Covid-19: About 1.75% of Africa’s population fully vaccinated – AU

ADDIS ABABA— Some 53 African countries have acquired about 114 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said in the latest weekly briefing.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said around 1.75 percent of Africa’s population have been fully vaccinated.

Some 77.3 million of the total 114 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far, the Africa CDC said.

Five countries, namely Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia have acquired and administered the most doses of COVID-19 vaccines to their respective populations, according to the agency.

As of Thursday afternoon, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa had reached 7,136,140, with 179,986 deaths and 6,217,218 recoveries, according to the agency.


President Ramaphosa to participate in 41st ordinary summit of SADC heads of state and government

President Cyril Ramaphosa will attend the 41st Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lilongwe, Malawi, on 17 and 18 August 2021.

As host of the Summit, the Republic of Malawi will assume the Chair of SADC from the Republic of Mozambique.

The Summit theme is “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”.

On Monday, 16 August 2021,
President Ramaphosa will present a report on the facilitation process in the Kingdom of Lesotho to the SADC Troika Summit of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

The Republic of Botswana will, as Outgoing Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, present a progress report on the status of regional peace and security.

Botswana will also hand over Chairship of the Organ to South Africa.

At the 41st SADC Summit, Heads of State and Government leaders will deliberate on developments related to SADC’s priority areas such as peace and security and the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.

The Summit will also examine the performance of SADC institutions and review the overall implementation of SADC socio-economic programmes with particular focus on the COVID-19 pandemic response in the region.

This will be the last SADC Summit to be facilitated by Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax as the Executive Secretary of SADC following an end of her two-term mandate.

In this regard, the Summit will announce the new SADC Executive Secretary following a recruitment process.

President Ramaphosa will be supported by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, and Defence and Military Veterans.

In preparation for the Summit, the SADC Council of Ministers sat on 13 and 14 August.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa

Cameroon Creates, Trains Militias Against New Terrorism Ideology

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has sent his top military officials and a governor to reactivate old militias and create new ones to combat terrorism on the central African state’s northern border with Nigeria. The militias are, for the first time, to tell people about what the government says is a new strategy by the Islamic State in West Africa Province, or ISWAP, to attract supporters away from rival Boko Haram through gifts of food and money, and attacking only military positions, unlike Boko Haram, which attacked schools and other civilian targets.
About 30 people, most of them youths, sing in Mora that Boko Haram is a capricious terrorist group. The singers call for caution in all villages on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria, where, they say, jihadist groups have relaunched activity.
Abdoul Oumar is coordinator of nine militia groups fighting Boko Haram terrorism in Mora, a town on the border with Nigeria’s Borno state. Nigeria says Borno is an epicenter of the jihadist group.
Oumar saif the number of jihadists infiltrating villages in Mora within the past three months is increasing.
Oumar said militias that were discouraged by the lack of flashlights, motorcycles, telephones, bows and arrows, and guns to fight terrorists will now be able to resume work. He said besides moving through the bush and hills to inform the military of suspicious activities, militias are now expected to teach people not to accept gifts from unknown visitors.
Oumar spoke Saturday, after receiving food, flashlights, motorcycles and an undisclosed amount of money from Cameroon’s President Paul Biya. He said the militias expect more food and financial assistance from the state.
Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the Far North region, on the Nigerian border, led a delegation that included senior military officials to Mora. Bakari said Biya wants militias to be reactivated to stop terrorist incursions.
Bakari said since May, when Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was declared killed, the Islamic State in West Africa Province, or ISWAP, has been very active along the Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad border. Bakari said Cameroon’s militias should denounce jihadist groups and educate people to reject their teachings. He said if militias collaborate with government troops and state officials, the jihadists’ new modus operandi will be short-lived.
Bakari promised more government support but did not say when the support would be given. He promised to visit all border towns to reactivate militias.
In January, Cameroon’s military said many militias complained of lack of government support and stopped helping government troops. Bakari said militias thought Boko Haram had been defeated.
Joseph Beti Assomo is Cameroon’s minister of defense.
He said the war Cameroon launched against Boko Haram in 2014 is now taking a new dimension with jihadists disguising themselves as charity groups. He said he is inviting all civilians along Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria to denounce strangers preaching peace and reconciliation. He said jihadists in general are infiltrating into villages pretending to be peacemakers and recruiting followers.
Assomo said it is not known how many jihadist groups are operating along the border. He said the jihadists have reduced attacks on civilians and only target military installations and government officials. He said there may be other new jihadist groups created after the death of Shekaou, but did not name any of the jihadist besides ISWAP.
The Cameroon military says that since May, more than nine jihadist attacks have been reported on its troops’ positions. At least 25 troops and 13 civilians have been killed since May.
Boko Haram terrorists have been fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria’s northeast. The fighting extended to Cameroon, Niger and Chad in 2013.
30,000 people have been killed and 1.8 million displaced according to the United Nations.
Assomo said civilians should report all strangers in their towns and villages to the military.

Source: Voice of America

Zambia’s Opposition Leader Appears Poised to Win Presidency

Veteran Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema appears on the verge of clinching the southern African country’s presidency, with a commanding lead in votes.
The 59-year-old businessman, contesting the presidency for the sixth time, has more than 2.3 million votes to President Edgar Lungu’s 1.4 million votes, according to results announced Sunday by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
Hichilema narrowly lost two previous elections to Lungu in 2015 and 2016. Lungu won by a margin of 100,000 votes in 2016.
The winner of the election held Thursday must garner more than 50% of the votes cast to avoid a second round of voting, and Hichilema appears close to the 2.5 million estimated to be more than half of those who voted. The electoral commission has announced results for more than 100 of the country’s 156 constituencies.
“With victory in sight, I would like to ask for calm from our members and supporters. Let us be the change we voted for,” tweeted Hichilema, whose United Party for National Development is in an alliance with more than 10 smaller parties.
Celebrations by his supporters spread across the capital, Lusaka, and other parts of Africa’s second-largest producer of copper, ignoring calls by the Electoral Commission for people to wait peacefully for the final official results.
Some of the 16 candidates who ran for president have conceded and congratulated Hichilema.
But President Edgar Lungu has signaled that he may not accept defeat. Lungu asserted that the elections had not been free and fair in three provinces seen as opposition strongholds, citing violence and the killings of a few of his supporters, allegedly by the opposition. Lungu claimed that ruling party polling agents had been brutalized and chased away from voting stations, leaving his party’s votes “unprotected.”
Lungu said Saturday that although he notified the electoral commission of his concerns, “they have continued announcing the results.” His Patriotic Front party is “consulting on the next decision we have to make,” he said in a statement released by his office.
Lungu’s statement indicates that he may challenge the validity of the election in order to stay in power, analysts said.
The overwhelming turnout of voters, particularly of youthful Zambians, was a strong indication that Hichilema was going to do well, according to analyst Nic Cheeseman, professor of politics at the University of Birmingham, who is in Zambia to watch the crucial election. Youthful voters make up a majority of registered voters. The electoral commission noted that the large turnout was unprecedented.
For some of Lungu’s supporters, this is more than just a defeat at the ballot box. In a country where a large number of youths are unemployed, many of Lungu’s supporters, from the wealthy to the poorest, have relied on patronage and fear losing access to jobs.
Hichilema’s UPND officials say it is a practice they plan to eradicate, noting the money going into the pockets of the politically well-connected should instead be channeled to government institutions.
Hichilema’s supporters seem to have other ideas though. As results came in thick and fast Sunday following the tense, hard and sometimes violently fought election, his backers say they are preparing to take over these small-scale operations.

Source: Voice of America

DR Congo Accepts US Military Help Against ADF Militia

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday authorized U.S. special forces to help the Congolese army fight the Allied Democratic Forces, an armed group linked to the Islamic State.
The ADF, which the United States has deemed a terrorist group, is considered the deadliest of scores of armed militias that roam the mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Catholic Church in the country says the ADF has killed about 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected U.S.-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.
“President Felix Tshisekedi authorized the deployment of American anti-terrorism experts in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said a statement from the presidency.
The U.S. forces will boost the Congolese army’s fight against ADF in the national parks of Virunga and Garamba, it added.
The mission will last several weeks and is specifically directed against the ADF.
U.S. Ambassador Mike Hammer, who presented the team to Tshisekedi, said that their presence was part of a partnership agreed between the two countries in 2019, according to the presidency’s statement.
In March, the U.S. State Department said the ADF is notorious across the region for its “brutal violence against Congolese citizens and regional military forces.” The U.S. has sanctioned alleged leader Seka Musa Baluku and said IS has acknowledged the ADF as an affiliate since 2019.
Congolese authorities’ crackdown against ADF has included a “state of siege” in which members of the security forces have replaced top officials in North Kivu and neighboring Ituri province.

Source: Voice of America