Africa Media Review for May 6, 2019

High Stakes in South Africa’s Elections
South Africa’s sixth elections since the end of apartheid have the potential to reconfigure South Africa’s political landscape. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is embroiled in a fierce internal struggle over its future trajectory. Two factions are jostling for control: one aligned to the patronage-based ex-president, Jacob Zuma, and the other to his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is standing on a platform of reform, renewal, and accountability. Zuma’s loyalists support populist policies that resonate with the ANC’s constituency on the left, such as land expropriation without compensation and the nationalization of the South Africa Reserve Bank (or central bank). They are distrustful of Ramaphosa’s platform and have largely stayed away from major campaign events. Many Zuma-era politicians implicated in the ongoing judicial inquiry on state capture are the ANC candidates for parliamentary and provincial seats, fueling concerns that they will undercut Ramaphosa’s reform agenda if elected. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Anti-Apartheid Legacy Gives ANC Upper Hand in South African Election
Siyabonga Matlala is unequivocal about who he’ll support in South Africa’s May 8 election: the same party he’s backed since apartheid ended a quarter century ago. “I will always vote African National Congress,” the 49-year-old farm laborer said in an interview in Fisantekraal, a shantytown on Cape Town’s outskirts. “There is no reason to change now.” The unwavering loyalty of voters like Matlala has underpinned the ANC’s grip on power. That’s helped it weather a succession of scandals under its former leader, Jacob Zuma, and mounting public anger over rampant unemployment and sub-standard government services. Opinion polls show the party is on course to secure a sixth five-year mandate, although with a marginally smaller share of the vote than the 62 percent it won in 2014.  Bloomberg

South Africa’s Largest Opposition Party Promises to Lead Coalitions, Tackle Racism
South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), although heading for defeat in May 8 national elections, pledged to forge coalitions with smaller parties to break the dominance of the ruling ANC, especially at the local level. South Africans vote for a sixth time since the end of apartheid in 1994, and while an all-out victory for the ruling African National Congress is almost certain, the margin of its majority is set to drop following a decade of weak economic growth and a rise in racial tensions. At the DA’s final campaign rally on Saturday, Mmusi Maimane, the first black African to lead the centre-right party, told 5,000 supporters in the township of Soweto the DA would grow jobs, protect minority rights and unite the country.  Reuters

South Africa Voters in the Dark about Who Is Financing Elections
The “war room” for the African National Congress candidates running in local elections three years ago was an elaborate operation with new computers, wall monitors, lodging for volunteers and catered food three times a day. But the A.N.C., the party in power for the 25 years since the end of apartheid, did not fund its own war room. A South African company named Bosasa paid for everything, including the wages of the so-called volunteers, according to recent testimony at a government inquiry on corruption. Now as South Africans prepare to vote in a pivotal general election on May 8, the public does not know where the A.N.C. and the opposition parties raised the tens of millions of dollars needed to run rallies, print posters, buy television ads and perform myriad other tasks as part of their campaigns across a vast land of 57 million people.  The New York Times

Algeria Arrests Said Bouteflika and Two Former Intelligence Chiefs
Algerian police have arrested Said Bouteflika, the youngest brother of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and two former intelligence chiefs. This was confirmed by Algerian television station Ennahar TV. Said Bouteflika was seen as Algeria’s de facto ruler since his brother suffered a stroke in 2013 that left him wheelchair-bound. The youngest brother had served as a top advisor to the presidency for more than a decade. Generals Bachir Athimane Tartag and Mohamed Mediene both served as intelligence officers under Boutflika’s government.  RFI

Benin Post-Election Violence: Military Patrol Cotonou Streets
Security forces maintained a tight clamp on protests in the city of Cotonou, after two days of post-election violence. Soldiers broke up demonstrations with gunfire after the opposition called for the annulment of last Sunday’s parliamentary election. Life returned back to near-normal in much of Cotonou a day after soldiers broke up demonstrations with gunfire around the home of former-President Thomas Boni Yayi, which had become a focal point of anger over Sunday’s parliamentary polls, which took place without opposition parties. The opposition says they will not give up the push for a new direction in Benin.  Al Jazeera

Two French Tourists Kidnapped, Guide Killed in Benin: France24
Two French tourists were kidnapped and their guide appeared to have been murdered while they were on safari near the border of northern Benin and southern Burkina Faso, France24 reported on Sunday.Their car was found burned in the village of Diapaga and authorities found a body believed to be the Beninese guide, the TV network reported, citing Malian and Mauritanian security sources. No one has yet claimed responsibility, France24 said. The tourists and their guide were reported missing on May 1 after they failed to return from a drive in the Pendjari National Park. The area is run by African Parks, a non-profit that manages reserves across nine African countries.  Bloomberg

Fighting in Southern Tripoli Kills 187, More than 1,000 Wounded – Spokesman
Recent fighting in southern Tripoli in Libya has killed 187 people and wounded 1,157, a spokesman for the ministry of health said on Saturday. The government has also transferred a number of wounded to Tunisia, Turkey, Italy and Ukraine for medical treatment, said Tarek al-Hamshiri, the head of the government forces’ Field Medical Centre. The offensive launched by eastern Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar to take control of Tripoli is now in its fifth week. The U.N.-backed government of national accord (GNA) in Tripoli issued a statement earlier on Saturday recognising 710 fighters killed in Libya’s civil war in 2014 as “martyrs”, in a move a Tripoli government source said was aimed at winning the backing of forces in nearby Zintan in the fight against Haftar. Reuters

South Sudan Rivals Delay Forming New Government
South Sudan’s rival parties on Friday agreed on a six-month extension to implement next steps in the fragile peace deal. The extension came after the main opposition group threatened to boycott the formation of a unity government on May 12. The agreement came after meetings in Ethiopia. The document signed by the parties will now be submitted to the IGAD Council of Ministers, and the extension period will commence on 12 May. A number of critical tasks remain unresolved, including the formation of a unified army and the issue of internal boundaries and states.  Radio Tamazuj

Senegalese MPs Approve Reform That Would Scrap Post of Prime Minister
Senegalese MPs on Saturday overwhelmingly approved a reform that would eliminate the post of prime minister, a move the opposition slams as a “democratic setback” and an attempt by President Macky Sall to concentrate power. Senegalese lawmakers on Saturday approved a constitutional reform to scrap the post of prime minister, the first initiative of President Macky Sall’s second term in office. The motion passed with 124 MPs voting in favour and only seven against, National Assembly president Moustapha Niasse said Saturday evening after a nine-hour debate. France 24

Mozambique Leader Endorsed as Candidate for President
Mozambique’s ruling party on Sunday endorsed President Filipe Nyusi as its candidate for presidential elections in October, after a three-day meeting of its top officials in Maputo. “The Frelimo Central Committee is taking a positive view of the government’s five-year program, which has resulted in several achievements such as expanding the drinking water network, education and transportation,” said Edson Macuacua, a party spokesman. “The government comes to the end of its tenure with victories,” he added. Nyusi, after being chosen party candidate, said: “the victory of Frelimo is an imperative of the victory of the people”. VOA

Remains of Nearly 85 000 Genocide Victims Buried in Rwanda
The remains of nearly 85,000 people murdered in Rwanda’s genocide were laid to rest Saturday in a sombre ceremony in Kigali, a quarter of a century after the slaughter. Mourners sobbed as 81 white coffins containing the remains of 84,437 victims of the 1994 mass killings were buried at the Nyanza Genocide Memorial in the capital. They were among more than 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, massacred over 100 days by Hutu extremists and militia forces determined to eradicate the Tutsi minority in Rwanda. Rwanda begins 100 days of mourning every April 7 — the day the genocide began. But this year has witnessed particular commemorations to mark the 25th anniversary.  AFP

Africa’s ‘Last Great Wilderness’ in Jeopardy as Autocratic President Plans Mega-Dam That Could Bankrupt Tanzania
It is arguably the Empire’s greatest legacy to conservation, the outrageous vision of a British poacher-turned-naturalist whose misanthropic cussedness would shape Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary. Stretching across a swathe of woodland savannah four-fifths the size of the Republic of Ireland, the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania is among the world’s biggest protected wildernesses, home, until Africa’s latest poaching frenzy, to one of the largest elephant concentrations on the continent. For much of its 123-year history, the Selous has been threatened, coveted by prospectors and industrialists who saw in its untouched vastness the possibility of equally vast wealth. Until this year the profit-seekers had been held back. That is about to change, with work beginning on a development that will forever change the Selous’ landscape.  The Telegraph

Another President Magufuli’s Critic Missing in Tanzania
An outspoken critic of Tanzanian President John Magufuli is missing after being snatched off the road by armed men in the country’s far south, the main opposition party said Sunday. Four men wielding guns abducted Mdude Nyagali, a high-profile dissident and opposition activist, as he left his workplace in Mbozi on Saturday evening, the Chadema party said in a statement. Witnesses said the 32-year-old screamed for help before being pulled into one of two waiting vehicles which sped off, the statement added. “So far, we don’t know where Mdude is,” Chadema said. The incident had been reported to law enforcement, the party said. Police in Mbozi, a town in Songwe region near the Zambian border, could not be reached for comment.  AFP

Human Rights Watch Condemns Routine Torture, Illegal Detention of Separatists in Cameroon
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced in a report published on Monday “a regular use of torture and illegal detention” by the Cameroonian authorities against English-speaking separatists. HRW claims to have “documented 26 cases of illegal detention and enforced disappearance at the detention centre of the Secretariat of State for Defence between January 2018 and January 2019, including 14 cases of torture”. The 26 cases concern English-speaking separatists or persons suspected of being so, HRW added. Among them, “ten were leaders of the self-proclaimed Ambazonia interim government,” the NGO detailed.  Africa News

Gabon Court Rejects Medical Exam to See If Bongo Fit to Rule
A request for an independent medical exam to determine whether Gabon’s President Ali Bongo is fit to rule after suffering a stroke last year was dismissed by a trial court in the capital Libreville this week, according to court documents. Ten members of the opposition had signed the request for a neurologist to examine Bongo, 60, who returned to Gabon in March after spending over five months recovering abroad. Only a majority of either the government or the parliament’s two chambers can request the Constitutional Court to call for a vacancy of power, the ruling said. Bongo fell ill while attending an investment summit in Saudi Arabia in October last year. He was then transferred to Morocco, where he spent months recovering. He’s made only a few public appearances since his return to the country on March 23. Bongo’s doctors expect him to make a full recovery even though he is convalescing slowly, a person close to the matter told Bloomberg in February.  Bloomberg

Ebola Deaths Top 1,000 in Congo amid Clinic Attacks
More than 1,000 people have died from Ebola in eastern Congo since August, the country’s health minister said on Friday, the second-worst outbreak of the disease in history behind the West African one in 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300. The toll came as hostility toward health workers continued to hamper efforts to contain the virus. Health Minister Oly Ilunga said that four deaths in the outbreak’s center, Katwa, had helped push the death toll to 1,008. Two more deaths were reported in the city of Butembo. The outbreak was declared almost nine months ago. A volatile security situation and deep community mistrust have hampered efforts to control the spread of the disease in eastern Congo. Ebola treatment centers have been repeatedly attacked, leaving government health officials to run clinics in the hot spots like Butembo and Katwa.  AP

43% of Nigerian Children Engaged in Child Labor
At least 43 percent of Nigerian children are trapped in various forced labor despite international conventions banning it, the International Labor Organization said on Friday. Dennis Zulu, country head of the global body, said the children as young as 5-10 years are being used as labor mostly in private establishments and homes. “This is contrary to the fact that Nigeria is signatory to and has ratified or domesticated conventions that ban child labor,” he said, calling on local authorities to help evolve policies that address the menace, including human trafficking and slave worker. “We are optimistic that our effective and efficient approach of the project result will contribute to the reduction of child exploitation in the artisanal mines and global supply chain,” Zulu added. Anadolu Agency



Photo: Adam Jones