Africa Media Review for July 28, 2016

Crowds Throng Kinshasa Airport as Opposition Leader Tshisekedi Returns to DRC
Veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday after a two-year convalescence in Belgium, landing at Kinshasa airport to a rapturous welcome by thousands of fans. Large groups of supporters sporting Tshisekedi T-shirts and waving his flag headed for the airport from districts across the city of 11 million, as opposition members accused the government of deliberately delaying his landing. FRANCE 24’s correspondent, Thomas Nicolon, said up to 100,000 people had gathered around N’Djili international airport, where security forces struggled to contain the crowd. France 24

Witnesses: U.N. Peacekeepers Did Nothing As South Sudanese Soldiers Raped Women
Dozens of women and girls have reportedly been raped by South Sudanese government soldiers near a U.N. compound in the country’s capital, Juba. About 30,000 civilians have taken shelter in the U.N. base amid fighting in South Sudan, as we reported. The Associated Press spoke to witnesses and civilian leaders about the rampant sexual violence against ethnic Nuer women and girls there. “At least one assault occurred as peacekeepers watched,” witnesses told the wire service. “The mission takes very seriously allegations of peacekeepers not rendering aid to civilians in distress and the UNMISS force command is looking into these allegations in line with its established protocols,” Shantal Persaud, a spokesperson for the U.N. Mission in South Sudan, told The Two-Way. NPR

Machar Says His Replacement with Taban Deng Gai Illegal
South Sudanese former First Vice President, Riek Machar, has said his replacement with his ex-official, Taban Deng Gai, is “illegal” and reaffirmed his call for a third party force to be deployed in the national capital, Juba. He also said he is still the First Vice President per the peace agreement and only awaiting deployment of a third force in Juba in order to come back to his office. In his first interview with Aljazeera TV on Wednesday from his location “around Juba”, Machar said President Salva Kiir had no power to appoint a replacement if the President were to abide by the peace agreement signed in August last year to end 21 months of civil war.  Sudan Tribune

President Kiir is Willing to Deployment of Regional Forces : JMEC
Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the body tasked to oversee implementation for South Sudan peace agreement, said President Salva Kiir has expressed “willingness to deployment of foreign” in a private meeting contrary to his public statements. JMEC said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the South Sudanese leader disclosed his flexibility during a meeting on Tuesday with former Botswan President and JMEC chairman Festus Mogae. “Among the key points discussed during the productive meeting with President Kiir was his [Kiir] willingness to consider the deployment of a regional protection force in accordance with the recommendations of the IGAD Plus Summit and the Summit of African Union Leaders,” JMEC said in a statement also published on its website on Wednesday. Sudan Tribune

UN Condemns ‘Barbaric’ Boko Haram Violence in Nigeria
The United Nations has accused the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram of “almost unimaginable” violence and brutality in Nigeria. Stephen O’Brien, the UN humanitarian coordinator, said the militant group’s actions had forced thousands to flee and left unprecedented numbers in need. The UN estimates that more than nine million people in the region need humanitarian assistance. Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. Mr O’Brien told the UN Security Council that Nigeria was bearing “the brunt of the crisis”, with Nigerians accounting for seven of the nine million people in need.  BBC

Nigerian Rebels Say Government Not Serious about Talks
Militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta region have accused the government of not being serious about pursuing dialogue, warning that they will bring oil output from the region to zero if the administration does not change course. “They [the government of Muhammadu Buhari] are not serious about any dialogue but [they] make it seem that the Niger Delta Avengers are the ones not ready for dialogue,” Mudoch Agbinibo, spokesman of the militant group, said in a statement on Wednesday. The group claimed that the government was purchasing drones to crush the militants while feigning readiness for dialogue. “The said ‘peace talks’ or ‘dialogue’ by the federal government is a delay tactic employed by the federal government to enable their purchased drones arrive from the United States by the end of August at the latest,” according to the group’s spokesman. Anadolu Agency

South Africa’s ANC Likely to Lose Local Vote in Major Cities: polls
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) looks likely to lose major urban areas it has held since coming to power in 1994 at the end of apartheid, opinion polls ahead of next week’s local elections showed. The economic hub of Johannesburg, the capital Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay on the east coast, could all fall to the main opposition party, Democratic Alliance, on Aug. 3, according to polls published last week by Ipsos. The ANC’s support looked set to slip to 31 percent in Johannesburg from 59 percent in the 2011 local elections, and in Tshwane municipality, which includes the capital Pretoria, to 23 percent from 55 percent. In Nelson Mandela Bay, support was just 28 percent, from 52 percent last time, the Ipsos polls said. With its reputation bruised by accusations of corruption against President Jacob Zuma, and high unemployment as Africa’s most industrialised country teeters on the edge of a recession, voters are disenchanted, Ipsos and other polls showed. Reuters

Egypt and Turkey: Why a Coup Succeeded in One and Failed in the Other
Three years ago, Egypt’s military carried out a swift and successful coup, ousting a conservative Muslim ruler and party that had been elected. A part of Turkey’s armed forces attempted a very similar overthrow on July 15. In both countries, the two most populous in the region, democracy suffered a setback in the wake of the military actions. The parallels mostly end there. In Turkey, the coup failed in part, it seems, because of the country’s long and often bitter history of military takeovers. Both supporters and opponents quickly united behind President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They heeded his call and took to the streets, fending off army tanks, knowing the perils of military rule in decades past. NPR

Eni, Saipem To Be Tried in Algeria Corruption Case
Italian oil major Eni, oil services group Saipem and former Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni have been ordered by an Italian judge to stand trial in an Algerian corruption case. The long-running case revolves around allegations Saipem paid intermediaries around 198 million euros ($218 million) to bag contracts worth 8 billion euros with Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach. Saipem has previously said the allegations relate to events that took place up to the beginning of 2010. In statements on Wednesday, Eni and Saipem said they were confident they would be able to prove the allegations were groundless. A lawyer representing Scaroni, CEO at Eni for nine years to 2014, said his client was innocent. “We are sure the court will recognise this as the judge in the first preliminary hearing had done,” said Enrico de Castiglione. Reuters

Displaced and Forgotten in Central African Republic
As the humanitarian workers drive in to each village, people assemble around their vehicles or drag plastic chairs and benches to the shade to discuss the latest events: Which places have been attacked, burned or looted by armed groups, the number killed in this place or that, where people have fled to and how many have arrived from surrounding areas in search of safety. The emergency response team of NGO Action Against Hunger is on a mission in the Central African Republic’s northern Ouham-Pendé province – near the border with Cameroon – to reach out to those who have fled from a sectarian conflict that has left nearly one million people displaced, according to the UN. More than half have left the country, while the rest are living in camps inside Central African Republic (CAR) or sheltering with relatives and host families. Al Jazeera

Mugabe Supporters Gather in Harare as Youth Forum Asks Election Boss to Resign
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has rallied thousands of supporters including some who fought in the 1970’s independence war in response to harsh criticism he received last week from a previously loyal group of veterans. Thousands gathered at the headquarters of the ruling ZANU-PF party in the capital, Harare, to show support for the 92-year-old Mugabe, who has faced growing dissent in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) Youth Forum held a peaceful march to Parliament where they handed over a petition calling for the immediate resignation of the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Rita Makarau. One of the police officers said he had been instructed by the Officer Commanding Harare District police to block them as their demonstration had not been cleared. Mail and Guardian

Scathing Ex-loyalists Face ‘Severe’ Punishment, Says Robert Mugabe
Long-time loyalists who turned against Robert Mugabe last week will face “severe” punishment, Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old president has said as he vowed to stay in power for “a long time”. Mugabe made his first public response on Wednesday to a scathing statement by veterans of the country’s 1970’s liberation war, in which they called him dictatorial, manipulative and egocentric. The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association had long been quick to defend Mugabe, even with violence. Mugabe has now demanded new leadership for the association, claiming western countries have infiltrated it. The Guardian

Britain Not Bankrolling Mugabe’s Regime – Ambassador
Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe has denied claims that her government is secretly supporting President Robert Mugabe’s regime, according to a report on Wednesday. Zimbabwe’s privately-owned NewsDay quoted Catriona Laing as saying that the United Kingdom would not give money to Mugabe’s regime until it introduced key administrative reforms. These included good governance, an end to police brutality and respect for court orders. “No United Kingdom taxpayers’ money has been or will be used to fund the government of Zimbabwe. Any decision on future UK support for a multi-year International Monetary Fund programme will be based on the considerations described above,” Laing was quoted as saying. News 24

Zimbabwe Stock Market Records $104 Trade
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) recorded turnover of $104 on Tuesday as investor confidence in the troubled country plunged to new lows. Stock brokers Lynton Edwards said it was the lowest volume of trade on the bourse since 19 February, 2009 when Zimbabwe shifted to a multicurrency system after abandoning its inflation ravaged dollar. On that day, only 3026 shares worth $30 were traded. According to ZSE’s website, the $104.93 made on Tuesday was for 6,995 Barclays Zimbabwe shares. Barclays shares traded unchanged at 1.5 cents with foreign investors accounting for $91 of that meagre value. On Monday, the market had recorded turnover of $14,197. The local bourse has been relying on foreign investors who have carried the market in the absence of locals. Foreign investors account for over 70 percent of the activity on the ZSE.  The Africa Report

SADC Declares El Nino-induced Drought a Regional  Disaster
The southern African regional bloc SADC has appealed for billions of dollars to help people affected by an El Nino-induced drought. On Tuesday, the Southern African Development Community declared the drought a regional disaster. Over 40 million people have been affected by the drought. 23 million of them require immediate humanitarian aid, SADC says. El Nino – a temporary weather phenomenon- causes shifting weather patterns across the globe. In Southern Africa, erratic or missing rains have led to two consecutive bad harvests and mass deaths of lifestock. Deutsche Welle

Morocco Arrests 52 Suspects in ISIS-linked Terror Cell
Morocco’s Interior Ministry says it has arrested 52 people suspected of being part of a cell linked to the Islamic State group. A ministry statement on Wednesday said the arrests were made July 19, and represented the largest group detained among numerous suspected cells dismantled in recent years. The statement says suspects were from all over the country and were planning attacks on various sites inside and outside Morocco, including music festivals. No further information was provided about the individuals. Authorities say they seized weapons, manuals describing how to make explosives and chemical weapons, books about suicide bombings, and ISIS flags. News 24

‘Wanted’ Posters are Popping Up All Over Tunisia’s Capital 
For the past few weeks, Sana Shili, a 23-year-old raven-haired student, has been dedicating less time to her books. Instead, she and her friends have been plastering “wanted” posters in public places in cities all across Tunisia. The posters are often swiftly taken down by authorities, she said. Shili is a founding member of a movement called Manich Msamah (“I Will Not Forgive” in Arabic), and the posters feature members of the regime of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who led the country for 23 years before fleeing it in 2011. Ben Ali was the first leader ousted in what became known as the Arab Spring uprisings. The Washington Post

Kenya Plans Fresh Talks To Win EAC Support for Trade Deal with Europe
Kenya plans a new round of talks next month in a last-ditch attempt to convince the other members of East African Community (EAC) to sign an agreement for local goods to continue enjoying duty-free access to European market. Kenyan officials Tuesday downplayed fears that the EAC trade bloc will miss the October 1 deadline set by the European Union secretariat, in what would introduce duty and quotas on Kenyan exports to Europe, making them uncompetitive. This came after Tanzania recently said it would not sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union that grants regional goods duty-free access to Europe, citing Britain’s exit from EU. Uganda has said it is still reviewing the terms. According to EPA terms, the EU can only strike a trade deal with a bloc comprising several nations, meaning a single country cannot go it all alone. This has limited Kenya and Rwanda that are willing to sign up. The East African

Finally, Nigeria Has Really Let Go and the Naira is Floating
Following prolonged periods of a fixed exchange rate owing to depleted foreign reserves, last month, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) decided on a change of tack to adopt more flexibility. The new policy, the CBN said, would see the value of Nigeria’s naira currency determined by market forces and after the policy was adopted, the naira predictably fell sharply from around 199 naira per dollar to 282 naira per dollar. But after the first day of the new floating policy, rather than the expected volatility in accordance with varying market conditions, the naira stabilized and it soon be came clear the naira had simply moved from one fixed peg to a new one. But in the past week, that appears to no longer be the case as the naira’s value has began to show the volatility expected of a floated currency related to market conditions. Quartz

Algeria’s Identity Debate Over Adopting French Teaching
A debate in Algeria about plans to switch to teaching science in the French language is raising arguments about the country’s cultural identity. Education minister Nouria Benghebrit has suggested that teaching in French could improve students’ results. Universities in Algeria teach science in French, but schools teach in Arabic. There have been concerns that students face a language barrier when they are taught in French at university, with many failing in their first year. But opponents of such a change have argued that this would damage the identity of the North African country’s Arab majority. The plans have suggested that maths, physics and natural science subjects in secondary schools should be taught in French. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones