Africa Media Review for May 21, 2020

South Sudan Clashes ‘Kill 300’ in Jonglei State
At least 300 people have been killed in a fresh wave of intercommunal fighting in South Sudan, authorities say. Dozens of homes in Jonglei state were destroyed, warehouses belonging to aid groups were raided, and women and cattle were abducted. Three aid workers were among those killed. A treaty aimed at ending the country’s six-year civil war was signed in February, but intercommunal violence has erupted a number of times since. Some 800 people are believed to have died in such clashes since February. The latest outbreak of violence between pastoralists, who rely on livestock, and farm workers began on Saturday in the north-eastern town of Pieri, forcing thousands of people to flee to the bush, the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza reports. … David Shearer, the UN’s special representative for South Sudan, said that the violence between the two groups must stop. “While politically motivated conflict has reduced in South Sudan, intercommunal fighting has increased, causing massive suffering for families who are trying to rebuild their lives after the devastation caused by years of civil war,” he said. BBC

South Sudan: Over 10,000 IDPs Need Humanitarian Assistance in Lainya: Official
Over 10,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lainya County of Central Equatoria State are in dire need for humanitarian assistance, an official said Tuesday. Sadik Augustin, the county coordinator for Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that the IDPs, mostly women, children and the elderly, require food and non-food items. He said the IDPs fled Loka, Kenyi and Bereka villages into Lainya town following clashes between pro-government soldiers and the National Salvation Front (NAS) forces. Sadik urged humanitarian organizations in the country to intervene, saying IDPs survive on mangoes, wild fruits and sleep under trees. “Based on my observation, people on the ground are suffering and since it is a rainy season, most people do not have shelters. Humanitarian organizations should urgently provide carpets, water guard, cooking utensils and supply food to the IDPs,” he explained. Radio Tamazuj

COVID-19 Cases Across the Continent Exceed 91 Thousand
As of May 20, confirmed the COVID-19 case total from 55 African countries has reached 91,514. Reported deaths in Africa have reached 2,906 and recoveries 35,843. South Africa has the most reported cases – 17,200, with deaths numbering 312. Other most-affected countries include Egypt (13,484 cases), Morocco (7,023), Algeria (7,377), Ghana (6,096) and Nigeria (6,401). AllAfrica

Burundi Goes to the Polls as Authorities Clampdown on Social Media
Burundians went to the polls on Wednesday to choose a new president, parliamentarians and local councillors. However, voting was marked by a social media shutdown in the country and complaints about irregularities by the opposition. Ruling party flagbearer Evariste Ndayishimiye told journalists that the elections were taking place in a secure environment. “Anyone wanting to disturb them will pay dearly,” he added, speaking as he cast his ballot at the Bubu primary school polling station in Giheta, central Burundi, the Iwacu news site reported. The election brings to end the rule of President Pierre Nkurunziza who was elected in 2005 following the end of Burundi’s civil war. Ndayishimiye, chosen by the ruling CNDD-FDD to stand as their candidate, is widely expected to replace Nkurunziza as president. … The CNL party accused CNDD-FDD supporters of voting on behalf of deceased people, prisoners and refugees. The opposition said the ruling party was using its youth wing, the Imbonerakure, to intimidate voters and detain its polling agents. RFI

OHCRC: Burundi’s Elections Aren’t ‘Credible and Free’
As Burundi holds elections, the UN’s human rights body says the country fails to meet conditions for free and credible polls. In a DW interview, Doudou Diene from OHCRC cites Burundi’s history of human rights abuses. … As elections were taking place, DW talked to Doudou Diene, president of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi at OHCHR, the United Nations body mandated to promote and protect human rights. The commission has been tasked to investigate human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since 2015. … [W]hat we have documented is that the conditions—the debate and the democratic factors—necessary to perform a credible and a free elections are not met accurately in Burundi.This is why we are letting the international community know about this situation. There are fundamentally three factors: violations of the right to life, liberty and physical integrity; violations of civil liberties; and violations of economic and the civil rights. Especially in the electoral process, the opposition parties have historically not been able to to benefit from their rights. This is why we are saying that conditions [in Burundi] are not yet met for free and credible elections. DW

Foreign Interference, Increased Military Build-up and Mercenary Arrivals Continue on Both Sides
In her first briefing to the UN Security Council yesterday since taking over the role of Acting head of UNSMIL and Acting SRSG, Stephanie Williams, said that just when we think that the bottom has been reached in Libya, we somehow manage to achieve new depths of violence, heartlessness, and impunity. She said there has been no lull in the fighting between forces of the internationally recognized government led by Faiez Serraj in Tripoli and forces led by Khalifa Haftar. Fighting has escalated with an unprecedented increase in indirect fire in urban areas and a growing tide of suffering for civilians, she added. … An alarming military build-up as a result of the uninterrupted dispatch by the foreign backers of increasingly sophisticated and lethal weapons and the recruitment of more mercenaries to both sides of the conflict continues, she reported. Libya Herald

Mozambique: Terrorists Destroy Catholic Mission
Islamist terrorists last Tuesday destroyed a Catholic mission run by Benedictine monks at Awasse, in Mocimboa da Praia district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, according to a report carried by the Portuguese news agency Lusa, citing the Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Lisboa. The bishop said that four Tanzanian monks hid for two days in the bush, and then made their way across the border into Tanzania. The terrorists set fire to the residence of the monks, destroyed everything they had been building in Awasse, and stole a vehicle and various other equipment. There was no report of any loss of human life. On Saturday terrorists attacked the village of Miangalewa, in Muidumbe, district, where they killed ten people. According to a source cited in Tuesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the bandits beheaded their victims. Mozambique News

SADC Wades into Mozambique Terror Attacks
The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit on politics, defence and security issues has condemned terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado in the northern province of Mozambique. The summit of heads of the 16-member states, which met in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare under the chairperson of the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security cooperation, President Emmerson Mnangangwa of Zimbabwe, delivered a stern warning to the terrorists. The gathering, which was also attended by President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique, was convened by the bloc’s Executive Secretary, Stergomena Tax, after consultation with the Sadc chairman, Dr John Magufuli, to discuss terrorism in Mozambique. According to the United Nations, at least 28 terrorist incidents have been recorded and over 400 citizens have lost their lives while 100,000 others have been displaced in the Cabo Delgado province since 2017. Already some insurgent groups, including Ahlu Sunna Wa-Jama, have claimed to be responsible for the attacks. … “Mozambique expressed its concern on the increasing terrorist attacks at the summit and asked Sadc to assist in surmounting the problem. Such terror attacks have prevailed for more than two years and we are closely following up on this,” Dr Tax said. The Citizen

Algerian Activists Jailed for Criticising Authorities, Rights Group Says
Algeria has jailed three activists on charges including threatening national unity for criticising President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the judiciary, a group defending detainees said on Wednesday. A court in the southern town of El Bayadh jailed Larbi Tahar and Boussif Mohamed Boudiaf for 18 months and a court in the capital Algiers sentenced Soheib Debghi for one year, the National Committee for the Release of Detainees said. The group said the three were jailed mainly over posts on social media criticising Tebboune and the judiciary. Tebboune was elected last December to succeed long-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned in April 2019 after months of mass protests against a corrupt elite. Activists accuse the authorities of trying to suppress dissent by jailing critics. The government denies abusing human rights, and Tebboune has promised to increase freedoms in a new constitution to be put to a referendum later this year. Reuters

Lesotho’s New PM Sworn In after Ex-Leader Accused of Murder
Lesotho’s former finance minister, Moeketsi Majoro, was sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday, a day after the resignation of Thomas Thabane, who quit after being accused of conspiring to murder of his wife. The tiny southern African kingdom was plunged into crisis after the June 2017 killing, and pressure had built relentlessly for 80-year-old Thabane to step down. On Tuesday, he confirmed his resignation, clearing the way for 58-year-old Majoro, a seasoned economist, to take the reins. Thabane attended Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony at the royal palace of King Letsie III, handing Majoro a copy of the constitution to formally signal the transfer of power. … Thabane stepped down following months of calls for his resignation over the murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane in 2017, just two days before he took office. He denies any involvement in her death. AFP

Cameroon’s Unity Day Celebrations Canceled as COVID-19 Masks Internal Tensions
The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown forced Cameroonian President Paul Biya to cancel the government’s planned feasts and parades to celebrate Cameroon’s annual Unity Day. The day marks the adoption of the unitary state on May 20, 1972 when French Cameroon, which had achieved independence from France in 1960, and British-ruled Southern Cameroons, which became part of Cameroon in 1961, voted to become one as opposed to being a federated state. But for opposition leaders and separatists, the day signifies anything but unity: rather they view it as the date Cameroonian authorities unjustly cancelled an agreed federal system of government, and consolidated the head of state’s power. More than 3,000 people have been killed since 2016 in clashed between government forces and Anglophone separatists fighting for an independent English-speaking state. DW

Ethiopia Says to Continue with Plans to Fill Nile Dam
Ethiopia has said it will continue with its plans to fill its $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) from July, despite Egypt’s claim that the move could be lead to regional instability. In a letter to the UN Security Council on Monday, Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Addis Ababa “does not have legal obligation” to seek Egypt’s approval to fill GERD. Gedu was responding to Egypt’s recent complaint to UNSC in which Cairo sought the intervention of the UN executive body to stop Ethiopia’s plan to start filling what would be Africa’s largest power dam. East African

‘It’s a Disaster’: Egypt’s Doctors Plead for More PPE and Testing
Egyptian doctors are increasingly at odds with their own government on the country’s coronavirus outbreak, pleading for protections and a full lockdown even as the authorities urge people to learn to “coexist” with Covid-19. A wave of government propaganda has hailed healthcare workers as the “white army”, a reference to their white coats. But some of them told the Guardian they lacked protective equipment and were struggling to get vital tests for themselves and patients. “The situation is deteriorating. The nurses and doctors are very scared because we are not protected,” said a nurse at a hospital in Imbaba, Giza. “We are treated the same way patients are treated. If we complain of symptoms, we are asked to go home and quarantine, but we are not allowed to be tested.” The Guardian

Egypt Arrests Journalist During Interview in Latest Attack on Independent Media
Egyptian security forces arrested a prominent Egyptian journalist on Sunday as she interviewed the mother of a political prisoner outside Cairo’s Tora Prison, the latest attack on press freedom by the government of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, a key U.S. ally. Lina Attalah, the editor in chief of one of the country’s few remaining independent media outlets, was taken into custody Sunday afternoon as she tried to speak with Laila Soueif. Soueif was bringing cleaning supplies to her imprisoned son, Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is on a hunger strike. On Sunday evening, after prosecutors questioned her, Attalah was ordered released on about $125 bail. Late Sunday, she was released from the police station, said her newspaper, Mada Masr. … Attalah “was arrested for nothing more than doing journalism,” her newspaper said in a tweet. Mada Masr said that “we hold authorities responsible for her well-being and call for her immediate and unconditional release.” Washington Post

Somali Media Fraternity Condemns Recent Violations against Media and Journalists
In a Joint Statement, the Somali journalists including Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), Somali Media Association (SOMA) and Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA) outrageously condemn the recent violations against journalists’ harassment by the government forces. “Around 9:00 p.m on Monday armed NISA officers raided the premises of the privately owned Somali Cable TV in Mogadishu. According to the affected journalists, three officers beat cameraman Abdirahman Omar Abdulle who sustained slight injuries on the left arm while threatening to shoot a reporter and a driver at the TV’s premises before leaving the area. The reason of the raid is yet unclear and officers responsible were not arrested as of Tuesday midday” said a statement released by Somalia’s journalists. Somalia journalist met daily threats and harassment against government officials and security forces trying to silence media freedom and journalists. Goobjoog News

As China Faces a Backlash in the West, Xi Needs Africa More than Ever
Chinese leader Xi Jinping made preserving diplomatic ties in Africa a centerpiece of his opening address at the World Health Assembly earlier this week, as Beijing faces a backlash among some Western democracies for its role in the coronavirus pandemic. … At the gathering of World Health Organization (WHO) member states, Xi pledged to give $2 billion to the WHO over the next two years to assist developing economies—and reminded Africa that its long relationship with Beijing had seen Chinese aid help treat 200 million Africans over the past seven decades. … But Xi’s offerings weren’t just about taking the lead in Africa: they were about securing support at a critical and precarious juncture in Beijing’s relationship with the continent. While no African head of state has yet publicly criticized China’s response to the virus, earlier this week the African group backed a European Union-drafted resolution co-signed by more than 100 countries calling for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic. CNN

Ugandan Legislator Alleges Torture During Pandemic Lockdown
[Video] Uganda’s security officers stand accused of using excessive force and targeting political opponents while carrying out lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic.  On April 19, police stormed the home of Ugandan legislator Francis Zaake and arrested him for allegedly disobeying presidential directives against distributing food aid.  He was released a week later but with scars all over his body and left partially blind.  VOA

Why Cape Town Has 10 Percent of Africa’s Confirmed Coronavirus Cases
This city at Africa’s southwestern-most tip stands out for a number of reasons—its extreme economic inequality and remarkable scenery among them—but burgeoning hot spots of coronavirus cases have distinguished it anew. The city accounts for 60 percent of cases in South Africa, 15 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 10 percent in Africa as a whole. … The early answer, officials and experts say, is two-pronged. First, the city welcomed more tourists from hard-hit regions of the world than did other places in Africa, meaning the coronavirus was widely seeded here early. Second, major hot spots emerged in two supermarkets and a pharmaceutical factory that supercharged the virus’s spread. Washington Post

Coronavirus in South Africa: Two-day-old Baby Dies
A two-day-old baby has died with coronavirus in South Africa—one of the world’s youngest victims of the virus. The mother had tested positive for Covid-19 and the child subsequently tested positive, the health minister said. The baby was born prematurely and needed help with breathing, he added. The country’s death toll now stands at 339, and the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 18,003. “Sadly we have recorded the first neonatal mortality related to Covid-19. The baby was two days old and was born prematurely,” South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said. “The baby had lung difficulties which required ventilation support immediately after birth.” … Other young victims of coronavirus, include a three-day-old who died on 5 May in the UK. In that case the mother and baby tested positive for coronavirus after she gave birth. BBC

Botswana Draws Virus Zones, Extreme Distancing Ends, Alcohol Banned
Government announced an end to extreme social distancing on Wednesday signaling the end of Three Phases of lockdown. A zoning strategy has been announced to help curb virus spread. The current case count is 29. “A part of the containment strategy, the country has been divided into Zomes to restrict movement of people; allow swift responses in the event of an aggressive outbreak,” a statement posted on social media. There are nine COVID-19 zones as follows: Boteti, Chobe, Ghanzi, Greater Francistown, Greater Gaborone, Greater Palapye, Greater Phikwe, Maun and Kgalagadi zones. Thirteen check points have also been designated across the country. AfricaNews

UN Chief Says Help Needed to Avoid Extreme Poverty in Africa on the Back of Covid-19
The United Nations chief Antonia Guterres says the Covid-19 pandemic threatens the progress made by African nations and warns that “much hangs in the balance”. He called for international support to avoid the continent falling into extreme poverty. Launching a policy report titled The Impact of Covid-19 in Africa via video message on Wednesday, UN chief Antonio Guterres stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic had the “potential to aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease,” on the African continent. He asserted that Africa was still in the early days of coronavirus infection, compared with other continents, warning that disruption could escalate quickly. According to the report, the virus is present in all African countries, with most recording fewer than 1,000 cases. So far there have been more than 2,500 deaths. The relatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases was a promising sign, he said, but suggests the low numbers could be linked to minimal testing and reporting. RFI

Nigeria Mental Health Specialists Offer Free Therapy During Pandemic
[Video] Thousands of Nigerians are receiving free mental health care through a program to help people cope with stress and isolation from COVID-19. The program, Mentally Aware Nigeria, or MANI, was formed by psychologists and medical experts to create an environment where people can seek mental health care without fear of stigma or discrimination. Timothy Obiezu reports from Abuja. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones