Africa Media Review for October 4, 2023

Across Africa, Young Leaders Emerge to Push for Change
“Not a lot of democracy happening at the moment,” the BBC journalist Will Ross said on the radio in August about the situation across West and Central Africa while reporting on a postelection coup in Gabon. He cited a litany of examples across the region — Guinea, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Mali — where there have been coups or armed rebellions in the last two years. And yet, despite concern for the region and worries about vote-rigging in recent elections in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, there are examples across the continent where democracy continues to prevail. After terrible violence in the last few presidential races in Kenya, last year’s election was largely peaceful. In Tanzania, there have been some hopeful signs this year of a return to press freedom. The World Health Organization recently highlighted Botswana’s government as an example of African leadership when it came to universal health services and research and development. It is the young, of course, who often bring about political sea change. Because Africa has the youngest population in the world — more than 60 percent of Africans are under 25 — there is the belief that its youths can move the needle toward more democratic ideals. New York Times

Liberia: Minister of Justice Warns of “Proportionate Force” to Quell Electoral Violence
The Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, has announced the preparedness of the “joint security” to use “reasonable and proportionate force” to quell any acts of violence going forward. The Minister’s declaration comes amidst growing cases of election-related violence that have caught the country’s security apparatus unaware, leaving behind a trail of destruction, and deaths…The Minister’s comments follow the electoral violence incident that took place on Friday, September 29 in the Foya District, Lofa County, resulting in the loss of lives and prompted a wave of condemnations from Liberians and international partners. The incident, which unfolded with horrifying scenes that went viral on social media, pitted supporters of President Weah against those of former Vice President Joseph Boakai — marking it one of the three recorded instances of electoral violence between the two politicians’ supporters since the official opening of the political campaign season in August…Meanwhile, the Minister has disclosed that the country’s Joint Security apparatus has begun the deployment of law enforcement officers throughout the fifteen counties of Liberia, ahead of the October 10 polls. Daily Observer

Zimbabwe: Zanu PF Dispels Any Hope for Transitional Government, Maintains August Elections Were Free and Fair
ZANU PF Treasurer General Patrick Chinamasa has dispelled hopes for a transitional government or rerun, options being pushed regionally after Zimbabwe’s heavily criticised August polls. Chinamasa took to Twitter Monday to declare that, despite regional and international criticism of the election, Zanu PF maintained it was free and fair. He described calls for a rerun of the elections won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as neocolonial…Mnangagwa’s re-election has received massive criticism after heavy bungling by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on August 23. Late provision of voting material, allegations of voter intimidation by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) backed Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), barring of opposition rallies, arrest of opposing politicians and accusations ZEC had been captured by the military all worked against its credibility. The European Union (EU), Commonwealth, United Kingdom (UK), regional body SADC and AU all questioned its fairness. New Zimbabwe

Boycotted by the Opposition, Mnangagwa Vows to Pass Zimbabwe’s Controversial Anti-NGO Law
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa will seek to pass the controversial Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Bill – seen as an attempt to throttle independent civil society – in the first session of this new term. The PVO bill made it to the president’s desk, but has now lapsed and returns to a Parliament, where Zanu-PF no longer commands an outright two-thirds majority. Civic society groups are expected to continue to lobby the president to refrain from signing the PVO Bill into law, saying it would seriously undermine freedom of association and expression in the country. The bill bans civil society groups from politics, and allows the state to make changes to their internal management and funding. Organisations that fail to comply could be closed, or their organisers could be jailed. It has been compared to apartheid-era South African attempts, and more modern Russian equivalents, to ban foreign funding for civil society… Opposition chief whip in Parliament Amos Chibaya said they didn’t attend the opening session because they didn’t view Mnangagwa as a legitimate leader. “We view him as an illegitimate leader, hence our decision not to be addressed by him,” he told journalists… Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told journalists he had been tasked to look at ways of punishing opposition legislators for not attending the opening ceremony. News 24

Atrocity Crimes Still Being Committed in Ethiopia, UN Experts Warn
Independent UN human rights experts are warning that there is “an overwhelming risk” atrocity crimes “will continue” in Ethiopia in a new report released on Tuesday…“Our report shows that the overwhelming majority of risk factors for future atrocity crimes are present in Ethiopia, including ongoing serious violations, widespread violence and instability, and deeply entrenched impunity,” [said Mohamed Chande Othman, Chairperson of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia]…According to the commission, “the latest detailed findings are based on an assessment of the risk factors for atrocity crimes, which are the most serious crimes against humankind,” highlighting that “these crimes – including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – are identified in the UN Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes.” The Commission’s report found that all eight of the common risk factors are now present in Ethiopia…Despite the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, the Commission has determined that serious violations are continuing in the Tigray region. It has confirmed the ongoing presence of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia, and continuing atrocities against civilians, in particular rape and other forms of sexual violence. The Commission has also expressed alarm about the deteriorating situation in the Amhara region, including emerging reports of extrajudicial killings and mass arrests. UN News

Ethiopia’s Plan to Rebuild in the Wake of a ‘Brutal’ War
According to World Bank data, Ethiopia’s economy grew at an average of 10 per cent annually for 15 years before the war broke out. It was hit by a flurry of shocks, starting with the global pandemic, long-term droughts, and then Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now it needs $20bn over the next five years to rebuild in conflict-affected regions. It is “a huge price tag and nobody has that kind of money” to give, says a western diplomat in Addis Ababa. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. The war also sullied western backing for Abiy and froze budgetary support from donors and development partners as well as ending Ethiopia’s tariff-free access to the US market. Officials hope that the ceasefire will pave the way for grants, loans and financing from international players, topping $10bn, or about 8 per cent of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product of $127bn. Alemayehu Geda, an economist with Addis Ababa University, believes Abiy’s administration is too confident. “The government is expecting all these nice things to happen,” he says, adding that more needs to be done to accommodate major investments and financing. Not least, he warns, the “insecurity” across the country needs to be addressed. FT

Ethiopia, EU Sign €650M Cooperation Agreement
Ethiopia and the European Union signed a cooperation agreement worth 650 million euros ($680 million), on Tuesday (Oct. 3). Jutta Urpilainen, the EU commissioner for international partnerships, announced the agreement during a press conference with Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Side in the capital, Addis Ababa…The EU aid package was initially worth 1 billion euros ($1.04 billion) and was due to be given to Ethiopia from 2021 to 2027, but it was suspended after fighting broke out in the northern Tigray region in late 2020…The Tigray war killed unknown thousands and was characterized by massacres, mass rape and allegations of enforced starvation. The EU has long insisted it would not normalize relations with Ethiopia until there was accountability for these crimes. AfricaNews, AFP, AP

EU Agrees Sanctions Framework for Key Actors in Sudan War – Sources
European Union ambassadors agreed a framework of sanctions that will be used to target key actors in Sudan’s war and impose asset freezes and travel bans, sources familiar with the matter said. War broke out in Sudan in April this year between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who ousted longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, and a paramilitary force led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti… The sanctions proposal was sent in July but not approved until Monday. EU foreign ministers still need to give a final sign off later this month before the bloc can start adding individuals and entities to the list… The United States, Britain, Norway and Germany plan to submit a motion to the U.N. Human Rights Council to set up an investigation into alleged atrocities in Sudan, including ethnically motivated killings, a draft motion showed on Friday. Reuters

Tunisia Rejects European Funds and Says They Fall Short of a Deal for Migration and Financial Aid
Tunisia on Monday announced it would reject an installment of funds sent by Europe to help the debt-ridden country patrol the Mediterranean Sea as migrant boat crossings spike to levels not seen in several years. President Kais Saied on Monday accused the European Union of not following through on agreements made earlier this year to help Tunisia patrol its borders, curb smuggling and balance its federal budget. Though he called the disbursement “a small amount,” Saied said the decision was less about its size and more about how it “lacks respect.” The July agreement included a pledge of 105 million euros ($110 million) earmarked for migration. Tunisia has emerged as one of this year’s primary launching points for migrants and refugees — including many escaping war and poverty — seeking to reach Europe… As arrivals increased last month, the European Commission announced it would send an initial 127 million euros ($133 million) to Tunisia. More than half of those funds were designated for migration — to fight smuggling, support Tunisian law enforcement and facilitate the return of migrants to their countries of origin. Apart from migration, the bulk of the funds are contingent on Tunisia reaching agreement with the International Monetary Fund on stalled loan negotiations. Saied has mostly balked at the conditions demanded, including potentially painful cuts to food and energy subsidies. In April, he called the terms “diktats from abroad.” AP

Tunisia: Opposition Leader Abir Moussi Arrested
Abir Moussi, leader of one of Tunisia’s main opposition parties, the Parti Destourien Libre (PDL), was arrested on Tuesday, her party’s lawyer has said. Moussi was arrested outside the presidential palace in Carthage where she had come to lodge appeals against presidential decrees. In a video post on PDL’s Facebook page, the opposition leader said that the office of the President had refused to accept her appeal and to give her an acknowledgment of receipt. Naoufel Bouden, PDL’s lawyer, said the reasons for Moussi’s arrest remain unknown…Party members denounced the arrest as a “kidnapping” in statements to the Tunisian media. Moussi, a former MP, is a fierce opponent of President Kais Said, as well as the Ennahdha Islamists. She is a supporter of late president Zine El Abidine ben Ali who was overthrown in 2011 during the first Arab Spring uprising. The left accuses Moussi of seeking to re-establish a new dictatorship in Tunisia. President Saied’s government has cracked down on the opposition, imprisoning several prominent opposition figures since the beginning of February, including the leader of Islamo-conservative party Ennahdha, Rached Ghannouchi. Africanews

Cameroon, Chad Agree to Jointly Combat Security Threats
Defense ministers and security experts from Cameroon and Chad are meeting in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, to map out ways of jointly combating growing security threats along their border…The two central African states say they share a more than 1,100-kilometer porous land border that facilitates the escape of armed gangs and Boko Haram terrorists to either Cameroon or Chad when chased by government troops. Joseph Beti Assomo, Cameroon’s defense minister, said Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno and his Cameroonian counterpart, Paul Biya, have ordered militaries of the two states to jointly monitor and protect their borders from violence perpetrated by the Islamist radicals and armed gangs. Assomo said keeping Cameroon and Chad safe from rebels, terrorists and armed gangs is synonymous with contributing to stability in sub-Saharan Africa in particular and Africa in general…Daoud Yaya Brahim, Chad’s defense minister, said Chad and Cameroon have to immediately stop high waves of kidnappings for ransom along their border, end cattle theft and the slaughter of elephants. VOA

South Sudan: Conditions of Returnees from Sudan Dire as They Face Starvation
The [South Sudan] country director of the World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday said that the humanitarian situation of South Sudanese returnees from Sudan along the border was at a critical juncture and there was a hunger emergency looming. Mary-Ellen McGraoarty who was addressing a UN press briefing in Geneva via video link from Juba stated that the people arriving at the border had harrowing stories of escape, including robbery and sexual violence. “By the time they would arrive at the border, their resources had been depleted; 90 percent of families were reported to have gone for multiple days without eating. Almost 300,000 people had so far crossed from Sudan into South Sudan over the past five months,” she said. McGraoarty disclosed that this year WFP had received less than half of the funding it needed; that meant half of the food assistance needed, and people were getting smaller rations, of less than 300 grams per day. Radio Tamazuj

Nigeria: Blast at Illegal Oil Refinery Kills at Least 18
At least 18 people, including a pregnant woman, died in southern Nigeria when an illegal oil refinery exploded into flames, a security official and residents said on Tuesday. The blaze which broke out late on Sunday in Rivers State, occurred when a home-made refinery ignited a nearby oil reservoir, leaving victims severely burned, a security official said…Explosions at locally run refineries are common in oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region, where where most of the nation’s oil facilities are targeted by chronic oil theft. In addition to the many lives, Nigeria officially lost at least $3 billion worth of crude oil to theft between January 2021 and February 2022. Criminal operators often avoid regulators by setting up refineries in remote areas. The workers at such facilities rarely adhere to safety standards, leading to frequent fires, including one in Imo state last year that killed more than 100 people were killed. “The money they make from there in one or two days is more than what a civil servant can make in a year,” Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre Executive director Fyneface Dumnamene said…[A]mid growing economic hardship in Nigeria, “people are looking for opportunities to make ends meet,” Dumnamene said. Africanews, AFP, AP

How Nigeria Averted a Nationwide Shutdown
A national strike planned for Tuesday across Nigeria was suspended for 30 days after last-minute talks between labor unions and government officials. When Nigerian President Bola Tinubu took office in May, he scrapped a fuel subsidy as part of his economic reforms — but the measures sent fuel costs soaring and inflation is now at 25%, prompting the West African country’s biggest labor unions to call for the indefinite strike. As part of its package with unions, the goverment offered a monthly 35,000 naira ($45, €43) short-term wage hike for public sector workers, a temporary suspension of value-added tax on diesel, and social security cash transfers to the poorest Nigerians.The government proposals also included the introduction of gas-powered buses for public transport as a way to bring down transport costs — one of the main gripes for people living in Nigeria. A new minimum wage for all Nigerian workers is also expected to be agreed during the coming days. “After 30 days if these issues are not implemented … it will show bad faith on the side of government,” Joe Ajaero, leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the country’s largest federation, told reporters… Africa’s largest economy has been experiencing a worsening economic crisis for decades, dating back to well before before the current administration came to power. The United Nations estimated that more than 60% of Nigerian citizens live in “multidimensional poverty.” And a recent World Bank report showed that as many as four in 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty line — many of whom, especially in the country’s north, lack education and access to basic infrastructure, such as electricity, safe drinking water and improved sanitation. DW

Ghana Opposition Tries to Oust Bank of Ghana Governor
Members of Ghana’s major opposition National Democratic Congress took to the streets in the capital, Accra, on Tuesday to protest what they allege is mismanagement by the governor of the central bank, the high cost of living, and high inflation. It follows last week’s three-day protest over the lingering economic crisis in the West African country…Dubbed “OccupyBoGProtest,” the protesters demanded the resignation of Ernest Addison — who serves as the governor of the central bank known as the Bank of Ghana or BoG — over hyperinflation in the West African country. Heavily guarded by riot police, the demonstrators accused the head of the treasury of overprinting money to fund the government’s alleged profligacy that has led to economic hardship…Ghana, a major exporter of gold and cocoa, is steadily recovering from its worst economic crisis after agreeing to $3 billion in IMF relief support. Inflation has been on a decline, hitting a 10-month low in August at 40.1% from 43.1% in July…[T]he World Bank projected that Ghana’s economy would grow by 1.5% this year, adding that growth would expand by 2.8% in 2024. The projections fall short of the 3.1% growth reported in 2022. VOA

South Africa: Food Security Threat – Government Calls for Relaxation of Dumping Duties on Poultry Imports
Chickens are dropping like flies in South Africa due to the worsening and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak, causing severe shortages of eggs in the northern parts of the country. In the coming months, poultry product supply is likely to be under severe pressure, threatening food security. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTIC) has directed the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) to offer a temporary rebate on anti-dumping duties on imports of frozen bone-in portions of poultry from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain, to mitigate against a shortage of chicken…In July 2022, anti-dumping duties were approved on frozen bone-in portions of chicken originating in or imported from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain, after an Itac investigation uncovered evidence of dumping. The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, however, suspended the implementation of the duties for 12 months, citing concerns about food price inflation and the impact on local food security. With bird flu wiping out millions of chickens in six of the country’s nine provinces, DTIC Minister Ebrahim Patel has now asked Itac to consider a temporary rebate provision on chicken meat and edible offal of fresh, chilled or frozen chicken. Daily Maverick