Africa Media Review for March 16, 2018

UN Renews S. Sudan Mission, with Arms Embargo Threat
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday renewing for a year its peace mission in South Sudan, while also threatening to later impose an arms embargo if necessary. The strongly-worded US-drafted text is aimed at piling pressure on South Sudan’s warring sides as they head into a new round of peace talks in Ethiopia next month to end the four-year war. The measure “expresses the council’s intention to consider all appropriate measures against those who take actions that undermine the peace, stability and security of South Sudan, including an arms embargo, to deprive the parties of the means to continue fighting and to prevent violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement,” a Security Council diplomat said. AFP

Robert Mugabe Says ‘Disgraceful’ Zimbabwe Coup Must Be Undone
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe described his departure from office in November as a “coup d’etat” that “we must undo” in his first TV interview since then, aired on Thursday. Mugabe, 94, spoke slowly but clearly to South Africa’s SABC broadcaster from an office in Harare, dressed in a grey suit, sitting in front of a portrait of himself and his wife Grace. “I say it was a coup d’etat – some people have refused to call it a coup d’etat,” said Mugabe referring to the brief army takeover which led to Emmerson Mnangagwa assuming power after Mugabe’s resignation. “We must undo this disgrace which we have imposed on ourselves, we don’t deserve it… Zimbabwe doesn’t deserve it.”  The Guardian

UN Sends Troops to Restive Province of DRC
The UN has reinforced its troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern Ituri province after more than 100 people were killed during ethnic clashes in the past few days in the region. Lt. Sam Waikemba, a security officer, told Anadolu Agency that the Chief of the UN mission in DRC David Gressley was in Ituri province and the UN sent troops to Djugu territory, where the killings took place, on Tuesday. “Gressley has been to Ituri today where he met DRC’s minister of internal affairs Henri Mova and they discussed about security and the killings in Djugu,” Waikemba said. Anadolu Agency

Big Miners Arrive in the DRC to Go Over New Mining Code
Big miners operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo took President Joseph Kabila’s word seriously. Less than a week ago, Kabila signed into law a new mining code that raises royalties and taxes on operators. As he did so, the President assured them that their questions around the legal instrument would be resolved through transitional arrangements, mining regulations and agreements, and guarantees. Thus, miners were requested to meet with government officials for a 30 day period starting March 14. Today, legal and technical staff for Randgold Resources, AngloGold Ashanti, Glencore, Ivanhoe, Gold Mountain International/Zijin, MMG and China Molybdenum arrived in Kinshasa in the hope of meeting with the Minister of Mines. As requested by the central administration, they asked for the meeting after they submitted a matrix of the industry’s issues as well as proposals regarding the mining code. Mining.com

Cameroon’s Aging Biya Holds First Cabinet Meeting since 2015
Cameroon’s octogenarian President Paul Biya, who has ruled the central African country with an iron grip for decades, held his first cabinet meeting since 2015 on Thursday. A brief letter calling his council of ministers to the Unity Palace did not reveal the agenda. Prime Minister Philemon Yang read out a statement afterwards on state TV, saying Biya had insisted that they “continue working”. There was no explanation of why he had called the session and no other officials were permitted to speak about what went on in the conclave. The president had told his cabinet that “the best way to serve the country is to do everything, to make all the sacrifices that are needed,” the prime minister said. Reuters

African Peer Review Mechanism: Back with A, Uhm, Bang?
More than half of Africa’s countries don’t have reliable stats on how many people are born and die within their borders, even though recording this information is supposed to be one of the most basic functions of government. Despite a lack of such stats and other data from 30 African governments, an instrument originally created for African countries to evaluate and advise each other is now also, ambitiously, set to take on the task of reporting how countries are faring in reaching their international development goals. Still, chief executive officer of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) secretariat, Eddy Maloka, is excited about this seemingly impossible task. Daily Maverick

UAE to Train Somaliland Forces under Military Base Deal – Somaliland President
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will train Somaliland security forces as part of a deal to establish a military base in the semi-autonomous region, Somaliland’s president said on Thursday. UAE government officials could not immediately be reached for comment – but the UAE has committed to invest hundreds of million dollars in recent years in the territory on a strategically important stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Aden. The UAE began construction last year of a base on a site at the airport of the Somaliland port city Berbera, and will be allowed to maintain a presence for 30 years. Berbera is less than 300 km (190 miles) south of war-torn Yemen, where UAE troops are fighting rebels as part of a Saudi-backed coalition. Reuters

Mauritius PM Says President’s Decision Not to Resign Is Deplorable
Mauritian Prime Minister said on Thursday it is deplorable that the country’s ceremonial president has failed to follow through on an agreement to resign over a scandal triggered by accusations of financial misconduct. The country’s leader Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said that under his agreement with President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim who is the first woman in the post she was due to step down on Thursday. Last month the local L’Express newspaper said Gurib-Fakim used a credit card issued by an international non-governmental organisation to buy clothes and jewellery in Italy and Dubai. The report triggered an outcry, not least on social media. Reuters

Israel Court Suspends Plan to Deport African Migrants
Israel’s supreme court has suspended a controversial government plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants who entered the country illegally. It gave the state until 26 March to provide more information on the plan. In January, the migrants – mostly from Eritrea and Sudan – were offered $3,500 (£2,510) and a plane ticket to leave Israel voluntarily by the end of March. Otherwise, they faced detention and subsequent expulsion. The UN refugee agency criticised the plan. BBC

UNAMID Calls Convince Darfur Rebels to Sign Doha Document
The head of Darfur peacekeeping operation and joint chief mediator Thursday called to convince the armed groups to sign a framework agreement reached in 2011 and to put pressure on those who refuse to negotiate with the government. Jeremiah Mamabolo briefed the Security Council via video link from El Fasher, on the Secretary-General’s latest report covering the 16 December 2017 to 15 February 2018 period, during which the mission launched phase II of its reconfiguration. Speaking about the need to sign a lasting peace agreement after the end of violence in the region, Mambolo said the Security Council members have to use bilateral channels to encourage the exiled leaders of the armed groups who are part of the peace process to sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). Sudan Tribune

Ramaphosa to Visit Mozambique, Zimbabwe as SADC Chair
President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to undertake a working visit to Mozambique and Zimbabwe on March 17 as the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the presidency has said in a statement. The visit forms part of a long-standing tradition in the SADC region, whereby newly elected heads of state pay courtesy calls to the neighbouring countries. “During the visit, President Ramaphosa and his counterparts will discuss bilateral co-operation as well as regional, continental and global issues of mutual concern. News 24

Angola Charges Ex-Central Bank Chief in $500 Mln Fraud Case: Source
Angolan prosecutors have charged former central bank governor, Valter Filipe da Silva, in relation to an alleged $500 million fraud attempted against the Angolan government last year, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday. The source said the attempted fraud occurred in the final weeks of the presidency of José Eduardo dos Santos when $500 million was transferred from the central bank to an account in the United Kingdom. It was, however, flagged as suspicious by British authorities and frozen. Angola’s prosecutors’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to contact da Silva. In January, in response to questions about the case sent by Reuters, Britain’s National Crime Agency said: “We can confirm that the NCA’s international corruption unit is investigating a case of potential fraud against the Angolan Government.” eNCA

There’s an Opioid Abuse Problem Unfolding in African Cities and It’s Not Getting the Attention It Needs
[…] Africa remains one of the regions least served with effective pain relief medicine and although Tramadol is not the strongest of analgesics, it is a darling on prescription lists. That’s because unlike other opioids such as methadone and fentanyl, Tramadol is not internationally regulated, hence it is cheap and readily available for patients. Doctors prescribe Tramadol in cases of post-surgical pain, bone deficiencies and cancer and the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) classifies it among its ‘essential drugs’ list. However, in the last decade, the continent has seen a significant rise in the non-medical use of Tramadol, which produces similar effects to the “high” caused by heroin. Such is the popularity of Tramadol local Ghanaian users have it the nickname “Tramore” similar to the official brand name, Tramal. Quartz

Pests, Disease Destroy a Third of Mozambique Crops, Government Says
Pests and disease sweeping through Mozambique have destroyed at least a third of the country’s agricultural crops over the past 11 months, a government spokeswoman said. Ana Comoana, the spokeswoman, said more than 41,000 hectares of crops in Mozambique, a tropical African nation with a huge Indian Ocean coastline, had been affected by pests including caterpillars and fruit flies. She said that more than 3,000 hectares of maize had been lost, and that coconut and banana production had also suffered. Reuters

Germany’s New Africa Policy Builds on Old Solutions
Germany’s new coalition government wants to make Africa a priority, and is promising more private investment and development aid. For many, these are the same empty promises of the past. Germany’s federal government obviously thinks Africa is important. After all, the continent is mentioned 28 times in the new government’s coalition agreement – a positive development for a region that was long relegated to the edges of German politics.  “Compared to previous coalition agreements, Africa probably appears most often in this one,” Africa expert Andreas Mehler, Director of the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute in Freiburg, told DW. Deutsche Welle

Botswana Turns Power Exporter after a Decade of Imports
Botswana is exporting power for the first time in 10 years, a far cry from the days when Africa’s biggest miner of diamonds was forced to import as much as 75 percent of its needs. State-owned Botswana Power Corp. started “limited” sales to the Southern African Power Pool’s auction platform, where regional utilities buy and sell electricity, Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schwarzfischer said in an interview Thursday. Sales have been made possible by improved plant availability at the flagship 600MW Morupule B plant, which is now producing 450 megawatts and is expected to reach full capacity next month, Schwarzfischer said. Exports will rise to a targeted 100 megawatts once the 120MW Morupule A plant is put back online in July, following a six-year refurbishment program, he said. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones