Africa Media Review for August 12, 2019

37 Dead in Intercommunal Fighting in Chad: President
At least 37 people have been killed in fresh fighting this week between rival ethnic groups in Chad, President Idriss Deby said on Friday. The violence broke out over three days in the eastern province of Ouaddie, a strategic area on the border with Sudan, he said. “The intercommunal conflict has become a national concern,” Deby told a press conference to mark the country’s independence day. “We are witnessing a terrible phenomenon.” Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders — many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails — and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community. … One hospital source told AFP the death toll was as high as 44. Describing the clashes, Deby said that police sent to the scene came under fire. … Last month Deby, who has been in power for almost three decades, hinted that military courts may be reintroduced in a bid to curb the unrest, a suggestion denounced by the country’s opposition. AFP

Five, including UN Staff, Killed in Benghazi Car Bombing
A car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed three UN staff members and two other mission members on Saturday, the United Nations said. The UN is trying to broker a truce in the capital Tripoli, where the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a surprise attack in April. A Reuters reporter at a Benghazi hospital where casualties of the blast were taken saw a list of names of those killed identifying them as part of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). The United Nations gave no more details, saying only some of its casualties had been members working in Benghazi, where its Libya mission had been boosting its presence recently. UN secretary general António Guterres condemned the attack, a spokesman said in a statement. The Guardian

Rocket Fire Hits Libya Airport, Breaking Eid Truce
Rocket fire hit the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport Sunday, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said. “Mitiga airport has been targeted by fire this morning, the first day of Eid al-Adha”, the airport’s management said in a statement on Facebook, referring to the three-day Muslim holiday that began on Sunday. Air traffic was suspended “until further notice”, the statement added, alongside photos showing columns of smoke rising from the runway and parked planes. … The GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack against the airport, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli. “Haftar’s militias have violated the truce twice,” GNA spokesperson Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP. “The first time targeted a home in Soug al-Jomaa, wounding three civilians, and the second hit Mitiga airport,” he added. … The truce had come after UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian ceasefires, without success. AFP

Malawi: Thugs Petrol-Bomb Mia Offices
The offices of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice president Sidik Mia in Blantyre were fire-bombed by suspected pro-government militants. The attack happened in the wee hours of Friday morning. Photos taken at the scene show windows smashed and burnt debris on the floor. In an interview with Nyasa Times, MCP Mia Abida confirmed that their offices have been torched down. … On Thursday, Mia was at the High Court in Lilongwe where the Constitutional Court started hearing the presidential election results dispute case. Nyasa Times

Mozambique Indicts 20 People over $2Bn Hidden-Debt Scandal
Mozambique charged 20 people, including the son of former President Armando Guebuza, over a fraud scam in which state-owned companies contracted $2bn in debt for dubious projects. Legal action may follow against former finance minister Manuel Chang, who Mozambican authorities as well as the US Justice Department want for his alleged role in approving government guarantees for foreign debt of $2bn in 2013-14. Chang, currently being held in South Africa on US charges, is no longer immune from prosecution after he resigned as a lawmaker effective July 19. The final indictment of the 20 that follows an earlier one and arrests in February, comes as the southeast African country prepares for elections scheduled for October 15. The accused include Armando Ndambi Guebuza, the former head of state security Gregorio Leao and Antonio Carlos do Rosario, chief executive of the three state companies for which the debt was contracted. Charges include corruption, money laundering, criminal association, possession of prohibited weapons, blackmail, abuse of office and the falsification of documents, the attorney-general said in an emailed statement on Thursday. Bloomberg

A Coup Offered Hope to Zimbabwe. Has Its New President Delivered?
Everywhere he looked, President Emmerson D. Mnangagwa could see his own face. To battle his cold, he sipped a hot drink from a mug adorned with his own head shot. To his left, an aide wore a green shirt covered with the same image. To his right was a large photograph of the president as a young man. His state portrait hung from the opposite wall. Since seizing power in a 2017 coup from his onetime mentor, Robert G. Mugabe, Mr. Mnangagwa has gradually imposed himself on Zimbabwe – here in Mr. Mugabe’s former offices in downtown Harare, as well as on the country at large. Though the new president is marketed as a clean break from Mr. Mugabe and 37 years of autocratic rule and economic mismanagement, Mr. Mnangagwa’s opponents now fear he is more dangerous than his predecessor. The number of government critics charged with “subverting a constitutional government,” a form of treason, during Mr. Mnangagwa’s 21 months at the helm already outstrips the figure during Mr. Mugabe’s 37 years in office, according to a coalition of 22 Zimbabwean rights watchdogs. The New York Times

Zimbabwe: Kwekwe Sitting on Health Time Bomb as Zesa Switches off Water Treatment Plant
The current power shortages bedeviling the country could trigger fresh water borne disease outbreaks with Kwekwe now sitting on a time bomb, a senior official in the Midlands city has warned. Added to this is a crippling shortage of water treatment chemicals, a problem that has also affected the capital city of Harare. Kwekwe City Director of Works, John Mhike, told councillors [that] while water treatment plants are supposed to be strategic areas, Zesa has had no choice but to switch them off creating an untenable situation. “Our water works are not spared from the ongoing load shedding. Under normal circumstances the water works, it being a critical and strategic place must not be affected by load shedding but it is being affected,” Mhike said. While Mayor Angeline Kasipo last month indicated shortages of water treatment chemicals was the greatest danger facing the city, Mhike thought otherwise. “The issue is no longer only about water treatment chemicals but it is now about Zesa. As we are all aware the issue of power outages is a national problem and we are not getting any special treatment,” he said. New Zimbabwe

Tanzania Mourns 69 Killed in Fuel Tanker Blast
Tanzania was in mourning Sunday, preparing to bury 69 people who perished when a crashed fuel tanker exploded as crowds rushed to syphon off leaking petrol. President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday following the deadly blast near the town of Morogoro, west of Dar es Salaam. … “There are vehicles that carry dangerous fuel oil, as in this case in Morogoro, there are others that carry toxic chemicals or explosives, let’s stop this practice, please,” Magufuli said. Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi. AFP

Kenyan Fishermen Say They Suffer in the Hands of Ugandan Soldiers
Rajab Daudi Ongoma had been fishing in Lake Victoria for four decades until two months ago when Uganda security officers brutally halted his only source of livelihood. The 60-year-old resident of Budalang’i Constituency in Busia County, western Kenya, was in the company of five colleagues in the lake when he was arrested. Men in military gear seized their boat and towed it to Dolwe Island where the six men endured torture. “They told us the punishment for engaging in illegal fishing in their waters was 100 strokes of the cane. They whipped us and left us hungry in the waters for 12 hours. … Kenya allows the use of size 4.5 nets, but anything lower than six in Uganda is illegal. Kenya also permits the use of canoes that are pointed on both sides, but Uganda only allows single-pointed boats. Last week, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa told Kenyan fishermen that the government is doing everything to end the harassment. He said President Kenyatta would meet Mr Museveni to discuss the matter. Last month, Deputy President William Ruto announced plans to set up a marine and fisheries institute in Sisenye. Daily Nation

Ethiopia’s 2020 Polls Will Proceed as Planned – Ruling Coalition
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition said on Friday it will hold a national election next year, defying worries over security and displacement in the Horn of Africa country that had led some to speculate the election might be postponed. The executive committee did not give a date for the poll. “The executive committee have decided the election to be conducted next year,” committee member Getachew Reda said. An attempted coup in June by a rogue militia in the northern Amhara region had raised doubts over the ruling party’s ability to ensure security, while an increase in ethnic violence across the country made some query whether the election would be held. But opposition parties are keen to avoid any delays despite outbreaks of ethnic violence that have contributed to the displacement of 2.4 million Ethiopians. Reuters

Nigeria: Tekno ‘A Threat to Security over Nudity Video’
The arts authorities in Nigeria say that the musician Tekno is a “threat to national security” for releasing an “offensive” music video. The star is under investigation after commuters in Lagos filmed him dancing with semi-naked women in a glass-sided truck in a traffic jam. He was taken in for questioning over allegations that it was an advertising stunt for a strip club. He subsequently released a music video with footage of him with pole-dancers in a truck, which seemed to back up his claim that this was not the case. But the National Council for Arts and Culture, whose mandate includes the promotion and development of music in Nigeria, said it was disappointed that he had released the music video Agege while he was still under investigation. In a statement on Sunday, Segun Runsewe, who heads the council, said Tekno should be placed on the security agencies’ watch list for such behaviour. He said the council wanted to make a scapegoat of Tekno “to teach others a serious lesson”. BBC

Niger Shrinks Major Reserve to Allow for Chinese Oil
Environmental activists have started a petition to stop the Niger government from moving the boundaries of the African continent’s largest nature reserve to honour an oil deal with China. “We launched this petition last Wednesday because the Niger government adopted in June a redefinition project of the reserve, which is really threatened by the oil exploitation of a Chinese company,” Hamadou Soumana, a member of the Niger Young Volunteers for the Environment (NYVE) civil society organisation, told the Agence France Press newswire. … The petition warns that the reclassification for China of Africa’s largest nature reserve, created in 2012, will cause “China [to] destroy Africa’s biodiversity with impunity.” The online petition has 31,000 signatures as of press time. In June, a council of ministers decided to move the boundaries of the reserve, which currently is situated across the regions of Agadez in the north, Zinder in the centre-south, and Diffa in the southeast. RFI

West Africa Struggles with Rise in Pollution
Every year around the world, almost 8 million people die prematurely as a result of air pollution. The air quality in Europe is well monitored, but there is an urgent need for concrete data on pollution in West Africa. “These exhaust fumes make you feel like you’re inhaling drugs,” says Johannes, a journalist in Benin’s capital, Cotonou. He suffers from asthma. “For me, it’s enough to just stand at a traffic light for five minutes and inhale some exhaust fumes and I’m already having an asthma attack,” he says. Life in Cotonou is difficult – especially for those who suffer from respiratory or chronic illnesses. Peter Knippertz from the Karlsruhe Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK) confirms this. Together with other scientists from 16 institutions across Africa and Europe, he’s been looking for answers to the question: How bad is the air over southern West Africa? And why? DW

WHO Says No New Ebola Cases in Goma, Vaccinates over 1,300
The World Health Organisation said it has vaccinated over 1,300 people who potentially came into contact with the Ebola virus in the Congolese city of Goma, helping contain what many feared would be a rapid spread in an urban centre. A year-long Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has killed at least 1,800, the second biggest toll ever, and efforts to contain the virus have been hobbled by militia violence and some local resistance to outside interference. Goma, a lakeside city of nearly 2 million people on the Rwandan border, has been on high alert over the past week after a gold miner with a large family contaminated several people before dying himself. Reuters

Sudan Uprising: Timeline of Tumultuous Change
2019 has already proven a watershed year in the history of Sudan. A popular uprising grew out of fuel and bread riots on December 19, 2018 in Atbara in north-eastern Sudan. Within three weeks, the uprising had spread across the country. Undaunted by brutal government suppression, the revolt culminated in the Khartoum sit-in, mass civil disobedience, and the overthrow by military coup d’état of the 30-year dictatorship of Omar Al Bashir, who himself seized power in a 1989 putsch. These dramatic events have left no part or aspect of the country untouched. The post-Al Bashir power struggle has seen levels of violence and brutality to rival the former regime, and ridding Sudan of remnants of the ‘deep state’ is an ongoing theme on the road to a free and democratic Sudan. However today, there is also a sense of hope for a brighter future, that could not have been imagined a year ago. Radio Dabanga

Africa’s Mobile Gender Gap: Millions of African Women Still Offline
Although Aissata Fall has a smartphone, the young Senegalese woman is hardly ever online. For her, having internet access on her phone is a double-edged sword. “It’s true that the smartphone is an indispensable tool,” she told DW. “Both professionally and when it comes to staying in contact with family and friends.” But many women don’t have enough money to use the internet. And there’s another reason: “If a married women like me, for example, received angry messages or photos, it can lead to problems with a jealous husband,” Aissata explains. There are many women like Aissata across Africa. Some 200 million Africans are still offline – either voluntarily or involuntarily. Only two out of three women own a cell phone and barely one in three uses their mobile data on a regular basis. Seven out of 10 online mobile users are men. This phenomenon is known as the ‘Mobile Gender Gap,’ which is currently at 41 percent. DW



Photo: Adam Jones