Africa Media Review for March 3, 2022

UN General Assembly Deals Russia Overwhelming Diplomatic Defeat over Ukraine Invasion
Russia has suffered a major diplomatic defeat at the United Nations, losing a vote at the General Assembly by an overwhelming margin of 141 to 5 after an emergency debate mobilized a surge of support for a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Diplomats jumped to their feet and applauded loudly when the vote results were displayed on a screen. Just four countries – North Korea, Syria, Belarus and Eritrea – voted with Russia to oppose the resolution, while 35 abstained. … Among the abstentions were China, India, Pakistan and 17 African countries, including South Africa. … The abstentions by key powers such as India and China in the UN General Assembly were a signal that Russia still retains some level of tacit support from countries that remain reluctant to criticize it – largely for reasons of economic or military links. … Several African countries – including Sudan, Mali, Algeria, Uganda and Central African Republic – have become reliant on Russian military supplies or mercenary forces, which may have influenced their decisions to abstain in the vote on Wednesday. Thousands of Russian mercenaries are active in Mali, Sudan and CAR. One of Sudan’s most powerful officials, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has been in Moscow for most of the past week on a mission to seek help from Russian leaders. Sudan’s military-dominated government has been desperate for an economic bailout and political support, at a time when it is under heavy pressure from Western governments and street demonstrators to move to civilian rule, and it sees Russia as one of the most likely sources. The Globe and Mail

Rising Fuel Costs Are Crippling Africa’s Economies
Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a record surge in fuel prices as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drives up already steep energy costs. … Chaos reigns at a petrol station in Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos. Arguments break out and drivers blare their car horns as they wait in the long queue that spills into the road, disrupting traffic. Motorists here, and in many of the petrol stations in Nigeria’s major cities, are spending hours waiting, in the hope of filling up their tanks before fuel runs out. “Getting petrol is like digging for gold,” groans waiting motorist Joy Agbonifo. “We spend hours looking for fuel, and when we get to a [petrol] station, there’s no guarantee we’ll even get any.” The fuel shortage in Nigeria has lasted more than three weeks. It started after the federal government held back imports of fuel that was found to be sub-standard, causing a scarcity at filling stations. … Global oil prices skyrocketed in 2021 following the recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking an increase in demand for petroleum products. On top of this, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has triggered a global price spike over concerns of a supply crunch. … Across Africa, fuel prices have reached all-time highs. In Burkina Faso fuel prices rose by 8%. South Africa’s national statistics institute said fuel prices in December 2021 had risen by 40,5% compared to the previous year. DW

UN: Africa, Already Suffering from Warming, Will See Worse
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted Monday that Saharan flooding, heat and drought will increase, Africa’s rich array of wildlife and plants will decline and glaciers on its most iconic mountains will disappear in coming decades. On a continent already grappling with high poverty levels and food insecurity, the panel warned that fishermen and farmers will feel the pain of future climate change on their lives and livelihoods. … Climate change, along with conflicts, instability and economic crises, has contributed to hunger. Since 2012, the undernourished population in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by 45.6%, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. … By 2030, the report projects that 108 to 116 million people in Africa will be exposed to sea-level rise — and that without adaptation measures, 12 major coastal cities will suffer a total of $65 billion to $86.5 billion in damages. Rapid African urbanization, inadequate infrastructure as well growth of informal settlements will expose more people to climate hazards, the report said. It noted that sub-Saharan Africa is the only region that has recorded increasing rates of flood mortality since 1990 — and that millions of people were displaced by weather-related causes in 2018 and 2019. AP

SADC Sets Up Counter-Terrorism Centre in Tanzania
The fight against insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, received a timely boost from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which now has a Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre (RCTC) in Tanzania. The centre will coordinate regional counter-terrorism efforts. … Speaking at the launch of the RCTC in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Monday, Botswana’s Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Machana Ronald Shamukuni, said the centre should be strong-willed. “Strong and sustained multilateral cooperation, understanding and analysis are required in order to support the member states in addressing the challenges posed by terrorism, violent extremism and its associated transnational organised crime activities,” he said on behalf of SA’s Naledi Pandor, the chairperson of the ministerial committee. … The SADC’s executive secretary, Elias Mpedi Magosi, said the RCTC should now move on to have comprehensive legislation and policies, accelerated formulation of national counter-terrorism strategies, plans of action, and the strengthening of NCTCs and Financial Intelligence Units. He also spoke about the importance of strengthening criminal justice systems through capacity building and training, to effectively detect, prevent, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate terrorism-related offences. News24

U.N. Voices Concern over Libya Parliament Vote on New PM
A standoff between two rival governments in Libya looked set to worsen on Thursday as the administration newly chosen by parliament accused the incumbent prime minister of using force to try to stop it from being sworn in. Fathi Bashagha was due to take the oath of office in Tobruk, but the current Tripoli administration of Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah has vowed not to cede power, amid a growing risk of fighting or a return to territorial division. … the United Nations cast doubt overnight on the validity of the parliament’s effort to install Bashagha, saying it was concerned by reports that Tuesday’s vote of confidence “fell short of the expected standards.” The position of international powers will be key in the coming tussle for control of Libya, with a risk of renewed war after a year and a half of comparative peace between major factions battling for control of the oil-rich state. Armed groups affiliated with opposing factions have mobilised in the capital and foreign forces including from Russia and Turkey remain entrenched in Libya on different sides. Reuters

Burkina Strongman Stages Inauguration after ‘Transition’ Plan
Burkina Faso strongman Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was ceremonially sworn in as president on Wednesday following the adoption of a “charter” to restore elected government in 2025. Damiba, a 41-year-old lieutenant-colonel, seized power on January 24, toppling elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore. He was sworn in as president and head of the armed forces by the top constitutional body on February 16. … Damiba, dressed in signature camouflage uniform and red beret, did not make a speech. On Tuesday, Damiba signed a so-called transition charter that declared elections would be held 36 months after his inauguration. The period was longer than the 30 months that had been proposed by a commission set up by the junta. … One of the poorest countries in the world, the landlocked Sahel state has a long history of volatility since gaining independence from France in 1960. Regional neighbours Mali and Guinea, have been hit with tough sanctions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for delays in returning to civilian rule after recent military takeovers. Burkina, like those countries, was suspended from ECOWAS activities after the coup. AfricaNews with AFP

Congolese Opposition Snubs Govt-Backed ‘Dialogue’
The Congolese (Brazzaville) opposition is boycotting a dialogue organized by the government ahead of local and legislative elections in the central African country. A coalition of parties dismissed the meeting which starts Thursday in Owando in the country’s north as a stunt meant to divert attention from the various crises plaguing the country. “We must not think about what Owando should be between. Rather, we need a real dialogue that brings together all the sons and daughters of the Congo,” said Jean Itadi opposition, President of the African Congress for Progress. Last March, President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his Congo Labour Party controversially won re-election. He’s been in power for a total of 38 years. … the opposition has demanded a structured dialogue which power-sharing, constitutional reforms, and the release of political prisoners, key among them General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, a former commander who challenged Sassou for the presidency in 2016. AfricaNews

Patients Dying as Conflict Prevents Supplies Reaching Tigray Hospitals
People in Tigray are dying due to a lack of oxygen and medicines, a doctor at the region’s largest hospital has said, as medics struggle to care for the sick amid frequent electricity blackouts and fuel shortages. As the 16-month conflict between Tigrayan forces and Ethiopian government forces drags on, the isolated northern region of 5.5 million people continues to suffer under what the UN has called a de facto blockade. Staff at the Ayder referral hospital in Mekelle, the regional capital, said they were losing patients who would have otherwise lived. “Patients die. Every day we hear about patients dying because of a lack of oxygen, a lack of this drug, that drug,” the doctor, who could not be named for security reasons, told the Guardian. Speaking during a rare moment of internet connectivity, he said the wider region was suffering similar problems. That morning, he said, doctors from the northern town of Adwa had told him their hospital, which had “survived looting and destruction” during the early months of the war, was now struggling to keep infants alive. The Guardian

More than 200 Gunmen Killed in Nigeria Security Operation-Official
At least 200 gunmen were killed in the past three days in Nigeria’s central-northern state of Niger during a security operation to clear armed gangs from the area, a state commissioner said on Thursday. Gunmen have terrorised citizens in the north and northwest of the country and have gained notoriety for kidnapping hundreds of students and villagers for ransom and killing dozens. The Niger regional commissioner in charge of internal security, Emmanuel Umar, said some leaders of the armed gangs, known locally as bandits, were among those killed during an operation led by the army and volunteers from local vigilante groups and community leaders. … At least four Nigerian security personnel were killed when their patrol vehicle detonated a landmine in Niger last month, and gunmen killed an unknown number of people. Reuters

#EndSARS: NHRC, Panel Lament Police’s Neglect of Abuja Hearing
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the #EndSARS panel probing cases of police brutality in Abuja, on Wednesday, lamented the abandonment of the panel’s sittings by the police. This came barely a day after the panel resumed from a 10-week break. The panel was set up in October 2020 in the aftermath of the anti-police brutality #EndSARS protests that rocked many Nigerian cities. Similar panels set up in at least 28 states have since concluded their hearings and submitted their reports, although most state governments have not implemented their recommendations. In the last year, the Abuja panel has slid into two protracted breaks due to lack of funding, with the first one lasting seven months, and the latest one extending to about 10 weeks. The panel resumed on Tuesday with the assurance to conclude the hearing of pending petitions within six weeks. But the police legal team has sparingly attended proceedings since the panel resumed on Tuesday. Expressing the panel’s frustrations at the near-absence of police lawyers on Wednesday, Garba Tentegi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who acted as the panel chairman, said “the police are abandoning us; there is only one counsel here.” Premium Times

Nigeria: FG Approves Extradition of Abba Kyari to Face Charges in U.S.
The Federal Government has commenced moves to extradite a suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, to face fraud charges in the United States of America. Vanguard Newspaper reports that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, filed an extradition application at the Federal High Court in Abuja following a request by the Diplomatic Representative of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja. The request from the U.S. authorities, according to Mr Malami, is “for the surrender of Abba Alhaji Kyari, who is a subject in a superseding three counts indictment.” The AGF said in the application that he was satisfied that the offences in respect of which Mr Kyari’s surrender was sought were neither political nor trivial. This comes some weeks after Mr Malami said in an interview on Channels Televison that there were ongoing extradition talks between the Nigerian and U.S. governments over the pending charges against the suspect in the U.S. Premium Times

Another Report Alleges Corruption by Ex-South African Leader
Another damning report into government corruption in South Africa has recommended further investigations and the possible prosecution of former President Jacob Zuma, current and former cabinet ministers and senior leaders of the ruling African National Congress party for allegedly receiving bribes. It’s the third report to come from three years of investigations, testimonies and cross-examination of witnesses and whistleblowers. The inquiry has exposed extensive graft under Zuma at the top levels of government in Africa’s most developed economy. The latest report was published Tuesday and has been handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa. In the report, Zuma, current ANC chairperson and energy minister Gwede Mantashe and former cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane are among those who allegedly received “gratifications” from the controversial security company Bosasa so it could maintain its grasp on state contracts. AP

Interpol Issues Red Notices for Gupta Brothers Wanted in South Africa
South Africa said this week the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, has requested countries seek out and arrest Rajesh and Atul Gupta, two brothers and businessmen who allegedly bribed top officials, including former president Jacob Zuma, to gain lucrative government contracts. South African anti-corruption activists have accused the Guptas of “state capture,” a term meant to describe the brothers’ strong influence over former president Zuma and members of his Cabinet — influence that allegedly extended to contracts, policy and personnel choices. While there are many allegations against the Guptas, the red notices — requests to member nations to arrest — were issued for a case involving a relatively small $1.5 million pertaining to procurement fraud. South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority requested the red notices last year, but Rajesh and Atul Guptas’ lawyers objected. The application had to be reviewed by Interpol to make sure, among other things, that there was no political bias. Interpol’s ambassador for the Turn Back Crime Campaign, Andy Mashaile, said South Africa also took time to secure an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates, as it’s believed the brothers are in Dubai. VOA

Zimbabwe: Armed Men Attack Biti’s Residence at Midnight
Four men armed with a gun, an axe and machetes besieged Citizens Coalition for Change vice president Tendai Biti’s house in Glen Lorne, Harare occupied by his mother. The attack took place around Midnight Wednesday. They savagely beat a security guard manning the property and left him for dead. Biti’s aide Emmanuel Zellers Gumbo confirmed the incident saying the men invaded the prominent lawyer’s home where his mother resides. “At around 12 midnight today (Thursday), Zanu PF thugs stormed Hon. Tendai Biti’s home where his mother stays, the gang had machetes, axes and a gun. One of the security guards, Kind Tsanganyuka manning the premises was severely injured, he is currently receiving treatment at Parirenyatwa Hospital. “The gang had to escape after a cry out for help by the security personnel and Gogo Biti. They then issued death threats on Hon Biti’s life thereafter,” Gumbo said. NewZimbabwe

Teenagers Detained and Allegedly Tortured in Sudan Must Be Released, Says Amnesty
Amnesty said: “There are credible concerns the youths were abducted and held without charge, in violation of their due process rights, and subjected to torture while in detention.” It demanded the teenagers are released or charged and remanded by an independent court. According to their lawyer, Rana Abdulghafar Abdulraheem, Tupac, who is a member of a group called Ghadiboun, which means “the angered people,” was taken from his hospital bed by police. He’d been injured by a teargas canister during protests in the capital. Fateh was arrested in a mosque near where the demonstrations took place. It is understood he wasn’t involved in the protests. Abdulraheem said both teenagers had been tortured. The lawyer said she had seen cigarette burns on Fateh’s head and he had not been allowed visitors. “I believe they didn’t want us to see him because he was in bad shape,” she said. … More than 80 people have been killed and hundreds injured in protests in response to the military coup in October 2021, which followed an uneasy two years as the country sought to transition to democratic rule. Hundreds of people and political activists have been detained. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones