Africa Media Review for May 4, 2018

Mozambique Opposition Leader and Ex-Guerrilla Dhlakama Dies
Former Mozambican guerrilla leader Afonso Dhlakama, who was due to run for the presidency next year, died on Thursday aged 65. Dhlakama, who headed the former rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) movement, was found dead in the central town of Gorongosa, a party stronghold, state broadcaster TVM said on Thursday. It gave no details of how he died. President Filipe Nyusi, whose ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) movement fought a long and bitter civil war against Renamo, said Dhlakama’s death marked “a bad time” for Mozambique. “To me is even worse because I was in a full alignment with him to solve the problems of this country,” he said on TVM.  Reuters

Libya Election Plans Thrown into Turmoil after Suicide Attack
Various Libyan factions are accusing each other of trying to postpone parliamentary and presidential elections, following the suicide-attack against the headquarters of the country’s electoral commission Wednesday in Tripoli. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing, while the military spokesman in the east of the country downplayed that claim. The suicide bomber attack Wednesday against Libya’s electoral commission headquarters left a trail of death and destruction. Libyan TV showed the charred remains of the badly damaged building and reported more than a dozen people had been killed. Arab media said the so-called Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. VOA

Mnangagwa Allies, Ministers Lose in Zimbabwe Ruling Party Primaries
Seven Zimbabwean government ministers and several allies of President Emmerson Mnangagwa were defeated in primary elections for parliament, results showed on Thursday, as disputes threaten to divide the party ahead of polls set for July. The internal ZANU-PF poll was a major test of the party’s capacity to organise following last November’s resignation of the long-ruling 94-year-old Robert Mugabe, who was ousted from power when his top army generals turned against him in a de facto coup. Voting in the primaries, which took place on Sunday, was extended to Tuesday in some constituencies due to disagreements over who should vote, late ballot deliveries and accusations of bribery and cheating by some candidates. Reuters

New Study Links African Conflict to Lack of Term Limits
This week, Chad’s parliament voted to introduce a new constitution that will allow two more terms for President Idriss Deby, who has led the country since 1990. On May 17, Burundians will vote on a constitutional amendment that would enable President Pierre Nkurunziza, president since 2005, to stay in office an additional 16 years. And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a worsening humanitarian crisis unfolds while President Joseph Kabila refuses to step down, despite reaching the end of his mandated time in office nearly 18 months ago. An analysis by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) earlier this year found that less than 40 percent of countries have enforced constitutional term limits, and leaders in just 15 countries have stepped down after two terms. An author of that study says the consequences can be severe. Joseph Siegle is the director of research at ACSS and worked on the report. He told VOA, “The lack of term limits has created these systems where populations cannot change their leaders through constitutional and established political means.”  VOA

Armed Men Abduct German Nurse from Mogadishu Red Cross Station
Armed men abducted a German nurse working for the International Committee of the Red Cross from a compound in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in what the government said Thursday was believed to be an inside job. The organisation said the attack happened around 8.00 pm local time on Wednesday evening when unidentified armed men entered its compound, adding it was “in contact with various authorities to try and secure her release”. “We are deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague,” said Daniel O’Malley, deputy Somalia head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Telegraph

Clashes Are on the Rise between Farmers and Herdsmen in the Sahel
As fireworks were lighting up the skies to usher in the New Year across the world, gunfire was echoing out in Nigeria’s Benue State. On this night alone, 73 people were killed and hundreds were injured after herdsmen unleashed terror in two local government areas mostly populated by farmers. Clashes between farmers and nomadic herdsmen date back to the pre-colonial era. But they reached an alarming level in 2017 when 1000 people were killed in more than 50 clashes. This followed a rise in clashes since 2011 in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Senegal. The dramatic rise in the number, frequency and intensity of attacks in recent years is increasingly been seen as a major source of concern in the region. A 2017 Global Terrorism Index report said that over 2 500 deaths were recorded between 2012 and 2016 in sub-Saharan Africa with majority of the deaths recorded in Nigeria. And while there were 67 clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria between 2007 and 2011, there were 716 clashes between 2012 and 2018. Mail and Guardian

Sudan to Grant Ethiopia Stake in Strategic Red Sea Port
Ethiopia and Sudan on Thursday reached an agreement allowing the former to maintain a stake in both the development and administration of Port Sudan on the Red Sea. According to Ethiopia’s Fana Broadcasting Corporation, the agreement was struck during a two-day visit to Sudan by Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abyi Ahmed. Fana quoted Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workineh Gebeyehu as saying that Ahmed had agreed with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to expedite implementation of an earlier agreement on joint port development and administration. It remains unclear, however, exactly how much stake Ethiopia will be allowed to hold in Port Sudan. Anadolu Agency

South Sudan’s Troubled Ruling Party Seeks Unity, with Help
South Sudan’s troubled ruling party is trying to pull itself together ahead of a new round of peace talks on the country’s civil war, with high-profile assistance from Egypt and Uganda. The attendance on Thursday of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at a special party conference came amid reported friction inside the administration of South Sudan President Salva Kiir. Kiir has faced recent calls for his resignation as international frustration rises with the five-year civil war in the East African nation that has left tens of thousands dead and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis in years. Kiir’s administration has been marked by the departures of several high-profile officials who accused their former colleagues of blocking the path to peace and profiting from the conflict. The Washington Post

Egypt’s Jailed Journalists: In Numbers
The UN cultural agency, UNESCO has awarded its World Press Freedom Prize to imprisoned Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, despite criticism from the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi following the announcement last week. The president of the independent jury that selects the award’s recipient, Maria Ressa, said the honour pays tribute to the “courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression” of Abu Zeid, who is more commonly known as Shawkan and who has been in jail since August 2013. Arrested while covering deadly clashes between security forces and supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, in Cairo, he is potentially facing the death penalty. Al Jazeera

U.S. Accuses China of Directing Blinding Lasers at American Military Aircraft in Djibouti
The United States has formally complained to China after alleging that the Chinese military injured two U.S. airmen by directing high-grade lasers at American aircraft in Djibouti. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said at a briefing on Thursday that the United States has requested China investigate multiple incidents in recent weeks in which U.S. aircraft in Djibouti have been affected by unauthorized Chinese laser activity. White said the Pentagon was confident that Chinese nationals were responsible. She said there had been more than two but fewer than 10 such incidents, which she said had increased in frequency in recent weeks. “It’s a serious matter,” White said. “And we’re taking it very seriously.”  The Washington Post

Gabon’s President Reappoints Issoze-Ngondet as Prime Minister
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo reappointed Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet as prime minister less than a week after the Constitutional Court dissolved the central African nation’s parliament. Issoze-Ngondet, who initially stepped down on Tuesday, should form a new government until legislative elections are held, Bongo’s office said in a statement on Thursday. The parliament was dissolved after an April 30 deadline to hold polls had lapsed. Bloomberg

African Nations Defiant to US Aid Threat over UN Voting
Three African nations singled out for their track record of voting against the U.S. at the United Nations say they stand by their votes — even if those choices may result in the U.S. cutting back on aid. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made the threat to cut aid in a written statement last week after the State Department released its annual report on U.N. voting trends by member countries. Among the 10 countries listed on the annual State Department report that tracks U.N. voting patterns are nations that have long opposed U.S. interests, such as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria. This year’s list also included Burundi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. VOA

Kenyan Clinic Rejects Trump Abortion Policy, Loses $2 Million in U.S. Aid
On Jan. 23, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that bans U.S. aid to any health organization in another country that provides, advocates or makes referrals for abortions. The full impact of the order won’t be felt until September. That’s when the U.S. government fiscal year comes to an end. At that point, every international organization that does not comply with the order will be excluded from U.S. funding, says Marjorie Newman-Williams, president of Marie Stopes International, an organization that provides contraception and safe abortion in dozens of countries. But health groups that aren’t complying with the policy are already feeling the effects. The U.S. has pulled the plug on funds that had been previously allocated but not yet spent prior to the Trump order. NPR

Ivory Coast’s Army Fears More Mutinies over Bonus Dispute
Ivory Coast’s army has been placed on alert on concern that some troops may restart mutinies that paralyzed major cities in the world’s biggest cocoa producer last year. Some soldiers say they were left out of a deal following the protests in 2017 over payments army members said they were promised for backing President Alassane Ouattara in 2011 after former leader Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept an election defeat. The deadlock over the bonuses was broken in May after the government agreed to individual payments of about $20,000 each to 8,400 staff. Ivory Coast’s army chief of staff, Sekou Toure, told commanders to be vigilant about fresh mutinies until May 18 and to “arrest any soldier disturbing public order,” according to a note he sent on Tuesday to senior staff of the army, gendarmerie, police and elite military units. Bloomberg

Tunisia’s Belt-Tightening Policies Put Democracy at Risk
When Tunisians rose up against their longtime ruler seven years ago, a pair of idealistic young teachers joined in, hoping the protests would usher their North African nation of 10 million into the ranks of the world’s democracies. But today Adel and Marwa Jaafri are struggling financially as the country’s economy sputters, its currency falters and the government imposes fresh belt-tightening measures. […] Tunisia, often hailed as the sole success story of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, is in danger of being crippled by budget-cutting economic policies that critics say are imperiling the country’s democratic experiment. Scholars and economists have warned for years that Tunisia’s economic problems could thwart its political progress. But now a raft of critics is blaming financial measures promoted by international lenders and advisers, and taken up by inexperienced Tunisian politicians, for making them worse and setting off an economic and political crisis. The New York Times

Controversy over Appointment of Chief Minister of Sierra Leone
The creation of a new top ministerial position known as Chief Minister by president Julius Maada Bio, has sparked widespread debate as to whether the new post is superfluous to requirement, and furthermore, duplicates and undermines the role of vice president. There are questions also, regarding the current ministerial position of chief of staff; whether this role will now be scrapped and replaced by the chief minister position. Sierra Leoneans far and wide – including many ruling SLPP supporters, have criticised the decision of president Bio to establish this new ministerial position. They say that it smacks of hypocrisy at a time the country is buried under the weight of massive debt left behind by the outgoing APC government, and the economic austerity that Bio himself has vowed to enforce. The Sierra Leone Telegraph

Nigeria’s Internet Fraudsters Zero in on Corporate Email Accounts
West Africa’s infamous internet scammers have evolved, dropping their impersonations of online love interests, princes and U.S. soldiers in favour of hijacking corporate emails, costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It is a much more lucrative venture that works by gaining access to corporate email login details or passing off almost-identical addresses as the real deal, a scam known as Business Email Compromise (BEC), according to a report by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike issued on Thursday. These Nigerian rackets now dwarf other types of online criminal theft, amounting to at least $5.3 billion of losses between October 2013 and the end of 2016, said CrowdStrike and the U.S. FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Reuters

Swaziland: Swazi Royals Spend, Spend, Spend
King Mswati the absolute monarch of impoverished Swaziland wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds to his 50th birthday party. Days earlier he had received delivery of his second private jet. This one, an A340-300 Airbus, reportedly cost as much as US$30 million after VIP upgrades. These are examples of the King’s lavish lifestyle. He has fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars and he and his family travel the world in luxury. Meanwhile, seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. Media in Swaziland, where political parties are banned, are heavily censored and do not report on the excesses of the King and his Royal family. Therefore, it is difficult to determine their full extent, but it has been possible to piece together some of the details. Swazi Media

 



Photo: Adam Jones