Round-up of the latest African news: April 2022

By Adam Edwards April 26, 2022

The latest developments from South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon and South Sudan.

 

SOUTH AFRICA 

At least 443 people have died and more than 40,000 have been made homeless following devastating floods in Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal province in April. 

The South African government has allocated $67 million to help those displaced by the waters, which destroyed nearly 4,000 homes as well as hundreds of businesses, schools and other public buildings. 

Large areas have been left with no electricity following the deluge in mid-April. 

South African military teams are delivering food, water and clothing to victims.

Water tankers have also been sent to areas where access to clean water has been disrupted. 

Visiting some of the worst affected areas, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described the rains as the heaviest in at least 60 years. He declared a state of disaster in a televised address on April 18, and pledged that government funds for the flood victims would not be lost to corruption. 

Ramaphosa's remarks come after the Special Investigating Unit discovered there had been widespread theft of state funds that were supposed to help the nation respond to the Covid pandemic.

Former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize resigned after the investigation found that businesses linked to his family benefited from inflated Covid contracts from his department. 

Opposition parties have hit out at the president’s autocratic response to the flooding by declaring a state of disaster. 

The country had only lifted its two-year national state of disaster over Covid two weeks earlier, and had not previously taken such drastic steps to deal with the fallout from flooding. 
 
KENYA 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to lend Kenya almost a quarter of a million dollars to help reboot East Africa’s largest economy after two years of debilitating lockdowns. 

The IMF’s mission chief in Kenya, Mary Goodman, said the parties agreed on policies to complete the third review of Kenya’s loan programme, paving the way for $244 million disbursement. 

She added: ‘Upon completion of the Executive Board review, Kenya would have access to [US$ 244 million], bringing the total IMF financial support under these arrangements to [US$ 1.178 billion].’  

The funds will help the government shield against shocks caused by new challenges, including rising global energy, fertiliser, and food prices, according to the online news site TUKO, which broke the story. 

The World Bank Group recently gave Kenya a loan worth three-quarters of a billion dollars in support.

The World Bank said the fund would help the economy recover from the effects of the Covid lockdowns, strengthen the country's fiscal management and drive efficiency in the electricity sector. 

The loan is also supposed to support reforms in sectors including land, water and healthcare. Kenya is also expected to use part of the funds to set up an electronic procurement system for government goods and services. 
 
NIGERIA 

The Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested a suspected 'billionaire drug baron’ onboard a plane at Lagos's main airport. 

In a statement on April 25, the NDLEA claimed Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu was behind the N3 billion ($22 million) Tramadol deal involving suspended deputy commissioner of police Abba Kyari and the corrupt Intelligence Response Team. 

It added that the suspect ‘was eventually nabbed onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport Ikeja on Wednesday 13th April'. 

Ukatu was placed under surveillance last year after five cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on May 4, 2021.

He is alleged to have sent them to sell the drugs to undercover police officers. 

According to the NDLEA, he has been ‘a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg, and 250mg, all of which are illicit'. 

The local billionaire is also alleged to be 'operating 103 bank accounts, most of which are used to launder money'. 

People walk next to an abandoned tank belonging to Tigrayan forces south of the town of Mehoni Ethiopiajpg

Above: People walk next to an abandoned tank belonging to Tigrayan forces south of the town of Mehoni, Ethiopia.

ETHIOPIA 

Tigray rebels have withdrawn from the neighbouring region of Afar, according to a statement released by the separatists on April 25. 

Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), told the Reuters news agency that 'our forces have left all of Afar', adding that he hoped it meant that desperately needed food aid could finally arrive in Tigray. 

However, the police commissioner in Afar, Ahmed Harif, said that while Tigrayan forces had withdrawn from the town of Abala, they were still in three of the region’s districts and were in control of the highway between Abala and Tigray’s capital Mekelle. 

There was no comment from the Ethiopian government, and it was unclear if the pull-out had been negotiated with Addis Ababa. 

Northern Ethiopia has been engulfed by violence since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the TPLF, which rules the province, of attacks on federal army camps. 

Thousands of people have been killed, and several million others have been displaced from their homes as a result of the fighting between the TPLF, their allies and federal troops. 

The violence in Tigray and surrounding districts has eased since March when the federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to enter. 

 
CAMEROON 

Health agencies are trialling a new approach to try to curb malaria cases in children, by giving them antimalarial drugs before they are infected. 

It is the first time Cameroon has initiated the intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in infants (IPTi) since it was first launched in 2005 by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the permanent secretary of the government’s National Malaria Control Program, Dorothy Achu, who was at the April 25 launch in Yaounde. 

‘We were waiting for the preliminary results of the impact of this intervention and to see whether we can also deploy in our country and recently we have seen an updated recommendation which says it's very impactful.

‘We think we need to protect these children who are very vulnerable. On top of the intermittent treatment is the distribution of bed nets so we can have complete protection of the children.' 

IPTi could save tens of thousands of lives every year in Cameroon, according to the WHO’s representative in the country, Phanuel Habimana. 

'It can reduce the incidence of malaria in children and also reduce the magnitude of death in children under five. So, this is an important day for Cameroon in the fight against malaria because in addition to existing strategies the intermittent preventive treatment ... is a new strategy, a new fighting mode to deal with malaria.' 

More than three million people tested positive for malaria in Cameroon last year, according to the Ministry of Public Health. At least 3,782 died.

The Central region where the capital is located has the highest number of malaria cases, according to Achu. 

 
SUDAN 

Three people have been killed following an attack on a hospital in the war-ravaged Darfur region, according to the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). 

The hospital's pharmacy was also looted during the incident in the Kreneik area in April. 

The victims included two medical workers. MSF teams were not present at the facility when the attack happened, according to the charity. 

The MSF said a second raid was staged at El Geneina Teaching Hospital, in West Darfur’s capital city, with shooting taking place in the emergency room. 

One staff member was killed, and several healthcare workers were evacuated. 

'We are shocked by these attacks and send our sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed. We condemn these deadly intrusions in the strongest possible terms,' the MSF statement said. 

The European Union (EU) has urged the Sudanese authorities and rebel movements to protect civilians, after an outbreak of violence in April left more than 168 people dead in Darfur. 

A UN peacekeeping force withdrew from the restive region after its mandate expired at the end of 2020. 

There have been frequent outbreaks of violence between militias since the UN left. 

 
SOUTH SUDAN 

Recent clashes between rivals in the north of the country are undermining a permanent ceasefire, according to monitors in South Sudan. 

There has been fighting in the country’s oil-producing states of Unity and Upper Nile throughout 2022. 

A peace deal between the government and opposition groups signed in April, which gave rebels key positions in the army and security forces, has failed to end the violence. 

'The situation has not yet improved, the parties continue to fight. Investigations are needed,' Major General Martin Gama Abucha told the monitors during a meeting in the capital, Juba. 

'From 21 March to date, insecurity and human rights violations continue,' he added. 

On April 25, the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) reported that at least 72 civilians had been killed, including some who were burnt alive and decapitated in Unity State.