Africa Media Review for July 11, 2017

Ten Mali Soldiers Missing after Ambush by Suspected Islamists
About 10 Malian soldiers were missing following an ambush by suspected Islamist militants in the West African nation’s desert north, the army said on Monday. An army convoy was attacked on the road between the towns of Gao and Menako on Sunday, said army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone, in a region increasingly under threat from a resurgence of militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda. “We were ambushed, we have about 10 missing soldiers and we lost four vehicles. We are taking stock of the situation,” Kone said without providing further details. Militant groups took control of Mali’s north in 2012 though French-led forces pushed them back a year later. But maintaining peace in the remote desert region has proved difficult and jihadists continue to launch attacks on Malian soldiers and U.N. peacekeepers. Reuters

Grenade Kills Eight in Northern Burundi Bar
A hand grenade blast killed at least eight people and wounded about 60 others in a bar at Shinya in northern Burundi, local officials and police said Monday. “Still unidentified criminals threw a grenade last night around 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) into a group of a dozen people having a drink on Shinya hill in Gatara district,” said the local administrator, Ms Devote Ndayizeye. “Six people died on the spot and 66 others were injured, of whom 10 are in a serious condition,” she added, stating that most victims had been taken to hospitals in the region. “Two other people among the badly wounded died of their injuries once they were already in hospital,” Ms Ndayizeye said. AFP

Kenya: President, MPs, Military Chiefs Face Salary Cut
A special commission on Monday slashed the salaries of Kenya’s president and his deputy, as well as Cabinet officers, parliamentary deputies, and military chiefs, in a bid to save 8.8 billion Kenyan shillings ($84.7 million) annually. Making the announcement, Sarah Serem, who heads the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, added that some allowances — in some cases, worth almost as much as the salaries themselves — have also been removed. “We have removed some of the allowances that are prone to abuses,” she said, adding that special parliamentary allowances including the sitting allowance had also been abolished. As the move comes less than a month before the president and parliament will have to face voters in national elections on Aug. 8, President Uhuru Kenyatta and lawmakers are unlikely to object to the new, lower salaries. Anadolu Agency

Kenya: Police – All Who Had Contact with Minister on Last Day to Be Quizzed
Waiters who served Maj-Gen (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery at the Bomas of Kenya bar are among people being interviewed over the death of the powerful internal security Cabinet secretary. Director of Criminal Investigations Ndegwa Muhoro also revealed on Sunday that police bodyguards assigned to the CS were also being questioned by detectives pursuing a line of sudden death. “According to the Criminal Procedure Code, sudden death must be investigated, even if it was sicknesses or accident,” Mr Muhoro said. Even though he appeared to rule out foul play in the death on Saturday night of the tough-talking CS, he said a postmortem examination scheduled for Monday is key to the investigation. “We are looking into it but the postmortem will determine the direction of the investigations,” Mr Muhoro said. “The law requires that sudden death must be investigated. Daily Nation

Kenyan Military Says It Launches Strikes against Al Shabaab Forest Base
Kenya’s military said on Monday it had launched air strikes on the forest hideout of Somali Islamists blamed for deadly attacks on civilians and security personnel. Heavily-armed attackers have in the past two weeks beheaded nine civilian men and killed three police officers in coastal Lamu district, which borders Somalia. Al Shabaab Islamists claimed responsibility for the police killings. Kenyan police say the militants have used Boni forest as a base for attacks in the region. “A serious operation has started in Boni forest. We are flushing them out of the forest,” Nelson Marwa, Coast region coordinator, told journalists in the port city of Mombasa. Reuters

Somali Forces Say They Kill 18 Insurgents in Northern Puntland Region
“We killed 18 militants and burnt six of their bases in Galgala hills in an operation over four days to eliminate al Shabaab,” said Colonel Mohamed Ismail, a senior officer in the Puntland Security Force. “We also took their weapons. We burned their food and medicine stores.” Puntland’s security forces are trained and supported by a small number of U.S. operatives based in the semi-autonomous northern region. It was not clear whether the United States had any involvement in the operation. Al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group that wants to impose strict Islamic law, confirmed there was a raid but denied there were any casualties. Angop

Somalia Prepares for One Person, One Vote Polls by 2020
African and Arab election experts are in Kenya this week meeting with Somalia’s electoral commission to help the country prepare to move to “one person, one vote” elections in 2020. The year 2004 marked the beginning of the end to more than two decades of civil war and anarchy in Somalia. Members of Somalia’s interim parliament gathered in Nairobi to vote for a new president. They met in Kenya because Mogadishu was still too dangerous. Somalia has since held three polls. But regular Somalis are yet to cast any ballots. The country has relied on a clan-based formula in which the lawmakers were selected by the clan elders, and then the legislators elect the president. VOA

Rising Violence Forces 40,000 More to Flee CAR’s East
A fresh wave of violence has forced 40,000 more people to flee from their homes in the Central African Republic (CAR), bringing the number of refugees in the country’s east to 100,000, an NGO says. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reported on Monday that the ongoing fighting in the CAR has also left over 100 people dead since April. In the eastern province of Haute-Kotto, clashes between armed groups since June have forced almost the entire population of its regional capital Bria to flee for their lives. Al Jazeera

Senegal’s Former President Returns for Legislative Elections
Hundreds of people filled the streets of Dakar outside the airport Monday to welcome former Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade, who has returned to lead his party into legislative elections after spending years abroad following a failed bid for a third term in office. The 91-year-old flew into Dakar Monday from Paris, accompanied by his wife Viviane. He retains a strong support base in Senegal, which is holding legislative elections July 30. Wade has returned to head up the list of candidates for his opposition Senegalese Democratic Party. He is also heading up other opposition parties who are coming together in an effort to get a majority in parliament, and Wade’s return is key to that effort. VOA

Sudan Won’t Accept Any Decision Other Than Permanent Lift of U.S. Sanctions: FM
The Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Monday said Khartoum wouldn’t accept from Washington any decision other than the permanent lift of economic sanctions imposed on the country. Last January, former President Barack Obama issued an executive order providing temporary relief from many U.S. sanctions against Sudan that have been in effect for almost 20 years. Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. By the 12 July, based on an interagency report including the State Department the President Donald Trump is expected to issue a decision on whether to maintain or to remove the lift of economic sanctions on Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Tanzania’s President Signs New Mining Bills into Law
Tanzanian President John Magufuli said on Monday he has signed into law new mining bills which require the government to own at least a 16 percent stake in mining projects. The laws, which also increase royalties tax on gold and other minerals, were passed by parliament last week despite opposition from the mining industry body. Magufuli reiterated on Monday that no new mining licenses would be issued until Tanzania “puts things in order” and that the government would review all existing mining licenses with foreign investors. “We must benefit from our God-given minerals and that is why we must safeguard our natural resource wealth to ensure we do not end up with empty mining pits,” Magufuli told a rally in his home village in Chato district, northwestern Tanzania. VOA

Egypt’s Best Friends in D.C.: Why Is a PR Firm Working Directly for One of Egypt’s Top Spy Services?
[…] Weber’s contract with the Egyptians is not, in itself, unconventional. But the firm’s decision to do business with a foreign-intelligence service known for torture and repression, one that has been instrumental to Sisi’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, is unorthodox. And it comes at a key moment. Four years after Sisi toppled Egypt’s elected government, he’s eager to cement ties with a new U.S. administration that’s willing to overlook his authoritarianism, and at the same time win friends in Congress who oversee Egypt’s massive aid package. In Weber Shandwick, it would appear that the Sisi regime has found a PR firm willing to apply its considerable messaging prowess to the cause of funneling U.S. taxpayer money and goodwill towards the increasingly brutal leadership of the world’s largest Arab country. Weber and the lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates—a “specialty” firm that’s part of Weber (both are owned by InterPublic Group, a public company)—signed deals with Egypt in late January, eight days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to paperwork filed with the Department of Justice, the firms would be reporting directly to General Naser Fahmy of the GIS. The Atlantic

Zambian Opposition Rails against Emergency Powers
Zambia’s main opposition party on Monday accused President Edgar Lungu of endangering the country’s democracy and plotting a dictatorship after he invoked emergency powers under the constitution. Lungu last week gave police increased powers of arrest and detention, alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended “to create terror and panic”. The president denied he was establishing a dictatorship in Zambia – until recently a relatively stable country – and accused his rivals of trying to overturn last year’s election results. The emergency decree “constitutes abuse of power designed to silence his critics and kill democracy,” opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) vice president Geoffrey Mwamba said in a statement. News 24

What the World Bank’s Shift from Public to Private Funding Means for Development
Making economies work for more people is a political task, not a technical exercise. The World Bank has just conceded this – without meaning to do so. The bank has taken a new direction which, its critics say, means that it has given up on making economies work for the poor. In theory, they are right. In practice, the bank may be recognising that the politics which shape it made it impossible for it to achieve the development which it promised for the poor. The change was outlined in an April speech by bank President Jim Yong Kim, and is discussed in a recent document spelling out the bank’s vision for 2030. It’s meant to change it from a lender for development into a broker which will unlock “trillions” of dollars in private investment. It will seek to help countries by advising them on the policy and governance changes they need to make to attract the money. So the Bank will become a conduit for private investment, not public development funding. Mail and Guardian

How a London PR Firm Was Forced to Apologize for Sowing Racial Division in South Africa
This year, an army of Twitter bots emerged in South Africa, firing off a barrage of tweets that carried the same basic message: White capitalists had replaced one form of apartheid with another and were conspiring to hold black people down through economic, rather than legal, means. The basic premise — that black South Africans remain overwhelmingly disadvantaged economically — was undeniable. But the bot campaign went considerably further. Hundreds of Twitter accounts — all retweeting the same messages in the same order at the same moment — carried out a sexual smear campaign against editors, journalists and business executives, many of them critics of the powerful Gupta family, which is closely aligned with President Jacob Zuma. The tweets included lewd images of a prominent black female news editor, Ferial Haffajee, and a wealthy white businessman, Johann Rupert. Targets of the campaign were accused of being agents of #WhiteMonopolyCapital or #WMC. LA Times

North Korea’s Surprising, Lucrative Relationship with Africa
Near the southern tip of Africa, 8,000 miles from Pyongyang, this capital city is an unlikely testament to North Korean industry. There’s the futuristic national history museum, the sleek presidential palace, the sprawling defense headquarters and the shadowy munitions factory. They were built — or are still being constructed — by North Korea, for a profit. For years, North Korea has used African nations like this one as financial lifelines, building infrastructure and selling weapons and other military equipment as sanctions mounted against its authoritarian regime. Although China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner, the smaller African revenue streams have helped support the impoverished Hermit Kingdom, even as its leaders develop an ambitious nuclear weapons program in defiance of the international community. Those ambitions led last week to the launch of the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson subsequently warned that any nation with military or economic ties to North Korea “is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime,” and the Trump administration threatened a cutoff in trade with countries that were doing business with the pariah nation. The Washington Post

Africa Defeats World’s Biggest Mobile Carriers
Back when African countries were auctioning off mobile licenses by the boatload to serve the region’s young, tech-savvy population, investing in the continent’s fast-growing economies seemed like a no-brainer. Some of the world’s biggest wireless carriers rushed in. Now they’re wondering if they made a mistake. Increasing government and regulatory scrutiny, as well as a lack of expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, are making it harder for operators such as Vodafone Group Plc, Orange SA and Bharti Airtel Ltd. to grow. Their choice: Pull back or double down. Two companies beating at least a partial retreat are Millicom International Cellular SA, which disposed of its Senegal and Democratic Republic of Congo units, and India’s Airtel, which sold businesses in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone to Orange earlier this year. Reducing its exposure to Kenya, Vodafone transferred most of its $3.6 billion stake in Nairobi-based Safaricom Ltd. to majority-owned South African unit Vodacom Group Ltd. in May, and may pare further. That leaves Vodafone Ghana as the U.K. company’s sole own-branded African operation. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones