Africa Media Review for February 6, 2019

Central African Republic Initials Peace Deal with Armed Groups
The Central African Republic (CAR) initialled a peace deal with 14 armed groups on Tuesday following two weeks of talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The peace deal was announced on Saturday by the African Union but the terms were not immediately released. The accord was initialled by President Faustin Archange Touadera for the CAR government and representatives of the militias which control most of the chronically-troubled country. It will be formally signed in the CAR capital of Bangui “in the coming days,” Touadera’s office said, without announcing a date. Al Jazeera

Nine Killed in South Sudan’s Renewed Fighting
At least nine people were killed in fresh clashes in Amadi State in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria, officials said. The weekend clashes pitted the National Salvation Front (NAS) led by Gen Thomas Cirillo, and a faction of the Dr Riek Machar-led SPLM-IO. The fighting happened at the Kediba locality, controlled by Gen Cirilo, according to the Amadi State deputy governor, Mr Manasseh Dobuyi. The Eye radio in Juba on Tuesday quoted Mr Dobuyi saying SPLM-IO had found seven bodies, including those of two civilians. The deputy governor further disclosed that the situation was still tense in the area, forcing civilians to flee their homes for safety.  Daily Nation

Malawi’s Joyce Banda Submits Presidential Bid
Hardly a week after four opposition parties in Malawi formed an alliance to defeat the ruling party, ex-president Joyce Banda on Tuesday broke faith and formally submitted papers to run as a candidate in upcoming elections. Last week current vice president Saulos Chilima and Banda announced they had formed a four-party coalition in a bid to unseat President Peter Mutharika in the May 21 vote, but the group soon broke up. Banda first came to power when she was vice president and succeeded the then president, Bingu wa Mutharika, who died suddenly in April 2012. She lost the 2014 election to Mutharika and left the country until 2018 after being embroiled in a multi-million-dollar corruption scandal dubbed “Cashgate”. On Tuesday, surrounded by her People’s Party (PP) supporters, she touted her past record and underlined her support of Malawian women.  AFP

Ivory Coast Ex-President Gbagbo Released to Belgium
Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo has been released on bail to Belgium following his acquittal by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity, the court said Tuesday. Belgium said on Saturday that it had agreed in principle to host Gbagbo pending a possible prosecution appeal against his acquittal, but that final arrangements were being made. The 73-year-old former strongman and his aide Charles Blé Goudé have been staying in an undisclosed location since Friday, when The Hague tribunal freed them from detention. “Mr Gbagbo is now released under conditions in Belgium,” an ICC spokeswoman said, without giving further details. The Guardian

Senior Somali Military Officer Killed in Roadside Bombing
A senior Somali military commander was killed in a powerful roadside explosion near the capital, Mogadishu, Tuesday just two months after his several other senior officers were killed in the same area by an improvised explosive device (IED), military officials confirmed to VOA Somali. Colonel Abdisalam Sheikh Aden died after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device shortly after leaving a military base in Dhanane, on the southern outskirts of Mogadishu. Aden was deputy commander of the 12th April Division, one of the biggest military sectors in Somalia. A second officer, Colonel Abdirahman Jimale Muse, who was in charge of the finances for the first battalion of Somali army, was also killed in Tuesday’s explosion. The death of the two officers came exactly two months after two senior military commanders including Aden’s predecessor were killed by IED in the same vicinity. The explosion on Dec. 6 killed the commander of the 12th April Division, General Omar Aden Dhabad “Omar Dhere,” and his deputy general, Abdi Ali Jamame. VOA

Cameroon’s Crackdown on Its English-Speaking Minority Is Fueling Support for a Secessionist Movement
The battle lines of the conflict in this Central African country are drawn by language. Around 80 percent of the country speaks French; the rest speaks English. For decades, Francophones and Anglophones lived in relative harmony. But over the past two years, violence spurred by this linguistic split has brought Cameroon to the brink of civil war. Hundreds have died, close to 500,000 have been displaced, and activists have been rounded up and jailed. The government claims armed English-speaking separatists who want to create a new nation called Ambazonia have terrorized civilians and attacked government forces, prompting the military to retaliate against them.  The Washington Post

Constitutional Proposals Could Allow Sisi to Stay in Power till 2034 – Document
Constitutional amendments proposed by Egyptian lawmakers would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power for up to 12 years beyond his current term and boost his control of the judiciary, according to a draft seen by Reuters. The proposed amendments were submitted to the speaker of parliament on Sunday. Any changes need approval by two-thirds of parliament members, followed by a referendum. Sisi, a former general, ousted President Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule and was elected president the following year. In recent months, speculation has been building that his supporters would seek to amend a constitutional clause according to which he should step down at the end of his second four-year term in 2022.  Reuters

Zimbabwe President Invites Opposition Leaders for Talks
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa invited opposition leaders for talks this week following the worst rioting since 1995 that started with protests against a hike in fuel prices and an economic crisis that his government hasn’t been able to reverse. The meeting is to take place in Mnangagwa’s office on Feb. 7, according to a memo from Secretary to Cabinet Misheck Sibanda. Political leaders who contested last year’s presidential elections can bring three delegates and those who won seats in parliament may be accompanied by an additional representative, he said in the memo.  Bloomberg

Zimbabweans to Pay Nearly Double for Bread – Report
Bread prices in Zimbabwe have reportedly increased by at least 70% – the highest increase since the introduction of multiple currencies in 2009. According to Daily News, the bread price increase came at the back of a shocking fuel price increase last month and was the fourth increase in just 12 months. A loaf of bread which was last month R18 ($1.40) is now set to cost at least R28 ($2.10) and R31 ($2.35). The president of the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe, Ngoni Mazango has confirmed the bread price increase, adding that this was due to currency challenges facing the southern African country. News 24

Government Alliance Calls on Al-Bashir Not to Stand for Sudan’s 2020 Elections
The political forces of the “2020 Alliance” have launched an initiative to resolve the Sudanese crisis proposing that President Omar al-Bashir shouldn’t run in the 2020 presidential elections. The 2020 Alliance is a political umbrella comprising some parties that have participated in the government-led national dialogue and took part in the National Consensus Government including the Just Peace Forum led by President al-Bashir’s maternal uncle Al-Tayeb Mustafa. The initiative comes as the country is witnessing large protests since last December calling on President al-Bashir to step down. A delegation from the 2020 Alliance headed by its leader Ibrahim Madibu on Monday has handed over the initiative to the Speaker of the Parliament Ibrahim Ahmed Omer. Sudan Tribune

2 Opposition Figures Arrested in Sudan
Sudan’s National Umma Party said Tuesday its Secretary General Sarah Nugdallah and its leader’s daughter, Um Salama al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, were arrested participating in a protest in the capital of Khartoum. The group which is regarded as the country’s largest opposition party said in a statement that security forces have used “excessive violence” against protesters and “arrested dozens of citizens who expressed their opinion peacefully.” Authorities have yet to comment on the claims. On Wednesday authorities released the deputy leader of the party who is a daughter of prominent opposition leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi after briefly detaining her. Anadolu Agency

Sudanese Security Forces Use Tear Gas to Disperse Protesters
Sudanese security forces used tear gas on Tuesday to disperse hundreds of lawyers pushing for the release of activists detained during recent anti-government protests, witnesses said. The demonstration outside the supreme court building in Khartoum was one of several staged by members of various professions, including teachers, doctors and pharmacists, following a call by the Sudanese Professionals Association to join the protests that began in December. The demonstrations, often involving hundreds of people, have shaken the country of some 40 million people. They were sparked by rising food prices and cash shortages and have since turned against President Omar al-Bashir who has been in office for nearly 30 years. Witnesses said more than 200 lawyers tried to deliver a petition to the head of the judiciary demanding the release of activists detained during the protests. Sudan Tribune

Bread, Cash Shortages Prevail throughout Sudan
Residents in Sennar, White Nile, Northern State and El Gezira have complained about the continued shortage of bread, fuel, and cash, leading to poverty. A number of people in Sennar state considered the government’s claim of the availability of basic materials at reduced prices as “a lie”. “We are still lining up in front of the bakeries to get the bread, as well as the fuel, and [are faced with a] liquidity crisis,” a resident told Radio Dabanga. In White Nile, residents of Kombo Awadallah village in El Giteina locality have voiced similar complaints: there is a crisis of bread and cooking gas. The price of cylinder of cooking gas has amounted to SDG300 ($6.30*). Karima in Northern State has suffered from a severe drinking water shortage for six days, as a result of a break in the main water carrier. “The water has been cut off from the town since last Wednesday, until Monday, and people have been bringing water from far away areas,” a listener told Radio Dabanga yesterday.  Radio Dabanga

Controversial Sackings in Zambia’s Health Sector Spark Political Rumours
The Zambian government has controversially removed two leading members of the Health Professions Council of Zambia, allegedly because it believes the council is making the ruling party unpopular in an area facing a key by-election. Health minister Chitalu Chilufya sacked Dr Aaron Mujajati, the registrar of the Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ), and removed respected academic Professor Sekelani Banda as board chair. Chilufya replaced Banda with a senior civil servant, Kennedy Malama, the permanent secretary in charge of administration in his ministry. Insiders say the dropping of Mujajati was a response to the HPCZ’s threat to close the Mwandi Mission Hospital for major violations of the HPCZ Act. Daily Maverick

Displacement Escalates in Northeast Nigeria as Violence Intensifies
The International Organization for Migration is appealing for $66 million to respond to an escalating displacement crisis, in northeastern Nigeria, which has left tens of thousands of people bereft of shelter and other basic life-saving needs. Since November, more than 59,000 people have fled their homes in northeast Nigeria. Most of them, mainly women and children, have run from attacks by Boko Haram militants and other armed non-state actors in Borno State, the epicenter of the displacement crisis. Fighting has displaced 1.8 million people since 2015. The U.N. migration agency’s chief of mission in Nigeria, Frantz Celestin, said violence in the last two months of 2018 has triggered the largest movement of people in the shortest period of time over the past two years. VOA

Western Envoys Apologise to SA for Diplomatic Gaffe
The embassies of five Western powers in South Africa have expressed regret over a breach of protocol after last week’s memorandum warning President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against the perpetrators of corruption or risk losing foreign direct investment. In a joint unprecedented memo, the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland wrote to President Ramaphosa saying that his ambitious investment drive could fail unless South Africa started to take a “clear, unqualified and manifest political commitment to the rule of law”. Noting its “disappointment” this week, the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) said the memo to the office of the presidency was “a departure from established diplomatic practice”. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) also took aim at the five countries, referring to them as foreign “imperialist forces”.  Daily Nation

Time for Africa to Reject Half-Baked Mining Deals – Ghana President
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo demanded mining deals be more beneficial for Africa on Tuesday, calling on governments to end fiscal incentives traditionally used to attract investment to countries long viewed as rife with risk. Resource nationalism is high on the agenda at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town as resource-holding governments, aware of the need for international miners to find new exploration territory, increase tax and royalty demands. Akufo-Addo, leader of Africa’s second-largest gold producer, said that the continent’s reputation of political instability was outdated and improvements in the rule of law should be reflected in countries’ relationships with mining companies. “We want you to stay here for the long-term. Respect the land that provides the riches and be part of the transformation. It’s time to make Africa prosperous and allow her people to attain a dignified standard of living.” Africa News

Ambulance Hailing App Helped Keep Nairobi Attack Fatalities Low
On January 15th Kenya’s emergency services were scrambled to respond to an ongoing terror attack at the Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi. In some parts of the world, people take such a response for granted. But in much of Africa, there is no functional centralized 911-type response. “I was scared but deep inside I knew that my presence there would help save people. Me arriving there with the ambulance, I knew that I would make a great change in rescuing people from that area,” said paramedic Kevin Maingi. In Kenya, a young tech start-up called Rescue.co is helping to centralise and co-ordinate the fleets of private ambulance companies. The response to the Dusit attack was its coming-of-age moment. On the day of the attack, the Rescue.co app, known as Flare, helped dispatch ambulances quickly.  Africa News

Thanks to the World’s Love of Avocados, Africa’s Coffee Producers Are Pivoting
Avocado imports have soared around the world, mostly to the European Union and the United States, but China and Japan are now importing thousands of tons of the multifaceted green fruit too. Even as US imports of avocados slowed slightly, the taste for avocado has globalized. Avocados may have originated in South America, but it is Africa that is cashing in on the world’s love of avocados. In 2017, Kenya overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest avocado exporter. Before the leap, South Africa was fourth after Peru, Chile and California as the world’s exporters of the popular Hass avocados. Kenya’s coffee farmers caught on, and switched to avocados, making 10 times as much as they did from coffee. Avocados now make up 17% of Kenya’s horticultural exports, according to the International Trade Center.  Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones