Africa Media Review for March 9, 2021

War Crimes Court Orders Record $30 Million Compensation for Congo Victims
Child soldiers and other victims of convicted Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda should get a total of $30 million compensation, International Criminal Court judges ruled on Monday, in their highest ever reparation order. The judges said Ntaganda did not have the resources to pay the compensation himself. Instead they asked the tribunal’s own Trust Fund to help set up and finance vocational and other programmes to support victims of his crimes. Ntaganda was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2019 for murder, rape and other atrocities committed when he was military chief of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003. Hundreds of civilians were killed and many thousands forced to flee during the fighting. … The judges awarded collective reparations, meaning there will be no individual pay outs. Any money will instead go to charities or funds set up to help victims. Reuters

Death Toll from Explosions in Equatorial Guinea Rises to 98
The death toll from a series of explosions at a military barracks in Equatorial Guinea rose by dozens to at least 98 killed after more bodies were recovered, the government said Tuesday. The blasts on Sunday in the Mondong Nkuantoma neighborhood of the coastal city of Bata also wounded at least 615 people, authorities said. The government said that 316 of the injured have been discharged and 299 remain in care in various hospitals in the city. More than 60 people were also rescued from under the rubble by the civil protection corps and fire service, the government said. … The president initially the explosion was due to the “negligent handling of dynamite” in the military barracks and the impact damaged almost all the homes and buildings in Bata. The vice president, who is also charged with defense and security, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, said Tuesday that investigations so far showed the fire may have begun when a farmer set fire to his plot to prepare it for food production and a breeze spread the flames to the nearby barracks where the high-caliber ammunition was stored. AP

Jailed Ethiopian Opposition Leaders to End Hunger Strike
Attorneys for four jailed Ethiopian opposition figures say they will end their hunger strike on Monday after 39 days. The lawyers said the health of the politicians deteriorated in recent days, and there were fears for their lives. The four individuals have decided to end the hunger strike as of today,” attorney Tuli Bayissa told The Associated Press. The prisoners agreed to end their protest after a plea from “elders and notable personalities,” another attorney, Ibsa Gemeda, said. The prisoners said they would not eat until the government released all Oromo political prisoners, authorization for political party offices in Oromia to open and operate freely, and an end to the alleged mistreatment of families of political prisoners during prison visitations, Gemeda said. A request by the prisoners to be treated at a private hospital was recently implemented after weeks of denial despite a court order to its effect. The jailed politicians include Ethiopia’s media mogul-turned-politician Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Adane and Dejene Tafa. AP

Rebel Leaders Join Sudan Sovereignty Council
Rebel leaders Malik Agar, El Hadi Idris, and El Taher Hajar have been sworn in as members of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council yesterday. Their appointment is part of the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, signed by the Sudanese government and a number of rebel movements in the South Sudanese capital Juba in October 2020. El Hadi Idris, chairman of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance and leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council (SLM-TC), said in a press statement following the ceremony that Sudan is passing through “a delicate historical stage and faces great challenges which require the cooperation of different partners.” Implementing the Juba Peace Agreement is a priority for the democratic transformation, he added. Radio Dabanga

Senegal Opposition Leader Released as New Clashes Erupt
Riot police in armed personnel carriers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds in Senegal’s capital on Monday hours after authorities freed opposition leader Ousmane Sonko from custody following days of violent protests in one of West Africa’s most stable democracies. Upon his release, the 46-year-old politician blamed his arrest on President Macky Sall, accusing the incumbent leader of seeking to sideline his future political prospects before the country’s 2024 election. While Sonko publicly accused the president of plunging Senegal into an unprecedented crisis, the opposition leader said his goal wasn’t to force Sall from power. … Sonko is widely seen as the president’s greatest potential political challenger in the next election, and the protests that began Wednesday have been accelerated by broader, long-standing grievances with Sall’s administration. AP

A Woman Guerrilla Fighter in Congo Relates Her Ordeal
“They killed almost my entire family and raped me. There was no future for me. I couldn’t go on with my life as before, so I decided to become a fighter to get revenge.” I can barely look into Faida’s red-rimmed eyes. Most of the time, she avoids my gaze and stares at the ground or the gun in her hands. She sometimes laughs briefly when she talks to me, but it is an ironic and bitter laugh. We walk through a beautiful, mountainous landscape with lush green hills where black-and-white cows graze. It looks like Switzerland. But that’s where the similarity ends. We are in North Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a few kilometers from the village of Masisi. We left the last checkpoint controlled by the Congolese army behind us hours ago and march with Faida and three other rebels through the so-called no man’s land — a stretch of terrain controlled neither by the Congolese army nor by a specific rebel group, and where fighting often occurs. We have an appointment with a rebel group deep in the forest. Faida and her armed comrades are here to give us safe passage to their nearby base. DW

UK Minister Stresses ‘Anglo-French Solidarity’ in Mali Trip
Britain is demonstrating “Anglo-French solidarity” by providing heavy-lift helicopters for France’s anti-terror mission in the Sahel, a visiting British minister said on Monday. “We regard the French as our closest military ally in Europe,” Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said during a trip to a base in Gao, central Mali. “Heavy-lift helicopters is one of these areas where our capability is complementary to the capability the French do not have, and we are able to provide that,” he said. “Being here to show Anglo-French solidarity through Barkhane is really important to us.” Three Royal Air Force (RAF) twin-rotor Chinooks are in Mali, where they have been providing crucial airlift support for France’s Barkhane mission. … France is urging its European allies to help out more in the Sahel, where it has 5,100 troops on an eight-year-old mission to fight jihadists threatening fragile states. AFP

Zimbabwe: ‘I Want Answers’: Six Years on, Itai Dzamara’s Wife Undeterred
Wearing a red Manchester United replica jersey with black shorts and sandals, prominent activist Itai Dzamara left his home to get a haircut at the neighbourhood barbershop in Glen View, a high-density suburb south of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. In a few minutes he would be back, he told his wife, whom he asked to prepare breakfast. Sheffra Dzamara did so and waited for him to return. But an hour later, a neighbour rushed to their house and delivered the devastating news – Itai had been taken. According to Sheffra, unidentified men outside the barbershop accused her 35-year-old husband of livestock theft, seized him and bundled him into one of their unmarked pick-up trucks before speeding off. That was six years ago, on March 9, 2015. Itai has not been seen since that morning, and his whereabouts remain a mystery. A former newspaper journalist and the founder of the Occupy Africa Unity Square movement calling for the resignation of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime leader who died in 2019, Itai was a rising political star at the time of his abduction. Al Jazeera

Poor Regulation Pushing South Africa’s Crypto Firms to Relocate
The world’s biggest cryptocurrency scam of last year was a jolt to South Africa’s regulator — and not everyone will wait to see how it shakes out. As major financial hubs like Singapore redraw legislation to lure crypto firms and with the U.K. government facing calls to embrace digital currencies, South Africa’s burgeoning exchanges say they are having to move headquarters abroad due to uncertainty over potential government regulation. Behind the frustration is a lack of oversight and limits on marketing to potential customers. Revix, a Cape Town-based operator specializing in bundles of different coins, is shifting its head office to the U.K. and planning another location in Germany to fuel growth. Luno, Africa’s largest digital-currency platform, is registered in London and has a presence in Singapore. South African authorities “have been incredibly slow in terms of regulation in the industry and that leads to businesses looking internationally,” Revix Chief Executive Officer Sean Sanders said in an interview. “In an unregulated environment, a customer arrives at our platform with skepticism, and rightfully so.” Al Jazeera

Vessel with 130 Tonnes of Oil Runs Aground off Mauritius
Mauritius has deployed its coastguard and armed forces after a Chinese-flagged trawler carrying 130 tonnes of oil ran aground off the Indian Ocean archipelago nation. It is the second shipwreck in less than a year off Mauritius after a tanker struck a reef in July last year with 1,000 tonnes of fuel leaking in the country’s worst environmental disaster. The captain of the Lurong Yuan Yu issued distress calls late on Sunday afternoon and sent up flares after becoming stranded off Pointe-aux-Sables, in the northwest of the main island not far from the capital Port Louis. On Monday, Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo said divers had found “no leak, no breach” in the hull of the ship and that efforts would be made to safely remove the fuel from the hold. “The pumping operation will start tomorrow, and will last four to five days. The authorities will also try to refloat the fishing vessel,” he said. The trawler carries 130 tonnes of fuel oil and five tonnes of lubricants, according to authorities. Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s First-Ever Military Movie ‘Eagle Wings’ Premieres in Lagos
The premiere of ‘Eagle Wings’, Nigeria’s first military-themed movie was held at the Blue pictures cinema, Lagos City Mall on Sunday. The film, which is a collaboration between the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the Nigerian Airforce, tells the story of how the military combats insecurity with officers risking their lives to protect the nation. ‘Eagle Wings’ follows the story of an Air Force Fighter pilot who must navigate his way to safety amid an insurgency. Directed and produced by Paul Apel Papel, a Colorado Film School-trained filmmaker, ‘Eagle Wings’ features world-class cameras and shooting devices suitable for cinema production. … Speaking at the premiere, the MD of the Nigerian airforce (NAF) investment limited, Uche Nwagwu, said the film brings to the fore an epic tale of the fight for life, peace, and love of our great nation. “This moving story captures the efforts, sacrifices, and impact of the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in our collective fight against the twin evils of terrorism and insurgency for which a lot have paid the supreme price. Premium Times



Photo: Adam Jones