Africa Media Review for June 20, 2019

Jihadists Kill 17 Civilians in Raid North of Burkina Faso, Says Defence Minister
Jihadist fighters killed 17 civilians in a night-time raid on a village in the troubled north of Burkina Faso, Defence Minister Cheriff Sy said Wednesday. “An armed terrorist group carried out an attack against the civil population in the village of Belehede” overnight Tuesday, Sy said. “The attack caused 17 deaths,” he added in a statement. A “massive” military operation is underway to find the attackers and secure the area, Sy added, calling on the population to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity. Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. France 24

Mali Attack: Forces Deployed as Survivors Recall Killings
The attackers behind the latest attack to have hit central Mali identified victims one by one before executing then, survivors have said. Monday’s attack on the Gangafani and Yoro villages in the Mopti region was the last in a cycle of apparent tit-for-tat violence between the Dogon and Fulani communities. At least 38 people were killed in the villages where survivors and officials say Fulani gunmen arrived by motorbike before attacking villagers in “revenge” for suspicions that they had collaborated with the Malian army. Abdoulaye Goro, a security guard, had been travelling by truck to his father’s funeral near the two villages, when about 40 armed men intercepted the vehicle and forced the passengers into the bush.  Al Jazeera

Two Police Killed in Attack Near Niger Capital
Two policemen were killed late Tuesday when gunmen attacked a police station on the northern edge of the Niger capital Niamey, authorities said. The attack on the highway from Ouallam was the closest to the city yet by suspected jihadists who are waging a long-running insurgency in the Sahel country. “The police post on the Ouallam route a few kilometres from Niamey was hit by a surprise attack by two armed individuals,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “The toll from the attack: Two policemen killed and two wounded.” Police investigators were on the scene on Wednesday morning.  AFP

Guinea Bissau Presidential Election to Be Held on November 24
Guinea Bissau will hold presidential elections on November 24 this year, according to a decree announced by president Jose Mario Vaz on Tuesday. In the upcoming elections, 49 political parties are legally registered in the country, according to the decree. The November 24 election date is later than proposals put forward by the National Electoral Commission, which had recommended a November 3 first round, with a possible run-off vote on December 8. The West African country has been in political deadlock since August 2015 when Vaz sacked PAIGC party colleague Domingos Simoes Pereira from his post of prime minister after falling out with him.  Africa News

Sudan’s Army Calls for Unconditional Talks With Protesters
Sudan’s military council on Wednesday urged opposition leaders to resume negotiations on the transition of power, without preconditions, but the comments could further complicate the already stalled transition process as protest organizers continue their night-time demonstrations demanding civilian rule. Negotiations collapsed in the wake of a violent crackdown of a protest camp in the capital Khartoum earlier this month. At least 128 people have been killed across the country since security forces moved in to clear the sit-in area outside the military’s headquarters on June 3. Authorities offer a lower death toll of 61, including three from security forces. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the council, told a gathering of health workers in Khartoum that the council did not have preconditions for returning to the negotiating table with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which has represented protesters, so neither should the protesters.  VOA

Fake Instagram Accounts Are Exploiting the Sudan Crisis
Some Instagram accounts have been accused of using a social media campaign that aims to promote solidarity with victims of unrest in Sudan merely to gain more followers on the platform. The country has been plagued by widespread violence since the ousting of longtime dictator President Omar al-Bashir in April. Last week, people on social media started turning their profile pictures blue in a bid to raise awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Blue was chosen to honor Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a 26-year-old Sudanese who was allegedly shot dead by the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces during a crackdown on protesters in the country’s capital, Khartoum, on June 3. In a Twitter post, Amnesty International Australia said blue was reportedly Mattar’s favorite color.  CNN

Malawi Police Fire Teargas to Disperse Protesters
Malawi police fired teargas Wednesday to disperse protestors blocking the M1 main route into Lilongwe as President Peter Mutharika was due to enter the capital from Blantyre. Malawian journalist Lameck Masina who witnessed the fracas told AFP there were running battles between police and protestors who had lined the road with burning tyres. “The protestors had erected a makeshift roadblock… using burning tyres. They were also pelting the police with stones,” he said. “In retaliation, the police used teargas to disperse the crowd and this caused a lot of commotion and disrupted businesses, forcing several shop owners to close their businesses.”  AFP

Malawi Parliament Elects First-Ever Female Speaker
Lawmakers in Malawi on Wednesday elected a female member of parliament as speaker for the first time in history of the Southeast African nation. Catherine Gotani Hara from the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) amassed 97 votes against 93 of Esther Mcheka Chilenje of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The 193-seat parliament was dissolved in March this year ahead of fresh elections on May 21. “The victory of Hara as first-ever female speaker of parliament is what every Malawian hoped for. Her election should encourage women that if you invest in girls, they can also become leaders,” Eisenhower Mkaka, MCP lawmaker and party spokesperson, told a local station Zodiak after announcement of the voting results. Anadolu Agency

Egypt Morsi TV Gaffe Puts Spotlight on Control of Media
The death of a former president in most countries around the world would normally make headline news domestically. But not the case for Egypt, where ex-President Mohammed Morsi died at the age of 67 on Monday after collapsing in a courtroom during his trial on spying charges. His sudden demise barely registered in Egyptian media – in fact, papers there prioritised Egypt’s hosting of the forthcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations on its front pages, and instead relegated Morsi’s death to the inside pages usually designated for criminal affairs. The state-run channels failed to even mention that Morsi – the first democratically-elected leader in Egypt – was a former president, instead referring to him with his full name. BBC

Trump Administration Unveils Its New Africa Strategy — with Wins and Snags
The Trump administration’s message to Africa has been blunt: Choose the United States over China and Russia. Officials announced the details of that policy challenge Wednesday in the southern African nation of Mozambique, urging hundreds of African business leaders at an economic conference to ramp up partnerships and trade with American companies. U.S. firms deliver “unrivaled value,” Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley told the crowd. “Yet we have lost ground to the increasingly sophisticated — but too often opaque — business practices of foreign competitors.” The White House’s solution is Prosper Africa, a new effort that shifts American focus on the continent from aid to industry. The $50 million program will offer technical help to companies looking to enter or grow in Africa, which is urbanizing more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth. The region is projected to have 1.52 billion consumers by 2025 — nearly five times the size of the U.S. population. The Washington Post

US Launches Effort to Counter China’s Economic Influence in Africa
Eleven African leaders are at the US-Africa Business summit in Maputo. But South Africa is only represented by its ambassador. The US is launching a big push to counter China’s large economic influence in Africa at the US-Africa Business Summit in Maputo this week. Eleven African heads of state or government and more than 1,000 business leaders have been attending the summit, hosted by the Mozambican government and the Corporate Council on Africa, a US organisation advocating more American engagement with the continent. The South African government, however, does not seem to be represented even at ministerial level. This seems odd when President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying hard to attract $100-billion of investment in five years. Two major new initiatives to boost US trade and investment on the continent are being launched. Daily Maverick

US Presses Zimbabwe Reform in Rare Meeting
The United States on Wednesday pressed Zimbabwe for political reforms after it cracked down on protesters, in a rare high-level meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa, said he met Mnangagwa in Mozambique on the sidelines of a US-Africa business meeting. “I stressed the urgent need to hold security forces accountable for acts of violence committed against Zimbabweans including in August 2018 and January/February 2019 and the importance of real political and economic reforms,” Nagy wrote on Twitter. At least 17 people were killed at the start of the year after troops intervened in widespread rioting and looting triggered by Mnangagwa’s announcement that fuel prices would double in a country suffering spiraling living costs and regular shortages of basic commodities.  AFP

Zimbabwe Stock-Piling Weapons as Strike Season Looms
Zimbabwe squanders millions of scarce foreign exchange on policing equipment while the recession worsens. Zimbabwe’s government has acquired a huge arsenal of war weapons to deal with looming street protests, as the intractable political and economic crisis deepens. The Harare-based Independent newspaper reports that it has been able to lay hands on official documents detailing the massive arms purchase described as “critical requirements” by the Interior Ministry. The weapons reportedly include more than 4000 AK-47 rifles and assorted pistols, 22000 AK magazines, 5 000 mortar bombs and millions of rounds of ammunition. RFI

After Floods, Zimbabwe and Mozambique Face Huge Maize Shortfalls
Zimbabwe’s 2019 maize crop is set to come in at half that of 2018 and Mozambique’s at a quarter. To make it worse, SA will probably not have much excess — and the result is fast-rising maize prices. The subject of maize needs will soon dominate the headlines in Zimbabwe and, to a certain extent, Mozambique. These two countries are set to record poor maize harvests due to droughts which delayed plantings at the start of the 2019 season, and when it finally rained, it became rather excessive, as was witnessed during Cyclone Idai at the start of the year. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast Zimbabwe’s 2019 maize production at 800,000 tonnes, down by 53% from the previous year. This is not even half of what Zimbabwe consumes a year, which is roughly 2.0 million tonnes. So, there will surely be large volumes of imports throughout the 2019/20 period.  Daily Maverick

Kenya Convicts 3 in Garissa Terrorist Massacre Case
Three members of the militant Somali group al-Shabaab were found guilty by a Nairobi court on Wednesday of conspiracy to commit a terror attack in the 2015 assault at Garissa University in northeast Kenya that killed 148 people. Kenyans Mohamed Ali Abikar, Hassan Edin Hassan and Rashid Charles Mberesero, a Tanzanian, “were members of the al-Shabaab terrorist group whose members carried out the attack,” Judge Francis Andayi said. The men knew the attack would happen and did not inform authorities, the judge added. A fourth defendant was acquitted. A fifth accused was acquitted earlier this year. The guilty will be sentenced in July. Four gunmen from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist group rampaged through Garissa University on April 2, 2015, before being killed by security forces the same day. Deutsche Welle

Mixed Response to Chadian Rebel Leader’s Arrest in France
French investigators’ arrest on Monday of Chadian rebel leader Mahamat Nouri over alleged crimes in Sudan and Chad between 2005 and 2010 drew both praise and criticism in Chad and in France. The Paris prosecutor’s office said Nouri and two others were arrested as part of an investigation opened in May 2017. Others arrested include Abakar Tollimi, spokesperson of Nouri’s rebel group the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), and Abderrahman Khalifa Abdelkerim, a half-brother of Nouri and member of another rebel group. It was not clear which individual or group filed the complaint that led to the arrests, but the investigation is being handled by France’s Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes (OCLCH).  AFP

Zuma Allies Get Top South African Posts in Setback for Ramaphosa
Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s allies secured several top posts in the nations parliament in a blow to his successor Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to clean up the government and cement his control over the ruling African National Congress. Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who announced the names on Wednesday in Cape Town, is a Zuma ally who oversees the day-to-day running of the ANC. He called the nominations a collective decision. Ramaphosa, who won control of the ANC in December 2017 by a razor-thin margin, still has a tenuous hold over the party because his allies failed to secure other key posts.  Bloomberg

Cameroon War Victims: Casualty Figures High Because Fighters Are Well Armed
Elizabeth Etimu, 62, is inconsolable. Her son, Eric Etimu, a 27-year-old police officer, was killed Monday by separatist fighters in the English-speaking southwestern town of Mamfe. Dozens of family members and well-wishers have been visiting their Emumbo, Yaounde, residence to console the widow. Eric’s uncle, 50-year-old military man Bruno Azegue, acts as spokesperson for the family. Just returned from Mamfe, says God saved him from the devastating war that killed four of the nine troops with whom he fought against the separatists for three months.  He says his wish and prayer is for the government to immediately negotiate an end to the war so that their disgruntled English-speaking brothers, who have taken arms and are not ready to lay them down until their grievances are attended to, return home and stop the loss of too many lives. He says the war has affected so many French-speaking Cameroonians either by killing, wounding and incapacitating their loved ones or ruining their economies.  VOA

Congo Deploys Army to Protect China Moly’s Copper Mine from Illegal Miners
Congo’s military has deployed hundreds of soldiers to protect a major copper and cobalt mine owned by China Molybdenum Co Ltd from illegal miners, an army spokesman said on Wednesday. The Tenke Fungurume mine is one of the largest in Democratic Republic of Congo, which is Africa’s leading copper producer and the world’s top miner of cobalt, a key component in electric car batteries. Mining companies operating in Congo, which include Glencore, Ivanhoe and Barrick, routinely say the presence of illegal miners on their properties is one of their greatest challenges. As many as 10,000 diggers have been estimated to operate in and around the Tenke mine. The army deployed several hundred troops on Tuesday to the Tenke mine, spokesman Colonel Emmanuel Kabamba said. Reuters

Murder, Rape and Claims of Contamination at a Tanzanian Goldmine
When safari tourists drive to the Serengeti national park in Tanzania, few realise they are passing one of the world’s most contentious goldmines. From the escarpment above the plain, the North Mara facility is so large that it at first resembles a bare hillside. But look closer and the artificial mound is made up of tiers of reddish brown earth, from which a thin grey plume of smoke drifts up to the sky. Nearer still, you find a vast tailings reservoir filled with contaminated wastewater. Locals live in huts under the shadow of its mud and rock banks. Welcome to North Mara, one of the biggest mines in Tanzania, which since 2006 has been operated by London-listed Acacia Mining and predominantly owned by the world’s biggest gold mining company, Barrick, a Toronto-based firm that holds a 63.9% stake. For the past two decades, this mine has been a place of danger, extreme violence and allegations of environmental contamination.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones