Africa Media Review for August 13, 2019

Mitigating Farmer-Herder Violence in Mali
The confluence between farmer-herder violence, ethnicity, and extremist groups requires a multi-tiered response emphasizing a people-centric approach. An increase in farmer-herder tensions is exacerbating a fragile security environment in central Mali. In an interview with the Africa Center, Lieutenant Colonel Alou Boi Diarra reviews the factors that have led to the growing farmer-herder crisis and what can be done to reverse them. A recent graduate of the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs in Washington, DC, Colonel Diarra’s thesis, “Armed National Building: Disbanding Ethnic Militias and Ending Farmer-Herder Violence in Central Mali,” earned him four distinguished awards, including NDU’s Outstanding International Fellow Award. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Eight Killed in Nigeria Jihadist Attacks, Say Military

Eight people, including three soldiers, were killed in jihadist attacks on an army base and village in northeast Nigeria ahead of Monday’s Eid al-Adha festival, military sources said. Three troops and three civilians died on Saturday when fighters from the IS-aligned Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group attacked a base in Gubio, a town 80km from the regional capital Maiduguri, two sources said on Sunday. … The jihadists attacked the base in eight pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, leading to a two-hour long battle, said the second source, who gave the same toll. The attack was repelled with the aid of a fighter jet which deployed two hours into the clashes, said the officer. … In a separate assault on Sunday, fighters from rival jihadist faction Boko Haram killed two residents and burnt homes in an attack on the village of Ngwom, 14km from Maiduguri. Gunmen in pickup trucks stormed the village in a pre-dawn attack, shooting dead two male residents before robbing women of jewellery and torching four houses, anti-Boko Haram militia leader Babakura Kolo said. … Since mid-2018 ISWAP has ramped up attacks on the military, while Shekau’s group tends to hit softer civilian targets. AFP

Nigeria: El-Zakzaky Travels to India for Treatment

President Muhammadu Buhari may have jettisoned the stringent conditions prescribed by the Kaduna State Government under Governor Nasir El-Rufai before the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenah, could travel for treatment abroad. The Shiite leader, his wife, and some security personnel, flew out of the country to India through a commercial airliner, Emirates, Monday evening. PRNigeria learnt from security circles that President Buhari may have waved those conditions and approved that the IMN leader should proceed to get the medical attention as granted by the court and based on the advice from intelligence services. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Department of State Security Service (DSS) who had been working behind the scene to resolve the impasse occasioned by the detention of Shiite leader have advised the presidency on the appropriateness of obeying the court orders since some foreign interests including the Iranian government have sought a diplomatic approach in managing the issue. Premium Times

As Gang Murders Surge, South Africa Sends Army to Cape Town, and the City Cheers

Cape Town, widely known as a tourist destination for its historical sites and natural beauty, has become one of the world’s most dangerous cities. The police recorded more than 2,800 murders in 2018, and its homicide rate – about 66 killings per 100,000 people – is surpassed by only the most violent cities in Latin America, according to the Citizens’ Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, a nongovernmental group in Mexico. … Trying to stanch the bloodshed, President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the military intervention on July 12, despite experts’ warnings that soldiers can do little about the underlying issues, like worsening corruption and rising unemployment, that have allowed gangs to reign over the townships for decades. The New York Times

South Africa: More than 1,000 People Arrested since SANDF’s Arrival in Western Cape – Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele says work done by the South African Police Service (SAPS), together with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), in gang-ridden areas in the Western Cape has resulted in more than 1,000 arrests. This on the same day that Western Cape forensic services recorded the deadliest weekend in the Cape Town metro, with 47 murders over the weekend, since the army’s arrival in mid-July. According to Cele, 1,004 people have been arrested over the past few weeks since the army was deployed to 10 areas identified as hotspots. Of those, 806 were already in the system, wanted for various crimes ranging from murder, attempted murder, hijacking and theft. News24

The Walls Are Closing In on Cyril Ramaphosa

When Cyril Ramaphosa succeeded Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s president, he promised a “new dawn” after nine years of misrule that hobbled the economy. Eighteen months later, hopes have dissipated that the former labor union leader can orchestrate a turnaround. The economy shrank the most in a decade in the first quarter of this year; 38% of the workforce can’t find jobs or have given up looking; and massive bailouts for the debt-stricken state power utility are draining the country’s coffers, putting South Africa at risk of losing its sole investment-grade credit rating. Ramaphosa himself, a respected 66-year-old lawyer who led the negotiations that brought an end to white-minority rule in 1994, is stuck in a political quagmire. While he won control of the ruling African National Congress by a razor-thin margin in late 2017, members of an ANC faction loosely allied to Zuma remain entrenched in senior positions in the party and the state, undermining Ramaphosa’s authority and limiting his scope to tackle rampant graft and nepotism. Bloomberg

French Troops in Mali Anti-jihadist Campaign Mired in Mud and Mistrust

The French soldiers seeking out jihadists in central Mali’s savannahs were prepared for the sandstorms, the thunderstorms, the lack of anything resembling a road and the need to tow vehicles whose wheels kept getting stuck in floodplains. They knew getting information out of terrified villagers would be difficult. But as the multi-week operation wore on in Gourma district, where 400 French troops and 100 allied Malians searched for 50-odd jihadists they estimated were hiding in the shadows, the obstacles kept piling up. First, there were the storms, forcing them to abandon supper, pack up their mosquito nets and sleep contorted in their vehicles. Then up at 3 a.m. for a mission that couldn’t start because the weather had grounded their helicopters at base. Then, flash floods turned sandy ground to sludge and burst the wadis so only their newly deployed tracked fighting vehicles could cross. When they reached the thatch-and-wood villages where they suspected jihadists were hiding. Men tended cows. Women pounded millet. Everyone smiled. And nobody told them anything. Reuters

Sudan’s FFC Fail to Bridge Caps after RSF Demand for Cabinet Seats

Political and armed groups of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) failed to reach agreement on the Constitutional Declaration as the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) demand to allocate them some seats in the seats in the transitional executive institutions. The FFC held a two-day meeting in Cairo at the initiative of the Egyptian government to heal the rift between the political forces and the SRF which rejects the constitutional declaration saying it has ignored the recognition of the primacy of peace agreements over the constitutional declaration. Sudan Tribune learned that two parties have reached a compromise on Sunday night on Article 69 of the Constitutional Declaration, which relates to the principle of the primacy of peace agreements over the Constitution. Sources close to the talks told Sudan Tribune that the representatives of the political forces agreed with the SRF that to be effective this compromise should be endorsed by the political forces in Khartoum and then it should be also approved by the military council. Sudan Tribune

Madobe Gains from Rivals’ ‘Illegal’ Moves in Jubbaland Race

Jubbaland President Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe may have received a boost in his re-election bid after a statement by the UN cautioned against parallel electoral processes. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ Special Representative to Somalia James Swan said the federal government should use one mode of voting to avoid conflict. … Swan, also the UN Assistance Mission to Somalia (Unsom) head, said any division on the electoral process could cause instability in the region, which could potentially affect reforms in the entire country. … The statement came after Madobe’s rivals announced a parallel electoral commission. Known as the Union of Presidential candidates for Change in Jubbaland, the group is composed of politicians, some of who have been ruled out of the contest for failing to meet the tough criteria set by the Jubbaland electoral agency. Daily Nation

Joint Military Operations against Al-Shabaab Militants to Continue Says AU Special Representative

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) will continue conducting joint military operations to liberate regions still under the control of Al-Shabaab, the African Union Special Representative for Somalia said. Speaking at an Eid al-Adha dinner hosted for the Muslim community in the capital, Mogadishu, Ambassador Francisco Madeira said the resolve by AMISOM and the federal government to defeat Al-Shabaab and bring back peace and security remains unshaken. … Ambassador Madeira stated, adding that the strong working relations between AMISOM and the Somali security forces had made the liberation of bridge towns possible. Awdheegle is the fourth bridge town to be liberated in the Lower Shabelle region, this year, from Al-Shabaab militants by Somali security forces with the support of AMISOM troops. Other towns are Sabiid, Bariire and Eel-Saliini. The AU Special Representative stressed the importance of troop generation in securing Somalia, saying the country needs trained forces capable of holding liberated territories. Goobjoog News

African Union: Kwesi Quartey: ‘Some Military Coups Are Inevitable’

The African Union Commission deals with policy across the 55-member bloc. In an exclusive interview with DW, its deputy chairperson, Kwesi Quartey, outlined how the AU executive tackles Africa’s most pressing problems. African Union Commission Deputy Chairman Kwesi Quartey, who talked to DW Africa in Accra, saluted positive developments in Africa, such as the agreement reached between the military and protesters in Sudan. From Ghana, Quartey was well aware of the challenges that his organization is dealing with. The diplomat said he understood the challenges that the AU faces. DW

Equatorial Guinea’s Border Wall Plans Provoke Anger in Cameroon

Cameroon has instructed its military to be on the alert as Equatorial Guinea says it is building a border wall to stop Cameroonians and West Africans from illegally entering its territory. Equatorial Guinea’s announcement comes as officials of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) regional economic bloc, of which Equatorial Guinea is a member, are encouraging the free movement of people and goods to boost economic growth in the region. … Ambassador Munoz said his country plans to build a wall, but that reports that the its military had installed milestones in Cameroon territory are misleading. Equatorial Guinea has always accused Cameroon of letting its citizens and West Africans enter its territory illegally. VOA

Congo-Brazzaville: Congo May Join Nigeria as Africa’s Largest Oil Producers

Republic of Congo could produce nearly 1 million barrels of crude per day following a new oil discovery in the country, a company involved told Reuters on Monday. The find could possibly quadruple the nation’s output and propel it into the same league as Africa’s largest producers. Production, which will be ramped up in phases, could begin in six months. If it reaches expected levels, Congo’s production would be close to Nigeria, which produces about 1.8 million barrels a day, and Angola, at around 1.4 million. Congo’s cash-strapped energy industry has been boosted by major recent finds from Italy’s ENI and France’s Total, lifting an economy hobbled by debt, civil unrest and corruption, and raising output to about 350,000 barrels per day. Production from the new field, developed by SARPD-OIL in la Cuvette region, could dwarf that, said the company’s marketing director Mohamed Rahmani. Daily Trust

Geneva Prosecutors Indict Billionaire Steinmetz in Guinea Corruption Case

Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and two others will be tried for suspected corruption for allegedly paying $10 million in bribes linked to allocation of mining licenses in Guinea to his BSR Group between 2005 and 2010, Geneva prosecutors said on Monday. “The attorney general’s office accuses the three of having promised in 2005 and then paid or had bribes paid to one of the wives of former Guinean President Lansana Conte so as to eliminate a competitor and have the contract for mining rights in the Simandou region allocated to Beny Steinmetz Group Resources,” Geneva prosecutor Claudio Mascotto said in a statement, saying that they also faced forgery charges. Reuters

Zimbabwe: Chamisa Lures Army Ahead of August 16 Demo

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has appeared to plead with the country’s army to join his MDC party’s planned protest set for Friday that insiders claim is aimed at toppling President Emmerson Mnangagwa. In a statement to mark Defence Forces Day Tuesday, Chamisa said while some soldiers might have “strayed”, he was certain most of the country’s uniformed forces understood the aspirations of ordinary Zimbabweans. … The MDC has given notice of what it has called “Free Zimbabwe March” set for August 16th which it officially says is aimed at pushing Mnangagwa to dialogue with Chamisa and find a lasting solution to “legitimacy issues” surrounding the Zanu PF leader’s year old administration. Chamisa suggested the current military set-up was established on partisan lines. “Going forward, in a truly New Zimbabwe, under our new leadership, we envisage a defence forces that is built on a foundation of meritocracy, patriotism and professionalism, where service, merit and excellence take precedence. New Zimbabwe

Ebola No Longer ‘Incurable,’ Scientists Say, After Discovery of Two Highly Effective Drugs

Two experimental Ebola treatments significantly increase survival rates for those infected with a disease often considered a death sentence, scientists announced Monday, providing fresh hope for containing an outbreak that has ravaged eastern Congo. The drugs, tested in a nearly nine-month clinical trial, have performed so well that health professionals will now administer them to every patient in Congo. … The region is also a conflict zone, and attacks by armed groups have at times forced health workers to pause their efforts. So even though these two new drugs have a high likelihood of curing patients, violence and misinformation may prevent many of those infected from accessing them. “The success is clear, but there is also a tragedy linked to this success, and the tragedy is that not enough people are being treated,” said Michael J. Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program. The Washington Post

In East Africa, a Cancer Diagnosis Means a Death Sentence

At just 20 per cent, Uganda has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in the world, according to statistics from the Ugandan Cancer Institute. But, as the burden of the disease continues to grow in East Africa, experts say that addressing challenges of late diagnosis, a poor understanding of the disease and inadequate health infrastructure, including human resources, should be a key focus for governments. Dr Peter Eriki from the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation in Uganda, said that ageing, social and economic determinants – including where and how people live, what they eat, urbanisation and industrialisation – have all contributed to the problem of cancer, and therefore, the approach, should aim at ensuring these risk factors are reduced. He advocates the approach on Ebola: “We should tackle cancer the way we tackle Ebola: Present the message to the people in a language that they understand. We need to show them how the disease presents so that when people experience any abnormal symptoms, they are able to get care on time. What is happening now is that many people still cannot tell when they develop symptoms.” The East African

This Young Kenyan Chess Champion Wants to Take Her Moves Abroad. The Bureaucracy Is Keeping Her in Check. 

With a nonchalance only teenagers have, the 13-year-old shook out the contents of a tote bag onto the table in the one-room shack she shares with her grandmother. Certificates and medals tumbled out. Sarah Momanyi has won national chess championships for her age bracket two years running. … Invitations have rolled in for continental and even global championships in places such as China. This year’s African Youth Chess Championship in Namibia is just a few months away. But she has had to turn down every invitation, and not for lack of support from the charity that sends her to school. She’s stuck because she’s facing an opponent tougher than anyone from whom she has sat across the chessboard: Kenya’s stifling bureaucracy. Like approximately 35 percent of Kenyans, Sarah doesn’t have a proper birth certificate. It means she can’t access almost any public services, let alone procure a passport. The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones