Africa Media Review for May 4, 2020

Cameroon Journalists Protest Harassment, Abusive Arrests
Cameroonian journalists are marking World Press Freedom Day with protests against abuse from the government as well as from rebels fighting for an independent English-speaking state. Reporters Without Borders, in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, ranks Cameroon 134th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. Some Cameroonian journalists have been detained for their reporting or are on the run from the military or separatists. This message from the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, that journalism has rules, regulations and professional ethics, is broadcast on television and radio, and shared on social media platforms by journalists in Cameroon as a sign of protest against the abuses they face. The message insists that journalists be allowed freedom to practice. “We say no to the constant harassment and haphazard arrest of journalists in their line of duties,” the message said. VOA

Malian Army Responsible for 101 Extrajudicial Killings at Start of 2020 – UN Report Says
Malian soldiers carried out more than 100 extrajudicial killings in the first three months of 2020, according to a report published this week by UN human rights monitors. In total, 589 violations of human rights were documented in Mail between 1 January and 31 March, said the UN mission in Mali (Minusma). The highest number of extrajudicial killings carried out by Malian security forces occurred in the Niono Circle, a subdivision in Ségou region, in the centre of Mali. 53 people were killed in the area as of 27 January. The killings notably occurred after a jihadist attack on 26 January by those linked to the Nusrat al-Islam group that left some 20 gendarmes dead in Sokolo, in the same region. … Niger’s security forces have been accused of 34 extrajudicial killings on Malian soil near the border with Niger. RFI

French Legionnaire Dies from Jihadist Attack in Mali
A soldier from France’s Foreign Legion has died from wounds sustained during in an operation against jihadists in Mali, President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday. The death brings to 42 the number of soldiers killed from France’s operation in the Sahel region since it first stationed troops there in 2013 to help train and assist local forces against Islamic insurgents. Macron said in a statement the legionnaire was wounded by a bomb in the West African country on 23 April during “an operation against armed terrorist groups.” In a separate statement, the armed forces chief of staff said a French tank truck was struck by a roadside bomb, wounding two soldiers in the vehicle. One of the soldiers died on Friday at a hospital in France, while the other remains in stable condition. AFP

Filmmaker Who Mocked Egypt’s President Sisi Dies in Prison Aged 22
An Egyptian filmmaker detained without trial for over two years for making a music video that mocked President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi died on Saturday at a maximum-security prison complex, two rights lawyers said. Attorney Ahmed el-Khwaga said his 22-year-old client Shady Habash died in Cairo’s Tora Prison complex. He said the cause of death was not immediately clear. There was no immediate comment from the Interior Ministry, which oversees Egypt’s prison system. Police forces arrested the young filmmaker in March 2018 after he directed a music video by Ramy Essam, an Egyptian musician exiled in Sweden. The video featured a song that mocked the general-turned president, comparing him to a fruit date and condemning alleged government corruption. AP

Nigeria: Four Reportedly Killed, 16 Injured as Soldiers Enforce Lockdown in Taraba Community
A cultural festival turned deadly on Saturday in Taraba State after soldiers sent to enforce a lockdown allegedly shot dead four residents and injured 16 others. The Taraba State Government, on April 21, in a broadcast by the state’s deputy governor, Haruna Manu, announced a lockdown order in the state to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Taraba currently has eight coronavirus cases, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The violence occurred at Jen community in Karim-Lamido Local Government Area of the state. The festival turned violent when the residents resisted an attempt by the soldiers to disperse them and prevent the festival from holding. Residents said the festival, called ‘Minhu’ hunting festival, is celebrated annually every first week of May. It is the major cultural festival of the Jen community and is recognised by the government as a major festival in the state. Premium Times

Tanzania Opposition MPs to Boycott Parliament after 3 MPs Die
Tanzania’s leading opposition party has called for a suspension of Parliament after three legislators died of unknown causes in the past 11 days. Freeman Mbowe, chairperson of the opposition Chadema party, has repeatedly accused the government of covering up the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic and implied the MPs had died from Covid-19, the disease caused by the pathogen. “We regret to continue receiving the deaths of MPs and other Tanzanians caused by the Covid-19 infections,” Mbowe said in a statement on Friday, calling on Parliament to suspend its business for at least 21 days and test all MPs, parliament staff and their families. … His comments came after it was announced that Augustine Mahiga, Tanzania’s minister for constitution and legal affairs, had died earlier on Friday, with no official explanation for his death. … By Wednesday, Tanzania had confirmed 480 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths, the only update it has given in the past nine days. Regular updates were being given until President John Magufuli on 22 April said the Ministry of Health was “causing panic” with their announcements of cases and deaths. Al Jazeera

Tanzania’s Magufuli Sees ‘Sabotage’ in Virus Numbers
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Sunday questioned his country’s coronavirus numbers, and called on the authorities to investigate “sabotage” at the national laboratory. The East African country had recorded 480 cases of the virus and 16 deaths at its last update on Wednesday. The government has come under fire from the opposition for allegedly hiding information and failing to take the disease seriously. Magufuli said that people who tested positive for the virus may not be sick, and cast doubt on the credibility of laboratory equipment and technicians. … Magufuli also said Tanzania was in talks with Madagascar for a potion that the island nation claims cures Covid-19 patients within 10 days. AFP

Ivory Coast Prime Minister Evacuated to France for Medical Checks
Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who is the governing party’s candidate in October’s presidential election, was evacuated to France for medical checks. A brief statement from the presidency on Sunday provided no additional details about Gon Coulibaly’s health status. Gon Coulibaly, 61, self-isolated in late March because of possible exposure to the coronavirus but did not test positive. Defence Minister Hamed Bakayoko, who recovered from the virus last month, will serve as interim prime minister in Gon Coulibaly’s absence, the statement said. Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara designated Gon Coulibaly in March as the governing RHDP party’s candidate for the presidential election after ruling out seeking a third term himself. Ivory Coast has recorded more than 1,300 cases of the coronavirus, one of the highest totals in West Africa, and 15 deaths. Reuters

Sudan Govt, SPLM-N Agar Agree to Integrate Rebel Forces
The Sudanese government delegation for peace negotiation and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, headed by Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar) have agreed to reintegrate the SPLA forces into the Sudanese military; police, security intelligence, wildlife, customs, and civil defence. Both parties agreed that the military institutions must be reformed and restructured based only on merits. They also agreed that the reintegration and restructuring process should take place in all agencies based on objective criteria respective of geographical, political, and ethnical affiliations. In a press statement on Thursday, the deputy chairman of SPLM-Nagar and the head of its negotiating delegation, Yasir Arman, explained that the negotiating parties have made some progress in the issue of security arrangement. Radio Dabanga

Coronavirus: Sudan Imposes Stricter Measures to Enforce Social Distancing
Sudan’s High Committee for Health Emergencies has taken new decisive measures to reinforce the social distancing policies as coronavirus (Covid-19) cases have increased. The Minister of Health has annulled the National Council for Medicines and Toxins’ decision regarding medicine pricing for locally manufactured medicines. In a press conference on Thursday, Member of the Sovereign Council and Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Committee for Health Emergencies, Prof Siddig Tawir told reporters that the committee issued more decisive precautionary measures to implement the social distancing policy effectively. Tawir further explained that undermining the instructions of the Ministry of Health as well as human trafficking are the primary factors of the recent rapid increase of coronavirus cases in the country. … On Thursday, hundreds of members of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Suppport Forces militia were deployed in the streets in Khartoum to enforce the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Radio Dabanga

Coronavirus: Which African Countries Are Ahead on Testing?
Testing plays a major role in the response to the coronavirus, as it helps us understand how far the disease has spread. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which co-ordinates pandemic responses across the continent, says there is a large gap in testing rates between nations. So which countries are succeeding in testing, and which are lagging behind? Some of Africa’s smaller nations have achieved significantly better rates of testing than their larger neighbours. Mauritius and Djibouti, for example, have both achieved high rates of testing per capita. Ghana has also been praised for its level of testing, which its government says will help contain the spread of the virus once the lockdown is lifted. BBC

The COVID-19 Riddle: Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others?
The coronavirus has touched almost every country on earth, but its impact has seemed capricious. Global metropolises like New York, Paris and London have been devastated, while teeming cities like Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi and Lagos have, so far, largely been spared. The question of why the virus has overwhelmed some places and left others relatively untouched is a puzzle that has spawned numerous theories and speculations but no definitive answers. That knowledge could have profound implications for how countries respond to the virus, for determining who is at risk and for knowing when it’s safe to go out again. The New York Times

Behind the Fence: How the World’s Displaced Are Dealing with COVID-19
When food and clothing is distributed at Nduta camp in Tanzania, health workers ask the refugees to stand a metre apart to protect each other from the coronavirus. “They do it for a while, but then they crowd together again,” said Tumaini Kombe, a health promoter with Médecins sans frontières. “They believe us, but they tell us it’s impossible to do. If you’re standing far away and your name is called and you don’t hear it, you’ll miss your chance.” It’s an example of the challenges at Nduta camp, where about 75,000 Burundian refugees are living in shelters of mud bricks and plastic sheeting after fleeing political violence in 2015. The Burundians are one of the world’s most underfunded refugee groups, according to Médecins sans frontières, whose 800 workers are the main health care providers in the camp. The coronavirus has not yet been detected at Nduta camp. But self-isolation here is almost impossible. The Globe and Mail

Weary Moroccan Medics Fight Virus, Nightmares and Tears
Medical professionals around this Muslim kingdom in North Africa spoke to The Associated Press, showing that the heartbreak and fears and the challenges of working safely are shared with Western counterparts, as is the devotion to saving lives. Two Moroccan doctors have died after becoming infected, officials have said. Morocco, which is under a strict lockdown, currently has more than 4,500 confirmed cases and some 170 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University count. Since early March, the Moroccan government has steadily introduced virus control measures that have gradually turned vibrant cities into near ghost towns. Health minister Khalid Ait Boutaleb says that if it weren’t for preventive measures, Morocco would now be facing 6,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Still, the virus has wrought personal havoc for some health workers, temporarily tearing them apart their families as they self-isolate at the end of the day to keep their loved ones safe. AP

Tony Allen, Drummer Who Created the Beat of Afrobeat, Dies at 79
Tony Allen, the drummer who created the steadfast, subtle beat of the Nigerian protest funk known as Afrobeat, died on Thursday in Paris. He was 79. His manager, Eric Trosset, said the cause was an abdominal aortic aneurysm. From 1964 to 1978, Mr. Allen worked with the bandleader Fela Ransome-Kuti, who became known worldwide simply as Fela. He was the musical director for Fela’s band Africa 70, which forged music that was both politically committed and danceable, merging West African styles with American jazz and funk. Mr. Allen made more than three dozen albums with Fela and the band, including the indelible “Zombie” and “Gentleman,” as well as solo albums on which Mr. Allen led Africa 70. The music of Fela and Africa 70 reached listeners and emulators all over the world. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones