Africa Media Review for August 31, 2018

Grand Strategy and China’s Soft Power Push in Africa
China is doubling down on its soft power initiatives in Africa as part of China’s Grand Strategy to tap emerging markets, shape global governance norms, and expand its influence. In July 2018, Tanzanian president John Magufuli laid a foundation stone for the Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, named for the nation’s revered founding president. The $45-million project, which is being fully funded and built by the Chinese government, will provide leadership training to emerging leaders from countries governed by the Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa (FLMSA). The decision to build this school was made at the biennial FLMSA summit in May 2017, which brought together the African National Congress of South Africa, Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania, Popular Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, Movement for the Liberation of Angola, Southwest African Peoples Organization of Namibia, and Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front. All had received Chinese backing during their fight against apartheid and colonialism.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

After Delay, Rebel Leader Inks South Sudan Peace Deal
Rebel leader Riek Machar and leaders of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance have signed a final, revitalized peace deal aimed at ending the country’s nearly five-year civil war. Machar signed the deal Thursday night in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, after refusing to sign two days earlier. The deal leaves the contentious issue of South Sudan’s number of states and their boundaries to be worked out later by the heads of state in the East African regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development). Regional leaders, the international community, and the people of South Sudan are hoping the agreement will finally end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese from their homes, with at least 2 million fleeing the country.  VOA

Senegal Court Upholds Five-Year Jail Term for Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall
A Senegalese court on Thursday upheld a five-year jail term against leading politician Khalifa Sall in a ruling that bars him from running in presidential elections due next February. “The court confirms the judgement against Khalifa Sall,” a judge said. Sall, 62, who is mayor of Dakar, had described the charges against him as politically motivated. He did not attend the reading of the verdict. The politician was sentenced in March on charges of fraudulent use of public funds. The court of appeal also ordered him, alongside three other defendants, to pay 1.8 billion CFA francs (2.75 million euros). France 24

Uganda Opposition Pop Star Blocked From Flying to US for Aid
A Ugandan pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker whose treason charge has outraged the country after he alleged torture in detention has been blocked from leaving for the United States for treatment, lawyers said late Thursday, while a colleague was stopped from traveling to India. The police action has escalated a political dispute between the government of longtime President Yoweri Museveni and a youthful generation that fears he intends to rule for life after 32 years in power. Bobi Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was stopped while trying to board a flight at the Entebbe airport and police did not explain why, lawyer Asuman Basalirwa told The Associated Press. He was checked into a hospital in the capital, Kampala, in a “worrying condition,” the lawyer said.  AP

Zanu-PF Seeks to Raise Presidential Age Limit… Says ‘Immature’ Chamisa Failing to Handle Defeat
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party is reportedly seeking to raise the presidential age limit “to ensure only mature people contest for the highest office in the land”. According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the party said this, as it claimed that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, aged 40, “had proved to be highly immature in his handling of defeat”. Zimbabwe’s constitution currently allowed people aged 40 and over to stand for the office of the president. Zanu-PF National Secretary for Security Lovemore Matuke accused Chamisa of being immature by employing childish tactics and actions after losing the race to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.  News 24

EU’s Powerhouse Germany ‘To Open Lines of Credit for Zim’ – Report
European Union’s power house, Germany, has reportedly said that it would open lines of credit to Zimbabwe nearly 20 years after the regional bloc imposed sanctions on the southern African country. According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the commitment was made by Germany’s economic co-operation ninister Dr Gerd Muller who met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare this week. As part of formalising relations, the two countries agreed to form a joint permanent commission to explore various fields of co-operation. Speaking after his meeting with Muller, Mnangagwa said the southern African country’s business people should be prepared, as the Germans were bringing in business.  News24

France Proposes Sanctions Against Mali Peace Deal Spoilers
France says it has proposed that members of armed groups in Mali who are delaying implementation of a 2015 peace agreement should be put on a U.N. sanctions blacklist. France’s deputy U.N. ambassador Anne Gueguen told the Security Council on Thursday that the time for warnings is over and France has submitted the names of individuals — whom she did not identify — to the U.N. Security Council committee set up last year to deal with Mali sanctions. Gueguen said a new report by the committee’s panel of experts “shed light in incontestable fashion” on some individuals associated with armed groups who are undermining the 2015 peace agreement “through their links with criminal or terrorist activity.” To date, there are no names on the Mali sanctions blacklist.  AP

UN Extends Sanctions Regime in Mali
The UN Security Council extended for a year on Thursday a general sanctions regime against Mali, but stopped short of imposing individual sanctions against leaders of armed groups accused of violating a 2015 peace accord. The extension was approved unanimously by the council’s 15 members. “The progress made remains insufficient,” France’s deputy UN ambassador Anne Gueguen said. Her British counterpart, Jonathan Allen, stressed, “We need to see progress from all parties.” Gueguen said France is proposing that mid-level leaders of armed groups who undermine the peace accord through criminal or terrorist activities also be sanctioned. It was unclear whether Russia and China support such individual sanctions, however. Both had expressed reservations a year ago when the general sanctions regime was created at France’s initiative.  AFP

Nigeria’s Senate Head Saraki Says He’ll Run for Presidency
Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki said he’ll challenge President Muhammadu Buhari as leader of Africa’s most populous country in 2019 elections. “I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of president,” Saraki told reporters Thursday in the capital, Abuja. “I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians.” Saraki, 56, said he’ll run on the platform of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, which he joined last month after defecting from the ruling All Progressives Congress. He would need to win the party’s ticket during primary elections in October. The Senate president is the latest addition to the list of about a dozen contestants seeking the nomination of the PDP. They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and three former state governors, including Rabiu Kwankwaso, who formally declared his intention to run a day earlier. Bloomberg

The Hidden Toll of Conflict on Kids
Over the last two decades, violent conflicts in Africa have likely resulted in the death of as many as 5 million young children — 3 million of them infants. That’s the sobering estimate in a new study published Thursday in the journal The Lancet. It’s also a number that breaks new ground because until now, death statistics regarding war have generally been limited to counting the number of people — including combatants and civilians — who are killed directly by violence. For children that could mean a bomb falls on their house, say, or they are caught in cross-fire. But these direct death counts don’t capture how most youngsters actually end up being victimized in a conflict, says Eran Bendavid, lead author of the study and a professor of medicine at Stanford University: “The vast majority of direct deaths involve combatants. Only a fraction are civilians. And only a small fraction of those civilians are children.”  NPR

In DRC, Youth Activists Mobilize for Post-Kabila Era
Young Congolese were at the forefront of calls for President Joseph Kabila to not seek re-election. Now that Kabila has agreed to step aside, young voters are gearing up for the December 23 poll and demanding a free and fair election. In the DRC, more than half of the country’s 80 million people are below age 25, and many say they feel they have been ignored by successive governments. As a result, many are skeptical of local politicians. “The problem in Congo is that we are not free. We are not free at all. We’re in the hands of a few people who want to manipulate us, who want to take us according to their ambitions,” says Ornella Mujinga, 26. VOA

DR Congo: World’s Second-Largest Rainforest Faces Logging Threat
The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the world’s second-largest rainforest, and the government now plans to end the ban on industrial logging concessions. Environmentalists say an area of rainforest the size of France is at risk. Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb reports from Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo. Al Jazeera

I’m a Revolutionary, Not a Criminal, Congo’s ‘Terminator’ Tells ICC
A notorious Congolese warlord known as the “Terminator” for his alleged brutality has protested his innocence at the close of his trial at the international criminal court, telling judges: “I am a revolutionary, not a criminal.” Bosco Ntaganda is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and six of crimes against humanity, all allegedly committed in 2002 and 2003 in Ituri in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He told the court he was “at peace with myself … I hope that you now realise that the ‘Terminator’ described by the prosecutor is not me.” Lawyers have presented their closing arguments against Ntaganda, a tall man with a thin moustache who has replaced his cowboy hats and military fatigues with a dark suit and glasses for his trial in The Hague. The Guardian

Foreigners Flee Deadly Attacks in South Africa’s Soweto
Foreigners have fled South African township of Soweto following xenophobic attacks which killed three people on Wednesday. Violence broke out after locals accused a Somali shop owner of shooting a teenager and his friend who allegedly tried to break into his store. Police believe this triggered the chaotic scenes of looting and violence, which spread to other areas of Soweto, BBC reported. Residents also accused shop owners of selling expired foods. Anti-immigrant violence has flared sporadically in South Africa against a background of high unemployment, with foreigners accused of taking jobs from South Africans and getting involved in crime. The East African

Ethiopia: 18 Dead in Military Helicopter Crash (State Media)
Eighteen people have died in Ethiopia when a military helicopter crashed in the country’s Oromiya region, state affiliated news agency Fana reported. Fifteen members of the country’s defence force and three civilians were killed, according to Fana. Ethiopian portal, Addis Standard reported that the Ethiopian Air Force is investigating the crash. Addisu Arega, a Oromiya regional cabinet minister, confirmed the Fana report and tweeted: “All passengers on board died. The cause is under investigation. Our condolences to the families.” The helicopter was flying from the eastern Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa and headed to Bishoftu around 60 kilometres south of the capital Addis Ababa, Addisu said. AfricaNews

Egypt to Host War Games With US for Second Straight Year
Egypt’s military says it will host war games with U.S. troops next month for the second straight year. Thursday’s statement from the military’s spokesman says the “Bright Star” exercise will run from Sept. 8-20. U.S. Central Command said in a Thursday statement that approximately 800 U.S. troops will participate. The first “Bright Star” exercise took place in 1980, but the Obama administration postponed them in 2011, following the uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak, and scrapped them in 2013, after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters while breaking up a mass sit-in. Last September, Egypt held the war games with U.S. troops for the first time in eight years. AP

Nigeria Orders S.Africa’s MTN to Refund $8.13 Bln
Nigeria’s central bank has ordered South African telecoms giant MTN to refund $8.13 billion (6.96 billion euros) that it allegedly illegally repatriated and fined four banks involved in the transfer. 2 The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said in a statement late Wednesday that MTN had not obtained approval before transfering the funds. The banks had breached foreign exchange rules by failing to verify if the company had met all the requirements, it added. The head-to-head dispute brings together the biggest telecoms group in Africa and the continent’s biggest market. “The CBN has asked the managements of the banks and MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to immediately refund the sum of $8,134,312,397.63, illegally repatriated by the company to the coffers of the Central Bank of Nigeria,” CBN said. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones