Africa Media Review for March 28, 2018

Catholic Church Increasingly Targeted by Government Violence in the DRC
The political context in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has become highly fragmented over the crisis created by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to leave office after his term expired nearly two years ago. In an effort to resolve the impasse, the influential Catholic Church mediated the December 31, 2016 Saint-Silvestre Peace Accord, which was supposed to have led to the formation of a transitional government, reforms within the electoral commission, and elections by the end of 2017, without Kabila as a candidate. … In March, Catholic bishops withdrew from their role as mediators, citing the unwillingness of the parties to compromise and the government’s appointment of individuals who no longer had the confidence of the opposition. After several months of deliberation, the Catholic Church decided to take on the role of organizing protests to give voice to the popular demand for political reforms and the holding of peaceful, democratic, and credible elections. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Rapes, Ethnic Attacks Rising in DRC’s Lawless East
Sexual and ethnic violence are alarmingly on the rise in Democratic Republic of Congo’s lawless east, spawning a humanitarian catastrophe with millions forced to flee their homes. At least 13.1 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, including 7.7 million who are severely food insecure, the UN Security Council said last week. … As the spat continues with the DRC shunning a massive donor conference in Geneva next month aimed at raising $1.7bn to tackle the crisis, rapes are increasing in the volatile region. “In 2015, we noticed a noticeable decrease in sexual violence,” said celebrated gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his work with gang rape victims from the conflicts that have ravaged his homeland. “Since the end of 2016 and 2017, there has really been a rise.” … Mukwege said the profile of rapists has changed. “Now the majority of sexual violence in South Kivu is committed by civilians and no longer by security forces and armed groups,” he said. However, many of the civilians were former rebels, the Panzi Foundation said. News24

Eight Million Congolese Youth to Vote for First Time in Pivotal Election
Some eight million youth in the Democratic Republic of Congo have come of age in time for a critical national election scheduled for later this year. VOA’s Anita Powell talked to young people in Kinshasa to learn their thoughts about the poll, and whether they think it will end the country’s political crisis. VOA

Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Picks Ethnic Oromo, Abiy Ahmed as PM
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition on Tuesday elected as leader Abiy Ahmed, from the country’s largest ethnic group the Oromo, paving the way for him to become prime minister, state media reported. As the leader of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Abiy is set to take over from Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced his resignation last month in a surprise move that prompted the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency. … Abiy will be the first Oromo prime minister in the 27 years of EPRDF rule. The Oromo began months of anti-government protests in late 2015 that resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of arrests. News24

Kenya Columnists Quit Nation Media Group over ‘Meddling’
Eight leading newspaper columnists have resigned from Kenya’s largest media group, citing a “loss in editorial independence”. In a joint statement, they suggested government interference in the Nation Media Group (NMG). NMG said it regretted the columnists’ position and it believed in “independence, fairness and balance”. The resignations come at a time when the government has been accused of cracking down on the media. … In their resignation letter, the columnists protested against the firing of managing editor, Denis Galava, over an editorial critical of Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, and the refusal to renew the contract of popular cartoonist Gado, who had previously taken aim at the government. BBC

Kenya Police Tops Corruption List
Kenya Police has once again topped the list of most corrupt government departments in a survey by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. The study conducted in 2016 indicates that most bribes were paid at police stations, county health departments, chiefs’ offices, Office of the Registrar of Persons and county commissioners’ offices in that order. The average bribe given out is now $70 (Ksh7,081), an increase from $56 (Ksh5,648) recorded in the previous year. … Among government ministries, Interior and Coordination of National Government was identified as the most prone to graft. The East African

Egypt Tries to Boost Voter Turnout with Incentives, Threats
One manager threatened employees to get them to vote — and then checked for telltale ink-stained fingers as they clocked in the next day. A regional governor pledged improved water and sanitation service to towns with a high turnout. Some people were promised more food and even cash if they went to the polls. With President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi running virtually unopposed in this week’s election, Egypt’s leadership has made clear it considers a high turnout crucial to ensuring that the balloting has credibility. For months ahead of the balloting that began Monday and runs through Wednesday, pro-government media have pushed the message that voting was a patriotic duty to foil foreign plots against Egypt. But as the election neared, officials used a mixture of rewards, bullying and cajoling to boost turnout. This concerted drive has been undertaken by regional governors, community leaders, police, schools, clerics and businessmen, according to interviews conducted by The Associated Press. Washington Post

Tanzania Opposition Officials Detained
Top officials of Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, have been arrested in the capital Dar es Salam. It is not entirely clear why the party’s national chairman Freeman Mbowe and other senior officials are being detained. However, the opposition officials have been reporting at Central Police station for questioning in connection with 16 February demonstrations in the city. This comes in the wake of the Sunday warning by the influential Lutheran church about the shrinking democratic space and muzzling of the media by the state. The East African

Gambia Arrests Senior Spy in Political Activist Murder Case
Gambian police have arrested a top official in the state intelligence agency over the murder of political activist Solo Sandeng in April 2016, a spokesperson said on Monday. Sandeng’s death in custody sparked a political movement that eventually ousted former leader Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the tiny West African nation with an iron fist for 22 years. More than a dozen former agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) face charges or are already on trial for the United Democratic Party organiser’s murder after his arrest at an opposition protest. … Gambian prosecutors last week charged eight former spies with conspiracy to murder Sandeng while nine more, including its former chief Yankuba Badjie, are already on trial. News24

Chinese Peacemakers Arrive in Jebel Marra: UNAMID
The hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on Monday said a convoy transporting Chinese peacekeepers has arrived in Golo, Jebel Marra. … In Jebel Marra, the force has to continue to protect civilians and ensure the delivery of emergency relief. In the other areas of Darfur, the mission has to focus on stabilising the situation. … In a brief statement seen by Sudan Tribune on Monday, the Mission said the Chinese peacemakers have arrived in Golo “after a long and gruelling trip from El Fasher, North Darfur”. “They will play a crucial role in the establishment of UNAMID’s Temporary Operating Base in the area, by carrying out engineering tasks such as grading the land, constructing field defences and setting up tent accommodations” read the statement. Sudan Tribune

Tunisia Votes to End Truth Tribunal Mandate
In a contentious vote late on Monday, Tunisia’s parliament voted to end the work of a tribunal tasked with healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship. After two particularly stormy sessions on Saturday and Monday, Tunisian MPs rejected an extension of the Truth and Dignity Commission’s (IVD) mandate, set to end on May 31, parliament said on Twitter. The vote was 68 against, zero votes for and two abstentions. But dozens of MPs, including those of the Islamist Ennahdha party, left parliament before Monday’s vote, alleging it was tainted with irregularities. Two thirds of lawmakers did not vote.Set up in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the tribunal was created to investigate human rights violations, hold perpetrators to account and rehabilitate their victims. News24

Mozambique Parties Find Common Ground
Mozambique’s three main political parties have agreed to go ahead with constitutional reforms that will decentralise power, as part of efforts to consolidate peace between the government and former rebels. “We have made significant strides,” said Margarida Talapa of the ruling Frelimo party after it signed an accord with rebel force-turned-political party Renamo and another opposition party, the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM). She acknowledged, however, that “we could have done more”. Hailing a “consensus document,” Talapa’s counterpart as the head of Renamo’s parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, also said disagreements remained. The reforms being negotiated would see the governors of Mozambique’s provinces elected directly, not named by the president as is currently the case. eNCA



Photo: Adam Jones