Africa Media Review for August 23, 2019

Violence Forces 1.9 Million Children Out of Classes in West and Central Africa
More than 1.9 million children are forced out of school across west and central Africa due to rising violence and insecurity, putting them at higher risk of recruitment by armed groups, the UN’s children agency has warned. In an urgent report published on Friday, Unicef revealed that more than 9,000 schools have been shut down as of June this year in eight countries; Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. The latest figures amount to a three-fold increase in the number of schools forcibly closed between the end of 2017 and June 2019, indicating an upsurge in such attacks in the region. The closures, which have also affected almost 44,000 teachers, have exposed the children to a greater risk of exploitation, child marriage and early pregnancy. The Guardian

Islam Madobe Sworn In as Jubbaland President
Ahmed Mohamed Islam ‘Madobe’ was officially sworn in on Thursday as president of Somalia’s federal state Jubbaland after winning a hotly-contested election. However, the Federal government in Mogadishu had earlier said that the candidate selection process had violated the country’s constitution and it would not recognise results by Jubbaland Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (JIEBC). Meanwhile, in another poll held by a group opposed to Madobe, parallel legislators voted Abdirashid Hidig as president of Jubaland. The move now throws the state into political uncertainty. Ahead of the vote on Wednesday, UN representative in Somalia, James Swan had called on political players to refrain from violence. “Whatever the outcome in Jubbaland tomorrow (Thursday), I implore all stakeholders to show restraint, refrain from violence, and resolve grievances through dialogue,” he told the UN Security Council in New York. The East African

Somali President Replaces Security Chiefs and Mogadishu Mayor
Somalia’s president announced on Thursday a major shake-up of the country’s security chiefs as well as a replacement for the mayor of Mogadishu after Abdirahman Omar Osman died of his wounds following a suicide bomb attack last month. Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which aims to topple Somalia’s UN-backed government, claimed responsibility for the bombing of Osman’s office by a blind female fighter. Omar Mohamud Mohamed takes the place of the late mayor, who had fled Somalia for Britain as a refugee and earned years of experience as a councillor in London before deciding to return home to help rebuild his war-torn country. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo selected new heads of national intelligence, police and army, his office said in a statement. Former journalist Fahad Yasin, becomes head of the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA), after performing the role as acting chief for the last 10 months. Reuters

Mozambique, Russia Sign Energy, Security Deals
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi signed energy and security agreements with Russian’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday in the first visit by a leader from the southern African state in two decades. Nyusi’s visit came weeks after his government signed a peace deal with former rebel movement Renamo and just two months before elections where the Mozambique leader will seek a second term. Russia has been looking to expand its influence in Africa and oil and gas producer Mozambique already signed a debt swap agreement with Moscow in 2017. “On the commercial and economic side our relations are still modest,” Putin said after signing the accords. “But we have good prospects.” Bilateral trade between the two countries was $115m in 2018. The two countries have historic ties stretching back to the 1960s when Soviet Moscow supported a Marxist-inspired Mozambique party fighting against Portuguese colonial rule. AFP

Are DRC, Mozambique Insurgencies a Real IS Threat?
Experts are warning that a focus on alleged Islamist militant ties is hindering efforts to respond to insurgencies in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local insurgent groups have claimed ties to Islamic State to increase their clout, but the groups operate autonomously, experts who study the regions say. On April 18, a strike on an army base near the Congo’s border with Uganda left several Congolese soldiers dead and others injured. It was the first attack credited to Wilayat Central Africa, previously known as the Allied Democratic Forces, a group that has pledged allegiance to IS. A month later, an IS group took responsibility for attacks in northeastern Mozambique, part of a growing insurgency in the country led by several groups, including Ahlu Sunnah wa-Jama and al-Shabab. The latter group, consisting of about 1,000 fighters who operate in decentralized units, shares its name but no known connection with the Somali terrorist organization. VOA

NAS Accuses South Sudanese Army, Militias of Attacks
The leadership of National Salvation Front (NAS) has accused South Sudan army (SSPDF) and its allied militia of carrying out military attacks on its positions. In a statement, the group’s spokesperson, Suba Samuel Manase said SSDPF forces attacked NAS position in Loka West on Sunday. “NAS forces responded in self-defence and repulsed the attack, resulting to the death of two (2) SSPDF soldiers,” said Manase. … He added, “The SSPDF left behind twenty (20) soldiers killed in action and large deposits of ammunition in good condition”. The South Sudanese army spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang requested for more time to crosscheck the information when contacted by Sudan Tribune on Friday. The group, however, reiterated its commitment to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in Addis Ababa in December 2017 and expressed willingness to participate in negotiations to end war. The attacks came as South Sudan’s warring parties convened in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to review progress made in the implementation of the revitalized accord on the country’s conflict. Sudan Tribune

Libya Has a Shot at Peace as Combatants Tire of War, Envoy Says
His heavily fortified compound west of Libya’s capital provides Ghassan Salame with a ringside seat as two forces grind out a four-month battle for control of the country. As the United Nation’s special envoy to Libya, his mission is to end fighting between the internationally-recognized government and its chief rival, eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, that’s been fueled by the ambitions of regional powers. After several setbacks, he says the deadlocked contest for Tripoli is bolstering his argument that no one can win. “OK, if there’s nothing conclusive, what do we do now? That is where we are,” Salame said in an interview this week. “That allows our modest efforts in the various capitals that are concerned with the Libyan case to be more fruitful than they have ever been.” Bloomberg

Nigeria: Uproar over Shoot to Kill Policy
Civil society organisations in Nigeria fear the army could commit extrajudicial killings after President Muhammamadu Buhari ordered the military to “eliminate” bandits. … Buhari gave the order this week and pledged his administration would equip the army so that it would eradicate bandits that are wreaking havoc in the volatile country. “I don’t want any bandit spared,” Buhari declared. Some 46 civil society organisations (CSOs) have jointly condemned the order and written to the president to retract. “This strongly suggests extra-judicial elimination of suspects,” the organisations stated. This is not the first time Buhari has ordered what human rights groups argue is tantamount to mobilizing state security to carry out extrajudicial killing of suspects. Ahead of general elections Nigeria held at the beginning of this year, Buhari ordered the police and army to shoot ballot snatchers. Human rights groups argued this resulted in the state security forces perpetrating violence during the disputed poll. CAJ News

Nigerians Dominate FBI’s Massive Bust of Online Fraudsters
The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Thursday that it had arraigned scores of suspected fraudsters behind a variety of scams and online fraud cases. The U.S. Attorney [for the Central District of California], Nick Hanna, said during a press conference that majority of the suspects were based in Nigeria in what is believed to be one of the largest cases of online fraud in American history. … Beside the 80 suspects that have so far been charged, another 57 were being hunted globally by the authorities. Business Email Compromise, BEC scam, was at the heart of the fraudulent actions that deprived victims of millions of dollars. … The latest development comes barely a week after the high-profile arrest of a celebrated young entrepreneur Obinwanne Okeke by the FBI for conspiracy to commit fraud amounting to 12 million dollars. The Forbes under 30 millionaire and founder of Invictus Group is being charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud according to reports. Africa News

Doubts Come a Day after Uganda, Rwanda Sign Pact
A day after the presidents of Uganda and Rwanda signed an agreement to lower tensions that led to a six-month border closure, political and economic analysts are casting doubt on what will follow. Observers say underlying trade issues have not been addressed. The agreement signed Wednesday by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda President Paul Kagame is being only hesitantly welcomed in both countries. In the pact the two leaders agree to respect each other’s sovereignty and avoid action that could destabilize either country. But analysts say the deal does not address underlying issues that led to the closure of the border. In Late February, Rwanda closed the border at the Gatuna-Katuna crossings in the Kisoro district. Since then, Rwanda citizens reportedly were advised not to enter Uganda, and business came to a standstill, with Ugandan traders denied entry into Rwanda. VOA

Uganda Demands Financial Records, Donor Lists of NGOs
Non-governmental organizations in Uganda have been told to submit financial information including budgets and donor lists to the authorities, an official told Reuters on Thursday, in a move rights groups said was another attempt to muzzle criticism. The government of veteran leader President Yoweri Museveni, 74, has long chafed at criticism from NGOs and others of reported excesses including corruption, torture, illegal detentions and extra-judicial killings. Over the last year several government officials have been quoted in local media accusing Bobi Wine, a musician-turned-legislator who says he will seek the presidency at the next election, of being funded by unnamed foreign agents. Steven Okello, executive director of the state-run National Bureau for NGOs, told Reuters the organisation was undertaking a “verification and validation” exercise for all non-profits operating in the country and that this included filing of financial records. Reuters

Tanzania Arrests Second Journalist in Month After Torture Report
Tanzanian police arrested a second journalist within a month, further raising concern that the East African nation is suppressing the press and curbing freedoms. Joseph Gandye, who reports for Watetezi Television, was taken by authorities on Thursday, according to the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which owns the online channel. His arrest came after he reported that police officers allegedly tortured detainees in the central Iringa region. Bloomberg

Zimbabwe Comedian Abducted, Beaten as Tensions Mount
A top Zimbabwean comedian has been abducted and beaten in Zimbabwe by suspected state security agents. Samantha Kureya, also known as Gonyeti, fronts the satirical current affairs channel, Bustop TV. Kureya was abducted from her home in Harare’s Mufakose suburb late on Wednesday by men carrying weapons and wearing masks. Writing on Twitter, Bustop TV said Kureya was stripped naked and beaten by her assailants, who later dumped her in Harare’s low-income Crowborough North suburb where she had to beg for clothes from startled residents. … Kureya is the most prominent person to have been abducted in recent days. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says a number of its officials and their family members have been abducted and beaten in the western city of Bulawayo, where police banned a protest march from going ahead on Monday. The party led by Nelson Chamisa says a “de facto state of emergency now pervades the country, especially in the towns”. RFI

Zimbabwe Arrests Senior Opposition Official over Demonstration
Police in Zimbabwe arrested a senior opposition official on Thursday on charges of failing to stop a banned protest last week in the capital, his lawyer said. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of repression and economic mismanagement, called a demonstration last Friday as the start of a nationwide protest movement but it was banned by the police. But some opposition supporters still turned up for the protest and were subsequently dispersed by police who used batons, teargas and water cannon. Amos Chibaya, the MDC national organising secretary and convener of the planned protests, was questioned by police and detained in a cell overnight, lawyer Obey Shava told Reuters. Chibaya is expected to appear in court on Friday. Reuters

Zimbabwe: Electricity Crippled Zimbabwe Turns to Nuclear Enrichment, with Help from Russia Power
Troubled by a recurring electricity crisis, Zimbabwe agreed terms with Russia to engage in uranium exploration and enrichment in a bid to begin generation, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo revealed this week. Moyo recently visited the Kremlin and on Tuesday told a post-Cabinet media briefing that Russia and Zimbabwe had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the “peaceful use” of nuclear power. “This was cooperation in exploration and other areas and research in as far as peaceful use of nuclear is concerned. “When we say peaceful use of nuclear energy, it is one of the areas where power can actually be generated from in as far as that is concerned,” said Moyo. New Zimbabwe

Malawi: Protests at Borders Will Be Met with Force – Govt
Government says plans to disrupt borders and airports are an act of aggression aimed at undermining the state and has warned Malawians that protests at the borders will be met with force. Minister of Information Mark Botomani said this in a statement on Thursday. On Wednesday, President Peter Mutharika ordered the Malawi Defence Force to use necessary force to stop demonstrations organised by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC). Botomani in his statement defended Mutharika’s directive saying previous demonstrations organised by the HRDC have been characterised with violence. He noted that the right to demonstrate is not a supreme right and government will not allow national security to be breached and the rights of those not taking part in the demonstrations subverted. “Plans to disrupt borders and airports are not in the spirit of peaceful demonstrations. Clearly, they are an act of aggression with the aim of undermining the State and threatening national security. Malawi 24

Gabon ‘Suspends Judge’ in President Bongo’s Health Case
Gabon’s Ministry of Justice has suspended the judge who allowed opposition campaigners to demand the president has a medical check-up, according to the privately-owned Gabonese news website Gabonactu. On 12 August the president of Libreville Court of Appeal, Paulette Ayo Mba, declared admissible a complaint by the Call for Action movement that was asking for President Ali Bongo to have the check up to determine whether he is capable of performing his duties, Gabonactu reports. She scheduled the hearing for 26 August. There has been speculation for some time about the state of Mr Bongo’s health. He returned to Gabon at the end of March after five months of recovery abroad following after suffering a stroke in Saudi Arabia last October. BBC

The Indian Connection That Could Fuel African Startups
Most tech ecosystems across Africa look west, to Silicon Valley, for inspiration. When young African entrepreneurs and investors have looked in the other direction, they have generally focused on China. With the increasing number of Chinese businesses on the ground, the rise of Chinese educational and trade opportunities, and tech giants like Alibaba and WeChat making their presence felt, this view makes sense. Yet the Indian subcontinent has had trading links that pre-date colonial times, particularly on the eastern coast of Africa. Still, there’s little discussion about looking to India’s tech ecosystem for partnerships, investment and market opportunities for African startups. Even as one of the world’s fastest-growing large economies, India faces some of the poverty and urban development challenges seen across Africa. Still, the rise of India’s Institute of Technology colleges have seen it become the world’s leading producer of software developers and engineering talent. Quartz Africa



Photo: Adam Jones