Africa Media Review for March 2, 2017

DRC Opposition Leader’s Body to Return Home after Weeks of Wrangling
The body of Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi is to be repatriated next week, several weeks after his death, his party said on Wednesday, raising hopes of a restart of talks on a deal to end the political crisis. Tshisekedi’s death and the delay over repatriating his body from Brussels have blocked the implementation of a December 31 accord between the government and the opposition to end a crisis triggered by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to stand down. The 84-year-old Tshisekedi, head of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), died in Brussels on February 1, eight days after leaving the Democratic Republic of Congo for medical care abroad. His death plunged the vast African country further into uncertainty, as he had played a key role in negotiations aimed at peacefully resolving the political crisis. News 24

UN: Congo Used Excessive Force Against December Protesters
The United Nations says security forces in Congo used excessive and disproportionate force against people protesting President Joseph Kabila’s stay in office and that more than 40 people were killed. The report released Wednesday by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office for its Congo mission says two children were among those killed during protests in several cities in late December. It says most victims were unarmed civilians wounded by live ammunition. Many were protesting delayed elections that have seen Kabila remain in power. His final term had been due to end Dec. 20. Soon after the protests, talks brokered by Catholic church officials ended with political parties signing an agreement for new elections this year in which Kabila will not run. AP

Uganda Holds Dozens of Fleeing M23 Rebels after Congo Clashes
Uganda is holding dozens of fighters from the M23 rebel group who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo after clashing with troops there this week, the Ugandan military said on Thursday. Richard Karemire, Uganda’s military spokesman, told Reuters that 44 M23 fighters were being held at a camp in the southwestern town of Kisoro. He rejected accusations made by DRC that Uganda was enabling the fighters to revive their insurgency. “They fled and they are at a camp… pending determination of their next destination,” he said. M23, the largest of a number of rebel movements that have sown chaos and bloodshed in mineral-rich eastern Congo for years, once controlled swathes of territory there. Hundreds of the group’s fighters, however, fled to Uganda in 2013 after a combined United Nations and Congolese force routed their rebellion. Reuters

As South Sudan Refugee Flood Continues, So Do Tales of Abuse
In the bushland of northern Uganda, a recently arrived refugee from South Sudan describes how soldiers back home detained and tortured him for two months for reading an article online. Tall and thin as a reed, dirt coating his tattered T-shirt and jeans, the young man is one of more than 100,000 people who have fled a single South Sudan county in just three months as civil war continues amid warnings of genocide. The surge of more than half a million South Sudan refugees into Uganda since July is Africa’s largest refugee crisis. Like others who huddle in rapidly growing refugee camps in Uganda, the man spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of retaliation and the possibility that South Sudanese intelligence agents circulated among them. When they arrive after walking across the border, the refugees from Kajo-Keji county “report killings of civilians, sexual violence and fears of arrest and abduction as their main reasons for fleeing,” United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters recently. Continue reading the main story Interviews with people from Kajo-Keji now living in the Palorinya refugee camp, and U.N. documents obtained by The Associated Press, describe multiple human rights violations committed by South Sudanese soldiers against civilians. The New York Times

Thousands Flee Boko Haram Attacks Around Nigeria’s Chibok: IOM
Some 7 000 people have fled from villages around the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok because of Boko Haram attacks, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday. The IOM said an estimated 4 449 people or 740 households have fled to Chibok itself since February 25, “seeking safety following attacks or threats of attacks in some neighbouring villages”. “These movements are in addition to the estimated 300 people who fled to Chibok town around February 10,” it added in a briefing document seen by AFP. “The staff also report that approximately 2 000 individuals fled from Kaya village, near Chibok town, to (the nearby town of) Damboa recently, in search of safety.” News 24

UN Security Council Delegation Heads to Lake Chad Basin
U.N. Security Council diplomats have departed on a mission to the Lake Chad Basin in West Africa to see firsthand the security challenges and dire humanitarian situation there. Envoys from the 15 nations of the U.N.’s most powerful body will travel to Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria on a four-day mission. It is the first time the council has made such a visit to the Lake Chad Basin. “We know there are threats to international peace and security in the four countries,” council president and trip co-leader British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told VOA, in reference to the terror group Boko Haram. “We want to shine a spotlight on those issues. We want to encourage donors to step up to tackle humanitarian issues. We want to encourage governments of the region to continue their robust activity against Boko Haram,” Rycroft said. VOA

Africa Trump’s Plan to Slash Foreign Aid Comes as Famine Threat is Surging 
President Trump has proposed large cuts to foreign aid at a time of acute need across Africa and the Middle East, with four countries approaching famine and 20 million people nearing starvation, according to the United Nations. It is the first time in recent memory that so many large-scale hunger crises have occurred simultaneously, and ­humanitarian groups say they do not have the resources to respond effectively. The United Nations has requested $4.4 billion by March to “avert a ­catastrophe,” Secretary General António Guterres said last week. It has so far received only a tiny fraction of that request. The details of Trump’s ­budget proposal have not been released, and large cuts to ­foreign assistance will face stiff opposition from Congress. So far, U.S. funding for the hunger crises has come out of a budget approved last year under President Barack Obama. But the ­famines or near-famines in parts of ­Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen underscore the reliance on continued U.S. assistance to save some of the world’s most desperate people. The Washington Post

Rwandan Man Involved in 1994 Genocide Faces US Prison Term
A federal judge is expected to sentence a Rwandan man Thursday for lying to gain citizenship in the US after helping carry out deadly attacks during the country’s 1994 genocide. US District Judge Linda Reade ruled last month that Gervais Ngombwa was a leader of an extremist Hutu political party during the genocide, in which more than 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Reade says testimony shows that Ngombwa personally killed Tutsis, directed a youth militia and led brutal attacks on groups seeking refuge in churches. Federal agents arrested Ngombwa on immigration charges two decades later as he was living in Iowa, where he was known as a devout Christian and family man named “Ken.” Ngombwa faces prison time before likely deportation to Rwanda, where he faces additional charges. News 24

Ethiopia Says Planned Attack on Renaissance Dam Project Thwarted
Ethiopia says it has thwarted a planned attack by an Eritrea-backed group on its massive dam project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Deputy government spokesman Zadig Abraha told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate on Wednesday evening that 20 members of the armed group were “completely annihilated” earlier this week. Zadig says “actions were taken” against 13 members of the Benishangul Peoples Liberation Movement. The spokesman did not give details, but similar statements have meant people were killed. The spokesman says the other members escaped to Sudan, which then handed them over. Ethiopia’s dam project is about halfway complete and has been a source of regional tension. Egypt has long suspected it will reduce its share of the Nile River. Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea have a long history of border disputes. Nazret

Merkel to Visit Egypt, Tunisia for Migration Talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is heading to Egypt and Tunisia this week to discuss migration and development in the North Africa nations. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday that Berlin is interested in helping Egypt strengthen its coastguard and clamp down on illegal trafficking across the Mediterranean, which leads to thousands of deaths each year. Merkel will visit Egypt on Thursday and Tunisia on Friday. Beyond meeting the two countries’ leaders, she will talk to Muslim and Coptic Christian faith leaders and members of civil society. The visit to Tunisia will have acute significance as Anis Amri, the man who killed 12 people in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market after his asylum request had been rejected was from the country. Several attempts to deport Amri failed, prompting German officials to vow to speed up the deportation of all rejected asylum seekers. Al Araby

Sudan’s Bashir Names Long-Time Ally and General Prime Minister
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir named his first vice president and long-time ally Hassan Saleh to the newly created post of prime minister on Wednesday, the clearest sign yet that he intends for him to one day take over. It is the first time Sudan has had a prime minister since Bashir came to power in a 1989 Islamist and military-backed coup. Saleh is the last member of the group of officers that launched the coup to remain at Bashir’s side. “The party leadership meeting chaired by President Bashir approved the nomination of Hassan Saleh as prime minister and his retention of the post of first vice president,” said ruling National Congress Party Deputy Leader Ibrahim Mahmoud. Saleh will be sworn in on Thursday and immediately start negotiations on forming a new cabinet, Mahmoud said. Sudan’s constitution was amended in December to introduce the position of prime minister, a demand of opposition parties that took part in a national dialogue with the government, with the aim of distributing some of the presidency’s extensive powers. Reuters

Zambia’s Mining Investor Schizophrenia
Despite the claims of those who said growth in Zambia was the result of better governance, the problem now is precisely that it wasn’t. To the contrary, the country is now among the most unequal countries in the world. Today the top 10% of Zambians receive 52% of all income, while the bottom 60% of the 16-million population gets just 12%. Zambia was a poster child for the Africa rising era in the 2000s, when its economy grew at 7% annually. Three externally driven changes made the boom times possible: Surging commodity prices fuelled by China’s burgeoning appetite, an increase in aid coupled with debt relief, and the ability to fund governments through new bond issues. We know now, in today’s more difficult times, that across Africa this growth had little to do with better governance or, for that matter, governments’ development vision, focus and actions. In Zambia, when Chinese interest slackened and the copper price went down, economic growth slowed, the effects worsened by inconsistent tax policy and a spendthrift government. Growth fell to just 2.9% by 2015, and 3.6% last year, barely enough to maintain current per capita incomes and wholly inadequate to generate the employment required, especially by the large number of young people looking for jobs. Daily Maverick

Nigeria Says South Africa Deported 97 of Its Citizens after Raids
South Africa has deported 97 Nigerians for various offences following a series of raids, Nigerian officials said on Wednesday, amid heightened bilateral tensions over anti-immigrant violence in South Africa. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to Nigeria’s president on diaspora matters, said the deported Nigerians had arrived home on Monday. “Some of them claimed they were returned for irregular migration offences when the South Africa authority withdrew their voluntary work permits that it had hitherto given to African migrants, and made … work permits more difficult to get,” she said. “They (Nigerians) have been arbitrarily raided … More (deportations) will likely follow,” said Dabiri-Erewa, adding that drug offenders among those sent back had been handed over to the Nigerian police. Uche Ajulu-Okeke, Nigeria’s consul-general to South Africa, confirmed the deportations in a text message, saying they were due to a “lack of documentation”. SABC

Tanzania Refugee Camps ‘Overstretched’
A health crisis is looming in Tanzania’s refugee camps following an increase of refugees arriving in the country, medical charity MSF has said. Some 290,000 refugees, over three-quarters of them from Burundi, are crammed into three overstretched camps – Nyarugusu, Mtendeli and Nduta – MSF says. Nduta camp which was set up to relieve pressures at Nyarugusu, in the western province of Kigoma, is home to 117,000 people, more than double its intended capacity. It is expected to host 150,000 refugees by April if the daily arrivals of 600-1,000 people continue. MSF, which offers medical services at the camp, says it has recorded a fourfold increase in the number of outpatient consultations. The East African

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Flies to Singapore for Medical Checks
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe travelled to Singapore for a medical checkup on Wednesday, his spokesman said, days after he celebrated his 93rd birthday by vowing to add to his 36 years in charge of the southern African nation. As Mugabe flew to Singapore, nurses at public hospitals joined junior doctors in a two-week strike that is meant to pressure Mugabe’s government into paying 2016 bonuses due in December. Increasingly frail, Mugabe now struggles to walk and is seldom far from the arms of an aide. His public speeches have become meandering and repetitive. “His Excellency the President left for Singapore for a scheduled medical review. We expect him back in the country early next week,” spokesman George Charamba said. He did not give details. Reuters

When Darkness Falls, Cameroon Residents Stay Home Fearing Arrest
When the sun sets in Buea, the capital of Cameroon’s English-speaking Southwest region, residents lock themselves in their homes hoping the security forces won’t come knocking. “The atmosphere reigning here is one of fear, so we go to bed early because the security forces usually organize their raids at nightfall,” Lucas Mbonde, a 39-year-old carpenter, said by phone from the city. “Every week people here report cases of missing relatives.” President Paul Biya’s government carried out a wave of arrests after lawyers and teachers in English-speaking areas protested about the dominance of the French language in their courts and schools. He also shut down state-controlled internet services throughout the Northwest and Southwest regions, saying the measure was necessary to prevent “extremist and separatist organizations” from “preaching hate and violence.” The step particularly angered residents of Buea where dozens of technology startups have earned the city the nickname of Silicon Valley. Bloomberg

The Gambia: HIV Patients Recount Herbal Treatment Under Jammeh
Former president Yahya Jammeh claimed he could cure people suffering from HIV and AIDS. Jammeh treated hundreds of patients in Gambian clinics, administering herbal remedies. Now that he has left power, many are still sick and telling their stories. Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from Banjul. Al Jazeera

Lesotho’s Pakalitha Mosisili Loses Parliament Vote
Lesotho’s prime minister has lost a no-confidence vote in parliament, deepening the political uncertainty in the mountain kingdom ahead of a snap election likely within three months. The vote on Wednesday against Pakalitha Mosisili, head of a coalition government, came two years after his Democratic Congress (DC) ousted former prime minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Congress (ABC) by uniting with smaller parties. Now it is Thabane’s ABC that leads a coalition of opposition parties, including the Alliance of Democrats (AD) party, a group that split from DC last year, in an effort to remove Mosisili. Members of parliament voted in favour of replacing Mosisili with AD’s Monyane Moleleki. “The vote of no confidence motion to urge His Majesty King Letsie III to appoint Honourable Monyane Moleleki as the next prime minister has been carried,” Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai told MPs after the vote. Al Jazeera

Land Haunts Germany’s Effort to Atone for Africa Genocide
Namibia’s Herero people are heartened that Germany is keen to atone for the genocide of their ancestors, but they expect something Berlin says it is not in a position to give. “What we want is our land,” said 74-year-old Alex Kaubtauuapela, whose parents survived the extermination of 80 percent of the community, a precursor to the Holocaust. She lives much as they did, in a community dependent on cattle herding. “The Herero are poor because of German people,” she said, hunched over a walking stick as one of her grandchildren chased a stray dog around her crumbling house in the Herero ancestral homeland of Okahandja north of the capital, Windhoek. About half of the arable land in the country in south west Africa which Germany annexed in 1884 is owned by descendants of German and Dutch immigrants, who make up just six percent of the 2.3 million population. Reuters

Here’s How Mobile Technology is Saving Africans from Humanitarian Disasters
Over the last 15 years, mobile phone technology has grown significantly across the world, especially in Africa. Improved infrastructure and high-speed networks have all contributed to the swelling number of subscribers. For developers, this uptick in smartphone users has been a boon for innovation, with the phone now a tool for insurance, health, education, and banking products that allow users to conveniently pay for goods and services. One relatively unknown benefit of the proliferation of phones, however, has been a reduction in deaths from natural disasters. Mobile technology has improved early warning systems, allowing humanitarian organizations to monitor droughts and other natural disasters, and helping displaced people find shelter and food. This role was solidified in 2015, when more than 100 mobile operators in 75 countries—including almost 30 African nations—signed on to the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, an initiative to create best practices for responding to humanitarian crises. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones