Africa Media Review for January 12, 2021

Five Women, Child Killed by Ethiopian Force as Border Tensions Escalate
Ethiopian army launched an attack, on Monday noon, on Al-Layyah area of Al-Quraysha locality on the border strip, killing five women and a child and also two women are missing. The latest development took place amid troops buildup from both sides as the Ethiopian air force carried out several sorties on the Ethiopian side of the border in the Amhara region. Sudanese military officials told the Sudan Tribune on Monday that the attack on the Sudanese farmers took place during the corn harvesting operations in the border area. They further said that the Ethiopian army snipers with automatic rifles soldiers targeted Sudanese troops but they missed their objectives and killed civilians. The attack took place a day after skirmishes on Sunday night in the “Wad Kuli” border area, during which the Sudanese forces repelled the Ethiopian attackers. The slow military escalation from the Ethiopian army takes place as the Ethiopian diplomats speak about negotiated solutions and carry out a campaign saying the Sudanese forces attacked their territory and killed civilians. The Sudanese government says they expelled from its territory Ethiopian farmers backed by militiamen and forces of the federal army from the Amhara region. Sudan Tribune

‘Unprecedented’ Violence as Uganda Gears Up for Elections
Opposition figures in Uganda criticised widespread violence by security forces ahead of Thursday’s presidential election as main challenger Bobi Wine said soldiers raided his home and beat two security guards. “The terror, frankly, is unprecedented,” said Kizza Besigye, a veteran opposition leader who challenged longtime President Yoweri Museveni in four elections. “Violence, terror seem to be scaled up with every coming election. This election has witnessed untold violence. It gets worse and worse by the day.” … At 38, Wine is half the age of Museveni and has attracted a large following among young people in a nation where 80 percent of the population is under 30. He is considered the frontrunner among 10 candidates challenging the former rebel leader who seized power in 1986. While security forces have cracked down on the opposition at previous polls, the run-up to this year’s vote has been especially violent. In November, 54 people were killed as soldiers and police quelled protests after Wine was imprisoned. Al Jazeera

Uganda: Presidential Candidate Bobi Wine Says Army Raided His Home, Arrested Staff
Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine said on Tuesday that soldiers raided his home and arrested his security guards as the country prepares to go to the polls in two days’ time. “The army has this morning raided my home, arrested all my security guards and anyone they could see around my premises,” Wine, who is the opposition frontrunner, said on Twitter. “No reason for the arrest was given,” said the 38-year-old musician-turned-politician, who is seeking to oust long-serving President Yoweri Museveni. … Some 18 million Ugandans are registered to vote on Thursday in presidential and parliamentary elections. Wine is the frontrunner among 10 candidates challenging Museveni. The 76-year-old former guerrilla leader seized power in 1986; critics say Museveni has abused his position to silence the opposition. Scores of anti-government protesters have been killed during a campaign scarred by crackdowns on Wine’s rallies. Journalists covering opposition rallies meanwhile have been attacked, government critics locked up, and election monitors prosecuted. This has raised concerns over the transparency and fairness of the electoral process. DW

Facebook Takes Down Ugandan Pro-Museveni Accounts Ahead of Election
Facebook has taken down a network in Uganda linked to the country’s ministry of information for using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week’s presidential election, the U.S. social media giant said on Monday. Ugandans vote on Thursday in a election pitting long-time leader Yoweri Museveni against 10 candidates including opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a singer-turned-lawmaker whose star power has rattled the ruling party. “We found this network to be linked to the Government Citizens Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda,” Facebook said. “They used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were,” Facebook said in a statement. Uganda’s government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Facebook had acted in a high-handed manner. “We are not familiar with anybody who complained about these accounts. The owners of these accounts are verified,” he said in BBC interview broadcast live on Facebook. Reuters

Central African Republic Faces Food Shortages as Violence Disrupts Key Trading Route
As unrest over disputed presidential polls continues in Central African Republic, attacks by a coalition of rebels have forced lorry drivers off the roads, spurring food shortages in the capital. France 24 met with the affected truckers as well as locals in Bangui’s market district to find out more. Central African Republic’s main trading route, the road linking Cameroon to Bangui, is deserted after rebel forces launched a series of attacks last month. The disruption means hundreds of trucks are stuck waiting to move and translates into shortages for consumers. Prices for basic foodstuffs like onions have tripled in the capital’s biggest food market. Air transport is costly, but remains the only solution as the disruption continues. The government has pledged to provide army escorts for lorries starting Tuesday. France24

Foreign Workers, Mostly Chinese, Flee Post-Election Violence in CAR
Cameroon authorities say more than 250 foreign workers, most of them Chinese, have fled post-election violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) to the border town of Garoua Boulay. The foreign workers say they are being targeted by rebel groups disgruntled with the C.A.R.’s December 27 presidential election that saw Faustin-Archange Touadera reelected.  Li Yu, 43, calls himself a spokesman for Chinese workers who fled post-election violence in the Central African Republic to Cameroon. He says 152 Chinese merchants, construction engineers, and those working on mining sites escaped to Cameroon in the past week. … Cameroon authorities say over 250 foreign workers in the CAR had crossed over to Cameroon within the past week. VOA

SRF, Umma Party to Form Coalition Supporting Transition in Sudan
The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the National Umma Party (NUP) agreed to form a new political coalition to support a smooth democratic transition in Sudan, said the deputy leader of the SPLM-N Agar on Sunday. “The SRF and the NUP agreed to start work on forming a transitional bloc. Also, they established a joint working committee,” Yasir Arman, told the Sudan Tribune. … Arman said that the proposed coalition is not a substitute for the existing institutions of the transitional authority. “We are talking about a different issue, which is expanding the social base by uniting the different forces of the revolution. The transition will not take place smoothly unless there is a broad social base,” he stressed. Sudan Tribune

FAO Warns of New Locust Invasion Threat in East Africa
New swarms of locusts in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya are spreading further in the eastern Africa region, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned. In its latest update posted on Monday, FAO said the immature swarms have been migrating from the previous locust breeding grounds in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia and spreading into Ethiopia’s SNNP region and into Kenya’s northern and coastal counties. “So far, swarms are present in four (Kenyan) counties (Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit and, most recently, Isiolo). Breeding continues, and hopper bands are present in the southeast near Taita Taveta and along the coast,” FAO says. A few swarms could spread further in Kenya and reach Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda this month, the FAO warns. BBC

Zimbabwe Journalist Vows ‘Fight’ for Media Rights from Prison
Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, jailed three times in six months for anti-government tweets, on Monday vowed to “fight” for freedom of expression in a fiery statement penned from his prison cell. Chin’ono, 48, was arrested in July last year for backing banned protests against alleged state corruption on social media. The award-winning investigative journalist landed behind bars again in November after tweeting about a gold smuggling case involving political elites. He was jailed a third time last week for posting a video allegedly showing a police officer beating a baby to death. In court on Monday after a weekend in the dreaded maximum security Chikurubi prison, Chin’ono handed journalists a crumpled hand-written media statement before facing prosecutors.”I have a choice today, to immediately apply for bail and go home, or to fight the constitutionality of the law used to charge me,” said the message, penned in blue biro on a lined notebook. “I have chosen to fight,” he wrote. News24

Zimbabwe Bans Traditional Funerals to Battle COVID-19 Spike
Zimbabwe, battling a spike in new COVID-19 cases, has banned families from transporting their dead relatives between cities, as part of new measures to stop traditional funeral rites that are believed to be increasing the spread of the disease. The announcement stops the custom where families take the dead to their areas of birth for ceremonies and burial. Police have also banned public viewing of bodies and the tradition of having a corpse stay overnight in the family’s home before burial. “Police will only clear body movements for burial straight from a funeral parlor/hospital mortuary to the burial site,” police spokesman Paul Nyathi said Monday in the state-run Herald newspaper. Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, initially recorded low numbers of COVID-19 but has recently experienced a spike in cases. There are fears that a new, more infectious variant of the virus arrived from South Africa when scores of thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa returned home for the festive season. AP

How Reopening of Schools, Religious Centres Worsened Nigeria’s Covid-19 Situation—Official
The reopening of schools and religious centres without adherence to safety protocols contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases across Nigeria, an official has said. The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made this known at its briefing on Monday. He noted that reopening of airports and increased local and international travels also fuel the rise in coronavirus cases from late November 2020. “It is however very instructive to stress that factors that have contributed to rise in numbers from late November 2020 included increased local and international travels, business and religious activities, reopening of schools without strict compliance with COVID-19 safety measures,” Mr Mustapha said. Since early December, there has been a spike in coronavirus cases across Africa’s most populous country, an indication that the country had entered the second wave of the pandemic. A recent review by Premium Times shows that one in every six persons (16 per cent) tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria in the past two weeks tested positive, indicating how fast the virus is spreading. Premium Times

Burundi Closes Night Clubs as it Records Spike in Covid-19 Cases
The Burundian government on Monday banned night clubs over the increased number of Covid-19 cases since the beginning of this year. “Night clubs and karaoke places are suspended until further notice while drinking places and public events and gatherings should strictly observe Covid-19 preventive measures,” said Pierre Nkurikiye, the spokesman of Home Affairs minister. The move comes after the country announced more than 100 Covid-19 cases in less than a week after tracing the contacts of people who had tested positive. … Burundi last week announced the closure of its maritime and land borders that came into effect on Monday. Only cargo transport will be allowed in. … According to the Burundian government, the total Covid-19 cases as of January 5 stand at 984, with 209 active cases. To date, two people have died while 773 have recovered. The East African

Mining Tycoon in Swiss Trial over Guinea Deal
A billionaire French-Israeli diamond magnate, Beny Steinmetz, has appeared in court in Switzerland to face trial over alleged corruption linked to a major mining deal in Guinea. He has always denied his company, BSGR, paid multi-million dollar bribes to obtain iron ore mining exploration permits in southern Guinea in 2008. He travelled to Geneva from Israel for the two-week trial. If convicted he could face up to 10 years in prison. Steinmetz, 64, was previously sentenced in absentia to five years in prison by a court in Romania for money laundering. Swiss prosecutors say Steinmetz paid about $10m (£7.4m) in bribes, in part through Swiss bank accounts, to gain the rights to Guinea’s iron ore deposits in the Simandou mountains. The area is believed to contain the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits. BBC

4 Nigerian Women Named among 100 Global Outstanding Nurses, Midwives
Four Nigerian women have been named among 100 Outstanding Women Nurses and Midwives Leaders by the Women in Global Health. They were named as part of activities to mark the 2020 International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. A statement by the WGH and YONM named the four Nigerian women as Mary Ozuruonye Agholor, Edidiong Asanga, Emmanualla Inah, and Onyinyechi Susan Madu. The statement explained that the 100 women were chosen for “their everyday heroism and service”, amidst the global health challenges. “During the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, amidst a global pandemic, the courageous work of Nurses and Midwives deserves, more than ever, to be honored—not just by applause. Let us use the stories of their everyday heroism and service to call for all countries to invest in decent work and a new social contract for nurses and midwives as part of their commitment to health for all,” it explained. Vanguard



Photo: Adam Jones