Africa Media Review for July 3, 2018

Reform and Renewal in Zimbabwe or More of the Same?
The bomb blast at the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) rally in Bulawayo on June 23 threatened to mar what has been Zimbabwe’s most peaceful election campaign in decades. … The July 30 election will be the first without Mugabe’s name on the ballot since independence in 1980. It will also serve as a litmus test for Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe protégé. Since the transition, in an effort to reduce Zimbabwe’s diplomatic and economic isolation, the government has been at pains to signal a shift toward greater inclusion. … While such overtures have been welcomed, ZANU-PF’s agenda remains ambiguous. Many of its old features persist, such the military’s domination of party and government functions. Given that Mugabe’s ouster was partially prompted by the military’s desire to stem its declining influence in the party, the military’s overt entanglement in politics is a cause for concern. The risks of instability persist. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

On the Ground, Zimbabweans Tell of Hopelessness Ahead of Elections
Seven months into the new presidency, and just a month before elections – the first without Robert Mugabe since independence – Zimbabweans are telling a story of lost hope. “What difference does it make? I don’t expect the elections to change anything for me. I am just here trying to make ends meet and look after my family while I wait for my dying day,” was what Nicodemus Nhete, a 58-year-old vendor in the streets of Harare, had to say about the forthcoming elections. “Whoever becomes the new leader will still loot the country’s coffers and leave nothing for the ordinary man, so I am not really worried about who wins the election, I will concentrate on my business,” he said.

US Cuts Aid to Zimbabwe Action Groups Ahead of Election
The United States said on Monday it had cut funding to three Zimbabwean civil action groups citing “possible misuse” of money ahead of July 30 elections, the first vote since Robert Mugabe was ousted. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reduced its support for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Counselling Services Unit (CSU). “We did have to cut some funding. We have regular safeguards and checks on how the money is used,” US embassy spokesperson David McGuire told AFP. McGuire said USAID provided about $250m aid to Zimbabwe annually. News24

Number of Migrants Missing at Sea Rises to 170 after Shipwreck off Libyan Coast
A new shipwreck off the Libyan coast has brought the number of people missing at sea since Friday to some 170, in the latest disaster to hit migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean. Sixty-three people are feared to have drowned in the incident, a spokesman for Libya’s navy General Ayoub Kacem told AFP, citing eyewitness accounts from survivors. Kacem said that 41 people wearing life jackets were rescued. “The coast guards did not find bodies in the area,” he said. According to survivors, there were 104 people on board the vessel, which sank off Garaboulli, east of Tripoli. In the last few months, this area has become the main point of departure for inflatable boats overloaded with migrants seeking to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to Italy. In addition to the 41 people rescued, a Libyan coastguard boat returned to Tripoli Monday with another 235 migrants, including 54 infants and 29 women, rescued in two other operations in the same area. France24

Deaths Surpass 1,000 This Year after Surge in Attempts to Cross Mediterranean
More than 1,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean this year sailing from Libya to Europe, with a rush in the past few days to beat an anticipated crackdown by the European Union, the International Organization for Migration said late on Sunday. Around 204 people have died in the past few days after being packed into unsafe vessels by smugglers, with 103 lost in a shipwreck on Friday and more lost on Sunday when a rubber boat capsized east of Tripoli, with 41 survivors. “There is an alarming increase in deaths at sea off Libya’s coast,” IOM’s Libya Chief of Mission Othman Belbeisi said in a statement. “Smugglers are exploiting the desperation of migrants to leave before there are further crackdowns on Mediterranean crossings by Europe.” The flow of migrants has abated since a peak in 2015, with the number attempting the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa falling to tens of thousands from hundreds of thousands. The other main route, from Turkey to Greece, used by more than a million people in 2015, was largely shut two years ago. Reuters

African Union Creates Migration Body
African leaders have created a body to help coordinate national policies on migration, Morocco announced at the African Union (AU) summit on Monday. AU leaders agreed to set up an organisation called the African Observatory for Migration and Development (OAMD), based in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told a press conference in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital. “African leaders have taken the decision to task this important new tool with harmonising the national strategies of African states and improving interaction with partners (abroad),” he said. The scheme, suggested by Morocco, comes amid a fresh crisis within the European Union (EU) over an influx of migrants taking the perilous trip across the Mediterranean. News24

Mali’s al-Qaida Affiliate Claims Attack on French Soldiers
SITE Intelligence Group says the Mali branch of al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on French forces which officials said killed four civilians in the northern city of Gao. The U.S.-based monitoring group said Monday the al-Qaida-linked militants, known by the acronym JNIM, said the suicide attack, along with another Friday on the G5 Sahel headquarters, was a message to the “French and their African allies” referring to the African Union Summit in Mauritania which French President Emmanuel Macron is attending Monday. Mali’s Ministry of Homeland Security said 31 were wounded, including eight French soldiers, in Sunday’s attack. SITE Intelligence Group earlier said JNIM, via a journalist who frequently receives direct claims from extremist groups, also claimed responsibility for a Saturday attack that killed four Malian soldiers. AP

Commission of Inquiry on Burundi Denounces Several Abuses
On Wednesday, June 27, the UN commission of inquiry presented its report on Burundi to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It denounced the persistence of human rights violations. Bujumbura government accuses the commission of being a sound box of all the negative forces. As it was denied access to Burundi, the commission said it had traveled to Ethiopia, Belgium, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It met with experts and victims of human rights violations in Burundi. … The list of human rights violations includes extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions against opponents of the draft amendment to the Constitution. “In addition, there are violations of civil liberties and economic and social rights.” The police, agents of the National Intelligence Service and Imbonerakure (youth wing of the ruling party CNDD-FDD) are blamed as the source of these abuses. The commission regrets that no serious investigation has been carried out by the Burundian authorities into these cases. Some prefer to go into exile and those who stay in the country prefer to go silent. Iwacu

South Sudan: Parliament Seeks to Extend Kiir’s Term as Talks Progress
South Sudan’s parliament on Monday started deliberating on a proposal to extend the presidential and parliamentary term to July 2021 as peace talks progress in Khartoum. Justice Minister Paulino Wanawilla on Monday presented the bill to National Legislative Assembly to extend the term of the parliament and the incumbent President for another three years. South Sudan government repeatedly said it will extend its mandate should the peace talks with the rebels fail, despite the international pressure to drop the effort. Anthony Lino Makana, speaker of the national legislative assembly, said in a statement to South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation that they have already incorporated the 2015 peace deal into the country’s constitution. … In 2015, South Sudan’s parliament amended the country’s constitution and extended President Kiir’s government for three years. Radio Tamazuj

Despite Security Presence, Gunmen Kill Another Four in Plateau
Unidentified gunmen have once again defied security operatives to attack defenseless civilians in Plateau State, security forces confirmed Monday. At least four residents of a small town in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area were killed when the attackers struck around around 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, the police and the military told PREMIUM TIMES Monday afternoon. … Operatives were able to arrest four suspects at the scene, according to Umar Adams, a spokesperson for the Operation Safe Haven. Mr Adams, a major, told PREMIUM TIMES the four brought the number of suspects arrested since June 22 to 11. … President Muhammadu Buhari ordered an escalation of security presence in the state following his condolence visit to the state governor in Jos on Tuesday, prompting the Defence Headquarters to launch the second phase of Operation Safe Haven. Premium Times

Outside the Law: Nigerians Turn to Radio Show for Justice
“Brekete Family” is a show which promises to help Nigeria’s downtrodden redress wrongs — a format, says Isah, born out of frustration in an official legal system beset by bureaucracy and mismanagement. One of the first members of the public to speak is a man who says he was unfairly sacked. Instead of going to a tribunal, he has decided his best chance of getting his rights is to appear on the talk show, broadcast out of the capital Abuja six mornings out of seven. … The show puts its callers in touch with government departments and tries a measure of mediation — the family dispute seems settled after an on-air debate, with an apology from one side. In the past, it has delivered a measure of its own “justice” by naming and shaming officials it says have failed its audience. On occasion it has also published the phone numbers of government functionaries and asked its audience to badger them for a response. VOA

Nigeria’s Fulani Say They Are Being Vilified for Violence
At the small mosque in Luggere, nestled in an ethnic Fulani village surrounded by rolling green hills, an unusually large crowd has gathered for Friday prayers. Luggere’s population has doubled in recent days to accommodate people who fled two neighboring villages that were attacked by armed men early last week. The attacks on the Fulani appeared to be reprisals for the June 23 massacre, where more than 200 ethnic Berom people, mostly Christian farmers, were killed. … Over the past week, nearly 500 people have arrived in Luggere and have been sleeping in the classrooms of the school. Police confirmed the attack although they did not give a death toll but the influx has been largely ignored by Nigeria’s media, which instead has focused on the weekend massacre. VOA

Uganda Social Media Tax Challenged in Court
A petition has been filed at Uganda’s Constitutional Court challenging the social media tax which took effect on Sunday. The petition, filed by a team of young advocates under their Cyber Law Initiative (U) Limited and four individuals, Mr Opio Bill Daniel, Mr Baguma Moses, Mr Okiror Emmanuel and Mr Silver Kayondo against the attorney-general, is challenging the Constitutionality of the $0.05 (UShs200) daily charge for access to social media platforms. … Uganda’s three principle telcom service providers shut down access at the stroke of midnight July 1, at the start of the new financial year, requiring a payment of $0.05 per day for access, sparking off outrage among the social media users. … President Yoweri Museveni presented the proposal as aimed at regulating lugambo (loose talk), saying many Ugandans were misusing social media to insult and mock government and leaders. Many have interpreted the tax as aimed at gagging free expression. The East African

Algeria Wants Joint 2030 World Cup Bid with Morocco & Tunisia
Algeria’s Sports Minister said his country is interested in presenting a joint bid together with Morocco and Tunisia to host the 2030 World Cup. He told Algerian media that such a bid is on the radar without giving further details. … Morocco welcomed the vote by the Algerian football association in favor of the 2026 bid which it lost to the joint North American bid. However, presenting a joint North African bid implies removing borders and the freedom of movement. While the two countries have lifted visa requirements on each other, Algeria insists on keeping land borders close. The hotel infrastructure in Algeria and security conditions in a country that usually receives travel warnings may undermine any joint bid. Some media outlets in Morocco have also raised the possibility of a Western Mediterranean bid bringing together Morocco, Spain and Portugal. North Africa Post



Photo: Adam Jones