Africa Media Review for May 21, 2024

Understanding the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Push for MONUSCO’s Departure
The government of President Félix Tshisekedi has pushed for the complete withdrawal of the UN mission, MONUSCO, by the end of 2024. The UN’s withdrawal seems incongruent with security realities where attacks by rebels are expanding and an estimated 7 million Congolese citizens have been displaced. More than 80 percent of these live in areas protected by MONUSCO, raising the specter of a humanitarian catastrophe…Many believe that the true intention behind the government’s push to eject MONUSCO has less to do with addressing the DRC’s myriad security challenges and more to do with reducing UN oversight of the increasingly exploitative actions of the Congolese security forces. The government opted not to bring in all stakeholders to review how MONUSCO/SADC/EAC roles could be redefined while ensuring citizen interests were protected…Crucially, the focus on MONUSCO distracts attention from the fundamental security issue—the inability of the Congolese security forces to protect its citizens. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Jacob Zuma Banned from Running in South Africa’s Election
The Constitutional Court in South Africa has ruled that former President Jacob Zuma cannot run for parliament, just 9 days before what’s being seen as the most pivotal vote in South Africa’s 30 years of democracy. It’s a significant blow for Zuma and his new uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, which is named after the former armed wing of his previous party, the ruling African National Congress. The MK was counting on the 82-year-old’s popularity in his home province in KwaZulu Natal to boost their votes…The Electoral Commission had gone to the top court arguing that due to a 15-month prison sentence Zuma was handed in 2021 for contempt of court, the constitution barred him from running for office. The judges, in their ruling on Monday, agreed…”It is declared that Mr. Zuma was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment and is accordingly not eligible to be a member of, and not qualified to stand for election to, the National Assembly,” the ruling said. NPR

South Africa: How the Community That Formed around the Alleged RET ‘Guptabots’ Migrated Overnight to Zuma’s MK Party
The uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK ) party has garnered online support from the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) community, which took over from the infamous Guptabots. This is according to a report by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC), released on Friday, 17 May. According to the report, the popularity of the MK party was detected by researchers at the CABC who track instances of online manipulation, as usage of MK party-specific hashtags appeared in large volumes overnight…By examining different online communities over different periods, the CABC found community links back to anti-Ramaphosa social media communities on X (formerly known as Twitter). The report showed how the RET forces, which took over from the Guptabots — led by anonymous accounts — showed a level of support for the Economic Freedom Fighters before the launch of MK…According to the report, the MK party appeared to have mobilised by co-opting wholesale a community that existed for years — a community defined by anonymous accounts which rose to prominence in the wake of the Guptabots. Some of its key members have been accused of supporting the July 2021 unrest and of having links to geopolitical players known to meddle in other countries’ social media landscapes and elections, such as Russia. According to the CABC report, “This raises issues of authenticity”. Daily Maverick

ANC Support Grows in Weeks before South African Election, Poll Shows
Support for South Africa’s governing African National Congress has risen in the weeks leading up to this month’s election, a tracking poll showed, suggesting it may only need a small coalition partner or could even win a majority. Analysts have been speculating for months that the ANC will fall short of 50% of the vote for the first time since coming to power 30 years ago under Nelson Mandela at the end of apartheid. But if it secures close to half the vote or more, the May 29 election will be less of a watershed as the ANC will still be firmly in control of the nation’s politics. The poll, updated on weekdays by local think tank the Social Research Foundation (SRF), put support for the ANC at 44.8% on Friday, the latest day for which data is available, up from 37.7% exactly one month earlier under a scenario modelled for the 66% turnout seen at the last national election in 2019.  Reuters

Rwanda Denies Entry to Senior Human Rights Researcher
The Rwandan government has barred a senior human rights researcher from entering the country, prompting accusations that officials are seeking to dodge independent scrutiny just weeks before the UK government is due to send asylum seekers there for the first time. Rwandan immigration authorities denied entry to Clementine de Montjoye, a senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, when she arrived at Kigali International Airport on 13 May. The east African government has defended its actions by accusing Human Rights Watch (HRW), which works in more than 90 countries, of fabricating its research…Her entry ban follows the publication of a recent HRW report documenting Rwanda’s systematic targeting of critics and dissidents beyond its borders. The Guardian

Rwanda Deploying Another 2,500 Soldiers to Help Mozambique Fight Cabo Delgado Insurgency
Rwanda is deploying an additional 2,500 soldiers to help Mozambique fight resurgent attacks by Islamic State insurgents in the oil-rich Cabo Delgado province. Attacks have been on the rise in the area as a force known as SAMIM, deployed by the Southern African Development Community, prepares to withdraw…Three years ago, Rwanda deployed 1,000 soldiers to fight alongside Mozambique’s armed defense and was joined by SAMIM. The regional intervention force will completely withdraw in July, forcing the Mozambican Armed Defense Forces (FADM) to fill the security vacuum. VOA

Ruto on First State Visit by Kenyan Leader to US in Two Decades
Kenyan President William Ruto meets his US counterpart Joe Biden in Washington this week, with the crisis in Haiti and efforts to build trade ties likely to top the agenda. Billed as “historic” by Ruto’s office, it is the first state visit by a Kenyan president to the United States in two decades and the first by an African leader since 2008. Thursday’s Biden-Ruto talks will focus on trade and security partnerships including Kenya’s pledge to lead a UN-backed multinational mission seeking to restore order in Haiti, which has been wracked by gang-fueled anarchy…Ruto will meet a Congressional delegation on Wednesday and call for the extension of a free trade agreement — the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) — which eliminates import tariffs on goods from eligible African nations. The pact expires in 2025, prompting African leaders to seek clarity on future arrangements. AFP

Sudan: West Kordofan Activists Trained in Psychological Trauma Support
A section of civil society activists in Sudan’s West Kordofan State have been trained in psychological trauma support skills, a local organization reported. Muzna Voluntary Organization on Saturday said it organized workshops in several towns across West Kordofan State focusing on psychological trauma and first aid. In a press statement seen by Radio Tamazuj, Buthaina Hammad, a member of Muzna Voluntary Organization, said the project targeted 80 participants from emergency room members from the localities of Al-Foula, Abu Zabad, Babanousa, and Al-Nuhud…West Kordofan is experiencing intense clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in several areas, particularly in the Babanousa locality. This has led to high waves of displacement and extremely complex humanitarian circumstances. Radio Tamazuj

Sudan: Alarm over Malnutrition Deaths in Central Darfur’s Al-Himidiyah Camp
Healthcare workers at the Al-Himidiyah Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camp in Zalingei in Sudan’s Central Darfur State have revealed that between two to four children die of malnutrition daily. Abdullah Tirab, a healthcare worker in Block 3 of Al-Himidiyah Camp, told Radio Tamazuj that there are significant deaths among children and the elderly due to hunger and malnutrition…Meanwhile, Saif El-Din Abdullah Haroun, a youth leader in the camp, said the camp had not received food rations since late last year…An IDP in the camp, Hawa Mohammed Adam Ahmed, said it was difficult for lactating mothers to breastfeed their infants due to lack of food. Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan Suspends Talks Over Aid Delivery to Sudan’s Two Areas
The South Sudanese mediation announced the suspension of negotiations between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) as of Sunday. This pause aims to allow the participating delegations to conduct consultations before reconvening. On the fourth day of negotiations hosted in Juba, the parties were unable to reach an agreement on how to open routes for delivering humanitarian aid to those affected by the war and displaced civilians in areas under the control of the SPLM-N, led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu…Goch added that the mediation would soon announce the date for the resumption of negotiations after receiving the parties’ positions on the outstanding technical issues. He emphasized that another round of negotiations would be held in the near future but did not specify a date…The Sudanese government’s proposal to South Sudanese mediation includes a ceasefire to allow the passage of humanitarian aid to South and West Kordofan states and the Blue Nile region via land and air routes, with the government of South Sudan acting as a supervisory body. Meanwhile, the SPLM-N insists on simultaneously delivering humanitarian aid to all regions of Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Nigerian Army Rescues 386 Civilians from Sambisa Forest 10 Years after Abduction
No fewer than 386 people, mostly women and children, have been rescued by the Army in Sambisa forest ten years after their abduction. The acting GOC 7 Division, AGL Haruna, made this known while speaking to newsmen at the outskirts of Sambisa forest in Konduga LGA after welcoming the troops that conducted the 10-day operation. [The acting GOC 7 Division, AGL Haruna], a brigadier general, said the operation tagged “Operation Desert Sanity 111” was to clear Sambisa forest of the remnants of all categories of terrorists as well as provide some of them eager to surrender as observed the opportunity to do so…The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that troops from 21 Special Armoured Brigade, 26 Task Force Brigade, and 199 Special Forces participated in the operation. Premium Times

Mayor, Two Others Killed in Cameroon amid National Day Celebrations
Gunmen in Cameroon killed a local mayor and two others in the restive North West region as the nation observed its National Day on Monday, the regional governor said, the second ambush in two weeks targeting government officials. Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique said Mayor Ngong Innocent Ankiambom of the town of Belo, as well as his deputy mayor and an inspector of basic education, were shot dead as they made their way to the celebrations…On May 10, separatist fighters ambushed and killed a commander of a gendarmerie brigade and four of his men in the Central African country’s South West region. Separatists across the North West and South West regions typically step up attacks around National Day, which marks the abolition of the federal system of governance in Cameroon. Reuters

The Race to Fix Africa’s Poor Weather Forecasting
[L]ike other less-developed regions, many parts of Africa have gaps in the ability to warn people of both imminent natural disasters, such as flash flooding, or future hazards, such as drought…According to a WMO database, Africa only has 37 radar facilities, which are vital for tracking weather fluctuations and rainfall and for forewarning of floods and other hazards. In comparison, 345 radars cover Europe and Russia, which together have a smaller land mass than Africa. Moreover, more than half of Africa’s radar stations are unable to produce accurate enough data to predict weather patterns for the coming days or even hours, the 2024 Nature article noted. On top of this, the global models used to predict the weather perform poorly in Africa. “The main disadvantage is that most of these models were developed for the global North,” said climate scientist Benjamin Lamptey, [a visiting professor of meteorology at the UK’s University of Leeds] explaining that these models work well in the mid-latitudes (about 30 to 60 degrees north or south of the equator), where much of Europe and the USA fall. DW