Africa Media Review for July 23, 2019

Ethiopia Referendum: Dozens Killed in Sidama Clashes
At least 25 people have died in clashes between Ethiopian security forces and activists in southern Ethiopia, hospital officials have told the BBC. The officials said security forces fired bullets during the protests across the Sidama region. Activists from the Sidama ethnic group were set to declare their own federal state on Thursday. They accused the government of failing to hold a promised referendum on the issue. The Sidama are Ethiopia’s fifth biggest ethnic group, making up 4% of the population and are mainly based in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional state. The four bigger communities all have their own regions within Ethiopia’s ethnically based federal system. BBC

Ethiopia Says Army to Take over Security in Troubled South
Ethiopia announced Monday that soldiers and federal police will take over security in a restive southern region following days of violence that has left at least 18 people dead. “The regular security structure has been unable to ensure rule of law and has been stymied by various agendas,” said a statement read on regional state television late Monday. “From today onward the southern region will be under a federal security forces-led command post.” … In its statement, the government said security had deteriorated and the southern region was plagued by “strife, destruction, displacement and robberies”. “Armed and illegal groups have been wreaking havoc in the region and the army has been trying to restore the rule of law,” it said. It said the federal takeover came at the request of regional officials. Details of a new central command post be made known in coming days, it added. AFP

Ethiopia: Death Toll Rises to “More than 35” in Sidama Zone, Hundreds Displaced after Losing Properties
The number of civilians killed in Sidama zone in southern Ethiopia since July 18 has risen to “more than 35”, according to Yigezuh Adamu, a resident of Yirgalem who is currently in Hawassa city. “Hundreds of people are also displaced after their properties were vandalized,” Yegezu said. “We are trying to coordinate a report on the amount of casualties and property damages so as to provide it to the regional state,” Yigezuh said, referring to himself and his friends. Hagere Selam is one of the most affected towns. Another eye witness who is also currently in Hawassa city told Addis Standard. “On Friday and Saturday at least three churches were burned to the ground in Hagere Selam by angry mobs who went out to the streets to protest the killings by security forces.” Quoting an eye witness, DW Amharic reported yesterday that the number of people killed has risen to 34 and said 14 of the victims were killed in Hagere Selam town on Friday July 19 when the police randomly opened fire at a group of civilians who were marching toward a police station after a young man was killed the previous night. Addis Standard

Nigeria: Shiite Protest: 12 Reportedly Killed as IGP Adamu Meets Buhari
A Shiite protest that turned violent on Monday was the major issue of discussion at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu. At least 12 people, including a police officer, were reported killed and several injured when the protesters clashed with security officers. Amnesty International in a statement said it got report that “six people were shot dead amid a reckless use of lethal force by the Nigerian police” during the protest. … Monday’s incident came about two weeks after two Shiites were killed and two police officers injured after a similar protest turned violent at the National Assembly. The Shiites are demanding the release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention for alleged murder since December 2015. Mr El-Zakzaky was taken into custody with his wife after soldiers massacred hundreds of his followers in Zaria, Kaduna State, between December 12 and 15. … A judicial panel set up by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, found the military culpable in the massacre, recommending a major-general and other officers for trial. Premium Times

Somalia Car Bombing Kills at Least 17
At least 17 people were killed in a car bombing in Mogadishu on Monday, medical sources tell VOA’s Somali service. The director of Mogadishu’s largest hospital, Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, said another 28 people were taken to the hospital with injuries. The explosion occurred when a suspected suicide bomber detonated a vehicle near a hotel close to the busy K-4 junction in Mogadishu. Witnesses told VOA Somali that the vehicle was turned back from a security checkpoint that leads to Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport. Al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for the attack. The explosion comes just four days after the killing of a senior al-Shabab intelligence officer. VOA

With Guns, Cash and Terrorism, Gulf States Vie for Power in Somalia
When a small car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the bustling port city of Bosaso in northern Somalia, local news reports chalked it up to Islamist militants retaliating for American airstrikes. At least eight people were wounded, and a local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility. The attack, however, may have also been part of a very different conflict: one among wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies competing for power and profits across the Horn of Africa. Over the last two years, war-torn Somalia has emerged as a central battleground, with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar each providing weapons or military training to favored factions, exchanging allegations about bribing local officials, and competing for contracts to manage ports or exploit natural resources. NY Times

Cameroonian Forces in Anglophone Region Accused of Killing Four People
Cameroonian forces have killed at least four civilians during security operations in one of the country’s anglophone regions in the past month, according to a human rights organisation, including two men with disabilities. An uprising by separatists that began two years ago and the response by security forces have caused intense suffering in the anglophone regions of the former German colony, which was carved up by France and Britain during the first world war. Members of the Cameroonian air force killed a 20-year-old man with a mental disability, shooting him in the chest in his home, and a construction worker they had stopped, forced off his motorbike, stripped and dragged on the road, according to Human Rights Watch. Both alleged killings took place on 11 July in the Alachu neighbourhood of Bamenda, the capital of the north-west region, researchers said, adding that residents were too frightened of the authorities to register complaints. The Guardian

Cameroon: Separatist Fighters Occupy 50 Schools
Cameroon says armed separatists are occupying more than 50 schools in its western English-speaking regions, using them for training and to hide from the military. The alleged occupation could complicate government plans to restart education in the regions in September. “We have about 48 schools that have been destroyed in our system and another 53 schools that are occupied presently,” Cameroon’s basic education chief for the northwest region, Wilfred Wambeng Ndong, told reporters Sunday. “As regards our teachers, we are doubting the whereabouts of more than 3,000 teachers for the schools that are not going (working).” VOA

British Troops to Join Force Countering Mali Militants
British troops will be deployed in Mali next year to join in the world’s deadliest peacekeeping operation, the Ministry of Defence has announced. The 250-strong force will provide a long-range reconnaissance capability for the United Nations deployment in the troubled African country which has struggled to decisively counter Islamic militants, armed separatists and traffickers. The deployment is likely to place British troops in combat situations, facing risks of ambushes and roadside bombs in remote and hostile environments. … The UK has about 600 personnel deployed on peacekeeping operations and is the sixth largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. The Guardian

South Africa’s Anti-Corruption Chief Busisiwe Mkhwebane Lied under Oath
South Africa’s highest court has ruled that a top state official charged with investigating corruption lied under oath and acted in bad faith. It upheld a court ruling from last year that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had acted in bad faith while investigating a bank bailout. It is the latest controversy to hit Busisiwe Mkhwebane. She has been accused of undermining President Cyril Ramaphosa’s war against high-level corruption. Her critics say she is being used by supporters of former President Jacob Zuma, who is facing corruption charges. Last week, Ms Mkhwebane ruled that Mr Ramaphosa had misled parliament over a campaign donation and should be investigated, following a complaint from the Democratic Alliance opposition party. Mr Ramaphosa said on Sunday he would be mounting a legal challenge. He denied the allegations, saying her findings were “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed”. … Many of Ms Mkhwebane’s recent reports have become swamped by scandal and led to claims she is siding with Mr Zuma’s faction within the governing African National Congress (ANC), says the BBC’s Andrew Harding in Johannesburg. BBC

Kenya’s Finance Minister Pleads Not Guilty to Corruption Charges
Kenya’s Finance Minister Henry Rotich has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges, a day after his arrest over graft in a multi-million dollar project to build two massive dams. Rotich appeared in an anti-corruption court in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday along with his deputy, Kamau Thugge. Prosecutors charged him with multiple counts, including abuse of office, conspiracy to defraud the public, failure to comply with guidelines relating to procurement and committing an offence of financial misconduct, among others. … Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Samburu County, said Kenyans were following “very closely” the “hugely significant” case, adding that the high-profile minister is a close ally of both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. … Some see Rotich’s prosecution as evidence of a growing rift between Kenyatta and Ruto. Al Jazeera

Eastern DRC: Distressed Calls for Security from Ituri Residents
According to unverified videos, youths in Bunia carried the severed head of a woman through the streets. The message: They want an end to the violence. The government, however, denies that these videos are real. A macabre, but necessary, wake-up call for the government is how many Congolese described the protests in the provincial capital Bunia. Last week, five decapitated bodies were found in the nearby area of Mwanga. All of the victims belonged to the same family. Carrying the head of one of the victims, youths took to the streets, calling on the government to take concrete measures against the bloodshed. Ituri has in recent months been in a constant state of insecurity. Rights groups say rebel groups control large areas and have instilled fear amongst the population. The conflicts between the different rebel groups and state security forces have flared up repeatedly over the past 20 years. DW

DRC Health Minister Resigns after Presidency ‘Hijacks’ Ebola Response
Congo’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga resigned from his post Monday to protest the president’s decision to take over management of the response to the Ebola outbreak. “Following the president’s decision to manage the Ebola epidemic at his level, I handed in my resignation as Minister for Health,” Ilunga wrote in a tweet. Ilunga, who had been health minister for two years, said his resignation was in reaction to the announcement Saturday by President Felix Tshisekedi that he would take over direct supervision of the response to the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo, which has lasted for nearly a year and has killed more than 1,600 people. … In his resignation Ilunga deplored the lack of cooperation between him, the president and the prime minister on response to the ebola outbreak. AP

Hopes Dashed as Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Process Stalls
In the heady days after long-time foes Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace deal a year ago, Teklit Amare’s Peace and Love Cafe near the newly-opened border overflowed with customers. Now, he paces among empty tables, wondering aloud how to keep his business open as optimism fades, with borders again sealed and hopes of progress dashed. The Zalambessa border crossing closed at the end of last year without explanation as leaders have remained silent. Others crossings followed suit. … The border opening was just one breakthrough in the whip-fast rapprochement between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki that began just over a year ago. Following Abiy’s initial overtures, the two sides embarked on a rapid mending of ties that caught even close observers by surprise, re-opening embassies, resuming flights and taking meetings across the region. But enthusiasm for the deal has given way to frustration—and not just near the border. On other goals too—from inking new trade deals to granting Ethiopia access to Eritrea’s ports—high initial hopes have gone unmet. The lack of communication from both governments makes it difficult to pinpoint why the peace process appears stuck. AFP

Zimbabwe: Audit Reveals Massive Rot at Zesa, Managers Evaded Tender Processes
STATE power utility, ZESA paid some US$396,000 to companies that supplied it with fuel, cars and insurance in 2015 without going to tender as required by law, an audit by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has revealed. The report fingers former top managers and directors who include those suspended late last year and details irregularities in ZESA Enterprise (ZENT) procurements. ZESA flouted regulations by evading the State Procurement Board (SPB) in a series of payments worth US$396,794, 84 it made to Cell Insurance, Total Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd and car supplier Quest Motor Corporation in 2015. … ZESA is battling to deal with a power crisis that has threatened to leave the whole country in a blackout. Energy Minister Fortune Chasi has blamed consumers’ failure to pay bills as the major reason the parastatal is failing in its mandate to supply electricity. Some consumers who recently spoke to NewZimbabwe.com have pointed out ZESA management’s opulence and corruption as the reason behind the recent crisis. New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean Vice President in China to Receive Treatment for Unknown Illness
Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has been flown to China for medical treatment, a presidential spokesman said on Monday, but gave no details of the health problems that have kept Chiwenga away from work for more than two months. The 62-year-old former general led a coup against Robert Mugabe in 2017 and was subsequently appointed one of the two deputies to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He retained that position after last year’s election. Zimbabweans closely follow the health of Chiwenga because he is widely seen as the power behind Mnangagwa and the front-runner to succeed him. His absence from public duties has stoked speculation about the gravity of his illness, which authorities have sought to play down. Reuters

Gambian Lieutenant Implicates Jammeh in 2004 Killing of Top Journalist
A Gambian army officer on Monday accused ex-president Yahya Jammeh of ordering the 2004 murder of journalist Deyda Hydara and admitted he was involved in the killing. Hydara, who was editor and co-founder of the independent The Point daily and a correspondent for AFP and Journalists Without Borders (RSF), was killed by unidentified gunmen in his car on the outskirts of the Gambian capital Banjul in December 2004. The murder was widely condemned locally and abroad as another sign of Jammeh’s despotic rule and his stifling of all opposition in tiny West African nation. AFP

South Sudan’s Kiir Bans Singing of Anthem in His Absence
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has banned anyone from singing the national anthem unless he is present, according to a government minister. Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP news on Monday that different leaders and institutions were playing the anthem at whim, which was an abuse of the national tune, written shortly before independence in 2011. “For the information of everybody the national anthem is only meant for the president, in a function only attended by the president, not for everybody,” Makuei said. … Makuei said that with the exception of South Sudan’s embassies, which represented the president, and schools where children are taught the anthem, no one was allowed to sing the song in Kiir’s absence. The minister said that military leaders had also been banned from addressing the public when in uniform. Al Jazeera

Tanzania’s Self-Formed ‘Silicon Dar’ Turning City into Smart Hub
On a stretch of Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road between Bamaga and the junction of Morocco Road in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, sit the headquarters of major telecoms in the country—Tigo, Vodacom, Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTCL), Zanzibar Telecom (Zantel), Halotel and Airtel Tanzania. Also to call this place home are state-run institutions such as the Commission for Science and Technology Tanzania (Costech), University of Dar es Salaam College of ICT, Buni Hub and the TTCL data centre. This pool of diverse entities is joined at the hip, as it were, by technology, for this area is arguably Tanzania’s newest tech hub, seen by enthusiasts as a reflection of the country’s thriving innovation ecosystem, and aptly named by tech experts as “Silicon Dar.” … In 2011 there were only two innovation hubs and one business incubator. Buni Hub and Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBI) were based at Costech while Kinu Co-Creation Hub was located further down the road. Today there are around a dozen innovation hubs on the same road. These hubs offer opportunities and resources to hundreds of youth entrepreneurs who would not otherwise have access to the knowledge or means to turn their ideas into reality. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones