Africa Media Review for December 11, 2018

Nine Killed in Congo’s Troubled Eastern Region of Beni
Suspected members of an armed group have killed nine civilians in an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, according to government officials and the military. The massacre occurred overnight in the town of Oicha, in the Beni region of DR Congo, local administrator Donat Kibwana told AFP on Tuesday. The assailants were suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group blamed for hundreds of killings since 2014. “They entered Oicha late at night, they pillaged and made off with farm animals. We lost nine people in the attack,” Kibwana said.  Al Jazeera

SA Recalls Envoy to Rwanda over ‘Insulting’ Comments
South Africa has recalled its envoy to Rwanda ‘for consultations’ over comments directed at its Foreign Affairs minister Lindiwe Sisulu. South African media reports indicated that while President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government was ready to normalise ties with Kigali, but the process had been put on hold over what the former said were insults targeting Ms Sisulu, by sections of government-leaning media in Kigali. Rwanda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe confirmed to The EastAfrican the recall, but did not comment further on the relations between the two countries.  The East African

US Blocks Ex-Gambian President, Family from Entering
The U.S. State Department says former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and members of his immediate family are now ineligible for entry into the United States. The decision comes almost two years after Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea after he refused to concede defeat in a presidential election. Jammeh ruled the tiny West African country for two decades. The State Department says he’s now being banned from entry under a category that applies to foreign government officials who are believed to have committed “significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights.” In addition to Jammeh, his wife Zineb, and their daughter Mariam and son Muhammad are also being blocked.  AP

The Ordinary People Keeping the Peace in Nigeria’s Deadly Land Feuds
Farmers and herders once lived harmoniously on Nigeria’s bucolic central plateau, but when Amos Lenji, a farmer, caught a young herdsman grazing cattle in his cornfields this October, he feared for his life. His fear was rooted in a massacre that took place in June. More than 200 people, mostly farmers, were slaughtered by a gang of masked men dressed in black who marauded through the county of Barkin Ladi. Although no one was apprehended, the killers are suspected to be herdsmen. It was the biggest bloodbath yet in a cycle of retaliatory killings between farmers and herders competing for space across Nigeria’s hinterlands. At least 1,300 were killed in just the first six months of 2018, according to the International Crisis Group. That is more than six times as many as were killed in Nigeria in the same period by Boko Haram, one of Africa’s deadliest terrorist groups. The Washington Post

South Sudan to Begin Ebola Vaccinations as ‘Very High Risk’
The World Health Organization says Ebola vaccinations soon will begin in South Sudan as the country is at “very high risk” in the current outbreak based in neighboring Congo. A statement says South Sudan’s health ministry will begin vaccinating some health workers and other frontline workers in the capital, Juba, on Dec. 19. No Ebola cases have been reported in South Sudan or any of Congo’s neighbors in this outbreak, which is now the second-deadliest in history. Vaccinations began earlier in Uganda. More than 40,000 people have received the experimental but promising Ebola vaccine in this outbreak. The WHO statement says more than 2,000 doses have been allocated to South Sudan.  AP

UN Says Islamic State Kills 6 Captives in Libya
The UN mission to Libya says Islamic State militants have killed six people captured during an attack on a small town in October. The UN statement late on Monday condemned the killing as “particularly abhorrent”, without providing further details. The six were captured on October 28 during an attack on the town of al-Fuqaha. The town is south of the coastal city of Sirte, a former ISIS-held bastion. The attack underscored the volatility of Libya’s central region, where ISIS and other armed groups, including some from neighboring Chad, operate as highway robbers or attack patrols of the self-styled Libyan National Army.  AP

Will Ethiopia’s Reforms Include Its Women?
[…] The country’s new leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has made half of his cabinet female, brought in a female president and put a woman at the head of the Supreme Court for the first time. But many worry those changes will not sufficiently address the deep-seated bias against women — and subsequent harassment and violence — in the country, which is near the bottom of the U.N. rankings on gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa. “We have very progressive laws for gender equality enshrined in the constitution,” said Ellen Alem, a gender and development specialist at UNICEF Ethiopia. “The problem isn’t there — these laws are workable, and they promote gender equality. The problem is in translating those to reality.” The minister of state for women’s affairs acknowledged at the opening of the exhibit that problems persist. The Washington Post

Mnangagwa Heads into Key Zanu-PF Conference Full of Confidence
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa will this week go to the annual Zanu-PF people’s conference in Esigodini with his head held high, despite an acute economic meltdown in the country worsened by fuel and cash shortages and a dampened public mood over the slow pace of economic reform. For several weeks on end, Mnangagwa has been receiving endorsement for his rule from inside Zanu-PF, amid an increased number of calls that he stand again for re-election in 2023. It is a strong sign that the man nicknamed “Crocodile” has been consolidating his political power base amid pledges to usher in economic reforms and to court foreign investment under his “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.  Times Live

South Sudan: Struggle for Vice-President Is behind Opposition Alliance’s Crisis: Opposition Official
A leading member of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) admitted that the struggle for the vice-president’s position is one of the reasons for the ongoing crisis in the alliance. Row deepened among members of the coalition after their interim leader Gabriel Changson rejected elections conducted on 30 November in Khartoum, where General Peter Gatdet was declared the winner of the controversial election. “One of the reasons that caused the ongoing crisis is the struggle for the position of the vice-president. Dr Lam Akol was lobbying for the position of the vice president, “Gen. Hussein Abdelbagi told Radio Tamazuj on Monday. Radio Tamazuj

Armed Group Blocks Key Oil Field in Libya
An armed group has seized one of Libya’s largest oilfields in the country’s southwest, the state-owned National Oil Corporation said on Monday. The seizure of Sharara oilfield prompted the company to declare a “force majeure” on exports from the field. “National Oil Corporation (NOC) hereby declares a state of force majeure at the Akakus-operated Sharara oil field as of Sunday,” the company said in an online statement. Akakus is a joint venture between NOC, Spain’s Repsol energy company, France’s Total, Austria’s OMV and Norway’s Statoil. It produces some 315 000 barrels per day, out of Libya’s current output of one million bpd. AFP

Normalcy Restored in Egyptian Sinai City, but Danger Lurks
Mohammed Amer Shaaban stood over trays of fresh fish at his tiny store in the coastal Sinai Peninsula city of el-Arish, pointing to his right and left while recalling the tough days when Islamic State militants operated with impunity. “They killed a Christian who owns a knife shop there and an informant over there. They also killed one of my cousins,” he said. “We have enjoyed some stability and peace for the past six or seven months,” added the 48-year-old father of five as some two dozen journalists descended on el-Arish’s fish market as part of a rare, army-organized trip. The trip was chiefly designed to show off signs of normalcy in el-Arish, northern Sinai’s largest city, as evidence that the military’s all-out offensive against militants launched nearly 10 months ago has succeeded. But in the city and the surrounding deserts, the signs of war are difficult to miss, particularly the enormous security presence. The Associated Press was required to submit the photos and video accompanying this story to Egypt’s military censor, which did not say two weeks after submission if or when the material would be released. AP

Egypt Restricts Yellow Vests Sales to Avoid Copycat Protests
Egyptian authorities have quietly introduced restrictions on the sale of yellow reflective vests, fearing opponents might attempt to copy French protesters during next month’s anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, security officials and retailers said on Monday. They said industrial safety equipment dealers have been instructed not to sell yellow vests to walk-in buyers and to restrict business to wholesale sales to verified companies, but only after securing police permission. They were told offenders would be punished, the officials said without elaborating. Six retailers in a Cairo downtown area where industrial safety stores are concentrated said they were no longer selling yellow vests. Two declined to sell them, giving no explanation, but the remaining four told The Associated Press they were told not to by police.  AP

Somalia Piracy: How Foreign Powers Are Tackling It
Foreign navies have played a key role in curbing piracy off Somalia’s coast, writes the BBC’s Anne Soy. On a beach in Hordeia on the northern coast of Somalia, I asked a former pirate what attracted him to piracy in the first place. The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, told me he was originally a fisherman and that was his main source of income but things changed when an illegal trawler destroyed his net. “I had a boat and a net on it, then a trawler cut our fishing nets and pulled them away. I was left with an empty boat,” he recalled. He and a fellow fisherman tried to shout and call the trawler crew, but it was in vain. It angered them. BBC

Morocco, African Union Agree to Establish African Migration Observatory in Rabat
Morocco and the African Union (AU) signed on Monday an agreement to set up the headquarters of the African Observatory for Migration and Development (OAMD) in Morocco’s capital Rabat. The agreement was signed by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and chairman of AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on the sidelines of a UN Intergovernmental Conference on Migration held in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. At the 31st AU Summit in July in Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, the AU heads of states endorsed the proposal by Moroccan King Mohammed VI in his capacity as the AU leader to set up an African migration observatory in the kingdom.  Xinhua

Mozambique Busts ‘30,000 Ghost Workers’
Mozambique’s government has discovered more than 30,000 ghost workers on the civil service payroll. The civil service minister said some were paid for jobs they had not done, others were dead or fictitious. The fraud had cost the government around $250m (£198m) between 2015 and 2017, Carmelita Namashulua said. She said the government recognised that state corruption was still a major problem in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest nations. The southern African nation is ranked 153 out of 180 countries by watchdog Transparency International in its global corruption perceptions index.  BBC

Break Rules, Clean up Gutters: The To-Do List of a Rookie Mayor in Sierra Leone
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr walks up the stairs from her office in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to her car when she notices that the sky has darkened and is starting to open up. Tiny drops of rain fall. Within seconds they’ve become large and squishy, splashing against the concrete – and she has forgotten her rain boots. Her hot pink slingbacks won’t make it through a downpour. Aki-Sawyerr, who was elected mayor of Freetown in May and is the city’s first female mayor in nearly 40 years, asks her driver to take a detour on the way to an outdoor meeting with market women. She is hoping to find a street vendor selling rubber sandals. As the car weaves through sheets of rain, she spots overflowing gutters and makes frantic calls to members of her team back in the office. “Have you seen this spot?” she asks. “We’re near Victoria Park. Everything is flooding. Have we noted this?”  NPR

Zambian Mines Warn Tax Changes Could Lead to 21,000 Job Losses
Zambia’s planned mining royalty increases could lead to more than 21,000 job losses and operators cutting $500 million in capital spending over the next three years, an industry lobby group said. Members of the Chamber of Mines, which represents companies including Glencore Plc, First Quantum Minerals Ltd., Vedanta Resources Plc and Barrick Gold Corp., will have to consider “scaling back substantially” their operations if the proposed increases proceed as planned on Jan. 1, it said in response to questions on Monday. The threat ratchets up risks for the southern African nation that is grappling with rapidly increasing public debt, while trying to curtail a stubbornly high-budget deficit. The government has responded to previous threats of job cuts by mines with its own warnings of taking over mining licenses, but has not acted on them.  Bloomberg

Sprawling Museum of Black Civilizations Opens in Senegal
A little over half a century ago, Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of post-independence Senegal, announced his plans to build a major museum of African culture in the country’s capital of Dakar. Senghor, who died in 2001, did not live to see his dream fulfilled. Now, at long last, his vision is coming to fruition. As Kate Brown reports for artnet News, Senegal has opened a sprawling museum that celebrates black civilizations from across the globe—and experts are hailing the institution as an important step forward in the effort to reclaim African artifacts plundered during the colonial period. The Museum of Black Civilizations, known in French as the Musée des Civilisations noires (MCN), is a 150,000-square-foot, circular structure, modelled after the traditional houses of Senegal’s Casamance region, according to Al Jazeera’s Amandla Thomas-Johnson. China was the main backer of the project, providing a $34 million funding boost, according to BBC. The country has invested billions of dollars into the continent—“China has long had an appetite for Africa’s abundant natural resources,” notes Yolaan Begbie of Africa.com—but the museum says its operations will be independent. Smithsonian.com



Photo: Adam Jones