Africa Media Review for November 24, 2021

Fears of a Fourth Wave Grow in South Africa as COVID Cases Quadruple
There are fears South Africa may be on the verge of a fourth coronavirus wave as the number of daily cases have more than doubled over the last two weeks. Cases had been dropping after the summer when the country suffered a third wave of the virus, fuelled by the much more transmissible delta variant. But since the beginning of November numbers have quadrupled – up to 850 a day at one point. The continent’s most industrialised nation has been hit harder by Covid-19 than any other country and official figures show just over 89,000 people have died of the disease since the start of the pandemic. But excess deaths are thought to be far higher than in many European countries. South Africa has seen more than 226,000 excess deaths since May 2020, according to analysis by the Economist newspaper. The South African Medical Research Council puts this figure even higher at more than 270,000 excess deaths. … This would make South Africa, which has a population of 60m, about twice as badly hit as Britain… Health minister Joe Phaahla said the size of the fourth wave would depend on whether any new variant emerged and the movement of people during the festive season. … However, Professor Myers cautioned that even a 50 per cent reduction in mortality in the fourth wave compared to the third wave would lead to about 55,000 deaths: “So we’re still talking about a serious situation.” Telegraph

Libya: UN Special Envoy Quits a Month before Presidential Elections
The UN special envoy for Libya, Ján Kubiš, has quit just a month before crucial presidential elections in the war-torn nation – without giving security council members a clear reason for his sudden departure. “Mr Kubiš has tendered his resignation to the secretary general, who has accepted it with regret,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters, adding that António Guterres was “working on an appropriate replacement.” … A former UN envoy for Lebanon, the 69-year-old Kubiš took up the Libya post in January. The security council recently split over whether to reconfigure the leadership of the global body’s political mission in Libya, with several members calling for the envoy’s post to be transferred from Geneva to Tripoli. The renewal of the UN’s political mission to Libya, which should have been a formality, hit a major road bump in September over the issue. The result was a three-week tug-of-war between London, which authored a resolution to extend the mission, and Moscow, which repeatedly threatened to use its veto over the measure. The security council on 30 September ultimately agreed to an extension, but only until late January. AFP

Mali Delays Talks That Could Decide Post-Coup Election Date
National reform consultations in Mali that were scheduled for December have been postponed to an unspecified date, organisers said on Monday, likely further delaying a much-anticipated decision on the calendar for post-coup elections. The interim government, which took power following a military overthrow in August 2020, signalled last month that the December talks would decide the schedule for a return to constitutional rule via the ballot box. … West Africa’s main political and economic bloc has already imposed sanctions against the transitional authorities after they told the organisation they would not hold presidential and legislative elections on Feb. 27, 2022 as they originally promised after the coup. Mali’s transition is seen as a test of West African leaders’ commitment to protecting democracy against a return to the frequent putsches that earned the region its reputation as a “coup belt” in the decades after colonialism ended. Reuters

Military Operations in Ethiopia Could Undermine Peace Talks: US Envoy
The “alarming” increase in military operations in Ethiopia could undermine the “nascent progress” toward getting all parties to Ethiopia’s conflict into negotiations on a ceasefire, Jeffrey Feltman, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa said on Tuesday. Feltman briefed reporters in Washington after returning on Monday from Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, he had met Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed and discussed a potential diplomatic solution to the year-old conflict. Thousands have been killed and millions displaced in Ethiopia as a result of the year-long conflict. Both Abiy and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party controlling the northern region of Tigray, seem to believe they are on the cusp of military victory, Feltman said. “There is some nascent progress in trying to get the parties to move from a military confrontation to a negotiating process,” Feltman said. “What concerns us is this fragile progress risks being outpaced by the alarming developments on the ground that threaten Ethiopia’s overall stability and unity.” Also on Tuesday, Germany joined France and the United States in urging its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric also told reporters in New York that a few hundred family members of international staff would be relocated from Ethiopia. “Staff will remain in Ethiopia to deliver on our mandates,” he said. Reuters

Kenyan and South African Presidents Call for Peace in Africa
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa have called for increased cooperation to bring peace to conflict-ridden regions in Africa. This was at the start of Kenyatta’s two-day state visit to South Africa. In a meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday (November 23), the two leaders discussed the “grave situation in Ethiopia” and agreed that there is an urgent need for all parties to commit to an immediate, indefinite and negotiated cease-fire, Ramaphosa said. They also condemned recent bomb attacks in the Uganda`s capital of Kampala which claimed the lives of at least three civilians in what police described as a coordinated attack by extremists opposed to the government. The two leaders discussed the problem of Islamic extremist violence in South Africa’s neighbour, Mozambique, and in other countries across Africa. “Terrorism is not a fight that can be fought by any one country,” said Kenyatta, referring to al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the several Islamic State groups operating in Africa. AfricaNews with AP

Ivory Coast Seeks Regional Response to Jihadist Threat
Over the past two years, jihadists have carried out several bloody cross-border attacks in Ivory Coast, including a raid in Kafolo in the northeast in June 2020 that killed 14 troops. Kafolo lies close to the Comoe National Park near the Burkina border — a vast forest of 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) used as a bolthole by jihadists, many of whom are linked to Al-Qaeda, security sources say. … “Burkina Faso and Mali today are the epicentre of the terrorist threat, which is moving southwards towards Ivory Coast. The government has every interest in working closely with those states,” said Lassina Diarra, a specialist in jihadism. Ivorian troops have already taken part in exercises with Burkinabe or Malian counterparts, and last Friday army chiefs from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to step up joint operations. France and the United States have also pitched in. A French-backed centre to train soldiers, police and the judiciary in the fight against “terrorism” was inaugurated in June in Jacqueville near the Ivorian economic hub Abidjan. The United States has stumped up $19.5 million for a five-year programme to help combat the allure of extremism for young people in border regions. AFP

Burkina Faso Assesses Army Failures after Deadliest Jihadist Attack
A jihadist attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso this month that left at least 57 dead has turned the spotlight on glaring failures by the security forces to protect themselves against a ruthless, highly mobile foe. On November 14, more than 300 fighters aboard pickups and motorcycles stormed a gendarmerie camp at Inata, according to military sources. The latest official figures on Monday said 53 police and four other people had been slain — the deadliest toll among security forces in the six-year-old insurgency. Around 150 gendarmes were stationed at the camp. So far, only 47 survivors have been found. On Sunday meanwhile, nine gendarmes and about 10 civilians were killed in an attack on their base at Foube, also in the desert north, security sources say. Raids by armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have plagued the landlocked Sahel nation since 2015, killing about 2,000 people and displacing 1.4 million from their homes. … The Inata gendarmes had been waiting for relief for several days and they appealed for help shortly before the assault, saying they were running out of ammunition and food. AFP

Nigerian Authorities Dismiss Lagos Panel Report on Lekki Shooting
Nigeria’s Minister of Information dismissed a leaked report Tuesday blaming security forces for the deaths of protesters last year in Lagos state. The report from a nine-member panel of inquiry said Nigerian soldiers and police shot at protesters demanding an end to police brutality, killing at least 11 unarmed people. Information Minister Lai Mohamed described the contents of the leaked report Tuesday as “fake news” during a press briefing in Abuja. Civil rights groups and activists in the “End SARS” movement already are pushing back against the minister’s statement. Ariyo Dare is co-founder of the Nigeria Liberty Center. “He has lost touch with Nigerians and the reality of time. Everything that is being done against the End SARS report from Lagos is politically motivated. It will give the Lagos state government an opportunity to delete some part of the report and water down the recommendations,” said Dare. Last week, the Lagos state governor set up a four-man committee to review the panel’s report within two weeks and then adopt their recommendations. But activists say they cannot trust authorities to do the right thing. Obianuju Iloanya is one of the End SARS protest leaders. “They will try to hide this report. We were even lucky that someone had access to take pictures and share on social media for us to even know some of the things that were contained in the report. But I assure you they’ll try to hide it,” said Iloanya. VOA

Regional Ministers Endorse DR Congo Admission to EAC
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been granted the green light by the Council of Ministers to join the East African Community (EAC) as the seventh member state. The EAC Council of Ministers, chaired by Kenya’s EAC Affairs and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, gave the nod during an extraordinary meeting on Monday, November 22, in Arusha, Tanzania. “The Summit of EAC Heads of State at their 21st Ordinary Meeting held on 27th February 2021, directed the EAC Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a verification exercise in accordance with the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States,” the council said. An EAC team visited DRC from June 26 to July 5 to verify the country’s level of conformity to the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. “DRC shares borders with five of the EAC Partner States; namely Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan,” says the report tabled by the Council of Ministers. “There is a sense of belonging and attachment to EAC socially, economically, historically, culturally and geographically.” The EastAfrican