Africa Media Review for August 30, 2018

Clashes Escalate in Libya’s Capital, Killing 26
A Libyan official says fighting between rival militias in the capital has killed at least 26 people, including civilians. Widad Abu Niran, a Health Ministry spokesman, said Thursday that another 75 people have been wounded in the fighting, which began Monday and pits armed groups from Tripoli against other groups from a town to the south. Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country is currently governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the east, each backed by an array of militias that wield real power on the ground.  AP

Pagan Rejects Final Peace Deal Signed by Deng Alor, Cites Concerns
Pagan Amum, leader of the former detainees, has rejected the final version of the peace deal initialed by his negotiating team on Tuesday, a decision that could lead to a major split within the group. SPLM-FDs is a faction made up of senior SPLM party officials who were detained by President Kiir when the conflict began in December 2013. “We, the SPLM Leaders (Former Political Detainees – FDs) regret the initialing of the ‘final text’ of ARCSS by Cde Deng Alor Kuol as this has been done prematurely and without proper consultations, leaving many issues unresolved to become the bone of contention and seeds of future conflict,” partly reads Pagan’s statement seen by Radio Tamazuj today. The South Sudanese opposition leader said the outstanding issues that they had raised earlier on need to be resolved satisfactorily and reflected in the final text of the draft agreement before initialing. Radio Tamazuj

Kiir Promotes over 120 Generals, including Army Spokesman
South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has signed off promotions for more than 120 army officers to the rank of a major general, a spokesman for the army said. The mass military promotion – the first so far this year – was approved by President Kiir who also doubles as the commander in chief of the SPLA army. SPLA spokesman Lul Ruai Koang told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that he was promoted from a brigadier general to a major general among 123 new major generals on 27 July. Lul further said he was ready to serve the army in any capacity.” I am ready if the SPLA leadership decides to redeploy me. But if I am asked to remain in my position as the army spokesman, I will continue serving because I am not too to serve the SPLA and the people of South Sudan,” he said.  Radio Tamazuj

Criminal Case against Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice Suspended
The High Court in Kenya has temporarily halted criminal proceedings against the deputy Supreme Court justice who was arrested on Tuesday. Judge Philomena Mwilu was charged on suspicion of corruption, failure to pay taxes and improper dealings with a local bank. Judge Chacha Mwita said: “I allow the application filed by deputy chief justice (Philomena Mwilu) seeking to stop proceedings in the lower court and I hereby grant a stay, meaning stopping the case.” In her application, Judge Mwilu argued that her alleged impropriety while handling Imperial Bank cases is purely a commercial matter and not a criminal offence. Through her lawyers, Judge Mwilu says the Chief Public Prosecutor Noordin Mohamed Haji was motivated by malice, arguing that the allegations are part of a larger scheme to embarrass her as the country’s second top judge. Africa News

Kenyatta Pledges Public Wealth Openness [Video]
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has promised a new lifestyle audit will show the assets of all public servants. He told Hardtalk’s Zeinab Badawi: “If there is an instance where somebody can say that what we have done or obtained has not been legitimate, say so, we are ready to face any court.” President Kenyatta came to power in 2013 with a pledge to fight corruption: “This is something I am committed to and something I am determined to leave as my legacy in this country,” he added.  HardTalk, BBC

Zimbabwe’s Leader Names Ex-Military Commander as a VP
Zimbabwe’s president has re-appointed as one of his vice presidents a former military general who helped him take power. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed Constantino Chiwenga, who led the defense forces when the military rolled into the capital in November to pressure longtime leader Robert Mugabe to resign. Chiwenga later left the military with several other generals to take up leadership positions in the government and ruling party. Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi were sworn in as the two vice presidents on Thursday as Mnangagwa’s first Cabinet appointments since his inauguration on Sunday after a disputed election. “For now, Mnangagwa and Chiwenga need each other for political survival strategic purposes,” says Harare-based analyst, Alexander Rusero. AP

Theresa May Offers Nigeria Help with Security and Anti-Trafficking
The Nigerian armed forces will be given specialist equipment and training to counter the use of improvised explosive devices by Islamist insurgents. On a visit to Abuja, Theresa May said tackling the “menace” from groups like Boko Haram was in the UK’s interest. She has also agreed a £10.5m package to help victims of modern slavery. As part of this, the UK will provide counselling to up to 1,700 people who have been subjected to forced labour, domestic servitude and sexual abuse and help them re-integrate into their communities. A joint initiative with France will also see the UK assist Nigeria and Niger strengthen their border cooperation to prevent trafficking of migrants to Libya and Europe.  BBC

As Nigeria Elections Loom, Refugees Ordered Back to Unsafe Region
Nigerian government officials have ordered thousands of displaced people to return to an unsafe area as pressure mounts to show progress in the war against Islamist groups ahead of a presidential election, according to sources familiar with the situation. Those who have gone back say they only did so because the officials told them they would get no more aid if they remained in refugee camps. Returnees say their home area of Guzamala in the northeast is not safe and they cannot earn a living there. At issue is the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired general who won power in 2015 on a promise to restore security to the northeast and end the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency, now in its tenth year. Reuters

Trade for Aid? UK Development Must Serve the ‘National Interest’, Says May
UK charities have urged Theresa May to ensure that UK aid remains focused on poverty reduction after she pledged that aid money would serve the national interest, promoting British business and protecting national security. In a speech in Cape Town while on an official visit to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria Mrs May said she would continue the commitment, enshrined in UK law in 2015, to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid – or “development assistance”. She said she was “immensely proud” of the UK’s role in helping the world’s poor, citing the development of the Ebola vaccine currently being used in an outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo as an example of the success of foreign aid. She said the UK would remain a “global champion for aid spending, humanitarian relief and international development”.  The Independent

Germany Returns Skulls of Namibian Genocide Victims
Germany has handed back the human remains of indigenous people killed during a genocide in colonial Namibia more than 100 years ago. A Namibian government delegation received the skulls at a church service in the capital, Berlin. The bones had been sent to Germany for now-discredited research to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans. Tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people were murdered in response to an anti-colonial uprising. Their descendants are still waiting for an apology from the German government. BBC

Russia, Sudan Foster Deal among C.African Militia
Russia and Sudan have hosted talks in Khartoum among some of the Central African Republic’s rival militias, CAR officials said on Wednesday, while documents showed the groups had signed a preliminary agreement. The meeting in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday unfolded in parallel to an official mediation effort in the troubled CAR led by the African Union (AU). Russia and Sudan “took the step of holding a meeting in Khartoum with the heads of armed groups,” Communications Minister Ange-Maxime Kazagui said in a statement read on national radio. The CAR exploded into violence following the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by majority-Muslim militias in a coalition called the Seleka. France, the former colonial power, intervened to oust the Seleka and the UN deployed a peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, in 2014.  AFP

African Union Reportedly Seeks New Mediator for Peace in Sudan
The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) purportedly has begun the search for a successor to the head of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) former South African President Thabo Mbeki. The AUHIP panel has been mediating talks to end the conflict in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan since June 2011, one month after its eruption of the conflict. However, the parties failed to reach an agreement as the mediators have been several times blamed for delaying the talks and organising “seasonal meetings”. Reached by Sudan Tribune, a member of the Sudanese government delegation admitted that the African Union is mulling over a new chairperson for the AUHIP, adding there is unjustified delay the resumption of talks. Sudan Tribune

No Social Media Access for Government Workers in Tanzania
The Tanzanian government has banned all its workers from social media during working hours. In a circular by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, in charge of Public Service Management, Dr Florian Ndumbaro said that government offices with internet connectivity should not be used to access social media platforms. Dr Ndumbaro said the decision arose from complaints by members of the public about slow delivery of services. He said some employees are preoccupied with social media sites during working hours. The circular was sent to all ministries, regional administrations and state-run agencies and institutions. The circular was, however, not sent to the semi-autonomous government of Zanzibar.  The Citizen

Abiy Ahmed’s Reforms Are Emboldening Donors to Return to Ethiopia
[…] Abiy, now 42, has ended an internet blackout, dismissed charges against diaspora-based media outlets, released prisoners and government critics, engaged exiled opposition groups, and mended relations with the country’s long-time neighboring foe Eritrea. Following these reforms, the World Bank is set to give Ethiopia $1 billion in direct budgetary support, the first time since 2005, when donors suspended budgetary support after disputed elections. Abiy announced this last weekend when he held his first press conference with local and international media outlets. This visible engagement with journalists heralded a departure from how previous administrations muzzled and even imprisoned the media. During his press conference, Abiy also promised that the much-anticipated elections in 2020 won’t be delayed, saying the ruling coalition was committed to “free” polls. Currently, the EPRDF occupies all 547 seats in parliament. Quartz

Employed by China
[…] Ethiopia is undoubtedly one of the continent’s poorest countries, but that’s changing. In the decade leading up to 2016, Ethiopia’s economy swelled 10% a year making it the fastest growing in Africa. And with 100 million people, 70% of whom are under age 30, it also has the continent’s second-largest population. That’s both a massive demographic dividend and a real risk: with unemployment at 16.8%, jobs are urgently required. Businessmen like Zhang are seen as the country’s ticket out of poverty. Huajian employs 7,500 local workers at its two enormous factories in the Addis Ababa region. “As long as they have the right skills and training, Africans are just like Asians and Europeans,” he says. As one of the biggest Chinese employers in Ethiopia, Huajian has attracted intense scrutiny. Reports last year of poor working conditions at the firm’s Guangdong factory, in China, and rock bottom wages in Addis Ababa saw two customers, one of whom was Trump, jump ship.  CNN

China Stakes Its Claim on West Africa
Every day at sunrise, Alain Eko walks half an hour on a footpath cutting through a coastal forest to the edge of what’s to become the biggest deep-water port in central Africa. Eko, 34, is among hundreds of migrant workers who have pinned their hopes on Cameroon’s most ambitious project since independence in 1960 that’s meant to transform the sleepy fishing town of Kribi into an industrial hub. Built and funded by China, the project is helping Chinese companies gain a foothold in Cameroon, whose oil-dependent economy used to be dominated by French firms, and eased access to neighboring Chad and Central African Republic. Bloomberg

Africa to Suffer Major Blackouts as Climate Change Dries up Hydropower Dams, Scientists Warn
African nations could face devastating blackouts as rising temperatures dry up their hydropower dams. Based on recent years in which extremely dry conditions saw electricity drop off in large areas, a new report by climate scientists has warned that the trend for dam construction may be misguided. As it stands, countries in southern and eastern Africa are due to more than double their hydropower capacity by 2030. But the scientists behind the paper warned that current efforts to mobilise the region’s vast hydroelectric potential may face challenges, while urging regional governments to launch their own investigations into these potential risks. The Independent

Precious as Silver, Vanilla Brings Cash and Crime to Madagascar
So-called vanilla mansions have sprung up above traditional thatched grass huts. Even the humblest homes often boast solar panels and LED lights that make once-dark villages glow by night. Gleaming SUVs ply the broken streets of Sambava, the vanilla capital, where bustling markets line the roadsides. The windfall, however, has come at a cost. Vanilla’s high price, combined with rampant poverty and a corrupt, weak state, has made the crop a favorite target of violent criminal networks. The story of the vanilla trade in Madagascar is one of dangers and rewards, and can be told through three vital links in the chain that delivers the flavor from the fields to port, where it is exported to the world. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones