Africa Media Review for May 8, 2024

Chad’s President Looks to Shore Up Regime as He Seeks New Alliances
Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno took over as president from his father three years ago, after he died on the battlefield, in what opponents say was an unconstitutional power grab. Déby is expected to win the election comfortably, though few observers expect the vote to be fair…Yet even as Déby seeks to legitimise his regime, his grip on power is weak, with some even within his own ethnic group not supportive of his leadership…Daniel Eizenga, a Chad expert at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies think-tank, said the president’s aim was to “shroud himself in a self-made veil of political legitimacy by executing this highly orchestrated election at a time when the country is under enormous pressures and strains. “The gamble Déby seems to be making is that he can distract from the fragility inherent within his regime.” Financial Times

Togo’s Longtime Leader Signs a New Constitution That Eliminates Presidential Elections
Togo’s president has signed a new constitution eliminating presidential elections, his office said late Monday, a move that opponents say will allow him to extend his family’s six-decade rule. Civil society groups in the West African nation have called for protests. Parliament will now choose the president. The new constitution comes days after the election commission on Saturday announced that President Faure Gnassingbe’s ruling party had won a majority of parliament seats…There was a crackdown on civic and media freedoms ahead of the vote. The government banned protests against the proposed new constitution and arrested opposition figures. AP

Fear and Prayers in Sudan City under Siege
Until now El Fasher has been spared the worst of the violence and ethnic killings that have taken place across Darfur, the stronghold of the RSF. But since the middle of last month, the paramilitary force has been besieging El Fasher, a humanitarian hub which hosts hundreds of thousands of displaced people, including those who have fled other areas seized by the group. So far, bombardments and skirmishes have killed 43 people, according to the UN. As people wait to see whether the RSF does launch a full-scale attack on the city, their focus is on a battle for survival…There is no electricity and the shortage of water is acute, made more so by lack of fuel and increased demand from the influx of displaced people…With all routes into and out of the city closed and unsafe, the claustrophobia of fear is oppressive. “The hardest thing now is the completely deteriorating mental state due to the repeated conflicts and constant tension,” says Mohammed, [a] grocery shop owner. BBC

Nigeria: Security Agents Complain Of Inadequate Weapons Amid Boko Haram Attacks
Hunters and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Borno state, North East Nigeria, have complained about the lack of adequate arms following a gun battle with Boko Haram insurgents last week…The local hunters operating in the area who had taken it upon themselves to protect their community pursued the terrorists, initiating an intense exchange of gunfire. One of the hunters found himself in a perilous situation, exhausting all his pump shotgun bullets while sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg…The necessity for security in these areas remains paramount as they prepare to commence farming activities with the approaching rainy season. Empowering local security forces will enhance their commitment to providing protection, enabling farmers to access their farms less fearfully. HumAngle

Nigeria: Landmine Attacks Spike In Borno With 16 Killed In A Week, Including Pregnant Woman
Borno state in North East Nigeria is reeling from a spate of deadly landmine attacks, with violent extremist groups blamed for the recent surge in violence that has claimed at least 16 lives…The Gamboru-Ngala highway in Borno has become a hotspot for Boko Haram’s deadly strategy of targeting security forces and civilians alike with hidden explosives…The use of landmines by extremist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on these critical routes not only disrupts the safety of travel but also indicates a persistent threat that requires urgent and comprehensive measures to safeguard the lives of Borno’s residents…There is a significant level of concern within military circles regarding the potential escalation of IED-related violence. “Recent intelligence suggests that there could be around 2,000 individuals trained to plant such IEDs” in their desperate bid to slow down the military campaigns around Lake Chad, [a senior] military source said. HumAngle

Death Toll from Strikes on Eastern Congo Camps Rises to 18
Eighteen people were killed and 32 wounded on Friday when at least five rockets fell on camps sheltering displaced people around the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said, updating an earlier death toll of 12. The deaths illustrate the worsening humanitarian fallout from the two-year conflict between Congolese forces and the Rwanda-backed rebel group M23, which has moved closer to Goma in recent months, prompting thousands to seek refuge in the city. Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States have said the attacks were launched from territory held by Rwandan troops and M23…OCHA said in a statement that most of those killed in the rockets strikes were women and children. One more woman was killed during a protest at one camp after the attacks, it said. Reuters

Cheap Imported Drones Fuel a Surge of Deaths in Africa
Across Africa, a flood of cheap imported drones is changing the face of warfare, making it deadlier and more indiscriminate. The proliferation of easy-to-obtain drones – known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – is fuelling conflicts, increasing civilian casualties and filling the skies with new dangers. Schools, markets, weddings, funerals and civilian vehicles have all been hit by poorly targeted drone strikes, usually with little explanation, or later acknowledged as mistakes. By some estimates, thousands of African civilians have been killed by UAVs in the past three years…Most drones can fly for 12 to 24 hours, at speeds of 200 kilometres an hour, carrying an arsenal of laser-guided bombs and rockets…More than 20 African armies – and some rebel groups – are believed to be using drones today. In recent months, in almost every African war zone, drones have taken an increasingly prominent role. But civilians are often the ones who pay the human toll. The Globe and Mail

S. Korea, Africa Craft Vision Statement for First-Ever Summit
High-ranking officials from South Korea and Africa convened Monday to deliberate on a pivotal vision statement, aimed at fostering a better-structured and strengthened partnership between the two sides. The statement is poised to be unveiled as the defining outcome of the first-ever Korea-Africa summit in South Korea. The Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in preparation for the two-day summit on June 4 and 5 took place in Seoul, with resident and nonresident ambassadors and high-level representatives from 44 African countries in attendance, according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry…Mauritania’s ambassador served as the chief delegate from the African side for the SOM, given that the first Korea-Africa summit will be jointly hosted by South Korea and Mauritius, the incumbent chair of the African Union…[T]he two sides deliberated on pathways to reinforce cooperation in fields such as peace and security, aligning with the growing roles and significance of both entities on the global stage. The Korea Herald

Enough with the Veto, Mozambique Vents to the ‘P5’ Security Council Members
[Pedro Comissário was appointed as the Mozambican ambassador to the UN in 2022.] PassBlue: The last time we spoke, more than a year ago, you said the insurgency in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique was declining but extremist attacks have reportedly increased since the last half of 2023. What is your view on the worsening insecurity? Comissário: Our military is doing a good job, but we are faced with clandestine activities that fuel these terrorist attacks and the network. If you look elsewhere, it is the same. When they receive more logistical support from the outside, their activities intensify, but there is also another phenomenon for the intensification when our defense forces, together with the SADC [Southern African Development Community] and Rwanda forces, are pressuring these terrorists, they try to deviate and act in other regions. So this gives the impression that terrorism is intensifying, but it reflects these two factors: foreign support and intense activities from our defense forces. PassBlue

Cocoa Farming in Liberia Risks Undermining EU Deforestation Law
Farmers are clearing forests in Liberia to create cocoa plantations and are trafficking the beans into neighbouring Ivory Coast, undermining European efforts to curb deforestation, research by a conservation group showed…As efforts have focused on tracing supply chains in leading cocoa exporting countries, Ivorian forest conservation group IDEF found that farmers from Ivory Coast are moving across the border into Liberia in search of land…Unless the exodus of cocoa farmers from Ivory Coast into Liberia is checked, it risks fueling a repeat of the widespread cocoa-driven clearances that have all but wiped out Ivorian forest cover, [Bakary Traore, IDEF’s executive director and the main author of the research] said…Despite company assertions that they are able to trace the origins of their supplies, that Liberian-grown cocoa is illegally trafficked back into Ivory Coast and mixed in with Ivorian supplies. “The controls on the ground, in reality, are almost non-existent,” Traore said. Reuters

South Africa’s Zuma Faces Dissent in New Party as Election Nears
Former South African President Jacob Zuma is facing an attempt to oust him from leadership positions in his new party, state broadcaster SABC reported on Tuesday, three weeks before an election in which he is expected to attract significant support. One of the most divisive figures in South Africa, Zuma was president from 2009 until 2018, when he was forced to quit following a string of corruption scandals involving his administration. Openly hostile to his successor President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma announced in December he would not vote for the ruling African National Congress, his longtime party, in the May 29 election, instead backing new party uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK)…Zuma has become the party’s public face despite remaining an ANC member. But after Zuma fell out with MK founder Jabulani Khumalo and ousted him from the party, Khumalo has hit back by writing to the electoral commission saying Zuma was not the rightful leader of MK and his face should not appear on ballot papers, SABC reported. Reuters

Anti-corruption Advocates Worry over Dropping of Malawi VP Case
Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima was arrested in November of 2022 after being named among 84 individuals suspected to have received bribes from a U.K.-based businessman, Zuneth Sattar. Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau accused Chilima of receiving kickbacks from Sattar in exchange for government contracts…An order from High Court Judge Redson Kapindu issued Monday says all charges Chilima was answering to in connection to the case have been dropped…George Phiri, a former lecturer of political science at the University of Livingstonia, said dropping the case against Chilima is detrimental to the fight against corruption. “Discontinuing a high-profile case, forgiving people whom the court has justified that they were guilty of an offense, I think, does not send a good message in the fight against corruption in Malawi,” he said. VOA

This Journalist Exposed Corruption in the Malawian Army. Now He’s on the Run.
The story that forced [journalist Gregory Gondwe] into hiding was part of a wider investigation into alleged dodgy deals made by the Malawian army…[H]e had spent more than a year looking into why the military kept buying vehicles at strangely bloated prices. The January 29 story focused on the purchase of 32 tanks from a company linked to Zuneth Sattar, a business owner previously arrested for bribing the country’s vice president…At the root of Mr. Gondwe’s problem is a long-standing issue plaguing many African countries: military leadership run amok…These powerful militaries often get little oversight, making them prone to exactly the kind of corruption Mr. Gondwe uncovered in Malawi. More than half of African countries don’t tell the public how much they spend on their militaries, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The Christian Science Monitor

Namibia’s Unique Desert Lions Threatened by Drought and Human Conflict
A survey carried out in late 2022 to early 2023 by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) put numbers of desert-adapted lions at around 57-60 adults and 14 cubs. Since then, another eight to 12 lions have died – some through conflict with humans, according to the latest statistics…The human-lion conflict appears to be driven by declines in typical lion prey caused by drought…From 2021-2023, they killed 512 animals including goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys and even chickens and dogs, according to data gathered by the Lion Rangers. These represent significant losses to pastoralists from the 19,800-strong Otjiherero and Damara-speaking communities who share the landscape with the desert lions. Under Namibian law, wild animals – including protected species – can be killed without legal repercussions if they pose an immediate threat to human safety or property. RFI

Grassroots Initiatives Are Helping Gazans Build Lives in Cairo
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said several times that the solution for Gaza’s besieged, starving and displaced people will not be found in his country…Palestinians in Egypt are not under the jurisdiction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) operates only in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem — not in Egypt…Without help from an international aid agency or the Egyptian government, Palestinians from Gaza in Egypt often depend on individuals, private charities and grassroots organizations for financial support. Even their medical care is often covered by individual and corporate sponsors. Civil society has stepped in to help fill the vacuum. One such initiative is the Network for Palestine. A group of Cairo mothers — Egyptian, American, Palestinian and Moroccan — set up the network in January to collect donations and connect those in need with sponsors. New Lines Magazine