Africa Media Review for March 7, 2022

UN Mission in Mali Condemns Extremist Attacks
The head of the UN mission in Mali condemned an attack by extremists last Friday that resulted in almost 30 dead amongst the Malian soldiers. According to a statement from the Malian army the extremists killed 27 soldiers and left 33 wounded. For local residents, the attack against the Mondoro camp was predictable. “What happened in Mondoro is sad, but it was to be expected. Because we are dealing with people who are almost invisible. We are dealing with people called terrorists who are there and who are in disarray, so they are ready to do anything to defend themselves” admitted local resident Mohamedy Dioula Dramé. Another local resident, Aliou Ongoïba, added that “the whole world can see the situation in Mondoro today, it didn’t start today. We’ve been in the same situation for three years. There are mines exploding all the time. Our relatives die overnight. It’s really, really bad”. … The Mondoro camp is close to the border with Burkina Faso and has been the target of several attacks in the past by jihadist groups operating in the area for several years. The camp is located in one of the main hotbeds of violence that started in northern Mali with independence and jihadist insurgencies in 2012 and has spread to central Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. AfricaNews

National Charter Group Rejects Power Grab by Sudanese Military
A leading member of the National Charter coalition on Saturday rejected the “military component’s power grab”, and called on the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) to hold genuine negotiations to end Sudan’s political crisis. The National Charter, an FFC faction including splinter groups from Darfur and other areas that supported the military coup, held a meeting chaired by al-Tom Hajo and attended by Minni Minnawi leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) and leaders of other groups. In a statement issued after the meeting, the coalition pointed to the deteriorating economic situation in the country and the failure to reach a consensus leading to appointing a prime minister who would lead a new transitional government. … Noreldaem Taha Assistant SLM-MM Chairman for Media and Public Relations said formed committees to reach out to the other political forces in order to agree on a political declaration on the leadership of the transition. Taha who is also is a leading member of the FFC National Charter representing his group further accused their allied military leaders of power grab after the coup d’état of October 2022. “Just as we have rejected the FFC Central Council’s power grab, we will reject the military component’s control of the government,” he said. Sudan Tribune

Burkina Faso Appoints Interim Government after January Coup
Burkina Faso’s interim president Paul-Henri Damiba has approved a new government that includes the same defence minister as served under former president Roch Kabore before his ouster in a military coup, an official decree showed on Saturday. Damiba was inaugurated on Wednesday as transitional president for three years, after leading a group of officers to oust Kabore in January. They said they were motivated by frustration about mounting violence by Islamist militants. The new government of 25 ministers includes Defence Minister General Barthelemy Simpore, who has retained the position he held under Kabore, according to the decree. The appointment of economist Albert Ouedraogo as the West African nation’s transitional prime minister was announced on Thursday. Burkina Faso’s military coup was the fourth in West Africa in 18 months, following two in Mali and one in Guinea, after a period of democracy that had raised hopes the region could shed its reputation as the continent’s ‘coup belt.’ Reuters

Somalia’s Worst Drought in Decades Escalates
Somalia is in the middle of its worst drought in decades, with millions of people in need of aid and thousands on the brink of starvation. The United Nations estimates 4.3 million Somalis are affected by the drought and more than half-a-million displaced. Baidoa already hosts over 400,000 internally displaced Somalis but more people affected by drought are flocking to the town every day in search of food, water, and shelter. Somalia’s Southwest State is one of the areas worst hit by a record drought not seen in decades. … “According to rapid needs assessment conducted by Save the Children, 3.9 million people across Somalia are not able to access food, in which 1.8 million people are facing severe food insecurity,” she said. “The ongoing drought has plunged the majority of the population into food insecurity. The key drivers of acute food insecurity in Somalia include the combined effects of consecutive seasons of poor and erratic rainfall distribution and conflict.” VOA

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry Foils Terrorist Attack, Woman Arrested
Tunisia’s interior ministry said on Saturday that security forces had foiled a planned terrorist attack and arrested a female jihadist suspected of involvement. In a statement, the ministry said investigators believed the woman had planned to kidnap the children of some members of the security forces and the military to try to force the release of people convicted of terrorist offences. She was also suspected of planning to attack a security facility using an explosive belt. The North African nation has been under a state of emergency since 2015 after an attack in which several presidential guards were killed. Reuters

Tripoli Tense amid Standoff between Libya’s Two Rival Governments
A long ceasefire has brought life back to Tripoli’s Algeria Square, its roundabout replanted with grass and customers lingering into the night at the Aurora Cafe, but Libya’s new crisis of two governments threatens to upend that peace. Home to the city hall, post office and a mosque converted from the colonial-era Italian cathedral, Algeria Square plays a big role in the capital’s civic life. But it is also near likely front lines in a battle many Libyans fear may soon erupt. The standoff worsened this week as the parliament in the east swore in a new administration while the incumbent in Tripoli refused to cede power. … The incumbent prime minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, installed a year ago in a U.N.-backed process, has denounced the parliament’s appointment of Fathi Bashagha to replace him and says he will only quit after a rescheduled election. [B]oth men appear to believe they can count on support among the myriad armed factions whose gunmen wield true control over the streets of Tripoli. Reuters

Tanzania President, Freed Opposition Leader Vow to ‘Build Trust’
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and opposition leader Freeman Mbowe pledged to heal rifts and buttress democracy as they met hours after Mbowe was freed from jail in a surprise move. Mbowe, chairman of the Chadema party, was arrested last July to face terrorism charges in a case his supporters said was politically motivated and aimed at crushing dissent. Prosecutors suddenly dropped the charges on Friday and a Dar es Salaam court set Mbowe and his three co-accused free after seven months behind bars. Hassan had increasingly come under pressure to dismiss the case, which raised concerns at home and abroad about the state of political and media freedoms in the country. … Since Hassan took power in March last year following the sudden death of her predecessor John Magufuli, who was nicknamed “Bulldozer” for his uncompromising leadership style, she has sought to break with some of his policies. She reached out to the opposition, vowing to defend democracy and basic freedoms, and reopened media outlets that were banned under Magufuli. But the arrest of Mbowe along with a number of other senior party officials just hours before they were to hold a public forum to demand constitutional reforms dimmed hopes she would turn the page on Magufuli’s rule. Recently however, the government has made conciliatory overtures to the opposition. AFP

Crisis in Ukraine Drives Food Prices Higher Around World
The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — a country long known as the “breadbasket of Europe” because of the prodigious amounts of wheat, corn and other cereal grains that it produces — will extend far beyond Europe, wreaking havoc on global food supplies, experts from aid agencies say. Ukraine produces 16% of the world’s corn, and Ukraine and Russia combined produce 29% of the wheat sold on world markets. Much of what they export goes to Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and with virtually no cargo moving out of either county’s Black Sea ports, prices for the staple foods are spiking. Still unknown is whether an enduring war in Ukraine will damage this year’s harvest or prevent the sowing of crops for the next growing season. … “Because we have supply chain expertise and we have, for years, developed strategies for making sure we can get commodities into hard-to-reach countries in difficult times, we have other sources,” [Steve Taravella, a senior spokesperson for the UN WFP] said. “I’m not concerned that WFP won’t be able to find wheat or split peas or other things that we rely on Ukraine for. What we’re concerned about is what we and others will have to pay for them, because prices are going to go up.” The agency might be forced to reduce the per-person ration of food it provides, he said. “It will cost us more, which will mean we may have to cut rations. Those are very real implications,” he said. VOA

China-Uganda Loan Deal for Entebbe Airport is Binding: MPs
A parliamentary committee that unearthed the “bad” terms of the Uganda-China’s Exim Bank Entebbe Airport loan agreement has ended its probe, noting that the deal is binding. Joel Ssenyonyi, chairperson of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises, told The EastAfrican that it is impossible to pull out of the agreement given the dire consequences the country would face. But he says Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and his officials should be prosecuted and jailed. “In other countries, Mr Kasaija should have resigned yesterday,” he said. A clause in the agreement, seen by The EastAfrican, says, “the borrower (Uganda) shall keep the documents, terms, conditions of the agreement strictly confidential and must seek permission for disclosure.” But Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, without giving the consequences, says Uganda could withdraw if it wanted but, “there are consequences of doing so.” … There were over 10 clauses that were deemed unfriendly and as good as mortgaging the airport and eroding the country’s sovereignty. The most troubling for aviation bosses was a clause that obliged the government to open an escrow account in Stanbic Bank where all transactions have to be monitored and approved by Exim Bank. … And in case of any dispute, the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) in Beijing would resolve it under Chinese law. The East African

US Extends Sanctions on Zimbabwe Because it’s a Threat to its Foreign Policy
The United States (US) has extended its sanctions on Zimbabwe, a month after the European Union (EU) did the same. In a statement, US President Joe Biden said this was done because Zimbabwe’s gross human rights and democratic principles disregard are a threat to the US’ foreign policy. … In its justification, the US said: “President Emmerson Mnangagwa has not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing targeted sanctions programme.” The US also noted that opposition politicians and journalists herald people who bore the brunt of violence from the state. “Throughout the last year, government security services routinely intimidated and violently repressed citizens, including members of opposition political parties, union members, and journalists. News24

Media Watchdog Wants Zimbabwe Government to Ensure Peace During Coming Elections
The Media Institute for Southern Africa is calling on the Zimbabwe government to ensure peace ahead of March 26 elections, following opposition rallies that have been marred by violence claiming two lives and leaving dozens injured. Journalists also have lost valuable equipment during the melees. Tabani Moyo, director of the Media Institute for Southern Africa, said in an interview that his organization is “deeply worried” by violence at Zimbabwe’s opposition campaign rallies. “We therefore urge the police to enforce the law and ensure that perpetrators of violations against the journalists are brought to book. Secondly, we call upon politicians to desist from inciting their supporters or making inflammatory statements that risk putting journalists on the line of fire. This exposes journalists to possible harm from their supporters. By the same call, we call upon journalists to desist from taking part in political processes if they are still to practice their craft,” he said. Zimbabwe is to hold by-elections March 26 to fill parliamentary and local authority seats that have become vacant since the country’s 2018 general elections. VOA

Nigeria: How Abba Kyari Ran His Drug Syndicate
More facts have emerged on how suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, was working in cahoots with drug dealers in the country for several years until his recent arrest. A reliable source in the Nigeria Police Force, who preferred to remain anonymous, in a chat with THISDAY yesterday, disclosed that the ‘super cop’ whom the federal government last week announced commencement of plans to extradite to the United States of America to face fraud allegations, was allegedly operating with drug cartels from all over the country. The source, however, shed more light on the modus operandi of Kyari and his group. “They drug dealers usually notify him when these drugs are coming from different parts of the world into the country. Kyari would then go to the NDLEA territory, where the drugs were expected, pretend to arrest the culprits whom he usually threaten with prosecution. It was all staged. … This continued for years until Buba Marwa was appointed. “So, the intelligence on Abba Kyari had been there all along, but because he was seen as a ‘super cop,’ he was well-respected and well-connected nothing happened. And again, the Police had been giving him cover over the years, so nothing was done. If not for Marwa, he would have continued his nefarious acts,” the source added. This Day

Europe Looks to Africa to Fill Natural Gas Gap
To move away from depending on Russian energy, Europe is increasingly turning to Africa for its natural gas imports. Though the potential is there, low supply and serious bottlenecks stand in the way. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Europe to diversify its energy supply. “Germany and Europe must now quickly make up for what they have missed over the last 20 years,” Stefan Liebing, chairperson of the German-African Business Association, said in a recent press release. He advised Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck to travel to African countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola, which could help free Europe from its dependence on Russian gas. Algeria is the 10th-largest gas producer globally. Cargoes of liquefied natural gas — also known as LNG — exported in 2021 were largely destined for the European markets. This makes Algeria one of the top five LNG exporters to Europe. DW

Tanzanian Authorities Offer Protection to Ukrainian Tourists
The authorities in Tanzania have announced that they would offer protection to hundreds of Ukrainian tourists stranded in the archipelago of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean. Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights following Russia’s invasion last week. “My children and my parents are in Ukraine. I am with my husband and I want to go home. My children and my husband want to protect our country”, said Ukrainian tourist, Maryna Pokhylenko. Another Ukrainian tourist, Petrova Oksana, admitted feeling frustrated. “We are idle, we are just like prisoners here, we can’t get out”, she said. The authorities added that they are working on plans to evacuate the tourists to countries near Ukraine such as Poland. … Local hotel owners are offering a helping hand. “We have decided to help them. Like personally, I have been hosting 14 Ukrainians who are in need. I am offering them free accommodation, free meals and I never charged them even a single cent for their expenses”, said hotel manager, Calvin Kasori. It is estimated that around one thousand tourists are currently staying in various hotels in the semi-autonomous region. AfricaNews

South Africa: Ex-president Zuma Backs Putin in Ukraine Conflict
Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma has backed President Vladimir Putin in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, describing him as a man of peace. Western nations have imposed punitive sanctions on Russia, including the freezing of Mr Putin’s foreign assets over his invasion of Ukraine. But Mr Zuma said Mr Putin’s decision was “justifiable”, according to a statement released by his foundation. “We all need peace in this world. Therefore we would like to urge those involved to bring peace as swiftly as possible so that lives can be saved,” the statement said. Mr Zuma was forced out of office by his own party in 2018, the African National Congress (ANC), over corruption allegations. He denies any wrongdoing. BBC

With Russia Shunned, Botswana’s President Seeks Top Spot in Diamond Trade
Botswana, the world’s second-largest diamond producer, is seeking a more prominent role in the industry as No. 1 player Russia faces international outrage following its invasion of Ukraine. The southern African nation is vying to host a permanent new headquarters and secretariat for the Kimberley Process, which seeks to combat trade in the gems from conflict areas, part of the government’s effort to turn the country into a global industry hub. Income from diamonds have helped Botswana, which was among the world’s 25 poorest countries, attain upper-middle income status. … The Kimberley Process was initiated in 2003 by governments, civil rights groups and industry players to increase transparency and try and eliminate trade in so-called “blood diamonds.” While it has established a mechanism to trace the origin of the stones, which has curtailed the illicit trade, the US and groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have called for it to have a broader mandate and address more wide-ranging issues such as human rights abuses. Botswana, which took over the rotating chairmanship of the Kimberley Process plenary from Russia after its last session in November, will go up against China and Austria to host the watchdog’s permanent secretariat. It’s unclear when the winner will be named or when the next Kimberley Process plenary will be held, partly because of the war in Ukraine. Bloomberg

South Sudan Welcomes Planned Visit of Pope Francis
South Sudan government described Pope Francis’s visit to Juba next July as an “honour” to the country and its people, pledging to work for peace, unity, and reconciliation of the people. Presidential Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told the Sudan Tribune on Friday that President Salva Kiir has “wholeheartedly” welcomed the planned visit of the Catholic leader, pointing to numerous meetings the head of state and bishops have had over the past years to plan how the pope would be received. … Following the signing of the IGAD-brokered revitalized peace agreement in 2018, the catholic community of Sant’Egidio launched a mediation to bring the non-signatory groups to join the peace deal. Also, Pope Francis gathered the South Sudanese parties in Rome exhorting them to expedite the implementation of the peace agreement. … The Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Stephen Ameyu Mulla Thursday said that the Pope would visit South Sudan not only because he is a pastor but also because he is concerned about the lives of the South Sudanese and about politics in South Sudan. Sudan Tribune