Africa Media Review for February 14, 2018

ANC Caucus Agrees to Pass Motion of No Confidence against Zuma
The ANC parliamentary caucus on Wednesday agreed to table a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma on Thursday. ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told journalists on Wednesday that he had informed the caucus of the ANC national executive committee’s decision to recall Zuma‚ after which the meeting had agreed to vote for Zuma’s removal. Mashatile said ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa would then be voted in as state president. Mashatile said Zuma had been given until Wednesday to submit his resignation letter. “We can no longer wait beyond today. President Zuma might respond later but we can’t keep South Africans waiting‚” said Mashatile. Times Live

South Africa’s Zuma Crisis: Gupta Home Raided by Police
South Africa’s elite police unit has raided the controversial Gupta business family’s home, as pressure increases on President Jacob Zuma to resign. Three arrests have been made, including one Gupta brother, local media report. Police say two other people are expected to hand themselves in. It comes as Mr Zuma’s own party gave him until the end of the day to stand down, or face a no-confidence vote. His links to the Guptas are one of the reasons he is being forced to resign. BBC

Congo Violence Forces over 22,000 to Flee to Uganda
Over 22,000 people fled Congo to Uganda last week following a surge of ethnic violence in the northeast, raising the total number of arrivals to about 34,000 since the start of the year, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. At least 30 people have been killed in fighting between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in the province of Ituri this month, echoing clashes that killed thousands of Hema and Lendu during a civil war that ended in 2003. “We have seen in the last weeks that on average around 3,000 people are fleeing [Ituri] per day,” said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch during a press briefing in Geneva, adding that thousands remained stranded on the Congolese shores of Lake Albert, which marks the border with Uganda. Reuters

Shekau Flees in Hijab as Nigeria Army Clears Key Boko Haram Base
Nigerian army on Tuesday reported significant gains in its fight against Boko Haram insurgents in the country’s northeast Borno State. The Army said it had cleared out a key base of the insurgent group, Sabil Huda, located in the Sambisa forest – the last known hideout of the insurgents the army has said. In the process, the Army rescued 46 captives held by the insurgents in its Operation Deep Punch aimed at clearing remnants of Boko Haram elements. Africa News

US ‘Extends Sanctions against Zim’, Says New Govt Is a ‘Product of a Military Coup’
The United States has reportedly added more Zimbabweans to its sanctions list, with the possibility of a review after elections in July.  According to NewsDay, highly placed government sources said that the US sent a diplomatic note to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo two weeks ago saying that although it recognised the authorities in Harare, it would extend sanctions.   The report said that the sanctions were believed to include ministers who were sworn in recently to join President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet.  The US also made it clear that Mnangagwa’s administration was a “product of a military coup”.  “The US is very clear that Mnangagwa came to power through a coup although the authorities in Harare have done everything in their power to avoid this word (coup).  News 24

UN Experts Say Political Settlement in Libya ‘Out of Reach’
U.N. experts say “a political solution in Libya remains out of reach in the near future.” The panel of experts said in the summary of a report to the Security Council obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that despite U.N. efforts to overcome the current stalemate “military dynamics in Libya and conflicting regional agendas show a lack of commitment to a peaceful solution.” Libya plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It is now split between rival governments in the east and the west, each backed by an array of militias. In December, the United Nations said it was “intensively trying to establish the proper political, legislative and security conditions for elections to be held before the end of 2018.”  AP

Egypt’s Army Kills 10, Arrests 400 in Sinai Operation – State TV
Egyptian security forces killed 10 militants in an exchange of fire and arrested 400 suspects, including foreigners, in a continuing crackdown in Sinai, the army said in a statement carried by state TV on Tuesday. Based on army statements, around 38 militants have been killed since the latest offensive to crush insurgents blamed for a string of attacks began. Egypt launched a major security operation on Friday involving the army and police against “terrorist and criminal elements and organisations” across the country, according to the army spokesman. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is seeking re-election in March, ordered the armed forces in November to defeat militants within three months after an attack on a mosque killed more than 300 people, the deadliest such violence in the Arab world’s most populous country. Reuters

Kenya’s Attorney General Resigns, Says Kenyatta
Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai has resigned, President Uhuru Kenyatta said without explanation on Tuesday, adding he had nominated a replacement. In a post on his Twitter feed, Kenyatta said he had accepted Muigai’s resignation as Attorney General, the official title of the chief legal adviser to the government. Muigai was appointed as part of reforms to boost confidence in Kenya’s judiciary after a new constitution was enacted in 2010. In December, Muigai said an attempt by veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga to “swear” himself in as president would be regarded as treason. Reuters

Sudan Says Border with South Was Opened for First Time Post-Secession
Sudan’s government said it opened a border point for trade with South Sudan for the first time since southern independence in 2011, a step that could ease economic troubles in both African nations. The crossing between Sudan’s White Nile state and South Sudan’s Upper Nile region opened Tuesday, Trade Minister Hatem Elsir told reporters in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The two countries have several times announced plans to allow such crossings, but only permitted the delivery of humanitarian aid to the south, which is mired in a four-year civil war. Bloomberg

South Sudan Rebels Seek Help to Quash Machar’s Spokesman Death Penalty
South Sudanese rebels are seeking the intervention of the region and international community to help quash a death penalty handed to a top rebel official. James Gatdet Dak was sentenced to death on February 12 for treason. The Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), the main rebel group led by Dr Riek Machar, accuses the Juba government of violating the latest ceasefire agreement, signed on December 21 last year, that provided for release of political detainees. Mr Dak is a former spokesperson of Dr Machar. The East African

Oxfam Faces New Sex Abuse Allegations in South Sudan
Scandal-hit British charity Oxfam was reeling Tuesday after fresh claims of sexual assault and cover-up in South Sudan, as Haiti’s president condemned the behaviour of some of its staff in his country as “undignified and dishonest”. Helen Evans, former global head of safeguarding, also warned of assaults on children volunteering in Oxfam’s hundreds of high-street charity shops in Britain. She accused senior managers of failing to act, heaping pressure on chief executive Mark Goldring just hours after his deputy resigned over a scandal involving aid workers’ use of prostitutes in Haiti and Chad. France 24

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Ibrahim Prize’s Exceptional Problem
[…] In 12 years, just five African presidents have made the cut. This week, Liberia’s former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the latest to receive the prestigious award, which comes with prize money in excess of $5-million. But most years there is no former African head of state that comes close to meeting the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s strict criteria. Not only must a president have been elected democratically and left office within their constitutionally-mandated terms, but she must also have demonstrated “exceptional leadership” during her tenure. In the barren years, when there is no prize winner, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation risks reinforcing the same negative stereotypes that the prize was designed to combat: that there is no such thing as good African leadership; that the continent is home to more dictators than democrats. Mail and Guardian

No December Election without Voting Machines: DRC Poll Chief
Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-delayed election due on December 23 to choose a successor to long-serving ruler Joseph Kabila will not take place without electronic voting machines, the poll chief said on Tuesday “Without voting machines, there will be no elections on December 23, 2018,” election commission head Corneille Nangaa said. The threat came a day after the United States, France, Britain and four other UN Security Council members called on Kabila to publicly declare that he will not run for election this year. Washington separately asked Kinshasa to scrap plans to use electronic voting for the first time in elections this year, saying it risked undermining the credibility of the historic polls. AFP

Ethiopia Frees Opposition Leader amid Protests
Ethiopia released a senior opposition leader from prison on Tuesday and dropped all charges against him, a day after demonstrators blocked roads and staged rallies in several towns to protest against his incarceration. Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 after mass protests broke out in the Oromiya region over accusations that farmers were being forced to sell land with scant compensation. He had been held initially on terrorism charges, which were later reduced to charges of incitement to violence. “He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership told Reuters. Reuters

Chinese-Built Military Training Centre Opens in Tanzania
Tanzanian President John Magafuli has opened a Chinese-built training centre for the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF). The Comprehensive Training Centre (CTC) was officially opened during a ceremony on 6 February at Mapinga in Bagamoyo District, Coast Region. It was attended by Chinese ambassador Wang Ke. According to the Presidency, the Sh67.87 billion ($30 million) Centre was built with the assistance of China’s People’s Liberation Army and will be used to provide modern training to the TPDF. The Centre will provide training to counter current and future threats, the Presidency said. During the opening ceremony, Magafuli witnessed demonstrations that included an amphibious landing and counter-terrorism operations. DefenceWeb

South Africa Declares Drought a National Disaster
South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicting southern and western regions including Cape Town, though the city pushed back its “Day Zero”, the date when its taps are expected to run dry. Running water in the port city of 4 million has been affected by a wider pattern of climate change seen around the country including the Western Cape, where Cape Town is located, the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. Supplies have yet to recover from an El Nino-triggered drought that began two years ago and is now raising the risk of a shortage that could hit industrial and agricultural output. Reuters

Zimbabwe: Poachers Wield Cyanide as New Weapon against Elephants
The poaching of elephants on the continent has dramatically increased, with poachers increasingly turning to poison instead of using their noisy rifles as police and park rangers increase joint patrols. In Zimbabwe there is now deep concern that the use of cyanide represents a new and particularly damaging technique in the already soaring poaching trade. The southern African country’s Parks rangers are on high alert after they found four areas in the Hwange National Park contaminated with cyanide, The Chronicle reports. Conservationists fear such incidents are escalating, saying relatively easy access to agricultural chemicals and the surging illegal market for animal parts are increasing pressure on a number of already beleaguered species. allAfrica



Photo: Adam Jones