Africa Media Review for August 3, 2020

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Kill 16 in Northern Cameroon
Suspected militants from Islamist group Boko Haram killed at least 16 people and wounded seven early on Sunday in a grenade attack on a camp for displaced people in northern Cameroon, a local official said. The assailants threw a grenade into a group of sleeping people inside the camp in the village of Nguetchewe, district mayor Medjeweh Boukar told Reuters. The camp is home to around 800 people, he said. The village is located close to the Nigerian border. Boukar was informed by residents that 16 had died. A security official earlier said 15 had died. The wounded were taken to a nearby hospital, they said. “The attackers arrived with a woman who carried the grenade into the camp,” Boukar said, adding that women and children were among the dead. Over the past month there have been twenty incursions and attacks by suspected Islamist militants, Boukar said. Reuters

Soldier in Eastern DRC Shoots and Kills at Least 12 Civilians
A soldier in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has shot dead at least 12 people and wounded nine others in a drunken rampage, regional authorities have said. Security services are conducting a search for the gunman in the city of Sange, 24km (15 miles) from the Burundi border, where the shooting took place, the governor of South Kivu province, Theo Kasi, said in a statement on Friday. “The person responsible is a drunken member of the FARDC (DR Congo armed forces) who opened fire on at least 20 civilians who crossed his path,” a prosecutor in Uvira said. Captain Dieudonne Kasereka, the army’s spokesman in Uvira, said the gunman was on the run and is still armed. “An army delegation and a UN team is in the area to calm the population, which is demonstrating against the army,” he said. Angry residents blocked Highway 5 which runs through the area, using branches and burning tyres. Al Jazeera

Cities across Zimbabwe that had expected mass anti-corruption demonstrations were instead deserted on Friday as security forces deployed widely and police said that protesters would be “regarded as terrorists.” A prominent author and an opposition spokeswoman were among those arrested. … Ahead of Friday’s planned protests, numerous opposition officials, activists, journalists and their family members were detained or arrested by authorities, some of whom allegedly were in plain clothes and did not identify their organization. Renowned Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was included on a long list for this year’s Booker Prize and has been vocal about corruption allegations, tweeted on Friday that she had been arrested. … “It is clear testimony that Zimbabwe is now being governed by a more polished and entrenched dictatorship,” said Obert Masaraure, a teachers’ union leader and organizer who said he was in hiding.  The Washington Post

Five soldiers were killed and five were wounded in an ambush on a military convoy and an artillery attack on a camp, with both attacks blamed on jihadists, in central Mali, army and local sources said. The bloodshed came some six weeks after jihadists ambushed a military convoy, also in central Mali, killing 24 soldiers. … The latest attacks came as President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita faces insistent calls to resign from an opposition angry over the brutal jihadist conflict as well as dire economic conditions and perceived corruption. … The so-called June 5 Movement (M5-RFP) has continued to insist on Keita’s departure, despite two mediation missions by the regional bloc ECOWAS which suggested a new unity government and a resolution to the election quarrel. M5-RFP has said it would resume acts of “civil disobedience” on Monday after observing a truce for the Eid al-Adha festival, a key Muslim holiday that began on Friday. AFP

South Africa Hits 500,000 Infections but President Hopeful
South Africa has surpassed 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, but President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday he sees “promising signs” that the rapid growth of cases has stabilized and that the country’s strained health system is managing to cope. Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases Saturday night, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 503,290, including 8,153 deaths. South Africa has now tallied more than 50% of all reported coronavirus infections in Africa’s 54 countries. … Ramaphosa, in a letter to the nation on Sunday, said despite the high number of confirmed cases, he sees some positive developments. “After a rapid rise in infections over the last two months, the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilizing,” said Ramaphosa. He said the number of new infections has slowed in the provinces of the Western Cape, which includes Cape Town, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, which hosts the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. AP

After Lockdown, Femicide Rises in South Africa
On June 11, masked mourners gathered around the brown casket of Tshegofatso Pule, a 28-year-old woman who was murdered in early June. Pule was eight months pregnant when she was found hanging from a tree with stab wounds to her chest in a Johannesburg suburb. The police charged a 31-year-old man with premeditated murder and said the suspect did not act alone. Pula is just one victim among many. Femicide-the killing of women by intimate partners or as the result of gender-based practices-and other gender-based violence is on the rise in South Africa, following the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions which began on June 1. … The South African government says it is taking actions to combat the growing gender-based violence in the country. The Gender-Based Violence National Command Centre, a government program committed to intensify and accelerate efforts in combating gender-based violence, is helping victims by providing support, counseling, and making referrals. Foreign Policy

In Africa, Stigma Surrounding Coronavirus Hinders Response
After 23 days in quarantine in Uganda – far longer than required – Jimmy Spire Ssentongo walked free in part because of a cartoon he drew. It showed a bound prisoner begging for liberation after multiple negative tests, while a health minister demanded to know where he was hiding the virus. “The impression was that we were a dangerous group and that what was necessary was to protect the rest of society from us,” said Ssentongo, a cartoonist for Uganda’s Observer newspaper who was put in quarantine when he returned from Britain in March. The fear he describes is indicative of the dangerous stigma that has sprung up around the coronavirus in Africa – fueled, in part, by severe and sometimes arbitrary quarantine rules as well as insufficient information about the virus. AP

Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some with Coronavirus
Unemployed and shunned as possible coronavirus carriers, Ethiopian migrant laborers are returning home by the thousands, placing a huge strain on Ethiopia’s poorly equipped medical system. More than 30,000 workers have re-entered Ethiopia since mid-March, according to the government, some of them after suffering abuse and detention in unhealthy conditions in the countries they left, often on the Persian Gulf or in other parts of Africa. At least 927 migrant laborers were infected with the virus when they returned, Ethiopian officials say, but the true number is probably much higher. The government has not updated that figure for more than a month, and it does not include those who have slipped back into the country unnoticed. The New York Times

How a Musician’s Death Unleashed Violence and Death in Ethiopia
The figure holding a gun stepped beside the car in which Haacaaluu Hundeessaa was sitting in Addis Ababa, and pulled the trigger. The cold-blooded killing on the night of 29 June cut short the young life of one of Ethiopia’s most popular musicians and activists. It was also the start of some of the most consequential few days in recent Ethiopian history. Hours later, in the lakeside town of Ziway in Ethiopia’s Oromia region – from which Haacaaluu came – Selas Russell woke to the sound of gunfire and shouting. Soon a friend rang her. “Get up, grab your passport, leave your belongings and run for your life,” he told the Ethiopian-born British citizen who owns a hotel in the town. As she and her staff fled, a mob mostly of young Oromo men and some women – carrying petrol, sticks, machetes and knives – stormed the compound and set it alight. The Guardian

Corrupt Networks in DRC Push Tshisekedi to Order Investigations
Corruption is Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi’s latest headache following his takeover from Joseph Kabila in January last year. Last week, the President authorised the General Inspectorate of Finance to track down “mafia networks’ involved in the theft of public money. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been fighting Ebola and Covid-19 crises and Mr Tshisekedi says he is now dealing with “disappearing public funds.” Some economists have cited the Covid-19 pandemic in explaining the financial crisis but DR Congo has perennially been one of the most corrupt countries in Africa. The 2019 Transparency Corruption Index, for example, puts the country at position 168 out of the 198 polled across the world. President Tshisekedi recently told his Council of Ministers that a number of senior officials in his government have been targeting public coffers. The East African

Ousmane Kaba Declares His Run as Guinean Presidential Candidate
Ousmane Kaba, was declared on Saturday as the first opposition leader to run in the Guinean presidential elections in October. The candidate currently leads the Party of Democrats for Hope (Pades), created in 2017, has a stronghold of the Rally of the Guinean People party – with popularity in mostly urban and educated areas, especially in Upper Guinea. Kaba is also a former close associate of the current President Alpha Condé, the first to be democratically elected into this position in 2010 and who proposes to change the constitution to codify gender equality and introduce other social reforms. His opponents, however, fear the real motive is to reset presidential term limits, allowing Conde, 82, to run for a third term. The ruling party, for its part, is due to choose its own candidate at a convention on 5 and 6 August in the capital’s suburbs. Africa News with AFP

East Libyan Military Court Sentences Journalist to 15 Years
A military court in eastern Libya has sentenced a local photojournalist to 15 years in prison on vague terrorism-related charges, prompting an outcry Friday from human rights groups. The verdict sent a chilling message, local advocates said, underscoring the perils that journalists must navigate in east Libya, where military commander Khalifa Hifter has moved to quash all dissent – and more broadly in a war-torn country overrun with fractious militias. Ismail Bouzreeba al-Zway, 39, was first scooped up by security agents while covering a local news event in his hometown of Ajdabiya, east Libya, in 2018, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a global press freedom group. … Rights watchdogs say Hifter’s war on “terrorism” is indiscriminate, failing to distinguish between extremist militants and ordinary critics, and that his forces regularly use arrest, abduction and torture to try to exert control. AP

Algerian Leader Secures Fugitive Officer with Erdogan Call, Source Says
Algeria’s president phoned his Turkish counterpart last month to secure the return of a fugitive military official who fled Algeria days after its powerful army chief died in December, a top Algerian security source said. Guermit Bounouira was handed over to Algerian security officials in Turkey on Thursday, accused of leaking military secrets, and will face a military judge on Monday in Blida prison southwest of Algiers, the source told Reuters. Turkish officials were not immediately available to comment on Sunday, which is not a working day in Turkey. A lawyer for Bounouira was not immediately available for comment. Turkey’s surrender of Bounouira to Algerian authorities underscores the importance Ankara attaches to its relationship with Algeria, a powerful neighbour of Libya where Turkish forces have intervened in the civil war. Reuters

Malawi President Introduces Award for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has announced the introduction of special award for most dedicated health workers in the fight against COVID-19. Speaking during his weekly national address Saturday night, Chakwera said five health workers nominated by various medical associations will be receiving the award every three months for their dedication to work. But health workers say awarding only five people is not good enough. Malawi continues to register an increase in the cases of COVID-19. The coronavirus situation update report from the Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19 shows as of the Saturday evening, Malawi had 4,186 cases of COVID with 120 deaths. … Statistics show that about 350 health workers have so far tested COVID-19 positive in Malawi, with one death. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones