Africa Media Review for July 17, 2019

Sudanese Military and Protesters Sign Power-Sharing Accord
Military rulers in Sudan have signed a deal with protesters to share power with civilian leaders until elections are held in around three years. The agreement comes after lengthy and difficult negotiations between generals who seized power after the fall of Omar al-Bashir in April and leaders of the pro-democracy campaign whose demonstrations led to the veteran dictator’s fall. It offers a chance to end months of political crisis and repeated bouts of violent repression. The two sides initialled a document called the “political declaration” after intense talks through the night over fine details of the agreement. The deputy chief of the ruling military council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo—who initialled the deal on behalf of the generals—said the agreement was a “historic moment” for Sudan. … The outlines of the deal were agreed almost two weeks ago but the military repeatedly missed deadlines to sign. One point of contention during the negotiations was a demand from civilians that military leaders remain accountable for human rights abuses committed in recent months. The Guardian

Sudan Paramilitaries ‘Torture’ Civilian to Death: Doctors
Sudan’s feared paramilitaries have beaten and tortured to death a civilian in a town in war-torn Darfur, a doctors committee linked to the protest movement said Tuesday. The civilian died on Monday in El-Daen, in East Darfur state, after members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) clashed with youths accused of stealing a mobile phone, the committee said on its Facebook page. “Members from Al-Janjaweed (RSF) militia beat and tortured a number of youths… on allegations that the youths had stolen a mobile phone,” it said. “One youth passed away due to torture by Al-Janjaweed,” it said, referring to the RSF which has its origins in the militia that fought ethnic African rebels in Darfur during a civil war that broke out in 2003. AFP

Turkish Sailors Kidnapped by Pirates off Nigeria’s Coast
Ten Turkish sailors were abducted from their ship by armed men off the coast of Nigeria on Monday, the co-partner of the shipping company, Ahmet Paksoy, told CNN on Tuesday. The ship, managed by the company Kadioglu Denizcilik, was raided by “pirates” who disrupted the vessel’s electric system and abducted ten of the more senior crew members, including the first captain, Paksoy said. The remaining 8 members of the crew managed to bring the ship to harbor in Ghana, he said. Once the ship was in Ghanaian waters, Ghana’s military escorted the ship, Paksoy, said. … A report released this month from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a non-profit devoted to fighting maritime crime, has called the Gulf of Guinea a “world piracy hotspot,” saying that the “seas around West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy.” CNN

‘I Know Nothing’: South Africa’s Zuma Ducks and Dives at Corruption Inquiry
Former South African President Jacob Zuma ducked and dived on his second day of testimony at a corruption inquiry on Tuesday, saying he knew nothing about his business friends the Guptas allegedly offering a former lawmaker a ministerial position. The inquiry is spotlighting the allegations of graft that clouded Zuma’s nine-year presidency, but analysts say that if it fails to pin a case on him it could dent President Cyril Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption drive. Ramaphosa’s efforts to clean up politics are already hampered by the lingering influence that Zuma and his allies exert over the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Reuters

UN Peacekeeper Killed in Abyei
A United Nations soldier has been killed and another critically injured in an attack on peacekeepers in the Abyei region, a top commander said. Unknown gunmen attacked the UNISFA troops providing security at the Amiet market in which one Ethiopian soldier was killed and another critically injured, according to Gen. Mehari Zewde Gebremariam, UNISFA’s Acting Head of Force Commander. The Amiet common market was established to sustain peace between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya tribes in the area. “I am deeply concerned that peacekeepers who are working day and night to enable people carry out their normal business activities at the Amiet market would come under any form of attack,” Gen. Mehari said in a statement on Tuesday. He further said five other people including two women and an eight months child were also reportedly killed during the attack, while several cattle were also allegedly rustled. Radio Tamazuj

Machar Sets Conditions for His Return to Juba
South Sudan’s exiled opposition leader Riek Machar listed specific conditions to meet President Salva Kiir in Juba. This came after the government invited Machar to meet with Kiir to discuss the peace process. In a letter dated July 8 and sent to President Kiir’s security adviser, Tut Gatluak, Machar said he is ready to talk with the president to discuss the challenges of implementing the revitalised peace deal if certain assurances were made. The transitional government of national unity was supposed to be formed in May but was delayed until November, and the implementation process is facing multiple delays. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman for Machar’s SPLM-IO, told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that their leader said the terms of his house arrest must be lifted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping. “If Machar’s house arrest is lifted by the regional bloc, he will go to Juba to meet Kiir,” said Manawa. Radio Tamazuj

‘No Military Solution’: World Powers Urge Libya De-Escalation
France, Britain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States and Italy have called for an immediate end of hostilities around the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and warned that “terrorist groups” are attempting to exploit the country’s security vacuum. In a rare joint statement issued on Tuesday, the six countries urged Libya’s warring parties to return to a United Nations-mediated political process aimed at restoring peace in the sprawling North African state. “There can be no military solution in Libya,” the statement said. “Persistent violence has claimed nearly 1,100 lives, displaced more than 100,000, and fueled a growing humanitarian emergency,” it added. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia Faces Showdown over Push for New Region
The green, blue and red flag of the Sidama people flutters defiantly above government buildings in a southern Ethiopian city where leaders are on the brink of declaring a breakaway region. The Sidama say they plan to unilaterally declare their own federal state this week — a move analysts say could inflame Ethiopia’s political crisis and lead to bloodshed. … At present, Ethiopia is partitioned into nine semi-autonomous regions. The constitution requires the government to organise a referendum for any ethnic group that wants to form a new entity. The Sidama have agitated for years to leave the diverse Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of which they are a part, and create their own state. The dream gained fresh momentum after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last year promising wide-ranging reforms. But his government has dithered on responding to the request for a referendum. Under the constitution, the vote must be held within a year—a deadline that expires Thursday. Mail & Guardian

Refugees Blame DRC’s Chronic Violence on Battle for Mineral Wealth
For decades, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo—the Ituri and North Kivu provinces especially—has endured ethnic violence leaving thousands dead and many more seeking refuge in neighboring countries. … DRC refugees continue to arrive at the Ugandan border by the boatload, across Lake Albert. Refugee Joshua Oshaki says he lost contact with his wife during fighting in the DRC’s Ituri region, but managed to escape with his two children. “In the beginning the conflict was tribal. Different tribes would fight each other. The Hema and the Lendu would be joined by the Wangiti and other tribes. They would kill each other. Currently, the fighting has faces of government soldiers and civilians,” he said. Even as the DRC’s people struggle to survive, the country is considered one of the richest in the world in mineral wealth. Critics say few benefits are harnessed by the state for ordinary people, while mining companies and the elite become rich. VOA

Ebola Patient in DR Congo City of Goma Has Died: Governor
The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma has died, the governor of North Kivu province said on Tuesday. The case—the first in a major urban hub in the region’s nearly year-old epidemic of the disease—has sparked deep concern in neighbouring Rwanda and at the UN. … The patient has been described as an evangelical preacher who had travelled from Goma to Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the outbreak. While there, he preached at seven churches and regularly touched , including the sick, before taking the bus back to Goma last Friday, the health ministry said. On his return on Sunday, he went to a clinic with a fever, was diagnosed with Ebola and sent back to Butembo, which is better geared than Goma for treating the disease, it said. … More than 1,600 people have died from Ebola since August 1, when the haemorrhagic virus erupted in North Kivu and spread to neighbouring Ituri. AFP

Children Hardest Hit by Ebola Epidemic in DR Congo
The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is affecting more children than normal. The United Nations Children’s Fund says kids represent nearly one-third of current total cases, compared to about 20 percent in previous outbreaks. The World Health Organization reports more than 2,500 cases of Ebola in eastern Congo, including nearly 1,670 deaths. The U.N. Children’s Fund says about 750 of those cases are children. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says children under age five are especially hard hit, and account for 40 percent of infections. She notes an exceptionally high number of children are succumbing to the virus. “The case fatality ratio or the number of cases who die among this group of under-fives is 77 percent. That is compared with 67 percent among the general population, which means that young children are at higher risk than adults,” she said. VOA

BBC Shuts Burundi Bureau
British public radio broadcaster BBC will close its operations in Burundi after it failed to reach an agreement with the government on airing of programmes. The broadcaster’s Africa Business Editor Larry Madowo said on Tuesday that efforts to resolve a dispute over the ban on BBC transmissions in March “have failed.” … Burundi’s media regulator, the National Communication Council (CNC), suspended BBC for allegedly broadcasting content that “put national cohesion and reconciliation at stake.” … In 2018, BBC Africa Eye’s expose titled Inside the Secret Killing House documented the killing and torture of opposition members by security forces in secret detention facilities. The documentary incensed the government prompting the withdraw of BBC’s licence. The East African

Nigeria: The Politicized Herders and Farmers Conflict
Special grazing zones and settlements for pastoralist Fulani groups were supposed to be the answer to the heated farmers and herders conflict. It has instead become a highly politicized debate. It appeared to be a done deal. Nigeria’s government under President Muhammadu Buhari had announced that they would be introducing the so-called Ruga settlements – a Hausa term for the Fulani settlements. The settlements were supposed to comprise grazing areas and villages with some basic infrastructure – a school, a health center, and a vet. The Ruga zones were supposed to accommodate the pastoralist groups and their livestock, which would make it easier to identify the grazing routes of the herders and would allow for fewer conflicts with the settled farmers. According to the December 2018 report from the rights group Amnesty International, over 3,600 people have died in clashes between herders and farmers over the past three years. In the meantime, the death toll is higher than the number of people who died from terror attacks by Boko Haram. DW

Zimbabwe Public Workers Threaten Strike over Wages
Zimbabwe’s public workers on Tuesday said they would go on strike if the government failed to increase their wages to at least $475 per month for the lowest paid employee, as resurgent inflation returned. Official figures published on Monday showed annual inflation almost doubled to 175.66% in June, piling pressure on a population struggling with shortages and stirring memories of the economic chaos of a decade ago. Hope that the economy would quickly rebound under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced the long-ruling Robert Mugabe after a November 2017 coup, has turned to frustration as the country struggles with shortages of dollars, fuel and medicines. … “Civil servants are not asking for a salary increment, but rather restoration of the value of their earnings, which fell from at least US$475 to a mere US$47 currently for the lowest paid civil servant,” read part of the workers’ petition. Reuters

Zimbabwe Miners Told to Pay Utility Bills in Foreign Currency
Mining companies in Zimbabwe will have to use foreign currency to pay for power but can make their own arrangements for imports from foreign suppliers, the country’s energy minister said. The order comes just weeks after the government outlawed foreign currency as legal tender and officially reintroduced the Zimbabwean dollar a decade after it was wiped out by hyperinflation. Units like the dollar and South Africa’s rand had been considered valid currency since 2009. “The purpose of the structure is to ensure mining entities have sufficient power,” Fortune Chasi told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Harare. “We can’t afford stoppages.” Large hotels in the resort town of Victoria Falls were also ordered to pay the state-owned power utility, Zesa Holdings, in foreign currency as a “stop-gap measure so that tourists aren’t inconvenienced” by power cuts, Chasi said. Zesa cuts power to most consumers for 18 hours a day, seven days a week, after drought collapsed its main hydro-power plant. Bloomberg

South African Musician Johnny Clegg Dies at 66
Johnny Clegg, a South African musician who performed in defiance of racial barriers imposed under the country’s apartheid system decades ago and celebrated its new democracy under Nelson Mandela, died Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66. The Grammy-nominated and British-born singer sometimes called the “White Zulu” died peacefully at home in Johannesburg with his family there, according to Clegg’s manager, Roddy Quin. … Clegg’s multi-racial bands during South Africa’s white minority rule attracted an international following. He crafted hits inspired by Zulu and township harmonies, as well as folk music and other influences. AP



Photo: Adam Jones