Africa Media Review for December 1, 2017

Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa Gives Key Cabinet Jobs to Military Figures
Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa has named his cabinet, appointing senior military figures to high-profile positions. Mr Mnangagwa has made Sibusiso Moyo, the general who appeared on state TV after the recent military takeover, the new foreign minister. The head of Zimbabwe’s air force, Perence Shiri, was named the minister of agriculture and land affairs. Mr Mnangagwa was sworn in last week after Robert Mugabe agreed to resign. The man who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years stepped down after the military intervened following the sacking of Mr Mnangagwa as vice-president. BBC

Zimbabwe Plagued by Lack of Cash as It Begins Post-Mugabe Era
Like many Zimbabweans, Esau Makwindi is frustrated over the liquidity crisis that has made it near-impossible for ordinary people to get cash in the Southern African nation. The resignation of President Robert Mugabe last week has ushered in limitless hope in Zimbabwe, especially among people like Makwindi, a 19-year-old divinity student at the University of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 amid hyperinflation that reached an annual rate of 231 million percent. Since then, the country has relied on foreign currency, in particular U.S. dollars and South African rand. But for more than a year, even that money has been scarce, making it hard for Zimbabweans to purchase the most basic necessities. In his inaugural address, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised that Zimbabweans would soon be able to access their earnings. VOA

DR Congo: Leaders of Opposition Group in Police Custody
Some senior opposition figures in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been arrested by the police. Martin Fayulu and Kabund leaders of opposition in the country are under the police custody for questioning for non-compliance of a government decision prohibiting demonstrations. The opposition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the movements of citizens had called on their members to go on the Streets on Thursday for a walk they call “walk of anger.” An anger against President Joseph Kabila whose presidential mandate elapsed since December 2016. Africa News

DRC Police Fire Tear Gas, Arrest Opposition Leaders in Anti-Kabila Protests
Police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators in several Congolese cities Thursday and arrested two opposition leaders in a clampdown on protests against President Joseph Kabila. Opposition figures had vowed to push ahead with the demonstrations, despite a ban, as tensions soar over Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his term in December 2016. In power since 2001, Kabila’s prolonged rule has already led to street protests and a bloody crackdown. Elections had been due to take place by the end of 2017 under a deal with the opposition aimed at avoiding bloodshed, but the date has since been pushed back until December 23 2018, further heightening tensions. The East African

Senior Muslim Leader in DRC Shot Dead
A senior Muslim leader has been killed in the country’s eastern province on Wednesday. The incident took place in North Kivu province when Sheikh Byeragi Matunguru, a senior Muslim leader and coordinator of North Kivu Islamic Convention Schools, was shot dead on Tuesday night after he was returning from prayers. In a statement, Islamic Community in Democratic Republic of Congo (COMICO), a Muslim body in the country, condemned the incident. “COMICO takes this opportunity to denounce and vehemently condemn this despicable act perpetrated on Byeragi Matunguru,” the statement said. It also called on the Congolese authorities to carry out an investigation into the incident and bring the perpetrators to book. Anadolu Agency

Between 400,000 and 700,000 African Migrants in Libya: AU
Between 400,000 and 700,000 African migrants are living in camps in Libya, often under “inhuman” conditions, the chairman of the African Union Commission said Thursday at the close of a summit of European and African leaders. Moussa Faki Mahamat stressed the urgency of removing the thousands of migrants, including women and children, from the camps as he addressed the summit where migration was a top issue after recent footage of a migrant slave auction in Libya drew global horror and condemnation. At least 3,800 migrants in one camp in Tripoli need to be removed as soon as possible, Mahamat said. Most of them come from West Africa. “That’s just one camp,” he said. “The Libyan government has told us there are 42,” and some contain an even larger number of migrants. AP

EU Accused of Funding Evil Empire of Eritrea Where Hundreds and Thousands Forced to Flee
The embattled bloc faces intense criticism for propping up a despot leader who has catapulted his country into the depths of abhorrent slave labour, by handing them £176million in aid, despite protests from human rights groups. The cash has reportedly been ploughed into President Isaias Afewerki’s regime, which is actually encouraging its people to escape a poor nation beset with mass enslavement, the Daily Telegraph reported. In 2015, more Eritreans reached the shores of Europe than any other nationality in the world and account for the largest amount of asylum applications in the UK. One in 10 Eritreans has fled abroad, while 120,000 have sought refuge to Europe since 2010 to escape the brutal and harsh conditions of their homeland. Atrocities, including an indefinite military national service programme that amounted to mass enslavement, had been committed since the country’s independence in 1991 and were ongoing, according to the UN. The Express

Libya Migrants: Emergency Evacuation Operation Agreed
An urgent evacuation plan has been devised for migrants facing abuse in Libyan detention camps. It was drawn up at an African Union-European Union summit in Ivory Coast. Libya’s UN-backed administration joined the agreement, but has only limited control over the territory, raising questions about how it will work in practice. The migrants will be sent mainly back to their home countries. The move follows the publication of video footage that appeared to show migrants from sub-Saharan Africa being sold in Libya as slaves. French President Emmanuel Macron called the slave auctions a “crime against humanity”. BBC

Niger Approves Armed U.S. Drone Flights, Expanding Pentagon’s Role in Africa
The government of Niger has given the Defense Department permission to fly armed drones out of the Nigerien capital, Niamey, Pentagon officials said Thursday, in a major expansion of the American military’s footprint in Africa. Pentagon officials want to start the flights within days. A memorandum of understanding between the United States and Niger, which was finalized this week, calls for the remotely piloted aircraft to be armed initially, by the military’s Africa Command, at the Nigerien air base in Niamey where they are currently deployed without arms. The drones, the memo says, will eventually be moved to a Nigerien air base in Agadez, where American troops will also be deployed. Pentagon officials said the new mission likely would significantly increase the number of American troops in Niger, from the 800 who are there now.About 500 of those troops now deployed in Niger would move to the base in Agadez. The New York Times

France Invites US to Dec. 13 Summit on Boosting Fight against W.African Militants
French President Emmanuel Macron fears Islamist militants have scored military and symbolic victories in West Africa while a regional military force has struggled to get off the ground, a French presidential source said on Thursday. To help get the new G5 Sahel force operating effectively, he said, France has invited the United States to a summit with the five participating countries as well as the African Union and European Union in Paris next month. Thousands of U.N. peacekeepers, French troops and U.S. military trainers and drone operators have failed so far to stem a growing wave of jihadist violence, leading world powers to pin their hopes on the new G5 Sahel force. VOA

Sierra Leone Sacks Police, Army Chiefs
The government sacked the police and army chiefs Thursday following several allegations that security forces were being biased in favor of the ruling party ahead of the 2018 elections. The State House, however, did not specify any reason for the sackings in its press release. It only said the two officials would now hold posts outside the country. Former police Inspector General Grancis Allieu Munu was posted as ambassador to Liberia while former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. J. E. Milton would go to Nigeria as the country’s deputy high commissioner, the release said. Richard Moigbeh was named as the new police chief while Maj. Gen. Brima Sesay would be taking over as the army’s chief of staff, it added. Anadolu Agency

Congo, Uganda Sign Cross-Border Oil Deal
Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed to explore for oil on their border, the DRC government said Thursday. The deal was signed in Uganda at the weekend by Ugandan Energy Minister Irene Muloni and the DRC’s Hydrocarbons Minister Aime Ngoy Mukena, Mukena’s ministry said in a statement. In 2006, Uganda discovered oil and gas deposits in around Lake Albert on its border with the DRC. It estimated around 6.5 billion barrels of oil lay below the border region. Production is due to start in 2020 and export pipeline is being developed to ship the oil to terminals on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast. Anadolu Agency

Russia Negotiates Deal for Its Warplanes to Use Egypt Bases
Russia has approved a draft agreement with Egypt for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, according to a document released on Thursday, a deal that would allow Moscow to further increase its military footprint in the Mideast. The directive, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the official portal of legal information, endorses the draft prepared by the Russian Defense Ministry and instructs it to sign the deal with Egypt when it’s ready. The Russia-Egypt deal, which would allow each country’s warplanes to use air bases of the other, is to last five years and could be extended further if agreed. For Egypt, the deal is significant as President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s government has expanded military ties with Russia and signed deals to buy Russian fighter jets, helicopters and other weapons. News 24

Protesters Keep up Pressure on Togo President
Protesters in Togo showed no signs of relenting in their bid to oust President Faure Gnassingbe on Thursday, taking to the streets for a second day as the opposition outlined conditions for talks with the government. In Lome, the rallies – which have become a common sight over the past three months – took place in a calm atmosphere although earlier protests have resulted in deadly clashes with the security forces which have claimed at least 16 lives. Gnassingbe has ruled Togo for more than 15 years, and demonstrators want him to go – seeking an end to his family’s more than 50-year grip on power. They also want to impose a two-term limit on the presidential mandate. Although largely silent on the wave of protests, Gnassingbe finally spoke out on November 20, saying the government was in talks about holding negotiations with the opposition which could take place “within several weeks”.  AFP

Burundi’s Government Enforcers Now Killed for Their Silence
Vanessa Kaneza is on the run, hiding from security agents she believes killed her husband and may want to harm her. Despite her family’s ties to Burundi’s ruling party, she no longer feels safe in a country where security forces are routinely accused of torturing and killing perceived opponents. Now, as the International Criminal Court begins looking into the alleged crimes, she and others fear the security forces have begun eliminating their own allies, like her husband, to ensure silence.[…] Local human rights activists have been documenting similar cases of witnesses of abuses who were killed or disappeared since the East African nation descended into the violence that has left hundreds dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring countries. Imbonerakure members who are thought to have witnessed grave crimes are now at risk of being assassinated or arrested, said Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi’s most prominent human rights activist. The ICC this month said judges have authorized an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes in Burundi, including murder, rape and torture, committed since April 26, 2015. AP

#GuptaLeaks: How Family Hijacked (and Then Lost) a Lesotho Diamond Mine
In August 2014 Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane appointed Atul Gupta as an “economic investment envoy”. Thabane said ANC President Jacob Zuma had introduced him to the Gupta family and he had enlisted them “to help scout for investment” for the country. Now new evidence is emerging that the main “investment” the Guptas were touting – apart from in Thabane himself – was their takeover of a Lesotho diamond mine. Daily Maverick

Angola Plans to Open up Telecoms Industry to Foreign Bidders
Angola plans to sell a minority stake in a state-owned telecommunications provider and hold an auction for a fourth industry operator as new President Joao Lourenco shakes up the business environment and reduces the influence of his predecessor’s family. The government of the oil-rich west African country has received several expressions of interest from local and foreign investors in the new telecommunications license, state-owned news agency Angop said, citing the country’s Ministry of Telecommunications Jose Carvalho da Rocha. The winning bidder will be able to offer fixed-line, mobile, internet and paid-television services, Rocha said. A 45 percent stake in Angola Telecom will be sold, the minister said. The state-owned firm competes with Unitel SA, controlled by Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s oldest daughter and Africa’s richest woman. The third operator is Movicel Telecomunicacoes Lda, which is also privately owned. Bloomberg

Expect More War, Hunger and Extremism in 2018 – Report
Humanitarian crises around the world will worsen next year, with no let-up in civil wars in Africa, near-famines in war-torn regions and the threat of extremist Islamist violence, a Geneva-based think-tank predicted in a report published on Thursday. The report by ACAPS, a non-profit venture that supports humanitarian aid workers with daily monitoring and analysis of 150 countries, examined the anticipated needs of 18 countries in 2018 and found little to cheer. “If 2017 did not look good, predictions for 2018 are no better: violence and insecurity are likely to deteriorate in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia, and Syria next year,” ACAPS director Lars Peter Nissen wrote in the report. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones