Africa Media Review for February 2, 2018

Namibia Facing Financial Ruin
[…] According to Namibian economic expert, Henning Melber, the current economic crisis is a combination of unfortunate external factors, as well as domestic economic mismanagement. Namibia has long had a reputation for being a stable, democratic and mineral-rich nation. But Melber points out that the situation today is the result of events and actions taken over recent years. “It’s clearly an indication that the government continues to face a strong economic crisis and is not able to mobilize funds to enhance growth by investing in infrastructure,” he said. Speaking with DW, Melber outlined the main factors that led to the current crisis. For example, the drought across southern Africa, which is a result of the El Nino weather effect in the region, has been disastrous for the Namibian economy. Deutsche Welle

Namibia: Army Too Broke to Feed Soldiers – Report
Thousands of army personnel staying at the seven bases around the country will be forced to take leave with effect from next month. Those who are already on leave have been asked not to report for duty since the army can no longer afford to feed them as well as food the water and electricity bills. The defence ministry was allocated N$5,6 billion of the national budget for the 2017/2018 financial year. This was less than the N$5,9 billion they had received in the 2016/2017 financial year. The auditor-general’s report for the financial year ended 31 March 2016 stated that the defence ministry had returned N$370 million to the treasury. The defence ministry’s acting public relations head, major Petrus Shilumbu, yesterday confirmed that some personnel would be sent on leave. The Namibian

Migrant Crisis: Scores Feared Drowned off Libyan Coast
Ninety migrants are feared drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, says the UN’s migration agency. Three survivors said most of those who drowned were Pakistani nationals. Libya has for years been a major transit route for migrants trying to reach southern Europe by sea. But last year the EU reached a controversial deal to provide help to the Libyan coastguard in order to stop the flow of boats carrying migrants and refugees to Italy. BBC

East Libyan Groups Targeting Displaced Families, Preventing Returns: HRW
Armed groups, some linked with prominent Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, are preventing thousands of displaced families from returning to the eastern city of Benghazi, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published on Thursday. Groups affiliated to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) have seized property from displaced families, and tortured, abducted or arrested people who tried to resist, HRW said it had heard from their relatives. The LNA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last month, Haftar issued a statement denouncing attacks on private property and calling for LNA forces to help the displaced return. The LNA prevailed last year in a long military campaign against Islamists and other opponents of Haftar for control of Benghazi. Haftar has emerged as the dominant figure in eastern Libya and is a likely presidential candidate in elections that the United Nations says it wants to hold by the end of the year. Reuters

DRC: Kabila Will Name Successor Candidate by July
A spokesman for the Democratic Republic of Congo says President Joseph Kabila intends to respect the constitution and relinquish power after elections scheduled for December. Speaking to VOA’s French to Africa language service, Lambert Mende said despite delays the government is finishing voter registration in remote areas of the country and is on track to hold elections according to the timetable set by the electoral commission. He added Kabila does not intend to seek reelection, and will announce in July his choice of a candidate to compete in the December poll. According to the country’s constitution, the president can not seek a third consecutive term in office. VOA

Congo on Collision Course with Miners over Tax Rises
The Democratic Republic of Congo is heading for a stand-off with some of the world’s largest mining companies after legislators passed a revised mining law that is set to increase taxes on cobalt, an important metal for electric vehicle batteries. Under the amended legislation, royalties for cobalt could rise from 2 per cent to 10 per cent just as global carmakers look to secure supplies of the metal to meet ambitious targets for production of electric vehicles. The law, which parliament passed at the weekend, also sets higher tax rates for copper and gold in the resource-rich country. The chief executives of Glencore, the Swiss-based commodities group, and Randgold, the UK-listed gold miner, have both travelled to the DRC to oppose the new law, which still has to be signed by President Joseph Kabila. Financial Times

US Expresses Grave Concerns about Kenyan’s ‘Self-Inauguration’
The United States expressed grave concerns Thursday about Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga’s “self-inauguration” and rejected actions that undermine Kenya’s Constitution and the rule of law, while urging the government to respect freedom of expression and implement court orders calling for restoration of television broadcasts. Odinga took the oath of “president” in a mock inauguration on January 30, a symbolic move in defiance of last year’s controversial election and of authorities. The government responded to Tuesday’s mock inauguration by declaring the opposition movement a criminal organization and ordering the TV stations to stop broadcasting. In a statement, the State Department recognized Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s president-elect, while expressing deep concern about action by Kenyatta’s government “to shut down, intimidate and restrict the media.”  VOA

Kenya TV Channels Still off Air despite Court Order
Three of Kenya’s largest private TV channels remain off the air, despite an order by the country’s High Court suspending a shutdown. The government cut off KTN, NTV, and Citizen TV over plans to broadcast opposition leader Raila Odinga’s unofficial “inauguration” on Tuesday. The court suspended the ban for 14 days while the case is heard. There is no sign the government will comply with the court ruling, the BBC’s Gladys Kigo reports from Nairobi. Mr Odinga lost last year’s election and his “swearing-in” was widely seen as a publicity stunt, but the authorities said it was an act of treason. BBC

Central African Republic Rebels Allow Return of State Officials
An armed group in the Central African Republic said it will allow some state officials to return to the territory it controls in the northeast, signaling its willingness to join the disarmament process in the war-torn nation. The mainly Muslim group, known by its acronym FPRC, will give access to military prefects so that “the suffering” of the population in the Vakaga prefecture can be alleviated as state authority is gradually restored, according to a statement signed by its leader, Noureddine Adam. The prefects can be accompanied by two bodyguards each. The FPRC, which is active near Chad and Sudan after having been pushed out from the main diamond-mining area last year, is ready to join the disarmament program, the statement said. Bloomberg

Tanzanian President Accuses Judges of Graft, Seeks Reforms
Tanzanian President John Magufuli said the country’s judiciary needs to reform as he accused some judges and other law enforcement agency officials of being corrupt. In an emailed statement issued by the presidency on Thursday, Magufuli said some judges are often living lifestyles that they shouldn’t be able to afford and that Chief Justice Ibrahim Hamis Juma has to investigate the problem. He also accused the police, an anti-graft body and prosecuting authority of failing to hold employees accountable. “A lot of them ask to go for holidays abroad,” Magufuli said in the statement, commenting on judges who apply to him for leave. “I know how much a judge’s salary is, and to tell the truth I look at where they go and the hotel they’re staying at, how expensive it is. Mr Chief Justice, follow up on this.”  Bloomberg

Zimbabwe Opposition Leader ‘Attacked’ on Campaign Trail
Former Zimbabwean vice-president Joice Mujuru has been attacked while holding a political rally, her party says. The opposition National People’s Party said Mrs Mujuru and several others were assaulted with rocks while campaigning in a suburb of the capital, Harare. At least eight people are injured, a party spokesman told the BBC, but Mrs Mujuru’s injuries are not serious. Her party alleges the attack was politically motivated, and carried out by members of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Zimbabwe has undergone rapid political change in the past year, with the departure of former president Robert Mugabe in November, after 37 years in power. BBC

Legal Questions Raised about Nigeria’s Extradition of Cameroonian Separatists
The Nigerian authorities extradited 47 Cameroonian Anglophone separatists this week to face charges in Yaoundé where the government has described them as “terrorists”. Concerns have been raised by lawyers about the legality of such an extradition given the lack of any specific treaty between the two countries and outstanding requests made by the separatists for political asylum. “I’ve not really found any particular extradition treaty between Nigeria and Cameroon,” Abiola Olagunju, Secretary General, Nigerian Bar Association, told RFI. “The nearest one that we have is the charter for the Lake Chad basin that was signed by the president in 2017.” RFI

South Sudan Rebels Vow ‘Guerrilla War’ If Peace Talks Fail
South Sudan’s opposition is threatening to resort to “guerrilla warfare” if peace talks in Ethiopia fail in the coming days as government forces advance on remaining rebel strongholds in the fifth year of civil war. “We will keep fighting from the bush by using insurgencies and tactical strategies,” James Otong, general deputy commander for the armed opposition, told The Associated Press during a visit to the rebel-held town of Akobo, near the Ethiopian border. Untold tens of thousands of people have been killed since the world’s youngest nation plunged into civil war in late 2013. The United Nations on Thursday warned that the number of South Sudanese refugees could exceed 3 million by the end of the year — Africa’s largest refugee crisis since Rwanda’s genocide in 1994. VOA

Algeria Says Al-Qaeda Propagandist Killed by Army
The Algerian army has killed a senior official of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in an operation in the northeast of the country, officials said on Wednesday. Adel Seghiri – also known as Abu Ruwaha al-Qasantini – was among those running the group’s Al-Andalus media wing responsible for putting out videos and statements. The army said it killed “two dangerous terrorists” in the Jijel region, 400km east of the capital Algiers. The defence ministry and security sources said the propaganda boss – reportedly among the 40 most wanted “terrorists” in Algeria – was one of those killed. AFP

US Designates Egypt-Based HASM and Liwa Al-Thawra as Terrorist Groups
The US Department of State announced terrorism designations today against Harakat Sawa’id Misr (HASM) and Liwa al-Thawra, two Islamist groups active in Egypt with suspected ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. HASM and Liwa al-Thawra were formed in 2015 and 2016, respectively, after the overthrow of the former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013. The two groups have targeted Egyptian police, military forces, and government officials. HASM has also threatened to attack the US Embassy in Cairo. HASM, which is the Arabic acronym for the Forearms of Egypt Movement, claimed the responsibility for the assassination of Egyptian National Security Agency officer Ibrahim Azzazy, as well as the attempted assassination of Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. The terrorist group also claimed responsibility for a Sept. 30, 2017 attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo. Long War Journal

French Leader in Senegal on Three-Day Official Visit
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Dakar for a three-day official visit to Senegal, during which he will take part in the 3rd Global Partnership for Education fund-raising conference. The Global Education Conference in Dakar, to be co-chaired by Sall and Macron, is under way at the President Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre in Diamnaidor just outside Dakar. The Global Education Conference meeting will be officially opened this Friday, and will see the participation of nine African heads of state. Chad’s Idriss Deby, Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou, Central African Republic’s Faustin-Archange Touadera, and Mali’s Ibrahim Boubacar Keita arrived Thursday in the Senegalese capital.  APA



Photo: Adam Jones