Africa Media Review for April 7, 2017

Pursuing the China Dream Through Africa: Five Elements of China’s Africa Strategy
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States is generating inevitable comparisons of the two countries’ approaches to engaging the world. China’s expanding involvement in Africa provides a revealing window into Beijing’s grand strategy. Africa is an integral element of Xi’s “China Dream”—a blueprint for restoring the country to its perceived rightful place of global prominence. Part of the blueprint entails positioning China as a leader in the developing world through expanded bilateral and multilateral engagements. China advances these aims in Africa in five primary ways: Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Gambia President’s Party Takes Majority in Parliament
The party of Gambia’s new president won a majority of seats in parliament after two decades of domination by the party of former leader Yahya Jammeh, the Independent Electoral Commission announced Friday. President Adama Barrow’s United Democratic Party won 31 seats in the 53-seat National Assembly. The results mean Barrow can move ahead with promised transitions toward greater freedoms. Barrow, who beat Jammeh in December elections, has promised a path toward reconciliation in this tiny West African country. Jammeh’s government was long accused of rights abuses. The former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction party was reduced to five seats, according to results read out by IEC chair Alieu Momarr Njai. He called the vote free and fair. Various parties that together backed Barrow in the December election but ran separately on Thursday won remaining seats. AP

Minibus Hits Landmine, Kills 20 in Somalia
Twenty people were killed when a minibus hit a landmine in southern Somalia Thursday, according to local residents and officials. The incident happened outside Golweyn village, about 22 kilometers from the coastal town of Marka. Ali Nuur Mohamed, the deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region, said the bus was en route to Marka when it ran over a mine that was “apparently planted by al-Shabab militants” and meant to target African Union soldiers who protect the Somali government. Mohamed told VOA’s Somali service that of the 21 passengers on board, only the driver survived, with injuries. VOA

Now Three Axed SA Ministers Resign as Members of Parliament
Three former Cabinet members from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) have resigned from their positions as parliamentarians. President Jacob Zuma removed the three – Dipuo Peters, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Mcebisi Jonas – from the national executive on March 31. They had been serving as ministers for Transport, Energy and deputy Finance respectively. Mr Jonas announced his decision to step down on Thursday morning. The office of the ANC’s chief whip has confirmed that Mr Jonas will no longer serve as an MP. “Comrade Jonas has served both as deputy minister and MP with absolute distinction and dedication. He has also served the movement and the South African people in various capacities over the years. On behalf of the ANC we thank comrade Jonas for his selfless service to the movement as its public representative,” said ANC chief whip, Jackson Mthembu. Africa Review

The Economic Promise of Post-Apartheid South Africa is Fading
Things look pretty bleak in South Africa right now. The political chaos of the present has made the economic future uncertain—and the lexicon of credit-ratings firms part of everyday conversations here. Ever since president Jacob Zuma removed finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015, South Africans have feared the assessments of credit ratings firms like Standard & Poor’s watching the political upheaval. Nene’s replacement, David van Rooyen, lasted for less than week. His replacement, Pravin Gordhan, was finance minister before Nene took over in mid-2014. Gordhan’s second stint in the post lasted a bit more than a year—on March 31, Zuma fired him. This was the last straw for the ratings agencies. On April 3, the downgrade everyone feared came to pass. Quartz

Al-Shabab Fighters Offered Amnesty as New Somali President Declares War
Somalia’s new president has offered al-Shabab militants a 60-day amnesty amid a declaration of war on the group. Fighters who gave themselves up would receive training, employment and education, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said. Somalia has reported frequent terror attacks, and a spate of kidnappings. The announcement comes as at least 10 people were reportedly killed in roadside explosion in the Lower Shebelle region on Thursday The cause of the explosion has not been confirmed. President Farmajo announced the amnesty at a news conference in the capital Mogadishu, dressed in full military fatigues. BBC

Attacks in Somalia’s Capital Prompt Intelligence, Army Shake-Up
Somalia’s president named a new head of national intelligence and army commander, saying the appointments would help the country deal with an al-Qaeda-linked insurgency that stages frequent attacks in the capital. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s changes, which were announced Thursday on state radio, included the reappointment of Abdullahi Mohamed Samboloshe as intelligence chief and the naming of Tabit Abdi as Mogadishu’s mayor. Ahmed Mohamed Jimale, who’d previously commanded Somalia’s army, was reappointed to the post. Bloomberg

Democratic Republic of Congo Premier Resigns
”Samy Badibanga has filed his resignation at the Palais de la Nation. He has also instructed those in office to prepare the handing over,” the statement read on UN radio in DRC said. The resignation came a day after President Joseph Kabila’s address in which he announced he was going to appoint a new prime minister. Kabila appointed Badibanga in November 2016, who took charge on Dec. 21, 2016. Badibanga was one of the leaders who participated in the dialogue process between the government and the opposition to find way forward after the government said elections could not be held this year. Anadolu Agency

Thousands Protest Across South Africa Against Zuma
Thousands of South Africans gathered in major cities Friday to demonstrate against President Jacob Zuma, whose dismissal of the finance minister fueled concerns over government corruption and a struggling economy. Protesters began marches in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and other big metropolitan areas to push for the resignation of the scandal-tainted Zuma, who for now retains the support of a ruling party facing an internal revolt against the president. “Fire Zuma,” read some placards. A march organized by the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s biggest opposition party, was expected to pass near the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress in downtown Johannesburg. ANC members in military uniforms who oppose the protest were posted outside. VOA

Kenyan Opposition Choice of Odinga May Weaken Presidency Bid
The emergence of former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who’s lost three presidential votes, as the opposition’s favored candidate may diminish its chances of unseating Uhuru Kenyatta in elections in August. Odinga, 72, is backed by most members of a technical committee appointed by the opposition National Super Alliance to pick a presidential candidate, a spokesman for the party said by mobile-phone text message on Thursday. The Nairobi-based Standard newspaper reported earlier that Odinga’s running mate would be Kalonzo Musyoka, one of the four principal leaders of the alliance, known as NASA. Bloomberg

US Issues Travel Alert for Kenya
The U.S. has warned Americans living in or planning to travel to Kenya about possible outbreaks of violence before the country’s August 8 general elections. In a travel alert issued Thursday, the State Department said, “rallies, demonstrations, and protests may occur with little notice and even those intended to be peaceful can escalate into violence.” The alert added that “criminal elements or terrorists” could target demonstrators and visitors. Opposition leader Raila Odinga warned in February of possible mass protests if the results of the upcoming elections are falsified. VOA

Nigeria Court Unfreezes Millions in Ex-First Lady’s Fraud Probe
Patience Jonathan had filed a complaint against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in September, claiming that she is the rightful owner of $15.6 million held in several accounts. The accounts were frozen last July as part of a money laundering and forgery investigation of some of the president’s former advisers, as well top officials at four companies. They are suspected of laundering millions of dollars from public institutions. But Justice Mojisola Olatoregun said the EFCC had committed an “abuse of process” with regards to one account in which Patience Goodluck is listed as the holder, which held $5.8 million. The other accounts, which she claims are hers but are held by associates, are not affected by the ruling. Times Live

Isis Kidnapping Refugee Women, Forcing Them to Convert and Selling Them as Sex Slaves in Libya
Libyan authorities have released 28 Eritreans and seven Nigerians who were captured and enslaved by Isis in Sirte and had been held in detention since the jihadist group lost the city in December. The group, all but two of whom are women and children, escaped from Sirte, a former Islamic State stronghold in central Libya, while forces from the nearby city of Misrata battled to oust the militants late last year. Some of the women were on their way to Europe when Islamic State fighters kidnapped and held them as sex slaves. The Independent

Sudan Expects Resumption of Talks with Armed Groups in April
Sudanese Presidential Assistant, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid has expected the resumption of peace talks with armed groups in Darfur and the Two Areas this month, but he didn’t indicate when it would begin. Hamid made his statement after a meeting with the head of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki who arrived in the Sudanese capital Thursday to discuss the resumption of the two-track negotiations with the rebel groups. The presidential aide who leads the government delegation for talks with the SPLM-N said they agreed with Mbeki on the need to pursue efforts to implement the Roadmap Agreement signed with the opposition Sudan Call forces. He further said that negotiations on Darfur region, the South Kordofan and the Blue Nile States “may resume later in this month of April”, adding they “are awaiting the results of the AUHIP contacts with the armed groups”. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan President Acknowledges Famine, Appeals for Help
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has, in a statement issued Thursday, acknowledged for the first time that famine exists in the war-torn country. Three United Nations agencies declared an outbreak of famine in the young nation in February, saying an additional 1 million people were are the brink of starvation. “On this historical and unique day, I passionately desire to share with each and everyone of you that once more our country has been struck by another national challenge, that of famine and poverty,” the president’s statement read before reporters by country’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth partly stated. Sudan Tribune

Feed the Starving? Guns Are the True Cause of Hunger and Famine
[…] Last year, the World Bank revised its position on conflict – upgrading it from being one of many drivers of suffering and poverty, to being the main driver. In Somalia, despite some political progress the conflict has put more than half the population in need of assistance, with 363,000 children suffering acute malnutrition. In north-east Nigeria, conflict with Boko Haram has left 1.8m people still displaced, farmers unable to grow crops, and 4.8 million people need food. In Yemen, an escalation in conflict since 2015 has worsened a situation already made dire by weak rule of law and governance. Now more than 14 million people need food aid. Only if we understand conflict can we understand hunger. South Sudan is another example. I worked there for two years following the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement in 2005. Right now a place called Koch, where Mercy Corps works, is in what the famine early warning systems network calls a “level 4 emergency phase”. This means that people will start to die of hunger in a matter of months if they don’t receive enough aid. The Guardian

‘Border Control from Hell’ Report Targets EU Funding in Sudan
According to a new report published by the US-based Enough Project, Sudan’s infamous Janjaweed militia force is now being used to control Sudan’s borders, with financial support from an EU migration management program. Under a partnership program, the European Union disburses millions of euros to the Khartoum government for technical equipment and training efforts geared towards stopping the flow to Europe of migrants from Sudan as well as from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa who come through Sudan. DW spoke to the author of a new report entitled “Border Control from Hell,” Dr. Suliman Baldo, Senior Advisor to the Enough Project, based in Washington D.C. Deutsche Welle

Morocco’s King Regains Upper Hand with New Cabinet
Morocco’s new government is set to be dominated by officials close to the palace despite the premier hailing from the country’s ruling Islamist party. King Mohamed VI on Wednesday announced the new line-up to be led by Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othman, second-in-command of the Justice and Development Party (PJD). Local press on Thursday said the new government was an “unabashed return of an executive monarchy” and a step back for the Islamists who triumphed in October elections. The PJD then failed to form a majority despite five months of intense negotiations — the longest time Morocco has been without a government in its recent history. Daily Mail

UNSG Imposes Unusual Blackout on Annual Report on Western Sahara
The much-anticipated annual report of the United Nations Secretary General on Western Sahara is due to be submitted to the Security Council in the coming days. Based on the recommendations of the report, the 15-member body will decide whether to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in the Western Sahara, known as MINURSO. The mandate will come up for renewal on April 30, 2017. Sources acquainted with the matter told Morocco World News that a draft of report has already been submitted to the office of the UN chief Antonio Guterres. But unlike during the two terms of the former UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Guterres has decided not to share the draft report with Morocco or France, the same source added. Morocco World News

The World’s Craving for Chocolate and Coffee is Damaging Africa’s Forests
Across Africa, weak enforcement of environmental laws has hurt its forests, with illegal logging depleting vast woodlands. Now the huge demand for commodity crops globally also risks increasing the pressure on tropical forests across sub-Saharan Africa, a new study shows. Growing multinational investments in industrial plantations are contributing to deforestation, and to the social and environmental problems that come with it. The study, published in the Environmental Research Letters, analyzed the impact of crop expansion in 25 tropical-forest countries in Africa. Increased production of cocoa, palm oil, soy, sugarcane, maize, rice, coffee, and tea have made countries along the Congo Basin forests—besides Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire— the most vulnerable. Quartz