Africa Media Review for August 17, 2021

‘A New Day’: Opposition Leader Elected President in Zambia

Zambia’s veteran opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has won the southern African country’s presidency with more than 50% of the vote. Hichilema was declared president–elect early Monday after getting more than 2.8 million votes to President Edgar Lungu’s 1.8 million votes, achieving one of the biggest electoral wins in Zambia’s history. President Edgar Lungu, 64, accepted defeat and said he would work for a “peaceful transfer of power.” Hichilema welcomed Lungu’s concession but described the outgoing government as a “brutal regime.” Hichilema had been arrested multiple times and spent some time in jail on treason charges under Lungu’s government, but he said he would not seek vengeance or retribution. Preaching unity in Zambia, a country of 18 million people with several political and ethnic divisions, Hichilema urged an end to all political violence in which several people died in the run-up to the elections. “It is indeed a new day. Change is here,” said Hichilema on Monday. “Let’s put the past behind us. We are not going into office to arrest those who arrested us … to replace those that have been very violent against our people only to start a new wave of violence.” … Hichilema and Lungu met later Monday, a sign of the start of a smooth transition. AP

Emergency Vaccine Summit Needed to Help Africa, Says UK’s Ex-PM Brown

U.S., British and Italian leaders must hold an emergency summit before the U.N. General Assembly to end vaccine inequality and send more shots to Africa and other low-income nations, former British prime minister Gordon Brown said. Brown, prime minister between 2007 and 2010, has been leading a push for richer countries to share more of the cost of vaccinating people in developing countries, many of which have low inoculation rates and rising cases. He appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, chair of the Group of 20 wealthy nations, to hold the summit before September when world leaders will take part in the U.N.’s General Assembly. He called for the leaders to end the “stranglehold” on vaccines of rich nations with excess supply, and for them to help Africa and other low-income countries with finance and logistics. “Their leadership can ensure finance to build African manufacturing capacity for the longer term and unblock the barriers to African purchases of vaccines now and over the next year,” Brown said in a statement on Monday. Reuters

Deaths in Custody of Two Brothers Fuel Anger over COVID Enforcement in Kenya.

Scrutiny of police enforcement of coronavirus rules in Kenya has gained urgency after the deaths in custody of two brothers who were detained on suspicion of breaking a curfew. The deaths have set off a fresh national reckoning over police brutality, particularly in enforcing Covid rules, as a fourth wave of the pandemic hits the country. The brothers — Benson Njiru Ndwiga, 22, and Emmanuel Marura Ndwiga, 19 — were last seen alive on Aug. 1 in the town of Kianjokoma, in Embu County, eastern Kenya, where they were detained for being outdoors after the 10 p.m. nationwide curfew. Relatives found their bodies at a local morgue three days later. An autopsy found that the brothers had died of head and rib injuries. Officers said the two men had fallen from a moving police vehicle, but the family and the public have doubted that the injuries were consistent with the police account. The deaths of the brothers, who were students, led to demonstrations in Embu County. One person was killed when anti-riot officers shot at protesters and a police vehicle was set on fire. The brothers’ funeral on Friday attracted giant crowds and prompted calls for accountability. … Coronavirus cases are surging in Kenya, driven largely by the more contagious Delta variant. The East African nation is one of four countries on the continent undergoing a fourth wave of the pandemic, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The New York Times

Security Experts Warn al-Shabab May Try to Emulate Taliban in Somalia

The Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan has raised concerns that it could encourage other Islamist militant groups around the world, such as al-Shabab in Somalia. … In April, Somali armed forces assumed a lead role in their operations, as laid out in a Somalia Transition Plan approved by the government and the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM. The plan is a strategy in which AMISOM peacekeepers will gradually transfer security responsibilities to Somali security agencies before a pullout. The plan signed in 2018 includes a troop reduction. … Speaking during an interview with local media, the Somali president’s national security advisor, Abdi Said Ali, strongly rejected any comparison of the security situations in Mogadishu and Kabul, or the Somali military to Afghan forces. He said al-Shabab and the Taliban are not the same regardless of people’s beliefs, adding that Somali armed forces are currently in control and responsible for security in most parts of the country with support from AMISOM peacekeepers. Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by Somali and AU forces but the group still conducts bombings and hit-and-run attacks. It has recently threatened to disrupt ongoing Somali elections, warning tribal delegates not to take part in the process. VOA

Sudan Leaders Visit Border Area amid Tensions with Ethiopia

Sudanese leaders on Monday visited a disputed area along the country’s eastern border with Ethiopia, amid growing tensions between the two East African nations that have seen Khartoum ordering its envoy to Addis Ababa home for consultations. Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok inaugurated developments projects in the fertile al-Fashaqa area which Sudanese troops reclaimed in recent months from Ethiopian forces and militias, the premier’s office said. Speaking in the eastern village of Wad Kouli, Hamdok said Sudan has sought “good ties” with Ethiopia but that it’s also able to protect and defend its territories. The decades-long border dispute centers on large swaths of agricultural land Sudan says are within its borders, according an agreement that demarcated the borders between the two nations in the early 1900s. The two nations have held rounds of talks, most recently in Khartoum in December, to settle the dispute, but haven’t made progress. AP

Nigeria’s President Signs Historic Oil Overhaul Bill into Law

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021 into law, weeks after the National Assembly passed the bill. The bill’s eventual passage on July 15, 2021, was dimmed by a controversy over the allocation of 3% revenue to host communities in the Niger Delta, while a fund for the exploration of oil in frontier basins, mostly in northern states, received 30%. The governors want a 5% share of oil profits for host communities and insisted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should not be vested in the Federal Ministry of Finance as proposed. Community leaders in Nigeria’s oil-rich regions want changes to the latest version of the bill, asking for a larger share of revenues for the community. The Petroleum Industry Bill has been two decades in the making to overhaul the way Nigeria will share its oil resources with international oil companies and aim to attract new investment in oil and gas. The bill has been in the works since the early 2000s, but the sensitivity of potential changes affecting Nigeria’s key source of revenue and foreign exchange has undermined all previous attempts at an overhaul. The Petroleum Industry Act provides legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities, and related matters. AllAfrica

Over 2,000 Boko Haram Ex-Fighters Expected, as 1,500 Surrender So Far

About 1500 former commanders of the terror group, Boko Haram, and their families have surrendered to the Nigerian military at different locations in Nigeria − hundreds have equally done the same in Cameroon. A video clip shared by PRNigeria showed a procession of people, consisting of women and children from dense vegetation as they proceeded to surrender to troops at Mafa, in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. Adamu Rugurugu, a former top commander and some other commanders of the terrorist groups, including their family members, have so far surrendered to the Nigerian military at various designated locations in the State. HumAngle understands that a few more terrorists surrendered with their families at Bama, Mafa, and Gwoza axis of Borno over the weekend. The Nigeria Army had recently sponsored massive campaign jingles in both Kanuri and Hausa languages on local radio stations in recent times to encourage many insurgents to quit terrorism and lay down their arms. According to the report, a source in the military further disclosed that the terrorists were vacating their camps and surrendering to the army due to aggressive advocacy by various Islamic scholars and their family members. HumAngle

Nigerian Police Say 19 Abducted from School in Northwest

Gunmen have abducted 15 students and four staffers from a school in northwest Nigeria, police said Monday. A police officer and two security guards were killed in the attack on the College of Agriculture and Animal Science in Zamfara state, police spokesman in the state, Mohammed Shehu, said in a statement on Monday. The attack happened late Sunday, about a month after the school’s provost was abducted and then released a few days later. Zamfara is one of Nigeria’s states attacked most by armed groups who often kidnap schoolchildren and travelers for ransom. In February this year, the bandits abducted 317 female students in an attack on another boarding school in Zamfara. Since then, at least four mass school abductions in which a total of about 500 hostages, including children, have been reported in Nigeria’s north, parts of which are still suffering attacks by Boko Haram extremists in their decade-long insurgency. AP

Around 11,000 Cameroonians Flee to Chad After Violence

Around 11,000 people fleeing clashes between herders and fishermen in northern Cameroon arrived in neighbouring Chad at the weekend, a provincial governor in Chad said on Monday. About 20 people have been killed in what officials say is Cameroon’s worst ethnic violence in recent memory. Clashes broke out last week between fishermen and herders from different ethnic groups over a dispute about holes the fishermen dug in the ground. “Yesterday, our social services received nearly 11,000 refugees who came with almost nothing. They don’t have bedding, a change of clothes or food,” Gayang Souare, the governor of Chari Baguirmi province in northwestern Chad, told Reuters. “There are wounded among them who require immediate medical care and children who are without their parents,” he said, adding that local capacity to provide for the refugees was quickly being overwhelmed. … Local officials say it is the worst ethnic violence they have seen, with one of the reasons being that residents have acquired weapons in recent years in response to insecurity caused by Boko Haram and local bandits. Reuters

Marikana: Anatomy of a Massacre

On 16 August 2012 at 3.53:50pm – numbers now etched in infamy in South Africa’s long ledger of atrocities – the shooting began. A tactical response team from the South African Police Service (SAPS) mowed down 17 men. All but one were striking mineworkers. Most were crouched in submission. Various police units then followed other workers trying to escape, killing 17 more, some of whom were trying to surrender, in and around a rocky outcrop that became known as the “killing koppie.” These were complicated men. … The attempt to break their strike was jointly organised between the state and their employer, Lonmin. The mining giant assisted the police strategically and provided them with helicopters and detention facilities. One of its board members at the time, President Cyril Ramaphosa, called the strike “plainly dastardly criminal” in emails to mine management a day earlier. He lobbied close Cabinet connections to increase police action to bring an end to the strike. After a commission of inquiry … deferred justice for the dead mineworkers and their loved ones … the families of the men gunned down at Marikana have started to rebuild their lives. … Piecing together evidence submitted to the Farlam commission of inquiry and other expert reports, New Frame constructed an interactive map of the massacre to show some of the lives erased on that day, and the key moments just before and after 3.53:50pm that resulted in their deaths. New Frame

Facebook’s Giant African Internet Cable Will Now Be Even Bigger

Facebook and some of the world’s largest telecommunications carriers, China Mobile and MTN Group, are set to build a wider-than-earlier planned giant sub-sea cable in Africa. The companies plan to add the Indian Ocean island countries of Seychelles and Comoros, as well as Angola and a new connection to Nigeria, according to a statement released on Monday. This is in addition to a recently announced link to the Canary Islands and would bring connection-landings to 35 in 26 countries. “The significant investment by Facebook in 2Africa builds on several other investments we have made in the continent, including infrastructure investments in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. The undersea cable sector is experiencing a resurgence, with Facebook and Alphabet’s Google behind about 80% of recent investments in transatlantic links. The tech giants are seeking to tap growing demand for fast-data transfers used for everything from streaming movies to social messaging and telemedicine. During the 1990s dot-com boom, phone companies spent more than $20 billion laying fiber-optic lines under the oceans. The project is part of Facebook’s long-held plans to lead the race to provide more reliable and faster internet in Africa, a continent of more than 1.2 billion people with an increasing up take of smartphones. The US social-media giant first announced plans for a new undersea cable in May 2020. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones