Africa Media Review for February 9, 2018

How Djibouti Became China’s Gateway to Africa
[…] Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but for several years now, people here have been thinking big. Many are dreaming of creating, with Chinese help, something similar to Singapore and the Gulf States. It may not be easy to make something of this parched land, but there is a true feeling of ambition here, a willingness to take risks and move forward. The Djiboutians are searching for a better life and for a bigger role for themselves in a global society that is in the process of reordering itself. The country practically serves as a laboratory setting for the global shift in power from the West to the East, and many vivid examples can be seen. Djibouti is more open and willing to experiment than other African countries. And even though Europe and the United States continue to be important for the people here, when they think about their future, it’s China that they look to. Spiegle

Zuma’s Delayed Exit Tests Ramaphosa’s Power in South Africa
Less than two months after taking over the leadership of South Africa’s ruling party, Cyril Ramaphosa is facing a key test of his authority: President Jacob Zuma just won’t go away. Zuma initially defied a decision by top leaders of the African National Congress that he should quit, but his exit seemed imminent when parliament on Tuesday postponed the annual state-of-the-nation address just two days before he was due to deliver it. On Wednesday Ramaphosa said talks about a leadership transition were continuing and would be finalized in a matter of days, leaving the nation in political limbo. While Ramaphosa, 65, retains the upper hand in the power struggle, he has a limited window of opportunity to act decisively against Zuma, according to Ongama Mtimka, a political science lecturer at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in the southern city of Port Elizabeth. Bloomberg

Opposition Parties Plan National Shutdown to Force Zexit
Opposition parties are planning a national shutdown to protest against the long and drawn-out process leading to President Jacob Zuma’s resignation. Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told News24 that the party would announce details of a planned national shutdown later on Thursday. “It’s not just the EFF. We are planning a national shutdown that will be joined by everyone. We will make an announcement.” United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said opposition leaders were discussing the date. He however, said it would most likely happen on February 22.  News 24

South Sudan Peace Talks Stall over Punitive Provision
South Sudan peace talks have stalled over a text mediators and opposition officials want added to a provision that authorizes levying punitive measures against individuals who violate the peace process. The parties, multiple sources attending the ongoing talks said, also failed to reach a consensus on governance and security sector reform matters. Government officials at the talks told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that they agreed on many issues, but were unable to sign the agreement on declaration of principles because their team rejected a text which says peace violators should be sanctioned. Sudan Tribune

U.N. Expects Congo Offensive against Eastern Rebels to Displace 370,000
A military offensive launched last month by Congolese troops against Ugandan militants in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to force nearly 370,000 people from their homes, the United Nations said on Thursday. The fallout from a joint effort by Congo and Uganda to defeat the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) will compound Africa’s worst displacement crisis and further stretch meager humanitarian resources. Persistent conflict in Congo’s eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and insurrection in the center of the country have displaced 4.3 million people internally. Last year, it led the United Nations to declare Congo a level three humanitarian emergency – on par with Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Reuters

Burundi Accuses UN of Inflating Refugee Numbers
Burundi has accused the United Nations of “deliberately fabricating” figures of Burundian refugees. Interior assistant minister Terence Ntahiraja claimed Wednesday that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refuses to recognise that some Burundians have returned home and was using inflated refugee numbers to seek aid. Mr Ntahiraja was reacting to Tuesday’s UNHCR $391 million appeal to support some 430,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. In its 2018 Burundi refugee response plan, UNHCR said the situation “seems at risk of being forgotten” only receiving 21 per cent of the required funds. The East African

‘They Exaggerated Figures’: Ugandan Aid Officials Suspended over Alleged Fraud
The Ugandan government has suspended four officials at the start of an investigation into alleged mismanagement of funds meant to support refugees. The UK, EU and US are threatening to withdraw aid and stop programmes. Apollo Kazungu, commissioner for refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, and three of his senior staff, Walter Omondi, John Baptist Sentamu and Francis Nkwasibwe, have been suspended while investigations are made into their alleged collusion with staff from the UN refugee agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme (WFP) to inflate and exaggerate refugee figures. The officials allegedly created fake names in refugee settlements, particularly in western Uganda, to swindle money. Millions of dollars in aid are believed to have been lost as a result.  The Guardian

“We Are in a War”: Cameroon Unrest Confronted by Army Offensive
Daniel was in his home in the village of Bole in Southwest Cameroon on Feb. 2 when he heard gunfire and a commotion. Moments later, his house was ablaze, flames licking the walls. Despite the fire, Daniel dared not leave. Outside, dozens of Cameroonian soldiers charged with putting down a separatist insurgency had descended from trucks, opened fire on fleeing residents and set buildings alight, he said. Daniel’s brother Ekoda, who was outside the house, said he saw seven dead bodies. Army spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck said claims that houses were burned and people shot in Bole last week were “totally false”, and he denied that soldiers were mistreating residents in other villages detailed in this story. Reuters

Egypt Announces Launch of Major Security Operation
Egypt on Friday announced a major security operation involving the military and police forces in areas including the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency spearheaded by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. The operation, announced in a televised statement by army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifaai, began early Friday and covers central Sinai as well as areas in Egypt’s Nile Delta and Western Desert. El-Rifaai said the operation is targeting “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations.” The announcement comes amid local media reports of heightened alert levels in north Sinai hospitals and in other neighboring provinces in anticipation of casualties from the operation.  AP

Qaddafi Ties Halt Return to Libya Ghost Town in Peace Setback
At a handful of all but forgotten camps across Libya, up to 40,000 men, women and children have been waiting seven years to go home. They aren’t drawn from the impoverished migrants who cross Libya on often-fatal treks toward Europe. Rather, they’re members of an ethnic minority co-opted by Muammar Qaddafi and then thrust into some of the most brutal fighting of the 2011 civil war only to end up on the losing side. A reconciliation deal that looked set to end their plight, and serve as a model for other intractable disputes in Libya, was halted last week amid violence. It was a striking reminder of the deep-seated animosities thwarting United Nations-led efforts to reunite the fractured country, a major oil producer where Islamist militants have exploited the turmoil. Bloomberg

Opposition Party Sees Opening as Ethiopian Government Vows Changes
An Ethiopian opposition party whose chairman was freed after more than a year in prison plans to step up its activity as the Horn of Africa nation’s government pledges greater openness in the wake of mass protests. The Oromo Federalist Congress will open an initial 20 offices in the Oromia region and “start to organize our people,” Chairman Merera Gudina said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa. That could make it a competitor to the ruling coalition’s regional sub-party in elections due by 2020 in a central region that’s been roiled by more than two years of often fatal demonstrations. “We have reached a stage where people have refused to be ruled in the old way, and the ruling party cannot rule in the old way,” Merera said. Arrested in Ethiopia after taking part in a 2016 discussion panel in Brussels, he was freed in January as state-linked media reported the pardoning of a first wave of more than 500 detainees. Bloomberg

Ethiopia Releases Blogger, Opposition Figure
Ethiopia’s attorney general ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners on Thursday, state media reported, including journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage whose jailing drew international condemnation. The pair are the latest high-profile detainees to be freed since Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced last month that Ethiopia would allow an unspecified number of detained “politicians” to leave jail. “The Federal Attorney General today pardoned a total of 746 suspects and prisoners, including Eskindr (sic) Naga and Andualem Arage,” state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said. VOA

Sudan Finalizes Joint Military Program with Russia
Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir on Thursday said a joint military program has been finalized with Russia to improve the capabilities of the Sudanese national army. Addressing the army officers in the city of Port Sudan, Bashir said the program will help Sudanese military deter any violations against the country. He further stressed that Sudan is ready to defend its border specially its territorial waters on the Red Sea. “Sudanese army is ready to protect the security of the Red Sea”. “A program was set with Russia to develop the Armed Forces to deter all those targeting the nation and its capabilities,” he emphasized. Anadolu Agency

‘Day of Anger’ in Chad Sees Low Turnout amid Security Lockdown
Plans for a “day of anger” in the Chadian capital failed to materialise on Thursday, with just a few dozen protesters marching against austerity amid a large police presence, a day after the government suspended 10 opposition parties. Police said twelve protesters were arrested in N’Djamena during small marches against President Idriss Deby, who has ruled Chad for 27 years. The rallies, which were planned by civil society groups, trade unions and opposition politicians, were banned by the authorities in advance, who cited “security” reasons. But civil society leader Mahamat Nour Ibedou and about 20 other people staged a small demonstration in the city centre, while a separate group of some 10 people also protested in the south of the city, chanting anti-Deby slogans. News 24

Namibia: President Reshuffles Cabinet – Vice President Relieved of Duties
His Excellency, President Hage Geingob on Thursday relieved, Nickey Iyambo from his duties as Vice President due to medical reasons and reshuffled his executive team with immediate effect. […] “I am counting on everyone of us to step up the implementation of Government programmes. We cannot continue at the same pace and mindset and somehow expect a different outcome. We cannot continue to make promises and not reckon. This is the ‘Year of Reckoning’, during which we will account to the people. I will hold ministers accountable and they in turn are expected to hold their officials to account,” Geingob said. Geingob told the ministers that the nation expects government to continue strengthening the country’s democratic character and to effectively maintain the complimentary values of dignity, freedom, justice and peace; including the pursuit of happiness provided for in the Constitution. The Economist – Namibia

In Nigerian ‘Cash-and-Carry’ Politics, Ambition Is Only Constant
At recent rallies of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress for next year’s general elections, the list of speakers is often dominated by former members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party who switched sides. Former ministers, two-term governors and other senior officials who served with the PDP during its 16-year rule take turns to denounce the “corruption and waste” of their erstwhile party while touting the virtues of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling APC. It’s an illustration of the state of Nigerian politics, where parties are merely a means to power and wealth, with actors propelled neither by ideology nor principle. Known locally as “cash-and-carry politics,” success is often measured by gaining access to the treasury and dispensing patronage. Fueled by the country’s oil wealth over the past 50 years, the presidency is the supreme prize. Bloomberg

The Messy Battle for Harare East
Harare East may be Zimbabwe’s richest and most influential constituency. Its boundaries include the upmarket suburbs of Borrowdale and Chisipite as well as Chishawasha Hills on the outskirts of the city, where ruling party apparatchiks like to build their mansions. It is home to many senior government officials, opposition leaders, top businessmen, prominent civil society figures and media bosses. Even former president Robert Mugabe lives there, in his blue-roofed 25-bedroom palace, courtesy of the Chinese government. This concentration of political and economic power means that elections in the Harare East constituency are always closely watched — and tightly fought. This is especially true this year, despite no national election date yet being announced. Mail and Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones