Africa Media Review for May 31, 2024

South Africa: Official Election Results: A Portent of What Is to Come
The official result of the 2024 national and provincial election began to closely resemble projections of the ANC losing support nationally after 59% of the results were tallied by Friday mid-morning. With the governing party projected to receive just 40% of the vote, the bright blue Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) leaderboard posting official results confirmed the bottoming out of ANC support, yanking it below 50% for the first time since 1994 – a 30-year milestone no political party hopes to mark…The true results starkly match the projections. The official results place the ANC’s support at 41.9%, the DA at 23.3%, and former president Jacob Zuma’s Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party at 11.3%. The EFF is fourth with 9.5% of the vote and the IFP is fifth on the board with 2.7%. The Patriotic Alliance (PA) is in sixth place, and set to enter Parliament for the first time since its formation a decade ago, with 2.6% of the vote; followed by the Freedom Front Plus (1.5%) and ActionSA (1.1%). News24

ANC Voters Defect en Masse in South Africa’s Coal Belt Heartland
With South Africa’s ruling party on track to get about 42% of the vote in the national election, the anger in its heartland coal-mining belt gives a hint as to why it faces its worst result ever – and the prospect of sharing power with its rivals. In the township of Botleng – once a source of cheap farm labour for the country’s hated white minority ex-rulers – roads are riddled with potholes, power cuts frequent and unemployed youths smoke cheap heroin to ease boredom and despair…[I]n Mpumalanga, the province where the town of Botleng is situated, the promises of a better life for the country’s Black majority after Nelson Mandela propelled the ANC to victory 30 years ago ring hollow…Mpumalanga has for decades attracted poor Black South Africans to jobs in coal mining or power stations, which keep the nation’s lights on. But its townships suffer major power shortages while a decline in the business as coal-fired power stations get retired or break down has left many out of work. Reuters

UN Warns of Nutrition Crisis for Women, Children in Sudan
According to the U.N Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), child malnutrition is being worsened by limited access to nutritious food, safe drinking water, adequate sanitation as well as an increased risk of disease…About 15.6% of children under age five suffer acute malnutrition in Central Darfur. In ZamZam camp in North Darfur, that number is around 30%…For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the malnutrition crisis is particularly concerning. According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), over 33% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in the ZamZam camp are malnourished. It says they are likely feeding their children instead of themselves, posing danger to the mother and the future child, since as much as 30% of malnutrition begins in utero. VOA

US Sanctions Uganda’s Parliament Speaker, Her Husband and Others over Corruption and Rights Abuses
Parliament Speaker Anita Among was sanctioned “due to involvement in significant corruption tied to her leadership” of Uganda’s national assembly, the U.S. State Department said. Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, a former deputy chief of Uganda’s military, was sanctioned over “extrajudicial killings” committed by government troops. Three former government ministers, recently implicated in the theft of roofing sheets that were not distributed to members of an impoverished community, were also sanctioned. Among, a senior member of Uganda’s ruling party and an ally of President Yoweri Museveni, has been under the spotlight recently over the source of her wealth as well as allegations relating to the misuse of parliamentary resources. The United Kingdom announced sanctions against her last month, citing corruption. AP

US Sanctions Two Central African Republic Companies Linked to Russian Wagner Group
The U.S. imposed sanctions Thursday on two companies in the Central African Republic that support Russia’s Wagner Group, the Treasury Department said. “The Russia-backed Wagner Group and its network of businesses have exploited the people and natural resources of the Central African Republic to advance the group’s agenda,” Brian Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. Washington says one of the sanctioned companies is responsible for importing chemicals frequently used in mining and for leasing Wagner Group aircraft to move personnel and equipment. The other company has received hundreds of shipments of heavy materials from a Russian entity linked to Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed last August in a plane crash. VOA with AP

UN Extends Arms Embargo on South Sudan
The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday to extend an arms embargo on South Sudan for one year despite appeals from the world’s newest nation to lift or at least ease the restrictive measure. The U.S.-sponsored resolution got the minimum nine “yes” votes in the 15-member council, with six countries abstaining – Russia, China, Mozambique, Algeria, Sierra Leone and Guyana. The resolution also extends travel bans and asset freezes on South Sudanese on the U.N. sanctions blacklist until May 31, 2025…The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan in July 2018 in the wake of renewed violence in July 2016 that collapsed the 2015 peace deal signed to end years of conflict. Radio Tamazuj

Togo’s President Gnassingbe Set to Switch Job to Stay in Power
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe is set to become president of the council of ministers, a position introduced by the new constitution, which will allow him to extend his 19-year-old rule, a minister said late on Monday. The new charter adopted in March introduced a parliamentary system of government and created the role of the president of the council of ministers who will have extensive authority to manage the coastal West African nation’s government affairs. Civil service minister Gilbert Bawara said on television that Gnassingbe has been designated by the UNIR ruling party as their candidate for the position of the president of the council. Earlier this month, Gnassingbe’s UNIR party won a majority of seats in a disputed legislative election…Togo has seen years of resistance to the Gnassingbe family’s rule…If elected to the new powerful role of president of the council of ministers, there are no term limits, meanwhile according to the new constitution, the largely ceremonial president is elected for a four year term renewable once. Reuters

Zambian Authorities Arrest Five on Espionage Charges
Police in Zambia have arrested five people on espionage charges following their earlier allegations via social media that the government was involved in the apparent abduction of independent lawmaker Jay Jay Banda last week. Police spokesperson Danny Mwale confirmed to journalists in Lusaka on Thursday the arrests of opposition lawmakers Munir Zulu and Maureen Mubonga, opposition activist Brebner Changala, and opposition party chiefs Edith Nawakwi and Danny Pule. All suspects earlier this week were charged with spreading hate speech related to last weekend’s alleged abduction of Banda, who has since resurfaced…Thursday’s arrests came barely a week after opposition Patriotic Front Secretary General Raphael Nakachinda was sentenced to 18 months of hard labor for violating a now-defunct presidential defamation law, stemming from his December 2021 allegations that Hichilema had coerced and intimidated Zambian judges into politically favorable rulings. Human Rights Watch said Nakachinda’s sentencing has had a broad chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression in Zambia. VOA

African Union Sets August 6 Deadline for Commission Posts Applicants
The African Union has opened the floor for aspirants of the upcoming race for the chairperson and deputy positions of the continental body’s Commission to file their papers, or drop out in favour of rivals…Under the current African Union rules on regulations, the seat for the African Union Commission chairperson will only be contested by countries in the eastern region while the deputy will be contested by the northern African region. Depending on whether a male or female candidate wins the chairperson seat, the deputy will then come from the opposite gender…All the eight positions of the Commission — chairperson, deputy and six commissioners — are up for grabs. But each region will be given slots based on what leaders agreed on as a fair “principle of inter-regional rotation.” It means the six commissioners will fall to the remaining regions of south, central and western…[C]ountries currently suspended for committing coups, including Sudan, Gabon, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea are ineligible to compete for any slots. The EastAfrican

Tens of Billions of Dollars in Gold Flows Illegally out of Africa Each Year, a New Report Says
Billons of dollars in gold is smuggled out of Africa each year and most of it ends up in the United Arab Emirates, where it is refined and sold to customers around the world, according to a report published Thursday. Over $30 billion worth of gold, or more than 435 metric tons, was smuggled out of the continent in 2022, according to the report published by Swissaid, an aid and development group based in Switzerland. The main destinations for African gold were the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Switzerland…The report found that between 32% and 41% of gold produced in Africa was not declared. In 2022, Ghana was the largest gold producer in Africa, followed by Mali and South Africa, it said. AP

Namibian Environmentalists Oppose Green Hydrogen Production in National Park
An umbrella body representing 77 environmental protection groups in Namibia is voicing opposition to proposed green hydrogen production in the Tsau Khaeb National Park by a German company because of the harm they say it poses to animals and plant life in that area. The Tsau Khaeb National Park in southern Namibia is one of 36 recognized globally recognized hotspots for biodiversity…However, this biodiversity will be harmed if green hydrogen is to be produced in that pristine wilderness, said Chris Brown, the head of the environmental coalition known as Namibia’s Chamber of Environment…Green hydrogen is produced using wind, water and solar power to produce ammonia, which is then converted to hydrogen, which can be used for steel production and as a fuel for ships and vehicles. In a rush to decarbonize, European member states like Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have allocated millions of euros to pilot projects along Namibia’s sunny and windy coastline for green hydrogen production. VOA

Southern African Countries Fear Losing More Elephants to Drought
Southern African countries home to the largest elephant population in the world fear a rise in animal deaths in the coming months as food and water sources dwindle following a severe drought. The region experienced an extended hot, dry spell during its 2023/24 rainy season, attributed to El Nino, a weather phenomenon marked by the warming of the waters in the eastern Pacific, leading to hotter weather across the world. El Nino has worsened the impact of climate change, scientists say. The drought has affected water and food supplies for humans, livestock and wildlife. Zimbabwe lost 160 elephants in its premier Hwange National Park in the year to January 2024, according to the country’s wildlife authority. Botswana lost 300 elephants to drought last year, according to its environment ministry…The five countries making up the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) conservation area – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Angola and Namibia, home to a combined 227,000 elephants – are meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, to discuss sustainable wildlife management. Reuters