Africa Media Review for August 18, 2020

SADC Commits Supports for Mozambique’s Terror Threat, No Word on Violence in Zimbabwe
Leaders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have committed their support to the government of Mozambique to combat the ongoing attacks by a terrorist organisation with possible links to ISIS. Heads of state from several countries in the region met virtually on Monday for the 40th Ordinary Summit of SADC. However, nothing was mentioned of Zimbabwe which has been rocked by protests, amid growing reports of human rights violations. Deliberating on security, the summit received an assessment report on emerging security threats in the region, according to a statement. “(The) summit welcomed the decision by the Government of the Republic of Mozambique to bring to the attention of SADC the violent attacks situation in the country and commended the country for its continued efforts towards combating terrorism and violent attacks. The summit expressed SADC solidarity and commitment to support Mozambique in addressing the terrorism and violent attacks, and condemned all acts of terrorism and armed attacks,” the statement read. News24

Possible Mutiny under Way outside Mali Capital, Say Norwegian Embassy and Security Source
A possible military mutiny was under way on Tuesday outside Mail’s capital Bamako, the Norwegian Embassy and a security source said. Local residents and security sources said there was gunfire at the army base in Kati, about 15 km (9 miles) outside Bamako, where a mutiny in 2012 led to a coup d’etat, although it was not immediately clear who was firing at whom. “The embassy has been notified of mutiny in the Armed Forces and troops are on their way to Bamako. Norwegians should exercise caution and preferably stay at home until the situation is clear,” the Norwegian Embassy said in an alert to its citizens. “Yes, mutiny. The military has taken up arms,” a security source said. A source who handles security for non-governmental organisations in Mali said gunfire had also been heard near the prime minister’s office. … A mutiny at the base led to a coup d’etat in 2012 that toppled then-President Amadou Toumani Toure and contributed to the fall of northern Mali to jihadist militants. Reuters

Mali Opposition Calls Fresh Anti-Govt Protests
Mali’s opposition announced fresh protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Monday, including a women’s march and protest caravans planned this week in the poor Sahel state. Speaking at a press conference in the capital Bamako, representatives of the June 5 Movement (M5) said the series of protests would begin on Tuesday and culminate in a mass rally on Friday. “The M5 has decided to step up its actions to get President IBK,” said one the group’s leaders, Ibrahim Ikassa Maiga, using the initials by which Keita is known. The call comes after Mali’s opposition last week spurned pressure to enter dialogue from the 15-nation West Africa bloc ECOWAS, which is keen to help prevent the fragile country from sliding into chaos. AFP

Sudanese Protesters Call for Democracy on Anniversary of Power-Sharing Deal
Protesters in cities across Sudan demanded faster implementation of long-delayed reforms Monday, the anniversary of a power-sharing agreement between civilians and the military. Large crowds in the capital, Khartoum, called for justice and peace before security forces dispersed them with tear gas, reported the Agence France-Presse news agency. The Sudanese military ousted longtime leader Omar al-Bashir from the presidency in April 2019 after months of protests. In July 2019, the Transitional Military Council signed a deal with civilian protesters represented by the Forces of Freedom and Change coalition. Protesters say the agreed-to reforms have not been made. … Protesters also called for a peace deal with rebels in Darfur and elsewhere, both a key demand for demonstrators and a priority for the government. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok launched peace talks last fall. Sudan’s state news agency SUNA reported that a deal is expected Aug. 28. VOA

Sudan Reaches Security Deal with Rebel Groups
Sudan’s transitional government on Monday reached a security deal with rebel groups under the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North(SPLM-N), inching closer to a united country following years of turmoil. The rebel groups headed by Malik Agar had agreed to negotiate with the Transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on power-sharing, but often differed on elements. On Monday, officials announced SPLM-N had accepted an offer on security arrangements which means that the rebel fighters could gradually be integrated into the national army. According to the deal, a mechanism to reform the country’s military and security establishment will involve gradual creation of a single, professional, non-politicised national army “that represents the diversity of Sudan.” The deal means the fighters who had spent years targeting the Sudanese army during the era of Omar al-Bashir will be integrated in the next 12 months or before Dr Hamdok’s transitional government elapses. The East African

South Africa Has Reached Coronavirus Peak, President Says
South Africa, with the continent’s highest burden of COVID-19, has reached the peak of the pandemic, according to the president and top health officials.  President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a loosening of restrictions but said that he is not yet breathing a sigh of relief. … President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking late Saturday, said that over the past three weeks, the number of new confirmed cases has dropped from a daily average of about 12,000 to around 5,000 per day. “A ray of light is visible now on the horizon,” said Ramaphosa. “Let us continue to exercise the greatest caution and care and remain ever vigilant.  Let us continue to stand united in our determination to defeat this virus.” … The chair of South Africa’s advisory committee on COVID-19, Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, credits the government’s swift lockdown measures. He says the government gained about 6 to 8 weeks of precious time to prepare by declaring a state of disaster, closing schools, banning international travel and banning the sales of alcohol and tobacco. VOA

Attacks Targeting Aid Workers in Niger Are Latest in Worrying Spike
New findings out Monday show an alarming spike in attacks against humanitarian workers last year, including in part of Africa’s Sahel region. That’s where some of the latest attacks took place last week against French and Nigerien nationals. France held a memorial ceremony Friday for six French aid workers killed in Niger on August 9, along with two Nigeriens. … Worldwide, last year marked the highest number of major attacks against aid workers over the past decade – with 483 workers killed, kidnapped and wounded, according to independent research group Humanitarian Outcomes. … Speaking on French radio last week, Vincent Cochetel, a high-level official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, agreed aid workers are increasingly becoming targeted in the Sahel and elsewhere. VOA

Niger Frees 11 Boko Haram Hostages
Troops from Niger have freed 11 villagers, four of them children, who had been seized by Boko Haram jihadists and taken across the border into Nigeria, local officials said Monday. “The hostages were freed by our troops on the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, near a Boko Haram base,” Yahaya Godi, secretary of the Diffa region governorate in southeast Niger, told AFP. “There are 11 people, including three women and four children, two of them babies, who were seized by the Boko Haram terrorist group.” The abductions took place on August 11 and 12 in two villages in Gueskerou, a district on the Niger side of Lake Chad. AFP

Somalia Elections: Dominant Mudolood Clan Seeks to Repeat History
Somalia’s Mudolood clan is re-assembling for political power as the country’s leaders haggle on the type of elections. Last week, the clan gathered in Mogadishu for a ‘Peace Forum,’ but the participants included big names in Somalia’s political sphere. Among them were former Presidents Ali Mahdi Muhammad, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud as well as former ministers including opposition leader Abdirahman Adbdishakur who leads Wadajir Party. The list of speakers also included Galmudug Federal State President Abdi Karie ‘Qoorqoor’ as well as various serving and retired diplomats, military officers and business people. At the end of the meeting, the group said it opposed any delays in elections and called for wide-ranging consultations on the type and date of elections. The East African

Pandemic Starts to Surge in Conflict-Hit Libya
As coronavirus cases surge in Libya, medics and officials working with a health system wrecked by years of division and war are warning that the pandemic could be slipping out of their control. The conflict has also restricted movement within Libya, and confirmed cases remained low during the first months of the outbreak. Now, infections are jumping by up to several hundred per day to reach a total of nearly 8,200, including more than 150 deaths. Hotspots include the capital Tripoli and the large port city of Misrata in the west, and the city of Sabha in the south. Medics say the virus is spreading because people have carried on attending large gatherings including weddings and funerals, and are not practising physical distancing. Reuters

German Minister in Tripoli to Press for End to Libyan War
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made an unannounced visit to Tripoli on Monday, saying that the world must not be lulled into inaction by the “deceptive calm” in Libya and should find a way to end the conflict. Maas said he would meet with officials in the U.N.-recognized administration in the capital to “talk about ways out of this very dangerous situation” where both sides in the bloody civil war are being armed by international allies. … Germany has been trying to act as an intermediary, and in January held a summit in Berlin where participants from both sides agreed to respect an arms embargo and push Libya’s warring parties to reach a full cease-fire, but the agreement has been repeatedly violated. Earlier this month, the U.S. said it was “deeply troubled by the escalating conflict in Libya” and “strongly opposes foreign military involvement, including the use of mercenaries and private military contractors, by all sides.” AP

Italy, EU Pledge Support for Tunisian Jobs to Slow Migration
As growing numbers of migrants cross from Tunisia to Europe, top Italian and European Union officials promised Monday to support Tunisian development efforts to create jobs and keep young people from trying to flee the North African country. … The number of migrants leaving Tunisia has grown as much as five-fold this year compared to last year reaching a total of about 5,700 people, according to estimates from the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights, an aid group following migration flows. … Tunisia’s unemployment rate stood at 15% before the coronavirus pandemic and has since climbed to 21%. The country has struggled to restore prosperity since protesters overthrew a longtime autocrat in 2011, unleashing Arab Spring uprisings around the world. AP

Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia Resist Camp Closure Amid COVID-19 Fears
A plan by the Ethiopian government to relocate around 27,000 Eritrean refugees to two already overcrowded camps is yet to be shelved, despite concerns by aid organisations over both the risk of spreading COVID-19 and the confusion the stated policy has caused. The government announced plans in April to close Hitsats refugee camp and relocate its residents to Adi Harush and Mai Aini, two other Eritrean camps also located in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned that both Adi Harush and Mai Aini are “already operating at full capacity,” and says that moving the Hitsats residents could “expose the refugees to the risk of COVID-19 infection and outbreak in the camps.” Aid workers say all four Eritrean refugee camps in Ethiopia, sheltering a total of about 100,000 people, are severely overcrowded, food is in short supply, and there is poor access to water – crucial for the additional sanitation needs as a result of COVID-19. The New Humanitarian

Overfishing in Congo Threatens Endangered Sharks, Report Warns
Each day, fishmongers in Congo Republic pile up hundreds of dead sharks on the shore and begin lopping off fins and bartering over hammerheads and other endangered species. The bustling seaside business could be jeopardising the marine environment in the Gulf of Guinea, wildlife trade group TRAFFIC warned this week. Artisanal fishermen are harvesting 400-1,000 sharks and rays per day, according to surveys it conducted last year. The fishermen say they don’t have a choice. A rise in industrial fishing by dozens of mainly Chinese trawlers in Congolese waters is eroding their livelihoods. “Since the Chinese trawlers arrived, it’s complicated things,” said Alain Pangou, a 54-year-old fisherman. “It’s difficult to live.” Reuters

COVID-19 Further Unravels Ghana’s Textile Industry 
Manufacturers of Ghana’s iconic fabrics have come under increasing pressure as counterfeits made in China undercut local production.  COVID-19 and the resulting steep decline in sales has added more woes to this industry.  Producers are hoping that measures aimed at stopping the counterfeits will turn things around. Ghana has a rich history of textile production, making different fabrics from woven kente to brightly-colored batik to wax prints where designs carry meanings.  Consumers will often buy new fabrics to mark occasions, like funerals. … Wax print textile company GTP has designed and printed fabrics in Ghana since 1966. Their print designs are often stolen, printed in China and other Asian nations and then smuggled back into Ghana, severely undercutting the business. COVID-19 compounded these issues.  During the recent lockdown in Ghana, sales dropped from about 1 million yards a month, to less than 100,000. VOA

A United States Air Force C-130J Super Hercules on Saturday delivered nearly R6 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the South African National Department of Health (NDoH), which will use it to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal. The equipment arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on 15 August and comprises masks, gloves, medical gowns, and sanitizing supplies, the US Embassy said. The US military’s Africa Command (Africom) also announced that is supporting the set-up of handwashing stations in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, contributing $225 000 (R4 million) to this initiative. This brings the total value of US support toward South Africa’s COVID-19 response to over $46 million (R808 million), the US Embassy said. DefenceWeb



Photo: Adam Jones