Africa Media Review for June 7, 2017

Criminality in Africa’s Fishing Industry: A Threat to Human Security
Thousands of foreign fishing vessels ply African waters every year seeking to tap the continent’s rich fish stocks. Many of these vessels are believed to be exploiting Africa’s fisheries illegally. Offenses include fishing without a license, fishing in protected areas, using banned fishing gear that is destructive to the fisheries sector, catching beyond limits, or catching protected species. Even licensed vessels regularly do not report catches as required. Those that do often underreport their actual intake. A Greenpeace investigation found that Chinese fishing vessels operating in West Africa misreport the size of their vessels by as much as 60 percent. This practice enables fishing companies to dramatically increase their catches while fishing in areas reserved for smaller vessels. In Guinea-Bissau, foreign fishing vessels are known to collude with small-scale African fishers to access waters reserved for artisanal fishing. The small-scale fishers catch and then simply unload the fish onto the main “mothership” without the larger, foreign-owned vessel ever requiring a fishing license. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

France Urges U.N. Backing of West Africa Force to Tackle Terrorism, Trafficking
France on Tuesday proposed that the United Nations Security Council back a West African force to combat terrorism, drug and human trafficking by “eradicating the actions” of Islamist militants and organized crime groups in the Sahel region. The vast, arid zone has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups – some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State – that European nations, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked. “We cannot afford to let the Sahel region become a new safe haven for terrorists across the world,” French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters. France circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Tuesday to the 15-member body to authorize the West African force to use “all necessary means” to restore peace and security in accordance with international law and work in coordination with a U.N. peacekeeping mission and French forces in Mali. Reuters

Lesotho Ex-PM To Form Coalition Govt after Poll Win
Lesotho’s former prime minister Thomas Thabane is poised to form a coalition government after his party won snap elections at the weekend and defeated the ruling alliance, official results released on Tuesday showed. Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) won 48 parliamentary seats and will form a coalition with three other parties to obtain the required 61-seat majority. The ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele said the party would join forces with the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL)to form the country’s third coalition government. News 24

These Four Pivotal Elections in Africa Will Keep Democracy Watchers Busy for the Rest of 2017
This year, there’ll be four pivotal elections across the continent—namely, in Kenya, Rwanda, Angola (all in August) , and Liberia (October). These general and presidential elections could reshape not only the political institutions in these nations but are also likely to have an impact on peace and security, governance, development and economic growth. The fear of ethnic-induced violence in Kenya, the angst around the succession plan in Rwanda, the end of the world’s longest running presidencies in Angola, and the task of replacing Africa’s first female president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia will all be significant milestones, indicative of where Africa’s electoral politics goes from here. Quartz

4 Aid Workers Killed in Kenya When Vehicle Runs Over Mine
A Kenyan government official says four Kenyan aid workers have died after their vehicle hit a mine near the Dadaab refugee camp in the eastern county of Garissa. Mohamud Saleh, the northeastern regional coordinator, said Tuesday the vehicle belonged to African Development Solutions. He says the mine is thought to have been planted by al-Shabab extremists based in neighboring Somalia. At least 34 people have died, including 20 police officers, in similar explosions in Kenya in the past three weeks. VOA

Shabaab Steps Up Attacks in Kenya
Al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, Shabaab, has increased its operational tempo in northern Kenya over the past few weeks. Dozens of people have been killed by both ambushes and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in the Kenyan provinces of Garissa, Mandera, and Lamu. In a statement released on Shabaab’s Shahada News Agency, the group’s military spokesman, Abdul Aziz Abu Musab, said that the jihadists have launched 11 attacks inside Kenya in a three week period. However, more attacks attributed to Shabaab have been reported. The majority of these incidents were perpetrated in Kenya’s Garissa County near the border with Somalia. Long War Journal

Kenyan Government Nurses Go on Strike over Pay Dispute, Six Patients Die
Kenyan government nurses have gone on strike over delays in an agreement that will give them pay rises, a union official said on Tuesday, bringing services to a halt in many parts of the country. The deal was meant to have been signed by the union, the national government and county governments, but the state commission that advises on public sector pay rejected the deal, according to an official letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday. The strike, which has led to patients being sent away from some hospitals, is a headache for both national and county governments ahead of elections in August 8. Reuters

Kenya Vote Credibility Threatened by Ballot Sourcing Failure
Kenya’s electoral body fired its head of procurement after it failed to obtain ballot papers less than two months before the country’s presidential elections, heightening concern over the credibility of the vote. The Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission dismissed Lawy Aura because of “incompetence that has made operations untenable as we fast approach the general election,” the Nairobi-based body said on its website on Tuesday. The development could result in the election date being pushed back in a “worst case scenario,” though a more likely outcome is that the tender will be awarded directly, said Ahmed Salim, an analyst with Dubai-based Teneo Strategy. “Any mishap two months before an election doesn’t instill confidence,” he said by phone. “This raises concerns about whether the IEBC is prepared to carry out elections. We were already going to have a contested election, but this lays a much more firmer foundation for that.” Bloomberg

War-Torn Somalia Could Become Tangled in The Wealthy Gulf States’ Diplomatic Spat
The latest diplomatic spat in the Middle East, over Qatar’s alleged ties to terrorism, risks engulfing and destabilizing Somalia, a war-torn Horn of Africa nation struggling to bolster its own fragile democracy after decades of civil war. On Monday night, Somali civil aviation authorities reported increased Qatar Airways traffic over Somali airspace, according to the Associated Press. At least 15 flights were diverted to use the airspace, an increase from one or two flights a day previously. Quartz

Egyptians in Qatar Fear Being Swept Up in Gulf Crisis
Egyptian officials say the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors has yet to affect the 300,000 Egyptian workers in the tiny, energy-rich country, amid fears they could be expelled or stranded. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday and have moved to cut off all air, land and sea routes to the country, which they accuse of supporting terrorism, charges Qatar denies. The Gulf countries have ordered Qatari diplomats and nationals out, raising fears Qatar could reciprocate by expelling migrant workers and expatriates. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians live and work in the oil-rich Gulf, sending money back to their families that is more crucial now than ever, as Egypt is mired in an economic crisis following years of unrest. AP

Pentagon Report Cites China Military Buildup Around World
China’s construction of a military outpost in Djibouti is just the first of what will likely be an ongoing expansion in friendly foreign ports around the world to support distant deployments, a new Pentagon report concludes, predicting that Pakistan may be another potential location. The annual assessment of China’s military might also notes that while China has not seized much new land to create more man-made islands, it has substantially built up the reefs with extended runways and other military facilities. And it has increased patrols and law enforcement to protect them. The Djibouti base construction is near Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base in the Horn of Africa nation. But American military leaders have said they don’t see it as a threat that will interfere with U.S. operations there. AP

The Lord’s Resistance Army Is Far from Finished
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has abducted over 700 people and displaced hundreds of civilians so far this year. In February alone it carried out 16 attacks in which 70 civilians were kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). This, says African Union (AU) Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, is the group’s highest total monthly abduction since September 2016. Mahamat says the LRA has maintained “an active presence in [the] CAR, DRC and parts of South Sudan where it continues to raid, ambush, loot, torture, abduct and detain civilians”. It also traffics “ivory poached from the Garamba National Park in the DRC, and minerals looted from [the] CAR to sustain itself and its leader, Joseph Kony”, he says. Yet the US says the LRA has become “irrelevant”, and along with Uganda has announced its withdrawal of troops and support in the fight against the group. ISS

Niger Opposition Leader Convicted of Trying to Incite Coup
A court in Niger handed sentence on Tuesday for agitating for the overthrow of government, a move his lawyer said was aimed at silencing its critics. El Hadj Amadou Djibo, the head of a coalition of opposition parties, was arrested last month after calling on his allies to remain united against President Mahamadou Issoufou and force him from power by all legal means available. “This is a way of silencing the opposition,” Djibo’s lawyer, Douleur Oumarou, told reporters after the verdict. “We are going to appeal.” Djibo was expected to be released from prison later on Tuesday. In March, a court freed 15 civilians accused of complicity in an alleged December 2015 putsch against Issoufou. Nine military officers, including the alleged ringleader General Salou Souleymane, are still behind bars awaiting trial. Reuters

A Country in Chaos: Is Congo’s Kabila Buying Time?
Joseph Kabila trusts nobody. Anyone seeking to speak with the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo must first pass through two road blocks and a security checkpoint. Beyond that lies his residence, more of a fortress, high above the Congo River in the capital Kinshasa. The employees in the reception area are nervous. This is the first major interview their boss has granted to a foreign newspaper in six years. The walls are decorated with photos of his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who overthrew dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. After his father was shot to death by a bodyguard in 2001, Joseph Kabila seized power, and he was elected president five years later. He is now 45 and has ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a third of his life. Under the constitution, Kabila is required to step down after two normal terms in office, but he wants to continue his rule. In doing so, he is plunging his country, one of the world’s poorest and most unstable nations, more and more deeply into chaos. Spiegle

DRC’s Tainted Ex-Police Chief Made National Hero
Democratic Republic of Congo’s former police chief John Numbi, believed by regime critics to be prime suspect in the murder of a key rights activist, has been made a national hero. Numbi, who holds the rank of general, is one of eight senior police officers named as “national heroes” by President Joseph Kabila in a May 16 ruling seen online on Tuesday. He was relieved of his post after the 2010 killing of Floribert Chebeya, founder of the rights movement Voice of the Voiceless, who was found dead in his car on June 2, a day after he was driven to police headquarters in Kinshasa following a summons from the police chief. Chebeya’s driver, Fidele Bazana, went missing without trace and in the absence of a body, the judiciary concluded that he had also been murdered. News 24

We Will Not Sit Down with the Sudanese Government, Says Darfur Rebel Leader
Contrary to media reports, Abdel Wahid Al Nur, the head of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement- Al Nur faction (SLM-AW) told RFI on Tuesday that his group is not in Khartoum, nor are they in peace negotiations with the government. “Since Abuja in 2006 until today, we never met with the Khartoum government,” said Nur via telephone. “They get this rumor and this information in order to [give the] impression they are making peace,” he said. “They are only trying to get US sanctions lifted. They are lying,” he added. RFI

Cameroon Soldiers Arrested after Demanding Bonuses
Around 30 Cameroonian soldiers fighting the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram were arrested after a demonstration to demand the payment of bonuses and some leave, the defence ministry said on Monday. The soldiers on Sunday “set about stopping traffic with barricades on national route number one,” the ministry said in a statement broadcast on state radio. The men were demanding that they be immediately relieved from duty, as well as “the payment of bonuses for ‘international soldiers’ in line with those granted to their comrades from UN peace keeping missions,” the statement said. The soldiers were transferred from the Zigue area in the far north to capital Yaounde where they were placed under arrest and a judicial investigation was opened, the ministry said. News 24

South Africa Falls into Second Recession in a Decade
South Africa has fallen into recession for the first time in eight years after economic growth shrank by 0.7% between January and March. The downturn, due to weak manufacturing and trade, follows a 0.3% fall in GDP in the final quarter last year. It is the first time that economic has slowed for two consecutive quarters – the technical definition of a recession – since 2009. The value of the rand fell by 1% on the currency markets. Analysts had expected GDP to grow by 0.9% during the first quarter. However, Joe de Beer, deputy director general of Statistics South Africa, said: “We can now pronounce that the economy is in recession.” BBC

A climate chain reaction: Major Greenland melting could devastate crops in Africa
As melting Greenland glaciers continue to pour ice into the Arctic Ocean, we have more than the rising seas to worry about, scientists say. A new study suggests that if it gets large enough, the influx of freshwater from the melting ice sheet could disrupt the flow of a major ocean current system, which in turn could dry out Africa’s Sahel, a narrow region of land stretching from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east. The consequence could be devastating agricultural losses as the area’s climate shifts. And in the most severe scenarios, tens of millions of people could be forced to migrate from the area. “The implications, when expressed in terms of vulnerability of the population in the region are really dramatic and bring home just how sensitive livelihoods are in this region to climatic change,” said Christopher Taylor, a meteorologist at the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in the United Kingdom and an expert on the West African climate, who was not involved with the new research. The Washington Post

Risks Warned Over US Dropping Conflict Minerals Rule
Increased violence and corruption in central Africa could be the result of the recent decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission not to enforce a rule requiring American companies to report their use of conflict minerals, warn Congolese civic groups, rights groups and U.S. senators. “The conflict minerals rule has played a critical role in reducing violence in mining areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, who recently signed a letter with five other Democratic senators urging the SEC to uphold the rule. The conflict minerals reporting rule, part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations law, has largely been successful in ensuring that minerals worth trillions of dollars don’t benefit armed rebel groups blamed for human rights abuses, a coalition of groups from Congo and southern Africa told the SEC in a series of public comments earlier this year. In an opposing view, some business groups in the U.S. dismissed the regulation as ineffective and an unnecessary burden. AP

Nigeria’s Oil Theft Epidemic
Although crude oil theft has long been the subject of intense media attention in Nigeria, the downstream theft of hydrocarbons has remained under the radar. Despite this, downstream hydrocarbon theft is big business in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer. In 2015, the petroleum sector accounted for approximately 51 percent of the federal government’s income and more than 90 percent of export earnings. According U.S. Department of Commerce data published in February 2017, it also accounted for between 10-12 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. As global oil prices rose above $100 a barrel in the early 2000s, the theft of oil became a very lucrative business. Furthermore, due to a conspicuous lack of youth employment in the region, many of the Niger Delta indigenes (particularly young men) have turned to the illicit hydrocarbon trade (i.e. small-scale tapping of crude oil, petroleum theft / smuggling and artisanal refining) as a source of income. OilPrice

Uganda: Undermined – How Corruption, Mismanagement and Political Influence Undermining Investment in Uganda’s Mining Sector
Uganda is rich in natural resource wealth such as gold, tin and phosphate that could create jobs and support the country’s developing economy by generating tax revenues.   However, our 18 month long investigation has exposed endemic corruption and mismanagement in the country’s fledgling mining sector that means crooked officials, and international investors are profiting at the expense of Uganda’s people, environment and economy.  Global Witness



Photo: Adam Jones