Africa Media Review for July 5, 2018

Zimbabwe Opposition Says “No Election” without Ballot Paper Deal
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa made a veiled threat on Wednesday to boycott elections on July 30 if there is no agreement between the independent election agency and political parties on ballot papers. Chamisa and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are the main rivals to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the first presidential and parliamentary vote since Robert Mugabe resigned last November following an army coup. The MDC is wary of any attempt to put it at a disadvantage to Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party, insisting there be a deal on how to design, print and store ballot papers. Chamisa said his party rejected the papers being printed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).  Reuters

Zimbabwe Army Vows Neutrality in Election
Zimbabwe’s military vowed on Wednesday to stay neutral in upcoming elections, dismissing suggestions it would deploy service personnel to influence national polls scheduled for July 30. The military is under close scrutiny following its brief takeover in November that led to the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe. Previous elections under Mugabe were marred by violence, intimidation and fraud — often alleged to involve the security forces. “The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has no direct role in the upcoming elections,” said army spokesman Overson Mugwisi at a media conference in Harare ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and local polls later this month.  AFP

More than 800,000 Forced to Flee Violence in Southern Ethiopia
Violence in southern Ethiopia since June has forced more than 800,000 people to flee their homes and they need food and other aid, a report by the United Nations and the government said on Wednesday. The inter-ethnic violence erupted in April around 400 kilometres south of the capital and in all more than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee, said the report that gave no details of casualties. “Renewed violence along the border areas of Gedeo and West Guji zones since early June … has led to the displacement of over 642,152 IDP’s (internally displaced persons) in Gedeo zone … and 176,098 IDP’s in West Guji zone of Oromia region.” the report said. Traditional leaders encouraged the movement of people back to their homes after the initial fighting in April but many have fled again in June, the report said. The Globe and Mail

Ethiopia Fires Prison Officials for Human Rights Abuses amid Torture Report
Ethiopia’s attorney general announced the dismissal of the heads of the country’s detention centers for human rights violations, hours before the Thursday release of a Human Rights Watch report on torture in one regional prison. Berhanu Tsegaye said the top prison officials “were relieved of their post for failing to discharge the responsibilities and respect prisoners’ human rights,” according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting broadcaster late Wednesday. The announcement, which did not specify which prison officials had been dismissed, came hours before the release of a harrowing report by Human Rights Watch describing systematic torture in Jail Ogaden, a prison in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region. The Washington Post

Ivory Coast’s Ouattara Dissolves Government amid Coalition Infighting
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara dissolved the government on Wednesday, according to a statement from the presidency, amid tensions with his party’s partner in the governing coalition. Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was re-appointed to form a new government. The rest of the government, including the key posts of finance and defence minister, remains vacant. Ivorian politics is historically volatile, marked by conflicts over land and ethnicity. The country was divided for nearly a decade between a government-controlled south and rebel-held north. A dispute over Ouattara’s first election victory in 2010 led to a civil war that killed some 3,000 people. Political tensions are rising again before a 2020 election. Constitutional term limits appear to prevent Ouattara from standing for a third term, but he said last month that he is free to run again under a new constitution approved in 2016. Reuters

Egypt Court Overturns Ruling Placing Hundreds on Terror List including Ex-President Morsi
An Egyptian top court overturned Wednesday a previous criminal court order that put 1,538 defendants on the country’s terrorist list, official MENA news agency reported. The list included former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi whose Muslim Brotherhood group is currently outlawed as a terrorist organization. The Court of Cassation overturned Cairo Criminal Court’s former ruling and ordered returning the case to the criminal court for reconsideration, which means that the defendants’ removal from the terror list is not final. Among those cleared from the terror list is retired popular footballer Mohamed Abou Trika, now a sports TV analyst in Qatar, who fled the country after he had been accused of supporting the outlawed group. Xinhua

Somali Villagers Resist Al-Shabab Militants Recruiting Children
At least 15 people were killed in central Somalia when villagers clashed with Al-Shabab militants trying to recruit their children as fighters. According to local sources, 10 militants and five villagers died in the fighting in Aad village, in the central Galmudug administration. A villager who requested anonymity told VOA’s Somali Service that the militants met with local elders two days ago and sought help with the recruitment. “The fighting came after they demanded that we provide young children to fight alongside them,” he said. He said the villagers organized themselves and decided to resist, but Al-Shabab moved into the village, and took control.  VOA

DR Congo Casts Doubt on UN Findings of Gruesome Atrocities by Government Security Forces
The UN accused DR Congo security forces of committing horrific acts of violence against civilians in the war-torn Kasai region. The country’s human rights minister questioned the findings in an interview with DW. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) rebuked a report by a UN human rights team that accused the army, FARDC, of committing mass killings, torture and rape in the country’s war-torn Kasai region. “There are a few undisciplined elements in FARDC,” Congolese Human Rights Minister Marie-Ange Mushobekwa told DW. “But that doesn’t mean that every member of the police or the army is a delinquent.” UN experts presented a report to the body’s Human Rights Council last week that accused FARDC of “systematic” human rights violations against civilians in Kasai suspected of supporting rebel militias. Some violations, they said, amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Deutsche Welle

Jean Pierre Bemba’s Case Back at the ICC
The controversy triggered by the International Criminal Court’s acquittal of former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba rebounded Wednesday before the ICC, with the prosecution claiming that the surprise appeal judgment was based on biased evidence. Jean-Pierre Bemba, was sentenced at first instance in 2016 to 18 years in prison, the heaviest sentence ever imposed by the ICC, for the murders, rapes and looting committed in the Central African Republic by his militia between October 2002 and March 2003. But last month, an appeal court overturned his conviction. Africa News

E Guinea Opposition Figure Tortured to Death: Party
An Equatorial Guinean opposition figure who had been jailed for “sedition” was tortured to death in prison earlier this week, his party, the Citizens for Innovation (CI), said. Juan Obama Edu, a “political prisoner”, died on Monday after being tortured, CI said in a statement received by AFP late on Tuesday. Military authorities and the director of the Evinayong prison where Obama Edu was held refused to allow him to receive medical care, according to the party, which was dissolved in February with 21 of its members convicted of sedition. The 21, which included Obama Edu and the party’s only MP, were sentenced to more than 30 years in jail over scuffles at an election rally in Aconibe a week before legislative polls last November. AFP

Mali Election Workers Suspend Strike before Presidential Vote
Election workers in Mali on Wednesday ended a two-week strike over working conditions, lifting a threat to a looming vote, a union said. Organisers agreed to end their strike and the distribution of voting cards had resumed on Wednesday, Ousmane Christian Diarra, secretary-general of the National Syndicate of Civil Administrators, told Reuters. An agreement between two unions and the government gave the workers a salary raise, but Diarra said officers would continue to press for more concessions. “We have not accepted the government’s offer for bonuses and allowances, but we have agreed to suspend the strike while negotiations continue,” said Diarra. Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s Ruling Party Formally Splits into 2 Factions 
Nigeria’s ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) officially split into two factions on Wednesday after dissenters announced a breakaway from President Muhammadu Buhari’s party. Buba Galadima, a former Buhari ally and prominent APC official, told a news briefing in the capital Abuja that the party had derailed from democratic norms and that government has failed to deliver on campaign promises.  “The APC government has been a monumental disaster, even worse than the government it replaced. The political party that was a vehicle for enthroning the government was rendered powerless by manipulations and complete lack of due process in its operations,” Galadima said.  Anadolu Agency

Ethiopia’s Dams Threaten Thousands of Kenyans: Environmentalists
Some 300,000 Kenyans who depend on Turkana – the world’s biggest desert lake – could run short of drinking water and fish if Ethiopia moves ahead with plans to construct two more dams on a river upstream, activists said. The United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO) put Kenya’s Lake Turkana, on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites last week because of the “disruptive effect” of an existing Ethiopian dam and irrigated sugar estates over Kenya’s northern border. “We are concerned that these projects will have implication on the local communities who depend on the lake for fishing and for their livelihood,” said Guy Debonnet, a conservation expert with UNESCO. “Ethiopia is planning two new dams on the Omo river which will only make the situation worse.”  Reuters

Macron Warning over EU’s Africa Migrant Centre Plans
French President Emmanuel Macron has told the BBC that EU plans to create migrant processing centres in North Africa will not work unless the process is led by those countries. Speaking during a visit to Nigeria, Mr Macron said many African countries were worried that such centres would act as a pull factor for migrants. No African country has so far agreed to host the centres. EU leaders agreed to explore the idea at a summit earlier this month. Mr Macron said that Europe would be dealing with migration from Africa for decades due to what he called the fundamental problem of unplanned population growth in Africa. He has been criticised for saying the same thing in the past, with some accusing him of repeating colonial rhetoric. BBC

Malawi’s President Mutharika and the Police Food Scandal
There have been mounting calls for the resignation of Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika after a leaked report by the country’s anti-graft agency accused him of receiving a kickback from a 2.8bn kwacha ($3.9m; £2.8m) contract to supply food to the police. The report claims a businessman deposited 145m kwacha into an account belonging to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), of which the president is the sole signatory. The president’s spokesperson said the claims were “unfounded” and that Mr Mutharika had done nothing wrong. Civil rights organisations have nonetheless given him 14 days to resign, or say they will take to the streets. BBC

Sanctions against Sudan Didn’t Harm an Oppressive Government — They Helped It
It has been almost nine months since economic sanctions were lifted, and the ATMs in Sudan’s capital have run out of money. During Ramadan, under intense heat, the city’s fasting residents spent their time waiting in line for cash. Since early March, it has been taking an average of six hours for the few ATMs that are randomly restocked to be emptied. The financial ecosystem has, quite simply, seized up. After 20 years of comprehensive sanctions against Sudan, the U.S. government revoked most punitive measures on October 12, 2017. It was a time of great hope. Sudan’s citizens thought they were shaking off the yoke of decades of economic isolation and looked forward to reintegrating into the global community. But nine months later, thanks to a toxic mix of state profligacy, corruption, and lack of foreign investment or aid, Sudan is on the verge of collapse. The oil boom years, from 2005 to 2010, ended with the loss of oil revenue when the south of the country seceded in 2011. That loss was then compounded when plans for revenue-sharing with the South Sudanese government were dashed as the fledgling nation plunged into civil war. Foreign Policy

Heroin One of Mozambique’s Biggest Exports – Researchers
Mozambique boasts vast coal, ruby and gas deposits, but one of the southeast African nation’s biggest exports may be something more sinister: heroin. As much as $800 million (R10.9bn) worth of the narcotic is shipped annually from its beaches to neighboring countries and to Europe. That’s according to a research paper by Enact, a European Union-funded initiative to mitigate the impact of transnational organised crime, and a related working paper by Joseph Hanlon, visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “Mozambique is a significant heroin transit center and the trade has increased to 40 tons or more per year, making it a major export which contributes up to $100 million per year to the local economy,” Hanlon said. “With an export value of $20 million per ton, heroin is probably the country’s largest or second-largest export after coal.” The value of Mozambique coal exports more than doubled to $1.7bn (R23bn) last year, as production and prices rose, according to data from the central bank. Fin24

Why Europe Dominates the Global Chocolate Market While Africa Produces All the Cocoa
Europe has an insatiable appetite for chocolate. Not only is it the world’s biggest consumer of the sweet treat, it’s also the largest producer and exporter, thanks to a global market share of 70%. But while the continent dominates the finished-chocolate goods market, African countries are collectively the beating heart of that success, by producing and exporting over two-thirds of global cocoa, chocolate’s raw material. Côte d’Ivoire alone accounts for third of all cocoa produced in the world. A white paper by agribusiness data company Gro Intelligence delves into the numbers and history of the chocolate trade and it makes for sober reading from an African perspective. In many ways, Europe’s grip on the sector is unsurprising given that European companies’ innovations transformed the cocoa trade into the chocolate industry in the first place. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones