Africa Media Review for July 27, 2020

Dozens Killed in Darfur as Sudan Prepares to Send Troops to Troubled Region
UN officials on Sunday reported a fresh massacre of more than 60 people in Sudan’s West Darfur, as the country’s prime minister promised fresh troops for the conflict-stricken region. Attackers targeted members of the local Masalit community, looting and burning houses and part of the local market, a statement said. Around 500 armed men attacked Masteri Town, north of Beida, in Darfur on Saturday afternoon, said the statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). … On Sunday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the government would send security forces to conflict-stricken Darfur to “protect citizens and the farming season.” The force will include army and police forces, it said. On Friday, armed men drove into a village and killed 20 civilians returning to their fields for the first time in years, an eyewitness and a tribal chief told AFP. AFP

Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire Axed in No-Confidence Vote

Somalia’s parliament removed Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire from his post in a vote of no confidence on Saturday for failing to pave the way towards fully democratic elections, the speaker said. A whopping 170 of parliament’s 178 MPs backed the no confidence motion, and Khaire’s ouster was immediately endorsed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who had appointed him as prime minister in February 2017. The deputies had arrived at the National Assembly on Saturday to work on the organisation of the next national elections in 2021. “After learning that the government had failed in its promise to prepare a clear plan that paves the way for one-person-one-vote elections in 2021… parliament undertook a vote of no confidence against the government and its prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire,” parliamentary speaker Mohamed Mursal told reporters. AFP

China Dithers on Africa Debt Forgiveness over ‘Complex’ Loans

The Chinese government is developing cold feet at continued requests to forgive debt owed by African countries in what could place new pressure on the continent in the Covid-19 pandemic season. This week, Zambian President Edgar Lungu directly asked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for some “debt relief and cancellation” to save the economy, in a phone call, according to a dispatch issued from Lusaka. There was no commitment from Beijing to consider the request, according to a statement issued by Lungu’s office. … But Zambia’s case is not unique. China is owed about $145 billion in Africa, making it the biggest bilateral lender. In Kenya, it is owed some $5 billion, and rating agency Moody’s rated Ghana, Angola and Kenya as countries facing credit risks this year. … Ms. Yun Sun, a non-resident fellow for Global Economy and Development, Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, said Africa’s debt situation cannot improve unless China offers to consider forgiveness. “Even with this massive debt relief by so many players in the international community, without the participation of China in this endeavor, African countries still stand to suffer,” she observed in a paper. The East African

US Military: Russia Ships More Military Supplies to Libya

The U.S. military accused Russia on Friday of supplying more weapons, air defense systems and mercenaries to Libya’s front lines to shape the outcome of the escalating proxy war in the North African country. The accusation comes as rival Libyan factions – backed by different foreign powers pouring weapons and fighters into the country – prepare to face off over the strategic coastal city of Sirte, which sits next to Libya’s oil-export terminals and fields. The U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, said verified photographic evidence reveals Russia’s increased military support to boost commander Khalifa Hifter, based in eastern Libya, against the U.N.-supported government based in the capital, Tripoli, in the west. “The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian relief, and indicates the Russian Ministry of Defense is supporting these operations,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, AFRICOM director of operations. AP

Central African Republic’s Ousted Leader Bozizé to Run for President Again

The Central African Republic’s former president François Bozizé on Saturday announced he would run in a presidential election in December, a high-risk vote in an impoverished country that has been ravaged by civil war since his overthrow in 2013. Bozizé, who returned from exile in Uganda in mid-December, was chosen to be his party’s candidate at a congress in Bangui. … The former president took power after a 2003 coup, before being overthrown himself 10 years later by Michel Djotodia, head of the mainly Muslim Seleka rebellion in the predominantly Christian country. France intervened militarily in its former colony from 2013 to 2016 to push out the Seleka, winding down the operation after Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president. Touadera governs today with the support of a large UN peacekeeping operation, but most of the country is controlled by ex-rebels and militias. … Bozizé is still under sanctions by the United Nations for his role in the 2013 crisis, during which he is accused of supporting the Christian anti-Balaka militias. France24 with AFP

Caught between Climate Crisis and Armed Violence in Burkina Faso

Growing up in a community of farmers in northern Burkina Faso, KI, who prefers that his full name not be used for safety reasons, never wanted for much. His family ate what they sowed and bred enough cattle to feel financially secure. But now, for the first time in his life, the 65-year-old does not know how he is going to survive the months ahead. Decades of climate change and years of increasing violence by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) armed group as well as local defence forces – a combination of community volunteers armed by the government and groups who have taken up arms on their own – have pushed KI’s once comfortable family into poverty. Chased from his farm by armed men in November, he has been unable to cultivate. Meanwhile, his herd of 30 cows, most of which scattered and got lost during the attack, has been reduced to just two. Al Jazeera

Children in Nigeria and Surrounding Countries, Continuing to Endure ‘Horrendous Violations’

Girls and boys in northeast Nigeria are continuing to endure brutal abuse at the hands of Boko Haram, and are also being deeply affected by military operations taking place to counter the terrorist group, despite noteworthy efforts, according the UN chief’s latest report on children and armed conflict. “The children of Nigeria and neighboring countries continued to endure horrendous violations by Boko Haram,” said Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, in a statement on Thursday, adding that the group’s expansion across the Lake Chad Basin region is “a serious concern” for Secretary-General António Guterres. Between January 2017 and December 2019, the report described 5,741 grave violations against children in Nigeria. … The vast majority of the 1,433 UN-verified child casualties were attributed to Boko Haram, with suicide attacks the leading cause, according to the report. UN News

Kenya Urged to Revive Education in Northeast to Stop al-Shabab Recruiting

Conflict experts are warning that Kenya’s failure to restore education in its troubled northeastern regions will help terrorist group al-Shabab recruit local youth.  A report from the International Crisis Group calls on Kenyan authorities to cooperate with the locals to improve security and train teachers for the schools. Kenya’s northeastern region has begun the process of finding more teachers to lead classes when schools re-open next January. The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic gives the region time to hire teachers from the region after the non-local teachers fled the area due to insecurity. Khalif Sheikh Issack is the Garissa County education chief. He says the region is looking for at least 1,500 teachers to fill the gap left by others who left the region due to al-Shabab attacks. VOA

Indigenous Kenyans Are Putting Their Trust in the Government – Even as They’re Evicted

The two women were born in the forest more than 70 years ago, when it covered much of Kenya’s highlands. Over the years, successive waves of people with their axes and plows came, from British colonists to other Kenyans in search of fertile land, and the expanse of green shrank to just a few small patches of untouched woodland: the Mau Forest. Now tens of millions rely on the water that flows from its springs and live in houses built out of its wood. The women’s people, the Ogiek, claim to be the indigenous inhabitants of the Mau, and with the felling of the trees came the felling of much of their way of life: hunting tree hyraxes and antelope for meat and fur, and harvesting honey and medicinal herbs. A landmark 2017 ruling by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights affirmed the Ogiek’s right to live in the forest. Kenya’s government, which owns the forest, has barely acknowledged the ruling. The Washington Post

South Africa Warns COVID-19 Corruption Puts ‘Lives at Risk’

South Africa’s COVID-19 response is marred by corruption allegations around its historic $26 billion economic relief package, as the country with the world’s fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases braces for more. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a wide-ranging investigation into claims that unscrupulous officials and private companies are looting efforts to protect the country’s 57 million people. “More so than at any other time, corruption puts our lives at risk,” he said in a national address Thursday night. Food for the poor. Personal protective equipment for health workers. Grants for the newly laid off. All have been affected, he said. … In October, the head of the government’s Special Investigating Unit said fraud, waste and abuse in health care siphoned off $2.3 billion a year. The unit is already investigating more than 20 cases of corruption related to the COVID-19 relief money, spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said. South Africa now has more than 434,000 confirmed virus cases – well over half of the continent’s total – and over 6,600 deaths, while a new report has suggested the real death toll could be higher. AP

Morocco Shuts down Major Cities after Spike in COVID-19 Cases

Morocco will stop people entering and leaving some of its biggest cities from midnight to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases, the interior and health Ministries said on Sunday. The cities to be locked down include the economic powerhouse of Casablanca as well as Tangier, Marrakech, Fez and Meknes. The country eased a nationwide lockdown a month ago, though international flights are still suspended except special flights by national airlines carrying Moroccans or foreign residents. On Sunday, the health ministry said 633 new COVID-19 cases were recorded, one of the biggest daily rises so far, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 20,278, with 313 deaths and 16,438 recoveries. Morocco has carried out 1.1 million tests and has made mask-wearing mandatory. It has extended an emergency decree, until August 10, giving authorities leeway in restoring restrictive measures on a region-by-region basis depending on developments in the epidemic. Reuters

Tunisia President Designates New PM Amid Hopes of Ending Political Crisis

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Saturday designated the interior minister as the new prime minister to succeed Elyes Fakhfakh, who resigned over allegations of a conflict of interest, the presidency said. New premier Hichem Mechichi pledged to respond to the social and economic demands that have spawned constant protests in the North African country. “I will work to form a government that meets the aspirations of all Tunisians and to respond to their legitimate demands,” Mechichi said. Mechichi, 46, an independent, now has a month to form a government capable of winning a confidence vote in parliament by a simple majority, or the president will dissolve parliament and call for another election. Reuters

Africa Is Tackling Its Supply Chain Deficit with a US-Backed Research Center in Ghana

Supply chains across industries are going through an unprecedented global disruption in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which has shuttered airports, seaports and hampered the movement of goods and people around the world. … With Africa much of the focus is on supply chains around health and agriculture including food security-30% to 50% of the food produced in Sub Saharan Africa is estimated to be lost along the supply chain.  The issue might be less about major disruption on continent but more about the over-reliance on underdeveloped supply chains which struggle in the wake of the global crisis. This month the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a $15 million award to support a training center in supply chain management in Ghana to meet some of these challenges. The new Center for Applied Research and Innovation in Supply Chain-Africa (CARISCA) will be established at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partnership with Arizona State University. Quartz

‘I Can’t Give in’: The Togolese Nun Caring for Aids Patients Amid COVID-19

Dapaong is a buzzing, multi-religious city, 13 miles south of Togo’s border with Burkina Faso and more than 300 miles (500km) north of the capital, Lomé. In and around the town, Marie-Stella Kouak is well-known. One of the few female community leaders, she is easily recognised by her booming laugh and the white nun’s veil on her head. Raised in a polygamous family, Kouak is now a Catholic sister belonging to the Sister Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus congregation. She has lived here all of her 52 years, apart from a stay in France and Belgium to attend nursing courses. …Kouak has built up one of Dapaong’s most impactful non-profit organisations. In 1999, she founded Vivre dans l’Espérance (To Live in Hope) with a handful of volunteers to support people living with HIV and Aids. Soon, she started to take in Aids orphans, first in a building named after Saint Augustine and then in a bigger compound. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones