Africa Media Review for March 31, 2023

Malawi: Cyclone Freddy’s Death Toll Rises to 1,200
The death toll from Cyclone Freddy, which dissipated in mid-March after massive flooding and landslides in southern Africa, could exceed 1,200 in Malawi as hopes dwindle of finding survivors, police and authorities said Thursday. The cyclone killed at least 676 people in Malawi, the epicenter of the disaster. And the country’s disaster management department says the chances of finding the 538 missing, more than two weeks after the disaster, have become painfully slim. … In addition to the heavy toll in Malawi, Freddy also killed 165 people in Mozambique and another 17 in Madagascar, according to the UN. AfricaNews/AFP

‘Woman of Iron’ Honored for Protecting CAR’s Constitution
In March 2022, Daniele Darlan, then-president of the Central African Republic’s Constitutional Court, faced intense pressure to modify her country’s constitution to allow the president to run for a third term in office. The pressure came from local politicians and Russian diplomats, but she was unwavering in her belief that the constitution could not be undermined. “The constitution is the fundamental law. It’s the text on which all other laws and regulations are based,” she told VOA, speaking in French. “If you don’t respect the constitution, if you violate it, it sets off a chain reaction of violations. It means that you don’t have to respect any law or any rule.” In October 2022 she was removed from her position, clearing the way for President Faustin-Archange Touadéra to remain in power. … Darlan said she does not regret her stand even though it cost her dearly. “As a constitutional judge and president of the Constitutional Court I am a guardian of the constitution,” she told VOA in a one-on-one interview at the State Department. “At that moment, I had to make sure that the constitution would be respected. In this sense I only did my job.” VOA

Rebels in Eastern DRC Still Hold Strategic Positions
Rebels in eastern DRC were still holding strategic positions on Thursday, the day M23 militants were supposed to leave under a regional peace initiative. The withdrawal of M23 rebels is now going to take place this Friday, according to the commander of the EAC force. “From Friday, Ugandan soldiers from the East African regional force will enter Bunagana and deploy to Kiwanja and this is part of the schedule that has been decided…”We have agreed that their first mission is to ensure the security of our population. And we ask all humanitarian organisations to be able to deploy in all areas to help this population”, said General Jeff Nyagah, EAC Regional Force Commander. Since June last year the town of Bunagana, a commercial crossroads on the Ugandan border, has been under rebel control. AfricaNews

Six Killed, about 30,000 Flee to Chad after West Darfur Tribal Attacks
West Darfur’s recent tribal attacks killed six people and forced over 30,000 people to flee to neighbouring Chad said UN OCHA on Monday. Members of the Mararit tribe stoned to death two Arab suspected of killing a trader in the Tendality locality, 45 km northwest of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, on March 23. The nomads of the Arab tribes, in retaliation, carried out attacks on Tendality on March 23, 24. “Six people were reportedly killed and eight injured, according to the International Organization for Migration Displacement Tracking Matrix (IOM DTM),” reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “About 59 homes were reportedly burned and looted, and about 30,000 people—mostly women, children, and elderly—have reportedly fled across the border into Chad, according to local sources,” further said the agency. The state authorities deployed a joint force in the area to prevent further escalations. Also, West Darfur Governor and the security committee paid a visit to Tendality. However, the situation is still tense as the Arab tribes continue to mobilize and demand the arrest of those involved in the stoning. Sudan Tribune

Uganda’s ‘First Son’ Vows to Send Troops to Defend Moscow
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s mercurial son Muhoozi Kainerugaba declared on Thursday that his country would send troops to defend Moscow if it came under threat. “Call me a ‘Putinist’ if you will, but we, Uganda shall send soldiers to defend Moscow if it’s ever threatened by the Imperialists!” Kainerugaba said on Twitter. “The West is wasting its time with its useless pro-Ukraine propaganda,” added the outspoken general, a fervent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. … As a serving military officer, Kainerugaba is banned under Uganda’s constitution from making unauthorised statements about sovereign states or foreign policy. … Observers have long believed that Kainerugaba was being groomed to succeed his 78-year-old father, who has ruled Uganda since 1986. East African

South Sudan: Peace Monitors Share Concern over Slow Progress in Roadmap
Peace monitors in South Sudan said as the second month of the extended transition period begins, a lot of work remains to be done if the roadmap timelines are to be adhered to as promised. This came in a meeting of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) held in Juba on Thursday. In his opening remarks, RJMEC Chairperson Amb. Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai said the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) should demonstrate in action its commitment to deliver the transition in time, not simply by word. In terms of the preparation for elections as stipulated in the roadmap, Amb. Gituai told the RJMEC members that no progress has been made in the reconstitution of the Political Parties Council despite the law having been enacted over eight months ago. He emphasized that the reconstitution of the Council is critical, paving the way for the registration of political parties, adding that the enactment of the National Elections Act and its operationalization is way behind schedule. Radio Tamazuj

How Zimbabwe Uses Gold Smuggling to Evade Sanctions Choke
Zimbabwe’s government is using smuggling gangs to sell gold worth hundreds of millions of dollars, skirting some of the consequences of tough Western sanctions imposed on the country over human rights abuses, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) can reveal. The smuggling feeds into an enormous money-laundering operation, all facilitated by Fidelity Gold Refinery, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe’s central bank, and enabled, in some cases, directly by senior government officials and relatives of the country’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. … Smugglers, who do not face the sanctions government officials do, carry Zimbabwe’s gold to Dubai, where it is then sold in exchange for clean cash. This money is transferred to the bank accounts of the money launderers, who hand over an equivalent amount of their dollars to the Zimbabwe government, through the smugglers. “Moving the money abroad and then washing it and then moving it back in. It’s a very common money laundering technique,” money laundering expert Paul Holden told Al Jazeera. “What I haven’t seen is the use of gold, which I think is quite interesting.” Al Jazeera

Burkina Faso to Revive Ties with North Korea, Seek ‘Exemplary’ Weapons Trade
Burkina Faso will restart diplomatic relations with North Korea in part to invigorate weapons trade between the two countries, its military government announced Thursday. Ouagadougou’s presidential office issued a press release stating that a ministerial council “approved an agreement for the appointment of an ambassador of the DPRK to Burkina Faso.” The move will facilitate “exemplary” bilateral cooperation in the “security sector […] through granting our country military equipment and materials,” according to the office. … The country also announced cooperation with Pyongyang in “mining, health, agriculture and research” but did not provide further details. Bilateral relations cooled in 2017 when Burkina Faso, under democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, announced a ban on all imports from North Korea to conform with U.N. sanctions resolutions. Kabore was overthrown in a military coup last year. NKNews

Burkina Faso Banning Free Press ‘Bit by Bit,’ Journalist Says
[Video] Burkina Faso’s military government suspended the international broadcaster France 24 after it had aired an excerpt of an interview with the head of a regional al-Qaida affiliate. VOA’s Salem Solomon spoke to the journalist who conducted the interview. VOA

Crew Members Missing after Gulf of Guinea Pirate Attack
Pirates have abandoned a Danish-owned ship hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea last week but have taken some crew members with them while others have been brought to safety, the vessel’s owner says. The Liberian-flagged oil and chemicals tanker Monjasa Reformer was boarded on Saturday by five armed people 225km (140 miles) west of the Republic of Congo’s Port Pointe-Noire, its owner, Monjasa, said at the time. Sixteen crew members were on board. The Reformer subsequently went missing but was later located by the French navy off Sao Tome and Principe, Monjasa said on Friday. … The Gulf of Guinea, described by the International Maritime Bureau as one of the world’s most dangerous shipping routes, covers 11,000sq km (4,247sq miles) and stretches from Angola to Senegal. Since 2021, piracy cases have been on the decline due to cooperation among countries in the region and deployments of foreign naval ships, according to the United Nations Security Council. Al Jazeera

Senegal Opposition Politician Handed Light Sentence, Still Viable for Presidency
Senegal’s leading opposition politician and presidential aspirant Ousmane Sonko on Thursday received a two-month suspended prison sentence for libel in a case involving the tourism minister, the minister’s lawyer El Hadji Diouf said. The sentence will not prevent him from running in elections next year – an apparent effort by authorities to defuse a stand-off with his supporters, who have repeatedly taken to the streets to denounce what they say is a politically motivated campaign. … Sonko, 48, had been charged with libel for accusing the tourism minister of embezzlement. He denied wrongdoing and previously said the charges against him were a tactic to eliminate him from the presidential race. The government denies this accusation. … [S]poradic, sometimes violent demonstrations have taken place over the past two years in support of Sonko, who has become the focus of anger at President Macky Sall’s failure to rule out running for a third term in elections next year. Reuters

Equatorial Guinea Confirms Marburg Deaths after Push by WHO
Equatorial Guinea said it has recorded 13 cases of Marburg disease since February, after the World Health Organization urged the country to officially report new cases. Nine people have died, while one patient has recovered since the first outbreak of the disease was observed in February, the health ministry said on Twitter Wednesday The WHO last week had reported 9 laboratory-confirmed cases, and estimated the total number of deaths and probable cases at 20, and urged the country to report all cases in order to warn communities. These cases are in three provinces, some 150 kilometres apart, “suggesting wider transmission of the virus”, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. … Equatorial Guinea said it has traced 825 contacts since the beginning of the epidemic. There is also an outbreak of Marburg virus in Tanzania, which has reported eight cases, including five deaths, in the Kagera region to the WHO. Marburg is It is part of the filovirus family that also includes Ebola, and it is passed on to people from fruit bats. RFI

Kamala Harris Lands in Zambia as She Winds Up Africa Tour
US Vice President Kamala Harris has landed in Lusaka, Washington DC’s co-host of the just concluded second Summit on Democracy, as she embarks on the last leg of her week-long Africa tour. … Zambia is [her] last stop after visiting Ghana and Tanzania as Washington DC seeks to counter the growing political, military and economic influence of arch-rivals Moscow and Beijing. According to State House, Lusaka, Harris is expected to hold bilateral talks with her host President Hakainde Hichilema before inking far-reaching bilateral agreements on climate resilience and food security. Zambia Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo says other issues to be discussed include access to the digital economy, economic empowerment of women and strengthening business investment through innovation and youth entrepreneurship. The Nation