Africa Media Review for December 15, 2017

The Troubled Democratic Transitions of African Liberation Movements
Zimbabwe’s recent political crisis has provided a lens into the ongoing challenges many African countries face in transitioning from their founding liberation movement political structures to genuine, participatory democracies. While often a source of dynamism and reform in the early years, such movements may also foster stagnation and become an entrenched obstacle to power sharing and accountability. Legitimacy conferred by the struggle tends to foster a sense of entitlement to rule among liberation leaders and parties. As the euphoria of liberation subsides, mismanagement sets in, public confidence plummets, and opposition grows. Violence, in turn, becomes an increasingly frequent means for ensuring compliance. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

U.S. Suspends Aid to Somalia’s Battered Military over Graft
The United States is suspending food and fuel aid for most of Somalia’s armed forces over corruption concerns, a blow to the military as African peacekeepers start to withdraw this month. African Union (AU) troops landed in Mogadishu a decade ago to fight al Shabaab Islamist militants and Somali forces are supposed to eventually take over their duties. But the United States, which also funds the 22,000-strong peacekeeping force, has grown frustrated that successive governments have failed to build a viable national army. Diplomats worry that without strong Somali forces, al Shabaab could be reinvigorated, destabilise the region and offer a safe haven to other al Qaeda-linked militants or Islamic State fighters. Reuters

Nigeria: $1B Earmarked for Fighting Boko Haram Terror
Nigeria will spend at least $1 billion to procure weapons and security equipment to boost the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the country’s volatile northeast region, officials said on Thursday. The fund will come from the country’s special accounts for oil savings (excess crude account), which is jointly owned by the three tiers of the Nigerian government. Godwin Obaseki, governor of the south-south Edo state, said approval for the funds’ release was granted at a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by the country’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo. The NEC is mainly made up of the country’s governors and key officials of the central government, and is statutorily chaired by the vice president. Anadolu Agency

In Tanzania, UN Peacekeeping Chief Pays Tribute to ‘Blue Helmets’ Killed in DR Congo
The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations on Thursday attended a ceremony in the port city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in honour of the country’s peacekeepers recently killed during their mission in a neighbouring country. “We are here today to honor 14 fallen peacekeepers from Tanzania who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace,” said Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. “The Greek Philosopher Thucydides once said, ‘The bravest are surely those that have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet not notwithstanding go out to meet it,’” he added. UN

Uganda’s Attorney General Endorses 7-Year Term for President, MPs
Following President Museveni’s suggestion that African presidents and the countries they lead could benefit from having 7 year terms in office rather than 5, like the one in Uganda, the attorney general’s office in Uganda has today clarified on the legality of this proposal. ‘There’s no constitutional provision that debars members of Parliament from making any such decision and determining when it takes effect’, Mwesigwa Rukutana, Uganda’s Deputy Attorney General. He however added that Article 105(1) of the Ugandan constitution which provides for a 5 year term for the office of the president can only be changed through a referendum. Africa News

Zimbabwe’s New Government Asks West to Stop Dictating
Zimbabwe’s new foreign affairs minister says that the southern African nation will not allow the West to dictate its policies and that no country had a monopoly on how diplomacy should be conducted. In a hurriedly called address to diplomats accredited in Zimbabwe, new Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said there are “no angels” that should dictate any country’s foreign policy. The address was delivered after Zimbabwe’s opposition and civic leaders testified Tuesday before the U.S. Congress and asked the international community to push Harare to ensure free and fair elections. Moyo said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which came to power last month with the backing of the army, had started reaching out to Western countries like the United States and Britain to normalize relations strained under former president Robert Mugabe’s administration. VOA

Zimbabwe Orders Illegal Farm Invaders off Land
Zimbabwe’s new agriculture minister has ordered people illegally occupying formerly white-owned commercial farms to vacate, nearly two decades after violent land grabs led by ousted ex-president Robert Mugabe, state media said Thursday. “All those who were illegally settled or who just settled themselves on resettlement land should vacate immediately,” The Herald quoted Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe’s new lands and agriculture minister, as saying. “Only those people with documentation of land occupancy and or those who were allocated land legitimately should remain on the farms and concentrate on production unhindered.” AFP

UN Security Council Warns on South Sudan Peace Efforts
The U.N. Security Council warned Thursday of “costs or consequences” for South Sudan’s government and opposition if they undermine upcoming efforts to achieve a cease-fire and implement a 2015 peace agreement. The council underlined in a presidential statement approved by all 15 members that “no party should set preconditions to participation” in the new peace process. Council members strongly backed the forum organized by an eight-nation East African regional group to revitalize peace efforts. It is expected to begin Monday in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the world’s newest nation plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer. The New York Times

Oil Deal May Allow Sudan to Win Back Influence over Former Enemy
Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil reserves when the south seceded in 2011. A four-year civil war in Africa’s youngest nation may be letting it reassert control. Electricity, building materials, safe lodgings for workers — South Sudan’s former ruler is offering them all to help restore output in a key northern region. That shows how vital sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest oil reserves remain to Sudan, whose landlocked neighbor pays it $25 per barrel to transport the resource to the Red Sea. It could also be a strategy to discourage South Sudan from seeking other export routes. Sudan is adding an extra layer of dependence for South Sudan, said Luke Patey, a researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. To a certain degree, it is a reversal of the economic independence South Sudan won after separating from Sudan in July 2011. Bloomberg

Fear of Bribery Ahead of South Sudan Peace Talks in Addis
The fear of delegates being comprised looms large as South Sudan groups prepare for next week’s Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) peace talks in Ethiopia. The Center for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice Organisation national director, Ms Jackeline Naziwa, said bribery was one of the key stumbling blocks to the Igad High Level Revitalisation Forum. She warned her civil society colleagues at the December 18 talks in Addis Ababa, not to be comprised by any faction. “We should not be like politicians to accept bribes. South Sudanese need peace now more than tomorrow because the refugees are suffering and they want to come back home. They are lacking all the basic needs,” she warned. The East African

French Convent to Host Dozens of Resettled African Refugees
The move fits into a United Nations strategy to provide protection for refugees and other vulnerable migrants who attempt to travel to Libya, often intending to make the dangerous sea crossing to Italy. The 56 refugees, including 21 children and teenagers, will be the first to arrive in France as part of a commitment by the government in August to take in 3,000 refugees living in Chad and Niger by 2019, officials said. The refugees, who come from countries including Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia, will live in the small village of Thal-Marmoutier, in Alsace, near the border with Germany, after nuns offered to house them in their convent, mayor Jean-Claude Distel told Reuters. Reuters

As Violence Flares in Ethiopia, Internet Goes Dark
Amid reports of violent clashes that have led to at least 15 deaths, the Ethiopian government has partially blocked internet access to its citizens, suppressing information about the exact scope of the violence and the response of federal security forces. ​Ethiopians have been unable to reliably reach Twitter and Facebook since Tuesday, and other services may also be affected. Restricting internet access is a common tactic for the government when protests break out and security forces crack down. The government has justified such action in the past as a response to unverified reports and rumors, noting that social media become flooded with unconfirmed claims and misinformation when violence erupts. But blocking internet access also makes it more difficult for citizens to assemble peacefully or monitor what’s happening on the ground. VOA

Why Sierra Leone Is Running out of Fish
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, 90% of the world’s fisheries are dangerously overexploited. The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, a think-tank funded by America’s defence department, reckons that about a quarter of fish caught off Africa’s shores are taken illegally. International observers, who have watched Sierra Leone’s fish stocks falling, are trying to help. […]  There are scant official data on the state of Sierra Leone’s fish stocks, but local fishermen have their own measure of the problem. Sulaman Kamara, Pa Seaport’s 33-year-old son, has been fishing since he was 16. “The fish are less, they are definitely less,” he says. “And the valuable types are disappearing. We used to get a lot of bonga and kine [barracuda]. Now they are rare. Sometimes the catch hardly pays for the boat’s petrol.” He blames foreign trawlers, saying they use nets with small holes that sweep up the baby fish. The Economist

Liberia: Legislators Unhappy over New Election Date
The December 26 date for the runoff of the 2017 presidential elections might be altered by the Legislature as the lawmakers have vowed to punish authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) for “usurping legislative function when the commission unilaterally set the runoff date without the their approval.” On Tuesday, December 12, NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya and the Board of Commissioners announced December 26 as the date for the runoff election after the stay order was lifted by the Supreme Court. The Legislature, as the first branch of government, has the authority to make laws, make representation and exercise oversight. The Legislature also signs resolutions to make laws and the joint resolution of the Legislature is to propose constitutional amendments. This resolution and other resolutions require a two-thirds affirmative vote in each house, and are not submitted to the President. Liberia Observer

The Trials of Jacob Zuma
Many people who know him talk of Zuma’s extravagant charm. I remember watching him gleefully bounding on to a stage, one cold night in central Johannesburg in April 2009, to celebrate the election victory that had just elevated him to the post once occupied by President Nelson Mandela. His laughter, his dance moves, his raucous singing – all seemed to promise a new era of confidence and energy for a country finally being led by “one of us” – a charismatic, salt-of-the-earth man rather than his predecessor, the elitist “professor” Thabo Mbeki. Flawed, yes, the cheering crowds might have conceded. But aren’t we all? Today, after eight years as South Africa’s leader, and 10 years in charge of the governing ANC, Jacob Zuma’s laughter has turned against him. To many in this country it has become a jarring, charmless cliche – the hollow mirth of a man whose presidency is widely blamed for the corruption, misrule and economic stagnation that now afflict a nation. BBC

Nelson Mandela’s Family Voice Dismay at Funeral Corruption Claims
Nelson Mandela’s family have expressed “indignation and dismay” at allegations that officials stole and misspent more than £16m intended for memorial events after the anti-apartheid leader’s death in 2013. South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog said last week it had found evidence that millions of dollars disappeared during preparations for Mandela’s memorial and funeral. Officials are alleged to have inflated costs, awarded tenders fraudulently and generally mismanaged the state occasion, which was attended by leaders from around the world. Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, said on Wednesday that the family had reacted with “utter indignation and dismay” to the allegations. The Guardian

US Homeland Security Team in Chad After Travel Ban
A US government delegation is visiting Chad, one of six mainly-Muslim countries affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban, in order to assess passport security, a foreign ministry official said on Thursday. The Department of Homeland Security team “has been in Chad for the past week” to evaluate “relative weaknesses” in Chadian passports, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Their concern is that the Chadian passport is not biometric, even though it is secure,” the source said. “Their report will determine whether the measure (travel ban) affecting Chad will be lifted.” Chad features alongside Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen on the list of mainly Muslim countries whose citizens are banned from travelling to the United States. France 24

Tunisia’s Nobel Prize-Winning Trade Unions Are Holding the Country Back
Residents of Tataouine, on the edge of the Sahara, think it ought to be a boomtown. The dusty city is close to Tunisia’s oil and gas reserves. But firms do most of their recruiting elsewhere and send their profits away. The local unemployment rate is more than twice the national average of 13%. In April job-seeking protesters shut the main oil pipeline and briefly halted work on Nawara, a big gasfield. Youssef Chahed, the prime minister, was booed off the stage at a town-hall meeting. So the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the country’s largest, stepped in to mediate. In June it announced a deal: the state would hire another 3,000 workers from the region. The concession ended the protests. But it was bad policy. The state oil company is already an inefficient mess. Over the past decade its production has fallen by 29%, even though its workforce has grown by 14%. Under the agreement, the government urged private oil and gas firms to hire 1,500 locals, but they do not need the workers either. Even Nawara, a project that is expected to increase Tunisia’s annual gas production by 25% starting next year, requires only about 200 full-time employees. The Economist



Photo: Adam Jones