Africa Media Review for February 7, 2018

Jacob Zuma’s Grip on Power Weakens as Key Speech Postponed
Jacob Zuma’s grip on power appeared to be weakening after parliamentary officials decided to delay a key national speech that the embattled South African president was due to give this week. The unprecedented measure on Tuesday underlined the crisis within the ruling African National Congress as the party tried to manage an increasingly chaotic transfer of power from the incumbent president to his deputy and rival, Cyril Ramaphosa. Zuma, 75, who is facing multiple charges of corruption, was scheduled to give the annual state of the nation address to parliament on Thursday. However, it has now been postponed, possibly by a week.  The Guardian

Kenyans Shocked as Odinga’s Ally Miguna Is Deported to Canada
Kenyans have expressed shock at the news that opposition lawyer and self proclaimed General of the resistance movement, Miguna has been deported to Canada. The Official Government Newsroom on Twitter (Nexus KE) tweeted the development saying ‘‘Miguna is headed home. The court ordered he gets released and the interior ministry obeyed the orders and even assisted him with a flight ticket home.’‘ The account added that Miguna ‘‘renewed his Canadian passport on 16th June 2017’‘. Africa News

Kenyan Police Suspected of Extrajudicial Killings
In the slums of Nairobi, dead bodies of young, poor men are turning up on the streets almost every day. Suspected of being criminals, they are executed by the police – without charges, without trial.  Deutsche Welle

Egypt Denies Report of 100 Israeli Airstrikes in Sinai over Last Two Years
Egyptian Army spokesperson Col. Tamer a-Rifai denied the New York Times report claiming Egypt sanctioned over a 100 Israeli airstrikes in North Sinai in the last two years to aid combat the Islamic State. In an interview to Sada Elbalad newspaper, A-Rifai said late Sunday that Egypt’s security forces are the only ones combating terrorist in the area. Addressing media outlets in Egypt, A-Rifai requested they do not report unreliable information that was not approved by the Egyptian army.  According to a New York Tims report, Egypt has permitted Israel to conduct over a hundred aerial raids on the Islamic State group affiliate in Sinai, the restive desert peninsula that shares a border with Israel. Haaretz

As Trump Wavers on Libya, an ISIS Haven, Russia Presses On
Last March, the Pentagon’s top general for Africa made a rare trip to Capitol Hill, bearing a sobering double-barreled warning. “The instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to U.S. and allies’ interests on the continent,” the general, Thomas D. Waldhauser, told lawmakers. But perhaps just as concerning, he indicated, were intelligence reports that Russia was helping a former Libyan general turned military strongman in a fight for control over the country’s government and vast oil resources. In fact, just two months earlier, in a brazen assertion of the Kremlin’s growing Middle East ambitions, Russia’s only aircraft carrier had entered Libyan waters and, with great fanfare, welcomed aboard the militia leader, Gen. Khalifa Haftar. The New York Times

‘Real Risk’ of Islamic State Fighters on Migrant Boats, Italy Warns
The recent military evictions of the Islamic State militia — in the likes of Syria — presented an “absolute and real risk” of jihadi fighters trying to slip into Europe, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told a conference on migration and security in Rome Tuesday. “It is in our interests to defeat the business model of traffickers whose profits are used to finance organized crime and, we have the evidence for this, terrorism,” Alfano said. At the same time, he warned against “exploitation of the immigration issue in order to stir up fears and gain easy consensus.” Represented at Tuesday’s conference were 13 European and African countries, including partly lawless Libya. Deutsche Welle

Report: Politically Motivated Killings, Arrests on Rise in Burundi
In Burundi more than 500 people have been killed in the past year, most of them by the ruling party youth wing and security forces, according to a recent report from a Burundian human rights group. The allegations have raised concern as the country heads toward a contentious referendum. The report, titled “Do Not Play With Fire,” documents the killings, disappearances, and torture in the hands of Burundi’s security agencies and the ruling party’s youth wing, the Imbonerakure. According to the investigators, more than 500 people were killed in Burundi in 2017 and more than 10,000 are behind bars. VOA

Burundi Risks Becoming a Forgotten Refugee Crisis without Support
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with its 26 other humanitarian partners, is today launching a funding appeal for US$391 million to support some 430,000 Burundian refugees during 2018. We are urging donors to step up support for desperate refugees who struggle to survive in neighbouring countries as efforts are falling short of acceptable humanitarian standards. The international community must also stay engaged in the pursuit of a genuine and lasting resolution to the Burundi crisis. Low levels of humanitarian funding for this crisis remains a great concern. Burundian refugees could get a mere 21 per cent of the required funds – making it the world’s least funded refugee response plan. UNHCR

Chart of the Day: Peacekeeping Is a Financial Bargain for the United States
Today’s chart comes from the Government Accountability Office of the United States. (These are the number crunchers of the US government who provide cost estimates and actuarial advice to policy makers in Congress and the executive branch.) Last year, Congress asked the GAO to compare the cost of a UN peacekeeping mission with the cost of a similar US military deployment. Congress wanted to know how much a hypothetical deployment of US troops would cost compared to the deployment of UN peacekeepers to a global hotspot. The GAO selected the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA as the mission to test this question. MINUSCA is a fairly typical modern UN mission. Like the plurality of UN missions it is in sub-saharan Africa. It is “multi-dimensional,” meaning it combines humanitarian and security objectives, and it is also of average cost and troop size. As of last June, there were about 10,000 personnel deployed to the mission at a cost, since 2014, of $2.4 billion. The GAO calculated that a similarly-sized hypothetical deployment of US troops to the Central African Republic would cost $5.7 billion. UN Dispatch

Democratic Republic of Congo Orders Former Coloniser Belgium to Close Consulate and Cut Flights from Brussels
The Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered Belgium to close a consulate and cut flights by Brussels Airlines in a further deterioration of relations between the European nation and its former Central African colony. Belgium’s foreign ministry said it had shut a diplomatic office in the south-eastern city of Lubumbashi after being told to do so by Kinshasa. Congo has also decided to close its consulate in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp. Brussels Airlines, owned by Germany’s Lufthansa, has had its flights to and from Kinshasa cut from seven a four week to four, a foreign ministry spokesman added. The Independent

West African Bloc Slaps Sanctions on Guinea-Bissau Politicians
West Africa’s regional bloc has slapped sanctions on 19 lawmakers and associates of the president in Guinea-Bissau, including his son, over the continued failure to end a political impasse, a statement said on Tuesday. The impoverished West African nation has been in the throes of a power struggle since August 2015, when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira. A faction of 15 lawmakers in the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) has broken away in support of Vaz while the majority backed Pereira. AFP

Protesters in South Sudan Denounce U.S. Arms Embargo
Demonstrations in South Sudan’s capital turned violent on Tuesday as people took to the streets to protest the United States’ new ban on supplying weapons to the country. On Friday, the United States imposed a unilateral arms embargo on South Sudan, which is embroiled in a civil war. The State Department said it was “appalled” by the continuing violence perpetrated by both sides in the conflict. The civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered outside the United States Embassy in the capital, Juba, and the nearby United Nations base to show their anger. Demonstrators held up posters that included the slogans “Down Down Mr. Trump” and “Don’t weaken our nation Mr. Trump.” AP

Uganda Investigates Allegations of Refugee Aid Fraud
Uganda is investigating allegations that its officials defrauded donors by inflating refugee numbers and diverting food aid, the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday. The country hosts more than 1 million people who fled war in neighbouring South Sudan and some 400,000 more from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, a massive aid operation that whistleblowers said had become subject to fraud. “The government took them (allegations from UN agencies) seriously and immediately instituted an investigation,” Julius Mucunguzi, spokesman for the prime minister’s office, which overseas refugee affairs, told Reuters. Reuters

Somaliland Fatwa Forbids FGM
Authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have issued a religious fatwa banning the practice of female genital mutilation and vowed to punish violators. The fatwa by the Ministry of Religious Affairs allows FGM victims to receive compensation. It does not say whether the compensation will be paid the government or by violators of the ban. “It’s forbidden to perform any circumcision that is contrary to the religion which involves cutting and sewing up, like the pharaoh circumcision, the ministry’s fatwa reads. “Any girl who suffers from pharaoh circumcision will be eligible for compensation depending the extent of the wound and the violation caused. Any one proven to be performing the practice will receive punishment depending on the extent of the violation.”  VOA

How Weavers in Burkina Faso Are Now on Europe’s Migration Front Line
[…] Burkina Faso is a poor, agriculture-based country. It historically provided workers to neighbouring economic powerhouse Cote d’Ivoire, until the country’s civil war in the early 2000s. Now destinations are far more diverse, from Europe to Libya, South Africa, oil-rich Gabon, even Morocco. The growing insecurity in Burkina Faso as a result of jihadist attacks in recent years – an outflow of the crisis in next-door Mali – is another incentive for young Burkinabé to leave their struggling country. “This country is very fragile. We are convinced that eventually the population density, the demographic growth, will force Burkinabé to migrate even more,” Thierry Barbé, head of EU Cooperation in Burkina Faso, told IRIN. “So, it is very important that we can fully pursue stability with the Trust Fund.”  IRIN

Digital in 2018: Africa’s Internet Users Increase by 20%
An annual report released by global digital agencies, We Are Social and Hootsuite, reveals that Africa has seen the fastest growth rates in internet penetration, with the number of internet users across the continent increasing by more than 20% compared to 2017. The ‘Digital in 2018’ report shows that over half of the world’s population is now online (4.021 billion), with the latest data showing that nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Much of this year’s growth in internet users has been driven by more affordable smartphones and mobile data plans. Users in Africa are up by more than 20 percent, with the reported number of internet users in Mali increasing by almost 6 times since January 2017. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones