Africa Media Review for August 25, 2017

The Costs of Regional Paralysis in the Face of the Crisis in Burundi
In June 2017, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi reported that atrocities were being committed on a massive scale. This includes extrajudicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, and mass graves. Many of the violations were accompanied by ethnic-based hate speech delivered by state and ruling party officials. Over 400,000 Burundians have taken refuge in neighboring countries, including 240,000 in Tanzania’s Nyarugusu camp, now the third largest in the world. The number of Burundian refugees is expected to exceed a half million by the end of this year, which would make Burundi the third largest source of refugees in sub-Saharan Africa. The crisis is taking a toll on the economic outlook of the East African Community (EAC). Several infrastructure projects are in danger of derailing, including the extension of a regional pipeline for oil products, estimated at $53 million. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burundians Still Fleeing Abuses: Report
Burundians continue to flee their country due to ongoing threats and abuses despite their government’s insistence that many are returning, according to a report published on Thursday. The report by the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) says that members of the Imbonerakure – the ruling party’s youth wing which has been described as a militia – continue to carry out killings and enforced disappearances of those deemed not supportive of the regime. Testimonies collected from Burundians who arrived in Uganda between March and June 2017, challenge the Burundian government’s official narrative, which urges refugees to “return to their homeland, because peace and security prevail on the whole national territory,” according to IRRI. The report shows that while some are indeed returning to Burundi, new arrivals in neighbouring countries significantly outnumber the returnees. News 24

Angola’s Ruling Party Leads with 65 Percent of Provisional Count
The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola led a provisional vote count in Wednesday’s election in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, winning 64.6 percent with almost two-thirds of the results reported. The main opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or Unita, received 24.4 percent, Julia Ferreira, a spokeswoman for the National Electoral Commission, told reporters Thursday in Luanda, the capital. The Broad Consensus for Angolan Salvation-Electoral Coalition party, the second-biggest opposition group, obtained 8.6 percent, she said. The MPLA will probably gain control of Angola’s 220-member legislature and have its presidential candidate, Joao Lourenco, 63, succeed outgoing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Voter turnout was 77 percent, according to the electoral commission. Dos Santos, Africa’s second-longest serving ruler who led Angola through a civil war, an oil-fueled boom and a bust, is stepping down after 38 years in power. Bloomberg

Angolan Main Opposition UNITA Disputes Provisional Results
The Angolan main opposition party, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), has disputed the first provisional results released on Thursday by the National Electoral Commission (CNE) in the framework of the last Wednesday’s elections. This position was voiced out Friday in Luanda by the UNITA party agent, Jose Pedro Catchiungo, stating that CNE is wrong and the announced provisional results are false. The preliminary results from the 2017 general elections give victory to the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), with 64.57 percent of the votes cast. According to data released by NEC at mid-afternoon on Thursday, of the votes cast, MPLA has achieved 64.57 percent of votes, while UNITA occupied the second place with 24.4 percent. The first provisional results indicate that the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE) comes in third position, with 8.56 percent of the valid votes. This political force also disputes the results released by CNE. Xinhua

#MugabeGate: The People vs Mugabe and the Government of South Africa
Gabriella Engels and Afriforum have filed a review application in the Pretoria High court against South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe. The application seeks to set aside Nkoana-Mashabane’s decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe after she allegedly went on the rampage and assaulted Engels in a Sandton hotel and later slipped out of the country to escape criminal charges. […] The law provides for the South African court to order an attorney in Zimbabwe to serve the summons on Mugabe. If Mugabe should wish to oppose the application for relief, she has 30 days “from service of this order” to do so. Daily Maverick

US to Limit Visas from 4 Nations That Won’t Take Deportees
The Trump administration is poised to impose visa restrictions on four Asian and African nations refusing to take back their citizens who’ve been deported from the United States, officials said Thursday. […] The State Department has been traditionally reluctant to impose visa sanctions because affected countries often retaliate through reciprocal restrictions on U.S. citizens and officials. The measures have only been imposed twice before, against Guyana and The Gambia. DHS currently identifies China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Guinea, Cambodia, Eritrea, Burma, Morocco, Hong Kong and South Sudan as being recalcitrant in accepting deportees from the U.S. It was not immediately clear why only Cambodia, Eritrea and Guinea were selected for the sanctions or why Sierra Leone, which was last identified as “at risk” for recalcitrance, was included. AP

Boris Johnson Meets Eastern Libyan Strongman in Benghazi
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the man who controls eastern Libya has pledged to give up military rule if he becomes the country’s president. Mr Johnson met Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, which was recently declared free from extremists after three years of fighting. The foreign secretary, who met the country’s prime minister on Wednesday, said he wanted stability in Libya. The UK has pledged £9m to help tackle people trafficking and terrorism. Mr Johnson is the first senior western politician to have visited the Libyan military commander on the ground at his home base near Benghazi. BBC

Situation in Libya Dominates the African Leadership Forum
Libya has topped the agenda of the 4th African Leadership Forum in Boksburg. The two day conference has brought together former African heads of state including Thabo Mbeki and former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa. It is focusing on peace and security on the continent. As the former leaders debated on peace and stability on the continent, it became evident that Libya had inadvertently been scaled up the agenda. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke about how Libya has been unstable since Arab Spring and fears that ISIS could find a home in Libya. Libya has been in a fragile state since the invasion of NATO in 2011 which killed its leader Muammar Gaddafi. SABC

As Guns Fall Silent, Benghazi Residents Return to Battered Homes
Two months after the dominant military force in eastern Libya declared victory in a campaign to retake Benghazi, Hassan al-Zawy is living rough in his home in the district that witnessed the city’s last major battle. Like many other residents, he ventured back as Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army gradually wrested back control from Islamist militants and other rebel groups. Parts of Libya’s second city were reduced to rubble during more than three years of fighting and, with economic crisis and political turmoil gripping the country, rebuilding is a daunting challenge. “There are flies, mosquitoes and garbage. At night, we have absolutely nothing,” Zawy told Reuters in mid-August in the seafront neighborhood of Sabri. “We’ve been here for one month and 10 days and all we want from the state is [this]: electricity and water, and for people to return to their homes, and stay there.” VOA

US Congressional Visit Urges Central African Republic Aid
A U.S. congressman on Thursday called for urgent aid to Central African Republic during a visit to the impoverished country where deadly sectarian violence is surging again. Hundreds of people have been killed this year and more than 600,000 have been displaced. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Associated Press that the international community “has to think about the long-term implications of abandoning our efforts to stabilize this country.” Cicilline criticized the recent withdrawal of U.S. special operations troops and said it creates a “void” in the country’s southeast. The U.S. military this year ended operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group in the region. The LRA has continued attacks against civilians since then. An estimated 60 percent of Central African Republic is controlled by armed groups, according to the aid group Oxfam. AP

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Downplays Refugee Crisis
The flood of refugees fleeing South Sudan aren’t “a big deal,” says President Salva Kiir in an exclusive interview with DW, adding that many were “chased away by social media” in a conspiracy against his government. South Sudan has been embroiled in a violent conflict since 2013, when a split between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, escalated into outright war. The brutal conflict has forced parts of the country to the brink of famine. More than a quarter of South Sudanese have since fled their homes, 2 million of them seeking safety in neighboring countries. The past four years have seen many broken ceasefire agreements and failed peace deals. In May 2017, Kiir officially launched a National Dialogue in a renewed attempt to bring peace to South Sudan, which only became a nation in 2011. Deutsche Welle

South Sudan Vows Readiness to Redesigning Ties with U.S.
South Sudanese government pledged on Wednesday its readiness to redesign its bilateral relations with the people and the government of United States. Foreign affairs minister Deng Alor Kuol told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the people of South Sudan and the Americans enjoy a “very strong friendship” with embassies mutually established. “A good friend would come out and tell you from the bottom of his heart whatever he sees that you need to fix. This does not mean the friend does not like you. At the moment the two nations maintain a cordial relationship. Relations between the two countries are traceable as far back as before the war of liberation struggle”, explained Foreign Minister Kuol to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday. The minister said the two nations would eventually overcome the current situation and move on to redesigning how best they could work together to revert the past in order to consolidate efforts. Sudan Tribune

UN Envoy Warns of Election Risks in South Sudan
The U.N. Special Envoy for South Sudan warned Thursday that the country risks falling deeper into conflict if serious issues are not addressed before planned elections next year. “There is sporadic fighting and widespread insecurity across the country,” Nicholas Haysom told the U.N. Security Council. “Our engagements with South Sudanese interlocutors, including the opposition, suggest that battlefield fortunes continue to inform the calculus of both the government and its opponents.” In May, the government of President Salva Kiir declared a unilateral cease-fire and prisoner release. However, the truce has not held, and military operations have continued in Upper Nile, while there is insecurity in the Equatorias. VOA

Tanzania Rights Body Slams Govt ‘Harassment’ of Opposition
Tanzania’s main human rights group on Thursday criticised the government for its “harassment” of opposition lawmakers, three of whom have been arrested over the past week. In a statement, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) said the string of arrests amounted to a “violation of political and civic rights” in a country where multi-party politics is enshrined in the constitution. On Tuesday, opposition MP Tundu Lissu was arrested for allegedly insulting President John Magufuli after revealing that Canada had seized a commercial aircraft purchased by the government over an unpaid $38m debt to a Canadian engineering company. It is the sixth time Lissu, a lawyer and deputy head of the main opposition Chadema party, has been arrested this year. In July he was charged with hate speech after calling Magufuli a “dictator”. News 24

President Kenyatta Rejects Kenya MPs’ Push for Higher Pay
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed not to support MPs’ move to raise their salaries if the Supreme Court validates his election. Mr Kenyatta on Thursday said he would not sign any Bill passed by MPs raising the lawmakers’ pay and allowances. “We’re not on the same page… I’ll not endorse any increase even if they want to hate me,” Mr Kenyatta said when he met heads of Catholic schools at Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi. “When they were contesting for the seats, they knew the salaries so they cannot turn around even before they are sworn in and start complaining.” The East African

‘The Boss Wants to Talk to You’: Former UN Rights Expert on Kenya Airport Ordeal
A former UN expert on the right to free assembly has warned of a crackdown on civil liberties in Kenya, after he was detained while trying to leave the country. Maina Kiai, a human rights activist, was held for up to two hours at the country’s largest airport while trying to board a flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam on Sunday. Campaigners said it was the latest in a series of attempts to harass activists, following the country’s recent disputed elections. “It’s something that has never happened to me before,’” said Kiai. “I went to the immigration counter to get my passport stamped, as we all do when we leave the country. The attendant said, ‘Would you please wait in the room, the boss wants to talk to you.’” Kiai, the former UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, was told he needed clearance to leave the country. After speaking to the media, he was able to contact to the director of immigration, who eventually allowed him to board his plane. “He said, ‘Oh, sorry, it’s a misunderstanding, you can fly now’. He refused to tell me why I was not questioned,” Kiai said. The Guardian

Can Ethiopia Be Africa’s Leading Manufacturing Hub?
With Ethiopia having the second biggest population in Africa, it is under growing pressure to tackle unemployment. The BBC’s Alastair Leithead visited the country to find out how it is tackling the problem. The factory workers sing Ethiopia’s national anthem in unison as one shift ends and another prepares to begin. Outside, a fleet of passenger buses pulls into Hawassa Industrial Park, as thousands of textile workers – most of them women – switch places. The new arrivals take up their stations behind sewing machines, ironing boards and cutting tables as the shirts and suits start taking shape. The park, claimed to be the biggest in Africa, is 140 hectares (350 acres) of factories, with a water treatment plant and its own textile mill. BBC

Whatever Happened to East Africa’s Oil Boom?
It was not long ago that East Africa was the shining frontier of the continent’s oil scene. Uganda sparked the rush in 2006 after wildcatters ventured deep inland and made Africa’s largest onshore discoveries in decades. And Kenya’s north­western Turkana region continued the run with new oilfields found in 2012. With crude prices averag­ing almost $112 per barrel at that time, it was hoped these fresh discoveries could be linked up with a new regional pipeline network stretching from South Sudan to the coast. It was believed that oil could economically transform the East African region. Yet a decade on, little progress has been made on the pipeline, while Uganda and Ken­ya’s oil remains trapped far from interna­tional markets. Security risks have hindered developments, while the steep drop in crude prices from late-2014 has slowed things down. However, politics – both domestic and regional – have also been central to the delays. African Arguments



Photo: Adam Jones