Africa Media Review for June 9, 2020

Tanzania’s main opposition leader was attacked by unidentified assailants as he entered his home late at night, officials with his party said Tuesday, just months ahead of a general election and as opposition figures face alleged harassment. Freeman Mbowe, the leader of the opposition in parliament and chairman of the Chadema party, was rushed to a health center for treatment after he was attacked overnight in Dodoma, the administrative capital, Dodoma Regional Police Commander Gilles Murotto told reporters. “Mbowe has a fracture on his right leg and according to the doctors his condition has stabilized,” Murotto said, adding that the attack is under investigation. A climate of fear has grown in the East African nation, rights groups and critics say, as President John Magufuli seeks a second term in the October election that shows no sign of being delayed despite the coronavirus pandemic. Critics accuse Magufuli’s administration of curtailing freedom of assembly. Since 2016, opposition rallies across the country have been banned. AP

Assassination Survivor Bid to Run for President in Tanzania
Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu will run for president in elections in October, three years after surviving an assassination attempt. Lissu, the 52-year-old vice chairman of the Chadema party, has been in self-imposed exile in Europe since unidentified gunmen shot him 16 times in an attack in the capital, Dodoma. He made his announcement Monday in a statement emailed from Belgium. A popular former chief whip of Chadema, Lissu is seen as a serious challenger to President John Magufuli, who plans to seek re-election. Since coming to power in 2015, Magufuli, 60, has been accused by opposition leaders and activists of cracking down on dissent and media freedom. Bloomberg

Kenyans March in Capital against Police Violence
Around 200 people turned out Monday for a protest in a poor Nairobi neighbourhood against police violence linked to the deaths of 15 people nationwide since the authorities imposed a curfew to fight coronavirus. The crowd in the Mathare neighbourhood was composed mostly of young people and mothers carrying signs with the names of friends, neighbours and sons killed in police operations in recent years. “I am here to protest for our youth who have died in the hands of the police without any wrongdoings and we are saying enough is enough. As mothers, many of our youths have been killed while being labelled as thieves,” said Mathare resident Rahma Wako. Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) reported last week it had received 87 complaints against police since the dusk-to-dawn curfew and heightened security measures were imposed on March 27. AFP

Speaker of Ethiopia’s Upper House Resigns after Polls Postponed
Ethiopia’s upper house speaker has resigned in apparent protest at the postponement of planned elections in the Horn of Africa country over the coronavirus, a sign of growing tension between her party and the government. Speaker Keria Ibrahim is also a top official in Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the country’s major political parties that have opposed the postponement. The parliamentary and regional elections had been planned for August, ahead of the end of incumbent Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s term in September. No new date has yet been set. … Last month, TPLF, which is also the governing party for the country’s Tigray region, threatened to organise polls for the area in defiance of the postponement, potentially setting the region on a collision course with the federal government. Al Jazeera

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to Discuss Renaissance Dam Filing
Irrigations ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will hold a teleconference on Tuesday for further talks on the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GRED). Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Yasir Abbas Sudanese Irrigation Minister said the meeting is a result of a series of bilateral consultations by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok with his Ethiopian and Egyptian counterparts to resume tripartite negotiations on the pending issues. “The meeting, which will be held at the initiative of Sudan, will include, in addition to the three irrigation ministers, observers from the United States of America, the European Union and South Africa,” he said. … “We hope this meeting be constructive and a continuation of the cooperation established between the riparian countries since a long time ago,” he said before to add “Much has been accomplished and little remains to be done.” Sudan Tribune

Popular Defence Forces Integrated in Sudan Army
As part of changes within the army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) announced that the Popular Defence Forces government militia will now be called the Reserve Department. SAF Chief-of-Staff Lt Gen Mohamed El Hussein posted on the SAF Facebook page that the militia’s name was changed and that its command has been changed as well. The Reserve Department will be part of the Ministry of Defence. It will have its headquarters in Khartoum. The Popular Defence Forces (PDF) were established as an Islamist militia after Omar Al Bashir’s military coup in 1989. Under international law it was considered part of Sudan’s military because it was created by statute. Radio Dabanga

Foreign Officials Reach Out to Protest Leader in Troubled Mali
Officials from the UN, West Africa and the African Union (AU) have met an influential Muslim cleric behind demonstrations against Mali’s beleaguered president, the coalition behind the protests said on Monday. Tens of thousands of people joined a rally in Bamako last Friday to demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was re-elected in 2018 for a second five-year term. Keita is struggling to maintain support in the poor and volatile country over a jihadist revolt and ethnic violence that have claimed thousands of lives, forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and devastated the economy. The alliance which organised the protests said “a delegation from the international community met Imam (Mahmoud) Dicko” on Sunday. AFP

Mali Orders Probe into Killings of 43 Civilians in Two Villages
The Malian government says it has ordered an investigation into whether soldiers killed dozens of people during attacks on two villages last week. Armed men dressed in military fatigues raided the village of Binedama on Friday, killing 29 people including women and children, and burning down houses, according to officials. Two days earlier, attackers had killed 14 people in the village of Niangassadiou, the government said in a statement. … In both cases, community leaders said attackers targeted members of the Fulani group – semi-nomadic herders who have been accused by rival farming communities of supporting local armed groups, making them targets of violence from ethnic vigilante militias and sometimes government forces. Al Jazeera

Call for Independent Probe into Cameroon Journalist’s Death
International press freedom lobby groups have called for an independent investigation into the death of Cameroonian journalist Samuel Ajiekah Abuwe alias Samuel Wazizi, who died while in military custody 10 months ago. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) questioned his detention, the cause of his death and why it took long for his death to be made public. … On social media, journalists, politicians and activists have been using the hashtag #JusticeForWazizi to express their outrage over his death. Wazizi presented the popular pidgin language news programme, “Halla Ya Matta.” Cameroon has a history of detaining journalists incommunicado, according to CPJ and RSF.  At least seven other journalists are currently being held in pretrial detention in the country according to data by the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ). The East African

Buhari Govt Repeatedly Violates Nigerian Laws over Sacked Army Officers
Among Nigeria’s national honourees in 2012 was an army officer, Mohammed Suleiman, then a colonel. He had earlier that year helped foil a Boko Haram terrorist attack on the Aso Rock Villa…However, for four years, he has been in a legal battle with the military after he and 37 other senior officers were forcibly and illegally removed from service. In separate judgements, Mr Suleiman and five of the affected officers have won the cases they initiated to challenge their forced retirement by the military authorities. In ordering their reinstatement, the National Industrial Court has six times held that the military acted unlawfully. … But authorities have continued to ignore the court and its decisions. Premium Times

At Least Half of Mystery Deaths in Nigeria’s Kano Due to COVID-19 – Minister
As many as 60% of the “mysterious” deaths in Nigeria’s northern Kano state were likely due to the new coronavirus, the government’s health minister said on Monday. Nigeria’s task force on COVID-19 sent a team to the northern economic hub in late April to investigate and conduct “verbal autopsies” after local newspaper the Daily Trust reported a spike in deaths to around 150 people in Kano city. Government Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire said the investigation found a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal local government areas in Kano state at a rate of 43 deaths per day, compared with the typical death rate of roughly 11 deaths per day. Reuters

President ‘Worried’ as South Africa’s Virus Cases Rise Fast
More than half of South Africa’s more than 50,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in the last two weeks, prompting concerns that Africa’s most developed economy is about to see a steep rise in infections. South Africa has the most cases in Africa, whose 54 countries have reported more than 190,000 cases including more than 5,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. South Africa, with a population of 57 million people, saw its COVID-19 deaths climb above 1,000 Monday. … Ramaphosa wrote the nationwide lockdown had achieved “the objective we had of delaying the spread of the virus” and “gave us time to prepare our health facilities.” But hospitals are coming under pressure, especially in the Western Cape province, which contains the city of Cape Town, and in the mainly rural Eastern Cape. AP

Tunisia Orders Lifting of Coronavirus Lockdown
Tunisian President Kais Saied has ordered the lifting of a nationwide curfew imposed in March to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The decision, announced by the presidency in a statement on Monday, came after health authorities said they continued to see a drop in the number of infections. Tunisia has record 1,087 coronavirus cases and 49 related deaths to date. The North African country had already reopened shops, businesses, mosques, cafes and hotels after locking down nearly all normal business activity for months. Al Jazeera

This Agricultural Enterprise Is Helping Nigerian Farmers Expand Their Business
In 2015, farmer Sule Yohana joined Babban Gona, a social enterprise organization with a focus on providing expansion services to smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Babban Gona which means ‘Great farm’ in Hausa language, spoken in West Africa, provides services such as loans, agribusiness training, and provision of storage facilities for subsistence farmers in rural communities. ohana, whose farm is in Kaduna state in northern Nigeria, told CNN that since he joined the enterprise as a member he has been able to grow his maize farm from two hectares of land to four. A hectare of farmland is about the size of the average football field. “They (Babban Gona) taught me how to farm better, they taught me the best way to store my maize and they supplied me with fertilizers and pesticides,” he said. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones