Africa Media Review for June 12, 2019

The Challenging Path to Reform in South Africa
Despite voters’ repudiation of corrupt governance practices, the ANC remains divided in its commitment to reforms. Perceptions of disillusionment and growing polarization stand out in the wake of South Africa’s general elections. With just 66 percent of voters casting ballots in May’s elections, turnout was the lowest in South Africa’s democratic history. This downturn reflects widespread disenchantment with government among South African citizens. Rampant corruption and impunity under former president Jacob Zuma, who led South Africa from 2009-2018, have driven away voters, especially young people who feel the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has lost its way. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Presidential Panel Submits Long-Delayed Report on South African Land Reform
A panel of experts appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to advise South Africa’s government on how to resolve the issue of land reform, restitution and redistribution handed in its final report on Tuesday, the presidency said. Land rights are among the most pressing issues in South Africa more than two decades after the end of apartheid, when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority. Last year, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to seize land without compensation. The plans were approved by parliament in December and the draft land reform bill is set to be debated again in October. The report by the advisory panel will be key to how the final law will look. Reuters

Sudan Rivals Agree to New Talks as Protest Strike Ends: Mediator
Protest leaders have agreed to end a campaign of civil disobedience launched after a deadly crackdown on demonstrators and to resume talks with Sudan’s ruling generals, an Ethiopian mediator said Tuesday. The apparent breakthrough, which the military rulers had yet to confirm, came as a top US diplomat prepared to embark on a mission to press the generals to halt the crackdown on protesters demanding civilian rule. Sudan has been led by a military council since it toppled autocratic president Omar al-Bashir on April 11 after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades. … The protest movement itself said in a statement that it was calling on people “to resume work from Wednesday”. The UN Security Council called on all sides “to continue working together towards a consensual solution to the current crisis” and voiced support for African-led diplomatic efforts. AFP

Rights Group: Sudanese Government Forces Commit Renewed War Crimes in Darfur
Sudanese government forces are responsible for a new series of war crimes in the country’s Darfur region, according to a report by Amnesty International. The rights group alleges Sudanese government forces and allied militias have destroyed dozens of villages in Darfur since last July. “Satellite evidence and testimonies confirm that government forces and associated militias damaged or destroyed at least 45 villages in Jebel Marra between July 2018 and February 2019,” said the report, released Tuesday. Amnesty International also alleges government forces engaged in unlawful killings, sexual violence, looting and forced displacement. VOA

South Sudan Jails Prominent Economist over Media Interviews
A South Sudanese court sentenced a prominent economist to two years in prison on Tuesday for disturbing the peace because he gave interviews to foreign media after he was arrested on treason charges that were subsequently dropped. The case of Peter Biar Ajak, a former child refugee who returned to his native South Sudan as an internationally renowned academic, has thrown the spotlight on what rights groups say is repression of dissent in Africa’s youngest country. Biar fled to the United States as a youth, was educated at Harvard and Cambridge and worked at the World Bank. He became South Sudan country director for the International Growth Centre, part of the London School of Economics. Biar was arrested in July, 2018 and charged with treason, although a court threw out those charges in April. He had been publicly critical of the way President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar approached peace talks to end the civil war. Reuters

Mali Massacre Victims Included 24 Children -PM
Bodies recovered from a massacre of almost 100 people by a Malian ethnic militia included at least 24 children, many of them shot in the back, the prime minister said during a visit to the crime scene on Tuesday. Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided the rival Dogon village of Sobane Da, in central Mali, between Sunday and Monday. They killed at least 95 people and burned houses to the ground in an escalation of the tit-for-tat ethnic slaughter that has engulfed the mostly Saharan nation this year. “All these victims of horror and barbarity remind us of our responsibility as leaders to reinforce and accelerate security,” said Boubou Cisse, who became prime minister in April after his predecessor stepped down following an earlier massacre by Dogon gunmen on a Fulani village in March. Reuters

Libya Arms Embargo Must Be Enforced – UN Chief Antonio Guterres
All countries must implement a UN arms embargo against Libya with illegal weapons transfers by land, sea and air fuelling the current fighting in the oil-rich country, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. Guterres made the appeal in a report circulated on Monday ahead of the UN Security Council’s unanimous approval of a resolution authorising the inspection of vessels on the high seas headed to or from Libya for another year to enforce the arms embargo. The European Union’s Operation Sophia has been the only regional naval operation carrying out inspections. UN experts monitoring the arms embargo, individual countries, and regional organisations “have all reported on illicit transfers of arms and related materiel into and out of Libya”, Guterres noted. Al Jazeera

Uganda Confirms First Ebola Case Outside Outbreak in Congo
A child in Uganda has tested positive for Ebola in the first cross-border case of the deadly virus since an outbreak started in neighboring Congo last year, Uganda’s health ministry said late Tuesday, in a blow to efforts by health workers who for months sought to prevent contamination across the heavily traveled frontier. The 5-year-old Congolese boy has been isolated with family members at a hospital in a western district near the Congo border, Ugandan Health Minister Jane Aceng told reporters. The announcement puts new pressure on the World Health Organization to declare the Ebola outbreak — the second-deadliest in history — a global health emergency. The outbreak is unfolding amid unprecedented challenges of rebel attacks and community resistance in a region that had never experienced Ebola before. VOA

DR Congo Declares Measles Epidemic
A measles epidemic has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country’s health ministry says it has recorded 87,000 suspected cases since the start of the year. Cases of measles have now been reported in 23 of DR Congo’s 26 provinces, both in urban and rural areas. Measles, while highly contagious, is preventable with the right vaccines. However, the disease has repeatedly flared in the country in recent years due to poor infrastructure, insecurity and an under-equipped public health system. So far, measles is believed to have killed more than 1,500 people here since the beginning of this year, most of the victims being children under five. BBC

Kenya Shuts Somalia Border as Secessionist Group Raises Eyebrows
Fears over a new secessionist outfit benefiting from contraband trade have fuelled Kenya’s swift move to shut down its border with Somalia. On Tuesday, the Kiunga border point in Lamu County became the latest to be closed as Kenyan authorities argued they were blocking routes for smuggling, terror merchants and human trafficking. County Police Commander Muchangi Kioi said his officers will now confiscate goods and prosecute those found to be flouting the ban, in an area that has already been red-pencilled for Al-Shabaab activity. Only security agents will be allowed across the border point. “Apart from security concerns, we are also aware of human and narcotics trafficking. That must stop. It is now a crime and for those who do not know, the border remains closed until further notice,” said Mr Kioi. The Daily Nation

2 Canadian Women Abducted in Ghana Have Been Rescued
Authorities say two Canadian women who were abducted earlier this month in Ghana have been rescued. Ghana’s information ministry says the rescue operation was completed early Wednesday in the south-central Ashanti region. No other details are immediately available. The ministry has sought to assure travelers that the West African nation remains safe despite a recent uptick in kidnappings for ransom. The country has been considered one of the safest in the region for foreign travelers. This was the second time in less than a month that foreigners were targeted in the city of Kumasi. An Indian national earlier was abducted and rescued. Ghana’s president has vowed to crack down on kidnappers amid fears the abductions could harm tourism. AP

Opposition Leader Arrested as Kidnap Suspect in Ghana
Police in Ghana on Tuesday said they had arrested the chairman of the largest opposition party in connection with the spate of kidnappings in the West African country. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, national chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), is a former member of parliament and government minister. His arrest comes one week after the abduction of two Canadian women … Ofuso-Ampofo was arrested on Tuesday afternoon in Accra after he refused to cooperate with police investigations, the statement said. Punch

Buhari Says Africa Has Lost over $1Trillion to Corruption
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed that the African continent has lost over one trillion dollars to corruption over the last 50 years. Buhari said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the one-day National Democracy Day Anti-corruption Summit organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). According to Buhari, the recent habit of subverting the exercise of free choice by voters with money has become a worrisome trend. … The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who argued that corruption does not take decades to eradicate if Africans decides to break the habit, insisted that the war against corruption must be won. Kagame blamed African leaders for making corruption acceptable. He noted that the rich and the powerful are the main beneficiaries of corruption, before adding that not fighting corruption is even more dangerous. The Guardian

Boy Scouts Are Holding Together a War-Torn Country
If you venture outside Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, it’s dangerous to travel alone. Journeying from village to village means navigating jungle or savanna without paved roads or reliable communication networks. CAR straddles one of the world’s largest magnetic anomalies, so compasses often err. And conflict among more than a dozen armed religious groups has balkanized the country. Amid all of this, one unlikely institution has become crucial to the country’s survival: the Boy Scouts. Like scouts the world over, members wear trim shorts and multicolor neckerchiefs—but their youthful uniform belies a grander-than-average sociopolitical mission. When they aren’t earning badges for cooking and woodworking, they’re guiding ailing villagers to hospitals, or distributing mosquito nets and food at refugee camps. Last year, the boys investigated rumors of Ebola in a remote part of the country. The year before that, they helped negotiate the release of a Muslim community held hostage by armed groups. The Atlantic



Photo: Adam Jones