case. Former South African President Jacob Zuma, who headed the country from 2009 to 2018 when he was removed amid wide-ranging allegations of corruption, parted ways with the ANC in December and is now leading the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MK Party. His popularity — especially in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, expected to be a key battleground in this year’s elections — has helped MK Party emerge as a potentially significant contender in the upcoming polls. The party is named after the former military wing of the ANC, which was disbanded at the end of white minority rule and racial segregation policies of the regime known as apartheid. On Wednesday, the ANC will launch another court bid against Zuma’s party, challenging its right to use the name and trademark of the now-defunct organization. AP

More Traffickers Traced to South Africa in Nigeria’s Biggest Airport Heroin Bust
Nigerian police are cracking down on a drug trafficking syndicate smuggling narcotics between there, South Africa, Mozambique, the US and Europe, after heroin was discovered in metal cutting machines and investigators linked it to a logistics company tied to [South Africa]. Over 12 days last month Nigerian police arrested a group of suspects, raided a hotel and ensured that more than 100 bank accounts were frozen in a takedown targeting an international heroin trafficking syndicate that has a key base in South Africa. The operation is the latest cop crackdown showing narco links between Nigeria and [South Africa] – as well as several other states. In November 2023, Rohypnol, otherwise known as the date rape drug, was found hidden in dried fish at OR Tambo International Airport after it landed there from Nigeria. And last month Daily Maverick reported on how three port workers, who were allegedly involved in smuggling drugs, pistols, ammunition and military items via Durban, were arrested in Nigeria. Cops there believed three kingpins linked to that syndicate were also in South Africa. Now, in the latest crackdown, police in Nigeria have started unravelling a heroin trafficking syndicate that they say also has ties to [South Africa]. The Daily Maverick

South Africa’s Deadly Love Affair with Guns
There are more than 2.7 million legal gun owners in South Africa, according to a 2021 survey by Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) – roughly 8% of the adult population….The murder rate in the country reached a 20-year high and guns are the weapon of choice. Adele Kirsten, the director of GFSA, told the BBC of her concerns that crime was not only increasing in South Africa, but the “nature of gun violence” was changing. Mass shootings and assassinations are becoming a “feature” of South Africa, she says….Many of these crimes are carried out by illegal firearms – of which there are some 2.35 million in circulation, according to GFSA. One of the sources of these illegal guns is the very institution meant to protect civilians – the police…To fill this security vacuum more people than ever are taking their safety into their own hands…[O]ver the past decade the number of gun-licence applications has quadrupled, according to an investigation by South African news site News24. BBC

An Explosion near a Police Station in Northern Kenya Has Killed 4 People, including 3 Officers
An explosion at a small hotel located near a police station in northeastern Kenya killed four people, including three officers, and wounded several others on Monday, authorities said. The blast in the town of Mandera, which is on the border with Somalia, was caused by an improvised explosive device that had been planted at the hotel and was detonated as a crowd of people sat down to eat breakfast, police said. Mandera police chief Samwel Mutunga said that two of those wounded were in critical condition and would be flown to the capital, Nairobi. Investigators have blamed east Africa-based extremist group al-Shabab for the attack. The group, which hasn’t claimed responsibility for the explosion, has staged major attacks in Kenya and neighboring Somalia. The latest attack followed another one on Sunday in coastal Kenya’s Lamu County, where two police reservists were killed. AP

16 Suspects Arrested in Somalia Hotel Attack
Somalia’s security agents have arrested 16 people in connection with the March 14 attack on an upscale hotel near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, the government has announced. The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said the suspects included a man accused of being the “mastermind” of the attack. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Information, the government also accused the key suspect of facilitating the smuggling of the vehicles that al-Shabab militants used for the attack. Also arrested were four people who are registered as owners of two vehicles the militant group used for the attack. The government said it is also investigating five members of the government’s own security personnel who were stationed at the checkpoints the attackers passed through. VOA

35 Somalis Arrive in India to Face Trial Over Ship Hijacking
India brought 35 accused Somali pirates to Mumbai on Saturday, days after they were apprehended when naval commandos recaptured a hijacked bulk carrier and rescued several hostages. The December hijacking of the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen was the first time since 2017 that any cargo vessel had been successfully boarded by Somali pirates. Indian commandos boarded and took control of the vessel on March 17 some 260 nautical miles (480 kilometers) off the coast of Somalia. The destroyer INS Kolkata, which led the rescue operation, arrived in Mumbai early on Saturday carrying all 35 men accused of the hijacking, a navy statement said…Navy spokesperson Vivek Madhwal said this week marked the first time in more than a decade that men captured at sea would be brought to Indian shores to face trial for piracy. Under India’s anti-piracy laws, the men face the death sentence if they are convicted of a killing or an attempted killing, and life imprisonment for piracy alone. AFP

DR Congo Facing Alarming Levels of Violence, Hunger, Poverty, Disease
The World Health Organization warns that hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and disease have reached alarming levels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the east, where a resurgence of fighting between armed groups and government forces has uprooted millions of people from their homes. “DRC is the second-largest displacement crisis globally after Sudan, with more people forced to flee the violence since the start of the year,” said Dr. Boureima Hama Sambo, WHO representative to the DRC. Speaking from the capital, Kinshasa, Sambo told journalists in Geneva Friday that a combination of violence, climate shocks, and epidemics has worsened the humanitarian and overall health situation for millions of people who are struggling to find enough food to eat, a safe place to stay, and help to ward off disease outbreaks. VOA

What Caused the Civil War in Sudan and How Has It Become One of the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crises?
Fighting broke out in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, on 15 April 2023 as an escalating power struggle between the two main factions of the military regime finally turned deadly. On one side are the Sudanese armed forces who remain broadly loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto ruler. Against him are the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a collection of militia who follow the former warlord Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti. The RSF was founded by the former dictatorial ruler Omar al-Bashir as an Arab counterinsurgency militia…Home to about 9 million people, Darfur, the vast and largely arid swath of western and south-western Sudan has been at the centre of the ongoing conflict largely because it remains the stronghold of RSF leader Hemedti…The conflict has plunged Sudan into “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history”, according to UN officials, who also warn it may trigger the world’s largest hunger crisis. The Guardian

Tanzania and Rwanda to Open New Border Point
Rwanda and Tanzania are moving to open a new border post, as the two countries deepen trade ties at a time trade and political forces pull regional partners in different directions. The new post will be opened at Tanzania’s Kyerwa district in Kagera Region to provide a second passage for people and goods and reduce pressure on the Rusumo border post. Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, January Makamba, said this in Kigali during his recent four-day visit to Rwanda…The new border post is part of a raft of measures to scale up trade ties between the two East African countries. Others include harmonisation of levies, a concern which was raised by Rwandan and Tanzanian truckers. Dodoma and Kigali have enjoyed good bilateral and trade relations over the years, with volumes of Rwanda bound cargo going through Tanzania growing exponentially in the past three decades. The EastAfrican

Tanzania, Burundi in Talks about SGR Link
Tanzania and Burundi have begun formal talks on the technical aspects of building a standard railway gauge railway (SGR) link after securing funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB)…Burundi expects to use the rail link to transport at least three million tonnes of minerals annually from Musongati, which is estimated to have the 10th largest nickel deposits in the world at 150 million tonnes plus other minerals such as cobalt and copper, to the port of Dar es Salaam along with around one million tonnes of other cargo. At least 80 percent of Burundi’s import and export cargo is currently shipped through the port of Dar es Salaam, according to Tanzania Ports Authority figures. The Tanzania-Burundi SGR link is also envisaged to stimulate agricultural exchange activity and transit trade in general between the two countries through the central corridor while further easing cross-border movements within the East African Community bloc following the entry of DR Congo in mid-2022. The EastAfrican

A Decade of Documenting More than 63,000 Migrant Deaths Shows That Fleeing Is More Lethal than Ever
Governments around the world have repeatedly pledged to save migrants’ lives and fight smugglers while tightening borders. Yet 10 years on, a report by the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project published Tuesday shows the world is no safer for people on the move. On the contrary, migrant deaths have soared. Since tracking began in 2014, more than 63,000 have died or are missing and presumed dead, according to the Missing Migrants Project, with 2023 the deadliest year yet…The report says the deaths are “likely only a fraction of the actual number of lives lost worldwide” because of the difficulty in obtaining and verifying information. For example, on the Atlantic route from Africa’s west coast to Spain’s Canary Islands, entire boats have reportedly vanished in what are known as “invisible shipwrecks.” Similarly, countless deaths in the Sahara desert are believed to go unreported…Nearly 60% of the deaths recorded by the IOM in the last decade were related to drowning. The Mediterranean Sea is the world’s largest migrant grave with more than 28,000 deaths recorded in the last decade. AP