Africa Media Review for August 29, 2017

Europe-Africa Summit Yields New Approach to Asylum Claims
The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed Monday on a new policy to grant asylum to vulnerable migrants who apply for protection while in Africa instead of their destination countries. At a Europe-Africa summit in Paris aimed at finding long-elusive solutions to illegal migration, the European leaders also agreed to help the African countries through which Europe-bound migrants usually pass with border controls. French President Emmanuel Macron, the summit’s host, called it the most effective and far-reaching migration meeting in months, though he didn’t say how much the new measures would cost and many specifics remained unclear. In a joint statement, the four leaders acknowledged the need to initiate a process in Chad and Niger that would lead to the resettlement of “particularly vulnerable migrants” in Europe. AP

Can Africa Thwart the next Migration Crisis? European Leaders Think So.
More than 1.5 million migrants have surged into Europe since 2015. Now European leaders and their African counterparts are working to stop the next mass migration before it starts. In Paris on Monday, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain met with the presidents of Niger and Chad — as well as Fayez Serraj, the head of Libya’s unity government. They agreed on a policy of registering “vulnerable” migrants at reception centers in Africa before they can seek asylum in Europe. The war in Syria and conflict and poverty across Africa have caused a surge in migration over the past several years, prompting migrants and asylum seekers to pour into Europe, including along the deadly central Mediterranean route. To curb the flow, European leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have long called for increased screening in Africa. In return, they have promised their African partners significant developmental aid. The Washington Post

Italian Government Accused of Paying Libyan Militias to Curb Migrant Trade
Italy is being accused of paying off Libyan militias linked to people smugglers in order to stop trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean for a month. The claim, which coincides with an 86 percent fall in the number of asylum-seekers reaching Italy this month, compared to August of last year, comes as European and African leaders met in Paris to discuss how to stem the migrant flow roiling Europe. According to Middle East Eye, a London-based news site, the Italian government has been paying off local brigades in the city of Sabratha, 80 kilometers west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The alleged payoffs involve cash, aid and equipment, and are channeled through the city’s municipal authorities, which are controlled by the militias, the site claims. VOA

USAID Director Green Visits Darfur as U.S. Considers Lifting Sanctions on Sudan
As Mark Green, the head of U.S. humanitarian aid, visits hard-hit areas of Sudan to assess whether help is getting to millions of civilians uprooted by war, he frequently dangles a carrot — lifting sanctions and a trade embargo. His first overseas trip since becoming administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) coincides with a sanctions review by the Trump administration that could undo measures imposed two decades ago. The White House has set an Oct. 12 deadline for a decision on whether to end sanctions against Sudan put in place initially over its support for international terrorism and then for the violence it used suppressing rebel groups in the five states that make up the Darfur region. “The timing of my visit shows the importance the U.S. attaches to our relationship with Sudan during this very important sanctions review period,” Green said pointedly Monday as he met with Abdul Wahid Yousif, the governor of North Darfur state. The Sudanese official is credited with restoring the rule of law in a region where villages were destroyed when rebel groups battled government troops and pro-government militias in a brutal conflict that started in 2003. The Washington Post

U.S. Tillerson to End Position of Sudans’ Special Envoy: Report
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning to end the position of special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan disclosed CNN in a report released on its website on Monday. According to the cable news network, the special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan ” will be subsumed under the Bureau of African Affairs”. The CNN said Tillerson detailed his plan to eliminate or reduce special envoy positions at the State Department in a letter sent to Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “I believe that the Department will be able to better execute its mission by integrating certain envoys and special representative offices within the regional and functional bureaus,” Tillerson wrote in his letter to Corker, adding “and eliminating those that have accomplished or outlived their original purpose,” CNN reported. Sudan Tribune

UN Moves to Protect South Sudan Civilians after Years of Criticism
United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan are moving more aggressively to protect civilians caught in the country’s four-year civil war, after years of criticism for failures that led to the sacking of the mission’s military chief last year. This year, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has rescued aid workers and U.N. staff during attacks, saved civilians from abduction by armed groups, and pushed past roadblocks to a massacre site. “A lot has been done … to improve UNMISS’ ability to deliver on its protection of civilians mandate,” said Lauren Spink, a South Sudan specialist for the independent U.S.-based advocacy group Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). South Sudan was the world’s youngest country when it became independent from neighbouring Sudan in 2011 following decades of conflict. Reuters

Why Is the US Chasing ‘Congolese Rebels’ in the Northern Cape?
The arrival of United States army troops in South Africa for their third joint training military exercise in July sparked panic on social media: “What are they planning? Are they coming to invade us? This is what the ANC is warning us about!” These were some of the reactions to early reports that an American C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft had entered South African airspace and was going to land at Upington. But among South African National Defence Force (SANDF) generals and troops, there was a straightening of uniforms in anticipation of hosting the most powerful military in the world. “It’s like having a cousin over that you don’t like. You accommodate them because you’re family, but you know you have to sleep with one eye open,” quipped a captain. The US soldiers were here for the third joint training exercise between the US and South African militaries. The exercises offer the US military a window into Africa and help to establish relationships between commanders on both sides. South African troops are also exposed to cutting-edge training and equipment. Mail and Guardian

Rebel Group Vows to Step up Attacks against Burundi’s Government
A Burundi rebel group vowed to intensify attacks on President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government, potentially deepening the East African country’s more than two-year political crisis. The Burundi Popular Forces see the violence as necessary to compel Nkurunziza’s administration to join peace talks with all the country’s opposition groups, spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said in an interview. The rebels, who include former army and police officers, were previously part of the Forebu group that claimed attacks on military sites in Burundi in the past year, he said. “We are obliged to take military action against the powers in Bujumbura to stop the crimes that are being committed against the population by state organs,” Manirakiza said by phone from a location he wouldn’t disclose. Bujumbura is Burundi’s capital. Bloomberg

Togolese Opposition Postpone March, Demand Release of Protesters
Togolese opposition parties have postponed planned demonstrations against the government and have demanded the release of protesters who were arrested during the August 19 and 20 bloody protest. The second march planned for August 30 and 31 was postponed on Monday by the six-party opposition coalition CAP 2015 and the Pan-African National Party (PNP) to September 6 and 7. The parties said in a statement that the reason for the postponement is to get the whole nation involved in the demonstration calling for the revision of the 1992 Constitution and the end to the Gnassingbe dynasty. They also called on the public to attend the hearing of the 27 people arrested during last week’s protest. They will appear before a court in the capital Lome on Tuesday morning. Africa News

DRC Temporarily Bans Import of Key Consumer Goods
Authorities have banned imports of several popular consumer products in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo for six months to fight smuggling, Trade Minister Jean-Lucien Busa said on Monday. “We have decided on the temporary restriction of imports in the western part of the country for six months of grey cement, sugar, beer and fizzy drinks in order to put an end to fraud and contraband,” Busa told AFP. The measure was also aimed at “protecting local industry in a crucial period of growth that risks being undermined by those who practice prices below production costs”, the minister said, stressing that he had not “turned to protectionism”. News 24

Pentagon Notifies U.S. Congress over Sale of 12 Super Tucano A-29, Bombs, Rockets worth of $593M to Nigeria
The Pentagon has notified the U.S. Congress of the sale to Nigeria of 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons worth $593 million, needed for the fight against the militant group, Boko Haram. The move on the sale, which included thousands of bombs and rockets and was originally agreed by former President Barack Obama’s administration, was announced by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The sale was initially announced on 2 August. The Super Tucano A-29, an agile, propeller-driven plane with reconnaissance and surveillance as well as attack capabilities, is made by Brazil’s Embraer. A second production line is in Florida, in a partnership between Embraer and privately held Sierra Nevada Corp of Sparks, Nevada. The Super Tucano costs more than $10 million each and the price can go much higher depending on the configuration. Vanguard

Nigeria Seizes $21m Linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke
A Nigerian court has seized $21m from bank accounts linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former oil minister who faces corruption allegations. Abdulazeez Anka, federal high court judge, ordered on Monday the immediate forfeiture of the sum allegedly held in local bank accounts by Alison-Madueke, who was once one of Africa’s most prominent female politicians. Nigeria’s anti-graft Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which accuses Alison-Madueke of corruption, argued in the Lagos court that she had illicitly laundered the funds with the help of top oil officials. Al Jazeera

Kenya’s Opposition Gets Access to Electoral Commission’s Servers
Kenya’s Supreme Court has allowed the opposition to have access to the electoral commission’s computer servers and documents used in the counting, tallying and declaration of the presidential election results. The court on Monday began hearing a petition filed by the opposition. They are challenging the commission’s declaration that Uhuru Kenyatta won the election with 54% of the votes against opposition leader, Raila Odinga’s 46%. The court ruled that both the opposition and the ruling party would be allowed limited access to the electoral commission’s servers and the electronic voter identification kits to verify the authenticity of the results and the documents used to declare those results. SABC

Digging Dung: South Africa’s amaBhungane Heaps Pressure on Zuma
A group of investigative journalists whose slogan is “digging dung, fertilizing democracy” is holding South African President Jacob Zuma to account over his widely criticized links to a family of wealthy businessmen. AmaBhungane, which means dung beetles in the Zulu language, was founded by three veteran reporters to expose wrongdoing in South Africa. Together with online news site the Daily Maverick, amaBhungane in June released leaked emails and documents that they said showed allegedly improper dealings in government contracts and influence peddling by the Guptas, a family with close ties to Zuma. Zuma and the Gupta family, which has said the emails were fake, have denied wrongdoing. Co-founder Stefaans Brummer said amaBhungane, which was founded in 2010, had spent several years probing Zuma’s family business dealings, and had verified the authenticity of the leaked documents. Reuters

Namibia: No Compensation for Former Apartheid Soldiers – Geingob
President Hage Geingob has said his government will not compensate former soldiers of the colonial apartheid regime, who served in the South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet, a feared paramilitary police organisation at the time. The Head of State made the remarks at the commemoration of Heroes Day at Oshakati Independence Stadium on Saturday. Dismissing the demands of the former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers, he said the Swapo government will never compensate them and that they should demand payment from their former employers, who recruited them to do the dirty work of oppressing the Namibian people. President Geingob reiterated that their demand for compensation is out of the question and will not be considered. New Era, Namibia

Kenya Brings in World’s Toughest Plastic Bag Ban: Four Years Jail or $40,000 Fine 
Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000 (£31,000) from Monday, as the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution came into effect. The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy. Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation. “If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN environment programme in Kenya. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones