Africa Media Review for April 24, 2018

Angolan President Sacks Armed Forces, Spy Bosses in Latest Purge
Angolan President Joao Lourenco sacked the chief of staff of the armed forces and the head of the foreign intelligence agency on Monday, his latest moves against officials tainted by graft allegations or links to his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Lourenco succeeded Dos Santos last September, pledging to tackle an endemic culture of corruption and bring economic reforms to Angola, Africa’s second biggest producer of crude oil, which is marred by widespread poverty despite its oil wealth. General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, the head of the armed forces before his sacking, was named by prosecutors last month as a suspect in an investigation of a scheme to negotiate a fraudulent international credit line of $50 billion. VOA

Former Malawi President Joyce Banda Returns from Exile
Former Malawi President Joyce Banda will return home Saturday after spending more than three years in self-imposed exile because of graft allegations, a spokesman for her political party said Monday. Cashgate, a corruption scandal in which senior government officials siphoned millions of dollars from state coffers, was uncovered in 2013, while she was president. Donor countries cut off aid, hampering development in Malawi, one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent countries. Banda, Malawi’s first female president, lost elections to Peter Mutharika a year later. Facing allegations of abuse of office and money laundering, which she denied, she left the country, and has not been back since. VOA

Remains of Some 120 Genocide Victims Found in Mass Grave in Kigali’s Neighborhood
Local authorities and residents have found remains of about 120 victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide buried in a mass grave on the outskirts of the capital Kigali, survivors’ association said. The site in Rusororo sector at Gasabo district is located in a residential neighborhood, where several Rwandans after the genocide lived but sold the land off and relocated after suspecting that there is a mass grave, Theogene Kabagambire, head of the association of genocide survivors in Gasabo district told local media on Sunday night. The victims could have been led to the particular killing field in the guise of taking them for protection, said Kabagambire. Residents had dug up to more than 20 meters deep by Sunday evening to exhume the remains, he said, adding that survivors would identify their dead loved ones by examining their clothes. Xinhua

Deported to Libya, Ex-Gitmo Detainees Vanish. Will Others Meet a Similar Fate?
In President Barack Obama’s drive to close the Guantánamo prison, his administration struck deals with about three dozen nations to take in lower-risk detainees from dangerous countries. Resettling them in stable places would increase the chances they would live peacefully, officials argued, rather than face persecution or drift into Islamist militancy. But a decision this month by Senegal to deport two former detainees to their chaotic birth country of Libya has raised the prospect that the resettlement system is starting to collapse under President Trump. After a traumatic journey, the Libyans fell into the hands of a hard-line militia leader who has been accused of prisoner abuse — and then they vanished. The case sets a worrisome precedent, current and former officials said. The danger, they say, is that other countries may follow Senegal in forcibly moving more of the nearly 150 Obama-era resettled former detainees home to unstable places where they risk being killed — or could end up becoming threats themselves. The New York Times

Campaign against Islamic State in Egypt Is Creating a Humanitarian Crisis, Says Rights Group
A humanitarian crisis is emerging in Egypt’s volatile northern Sinai province, Human Rights Watch said Monday. An Egyptian military campaign launched in February against an active Islamic State affiliate is choking off food, medicines and other vital supplies to an estimated 420,000 residents of four northern cities in need of assistance, the group said in a report. Security forces, in a quest to weaken the Islamic State branch, known as Wilayat Sinai, have imposed barriers on the movement of people and goods in northern Sinai, including blocking roads and other transport arteries. That has triggered shortages of food, medicines, cooking gas and other essentials. There are large-scale electricity and water shortages in much of the eastern part of northern Sinai province, aggravating residents’ woes. The Washington Post

Zimbabwe Sets up Special Courts for Election Violence
Zimbabwe has established special courts to deal with cases of political violence, the police said on Monday, part of the government’s drive to curtail unrest and intimidation ahead of the first post-Robert Mugabe elections set for July. Delivering a vote seen as free and fair is crucial to Zimbabwe’s efforts to mend ties with the West and could help unlock foreign funding and investment needed to revive the struggling economy. Past elections in the southern African nation were marred by violence against the opposition by supporters of the 94-year-old Mugabe, who was removed in a de facto military coup in November. This is the first time that such courts have been established and follows new President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge to hold a free and peaceful vote. Reuters

Rival Groups from Somalia’s Army Fight at Former UAE Training Facility
Rival forces from Somalia’s army shot at each other in the capital Mogadishu on Monday, with one group trying to storm a training centre the United Arab Emirates left behind after it ended a training programme there, soldiers and residents said. The clash was an indication of the difficulty in rebuilding unified security forces for a state where centralised authority collapsed in 1991 and an internationally backed government, elected last year, faces huge challenges. It was also another sign of the fallout from a crisis in the Gulf region that has spilled into the volatile Horn of Africa. The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an Islamist insurgency and secure the country for the government backed by Western countries, Turkey and the United Nations. Reuters

Wages Impasse Puts South African President Ramaphosa in a Bind
A standoff between South Africa’s government and unions representing its 1.3 million workers over pay puts President Cyril Ramaphosa in a jam. While his administration has pledged to stick to its deficit targets and expenditure ceilings — a tall order if it buckles to demands for increases of as much as 12 percent — he can ill afford to alienate the unions ahead of next year’s elections or risk strikes that would curb growth. He’s also indebted to the unions for backing his campaign to win control of the ruling party last year, a victory that set the stage for him to replace Jacob Zuma. “He is in a Catch-22,” Sethulego Matebesi, a political analyst at the University of the Free State in the central city of Bloemfontein, said by phone. “The unions are not going to buy into the argument that the government can’t afford the increases they want.”  Bloomberg

By Stifling Migration, Sudan’s Feared Secret Police Aid Europe
At Sudan’s eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow’s carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe. His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan’s feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants. Indirectly, he is also working for the interests of the European Union.“Sometimes,” Lieutenant Omar said, “I feel this is Europe’s southern border.” Three years ago, when a historic tide of migrants poured into Europe, many leaders there reacted with open arms and high-minded idealism. But with the migration crisis having fueled angry populism and political upheaval across the Continent, the European Union is quietly getting its hands dirty, stanching the human flow, in part, by outsourcing border management to countries with dubious human rights records. The New York Times

Somaliland’s Independence Bid Boosted by Geostrategic Shakeup
For nearly three decades, the holy grail of politics in Somaliland has been its quest for international recognition. Somaliland is not its own country — not officially, any way — but it wants to be. It operates with complete independence from Somalia proper, under whose sovereignty the territory technically falls, and it boasts all the trappings of a modern state: a flag, a national anthem, a currency, an army, a Constitution. But despite Somaliland’s stellar track record of stability and economic growth, the territory’s pleas for recognition have fallen on deaf ears. The international community, prioritising its own geostrategic considerations, has consistently preferred to reinforce a succession of unstable governments in Mogadishu, leaving Somaliland to fend for itself, for the most part. Mail and Guardian

Sudan, Chad and Niger Armies Discuss Border Security
Military chiefs of staff from Chad, Niger and Sudan held a consultations meeting in Khartoum on border security following the increase of transnational crimes in the sub-Saharan region. Took part in the meeting Lt. Gen. Kamal Abdel-Marouf Chief of the General Staff of the Sudan Armed Forces, Lt Gen. Ahmed Mohamed Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Niger, and Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Saeed Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Chad. “The meeting tackled ways to enhance solidarity and joint action to confront the challenges of border control and security, combating transnational crime, combating terrorism and rampant groups and achieving security and stability,” says a statement released by the official news agency after the meeting. Sudan Tribune

Madagascar Leader Urges End to Unrest amid Protests over Deaths
Madagascar’s president on Monday demanded an end to unrest he said was intended to divide the country after two demonstrators were killed in a confrontation between police and anti-government protesters at the weekend. The violence has inflamed a political dispute over new electoral laws, and President Hery Rajaonarimampianina’s remarks coincided with a march through the capital by thousands of anti-government demonstrators protesting against the deaths. “As army chief, the president has not shed blood and will not shed blood,” said Rajaonarimampianina, referring to himself in the third person in remarks on a visit to port project. “The blood has flowed enough in our country. It must stop. The violence must stop.” VOA

Zimbabwe’s ‘Sacked’ Nurses Return to Work
Thousands of Zimbabwean nurses returned to work on Monday after ending a strike, their union said, adding that fresh negotiations were expected in their stand-off with the government. Some 15 000 nurses fighting for better work conditions walked out of public hospitals a week ago. They were rapidly sacked in a hardline response from the government as it tries to prevent the spread of industrial action in the public sector. “Nurses have gone back to work today although their grievances still stand,” Enoch Dongo, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, told AFP. “Some were asked to first fill in dismissal forms and then sign forms for resumption of duty. We haven’t heard of any who have been turned back.”  AFP

Obama to Deliver Mandela Lecture in South Africa in July
Former US President Barack Obama will deliver the annual Nelson Mandela memorial lecture at a 4,000-capacity arena in Johannesburg in July, South African organisers announced on Monday. Mr Obama, who met with Mr Mandela in 2005 and who made an emotional address at his funeral, will speak at the lecture marking 100 years since the anti-apartheid icon was born. “President Barack Obama — we will be looking forward to hosting him as he will be addressing this esteemed Nelson Mandela annual lecture,” Sello Hatang, head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said. The East African

The Commonwealth: Still Relevant for Africa Today?
Commonwealth heads of government had barely touched down in London this week when apologies began rolling out of Downing Street. Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was “genuinely sorry” over its threats to deport the descendants of member nations, as the so-called Windrush scandal peaked. Separately, it “deeply regrets” the legacy of laws that ban same-sex relations and fail to protect women and girls, she said. With that out of the way, she opened the meeting at Buckingham Palace of leaders from across Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and urged them to forge a future for common good. There was an opportunity to show just what could be achieved though coordinated action, May said. Deutsche Welle

Algeria Completes Bulk of Trans-Saharan Highway Project
Algeria announced that it has completed the construction of 1,600 kilometers of Trans-Saharan Highway with another 200 kilometers under working progress, the official APS news agency reported. APS quoted Mohamed Ayadi Secretary General of the Trans-Saharan Liaison Committee as saying Monday in Algiers at the 68th session of the committee that the north African country has completed the construction of 1,600 km of the road and the remaining 200 km in south Algeria will be finished in short time. The meeting focused on the review of the progress of the highway and the consultation on future steps to be taken with the countries concerned in order to carry out its realization and delivery as soon as possible. Xinhua

Drones Help to Deliver Health Services
Bad roads are no longer an obstacle for Rwandan health workers who need blood for emergency procedures. Instead, they now rely on the sky as 60% of Rwandan hospitals’ blood deliveries are being done by drones. This is an example of what is possible when governments partner with the private sector to address service delivery problems, explained Adam Randolph, the Managing Director of Abbott Laboratories in Africa. Last year, Abbott Laboratories was contracted by the Rwandan government to operate and manage all the country’s laboratories as part of a public-private partnership. This follows a successful 10-year partnership that the company and its social investment arm, the Abbott Trust, has had with the government of Tanzania to improve health facilities. One of the biggest undertakings of this partnership was to improve the country’s 23 regional laboratories over three years with a large injection of cash from the Abbott Fund. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones