Africa Media Review for December 20, 2017

The ANC Elective Conference and the Struggle for South Africa’s Future
South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to succeed outgoing party leader President Jacob Zuma at the African National Congress (ANC) National Conference December 18. This was one of the closest-fought party elections in the ANC’s history, one that saw months of legal challenges and allegations of fraud and intimidation. Backed by the reformist wing of the party, Ramaphosa is a former trade unionist and was Nelson Mandela’s right-hand man as ANC’s chief negotiator in the talks that ended apartheid. He is also one of the architects of South Africa’s constitution and has led South African conflict resolution efforts for Burundi, Lesotho, South Sudan, and the Israeli-Palestinian process. He was pitted against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife who is a party heavyweight and former chairperson of the African Union Commission. She is seen as representing a continuation of the Zuma legacy. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Ramaphosa’s ‘Poisoned Chalice’: New ANC Leader May Struggle to Reform South Africa
When Cyril Ramaphosa won the tight vote to become the new leader of the African National Congress on Monday after years of near-misses, his loyal supporters jumped to their feet, pumping their fists and cheering. But as the results for other top positions emerged, the cheers quickly evaporated, as it became clear that ANC officials close to President Jacob Zuma would still control important levers of the ruling party. Ramaphosa, who has served as South Africa’s deputy president under Zuma since 2014, narrowly defeated former cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife and preferred successor, in the race for the ANC’s top job. Ramaphosa is now within touching distance of becoming president, fulfilling a lifelong ambition for the man Nelson Mandela wanted to be his heir after the end of apartheid in 1994. Reuters

Will Jacob Zuma Be Ousted as South Africa’s President?
Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s scandal-hit president, may not see out his second term now that the governing African National Congress (ANC) party has elected Cyril Ramaphosa its leader. For the last few years Mr Ramaphosa has been Mr Zuma’s deputy, but their relationship has been an uneasy one. Mr Ramaphosa ran on an anti-corruption ticket, and many believe this means he is much more likely to make sure allegations of corruption against Mr Zuma are pursued. BBC

Cameroon Villages Burned after Separatist Attacks
Several villages are said to have been set ablaze in Cameroon’s English speaking southwestern town of Mamfe after armed separatists attacked military installations and killed four soldiers. The Cameroon government says it has seized three of the armed separatists’ training camps. Cameroon communication minister and government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma says for the past two weeks, military and armed separatist groups have been involved in bloody conflicts in the English speaking southwestern town of Mamfe on the border with Nigeria. “Several suspects have been arrested, large quantities of war and hunting weapons as well as hundreds of military ammunition and uniforms have also been seized,” Tchiroma said. “One of those attacks has unfortunately claimed the lives of four of our gendarmes who were cold bloodedly killed this Monday December 18 in Kembong, Eyumojock sub division in Manyu division.” VOA

US Pushing for Uhuru, Raila Talks
The United States is still pushing for dialogue between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga. This is despite threats by the Raila-led National Super Alliance (NASA) to have him sworn in before the end of this year. The US said it would continue championing talks between the Government and the Opposition to make Kenya a “model of dialogue”, even as it urged the former premier to shelve plans of getting sworn in. While praising Raila for his commitment towards political reforms in the country, acting Assistant Secretary for African Donald Yamamoto said Raila’s plan to form a parallel government was unhelpful. Standard Media

South Sudan Army Makes Push against Rebels as Peace Talks Begin
As diplomats began another round of peace talks over the civil war in South Sudan, the country’s military forces captured a rebel headquarters, further weakening the fractured rebel movement and prompting a mobilization of soldiers in a neighboring nation. South Sudan’s army marched Sunday night into the town of Lasu in the country’s southwest, near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The city fell on Monday, according to rebel officials. Lasu was the southern headquarters of the country’s major rebel group, the SPLA-IO, after the fall of its main base in the country’s northeast this summer. Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, insisted that the government was adhering to the unilateral cease-fire that Mr. Kiir had declared in May. The New York Times

South Sudan Faction Declares Ceasefire to Honour Addis Talks
South Sudan’s SPLA-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) has announced a ceasefire as talks on the revitalisation of the peace agreement continue in Ethiopia. Faction leader and First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai said the forces had been instructed to cease hostilities during the talks in Addis Ababa. SPLA-IO spokesman Dickson Gatluak said all their units across the country had been told to suspend military operations. He said the forces in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Equatoria had been instructed to remain in their respective stations in honour of the peace talks. Colonel Gatluak urged the other warring parties to also issue similar orders of restraint to all their forces to give peace a chance. “The other armed forces like the groups led by (Riek) Machar, General (Thomas) Cirilo and others have to make sure they cease the hostilities,” he added. Daily Nation

Somali Refugees in Kenya Caught between Ration Cuts and War at Home
Somali refugees in Kenya are free to choose whether to go home, a top U.N. official said on Tuesday, despite many families saying debts accumulated to feed their children after cuts in rations are forcing them to return to a war zone. In October, a funding crisis forced the U.N. World Food Programme to cut basic food rations and cash in Dadaab camp in northern Kenya, housing nearly 240,000 refugees, by 50 percent. The United Nations said Dadaab suffered because it has been receiving Somalis for more than 25 years. Donors are focused on new conflicts like Syria and South Sudan that are fuelling the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two. Reuters

Somalia: Up to 30 Percent of Soldiers Unarmed
Since September 2017, al-Shabab militants have overrun four Somali government military bases, killing more than 60 soldiers and seizing large quantities of weapons. Now, a military assessment by the Somali government found some of the troops manning these bases are completely unarmed. The “Operational Readiness Assessment” conducted by the government found that approximately 30 percent of the soldiers in the bases do not have weapons. The evaluators said some units also lack medium and heavy weaponry, and some are “undermanned.” On Tuesday, Somali Defense Minister Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman acknowledged the army’s shortcomings. “There are some who are not armed. We are working to complete their equipment but a majority of them have weapons,” he said in an exclusive interview with VOA’s Somali service. VOA

UN to Pursue Rebels Who Killed 14 Peacekeepers in Congo 
The United Nations mission in Congo will pursue the Allied Democratic Forces rebels who killed 14 peacekeepers earlier this month in the single deadliest attack on a peacekeeping mission in nearly 25 years, the U.N. said Tuesday. The Dec. 7 attack on a peacekeeping base also killed at least five Congolese soldiers. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N.’s official death toll is 14 peacekeepers dead and one missing, which has accounted for a shifting death toll. In a new indication of the severity of the hours-long attack, Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the peacekeeping base has been “recovered and reoccupied.” It also is being rebuilt and reinforced, he said on Twitter. VOA

Who Killed U.N. Experts in Congo? Confidential Prosecutor’s File Offers Clues
U.N. investigators Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp were on familiar ground when they sat down with local leaders in central Congo in March to discuss a widening seven-month-old conflict in the area. The pair – experienced members of a panel monitoring the sanctions regime in Democratic Republic of Congo for the U.N. Security Council – were meeting members of the Kamuina Nsapu, a local clan, on the sidelines of peace talks with the government in the city of Kananga. Among other things, they discussed plans to visit the village of Bunkonde, the site of violent clashes, the next day. The two U.N. workers left Kananga on the morning of March 12. On March 27, their bodies were found in a shallow grave. Catalan had been decapitated.  Reuters

Egypt Is Holding at Least 18 Americans Captive. Activists Want the White House to Fight for Their Release
[…] At least 18 Americans are reported to be jailed in Egypt, many of them imprisoned on ‘dubious’ charges, according to U.S. lawmakers. Their families and lawyers are hoping that Pence’s visit provides an opportunity to press the Egyptians for the prisoners’ release, as Trump did when Sisi visited the White House in April. Soon after, Egypt agreed to release U.S. citizen and aid worker Aya Hijazi, who had been detained for three years on child abuse and human-trafficking allegations that were widely dismissed by human-rights groups. Pence was slated to visit the region this month, but the trip was delayed on Monday for the second time, just hours after Egypt called on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that would have rejected Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Every member of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution except for the U.S., which blocked the measure. The White House has said that the timing of Pence’s trip has been in flux due to the possibility that the Vice President may need to provide a tie-breaking vote for the tax bill currently moving through Congress. Time

Al-Bashir Reelection Campaign Launched in Khartoum
The National Initiative of Youth Around the President (NIYAP) on Tuesday has officially launched a campaign to re-nominate President Omer al-Bashir for a third term. Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum Tuesday, the head of the NIYAP’s higher preparatory committee Yasser Mohy al-Din said “there is no alternative to al-Bashir except al-Bashir”. He said al-Bashir is the “nominee for the 2020 elections”, calling on the youth to support the NIYAP campaign. Mohy al-Din added the NIYAP would establish “al-Bashir house” across the Sudanese states and counties to list names of those supporting al-Bashir re-election and assist the poor people. Sudan Tribune

North Africa Braces for Impact as Islamic State Fighters Return
North African officials say a large number of foreign recruits who joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq have returned to their countries and remain loyal to the extremist organization. They fear the returnees are planning to unleash terrorist attacks in the coming months, adding to a jihadist menace that includes well-entrenched al-Qaida affiliates. African Union officials estimate about 6,000 Africans who fought for IS either have returned home already or are en route. Not all will continue with their militancy or engage in insurgency — a large number may have become disillusioned or exhausted by conflict, say analysts. Nonetheless, many will re-engage, adding to alarm over a burgeoning security challenge that was underlined last month in Egypt with a mass bomb-and-gun attack on a mosque in North Sinai that left more than 300 people dead. VOA

Angola’s State Oil Company to Investigate Isabel Dos Santos for Fraud
Angola’s state oil company (Sonagol) has announced an investigation into “possible misappropriation” of funds by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of the former president, during her time as the company’s chief executive. “We have established an internal commission of inquiry to investigate the information published,” Sonangol spokesman Mateus Benza said on Tuesday. “We are verifying possible misappropriation, but I can’t yet confirm anything.”  Africa News

UN Refugee Chief Urges the World to Spend More on Africa
The world must do more to help millions of refugees across sub-Saharan Africa, which hosts more than a quarter of the world’s refugees, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi spoke to reporters while visiting what until recently was the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, in Kenya. “You know, it is very difficult to fund programs in Africa. I am not ashamed to say it,” Grandi said, adding that he fights “all the time” for more aid. Some of the world’s poorest countries, including Uganda and Ethiopia, host hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan and elsewhere. Kenya’s government wants Dadaab, which hosts over 230 000 inhabitants, shut down, but the U.N. is urging patience and says all repatriations must be voluntary. A Kenyan court ruled in February that the government must not close Dadaab to refugees. AP

Zambia’s New Chinese Police Officers Removed after Outcry
Zambia’s police force has scrapped plans to employ eight Chinese nationals barely 24 hours after it unveiled the scheme, following a public outcry. The new reservists were commissioned in the capital, Lusaka, on Monday. But the decision prompted widespread anger, especially in light of a ruling taken earlier this year that bans police officers from marrying foreigners for “security reasons”. Not even Zambians with dual-nationality are allowed to join the police. BBC