Africa Media Review for August 6, 2020

DR Congo Armed Groups Killed 1,300 in First Half of 2020: UN
More than 1,300 people were killed in the first six months of the year by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), three times more than in the same period in 2019, according to the United Nations. A report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) on Wednesday said fighters of all armed groups were responsible for the summary executions or arbitrary killings of at least 1,315 people, including 165 children, between January and June 2020. That was more than three times the 416 such deaths recorded in the first half of last year. The UNJHRO attributed the jump to the “deterioration” in the human rights situation in provinces where conflict is rife, particularly Ituri, South Kivu, Tanganyika and North Kivu. … The UNJHRO report also noted that the number of violations committed by state agents decreased slightly during the first half of the year. State agents were responsible for 43 percent of documented human rights violations… Al Jazeera

Dozens of Anti-Buhari Protesters Arrested in Nigeria: Activists
Nigerian police on Wednesday arrested dozens of protesters demanding better governance from President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, activists and lawyers said. But police said the protesters were arrested for breaching COVID-19 rules on social distancing. The security forces moved in as peaceful demonstrations called by the #RevolutionNow Movement took place in cities across Nigeria, including the capital Abuja and economic hub Lagos, said the campaigners. “In Abuja, the police fired teargas to disperse the demonstration and in the process, many people were injured,” protest leader Deji Adeyanju told AFP. … Organisers said Wednesday’s protest also marked the first anniversary of the demonstration called by Omoyele Sowore, an activist and publisher of online media group Sahara Reporters. It did not in the end, go ahead, because Sowore was arrested two days before the event, and later charged with treason for calling for a revolution against the government. AFP

Nigerians React as Buhari’s Aide Justifies Clampdown on #Revolutionnow Protesters
President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, has been criticised for justifying the harassment and arrest of #RevolutionNow protesters by security operstives across the nation on Wednesday. Mr Adesina, who appeared on Channels Television Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday, said the protest was a ‘mere child’s play and an irritation.’ He also stated that if the clampdown on protesters is considered the best to maintain orderliness in Nigeria, “the government will do whatever is right, whatever is required to maintain peace.” Premium Times reported how scores of protesters were arrested in different states as security agencies forcefully stopped the largely peaceful #RevolutionNow protests on Wednesday. The protesters were demanding better governance in Nigeria, an end to corruption and improvement in the security and welfare of citizens. The actions of the security agencies have been condemned by civic groups and many Nigerians. Premium Times

After Early Praise for COVID-19 Response, Ramaphosa Faces Outrage over Corruption Allegations
In the early weeks of the pandemic, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa won praise for his swift lockdown decision. The country rallied around him, while the World Health Organization lauded his government for its “incredible” performance on testing. But today the praise and solidarity have sharply eroded. With the economy imploding and COVID-19 cases soaring to one of the highest levels in the world, many South Africans are voicing outrage at Mr. Ramaphosa’s increasingly contradictory regulations – and the growing evidence that well-connected insiders are grabbing a big slice of his government’s pandemic-related spending. Corruption scandals have sparked such an uproar that Mr. Ramaphosa has felt obliged to denounce the perpetrators, including his own colleagues in government. … The insider deals are particularly galling to South Africans at a time when unemployment has reached record levels and the economy is forecast to plummet more than 8 per cent this year. The Globe and Mail

Zimbabwean President, Deputy Clash as Economy Tension Grows
At a meeting of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s politburo last week, Mnangagwa shouted at Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, according to two people familiar with the situation. … The president accused his deputy of instigating a plan to use an opposition protest on July 31 over the deteriorating economic situation to embarrass the national leader, the people said. … The clash shows the tension between Mnangagwa, 77, and Chiwenga, the 63-year-old former head of the armed forces who installed Mnangagwa when he led a November 2017 coup that ousted President Robert Mugabe. … Mnangagwa’s relationship with the military is complex. It elevated the former spy chief to power, but at the same time Chiwenga is seen by analysts as ambitious and impatient to take over from Mnangagwa. The ex-military general wields influence within the ruling party and was this week handed oversight of the Health Ministry. Bloomberg

US Treasury Announces New Sanctions on Ally of Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa
The U.S. Treasury has imposed financial sanctions on an alleged Zimbabwean government ally who it says used corruption to rake in millions of U.S. dollars. Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei and his company, Sakunda Holdings, were targeted Wednesday by the Treasury Department. “Tagwirei and other Zimbabwean elites have derailed economic development and harmed the Zimbabwean people through corruption,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin G. Muzinich in a press release. The release said Tagwirei used opaque business dealings and relationships with top officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to win state contracts and receive favored access to hard currency, which has been in short supply for years in Zimbabwe.  The department tied the sanctions to the second anniversary of a violent crackdown against protesters in Zimbabwe that left at least six people dead. A successful businessman, Tagwirei has long been connected with Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and top officials, such as President Mnangagwa and First Vice President Constantino Chiwenga. VOA

Peace in Mozambique: Third Time Lucky?
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and RENAMO leader Ossufo Momade joyfully embracing amid loud cheering after signing a peace treaty on August 6, 2019, was a sight for sore eyes. The agreement put an end to a resurgence of the armed conflict between the FRELIMO led government and the largest opposition party and former guerrilla movement RENAMO, based in central Mozambique. It was the third attempt at silencing the weapons after the peace agreement of 1992 – which put an end to 16 years of brutal civil war – another deal for the cessation of hostilities was agreed in 2014. The year before, a new round of confrontations had started – albeit at a low level – and gained some momentum when RENAMO rejected results of the October 2014 election. Hopes were high that this time all parties involved would stick to the treaty, which followed closely on the official end of hostilities signed five days earlier, on August 1, 2014, in the Gorongosa, where RENAMO has its headquarters. DW

Ugandan Police Deploy Crowd Control Unit to Vet Presidential Debates
The Ugandan police has set up a new ‘Violence Suppression Unit’ to guard TV and radio stations that host politicians during the 2021 presidential campaign. It is part of efforts to stop crowds gathering outside media houses in violation of the country’s curfew. Critics say Covid-19 is being used as an excuse to further stifle dissent. … Ugandans go to the polls next year between January and February, with most of the traditional campaign rallies banned due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials have urged candidates instead to use the media to get their message across to voters. Opposition parties however have previously complained about not getting enough airtime on broadcast media, especially in rural areas where they say security agencies bar them from appearing on political shows. There are concerns the new violence suppression unit may make it even more difficult for opposition MPs to get on air. RFI

UN Closes Two Malian Refugee Camps in Niger, Citing Security Fears
Some 15,000 Malians were moved out of two large refugee camps in western Niger in late 2019 to live in nearby towns where they will be safer from jihadist attacks, the United Nations announced for the first time on Wednesday. “The closure of the camps in December 2019 was a joint decision (by the UN refugee agency and the government of Niger) and was accelerated last year with the deterioration of the security situation,” Benoit Moreno, a UNHCR official in the capital Niamey, told AFP. The camps at Tabarey Barey and Mangaize had sheltered Malians fleeing violence in their own country since 2012. Western Niger is the scene of frequent attacks by jihadist groups, with attacks at Tabarey Barey and Mangaize killing 10 refugees and members of the Nigerien forces who were providing security between 2014 and 2016. AFP

Anger in Togo after Government Accused of Using Spyware on Critics
A Togolese civil society coalition on Wednesday accused the government of spying on the public after it was reported that six critics of President Faure Gnassingbe, including Catholic leaders, had been victims of a hacking campaign. According to an investigation published on Monday by the French daily Le Monde and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, individuals in Togo were alerted by WhatsApp last year that their mobile phones had been targeted in a spyware attack. “We are in a police state that uses and abuses espionage against its own citizens,” David Dosseh, spokesman for the FCTD, an umbrella organisation of civil society groups, told AFP. … “Faure Gnassingbe’s regime exceeds all the limits of political decency,” Nathaniel Olympio, president of the opposition Togolese People’s Party, told AFP. “Weapons intended to fight terrorism have been turned against opponents, clerics and human rights defenders,” he said. AFP

South Africa: Parliament Welcomes Woman Defence Secretary Appointment
The appointment of the new Secretary for Defence, Gladys Sonto Kudjoe, signifies the continued empowerment of women in the defence sector, says Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans. The committee welcomed the appointment of Kudjoe in a statement on Tuesday. “As the country commemorates Women’s Month, we welcome the appointment of Kudjoe in this highly crucial position and we believe that her experience, strength and vast knowledge of the defence industry will contribute to bringing the much-needed stability to the department,” said committee chairperson Cyril Xaba. … Kudjoe served as South Africa’s ambassador to Sweden between 2002 and 2006, and Egypt from 2006 to 2010. She also held several senior positions in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Kudjoe was the first female Director-General of the State Security Agency (SSA) appointed in 2013. She was with the then South African Secret Service (SASS) for about 13 years before. DefenceWeb

U.S. Boosts Broadcasting in Sudan
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in a ceremony on July 23 gave broadcasting and information technology equipment to the Sudanese Radio and Television Authority to help develop reliable journalism. … “Sudan’s former regime devastated the media sector through censorship, intimidation, and persecution of journalists and media outlets,” USAID Mission Director for Sudan Helen Pataki told ADF. … USAID also pledged an additional $5.5 million to support Sudan’s pandemic response… The two aid packages have some overlapping objectives, as evidenced by USAID’s support of Sudan TV broadcasting shows in several local languages to highlight how people experienced the country’s lockdown and how they have avoided catching COVID-19. “There is some misinformation and lack of knowledge in Sudan about COVID-19,” Pataki said. “We are supporting efforts to provide accurate information in multiple languages about what the virus is, how it spreads, and how people can protect themselves from infection. “Reliable information builds trust and informs people why they are being asked to make sacrifices to protect themselves, their families and their communities from COVID-19.” ADF

Nigeria: How African Generosity Dried a Teacher’s Tears
When Covid-19 hit Africa, the effects were devastating – but some people have been crushed more than others, by the illness but also by the measures to deal with it. Private-school teachers, who make up a significant amount of the education workforce, have been particularly hard hit by school closures as they have no safety net and in most cases no firm return date either. Many have turned to farming, cleaning and street hawking in the meantime. The strain has become unbearable, moving many to tears – among them Akindele Oluwasheun Oladipupo in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. He and other teachers were full of hope in July when the Nigerian government said it would allow schools to reopen for exams. But when that decision was reversed, the pain was too much. Akindele, who is married with three children under eight years, told me in a telephone interview that he just sat in shock digesting the news, before tears ran down his face. BBC

Meet Muwado, the Eight-Year-Old Girl Making Somalia Laugh
All across Mogadishu and beyond, there is one name that brings smiles to people’s faces: Muwado. The eight-year-old girl is the star of short comedy videos that have taken Somalia by storm. Viewed millions of times on online platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, Muwado Abshir’s sketches touch on a wide range of topics, from unemployment and fashion to social media obsession and even relationships – and her jokes spare no one. “I like to make people happy. I get happy when I see people laughing,” Muwado tells Al Jazeera, before breaking into laughter herself. “People look better when they are happy and laughing.” It all began in December of last year, when the eldest of Muwado’s seven older siblings, Abdikassim Abshir, was making a video for his TikTok channel. “She wouldn’t leave me alone and kept on asking me to make a video of her,” the 19-year-old recalls. Al Jazeera

Burna Boy Has the Whole World Listening
Burna Boy – the Nigerian songwriter, singer and rapper who was born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu – once thought he’d be content writing the sleek, self-assured party tunes that first drew fans to his mixtapes in the early 2010s. But as his popularity spread worldwide, the spirits who guide his songwriting had other plans for him. Soon, he was taking up broader, more consequential ideas. “Music is a spiritual thing,” he said in an interview via video call from his studio in Lagos. Wearing a white Uber jersey and puffing a hand-rolled smoke, with jeweled rings glittering on his fingers, Burna Boy spoke about his fifth album, “Twice as Tall,” which was still getting some finishing touches ahead of its Aug. 13 release date. “I’ve never picked up a pen and paper and written down a song in my life,” he said. “It all just comes, like someone is standing there and telling me what to say. It’s all according to the spirits. Some of us are put on this earth to do what we do.” The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones