Africa Media Review for May 30, 2024

South Africa: Queues and More Queues as First Poll Result Declared Just past Midnight
[T]he ANC desk at the IEC national results centre was “quietly optimistic” on Wednesday night. Video clips of long voters’ queues in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal township bases were circulating. It was taken as a sign the boots-on-the-ground campaigning of the past 10 days was paying off for the ANC, which pundits in the run-up to the 29 May poll widely predicted would lose its governing majority…[I]n the hotly contested 2024 election, every vote counts. Even 1,000 votes could make a difference, according to one opposition party rep at the IEC national results centre at Gallagher Estate. But that cuts both ways, also for the ANC. Perhaps this is why hope, hype and sometimes hyperbole prevailed. This 2024 election has been styled as a watershed, largely on the back of polling the ANC losing governance control. However, the opposition balance sheet is lacking; at best the Multi-Party Charter of several opposition parties garners 40% polling support. As voting stations closed at 9pm on Wednesday – by 11pm just over 60% had closed – the counting of ballots started at each voting station. As the results signed off by the IEC and reps of political parties are checked, audited and scanned, the results boards at the IEC national results centre are updated. Daily Maverick

South Africa Deploys Military on Election Day amid Security Concerns
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday authorised the deployment of 2,828 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to maintain security on Wednesday as the country’s more than 27 million voters decide which party or coalition will lead them in the future. Presidency spokesman Vincent Magwenya said on Tuesday that Ramaphosa had informed the National Assembly of the deployment, which is estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $3 million. The EastAfrican

Rwanda Classified
Forbidden Stories and its partners examined the troubling circumstances of Rwandan journalist John Williams Ntwali’s death, and meanwhile pursued the investigation that put the journalist in authorities’ crosshairs. The journalists of Rwanda Classified also looked into the hidden side of Kagame’s regime. From assassination attempts and suspicious deaths to intimidation and the use of surveillance technologies even against members of the ruling party, [the] investigation reveals how the Rwandan government sets about silencing critics at home and abroad. Forbidden Stories

East Africa’s Devastating Floods Linked to Climate Change and Urban Growth
Countries in the East Africa region are reeling from devastating floods that swept through during this March-May rain season. The season, commonly known as the long rains season because it typically brings the region’s highest annual rainfall, turned into a disaster with torrential downpours that claimed hundreds of lives, displaced thousands, and destroyed vital infrastructure and crops. A recent study by the World Weather Attribution (WWA), an international collaboration that analyses and communicates the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, shows that human-induced climate change and rapid urbanisation intensified the impact of relentless rain. The study was conducted by 13 researchers in the WWA group, including scientists from universities, research organisations and meteorological agencies in Kenya, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The EastAfrican

Uganda Tackles Yellow Fever with New Travel Requirement, Vaccination Campaign for Millions
Uganda has rolled out a nationwide yellow fever vaccination campaign to help safeguard its population against the mosquito-borne disease that has long posed a threat…By the end of April, Ugandan authorities had vaccinated 12.2 million of the 14 million people targeted, said Dr. Michael Baganizi, an official in charge of immunization at the health ministry. Uganda will now require everyone traveling to and from the country to have a yellow fever vaccination card as an international health regulation, Baganizi said. Ugandan authorities hope the requirement will compel more people to get the yellow fever shot amid a general atmosphere of vaccine hesitancy that worries healthcare providers in the East African nation…Uganda, with 45 million people, is one of 27 countries on the African continent classified as at high risk for yellow fever outbreaks. According to the World Health Organization, there are about 200,000 cases and 30,000 deaths globally each year from the disease. AP

DR Congo Names New Government after Months of Delay
The Democratic Republic of Congo unveiled a new government on Wednesday, ending more than five months of deadlock following President Felix Tshisekedi’s re-election. Tshisekedi won a second term after elections in late 2023 that also handed his Sacred Union coalition a large majority in parliament. But internal jostling for jobs has delayed the formation of a new cabinet of ministers…The new cabinet comprises 54 ministers versus 57 in the last government – a smaller-than-expected downsizing despite pressure to reduce costs. Guy Kabombo Muadiamvita was appointed defence minister, a key post at a time when the DRC faces a serious security crisis in the east…Doudou Fwamba Likunde was named finance minister and Kizito Pakabomba was appointed to oversee the mines ministry and Congo’s globally significant reserves of coltan, copper and other minerals. RFI

UNHCR: ‘Act Now’ or Sahel Crisis Will Be ‘Problem for the World’
Action must be taken immediately to address the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel or other countries will be drawn in and it will “become a problem for the world,” a UNHCR official warned Wednesday. The volatile situations in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso risks overflowing into neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency’s director for west and central Africa, Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde told AFP in an interview in Brussels. “The Gulf of Guinea, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire are already suffering because of the spiral of insecurity and the humanitarian situation — the same with Mauritania, the same with Algeria,” he said. “If we don’t act now, if we don’t respond now, if we don’t find a way to remain there, stay and continue to remain engaged, finding a solution, then somehow those countries will be overwhelmed, the state will be overwhelmed, and it will become a problem for the world,” he said…”Despite all the change, all the crises that we see in the world, despite all the conflict that we have, things are happening in the Sahel and that merits our attention,” Gnon-Konde said. AFP

Cameroon Meeting of French-Speaking Africa Lawmakers Decry Instability, Foreign Influence
Francophone lawmakers from about 30 African states are meeting in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, to find a solution to the political instability in French-speaking African nations — including a string of recent coups, security threats and popular discontent. The lawmakers say among the solutions to the growing crisis are dialogue, a return to democratic principles and an end to foreign influence. The 150 lawmakers, members of the African region of the Parliamentary Association of the Francophonie, or APF, say many Francophone African countries have suffered deep political and economic instability and security threats. Within the past four years several former French colonies in which France continued to wield political influence experienced military coups or takeovers, including Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Gabon and Chad. The group says besides military takeovers French-speaking African states also have a record of long serving leaders…Canada-born Francis Drouin is the president of the Parliamentary Association of the Francophonie. Speaking in Yaounde on Wednesday, Drouin said young people in French-speaking African countries complain that political instability remains high, and civilians are disgruntled because their freedoms are suffocated by long serving leaders and military governments. VOA

Ruto Declares Ironclad Support for Haiti in Exclusive Interview
In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Hubbah Abdi shortly after concluding his state visit to the United States last week, [Kenyan President William] Ruto said the East African nation “will show up in Haiti” as it has historically done for more than a dozen other countries to support peace efforts…VOA: The U.S. has reaffirmed its support for Kenya to deploy troops to Haiti. But the U.S. and other countries have refrained from sending their troops there. In Kenya, there’s an active case in court regarding this deployment. Why are you still determined to send troops to Haiti? Ruto: The deployment of our security officers to Haiti has been endorsed by the Cabinet. Both houses of parliament have ratified it. We have met all international requirements, and in fact, we have complied with the very court order you’re referring to. The court asked us to have an agreement signed between Kenya and Haiti specifically to facilitate this deployment. The prime minister of Haiti [Ariel Henry] traveled to Kenya, and we jointly witnessed the signing of that agreement. Beyond that, I have also asked the Transitional Presidential Council in Haiti to ratify and confirm that they recognize the agreement that was signed between Kenya and witnessed by the former prime minister and myself. I have it in writing that they confirm that the current administration recognizes that agreement. So, we are very clear, and I am very clear in my mind that Kenya has satisfied all legal, constitutional and international obligations to facilitate the deployment of this police contingent. VOA

The Ex-con, Illegal Guns and the Fear of Kenya’s Police
Figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show violent robberies increased by almost 20% last year. Illegal firearms are smuggled into the country through its porous borders, making Kenya’s civilian possession of weapons unrivalled in East Africa, according to the Institute of Security Studies…The latest figures from the Small Arms Survey, which tracks global weapons trends, suggest there are some 750,000 firearms in civilian hands in Kenya. That is more than the army and police combined…In the last 20 years the Kenyan government has used amnesties as a way of controlling gun crime, promising immunity to those who surrender their weapons. Thousands of guns have been handed in to the authorities. But this is a tiny fraction of the illegal firearms in circulation…[King Kafu, a former convict who now helps people get away from crime] says people willing to hand over their illegal firearms to the authorities fear they might become a target themselves. The police have been accused of being involved in extra-judicial killings. BBC

AfDB Aims to Boost Infrastructure Funding as African Growth Accelerates
Africa’s economic growth is set to accelerate to 3.7% this year and 4.3% next from 3.1% in 2023, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said on Wednesday, expressing hope that the bank can boost infrastructure investment with IMF help. “African economies are experiencing great resilience despite the challenges posed by climate change, geopolitical tensions, global inflation, rising debt, among others,” Adesina told the annual meeting of the bank. In the past nine years the bank has invested over $50 billion in infrastructure projects on the continent, he said. Adesina said two weeks ago that the International Monetary Fund had approved multilateral banks such as the AfDB lending against the Fund’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) monetary reserves. SDRs are interest-bearing international reserve assets granted to IMF member countries in proportion to their shareholding. Reuters

Algeria Proposes UN Action to ‘Stop Killing in Rafah’
Algeria on Tuesday proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that demands a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the release of all hostages held by Hamas and essentially orders Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah. Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Amar Bendjama said earlier on Tuesday – after a closed-door meeting of the 15-member U.N. security body on Gaza – that the aim of the move was to “stop the killing in Rafah.” Algeria is a council member for 2024/25. The Algerian draft text, seen by Reuters, uses the strongest Security Council language – it “decides that Israel, the occupying Power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah.” It also cites a ruling by the International Court of Justice last week that ordered Israel to immediately halt its military assault on Rafah, in a landmark emergency ruling in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide. Reuters

Post-COVID, China Is Back in Africa and Doubling Down on Minerals
China’s flagship economic cooperation program is bouncing back after a lull during the global pandemic, with Africa a primary focus, according to a Reuters analysis of lending, investment and trade data. Chinese leaders have been citing the billions of dollars committed to new construction projects and record two-way trade as evidence of their commitment to assist with the continent’s modernisation and foster “win-win” cooperation. But the data reveals a more complex relationship, one that is still largely extractive and has so far failed to live up to some of Beijing’s rhetoric about the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s strategy to build an infrastructure network connecting China to the world. While new Chinese investment in Africa increased 114% last year, according to the Griffith Asia Institute at Australia’s Griffith University, it was heavily focused on minerals essential to the global energy transition and China’s plans to revive its own flagging economy. Those minerals and oil also dominated trade…Chinese sovereign lending, once the main source of financing for Africa’s infrastructure, is at its lowest level in two decades. And public-private partnerships (PPPs), which China has touted as its new preferred investment vehicle globally, have yet to gain traction in Africa. Reuters

Libya Oil and Gas Minister Resumes Work after Two-Month Suspension
Libya’s oil and gas minister resumed work on Tuesday after a suspension for two months pending a legal investigation, the ministry said in a brief statement. Mohamed Oun, oil and gas minister in the Government of National Unity in Tripoli, was temporarily suspended in March by the Administrative Control Agency amid an investigation it said was about “the presence of legal violations.” The ministry said that ACA lifted the suspension on May 12 as the investigation had ended…The oil ministry posted a picture of Oun at his desk checking a dossier, saying the minister “has resumed his duties this morning.” The ACA oversees government performance, and its powers include challenging appointments to public positions and enhancing public accountability. Reuters

Botswana Flags Synthetic Gem Threat Ahead of $6 Bln Diamond Project Launch
Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday called synthetic gems a threat to the country’s economic lifeblood, as the government readies to launch a $6 billion project to extend the life of its flagship Jwaneng diamond mine. The natural diamond market has struggled in the past two years due to rising consumer demand for cheaper lab-grown diamonds, coupled with global macroeconomic volatility. Masisi will participate this week at the JCK Show in Las Vegas, considered the world’s largest jewellery trade event, to promote Botswana as a leading producer of ethically and responsibly sourced diamonds as the country looks to safeguard its market share for natural diamonds. According to industry watchdog Kimberley Process Certification Scheme data, Botswana produced 20% of the world’s total rough diamonds in 2022, behind Russia. The southern African country is, however, the world’s top diamond producer by value…The gems contribute up to 40% of government revenue, 75% of its foreign exchange earnings and a third of national output. Reuters