Africa Media Review for March 6, 2018

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Expected to Mend Fences during His Africa Visit
Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Chad and Djibouti are on the itinerary of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s week-long trip to the African continent starting on Monday. It is his first official visit and the first where the US is expected to come out with a clearer policy toward Africa, despite two top US officials, Nikki Haley and Donald Yamamoto, having already visited the continent, “Three of the countries house three of the four largest US embassies in Africa,” explained Yamamoto, acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs, during a press briefing ahead of the trip. Those countries — Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria — already have strong ties to the US, and as Yamamoto pointed out, host major UN and international organizations. “These countries can play a really predominant role in growth because we’re looking at 8 to 9 percent economic growth rates,” Yamamoto added. Deutsche Welle

Ethiopia Ruling Coalition to Nominate New Prime Minister
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is expected to meet this week to choose a new prime minister, most likely from the populous Oromo ethnic group to try and dampen the discontent behind recent anti-government demonstrations. The change in leadership follows the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn last month. He is the first ruler in modern Ethiopian history to step down; previous leaders have died in office or been overthrown. He said he wanted to clear the way for reforms. The international community is closely watching the developments in Africa’s second most-populous nation which has a booming economy and is a staunch Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy. The coalition is made up of four region-based parties but is dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. Reuters

Ethiopia Activists Activate Shutdown in Oromia to Protest Emergency Rule
Most towns across the Oromia regional state in Ethiopia are observing a three-day social shutdown called by online activists and youth in the state popularly referred to a Qeerroo. Videos posted online show closed shops and offices in towns whiles there is no signs of transport activities. The move is to protest a state of emergency decree imposed by government on February 16. It was controversially ratified by the parliament last Friday even though activists continue to claim it failed to garner the necessary figures. The speaker of parliament has since apologized for the mix up in computing the votes. Africa News

South Sudan Oil Money Corruptly Funds Civil War, Say Reports
South Sudan’s state-owned oil company has been “captured by predatory elites” and is being used to fund the country’s civil war, including a government-aligned militia accused of human rights abuses, according to two investigative organizations. Millions of dollars in oil revenue are being funneled from Nile Petroleum into the nation’s national security service, footing the bill for the war, now in its fifth year, says Global Witness, in a report released Tuesday. More than $80 million was paid to South Sudanese politicians, military officials, government agencies, and companies owned by politicians and members of their families, according to The Sentry, an investigative group co-founded by George Clooney. The oil company made security-related payments from March 2014 until June 2015, according to The Sentry, which obtained a log of payments kept by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining. AP

Seven Dead in DR Congo Raid Blamed on Ugandan Rebels
Seven people died in a raid by suspected Ugandan Islamist rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the latest in a string of deadly cross-border attacks, officials said Sunday. “Six people were shot dead and another was stabbed” in the village of Eringeti in DR Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a Congolese military source told AFP. Eringeti’s mayor Leon Baungatho said the assault happened around 5.30 pm (1530 GMT) on Saturday. “We are still grieving,” said regional official Noela Kavivutwiraki. “The army needs to redouble its efforts to prevent suprise attacks from Ugandan rebels.” Thought to be behind a string of deadly attacks in North Kivu, the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia stands accused of a number of atrocities in DR Congo. The East African

Uganda’s ADF Rebels behind Attacks on UN Soldiers in Congo
A Congo-based Ugandan rebel group is to blame for three attacks on United Nations peacekeepers, including one in December that killed 15 Tanzanian troops, the United Nations said on Friday. The Dec. 8 attack, which also killed five Congolese soldiers and wounded another 53 peacekeepers, on a U.N. base in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled eastern borderlands came amid a rising wave of violence in the mineral-rich area. A special U.N. inquiry also looked at two other attacks on Tanzanian peacekeepers, on Sept. 16 and Oct. 7, 2017. Africa News

Curfew in Cameroon’s North West Region Extended amid Security Crisis
The curfew in Cameroon’s North West region has been extended by another week by the governor. A March 4, 2018 press release said the extension was to contain growing threats from secessionist activities. The governor “has renewed the regional order restricting the movement of persons and property as from the 3rd of March 2018 from 09 PM to 05 AM within the North West Region for a period of one week renewable,” the release said. Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique also appealed to the population to better collaborate with the law enforcement agencies to ‘put an end to the detrimental activities of secessionist activists and a few misguided individuals who are taking our peace loving and hospitable region hostage. Africa News

Sierra Leone to Vote amid Discontent over Ebola, Iron Ore
Sierra Leone will hold elections on Wednesday in which an unprecedented number of political parties will compete as discontent over the government’s handling of an economy battered by the Ebola outbreak has soared. The vote marks a departure from a decades-old tradition that mainly divided the balance of power between the All People’s Congress and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, with a newcomer, the National Grand Coalition, expected to win a significant amount of votes. In total, 16 parties have put candidates forward in the West African nation of about 6.5 million people. “The election has the potential to seriously disrupt the two-party system that has existed in Sierra Leone since independence” in 1961, said Charlotte King, an analyst of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Middle East and Africa team.  Bloomberg

Sierra Leone Presidential Candidates on Education, Civil War, and Koroma’s Administration
As the campaigning period winds down before elections on 7 March, candidates are promoting their policies on economy, education, health, and women’s rights. The 16 presidential hopefuls are touring around the country in an effort to win the top job in Sierra Leone. Candidates are no strangers to controversy– from a certain interpretation of the civil war to plans for missionaries to return– each aspirant hopes to garner the most votes on election day. Significant foreign investment is key to revitalizing Sierra Leone, says Musa Tarawally of the Citizens Democratic Party (CDP), one of the six frontrunners for the office of the president. Citing the country’s mineral wealth, water resources, and forests, Tarawally, a former housing and lands minister, says that the government needs to catalogue what the country has in order to be able to attract foreign capital. RFI

West African Leaders Plan Strategy against Extremist Threat
West African heads of states denounced extremism during a visit to Burkina Faso’s capital Monday, vowing to strengthen cooperation to defeat Islamic militants who carried out two simultaneous attacks in Ouagadougou that killed at least eight people Friday. Their pledge came as the al-Qaida-linked extremist group based in Mali that claimed responsibility for the attacks released a photo that it says is of a suicide bomber before he detonated his vehicle at the army headquarters. “We have come to condemn in the strongest possible way these terrorist acts and to say that, whatever the sacrifice, we must do everything so that peace and security reign ” said Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe, who is acting chairman of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS. He and Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou on Monday visited the sites of the extremist attacks, the French Embassy and joint chief of staff offices of the army. AP

Every Tuesday Is Execution Day in Egypt, with 23 Killed since December
In her humble Alexandria apartment, Safaa Morsy, 49, paces anxiously on Monday nights, afraid that by the end of Tuesday, her husband will be dead. “Monday nights for me are anxious affairs with hardly any sleep and then on Tuesdays I am afraid that I’ll switch on the television and see something that will break my heart,” Ms Morsy says. Every Tuesday is execution day in Egypt, a trend established late last year with 23 men killed since the end of December. Ms Morsy’s husband, Fadl El Mawla, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, was arrested in August 2013, a day after the Rabaa Massacre — Egypt’s largest killing of demonstrators where more than 900 were killed in a single day. ABC News

Nigeria’s Buhari to Visit Yobe State Where 110 Schoolgirls Abducted: Presidency Tweet
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will visit Yobe, the northeastern state where 110 schoolgirls were abducted by suspected members of Islamist militant group Boko Haram last month, the presidency said on its official Twitter feed on Monday. The presidency said Buhari would visit areas affected by criminality in the last few weeks to meet and console communities affected from Mar. 5. It said he will visit Yobe, Taraba, Benue and Rivers States. The tweet did not say whether he would visit the town of Dapchi, where the girls were taken on Feb. 19. Reuters

Mugabe Acolyte Forms New Political Party to Challenge Mnangagwa
A retired Zimbabwean general and acolyte of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls later this year, the new grouping said on Monday. Mugabe, 94, was forced to step down last November following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the New Patriotic Front (NFP) party. Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF party and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, then met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said. Times Live

US Sanctions Blow for Mnangagwa as Trump Says Harare ‘Still a Threat’
US President Donald Trump has reportedly “extended sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year”, saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration “remained a threat to Washington’s foreign policy”. According to Voice of America (VOA), the extension was made in a notice signed by Trump on Friday. The notice stressed that the situation in Zimbabwe had not yet transformed following the removal of former president Robert Mugabe from power. President Mnangagwa, some army generals and others, who participated in the unseating of Mugabe last year, were under targeted sanctions for alleged human rights abuses and election rigging, VOA said. Mail and Guardian

Zuma’s Exit Sparks Shifting Political Alliances in South Africa
Jacob Zuma’s forced resignation as South Africa’s president did more than revive confidence in the ruling African National Congress. It’s deepened divisions between the two main opposition parties, threatening their control of the nation’s key cities. Together with the ANC’s shift to support expropriation of land without compensation, Zuma’s replacement by Cyril Ramaphosa has thawed its relations with the Economic Freedom Fighters. The party hounded Zuma over allegations of graft and advocates the seizure of farms, banks and mines.  That’s increasingly isolated the Democratic Alliance, the second-largest party which took power in Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, in a municipal vote in 2016 by forming a loose coalition with EFF. As that arrangement frays, its chances of pushing the ANC below 50 percent of the vote in general elections next year are fading. Bloomberg

Listeria Outbreak: South African Neighbours Ban Meat Exports
Several southern African states have banned processed meat from South Africa after it said it had identified the source of a food poisoning outbreak. The government blamed the sausage known as polony for the listeria poisoning that has killed 180 people. It advised people not to eat any processed meat. It ordered a recall of the product, prompting shops to clear their shelves. Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia followed suit, all ordering a recall or suspending imports. The Mozambican ministry of agriculture and food security “asks that all owners of establishments that commercialise these products start to withdraw from the shelves due to the danger that this constitutes to health”, it said in a statement. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones