Africa Media Review for July 29, 2016

DR Congo Judge Says Pressured into Sentencing Katumbi
A senior judge has said she was pressured into sentencing opposition figure Moise Katumbi to a three-year jail term by Congolese authorities seeking to thwart his presidential ambitions. Katumbi, seen as the leading challenger to President Joseph Kabila in elections due later this year, was last month found guilty in absentia of fraud in a real estate deal. The ruling was handed down by a three-judge tribunal but in a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday, the presiding judge said officials had harassed her into signing the verdict and even threatened her with arrest if she did not comply. “I was forced… to sentence Mr Moise Katumbi,” Chantale Ramazani Wazuri wrote in the letter addressed to the government, the European Union, the African Union and UN representatives. The East African

South Sudan on the Brink of Abyss: UN Chief
South Sudan stands on the brink of an abyss, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday after a fresh flareup in fighting unleashed a wave of sexual violence. Ban told the Security Council that he was “appalled by the scale of sexual violence,” with UN rights officials reporting at least 120 cases of rape over the past three weeks. “As we meet, South Sudan remains precariously poised on the brink of an abyss,” said Ban during an open debate on peacebuilding in Africa. Times Live

UN: Promise of Peace and Justice ‘Squandered’ in South Sudan
The promise of peace and justice in South Sudan has been “squandered” and the country is “poised on the brink of an abyss,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday. Ban said he is appalled by the scale of sexual violence documented by human rights monitors, who found that South Sudanese government soldiers raped dozens of ethnic Nuer women and girls last week just outside a U.N. camp where they were seeking protection. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has documented 120 cases of rape and sexual violence against civilians throughout Juba, the capital, since the latest fighting began, spokeswoman Shantal Persaud said Wednesday. “We demand accountability for all atrocities and that leaders of South Sudan commit to the peace process,” Ban said at the opening of a Security Council session on peacebuilding in Africa. AP on ABC News

Canadian Company Sold Armoured Vehicles to South Sudan: Report
A Canadian-owned company sold more than 170 armoured vehicles to South Sudan’s military in the midst of a brutal civil war , a United Nations report says. Some of the vehicles were later observed in heavy combat zones, according to a separate report by an arms-control advocacy group. Human-rights observers, including UN experts, have documented how South Sudan’s army has engaged in massacres, rapes, looting, arbitrary arrests and a scorched-earth strategy against civilians since warfare erupted in December, 2013. Tens of thousands have died in the violence since then, making it one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. The armoured vehicles sold to South Sudan were manufactured by Canadian-owned Streit Group at a factory in the United Arab Emirates, a UN expert panel said in a report submitted to the Security Council earlier this year. The Globe and Mail

Security Council Urges Cooperation Among Countries in West Africa and the Sahel to Tackle Boko Haram
While welcoming recent political developments recently observed in West Africa, the United Nations Security Council today stressed the need to increase military cooperation between the States in the region and Sahel to fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram. In a Presidential Statement approved by the body, the Council’s 15 members welcomed political developments including, the holding of elections “free and peaceful” in Niger, Benin and Cabo Verde. At the same time, they stressed the importance of ensuring the forthcoming elections in Ghana and Gambia are also “free, fair, peaceful, inclusive and credible.” The Council, however, expressed specific concern over recent political events in Guinea-Bissau and called on national actors “to respect the Constitution and the rule of law, while trying to find a political solution to the crisis.” UN

Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Lake Chad Basin Region
Attacks by Boko Haram continue, mainly in north-eastern Nigeria and southern Niger, and to a lesser extent in northern Cameroon and the Lac region of Chad. Terrorists persist in targeting innocent civilians, including through suicide attacks, often using young children. Despite commendable regional efforts, the group continues to threaten regional stability, as illustrated by the 3 June attack on a military base in Bosso town, south-eastern Niger. Lake Chad Basin countries face a serious humanitarian crisis. Significant numbers of refugees and internally displaced people add pressure on host communities that are already food insecure. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, will brief you on the humanitarian challenges. UN

Has a Police Crackdown on Mugabe’s Once Loyal Supporters Begun?
Zimbabwe police have detained the spokesman of the veterans association that turned on President Robert Mugabe last week and called him dictatorial, raising concerns that a crackdown on what had been the president’s most loyal supporters has begun. Douglas Mahiya’s detention comes a day after the 92-year-old Mugabe vowed “severe” punishment for the authors of the harshly worded statement by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association. Mahiya was detained on Wednesday night, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said Thursday. CS Monitor

South African Candidates Targets of ‘Political Murders’
The murders of 12 local politicians in South Africa have raised fears of a campaign of violence and claims of factional fighting within the ruling African National Congress (ANC). The killings in June and July have largely occurred in KwaZulu-Natal province and targeted ANC candidates standing for positions as ward councilors. “Without a doubt, the ongoing assassinations are political killings orchestrated within the different factions of political parties,” political analyst Andre Duvenhage told Anadolu Agency on Thursday. In a sign of the growing tension surrounding local politics in South Africa, the ANC’s nomination of Thoko Didiza to replace Kgosientso Ramokgopa as mayor of Pretoria in the Aug. 3 election last month led to rioting.  Anadolu Agency

Zambia President Lungu Threatens Opposition
Zambian President Edgar Lunga has warned the opposition UPND not to cause trouble after the country’s elections next month, the Lusaka Times reported on Thursday. He claimed he was aware of the United Party for National Development’s plans to cause trouble and would not allow this as long as he remained president of the country. News24 reported that Lungu had previously called UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema stupid for not conceding defeat in the upcoming August 11 general elections. He threatened to instruct police to “sort out” the opposition. Hichilema said he would not be intimidated by Lungu’s “idle threats” and that Lungu was stupid for using state institutions like the police to intimidate voters. Lungu, the Patriotic Front leader, recently announced that his government would prioritise development in areas where it received the most votes in next month’s elections. News 24

King of Impoverished Swaziland Gets Millions in Budget
King Mswati III’s royal budget has been increased to $69.8 million in the current financial year at a time when Swaziland continues to struggle with rising poverty and a sluggish economic growth, official documents reveal. According to official figures mentioned in the “Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019” report, the royal budget was $55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by $13.9 million. The budget also has an extra $6.7 million allocation for the king’s private jet. Moreover, the budget for construction of link roads to royal palaces has been increased by $6.4 million. It was $2 million in the last budget. The royal houses budget was also increased by $10 million to reach $17 million. Anadolu Agency

Japan to Spend $120 Million on Counter-Terrorism in Africa
Japan’s foreign minister says his country will spend $120 million to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts in Africa. Fumio Kishida told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that the money would be used to strengthen information and data collection in Africa, improve border controls with cutting-edge technology and improve criminal justice enforcement among other things. The money will also be used for human resource development, training some 30,000 people between 2016 and 2018. He did not provide more specifics on the type of training. Kishida made his remarks at meeting of Security Council discussing peacebuilding in Africa. AP on ABC News

Chinese Soldiers to Join Anti-piracy Efforts in the Gulf of Guinea
Chinese soldiers will assist Western African countries in securing navigational safety in the Gulf of Guinea at a time when the region is facing an increasing threat from pirates, a visiting Chinese major general said here Thursday. China will join the international anti-piracy effort in the Gulf of Guinea by helping littoral states in the region build necessary infrastructure, said Qian Lihua, former head of the foreign affairs office of China’s Ministry of National Defence. Speaking at a meeting on African peace and stability, the Chinese major general also put forward a few proposals on fighting piracy in the region. He called on the international community to help regional countries strengthen their capacity by training maritime security troops, putting more financial and technical resources into anti-piracy efforts and expanding development aid to those countries so as to rid poverty and raise the employment rate among young people. Xinhua

China, Africa Ink $17 Bln Preliminary Cooperation Pacts: Xinhua
Chinese companies and banks agreed preliminary deals with African counterparts on $17 billion worth of cooperation in sectors including infrastructure, energy, pharmaceuticals and information technology, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. Companies and financial institutions signed letter of intent for 39 cooperations pacts at a China-Africa economic and trade event in Beijing attended by more than 400 delegates. Xinhua did not give further details. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a $60 billion development initiative at a summit in South Africa, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and cancel some debts. Such an initiative would proceed despite China’s slowing economy, Chinese officials have said. Reuters

Egypt Convicts Top Anti-Corruption Official of ‘False News’
An Egyptian court on Thursday convicted the country’s former top anti-corruption official of “spreading false news” over a damning report he had issued, sentencing him to a year in prison that he must pay fines to avoid. Judge Haitham el-Saghair passed the verdict against former chief auditor Hesham Genena, who had alleged that massive corruption had cost the country billions of dollars. He also fined him 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,250) which, if paid along with an additional 10,000 pounds, will allow him to avoid incarceration. Genena, a former judge, had led the Central Auditing Organization until he was dismissed by a decree from Egypt’s general-turned-politician President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. AP on ABC News

Haftar Forces Suffer Losses in Libya Fighting
Clashes between two rival factions in Libya fighting for control of the eastern city of Benghazi have killed at least 19 fighters and wounded several more. Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a renegade general, clashed with fighters loyal to the Shura Council of the Benghazi Revolutionaries (SCBR). At least 17 pro-Haftar and two SCBR fighters were killed, and more than 20 were wounded. Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army has carried out air strikes in Benghazi, under the control of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, including in the city’s Ganfouda district. Al Jazeera

Little Progress Made in Efforts to Dismantle Human Smuggling Rings
On October 3, 2013, hundreds of African migrants desperate to reach Europe died less than 400 meters from reaching their goal. With the Italian island of Lampedusa in sight, the migrants’ rickety, overcrowded boat began to sink. They set a blanket on fire to signal for help, but flames engulfed the ship. The passengers crowded to one side, and the vessel capsized. The official death toll was 368, according to the International Organization for Migration. Others remain missing and most likely drowned. Those rescued live with emotional and physical scars, not only from the sinking but also from the trip itself, because many were raped or tortured by traffickers. VOA

‘Nigerians Executed’ in Indonesia
Indonesia has carried out the executions of four drug convicts, including three foreigners. The Indonesian man and three Nigerians were killed by firing squad shortly after midnight local time (17:00 GMT) at the Nusakambangan prison island. A further 10 convicts being held on the island are also expected to be put to death in the near future. Amnesty International condemned the executions as a “deplorable act” that violated local and international law. Indonesia’s Deputy Attorney-General Noor Rachmad said it was “not a pleasant thing but it was to implement the law”. “The executions are only aimed at halting drug crimes,” he said, adding that the rest “will be carried out in stages”. BBC

Algeria Votes — But for What?
[…] The question is, how long will the government manage to impose scripted elections on a population ready for the risks and rewards of an unscripted future? Clearly, North Africa and Europe have a vital stake in Algeria’s stability and reliability. With its immense oil and natural gas reserves, Algeria is the European Union’s third-largest energy supplier, no small matter given Europe’s rocky relations with another energy supplier, Russia. Moreover, Algeria has the region’s largest economy, its largest population and its largest and best-trained army. All of which contributed to Kerry’s photo op in Algeria: Bouteflika’s may be a zombie regime, but it’s our zombie regime. Tellingly, this sentiment is shared by a number of older Algerians. Yes, Bouteflika had scarcely appeared or spoken in public since he suffered a stroke last year. But he remains the man who ended the “Black Decade,” the civil war that began in 1991 when the government canceled elections that an Islamic party was poised to win. By the end of the decade, 100,000 to 200,000 civilians had been killed. LA Times

UN Suspends Aid Deliveries in Nigeria After Unicef Convoy Attacked
The United Nations has temporarily suspended aid deliveries in Nigeria’s north-eastern state of Borno, the former stronghold of jihadists Boko Haram, after a humanitarian convoy was attacked, the UN children’s agency Unicef said on Thursday. Unicef said in a statement that unknown assailants attacked the convoy on Thursday as it returned to Maiduguri from delivering aid in Bama, injuring a Unicef employee and an International Organization for Migration contractor. “The United Nations has temporarily suspended humanitarian assistance missions pending review of the security situation,” it said. The Guardian

Activists Raise Alarm Bells as Kenyan Schools are Targeted by Land Grabbers
When a senior government head attempted to grab several acres of land from Lang’ata Road Primary school in January 2015, he opened a Pandora’s box on an emotional issue that had been ailing the education system. The school, located in the Western part of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, is one of the oldest in the country. It is only a fifteen minutes drive from the Central Business District where property prices have been on the increase. The school shares a wall with the Weston Hotel believed to be the property of the government official. The official constructed a perimeter wall around the land – estimated to be worth more than USD 900 000 – launching a war between the school parents, students and teachers, who ganged up to protect the land. Mail and Guardian