Africa Media Review for May 8, 2019

In South Africa Election, Ramaphosa Faces Verdict From Disillusioned Voters
Millions of South Africans cast ballots on Wednesday, voting for the first time since President Cyril Ramaphosa assumed power early last year with promises to renew both his corruption-ridden party and the beleaguered nation. A quarter-century after the end of apartheid captured imaginations worldwide, Mr. Ramaphosa and his party, the African National Congress, faced an electorate increasingly disillusioned with the state of South Africa’s democracy. The vote is partly a referendum on Mr. Ramaphosa, whose personal popularity has consistently polled higher than his party’s. Many of the A.N.C.’s traditional supporters approve of him, polls show. But they question whether he can outflank powerful party rivals and root out the endemic corruption that has come to define the A.N.C., Nelson Mandela’s once celebrated liberation movement.  The New York Times

South Africa’s Ramaphosa Faces Obstacles to Reform
Even with a decisive election victory for South Africa’s ruling party this week, the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa could still struggle to push through the tough reforms needed to galvanise Africa’s most developed economy, say analysts and some party insiders. The former union leader turned business tycoon has promised to introduce major economic reforms and extend a crackdown on corruption if his African National Congress (ANC) party is returned to power in Wednesday’s national election. Ramaphosa’s allies say a result close to 60 percent in this week’s parliamentary vote, which some opinion polls suggest could be possible, would strengthen his hand to deliver on those pledges. But some analysts and ANC party insiders are sceptical that Ramaphosa would make much progress with reforms, even with a clear election victory. They cite his tenuous grip over the party’s decision-making bodies, where former comrades in the struggle against the brutal apartheid regime are at each other’s throats in a high-stakes battle for power and wealth.  Reuters

Tension as 11 Killed on Kenya-Ethiopia Border in Water Row
Tension is high in northern Kenya after the killing of 11 people following a dispute over a watering point. Two people were also wounded and another four are reported missing after insurgents from Ethiopia allegedly hoodwinked residents of Ulan village, North Horr Constituency in Marsabit County, into attending a peace meeting over a disputed pool of water only to open fire on them. Speaking to the Nation, Maikona Location Senior Chief Bonaya Racha said that the attack came a few days after the residents of Ulan, about 3 kilometres from Forole village and a neighbouring Ethiopian village, were embroiled in a row over a livestock watering point at the border. “As we speak now we are living in terrible fear since 11 people from this area were brutally murdered today (Monday) by an Ethiopian militia group,” said Mr Bonaya.  The East African

Ethiopia to Try Ex-Spy Chief, Getachew Assefa, in Absentia
Ethiopia has formally charged a former intelligence chief widely reported to have superintended over systemic rights abuse during his tenure. Getachew Assefa was fired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2018 as part of a housecleaning of regime officials mentioned in cases of rights abuse. He was charged along with 25 other intelligence operatives. The Attorney General had earlier this year told parliament that the northern Tigray regional state was shielding Assefa from arrest. He will be tried in absentia along with four other defendants, AFP news agency reports.  Africa News

UN Warns of Fate of Ethiopian Migrants Imprisoned in Yemen
One of the absurd tragedies of the Yemen conflict has been the plight of the thousands of migrants who have traveled to Yemen, despite the ongoing conflict. Driven by the promise of finding gainful employment elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, migrants from the Horn of Africa are making a dangerous journey across the Red Sea. In recent weeks, authorities in Yemen have been arresting these migrants and detaining them, en masse, in a soccer stadiums. The International Organization for Migration issued this warning today, about the fate of 3,000 mostly Ethiopian migrants.  UN Dispatch

Sudan Military Want to Keep Sharia Law
Sudan’s ruling military council is insisting that Sharia remain the basis of the country’s new laws. Protest leaders had handed them a list of proposals for an interim government, following the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir in April. But the 10-member military council said it had “many reservations” about their suggestions – including the protesters’ conspicuous silence on Islamic law. Talks between the military and opposition remain deadlocked. The protesters’ proposals were put to the military council by the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, a coalition of activists and opposition political groups. BBC

As Sudan Uprising Grew, Arab States Worked to Shape Its Fate
As the popular uprising against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir gained strength earlier this year, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia began reaching out to the military through secret channels to encourage his removal from power, according to Egyptian and Sudanese officials. The three Arab states are ruled by autocrats who have clamped down on calls for democratic change in their own countries. But they had long viewed al-Bashir as a problem because of his close ties to Islamists, and had grown weary of his shifting loyalties and outreach to their rivals , Turkey and Qatar. In the chaotic weeks leading up to the April 11 military overthrow of al-Bashir, they found themselves on the same side as the pro-democracy protesters massed outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum. But with the military and the protesters now locked in tense talks over the path forward, they likely see the generals as allies who can restore stability and keep the Islamists out of power. AP

Libya Air Strikes Point to Possible UAE Involvement – UN Report
United Nations experts are investigating missile strikes near Libya’s capital that were fired likely using Chinese-made drones and point to possible involvement by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a confidential report shows. The April 19-20 missile attack on the southern suburbs of Tripoli was carried out as forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar battled to seize the capital from the UN-recognised government. A UN panel of experts said in the report to the Security Council, a copy of which was seen by AFP, that it had examined photographs of missile debris and had identified the weapon as a Blue Arrow air-to-surface missile, which has not been used in Libya before. The Chinese-made missile is only in use in three countries – China, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates – and is paired with the Chinese-made Wing Loong drone.  AFP

UN to Malta: Drop Terrorism Charges against African Migrants Accused of Hijacking Tanker
The United Nations human rights office called on Malta on Tuesday to drop terrorism charges against three African teenage migrants arrested for hijacking a small commercial tanker that rescued their vessel off the coast of Libya. The three, who have pleaded not guilty, were among 108 Africans rescued by the El Hiblu 1 tanker in late March. They are accused of threatening the crew to try to force the boat to go to Malta and not take them back to Libya. Many of the migrants, including several children, had been dehydrated and exhibiting “clear signs of torture”, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said. The three youths – one from Ivory Coast and two from Guinea – are due to appear in court on May 20, she said.  Reuters

Still Waiting for Macron’s “New Relationship” with Africa
In 2017, the new French president Emmanuel Macron promised a new era in French-African relations, stating his desire to partner with, and not dominate African states Two years into his tenure, the new relationship is still not clear. On his election, Macron vowed to make the African continent the cornerstone of France’s foreign policy. But over the past two years his agenda to resolve historical grievances has been hampered by controversial military interventions in the continent and difficulties in calling time on the controversial “Françafrique” dispensation. One of Macron’s most-criticised moves was a series of airstrikes launched in February against Chadian rebels by French fighter jets stationed in the country. As one expert put it, France is in Chad to support the “war on terror”, yet its most recent targets have all been political rebels.  RFI

Malawi’s Election Preparations Impacted by Cyclone Idai Flooding
As Malawi gears-up for elections this month, candidates and voters say flooding from March’s Cyclone Idai has already negatively impacted the vote. Some registered voters living in evacuation camps lost voting registration certificates in the floodwaters while candidates say they can’t get their message to would-be supporters living in evacuation camps. Mafulesi Khingi from Manjolo Village is among thousands of eligible voters still living in evacuation camps two months after Cyclone Idai. The tropical storm that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March flooded them out of their homes. Khingi said the floodwaters also swept away her voter registration and those of six other family members. VOA

City in Congo’s Ebola Outbreak Attacked by Militia; 7 Dead
Authorities say a city at the epicenter of Congo’s Ebola outbreak has come under attack by militia fighters. Maj. Mak Hazukay says at least seven Mai-Mai fighters were killed Wednesday morning in Butembo. Others say the death toll could be higher. Violence in the region has brought many Ebola response efforts to a halt. Doctors without Borders and other international aid organizations already have pulled out of Butembo. Health experts warn that because of security issues it has been difficult getting into some areas to vaccinate those most at risk.  AP

WHO Overhauls Ebola Vaccination Strategy as Congo Cases Surge
The World Health Organisation adapted its vaccination strategy on Tuesday to try to contain a spiralling outbreak of Ebola in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where deaths have soared passed 1,000 as response teams continue to be met with violence and distrust. Conflict and disruptions, such as clashes in the town of Butembo on Tuesday, have long complicated the response in affected North Kivu and Ituri provinces, but Tuesday’s announcement was the first move by the WHO to rethink its strategy. In a statement, the WHO’s panel of experts announced that a wider group of “tertiary” contacts would now be vaccinated and said it was reducing dosages to allow for this due to concerns over “a potential vaccine shortage” if the outbreak expands. The panel said it was particularly worried that “a large proportion of new cases continue to arise among unknown contacts”.  The New Humanitarian

Tanzania Gov’t Reinstates over 4,000 Sacked Public Servants
A senior Tanzanian government official told the parliament on Monday that 4,160 public servants out of 9,900 who the government sacked in 2017 over fake academic credentials have been reinstated. Mary Mwanjelwa, the Deputy Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for Public Service and Good Governance, said the 4,160 public servants were recalled after it was established that they were wrongly sacked. Mwanjelwa told the House in the capital Dodoma that the decision to recall the public servants and reinstate them on the public payroll system came after the government received complaints from them and other sources over unfair treatment when verifying the academic credentials.  The East African

Kenya: Gen Mwathethe’s Term as Chief of Defence Forces Extended
Days of anxiety and uncertainty within military ranks ended on Monday after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended the term of General Samson Mwathethe as Chief of Defence Forces for another year, effectively ending the military careers of the men poised to replace him. The announcement made on Monday evening marked the end of a period of indecision, during which members of the Defence Council were divided between recommending the extension of Mwathethe’s tenure and replacing him with either Vice-Chief of Defence Forces Lt Gen Robert Kibochi or Lt Gen Leonard Ngondi, the force commander of the AU-UN Hybrid (Unamid) Operation in strife-torn Darfur in Sudan. On Monday, members of the Defence Council returned to State House to once again brief the President after their meeting on Friday ended inconclusively after they failed to announce any changes. Daily Nation

Zimbabwean Villagers Resist a Chinese Company’s Mining Project
Zimbabwe has clamored for outside investment in recent years, but villagers north of the capital are resisting a Chinese mining project they say will spoil the environment and fail to bring them much benefit. The villagers are from Domboshava, a rocky area north of Zimbabwe’s capital, and they are disputing a Chinese company’s decision to start quarry mining. Seventy-year-old Florence Nyamande is among those saying no to the proposed project by Aihua Jianye Company. “The Chinese are the money mongers of Zimbabweans. They take riches here, they take it to China. They do not develop our places. So we do not need them here,” Nyamande said. “Seriously with a deeper heart, seriously with a mind, we are disappointed. We said ‘No’ and ‘No’. That is multiplicated (multiplied) ‘No.’”  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones