Africa Media Review for February 15, 2018

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma Resigns after Pressure from Party
South Africa’s embattled President Jacob Zuma has resigned after intense pressure from his own party. In a televised statement he said he was quitting with immediate effect but said he disagreed with his ANC party’s decision. The ANC had told him to step down or face a vote of no confidence in parliament. The 75-year-old has been facing calls to give way to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s new leader. Mr Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, faces numerous allegations of corruption. BBC

An Elite South African Who Vows to Fight for the Ordinary Citizen
A few months ago, Cyril Ramaphosa, in line to become South Africa’s next president, did what many politicians do at pivotal points in their careers. He released a book. The book told of one of his passions — his love for a Ugandan breed of royal cattle that he imported to South Africa at great expense. Anticipating criticism of his wealth in a country where millions still live in shacks, Mr. Ramaphosa argued at his book launch that the cattle were not meant as trophies for the elite like him, but to help struggling black farmers in South Africa. Now, Mr. Ramaphosa, the former labor leader who Nelson Mandela had hoped would succeed him as president, has an even trickier argument to make as the nation’s next leader. Mr. Ramaphosa is a business tycoon, one of South Africa’s wealthiest men. To many here, he represents a kind of royalty of the African National Congress, an upper class that has grown removed from the average South African that the party still claims to champion. BBC

Jacob Zuma’s Legacy Is a Weakened South Africa
When President Jacob Zuma of South Africa resigned on Wednesday, he did not yield to South Africa’s voters, courts or opposition parties, but to his own party, the African National Congress. Mr. Zuma once said the party was more important than the nation itself, contending that it would govern South Africa until Jesus returned. And during his nearly nine-year presidency that was marred by scandal, corruption and mismanagement, A.N.C. officials had repeatedly rallied behind him as their leader. In the end, though, his party turned against him, asking him to step down a full year and a half before the end of his second term. Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president and A.N.C. leader, is now acting president. The New York Times

Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai, ‘Icon and Fighter for Democracy’, Dies at 65
Elias Mudzuri, vice-president of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) party which Tsvangirai, 65, had led, announced Tsvangirai’s death on Twitter: “As you are aware that our MDC-T President, Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai has not been feeling well for some time, it is sad for me to announce that we have lost our icon and fighter for democracy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, the party and the nation at this hour.” Tsvangirai will be remembered most for bravely fighting and very nearly unseating his arch-enemy Mugabe in 2008 when he polled more than the recently ousted ruler in presidential by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF. But he will also leave a legacy of bitter divisions in MDC-T as he had no succession plans, observers said. Daily Maverick

Fighting between Rwanda, Congolese Troops in Eastern DRC
Heavy fighting broke out between the Rwandan and Congolese military in troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after an incursion by Rwandan troops, according to a Congolese army spokesman. Investigations are under way to see if the clashes occurred because of a problem with border demarcation. The fighting occurred on Tuesday “on Congolese soil” close to the Rwandan border at the foot of Mount Nikeno in North Kivu province, Major Guillaume Djike told AFP. A senior officer in the DRC army, on condition of anonymity, told AFP: “There have been deaths on both sides.”  AFP

UK Freezes $803M in Assets under Congo Sanctions
The British government said it has frozen 803 million dollars (580 million pounds) in assets held by several dozen militia leaders, army officers and private organisations with ties to Democratic Republic of Congo. The freezing of assets were mandated by the EU as part of a sanctions regime imposed by the UN. They represent a hefty sum in Democratic Republic of Congo, which has an annual gross domestic product of about 30 billion dollars and a budget of five billion dollars. The figure was published on the UK parliament website on Monday by Economic Secretary John Glen in response to a Member of Parliament’s question about sanctions imposed on Congo. Vanguard

As Nigeria’s Regional Task Force Strengthens, Pressure Mounts on Boko Haram
On February 2, more than two dozen Boko Haram fighters emerged from a hideout in Sambisa Forest and surrendered to authorities. Their defections were a key victory for Nigerian forces and regional allies in their battle against the diminished, but still deadly, terrorist group. Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas of the Nigerian Army told VOA’s Hausa service that he believes there are more defections to come. “Now they have repented. They surrendered voluntarily. They are now with us. We have provided them with clothes to wear, food to eat and drugs for their health,” said Nicholas, the theater commander for Operation Lafiya Dole, Nigeria’s effort to defeat Boko Haram. VOA

French Forces Kill at Least 10 Jihadists in Mali: Military Sources
French air power on Wednesday killed at least 10 jihadists in northeast Mali near the border with Algeria, local and foreign military sources said. “French forces on Wednesday led at least one raid near Tinzaouatene, at the Algerian border, against the terrorists,” a local Malian military source told AFP. “There were at least 10 deaths and two vehicles were destroyed.” The offensive was part of France’s Operation Barkhane, active in Mali as well as four other former French colonies in west Africa – Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. These countries form the so-called G5 Sahel, a French-supported group that launched a joint military force to combat jihadism last year.  AFP

Libyan Army Says to Sign Deal to Unify Military Establishment
Libya’s eastern-based army spokesman Ahmad Mismari said Wednesday that an agreement will be signed soon to unify the military establishment in Libya under Egyptian auspices. “The meetings to unify the military establishment will continue tomorrow in Cairo, to complete the final consultations in particular,” Mismari said in a press conference in Benghazi, eastern Libya. “We have agreed on most of the items related to the structure and unification of the military establishment in all Libya. We agreed on the structure and formation of defense and national security councils and the general command,” Mismari said, adding that the Egyptian-brokered agreement would be signed soon. Xinhua

Ethiopia Releases High Profile Political Prisoners
Ethiopia has released opposition leaders, journalists and protesters from its notorious prisons. Many have also had the charges against them dropped and are calling for the release of those still in jail. Journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage walked free on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. A day earlier, Bekele Gerba of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) was set free. They are the most prominent political prisoners to be freed this week, in which the government promised to release over 700 prisoners. “Many well-known people who fought and struggled for freedom and defended their country are still in prison, still suffering and crying,” said Bekele Gerba speaking exclusively to DW after his release. Since the start of the year, Ethiopia’s regime has released over 6,000 political prisoners and state prosecutors dropped the charges against many of them. Deutsche Welle

Burundi Police Threaten Opposition to Constitution Change
Police in Burundi have threatened to arrest anyone campaigning prematurely against a referendum to revise the constitution, which if passed could allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in power until 2034. Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye issued the warning to anyone who might “try to impede this process… especially to the youth who are deceived by some politicians.” The video warning was posted on the website of the national radio and television broadcaster on Tuesday. All opposition parties are opposed to the referendum in May on changes that they say might be a death warrant for the Arusha peace accord of 2000, which helped end a 1993-2006 civil war in which more than 300,000 people died. AFP

South Sudan Gov’t Delegation Demands Direction Talks without Mediation
The delegation of the government at the peace talks has asked the mediation team to allow them to hold direct talks with representatives of various opposition without the mediation. Government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth said through statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation that holding direct discussion was necessary because there are issues which could be discussed without the participation of the mediation team because it is the same people who would eventually agree to reach the agreement being mediated by the third party. The minister said South Sudanese should welcome and appreciate what he described a positive move and a sign that he hopes would encouraging parties to stop doing blame game and can come up with they can resolve some contentious matters to end suffering and killing in the country. Sudan Tribune

General Strike in Public Services Paralyzes Algeria
Public service labour unions have gone on strike in Algeria, paralyzed education, health, vocational training and the telecommunications industries. Meziane Meriane, the head of the SNPEST teachers union, denounced workers’ sinking purchasing power and told The Associated Press the protests on Wednesday aimed to force the government to begin negotiations on “urgent pay rises.” Most schools in Algiers, the capital, were shut down amid the strike, there were long queues at hospitals and people struggled to withdraw money at cash machines. At the Emir Abdelkader high school, a huge banner criticizing the government was hung. AP

Zambia President’s ‘Not to over Steal’ Advice Backfires
President Edgar Lungu’s advice to his ministers “not to over steal” from the government coffers has landed him in a tight spot with critics accusing him of taking a casual approach to corruption in Zambia. Lungu used the idiomatic expression “not to over steal” while speaking in the local language Bemba — one of the 10 official languages of the country — during a fundraiser in Kitwe city, located some 375 kilometers (233 miles) from capital Lusaka, on Feb. 10. Political parties and a consortium of civil society organizations told journalists in separate briefings Wednesday the president’s attitude towards abuse of public funds was actually one of the major factors of rising corruption. Anadolu Agency

Drought Forces Mozambique Capital to Ration Water
Mozambique authorities on Wednesday introduced water rationing to more than a million residents in the capital Maputo due to a severe drought. The city is cutting the water supply to consumers to just 40% of normal levels, Casimiro Abreu, deputy director of the National Emergency Centre said in a statement. About 1.3 million people in Maputo and its surroundings are affected by the restrictions, raising fears of disease outbreaks. “Diarrhoeal diseases including cholera are likely to occur in some neighbourhoods where populations will resort to unsafe sources; there,” said Abreu. Low rainfall over the past three years has left a dam that supplies the city with most of its water to just 19% of capacity. News 24

Mayotte: The French Migration Frontline You’ve Never Heard Of
[…] Mayotte was once one of the four main islands in the Comoros, all under French control. But during the decolonisation period in the 1970s, it alone voted to join Paris rather than an independent Comoros, splitting the archipelago. Despite its far-flung location and Comorian claims to the island, Mayotte has most of the trappings and advantages of an official French department – including membership of the EU. So, just as migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, Comorians cross a thin strip of the Mozambique Channel to reach Mayotte and the chance of a better life, usually on small kwassa kwassa fishing boats. IRIN

The UN Just Released the Most Comprehensive Report on Gender Equality around the World
Gender equality is a catalyst for social progress. Thanks to a new report from the UN, we now have the data to prove it. The rubric for the release of this report by is the Sustainable Development Goals, which is the UN’s guiding global development blueprint. The SDGs, as they are known, was created in 2015 with goals to achieve by 2030. The international community signed on to a daunting task when it set out to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This report contends that prioritizing gender equality can accelerate progress toward all 17 goals. Using the most recently available data, a team of researchers looked at how gender equality – an SDG in its own right – intersects with all the other goals. They also assessed the current state of gender equality in those dimensions as well as the kind of policy, financing and accountability measures needed to turn goals into reality. UN Dispatch



Photo: Adam Jones