Africa Media Review for July 29, 2020

China Promotes Its Party-Army Model in Africa

The principle of absolute party control of the military is one of the pillars of China’s governance model. … As China deepens its ties to African militaries, including through training and education initiatives, Beijing brings its perspective on party-army relations. The venues through which it does this have been growing steadily in the past decade. … The concept of party supremacy over the military is at odds with the principle of an apolitical military, which is central to the multiparty democratic systems adopted by nearly all African constitutions since the early 1990s. The Chinese party-army model has obvious appeal to some African ruling party and military leaders who welcome redefining the role of the military as ensuring the survival of the ruling party. It also tends to reinforce elite networks and hierarchies, which feature heavily in China’s political relationships and often supersede institutional and constitutional procedures. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Dozens Killed in Sudan, South Sudan Inter-Communal Fighting

Armed men suspected of being from South Sudan’s Greater Pibor Administrative Area stormed a village Monday in Bor County, killing roughly 17 people according to eyewitnesses and state authorities – the latest attack in a wave of deadly inter-communal clashes across the region. Eighty-year-old Chuti Maker, who is recovering at Bor state hospital from several knife wounds in the back and chest, said dozens of armed men wearing military uniforms invaded Makol-cuei village Monday afternoon. … Majok Kelei Deng, first deputy chairman of the Bor community, told South Sudan in Focus the unknown gunmen killed 17 people, injured 9 others and stole several goats. … Deng said he was hopeful things would change after a recent visit by the vice president and President Salva Kiir’s decision to form a high-level committee to address inter-communal fighting between communities in Jonglei and Pibor. VOA

Africa Is Approaching One Million COVID-19 Cases – Here’s How Countries Are Faring

Africa is now edging towards a million cases of coronavirus, but experts warn far worse lies ahead in a continent struggling with fragile health systems and slender economic resources. Countries across Africa have recorded more than 850,000 infections and at least 18,000 deaths, according to an AFP tally as of Tuesday. The toll took a while to move into higher gear thanks to early restrictions on contact and movement, Dr Mary Stephens, an expert at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa office, told AFP. “We haven’t seen the peak yet,” she warned. “All countries in Africa are at risk because our health systems are relatively weak.” AFP

Mali’s Opposition Once More Rejects ECOWAS Crisis Resolution Plan

Mali’s opposition has rejected a plan put forward by West Africa’s regional body Ecowas to resolve an ongoing political crisis. They insist that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resign, despite the threat of sanctions. Less than a day after leaders of West African regional bloc Ecowas submitted a new plan to resolve Mali’s protracted political crisis, the opposition has once again flatly rejected it. The opposition, a coalition group called M5-RFP, whose figurehead is Saudi-trained Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko, insists that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita step down as part of the solution. … The United Nations Security Council on Monday urged the various parties in Mali to follow the regional bloc’s recommendations. RFI

Egypt and Sudan Criticise Ethiopia at Start of New Nile Dam Talks

Egypt and Sudan criticised Ethiopia for what they called unilateral filling of its Blue Nile dam at a new round of talks that kicked off on Monday to regulate the flow of water from the huge project. Sudan and Egypt both fear the $4 billion hydroelectric dam could lead to water shortages in their own countries. The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile, from which Egypt’s 100 million people get 90% of their fresh water. Almost a decade of tortuous negotiations have failed to yield an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will fill the reservoir and operate the dam while protecting Egypt’s scarce water supplies. … Egypt and Sudan expressed concerns about the “unilateral filling,” which they said “cast a shadow on the meeting and raised many questions about the feasibility of the current course of negotiations and reaching a fair agreement,” Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry said in a statement. Reuters

Kenyan Police Arrest Fugitive Charged in U.S. with Ivory, Rhino Horn Trafficking

Kenyan police arrested a fugitive wanted in the United States on charges of trafficking ivory and rhino horn after he flew into Mombasa, authorities said on Wednesday. Abubakar Mansur Mohammed Surur was detained for alleged “ivory-related offences” after he landed in the coastal city in a chartered plane flown from Yemen, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations said on Twitter. In a June 2019 indictment, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration charged Surur and three others with conspiracy to traffic at least 190 kg of rhino horn and 10 tonnes of ivory worth more than $7 million. The DEA said last year that Surur and another Kenyan, Abdi Hussein Ahmed “Abu Khadi,” were on the run while a Liberian suspect was in custody in the United States and a Guinean suspect detained in Senegal pending extradition. Reuters

Uganda’s Free Speech Advocates Call for Release of Comedians in Custody

Uganda’s free speech advocates are calling for the release of a comedy group arrested last week on accusations of promoting sectarianism. Members of the group known as Bizonto were arrested after performing a skit that criticized government leaders. Artists on social media are using the hashtag “Free my talent” as they call on the government to free the four-person group called Bizonto.mThe comedians, still in police custody since their arrest Friday, have yet to be charged, but police say they are investigating the issue as a case of sectarianism. In their skit, the comedians make fun of long-time President Yoweri Museveni and other leaders. … The government early this year set up new proposals that seek to vet new songs, videos and film scripts prior to their release. VOA

Zimbabwe Election Violence: No Closure for Families Two Years On

Allison Charles is still haunted by the image of her brother’s lifeless body lying in a pool of blood. “They just shot him like he was a dog and left his body on the street,” she said. Gavin Dean Charles, 48, was one of the six people killed in Zimbabwe’s capital two years ago when soldiers opened fire on opposition supporters protesting against what they said was an attempt by the governing ZANU-PF party to steal tightly contested elections. Many other demonstrators were wounded in the army clampdown in Harare’s central business district on August 1, 2018, with some of the casualties shot from the back. … President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was declared the winner of the disputed July 30 vote, announced in late August that year a Commission of Inquiry to look into the post-election violence. The commission announced its findings in December 2018, recommending among other things the government pay compensation to the families of those killed and to those wounded, saying perpetrators needed to be held accountable….but to date, none of the commission’s recommendations has been implemented. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe Minister Shiri, Who Helped Plot Mugabe Ouster, Dies at 65

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday. Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday. … But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2,817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe. A liberation war veteran, Shiri had a chequered past. … The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008. Reuters

Libyan Authorities Shot Dead Three Sudanese Migrants: UN
Libyan authorities have shot dead three Sudanese migrants who tried to escape after they were intercepted by the coastguard in the Mediterranean Sea and returned to the North African country, the United Nations said. The three were among the 73 Europe-bound migrants, mostly from Sudan, who were returned late on Monday to the western coastal town of Khoms, said Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on Tuesday. Khoms is about 120km (75 miles) east of Tripoli. The IOM said local authorities started shooting when the migrants attempted to escape from the disembarkation point. Two migrants died on site and a third died of his wounds while being transported to a hospital, Msehli told Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera

UN Report Finds Migrants Face Violence by African Officials

A new U.N. refugee agency report on migrants who braved long and often-deadly land routes to Libya has found that government officials, such as border guards, police and soldiers, in the African countries they crossed were responsible for nearly half of all cases of physical violence against them. The finding, which is bound to raise calls for greater accountability, comes in a report Wednesday from refugee agency UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council. It seeks to chronicle cases of violence and death that have been hard to track along the often deserted routes to Libya – the top launch pad for Mediterranean crossings toward Europe. The report, entitled “‘On this journey, no one cares if you live or die,” also warns that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to border closures, could make such treks even more dangerous as human smugglers try riskier techniques to evade detection. AP

Forced Labour, Prostitution and Child Marriages: Rescuing Victims of Trafficking in Malawi

Human trafficking is a problem in Malawi, with teenage boys forced to work as farm labourers, and young women to sexual exploitation in nightclubs or bars. The UN is supporting the Malawian governments to end the practice and protect vulnerable people. The six men from Nepal believed they were heading to the United States for work. Instead, after a long journey which took them through six countries, they arrived in Malawi. They were locked in a house and their passports were taken away. A husband and wife were offered lucrative jobs on a tobacco estate in neighbouring Zambia. Once there, they were treated badly, deprived of food and not paid at the end of their contract.  But the job turned out to be very different from what they expected – they were forced into prostitution. All these people were victims of human trafficking. Malawi is also a transit country for victims of trafficking who are taken to other African countries, including South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique, and to parts of Europe. UN News

Algeria: Anger Is Spreading in a Tinderbox on Europe’s Doorstep

Before the onslaught of Covid-19, Algeria was already home to peaceful weekly protests against a political system still rife with cronyism following last year’s resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and a deteriorating oil-dependent economy that remains controlled by the military-led elite that’s ruled since independence from France in 1962. … But when the health crisis subsides, observers say it is inevitable that pro-democracy rallies start again with renewed vigor. What form they take will decide where Algeria goes next, and whether the leadership can make enough concessions to avoid an escalation in civil unrest. … The leaderless protests, known as “Hirak,” or “Movement” in English, spans all generations, but it has been shaped by a deeply distrustful youthful population. The secular and religious, different tribes and ethnic groups have all marched together, in an unprecedented display of national unity. So far, their list of demands is purely political centered around a “new republic,” and includes an easing of curbs on speech and the media. Bloomberg

Turkish Military Sees Opportunity in Vulnerable and War-Torn Places

From ravaged Syria to the landlocked Kurdish region in northern Iraq, from oil-rich Qatar to the impoverished nations of east and west Africa, from the Balkans to a practically balkanized Libya, observers have noticed a rise in Turkish military interventions unlike anything seen since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. Many of them wonder if Erdogan is trying to make good on his openly stated ambition to expand his country’s global military footprint. … In most cases, Turkish troops are welcomed guests of governments facing serious domestic or foreign threats. But in some instances, the Turks have gone in to pursue their own objectives regardless of host governments’ objections, according to analysts. … In Africa, Erdogan initiated the current Open to Africa Policy in 2005, when Turkey began strengthening military and economic ties with many countries on the continent. VOA

IMF Grants $4.3 Billion to S. Africa in Biggest Virus Loan

The International Monetary Fund approved $4.3 billion in emergency funding for South Africa, the largest emergency disbursement for any country yet to assist with fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The funds “support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the challenging health situation and severe economic impact of the Covid-19 shock,” the Washington-based lender said in a statement Monday. “Once the pandemic is behind, there is a pressing need to ensure debt sustainability and implement structural reforms to support the recovery and achieve sustainable and inclusive growth.” With more than 450,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 7,067 fatalities, South Africa is the worst-hit country on the continent. A lockdown aimed at curbing the spread is devastating the economy, with the government expecting it to contract 7.2% this year. Bloomberg

Measles Vaccination Disruptions Due to Coronavirus Put 80 Million Children at Risk

Tens of millions of children around the world have been denied life-saving vaccines against measles in both rich and poor countries due to Covid-19 disruptions, with fears of further outbreaks this year. Since March, routine childhood immunisation services have been disrupted on a scale unseen since the 1970s, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Data collected by Unicef, the Gavi Alliance, WHO and Sabin Vaccine Institute found in May that immunisation programmes had been substantially hindered in at least 68 countries, leaving 80 million children under the age of one unprotected from diseases including measles, tetanus, polio and yellow fever. … In CAR, which declared a nationwide measles epidemic in January, more than 26,000 cases have been reported over the past seven months, said Médecins sans Frontières’ CAR and DRC operations coordinator Emmanuel Lampaert. The Guardian

With Drastically Smaller Hajj, Somalia’s Livestock Industry Goes from ‘Boom to Doom’

The coronavirus pandemic forced Saudi authorities to limit the hajj to just 1,000 people already in the kingdom, crushing the dreams of millions of pilgrims – and those of the livestock breeders, traders and exporters who supply millions of cows, camels, sheep and goats to feed the foreigners who arrive in the desert city each year. That sudden drop in demand has been devastating for Somalia, where livestock makes up three-quarters of total exports, around 70 percent of which are sent to Saudi Arabia in the months leading up to the hajj. Somalia’s livestock exports are expected to decline by as much as half this year, according to the World Bank. … Livestock sales account for 60 percent of household income for much of the country’s largely rural population, especially in regions such as Puntland, in the north, which is more arid. The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones