Africa Media Review for September 15, 2021

International Day of Democracy Underscores Close Ties between Democracy and Security in Africa
In honor of the International Day of Democracy, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies highlights the close relationship between democracy and security in Africa. How leaders come to power and to whom they are accountable have direct implications on whether citizen security is prioritized and trust is built between communities and the government. In Africa, many conflicts are born from the inability to peacefully resolve issues of power sharing, inclusive participation in the political process, checks on the abuse of power, and political succession. Recent trends involving the evasion of term limits, militaries intervening in politics, incumbents using security actors for political ends, and regional bodies failing to uphold democratic norms are further shaping Africa’s security environment. Drawing from Africa’s wide range of political systems, these Africa Center analyses unpack the many layers of the complex governance-security relationship. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

WHO, Partners Aim to Get Africa 30% of Needed Doses by February
The World Health Organization and its partners said they hope to provide Africa with about 30% of the COVID-19 vaccines the continent needs by February, badly missing the 60% vaccination coverage goal that African leaders had once hoped for this year. At a press briefing Tuesday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the massive disparity in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries a “solvable problem” and called again for pharmaceutical companies to prioritize the U.N.-backed initiative known as COVAX, which is designed to share vaccines globally. But drugmakers — including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — have shown no indications they are eager to switch their current tactics, which involve appealing to rich countries and their regulators to authorize booster shots. … COVAX has missed nearly all its targets and has now resorted to begging rich countries to share their vaccine doses. Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of vaccines alliance Gavi, said COVAX expects to have 1.4 billion doses ready for delivery by the end of this year, about one quarter fewer than its original goal. … In June, WHO and its partners launched a hub in South Africa intended to transfer technology needed to make the vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, but none of those companies have yet agreed to share their vaccine recipes. AP

Let Us Buy COVID Jabs, Pleads Africa
Africa wants to buy Covid-19 vaccines, rather than keep waiting for donor-funded doses to arrive, the African Union said Tuesday, imploring producers to give the continent a fair shot at market access. The AU also urged manufacturing nations to lift export bans so the continent can begin to address for itself the glaring inequity in access to coronavirus jabs, as wealthy nations hog available doses. “Vaccine sharing is good. But we shouldn’t have to be relying on vaccine sharing,” Strive Masiyiwa, the AU’s Covid-19 special envoy, told a press conference at the World Health Organization in Geneva. “We want to buy from those same manufacturers.” The major Covid-19 vaccine producers have a moral responsibility to ensure equitable access to end the pandemic, he said, but “those manufacturers know very well that they never gave us proper access.” Just nine vaccine doses have been administered per 100 people in Africa, according to an AFP calculation. That figure stands at 118 doses per 100 people in the United States and Canada; 104 in Europe; 85 in Asia; 84 in Latin America and the Caribbean; 69 in Oceania and 54 in the Middle East. African nations “have been left behind by the rest of the world”, said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The UN health agency chief spelled out the danger of leaving Africa so poorly covered by vaccines. “This doesn’t only hurt the people of Africa, it hurts all of us,” he said. AFP

France Criticises Deal Bringing Russian Mercenaries into Mali
Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that a deal is close between the Russian private military contractor the Wagner Group and Mali’s ruling junta for the mercenaries to train the Malian military and provide protection for senior officials. Asked by lawmakers about the report, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “Wagner is a militia which has shown itself in the past in Syria and Central African Republic to have carried out abuses and all sorts of violations that do not correspond with any solution and so it is incompatible with our presence.” “I am saying this so that it is heard,” he said. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told a separate hearing that she was “extremely concerned” by such a deal. The sources told Reuters that Paris has begun a diplomatic drive to prevent the junta – which took power in coup in May – from enacting the deal. Paris would consider withdrawing from Mali if the deal went ahead, they said. … Four sources said the Wagner Group would be paid about 6 billion CFA francs ($11 million) a month for its services. Reuters has been unable to reach the Wagner Group for comment. Reuters

Russia Blocks Extension of UN Mission to Libya, Say Diplomatic Sources
Russia has deadlocked the Security Council over the one-year renewal of the United Nations political mission in Libya, threatening international unity ahead of a presidential election on December 24, diplomatic sources said Tuesday. Moscow, which has veto-wielding power, did not approve the language in a resolution drafted by Britain on the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya as well as the role of the UN envoy to the North African country, the sources said. The mandate for the UN mission expires late Wednesday, and the Security Council planned to vote in the morning on a simple “technical rollover” until the end of the month in order to “resolve issues” by then, said a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity. When asked, the Russian diplomatic mission to the UN refused to comment, citing ongoing negotiations. During the last Security Council debate on Libya, Russia insisted that any withdrawal of foreign troops should be handled so as not to jeopardize the balance of power in the country. … In recent years, the oil-rich country has been split between two rival administrations backed by foreign powers and myriad militias. Eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar was backed by Russia. AFP

Libya Fighters Battle Chad Rebels on Border: Report
Forces loyal to eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar carried out an operation Tuesday against a Chadian armed opposition group along Libya’s southern border, media close to Haftar reported. Special forces of the Tarek ben Ziyad battalion, one of the units loyal to Haftar, carried out a “vast operation… against the mercenaries and Chadian opposition elements present on Libyan territory,” the Libya al-Hadath television channel reported. It said the forces targeted the rebel positions “on the southern border.” One member of the battalion was reportedly killed and the units “destroyed several armored vehicles.” Several Chadian rebel groups are based in Libya, Sudan, and border areas between the countries, including the Front for Alternation and Concord in Chad (FACT). Chad’s veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno was killed in April during fighting between the army and FACT rebels. The Defense Post with AFP

Guinea Junta Starts Transitional Government Talks Following Coup
Guinea’s new military rulers began consultations with political, religious and business leaders on Tuesday which they say will lead to the formation of a transitional government following the coup that ousted President Alpha Conde on Sept. 5. In a short address, coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, a special forces commander and former French Foreign Legionnaire, urged attendees to “not repeat the errors of the past” when building a new system of governance. … But their seizure of power has been widely condemned by Guinea’s allies and regional organisations. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)suspended Guinea from its decision-making bodies and called for a short, civilian-lead transition. It was also the third coup in West and Central Africa since April, intensifying concerns about a backslide towards military rule in a region rich in resources but many of whose people live in poverty. The talks are expected to define the duration of the transition, what political and institutional reforms are needed before elections, and who will lead the transition. … Tuesday’s meeting with political leaders will be followed by a similar gathering with regional government representatives and religious organizations. Civil society organisations, diplomatic missions, heads of mining companies and business leaders are also scheduled for meetings with the junta throughout the week. Reuters

West African Leaders to Hold Summit on Guinea Coup on Thursday
West African leaders will meet on Thursday to decide how to respond to the coup in Guinea and how to pressure the junta leaders to return the country to constitutional rule, Ghana’s foreign minister said. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the putsch that overthrew President Alpha Conde, the third coup in West and Central Africa since April. The bloc suspended Guinea from the decision-making bodies of the organisation last week and sent a mission to meet the coup leaders. Ghana Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who chairs the ECOWAS council of ministers, told a news conference in Accra that the mission would report back to ECOWAS leaders on Thursday. Reuters

Several Civilians and Soldiers Killed in Mogadishu Suicide Attack
At least nine people have died in a suspected suicide bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, police and witnesses said. The attack on Tuesday has killed and wounded civilians and members of the security forces. “There are still investigations going on but with all indications so far, a suicide bomber caused the blast,” police officer Mohamed Ali was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency, adding that six members of the security forces and three civilians were killed and 11 other people wounded. Dadir Hassan, another police officer in Mogadishu, said the death toll stood at 11. He told Anadolu Agency over the phone that the suicide bomber targeted a busy tea shop near a main military base in Mogadishu. … The bombing was claimed by the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab armed group, which has been fighting to overthrow Somalia’s federal government. Al Jazeera

Exiled Rwandan Ex-Army Officer Gunned Down in Mozambique
A Rwandan dissident has been shot dead in Mozambique, where he had settled as a refugee after being ousted from his home country in 1994, police said on Tuesday. Unidentified gunmen intercepted Revocant Karemangingo, a former Rwandan lieutenant, as he drove into his house on Monday evening in Matola, a suburb of the capital Maputo. “The bandits… fired nine shots at the vehicle. The victim was immediately taken to hospital but he died,” police spokeswoman Carmina Leite said. “There are still no leads to the killers,” she said, adding that police were “working on the case.” Karemangingo, 49, is the latest in a series of Rwandan dissidents murdered in southern Africa in recent years. Alongside refugees and economic migrants, the region has attracted critics of President Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front, which took power after the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. Karemangingo was thought to have kept a foot in opposition politics from his new home. “The Rwandan community in Mozambique is scared with this murder,” Cleophas Habiyaremye, president of the Association of Rwandan Refugees in Mozambique, told AFP. A number of killings have been reported over the past decade, including two Rwandan opposition activists who were murdered in South Africa in 2014 and 2021. AFP

Kenyan Influencers Paid to Take ‘Guerrilla Warfare’ Online
Confronting harassment by Kenyan Twitter influencers – recently revealed to have been paid to promote misinformation – is akin to dealing with guerrilla warfare, admits an activist involved in a legal battle to stop a change to the constitution. “It is waged against you until it tires you out,” Daisy Amdany told the BBC about the Twitter attacks those behind the court case have faced. The mudslinging led one activist to opt out of the campaign and “at least three people have taken a break because of the level of insults and misinformation that they have encountered,” she said. Ms Amdany was reacting to a report by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation – Inside the shadowy world of disinformation for hire in Kenya – which makes startling reading. It shows how shadowy financers have deployed an army of Twitter influencers to co-ordinate disinformation campaigns in favour of a government-backed constitution amendment bill, known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). … There are fears these tactics could have repercussions ahead of elections scheduled for August 2022. … For Brian Obilo, the co-author of the report, one solution could be for Twitter to pause trends during key times such as elections. “Twitter could also employ human moderators in multiple countries to review trends before they make it to the top of the trending topics section,” he told the BBC.

Drought Puts 2.1 Million Kenyans at Risk of Starvation
An estimated 2.1 million Kenyans face starvation due to a drought in half the country, which is affecting harvests. The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said people living in 23 counties across the arid north, northeastern and coastal parts of the country will be in “urgent need” of food aid over the next six months, after poor rains between March and May this year. The crisis has been compounded by Covid-19 and previous poor rains, it said, predicting the situation will get worse by the end of the year, as October to December rains are expected to be below normal levels. The affected regions are usually the most food-insecure in Kenya due to high levels of poverty. Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster promising “comprehensive drought mitigation measures.” In July, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Kenya said the country needed 9.4bn Kenyan shillings (£62m) to mitigate the effects of the drought between July and November. Asha Mohammed, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross, said most of the affected counties had already had to deal with desert locust invasions, flash floods and tribal conflicts driven by diminishing resources. The Guardian

Sudan Floods Kill over 80 People: Official
Floods following heavy rain in Sudan have killed more than 80 people and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes, an official said Monday. “A total of 84 people were killed and 67 others injured in 11 states across Sudan since the beginning of the rainy season,” said Abdel Jalil Abdelreheem, spokesperson for Sudan’s National Council for Civil Defence. The deaths were drowning, electrocution and house collapses, he added. Some 8,408 houses have also been destroyed and more than 27,200 damaged across Sudan. Torrential rains usually fall in Sudan between June and October, and the country faces severe flooding every year, wrecking properties, infrastructure, and crops. The United Nations estimates that heavy rains and floods have affected some 102 000 people since July. AFP

380,000 People Displaced by Floods and Violence in South Sudan: UN
At least 380,000 people from six states in South Sudan have been displaced by flash floods and numerous waves of inter-communal clashes, according to the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). In a humanitarian snapshot seen by The EastAfrican, UNOCHA says flooding, violence, food insecurity and Covid-19 continued to heighten people’s humanitarian needs in August. “People have been affected by flooding in six states since May, with Jonglei and Unity the most affected. Many of those affected moved to higher ground within their county and needed humanitarian assistance,” said UNOCHA. “Recurring violence in Tambura town, Western Equatoria, displaced thousands of people and impacted humanitarian activities. More than 58,000 people from Tambura remained displaced in eight settlements since June.” UNOCHA added that in Juba County of Central Equatoria, fighting between cattle keepers and host communities displaced about 10,000 people. The EastAfrican

Report: Climate Change Could See 200 Million Move by 2050
Climate change could push more than 200 million people to leave their homes in the next three decades and create migration hot spots unless urgent action is taken to reduce global emissions and bridge the development gap, a World Bank report has found. The second part of the Groundswell report published Monday examined how the impacts of slow-onset climate change such as water scarcity, decreasing crop productivity and rising sea levels could lead to millions of what it describes as “climate migrants” by 2050 under three different scenarios with varying degrees of climate action and development. Under the most pessimistic scenario, with a high level of emissions and unequal development, the report forecasts up to 216 million people moving within their own countries across the six regions analyzed. … In the worst-case scenario, Sub-Saharan Africa — the most vulnerable region due to desertification, fragile coastlines and the population’s dependence on agriculture — would see the most migrants, with up to 86 million people moving within national borders. North Africa, however, is predicted to have the largest proportion of climate migrants, with 19 million people moving, equivalent to roughly 9% of its population, due mainly to increased water scarcity in northeastern Tunisia, northwestern Algeria, western and southern Morocco, and the central Atlas foothills, the report said. AP

Welcome to Benguela, Angola’s Top Holiday Destination
Benguela, the second-oldest Portuguese-founded city in Angola, has existed since 1617 and is in the western part of the country. As a coastal city — a cidade das acácias rubras (city of the Royal Poinciana tree) as Benguela is known — it is spoilt for beaches, fresh seafood, the type of climate that makes you want to be outdoors and gorgeous people with open hearts. It wasn’t always like this. Perhaps the darkest part of this city’s history coincides with its colonial past, when Benguela was a slave port. No other country in Africa exported more slaves to South America, specifically Brazil, than Angola, and a countless number of them left from these very shores. From Benguela’s Praia Morena, where slaves were loaded, it’s a straight shot to Salvador da Bahia on the other side of the Atlantic. Paradoxically, Benguela’s colonial past richly contributes to the architecture that gives this city its charm. The wide, tree-lined avenues are dotted with centuries-old churches and palaces, gardens and plazas, and on the edges of the city are sprawling shanty towns to remind us of all the refugees that arrived from the interior, driven by Angola’s decades-long civil war. Mail & Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones