Africa Media Review for August 2, 2017

Eight Migrants Die in Mediterranean: Aid Group
Eight migrants died in the Mediterranean and 375 were rescued from small boats on Tuesday, aid group Proactiva Open Arms said. More than 2,200 people have lost their lives so far this year trying to make the crossing from North Africa to Europe while some 95,000 have been rescued and brought to Italy. “We are here to avoid more drownings, today another eight dead and four dinghies adrift,” Proactiva founder Oscar Camps wrote on Twitter, adding there were 77 women and 52 minors among those rescued. Non-governmental organisations now carry out around a third of all operations in the search-and-rescue zone north of Libya, according to Italy’s coastguard, which coordinates the rescues. Reuters

Libya Constitutional Committee Pushes for a Vote on Draft
Libya’s official news agency says the head of the committee tasked to write the constitution has called upon the eastern parliament to move forward with a referendum on a final draft. The call by Nouh Abdel-Sayyed, reported Tuesday, to “take all necessary measures to enable the Libyan people to practice their constitutional right” came after days of confusion on whether his committee is following proper legal procedures. On Saturday, disgruntled protesters stormed the committee’s session in the eastern town of Bayda, calling for a redo of their vote which was in favor of putting the final draft up for a nationwide referendum. News24

FBI Offers to Help Probe Murder of Kenya’s Electoral Boss Chris Msando
America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain’s Scotland Yard may be drafted into the investigation to unmask the killers of Kenya’s electoral agency technology manager Christopher Chege Msando. That is if the Kenyan government accepts the offer of help given on Monday evening by the US and Britain. US ambassador Robert F. Godec and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey condemned the killing and said they welcomed the government’s commitment to investigate the crime, adding: “We have offered our assistance in the investigation.” The East African

Report Links Kiir, Machar to Recent South Sudan Crimes
A new Human Rights Watch report accuses nine leaders in both of South Sudan’s warring parties of committing serious rights violations and possibly war crimes during 2016 and 2017. It recommends placing sanctions on all nine men, including President Salva Kiir, former First Vice President Riek Machar, and former army chief of staff Paul Malong. Jehanne Henry of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, says that based on HRW’s research, the leaders are implicated in abusive operations across the country. “We have come to the conclusion now after almost four years of conflict in South Sudan, that there is mounting evidence of the role of key commanders in the ongoing atrocities,” Henry told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus. VOA

Former Detainees Call for Ceasefire, Push for Press Freedom
The former political detainees have called on armed opposition groups to cease violence and government to allow freedom of speech to create an enabling environment for peace in South Sudan, a member of the national dialogue committee said. The former detainees are a group of high level SPLM leaders who were arrested and released at the start of the South Sudan Civil War in December 2013 before going into exile in neighbouring countries. Betty Achan Ogwaro said during the closing of a two-month seminar for members of the national dialogue in Juba on Friday that the former detainees said during a meeting in Kampala last week that the armed opposition should reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Kiir. Agwaro pointed out that the former detainees expressed concern over the blocking of news websites of some independent media outlets in the country. Radio Tamazuj

Kagame Set for Sweeping Victory in Rwanda Election
Rwandans go the polls on Friday in a presidential election in which strongman Paul Kagame is widely expected to cruise to a third term in office. The 59-year-old leader faces two little-known candidates who were given only three weeks to campaign against the incumbent, who has kept a tight hold on power since his rebel army ended the 1994 genocide. Observers say Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party—the only permitted critical opposition party—and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana face an unwinnable battle. Even Kagame has said the result is a foregone conclusion. The East African

Burundi: Children’s Rights Activist Calls on Government to Sign Labor Agreement with Arab Countries
The chairman of National Federation of Associations Engaged in Children’s Welfare (FENADEB) appeals to Burundi Government to sign labor agreement with the Gulf states to combat the trafficking of Burundian women. On the occasion of the week dedicated to the fight against human trafficking, FENADEB asks the Burundian Government to sign a convention with the Arab countries to protect women and girls who go to work there. Since February 2016, Burundi human rights organizations have denounced the trafficking of young Burundian girls and women to some Middle East countries namely Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In a letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 12 June 2016, the civil society organization Movement for the Future of Burundi (MCA) pointed out that over 2,500 girls have been victims of human trafficking since 2015. Iwacu

Uganda: 73% of MPs Say No to Land Bill
The proposed amendment of article 26 of the Constitution to allow government take possession of private land without prior compensation continues to fiercely divide opinion in parliament. Opponents of the draft legislation claim the amendment is a government ploy to grab people’s land. But government argues that the amendment would stop the long delays in developing infrastructure projects, which also lead to escalation of costs. In short interviews with The Observer over the past two weeks, 73 out of 100 MPs surveyed across the political divide said they would oppose the bill if it comes to a vote. The Observer

Zanu PF Factional Wars Suspected as Soldiers Beat up Police Officers in Harare
A MOB of soldiers, clad in Zimbabwe National Army gear, Tuesday late afternoon ran amok and mercilessly beat up ZRP officers in Central Harare for an as yet unknown reason. According to those who witnessed the drama, a troop of soldiers armed with shamboks, logs and sticks was seen clearing Robert Mugabe Road beating up any police officer along the way. Others said the soldiers came from different directions with some seen running after the police officers along Simon Muzenda Street (4th Street). Others were seen along Jason Moyo Avenue as they crossed First Street disturbing the smooth flow of the traffic during the pick hour. New Zimbabwe

German Apology about Colonial-era Genocide in Namibia Likely to Be Delayed
Germany had promised an apology to Namibia for colonial-era genocide before general elections in September this year. But negotiations between both governments drag on with both sides failing to agree on key issues. The German government’s special envoy for the negotiations with Namibia, Ruprecht Polenz, has become rather cautious when it comes to making statements about the future. “I do not want to say at this stage when we’ll reach the end,” he told DW. Since December 2015, both governments have been locked in negotiations about colonial-era massacres, carried out by German troops in the former colony between 1904 and 1908. An estimated 75,000 people are believed to have been killed after members of the Herero and Nama ethnic group rebelled against German rule. DW

China Promises Support to New African Ally Gambia
China will offer its new African ally Gambia support in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and other areas, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his visiting Gambian counterpart, after the nation ditched ties with self-ruled Taiwan. Gambia ended formal relations with Taiwan, claimed by China as a wayward province with no right to diplomatic ties, last year. Gambia’s new government, which took over from former long-time leader Yahya Jammeh this year, has pledged to continue relations with Beijing. Wang told Ousainou Darboe at a meeting in Beijing that China was ready “to enhance cooperation with Gambia in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and other fields”, China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Tuesday, without giving details. Reuters

Somalia to Open First Journalism School in 26 Years
Being a journalist in Somalia carries both risk and reward. The risk comes from al-Shabab militants and other armed groups who have killed at least 26 reporters in the last five years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The reward is having a job with one of the many independent media outlets that have sprung up despite chronic violence and the absence of any journalism schools in Somalia. Somalia’s National University is trying to fill the education void by reopening its journalism school for the first time in 26 years. The Faculty of Journalism and Communication Science could begin classes as early as next month, instructing up to 60 students. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones