Africa Media Review for May 30, 2017

Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is a vital geopolitical hub that connects trade routes in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and Australia. Its abundance of national, regional, and shared maritime economic resources is accompanied by a proliferation of security threats including trafficking of humans, weapons, narcotics and other illicit substances, illegal fishing, and piracy. Assis Malaquias, a former Professor and Academic Chair of Defense Economics and Resource Management at the Africa Center, shares his insights on the relevance of the Western Indian Ocean in the larger maritime safety and security agenda on the African continent. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

President Zuma Quashes Revolt in South Africa’s Ruling Party
South African President Jacob Zuma reasserted his control over the ruling African National Congress as a renewed revolt by some of the party’s most senior leaders fizzled out. The ANC’s national executive committee debated and rejected the option of removing Zuma at a weekend meeting, while calling for a judicial commission to probe whether business wielded undue influence over the state, party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told reporters on Monday. Zuma survived a similar revolt in November. “A number of members of the NEC were of the view that the ANC should listen” to calls for Zuma to go, Mantashe said. “Various contributions in support of and against the appeal to the President to step down were raised. Many more were neither in favor nor against the appeal, but emphasized the need for unity within the organization.” Bloomberg

South Africa: Explosive Emails Pose New Threat to Zuma’s Presidency
After surviving a vote of no confidence from his African National Congress (ANC) party’s national executive committee, South African President Jacob Zuma is facing renewed backlash after a cache of emails revealed that the wealthy Indian Gupta family has long been involved in the government’s affairs. The emails published by leading weekend papers the Sunday Times and the City Press, contain communication that reveal a great extent to which the Gupta family has exercised control over cabinet ministers, state enterprises, government policy and decisions. Deutsche Welle

White Supremacist Stripped of His Citizenship
Janusz Walus has been stripped of his South African citizenship, his lawyer says. Advocate Roelof du Plessis, SC, revealed this in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, where a full bench of judges will decide if Walus should be freed on parole, Netwerk24 reported.  “The representatives of the Department of Home Affairs confirmed it,” Du Plessis testified before Judges Christiaan van der Merwe, Jeremiah Shongwe, Mandisa Maya, Boissie Mbha and Ashton Schippers.  “But he can only be deported once he has been freed on parole.” Walus and the late Clive Derby-Lewis killed the then leader of the SA Communist Party, Chris Hani, at his Boksburg home on April 10, 1993. News 24

A Day in Libya’s Capital, Just as the Civil War Reignites
The young militia fighters carried in a comrade who was covered in blood and motionless. It was 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Al Mokhtar Clinic, and Libya’s civil war had just reignited in this fractured capital. “Move on, clear the way,” one fighter screamed. “He’s dying.” Five hours earlier, on the eve of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, fierce clashes erupted between rival militias. They tore apart a two-month lull in the violence and upended the lives of countless Libyans in neighborhoods that turned into battle zones overnight. The fighting also underscored the security and logistical challenges British investigators could face if they consider visiting Libya to pursue clues in the Manchester concert suicide bombing that killed 22 people this week. The bomber, Salman Abedi, was of Libyan origin, and his father and brother were arrested in Tripoli. Both are in the custody of a counterterrorism militia aligned with the Western-backed government. The Washington Post

Libyan Unity Govt Assumes Control of Tripoli Airport
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government have established control over Tripoli’s international airport, according to a Libyan military official. “Presidential Guards and the Interior Ministry have assumed control of the airport and are now responsible for its security,” Presidential Guards commander Najmi al-Nakoua said in a televised statement late Sunday. Forces affiliated with the unity government reportedly took control of the airport following the withdrawal of forces loyal to Libya’s self-proclaimed “salvation government”, which also remains based in Tripoli. Speaking to local private television channel Al-Nabaa, Colonel Ibrahim Bayt al-Mal, a spokesman for the Misrata Military Council, confirmed that several battalions affiliated with the salvation government had withdrawn from the airport and its environs. Anadolu Agency

Haftar Accuses Qatar of Supporting Terrorism in Libya
Head of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar directly accused Qatar and other countries he did not name of supporting terrorist groups in Libya by financing mercenaries and extremist groups. Haftar said in a statement issued Sunday evening that the army is monitoring “the Chadian, Sudanese and African communities in general and the Arab countries in the Libyan arena that entered as a result of the lack of control over the border, which was supported through regional countries and countries supporting terrorism.” He added that some of these people received “money from the Qatar as well as from other countries and terrorist groups inside Libya,” stressing that “the armed forces are monitoring them, and the consequences these mercenaries suffer at the hands of the security services will be grave.” Al Arabiya

Libyan Militant Group Ansar Al-Sharia Says It Has Dissolved
The Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organization by the UN and United States, announced its “dissolution” in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the militant groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust militant fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. Al Arabiya

Kenya President Kenyatta Launches Campaign Amid Concern over Violence
May 29 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta kicked off his official campaign for reelection with a rally in Nairobi on Monday, echoing a call by main challenger Raila Odinga to avoid the violence that followed voting a decade ago. Kenyatta led a lively procession of luxury sports utility vehicles around the city to reach the rally held after the electoral board cleared his candidacy for the August poll. “We are determined to ensure that we conduct our elections peacefully,” the president told the crowd. “We have no intention to insult, obstruct, abuse our opponents … Peace now, peace during and peace after the election.” Odinga, the veteran opposition leader who held a similar rally on Sunday after his fourth run for the presidency was officially approved, also said in a talk with journalists that the campaign and voting would be orderly.  News 24

Tight Race Seen in Kenya’s Elections With Opposition Turnout Key
The outcome of Kenya’s election pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta against a former prime minister will be close and may involve a run-off vote if turnout in opposition strongholds is high, according to analysts Verisk Maplecroft. While opposition support is seen as depressed due to “disillusionment” with main candidate Raila Odinga, the ex-premier who failed in three previous presidential bids, he can still force a run-off if enough supporters are mobilized to cast ballots, Emma Gordon, senior analyst at the Bath, England-based risk consultancy, said in a report. Kenyatta and Odinga have near-equal support among ethnic voting blocs, Gordon said, and if opposition supporters defy expectations and raise turnout in swing counties by 10 percent on Aug. 8, that would spur a follow-up vote. “Kenyatta is unlikely to win by more than 10 percent,” according to Gordon. “This explains why the race appears so tight.” Bloomberg

EU Puts Sanctions on 9 Congo Government Officials
The European Union Monday adopted sanctions against another nine senior government officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo over alleged crimes against humanity. According to a UN statement, the UN Council took restrictive measures against nine individuals who hold positions of responsibility in the state administration and in the security forces’ chain of command. They join seven people the EU put sanctions on last December in response to the obstruction of the electoral process and related human rights violations. ”Today’s decision concerns the former and current ministers for the interior, the governor of Central Kasai, the former governor of Haut-Katanga, two senior officers, a militia leader, and the director of the National Intelligence Service, listed for having contributed to acts constituting serious human rights violations in the DRC, by planning, directing or committing them,” said the statement. Anadolu Agency

Egypt’s Answer To Latest Attack Reflects Despair, Resolve
Egypt’s response to the latest deadly attack against its sizable Christian minority — a wave of airstrikes against Islamic militant installations in eastern Libya — may be a sign of both despair and resolve. The Arab world’s most populous nation, Egypt has for years been fighting Islamic militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula. The government had so far succeeded in containing them in that remote and rugged northeast corner of the country and foiled repeated attempts by the militants to seize and keep territory. But the violence has now spilled over onto the mainland, with an increasing number of high-profile attacks, including a total of four that targeted Christians since December. The string of attacks has highlighted an ongoing vulnerability and a worrying lack of reliable intelligence by Egypt’s robust security forces. AP

Egypt Issues NGO Law, Cracking Down on Dissent
Egypt issued a new law on Monday that regulates the work of non-governmental organisations, a measure seen by rights groups as the latest sign of a growing crackdown on dissent against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Human rights groups and activists say the law in effect bans their work and makes it harder for charities to operate. The measure restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non-compliance. It gives Egypt’s 46,000 NGOs one year to comply or face being dissolved by a court. Parliament passed the bill in November but it had to be ratified by Sisi. Egyptian rights activists say they face the worst crackdown in their history under Sisi, accusing him of erasing freedoms won in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Reuters

In Somalia, Islamist Rebels Are Blocking Starving People from Getting Food
Near a dried-out reservoir on the edge of this village is a dilapidated mud hut. The family that lived there until last month went so far as to strip off its straw roof and feed the material to their emaciated cattle. When the animals died anyway, the family disappeared. Half of Rebey’s 80 families have abandoned their homes, fleeing a drought that has decimated their livestock and withered two years of harvests. But cruel weather is not the main reason hundreds of thousands of people in rural Somalia are on the brink of starving to death. Rebels from the extremist al-Shabab group are blocking vital aid from reaching villages, compounding the effects of the poor rains. Mohamed Ibrahim Hasan, a traditional chief in Rebey, said the deadly combination could spell the end for his lifelong home. The Washington Post

South Sudan Holds Trial for Troops Accused of Rape, Murder of Aid Workers
South Sudanese soldiers accused of raping at least five foreign aid workers and killing their local colleague last year are due to stand trial in a military court on Tuesday, a key test of the government’s ability to prosecute war crimes. Prosecutor Abubaker Mohammed, an army colonel, told Reuters that between 15 to 20 government soldiers face charges including murder, rape and looting during the attack on the Terrain hotel in the capital Juba on July 11, 2016. U.N. investigators and rights group have frequently accused both the army and rebels of murder, torture and rape since the civil war began in 2013, and say the crimes almost always go unpunished. VOA

Frenchman and 3 Congolese Hostages Are Released in Congo
A French man and three Congolese men have been released after being kidnapped in March from a Canadian mining company in eastern Congo in March, Congo’s government said Sunday. They were among five workers, including a Tanzanian who had been kidnapped from the Namoya gold mine operated by Canadian company Banro Mining Corp. in Salamabila. “The four hostages, three Congolese and one French, were freed yesterday at 1800 (6 p.m. local time) in the Tengetenge locality,” about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Salamabila, according to the Maniema Provincial Interior Minister Bonaventure Saleh Zakuani. “Their release came after several days of negotiations with the abductors.” The five were taken by people living in Salamabila who felt Banro Mining Corp. was not looking out for the community, Zakuani said. AP

50 Years On: Nigeria’s Biafra Secessionist Movement
Nnamdi Kanu waves his hand and puffs in frustration: “Nothing seems to be working in Nigeria. There is pain and hardship everywhere. What we’re fighting [for] is not self-determination for the sake of it. It’s because Nigeria is not functioning and can never function.” The leader of a group demanding the secession of southeastern Nigeria is speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera in the parlour of his father’s home in the southeastern city of Umuahia. It’s the first time he has spoken to an international media outlet since he was granted bail on health grounds last month. His bail conditions prohibit him from being in a crowd of more than 10 people, leaving the country and giving media interviews. But when asked if he is worried that he will get in trouble with the Nigerian authorities for speaking to Al Jazeera he scoffs, “I don’t care,” and rolls his eyes. “I can’t go outside to call for a press conference. I can’t go on Biafra Radio to broadcast. I can’t allow large [groups of] people to basically congregate outside to see me … it’s like asking me not to breathe,” he says. Al Jazeera

Morocco Arrests Rif Protest Leader Nasser Zefzafi
The fugitive leader of a protest movement that has shaken Morocco’s northern Rif region for months was arrested on Monday. Nasser Zefzafi, 39, who had been on the run since Friday, had been taken into custody “along with other individuals” and transferred to Casablanca, according to the general prosecutor of the northern city of Al-Hoceima. The prosecutor’s statement said on Monday that those detained would be investigated for “undermining the security of the state” and other criminal acts. The Rif region has been shaken by social unrest since the death in October of a fishmonger crushed in a rubbish truck as he protested against the seizure of swordfish caught out of season. Al Jazeera

Young and Unemployed, Tunisians Agitate for a ‘Second Revolution’
It may look like just a clutch of tents pitched outside an oil pumping station on the edge of the Sahara. But to the people of this southern region, this is Tunisia’s second revolution. Tired of waiting for the government to relieve their poverty and create jobs, thousands of young people have been camping here and demonstrating in the main town, Tataouine, for weeks. This past week, the protesters shut the main oil pipeline at El Kamour and clashed with units of the National Guard who tried to burn down the camp on Monday. A police station and a National Guard post were burned in turn. One protester was killed, and at least two others were gravely wounded. Six years after the revolution that brought down Tunisia’s dictator of 23 years, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the protests reflect mounting frustration at the broken promises of the country’s new democratic leaders to bring tangible improvement to poorer regions like this one. Continue reading the main story Yet the protesters are themselves a sign of change in the country, as are the challenges confronting the government. The demonstrators are representative of a new generation that has come of age in relative freedom, only to face the prospect of long-term unemployment. The New York Times

Rwanda to Control Presidential Candidates’ Social Media Use
There will be no spur of the moment Twitter rants by Rwanda’s presidential candidates, as the election commission has ruled that it must pre-approve all of their social media updates. “We are asking (candidates) to present us their messages, their drafts” to verify that they are not against the law,” electoral commission head Kalisa Mbanda told AFP on Monday. The measure, published in the government gazette earlier this month, will be effective as from the start of the official campaign on July 14 and concerns “messages, photographs and other campaign material” published on social networks. Any social media messages will have to be submitted to the seven election commissioners at least 48 hours before their publication. “If the message is not accepted it cannot be published,” said Mbanda. News 24

Mugabe and Entourage Live it Up in Cancún While Zimbabwe Suffers
Zimbabwe’s economy is in shambles amid a crippling cash shortage. So naturally, it’s a perfect time for the country’s geriatric leader to spend a week at a luxurious resort in Cancún, Mexico. But don’t worry, it’s for official business. Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old president, spent this past week slumming it at a resort in Cancún, host to a “Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction” conference with a three-dozen-strong delegation. […] Despite his age and ailing health, Mugabe has made a habit of jet-setting across the world with massive delegations in tow. Last year, he took at least 20 trips abroad costing Zimbabwe some $36 million according to the ministry of finance. Foreign Policy

The World’s Most Toxic Town: The Terrible  Legacy of Zambia’s Lead Mines
[…] Kabwe is the world’s most toxic town, according to pollution experts, where mass lead poisoning has almost certainly damaged the brains and other organs of generations of children – and where children continue to be poisoned every day. Almost a century of lead mining and smelting has left a truly toxic legacy in the once-thriving town of 220,000 people in central Africa’s Copperbelt, 100km north of the capital Lusaka. But the real impact on Kabwe’s people is yet to be fully revealed and, while the first steps towards a clean-up have begun, new dangers are emerging as desperately poor people scavenge in the vast slag heap known as Black Mountain. “Having been to probably 20 toxic hotspots throughout the world, and seeing mercury, chromium and many contaminated lead sites, [I can say] the scale in Kabwe is unprecedented,” says Prof Jack Caravanos, an environmental health expert at New York University, on his fourth visit to the town. “There are thousands of people affected here, not hundreds as in other places.” The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones