Africa Media Review for October 6, 2023

Latest Attack by Tuareg Rebels Signals Northern Mali is Back at War
Tuareg rebels this week claimed to have captured a camp belonging to Mali’s armed forces in the north of the country, where clashes have been escalating since August. As the Malian army sends a convoy to fight back the rebels, experts are warning of an all-out war. The Upper Council for Azawad Unity (CUA) said in a statement on social networks on Wednesday that the army camp at Taoussa, in the Gao region, was “under the control” of the rebels. There was no immediate statement from the army. The CUA is part of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), an alliance of predominantly Tuareg groups seeking autonomy or independence from the Malian state. After Bourem, Léré, Dioura and Bamba, this is the fifth Malian military camp that Tuareg rebels have attacked since their conflict with the ruling junta resumed three weeks ago. The attack occurred while, a little less than 100 kilometres away, a convoy of the Malian army was sent to fight back the rebels. … The junta’s convoy is reportedly to go first to the localities of Tessalit and Aguelhok north of Kidal to take over camps being vacated by departing troops of the UN stabilisation force, MINUSMA. RFI

UN Accuses South Sudan Government of Widespread Rights Abuses
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is accusing the government of suppressing opposition voices, restricting media freedom, and interfering with civil society. The commission says these violations weaken the country’s accountability and democratic process. The commission blamed South Sudan’s intelligence agency for violating human rights and meddling with people’s lives, employing tactics reminiscent of the methods used by Sudan’s security agencies against the South prior to its secession. The commission leveled the accusations a new report Thursday titled Entrenched Repression, which looks at the systemic restriction of democratic and civic space in South Sudan. The U.N. human rights body accused South Sudanese security agencies and government officials of human rights abuses, torture, repression, rendition and interference in the work of media, civil society and political groups. … The report highlights the ongoing and unchecked attacks against journalists and human rights defenders both within and outside South Sudan, including online harassment. VOA

Sudan Conflict Creates World’s Fastest-Growing Displacement Crisis: UN Aid Official
As heavy fighting continues in Sudan, the UN’s top aid official in the country warned on Thursday that the conflict has created “the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis” which threatens to outstrip the Organization’s best efforts to help those most in need. “The past six months have caused untold suffering in Sudan” and forced more than 5.4 million people from their homes, said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan. Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the UN official noted that approximately 30,000 a day have fled fighting, “some fleeing with nothing but the clothes on their backs”. Ms. Nkweta-Salami continued: “I’ve met mothers in Sudan who’ve told me they don’t know where to find the next meal for their children. I’ve met families sleeping in makeshift shelters, struggling to find food and water and unable to access healthcare; their children out of school and the family breadwinners out of work.” UN News

Ugandan Opposition Leader Bobi Wine Says He is under House Arrest after Returning from Overseas
Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine said Thursday he was under house arrest after being seized by security officials on his return home from a trip abroad. Wine, a popstar-turned-politician who ran against veteran President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda’s last election in 2021, has been arrested numerous times. “They picked me illegally like you saw and as we speak right now I’m under house arrest. Soldiers and police are all over,” Wine told journalists at his home north of the capital Kampala. “As soon as I landed goons grabbed me, dragged me, twisted my hands and bundled me into a waiting private car. They drove me to the old airport where they pulled me out and put me in a military car with many soldiers and police officers. … He also said that 300 of his supporters had been arrested, but did not give details and AFP was not able to independently confirm his claim. Police denied Wine had been arrested, saying they had “escorted” the 41-year-old from Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport to his home. … A video posted by Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) showed him being grabbed by security agents as soon as he stepped off the plane as a man shouted repeatedly: “Where are you taking him, where are you taking him.” … Ugandan authorities have a long history of using so-called “preventative arrest” to detain opposition leaders, often holding them for several hours before returning them to their homes so as to stymie mass demonstrations. France24

Journalists Assaulted in Uganda as Bobi Wine Returns From US
More than a dozen Ugandan journalists were reportedly assaulted and had their equipment vandalized Thursday by security agents deployed to control anti-government protests called by the leader of Uganda’s opposition National Unity Platform Party. Police said the journalists were disrupting their operations at Entebbe International Airport, where opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi was arriving from the U.S. … Jengo Eriah, a videographer for a local television station, said that “the SFC [Special Forces Command] guys and military guys just came and started pulling our reporters. They pulled me out of the car, actually through the window, even without asking me anything. I was beaten. My camera was destroyed, my phone. I have wounds on my back, the arm. I got bruises everywhere.” VOA

In DR Congo Camps Women Face Stark Choice: Hunger or Rape
Patricia, who was displaced by conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, had a hard look in her eye. Similar to thousands of other women and girls, armed men raped the 15-year old when she left her displacement camp, near the city of Goma, in search of food. Hundreds of thousands of people are crammed into miserable displacement camps around the city, hastily erected on fields of mud. They are victims of a vast humanitarian crisis triggered by M23 rebels, who have captured swathes of North Kivu province since launching an offensive in late 2021. Rwanda backs the Tutsi-led M23, according to several western countries such as the United States and France, although Kigali denies it. Most of residents of the displacement camps fled with nothing, and despite humanitarian efforts, food remains scarce. … Sexual violence has long plagued eastern DRC, where armed groups have sown chaos for 30 years. … Brian Moller, an MSF emergency coordinator in Goma, said about 70 victims seek treatment at the charity’s facilities every day—or about 2 000 women and girls a month. “These numbers represent only a part of the reality,” Moller said, explaining that they have figures only for areas where MSF works. News24/AFP

Families of Imprisoned Tunisian Dissidents Turn to the International Criminal Court Seeking Justice
Family members of seven imprisoned Tunisian opposition figures took their quest for justice on Thursday to the International Criminal Court, announcing plans to ask the tribunal to investigate claims of political persecution and human rights violations by President Kais Saied’s administration. Tunisia’s opposition is increasingly denouncing Saied’s authoritarian drift, saying it amounts to a rollback of gains made since the 2011 Arab Spring protests that swept the Middle East. In Tunisia, the uprising ushered in a constitutional overhaul and democratic reforms. However, Saied’s government has cracked down on opponents and jailed dissidents, including opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi and former lawmaker Said Ferjani. Members of the families petitioning the ICC described his rule as a devastating return to a pre-Arab Spring autocracy where dissidents were imprisoned and tortured. … “We have to call on the world not to turn a blind eye to these violations and not to support dictatorships,” she said at The Hague. “We are also here to send a message to democratic nations and to European governments not to support and legitimize Kais Saied.” Seventeen other prominent dissidents have recently staged hunger strikes from prison, with several still ongoing. AP

UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Meeting Opens in Addis Ababa
Since Thursday in Addis Ababa, the peace and security bodies of the UN and the African Union (AU) have been discussing the financing of peacekeeping operations carried out under the aegis of the pan-African organization on the continent. The member countries of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) are holding their annual meeting on Thursday and Friday in the Ethiopian capital, headquarters of the AU. Opening the proceedings, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Bankole Adeoye called on participants to “specifically address the central issue of predictable, adequate, flexible and sustainable funding” for the continental organization’s peacekeeping operations in Africa. This issue has been on the UNSC table for over a decade. AfricaNews/AFP

How Ghana’s Central Bank Lost $5bn in one Year
Ghana – once touted as a trailblazing African economic success story – is facing an unprecedented financial crisis. This week, hundreds of protestors took to the streets in the capital Accra, calling on the governor of the Bank of Ghana and his two deputies to resign over the loss of about 60bn Ghanaian cedis ($5.2bn; £4.3bn) in the 2022 financial year. The demonstration, dubbed #OccupyBoG, was led by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party. The protesters, dressed in red shirts, scarves and berets, chanted songs and held banners – some reading “stop the looting, we are suffering”. The opposition claims the bank printed money illegally to lend to the government, leading to the depreciation of the currency and crippling inflation. … The NDC has accused the central bank governor, Dr Ernest Addison, of recklessness and mismanagement. And while the bank has been accused of mismanagement in the past, a loss of this magnitude is unprecedented. … The bank denies charges of mismanagement and says the losses were a result of a fluctuating exchange rate and because of non-payment of loans by state institutions. BBC

South Africa Beefs Up Security to Stop Illegal Entries
South Africa hopes its Border Management Authority (BMA) will help to strengthen the country’s borders and prevent the illegal entry of people and goods into the country. The migration route from the Horn of Africa to South Africa is popular, with porous borders along the way that have become transit hubs for undocumented migrants. Ethnic tensions, political persecution and environmental disasters haveforced millions to flee their homes in recent years, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Many migrants who have made it to South Africa have faced threats of xenophobic violence from locals accusing them of stealing jobs and causing crime. … But not everybody is convinced that the new agency will succeed. Freeman Bhengu, a member of the Sisonke Peoples Forum, a grassroots organization that works to make South Africa a better country, doesn’t expect it to be able to deal with the current immigration crisis. “They are short on budget, they are corrupt, and they are incompetent,” he told DW. “We don’t see anything good coming out of them. They need to be disbanded and we feel soldiers need to be deployed to all our borders.” DW

Sub-Saharan Africa Set for ‘Stronger Voice’ at IMF: Georgieva
Sub-Saharan Africa will have a “stronger voice” at the International Monetary Fund as it will get a third seat on the global lender’s executive board, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva told Agence France-Presse (AFP). Georgieva delivered the news ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank meetings in Marrakesh, Morocco – the first gathering on the continent since 1973. The IMF executive board, which is chaired by Georgieva, is responsible for conducting the Washington-based institution’s day-to-day business and currently has 24 directors. The United States, as the world’s biggest economy, has the largest share of votes, followed by economic powers Japan, China and Western Europe, ahead of other regions and developing nations. “I have some good news for Africa. We are advancing a preparation to have a third representative of sub-Saharan Africa in our executive board,” Georgieva told AFP in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Thursday, October 5. Le Monde

Climate Change Displaces 43 Million Children in 6 Years, UNICEF Says
A new UNICEF report released Friday highlights the impacts of climate change on children, saying that 20,000 children were displaced every day between 2016 and 2021. A total of about 43 million children, on average, were displaced during the six-year period due to the impacts of storms, floods, fires and other extreme weather made worse by climate change. The report published by the United Nation’s children’s agency also warns that even the most moderate estimates that only take into risks from flooding rivers, cyclonic winds and floods amount to an expected 113 million displacements of children over the next 30 years. Children had to leave their homes at least 1.3 million times because of drought in the years covered by the report, more than of them in Somalia, although the report says this is likely an undercount. Unlike floods or storms, people do not evacuate before a drought hits. Floods and storms accounted for 40.9 million—or 95 per cent—of the children displaced. On average, children living in the Horn of Africa or on a small island in the Caribbean are more vulnerable to the impacts. Many are enduring the overlapping crises of conflict, fragile institutions and poverty. AfricaNews

Zimbabwe Announces 100 Suspected Cholera Deaths and Imposes Restrictions on Gatherings
Zimbabwe has recorded 100 suspected deaths from cholera and more than 5,000 possible cases since late last month, prompting the government to impose restrictions to stop the spread of the disease, including limiting numbers at funerals and stopping some social gatherings in affected areas. The health ministry announced the death toll late Wednesday and said 30 of the deaths had been confirmed as from cholera through laboratory tests. It said 905 confirmed cases had been recorded, as well as another 4,609 suspected cases. Cholera is a water-borne disease that can spread rapidly in areas with poor sanitation and is caused by the ingestion of contaminated water or food. Zimbabwe struggles with access to clean water. … Zimbabwe has often imposed restrictions during its repeated outbreaks of cholera. … In southern Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa and Mozambique have all had recent cholera outbreaks. More than 1,000 people died in Malawi’s worst outbreak in decades late last year and early this year. AP

Dengue Will ‘Take Off’ in Southern Europe, US, Africa This Decade, WHO Scientist Says
Dengue fever will become a major threat in the southern United States, southern Europe and new parts of Africa this decade, the WHO’s chief scientist said, as warmer temperatures create the conditions for the mosquitoes carrying the infection to spread. The illness has long been a scourge in much of Asia and Latin America, causing an estimated 20,000 deaths each year. Rates of the disease have already risen eight-fold globally since 2000, driven largely by climate change as well as the increased movement of people and urbanization. … “We need to talk much more proactively about dengue,” Jeremy Farrar, an infectious diseases specialist who joined the World Health Organization in May this year, told Reuters. Farrar said the infection is likely to “take off” and become endemic in parts of the United States, Europe and Africa – all regions where there has already been some limited local transmission – as global warming makes new areas hospitable to the mosquitoes that spread it. That will put acute pressure on hospital systems in many countries, he warned. “The clinical care is really intensive, it requires a high ratio of nurses to patients,” he said. “I really worry when this becomes a big issue in sub-Saharan Africa.” Most people who get dengue do not have symptoms, meaning case rates are thought to be far higher than the reported numbers. Those who do can experience fever, muscle spasms and joint pain so severe it is known as “break-bone fever.” In severe cases—less than 1%—it can be fatal. Reuters

Renowned Zimbabwean Author Receives Africa Freedom Prize
Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga received the Africa Freedom Prize in Johannesburg on Thursday, which is awarded to individuals who “have shown remarkable courage and dedication to advancing the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights on the African continent.” Tsitsi Dangarembga has long been one of Zimbabwe’s most highly regarded and beloved fiction writers — from her lauded first novel “Nervous Conditions” in 1988 to “This Mournable Body,” which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020. Tinashe Mushakavanhu, a research fellow at the University of Oxford who specializes in Zimbabwean literature, said Dangarembga has a place in the modern canon. “Her most important contribution is being the first Black, Zimbabwean woman writer to publish a novel in English. In that sense, she is a pioneer and a leading light, so much that her book, “Nervous Conditions,” is considered one of the best African books of the 20th century,” said Mushakavanhu. VOA