Africa Media Review for February 4, 2020

In Historic Decision, Malawi Annuls Presidential Election
Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika, is to face new elections following a unanimous decision by the country’s Constitutional Court to nullify his re-election last year. The court has ordered that a new election be held within 150 days. “We hold that the first respondent was not duly elected as president of Malawi. As a result, we hereby order the nullification of the elections,” said Judge President Healey Potani. There were jubilant scenes in the capital Lilongwe as youths and motorists celebrated the historic verdict. This is only the second time in Africa’s history that a judicial intervention has overturned an incumbent’s election victory (the first was in Kenya in 2017). The five judges – who had complained of attempts to bribe them before their verdict was delivered – said that Mutharika’s victory in May 2019 was marred by serious irregularities and failed to meet various constitutional tests. The court found that some results sheets were altered using the correction fluid Tippex, and that others had been faked or duplicated. It said that the Malawi Electoral Commission had discharged its duties with negligence and contrary to the constitution of the country. Mail & Guardian

Daniel Arap Moi, Who Ruled Kenya for Decades, Dies at 95
Daniel arap Moi, the autocratic president of Kenya from 1978 to 2002, who ruled his East African nation in a postcolonial era of political repression, economic stagnation and notorious corruption, but in the end gave up power peacefully, died on Tuesday at Nairobi Hospital in the capital. He was 95. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who announced the death, declared a period of national mourning and said Mr. Moi would receive a state funeral. His statement did not specify a cause of death. Fifteen years after Kenya won independence from Britain in 1963, Mr. Moi became president on the death of Jomo Kenyatta, the country’s founding father. Mr. Moi, a former schoolteacher and national legislator, had been a handpicked vice president and served in Mr. Kenyatta’s long shadow. Unlike the imperial Mr. Kenyatta, who governed behind closed doors, Mr. Moi traveled the country, courting its ethnic and tribal groups and gaining wide popularity. He introduced free milk for children, and pledged to do away with endemic graft and elevate Kenya’s struggling tourism-and-agriculture economy. He won Western support with anticommunist policies during the Cold War. But after suppressing opposition and consolidating power in a single-party state, he began a 24-year dictatorial reign. The New York Times

South African Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Ex-Leader Zuma
A judge in South Africa issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for former president Jacob Zuma for failing to appear in court on a corruption case that he has sought to avoid for months – now by asserting that he is ill. The National Prosecuting Authority requested the warrant, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported. The warrant does not come into effect until the case resumes on May 6. Reports have said Zuma is in Cuba seeking treatment. The NPA requested Zuma’s medical records as evidence of his claim, the state broadcaster reported. State advocate Billy Downer told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that Zuma’s team has said he will be out of the country for treatment until mid-March, local media reported. Zuma’s legal team asserted that the former president had two operations in early January before going abroad. But the judge questioned a letter from a military hospital in the capital, Pretoria, explaining Zuma’s absence, noting it had no date. … A court late last year dismissed Zuma’s attempt to appeal a ruling that cleared the way for him to be prosecuted. He is accused of receiving bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales through his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of fraud and corruption in 2005. AP

Climate Change, Wars, Poverty Stall AU Target to Silence Guns by December
Unemployment, poverty, climate change, conflict over natural resources and bad governance are some of the challenges Africa must overcome if it is to meet the goal of silencing the guns by December 2020. The African Union – which launched the Silencing the Guns 2020 initiative seven years ago – is optimistic that there has been notable progress in ending the many civil wars across the continent, but there are doubts whether all of them will come to a stop by December. Continued conflicts in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Libya, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan’s Darfur region, and war against terrorists in Somalia, Mali and Niger still remain the main challenges to the initiative. According to the AU Master Roadmap for Silencing the Guns, most crises and violent conflicts are being driven by poverty, economic hardships, violation or manipulation of constitutions, violation of human rights, exclusion, inequalities, marginalisation and mismanagement of the continent’s rich ethnic diversity, as well as external interference in African affairs. The East African

The UN Security Council on Friday renewed the arms embargo against the Central African Republic (CAR) and extended the mandate of the expert panel assisting its sanctions committee for the country. Thirteen of the 15 Council members voted in favour of the resolution, with China and Russia abstaining. The resolution prohibits the supply, sale or transfer of weapons, ammunition and military equipment to the country, including vehicles. Items for the UN peacekeeping operation there, MINUSCA, and European and French forces deployed on training missions, are exempt. Despite the signing of a peace deal between the Government and 14 armed groups last February, the CAR continues to experience violence and insecurity. The resolution was sponsored by France, and renews the arms embargo through the end of July, with the expert mandate expiring the following month. UN News

ISIS Claims Attack on Egypt Gas Pipeline
The Islamic State group said on Monday it blew up a gas pipeline in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, claiming it was connected to Israel. Security sources earlier said the pipeline hit was a domestic one that connects to a power station in El-Arish, powering homes and factories in central Sinai. No casualties were reported. Masked gunmen drove a four-wheel drive before detonating explosives in the attack, carried out around 80km west of the provincial capital El-Arish, the sources told AFP. Some media reports in Egypt and Israel however said the section of pipeline hit was part of Israel’s Leviathan offshore field that connects the two countries – claims denied to AFP by the Leviathan consortium. But in a statement posted on its Telegram chat groups, ISIS said “caliphate soldiers targeted… the natural gas line linking the Jews and the apostate Egyptian government.” … Last week the jihadist group encouraged its fighters to launch attacks against Israel as part of a “new phase” of its operations. Israel began pumping natural gas to Egypt for the first time earlier this month under a $15 billion, 15-year landmark deal to liquefy it and re-export it to Europe. AFP

Burhan, Netanyahu Discuss Normalization of Sudan-Israel Relations
Sudan and Israel on Monday agreed to work for normalizing bilateral relations, according to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a meeting in Uganda with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan the head of the Transitional Council. “I met in Entebbe with the Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Buharan, and we agreed to start a cooperation that will normalize relations between the two countries. “Historical!” Netanyahu concluded. The meeting between al-Burhan and Netanyahu which was known by a few number of people in Khartoum was organized by President Yoweri Museveni. “Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that Sudan is headed in a new positive direction and he expressed his views to the Secretary of State of the United States of America,” said Ofir Gendelman Netanyahu’s spokesman in a separate tweet. “Al Burhan is eager to help his country modernize by taking it out of isolation and putting it on the world’s map,” Gendleman further stressed. The head of the Transitional Sovereign Council did not yet issue a statement about his meeting with Netanyahu. However, the meeting would certainly help to foster al-Burhan’s credibility in the United States when he flies to Washington in the upcoming days. Sudan Tribune

Three Countries Delay Ethiopia Dam Deadline but Trump Sees Deal
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Friday pushed back their deadline to resolve a bitter row on a dam on the Nile until the end of February, but President Donald Trump voiced confidence that a deal was near. It was the latest delay in the US-brokered talks on the giant Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is slated to begin operations later this year and has sparked fears of conflict over scarce water resources. But the talks have appeared to make progress. The latest session, held over four days in Washington among foreign and water resources ministers, focused on mitigation measures during droughts and other dry years. “The ministers have instructed their technical and legal teams to prepare the final agreement,” a joint statement said, “for a signing of the three countries by the end of February 2020.” The three countries “reaffirmed the importance of transboundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.” AFP

Pentagon: US Forces Destroy 2 Terrorist Camps in Southern Somalia
U.S. forces destroyed two al-Shabab compounds and killed at least one terrorist in a military operation in southern Somalia last month, the Pentagon announced Monday. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) carried out the attacks in coordination with Somali forces. The two compounds – one in Jamaame and the other in Jilib – were destroyed. AFRICOM said it took “significant measures” to ensure no civilians were killed or wounded. “We assess these compounds were used by al-Shabab militants to organize and plan violent terrorist actions against innocent Somali civilians,” said Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence. “Operations to disrupt al-Shabab are needed to deny their ability to expand terrorism outside of Somalia, as we’ve recently seen in Kenya.” Al-Shabab terrorists attacked a military base in Kenya last month, killing a U.S. soldier and two civilian contractors. VOA

Representatives from Libya’s two warring parties began United Nations-led talks in Geneva on Monday, the world governing body said. Five senior officers appointed by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and five appointed by eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar were participating in the talks, the UN said in a statement. Known as the “Libya Joint Military Commission,” the 10-member body, created at the conclusion of a 12-nation summit held in the German capital Berlin last month, is tasked with supervising a tentative truce that has all but collapsed. The meeting was being moderated by Ghassan Salame, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. Countries that took part in the Berlin process reneged on their pledge to stop interfering in the armed conflict, and backed the belligerents with advanced weaponry in violation of a 2011 arms embargo, almost as soon the conference’s 55-point communique was issued. Al Jazeera

Nigeria to ‘Quickly’ Recruit More Soldiers to Check Insecurity – Osinbajo
There is an ongoing deliberate and comprehensive consolidation of the security situation in the country including plans to recruit more troops and officers to beef up the personnel of security agencies in order to contain the threats and security concerns in the land, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Mr Osinbajo stated this on Monday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, clergymen from the Northern part of Nigeria under the auspices of the Arewa Pastors Forum for Peace. Speaking on how the Federal Government is managing the security concerns across the country, the Vice President assured the pastors “we are doing everything that needs to be done.” “We are handling security well, and as you know, including military deployment in diverse fields, like the Boko Haram in the Northeast. “In fact, we have to now recruit more into the army, and much faster than we ever did because we need men on the ground; resources also – to buy more arms, to buy more platforms,” the Vice President said. Premium Times

Militia Groups Fill Zimbabweans with Fears of Anarchy
Zimbabwe could slide into anarchy as security forces battle the rising number of militia groups that have taken over informal gold mining areas where they maim and rob miners. Since December last year, the police have arrested at least 1,800 militia members who have been attacking miners using machetes and stealing their gold ore. The gangs – connected to politicians in the ruling party ZANU PF – have been linked to several murders across the country, and analysts say security agencies need to move faster. The country, currently struggling with economic woes, can’t afford a new security threat especially since experts recently warned of a risk of food shortage following prolonged drought. Late last month, the police launched a crackdown against the groups after a gang killed a police officer and seriously injured another with machetes and axes. The two police officers were caught in a crossfire after a gang raided workers at a gold mine where they were trying to steal ore. “The country is seeing a rise in violent gang wars among artisanal miners never seen before in the history of the country,” said High Court judge Martin Makonese, while setting the agenda for the court’s legal year. The East African

Zimbabwe MP Goes on Trial for Trying to Overthrow Govt
A leading Zimbabwean opposition lawmaker pleaded not guilty to charges that he planned to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a lawyers’ group said on Monday, the latest in a series of cases to target government critics. Job Sikhala, vice chairman of the main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, was arrested in July, after he criticised the government at a rally in the southern Masvingo province. The 47-year-old was subsequently released on bail. At the opening of the trial on Monday Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare told the court in Masvingo city that Sikhala was planning to subvert the government “through unconstitutional means” at the MDC event. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said Sikhala pleaded not guilty and was seeking to have the subversion charges dropped. “(Sikhala’s prosecution) is just harassment of the opposition legislator through the use of the criminal justice system,” said rights lawyers grouping. Several government critics have been charged with subversion since Mnangagwa came to power in 2017 following a coup that ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe. AFP

Lobby Demands Answers over Journalists’ Detention in Eritrea
Media lobby group Reporters Without Borders/Sweden wants Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to explain the continued incarceration of journalist Dawit Isaak and his colleagues. They have been held since 2001. In a letter to the Eritrean leader, signed by board member Björn Tunbäck, the group reminds President Isaias of the case before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for Mr Dawit, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist, and his colleagues. The letter further calls on the president to lift the ban on a free press in Eritrea. “The Commission also tasked us, as part of the case, to follow up on the decision, since we have written a number of letters to President Isaias, his adviser, some of his ministers and to the Eritrean Embassy in Stockholm, but no one has replied,” says the letter. Eritrea has ranked bottom of the Press Freedom Index since Reporters Without Borders began publishing it in 2002. The Horn of Africa country is one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world. Mr Dawit and several of his colleagues are among the journalists held for the longest time in the world, without being charged or sentenced. The East African

20 Killed in Stampede at Tanzania Church Service
At least 20 people have been killed and more than a dozen injured in a stampede during a church service at a stadium in northern Tanzania, a government official said on Sunday. Hundreds of people packed a stadium on Saturday evening in Moshi Town near the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro and crushed each other as they rushed to get anointed with “blessed oil.” “Twenty people died and 16 others were injured in the incident,” Moshi District Commissioner Kippi Warioba told Reuters by telephone. Five of those killed were children, he said. “The stampede occurred when the worshippers were rushing to get anointed with blessed oil,” Warioba said. Pastor Boniface Mwamposa has been drawing huge crowds by promising prosperity and cure for disease to worshippers who walk on what he describes as “blessed oil” during his church services. … Tanzania has seen a rise in the number of “prosperity gospel” pastors in recent years, who promise to lift people out of poverty and perform what they call miracle cures. Reuters

Rape Allegation Raises Concerns over DRC Evangelical Churches
A rape accusation against a hugely popular revivalist preacher, gospel singer and televangelist has shone a light on the highly lucrative world of evangelical churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Pastor Moise Mbiye’s congregation in the capital Kinshasa has staunchly stood by his side during the allegation’s increasingly strange fallout, which has included rumours of a sex tape and a lawyer being shot. Mbiye, 39, is the spiritual leader of the Cite Bethel “revival church,” a Protestant offshoot founded by his father Emmanuel, where worshippers express their faith through song, mystical trances and, above all, cash donations. His jubilant prayer songs are beloved in the central African country – his video clip “Tango Naye” has been watched more than 21 million times on Youtube. … One of his former followers and assistants, 20-year-old Eliane Bafeno, has filed a complaint against Mbiye for rape and also for abortion, which is banned under Congolese law. … The lawyer who filed the case, Justin Lunanga, was shot and wounded on January 26, according to his firm. “This is unacceptable because we are in a democracy,” the country’s minister for human rights, Andre Lite, told the UN’s Okapi radio station in response to the shooting. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones