Africa Media Review for August 29, 2019

Gunmen from an IS-affiliated jihadist group on Tuesday shot dead 11 local construction workers in northeast Nigeria, a militia leader and resident told AFP. The fighters belonging to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) opened fire on the workers as they were laying telecom fibre optic cables in Wajirko village, 150 kilometres (93 miles) outside Borno state capital Maiduguri, they said. “The insurgents came in the morning and opened fire on the workers, killing 11 and injuring many,” militia leader Mustapha Karimbe told AFP. He said the victims were locals contracted as casual labourers by a telecom firm. “The attackers had warned the labourers to stop working on laying the cables but they ignored the warning because they needed money to feed their families,” Karimbe said from the town of Biu, 50 km away. AFP

Police in Zambia have arrested the leader of a small opposition party on charges of defaming President Edgar Lungu after the release of a video in which he allegedly implied that the head of state was a dog. Addressing journalists as he was led by officers on Wednesday, Chishimba Kambwili, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said his comments were misunderstood. In the video that went viral on social media, Kambwili had said, “Some dogs from Chawama do not get tired of travelling.” Chawama is a township in the capital, Lusaka, where Lungu previously lived and served as a member of parliament. In recent times, Lungu has been travelling abroad including to India last week, and to Tokyo where Japan is hosting development talks with African leaders this week. Al Jazeera

It is a message that will shake Mozambique’s politics. “We, the military junta of RENAMO, will prevent the elections scheduled for October until the government renegotiates the peace treaty with us. We do not acknowledge the recently signed peace treaty. An election will not take place. Anyone who makes calls for elections should know: We will kill him,” said General Mariano Nhongo, chief of the armed wing of RENAMO, in a telephone interview with DW. Nhongo says he is the legitimate leader of RENAMO (National Resistance of Mozambique), whose official party leader, Ossufo Momade, signed a peace treaty with the government on August 1. Nhongo told DW that Momade had no legitimacy to sign any agreements on behalf of RENAMO. … General Nhongo claims he commands more than 500 armed men, dispersed at eleven different bases throughout the country. DW

Hopes by Kenya to seek a UN approval to list Al-Shabaab a global terrorist organisation hit a snag Wednesday after the UN Security Council rejected the bid following intense lobbying by US agencies and former diplomats against the listing. The Security Council made up of five permanent members and 10 non-permament members blocked the proposal by Kenya which would have listed the militant group just as its affiliate, Al-Qaeda as a global terrorist organisation. Kenya’s argument in the proposal was that the listing of Al-Shabaab would help ‘global efforts in tackling the group.” But opponents of the bid which include Somali government and international agencies working in the country warned the listing of the group would adversely affect humanitarian efforts in the country especially at a time millions of Somalis are facing adverse food shortage. Goobjoog News

Somalia faces a new humanitarian crisis with more than 2 million people now threatened by severe hunger, aid agencies say. A further 3 million people are uncertain of their next meal, latest assessments suggest. The new emergency comes two years after the threat of a major disaster in the unstable east African state was averted by timely aid from the international community. Experts describe the crisis as a “climate emergency” and say communities are still struggling to recover from the lengthy drought that ended in 2017. So far donors have promised less than half of the $1bn (£0.8bn) the UN and other agencies say is required. … The crisis has been aggravated by continuing conflict between al-Shabaab, the Islamic extremist movement that has been fighting for more than a decade to impose strict religious rule on Somalia, and government troops, which are backed by regional forces and US air assets. The Guardian

Police fired rubber bullets Wednesday as protests erupted in the central business district of South Africa’s capitol Pretoria with rioters setting several small businesses in the area alight. The chaos broke out after local taxi drivers clashed with drug dealers operating in the area, according to the Sowetan newspaper. The taxi drivers had reportedly decided to target sellers of “nyaope,” a common street drug in South Africa. After a taxi driver was allegedly shot and killed in the confrontation, riots broke out and quickly escalated, with hundreds of taxis blocking major roads and the city suspending bus service. Police urged vehicles to avoid the area. AP

The violence and conflict in Port Sudan have abated over the past two days, following the arrival of forces from outside the state and the appointment of a new governor. Activists launched a social media campaign in which the singers Sidi Doshka and Insaf Fathi called for social peace in the city. The activists’ peaceful coexistence initiative not only included singers, but also lawyers and writers. They asked the Prime Minister to visit the area and meet with the conflicting parties. They also discussed the role of lawyers in ending the conflict as well as supervision of the newly arrived forces. … As previously reported by Radio Dabanga earlier, on Sunday, the Sovereign Council decided to dismiss the governor and the head of the security service of Red Sea state and to declare a State of Emergency in Port Sudan, as part of a series of measures to contain the clashes between Beni Amer tribesman and displaced Nuba from South Kordofan that broke out in the city on Wednesday. The warring parties signed a truce on Saturday evening, when the number of victims of tribal clashes in the city had risen to more than 26 dead and about 200 injured, and dozens of houses burned. Radio Dabanga

Nigeria has partially closed its western border with Benin to curb rice smuggling that is threatening the country’s attempt to boost local production, the government said on Wednesday. The government wants Nigeria to be self-sufficient in rice and has imposed import controls but these have kept prices high and led to smuggling from Benin into Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari has introduced policies since taking office in 2015 that are aimed at curbing imports to boost local production and conserve foreign exchange reserves. He said rice smuggling across the western border threatened his policy of self-sufficiency. … Buhari also said there would be a meeting with Benin and Niger, Nigeria’s northern neighbours, to determine measures to check smuggling across the borders. He said the border closure was limited to allow security forces stem the trend and that he would consider fully re-opening the border in the future. … The country has considered developing agriculture for export to earn more hard currency and to increase revenues from outside its dominant oil industry. Reuters

Nigeria’s government for years has been seeking a lasting solution to the conflict between farmers and herders over grazing lands, a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives. The country’s middle belt region is most affected by the dispute, but recently the government introduced a settlement plan for herders aimed at ending the clashes. But the settlements, known as RUGA in Hausa, are meeting some resistance. … The conflict between cattle herders and farmers in Nigeria dates back decades. Population growth, urbanization and desertification triggered by increasing climate change have escalated the conflict. … More than 3,600 people have been killed in clashes over grazing land between 2015 and 2018, and thousands more have been displaced. The government says establishing cattle settlements, or RUGAs, for the herders will address the issue. … But the government plan has met with stiff resistance, especially from eastern and southern Nigeria where residents like Ben Ejiofor say they will not give up their lands for these settlements. VOA

British warships are expected to patrol the Gulf of Guinea before the end of the year, according to UK Armed Forces Mark Lancaster, who is on a three-day visit to Ghana. He said that the fleet would join forces with members of the regional bloc Ecowas to combat growing insecurity off the West African coast – considered one of the most dangerous stretches of water anywhere in the world. His announcement comes in the wake of the recent kidnapping of 10 Turkish sailor off the coast of Nigeria. … Last month, some Ecowas member states signed an agreement allowing them join forces to combat activities like piracy, the growing illicit trade in fuel and illegal fishing. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 73% of all sea kidnappings and 92% of hostage-takings occur in the region off Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon. BBC

The United Nations refugee agency is urging the governments of Tanzania and Burundi not to forcibly repatriate Burundian refugees sheltering in Tanzania. Although security generally has improved in Burundi since violence erupted after the 2015 presidential polls, “conditions in Burundi are not currently conducive to promote returns,” UNHCR said in an e-mailed statement. “We call upon the governments of both Tanzania and Burundi’s commitment to uphold international obligations and ensure that any returns are voluntary in line with the tripartite agreement signed in March of 2018,” the statement said. … Tanzanian authorities said Tuesday they had reached an agreement with Burundi to send all Burundian refugees back home from October 1. About 400,000 Burundian refugees have sought asylum elsewhere in the region, according to UNHCR. An estimated 200,000 of them are sheltering in Burundi. Tanzanian authorities have expressed frustration over what they say is the slow pace with which the UN is repatriating refugees back to Burundi. Nearly 75,000 refugees have voluntarily returned to Burundi since December 2017. AP

West Africa – and particularly its most populous nation, Nigeria – is battling an opioid abuse crisis. Medicines such as tramadol, legally and legitimately prescribed by doctors for pain relief, are also being taken in life-threatening doses by millions in search of a fix or a release from poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity. People & Power sent filmmakers Naashon Zalk and Antony Loewenstein to Nigeria to investigate how the drug is smuggled, traded and abused, as well as the widespread corruption that follows this illicit trafficking, and the appalling health consequences for those in its grip. … In 2019, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its first-ever drug use survey. The results were damning. Out of a population of 200 million people, UNODC found that just over 14 percent of Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 abused drugs – more than twice the global average of 5.6 percent. Al Jazeera

“I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,” Mr. Guterres expressed. Since the last conference in 2016, Africa has seen advancements in areas from sustaining growth, to strengthening governance, to promoting gender equality, the UN chief reported, explaining the potential for technology to work as a catalyst in the continent’s developmental efforts. “Technology and innovation are central to unleashing Africa’s vast potential for the shared vision of leaving no one behind,” the Secretary-General said, highlighting the theme of this year’s meeting. Since its launch 26 years ago, the summit-level meeting “has evolved into an open, inclusive and multilateral forum” Mr. Guterres said, stressing the critical role of TICAD in drawing international attention and support for the continent. UN News

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told African leaders gathered here for a summit on Wednesday that his government was determined to step up its engagement with the continent. But with a rapidly aging population and a huge debt burden of its own, Japan won’t be writing any blank checks for overseas development aid anytime soon. It knows it cannot compete with China’s deep pockets. Instead, Abe hopes to harness Japan’s private sector, vowing to raise investment beyond the $20 billion that he said had flowed from Japan to Africa over the past three years. “I make this pledge to you: The government of Japan will put forth every possible effort so that the power of Japanese private investment, of $20 billion in three years, should in the years to come be surpassed anew from one day to the next,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes to assist the advancement of Japanese companies into Africa.” The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones