Africa Media Review for November 24, 2017

Egypt mosque attack: At least 155 killed in Sinai
Suspected militants have launched a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai province, killing 155 people, state media report. Witnesses say the al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed, near al-Arish, was targeted during Friday prayers. Local police said men in four off-road vehicles opened fire on worshippers, AP reported. Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the region, which has intensified since 2013. More than 100 people were also wounded in the attack, reports say. Pictures from the scene show rows of bloodied victims inside the mosque. BBC

Emmerson Mnangagwa Sworn in as Zimbabwe’s President
Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as president of Zimbabwe, becoming the country’s second leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980. Mnangagwa took his oath of office in front of tens of thousands of jubilant Zimbabweans who had gathered at a stadium in Harare, after greeting the crowd with a raised fist. People sang and danced in the stands and raised banners reading “Dawn of a new era” and “No to retribution”, even as human rights activists began to report worrying details of attacks on close allies of the former first lady, Grace Mugabe, and their families. Mnangagwa himself has warned against “vengeful retribution”.  The Guardian

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Assured Mugabe He Wouldn’t Face Prosecution
Zimbabwe’s ruling party assured Robert Mugabe that he wouldn’t be prosecuted if he resigned, a party official said Thursday, as the fate of the 93-year-old became clearer and the country prepared to move on. “Prosecuting him was never part of the plan,” ZANU-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told The Associated Press. “He is safe, his family is safe and his status as a hero of his country is assured. All we were saying is resign or face impeachment.” As Zimbabwe prepared to witness the swearing-in of new president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday morning, its citizens circulated on social media a new photo showing what appeared to be Mugabe at the end of his 37-year rule. Mugabe and his wife are shown sitting on a sofa with advisers standing behind them. A dejected-looking Grace Mugabe, who just days ago had been poised to replace Mnangagwa after his firing as vice president and even succeed her husband, looks off camera. A listing Robert Mugabe’s eyes are closed. The photo could not immediately be verified. AP

Zimbabwe Ex-President Robert Mugabe’s Stolen Fortune
During Mugabe’s 37 years in office, the former president is believed to have amassed a huge fortune. The question everyone is asking is: Will impoverished Zimbabweans ever see the money again? South Africa’s tabloids are full of stories about the “immense riches” that Robert Mugabe and his family are alleged to have accumulated over the decades. His 93rd birthday celebrations in February this year are said to have cost more than 1.7 million euros ($2 million), where guests consumed vast quantities of champagne and caviar. It is not known exactly how much the geriatric former head of state and his family are worth. Estimates put the figure at around 844 million euros. In addition to a 25-bedroom house in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, valued at 8.5 million euros, Mugabe owns a luxury villa in Hong Kong worth more than 4 million euros. It is allegedly one of his wife Grace’s favorite properties. His most valuable property is Hamilton Palace in Sussex, England, worth more than 40 million euros. Deutsche Welle

Shocking New Video of Migrants in Libya
Libyan activists took to social media to share a new footage of the struggles of illegal immigrants in Libya. The video believed to be filmed in the city of Sabratha west of the country shows migrants in an underground prison in very poor conditions. According to the information provided by Libyan activists, the migrants held inside the prison were kept in inhumane conditions. Prison walls had only small holes from which prisoners get water and lunch. The video shows some migrants who managed to break out from the metal barriers; other scenes depicted the migrants eating pieces of bread after their liberation. Al Arabiya

Libyan Navy Rescues 450 Migrants off Western Libyan Coast
Libyan naval forces on Thursday rescued 450 illegal African immigrants off the coast of the capital Tripoli, Libyan navy spokesman said. “Coast Guard patrols managed to rescue 450 illegal immigrants of different African nationalities one mile off Tripoli coast in two separate operations,” the navy spokesman Ayob Qassem told Xinhua. “All migrants have been rescued, and non of them died or drowned. They have been transferred to the Anti-Illegal Immigration Department in Tripoli to be transferred to housing shelters, after they have been provided with necessary medical assistance by the International Organization for Migration,” Qassem added. Due to the insecurity and chaos in Libya, thousands of migrants choose to cross Mediterranean towards European shores. Xinhua

France Calls UN Security Council Meeting over Libya Slave Auctions
France on Wednesday called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over slave-trading in Libya as President Emmanuel Macron blasted the auctioning of Africans as a crime against humanity. “France decided this morning to ask for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss this issue,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament. “We are doing it as a permanent member of the Security Council. We have this capability and we are using it.” Macron said the auctions, captured on film in footage aired by US network CNN, were “scandalous” and “unacceptable”. France 24

Rwanda Offers to Host African Migrants Stranded in Libya
In an unusual gesture that could partly reverse a more familiar northward odyssey toward Europe, Rwanda offered on Thursday to house or help repatriate some of the thousands of African migrants being held in Libya and reportedly auctioned there as slaves. A statement from the country’s Foreign Ministry said Rwanda was “horrified” that “African men women and children who were on the road to exile have been held and turned into slaves.” “Given Rwanda’s political philosophy and our own history, we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle,” the statement said. The evocation of Rwanda’s history apparently referred to bloodletting in 1994 when more than 800,000 people perished in an ethnically driven genocide. “We may not be able to welcome everyone but our door is wide open,” the Foreign Ministry said. The New York Times

500 Trafficking Victims Rescued in West Africa: Interpol
Forty people are facing prosecution after police raids in west and central Africa rescued nearly 500 victims of human trafficking, Interpol said on Thursday. Raids were carried out in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal as part of a German foreign ministry funded initiative targeting organised crime in the region. Of the nearly 500 people rescued, 236 were children, Interpol said in an emailed statement. The operation happened between November 6 and 10, it added later. Those arrested are accused of forcing their victims into begging and prostitution and face charges including human trafficking, forced labour and child exploitation. AFP

UN Documents Rise in Congolese Human Rights Abuses
The UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in DRC said in a report on Thursday that it documented 704 cases of human rights violations in October. According to the report, this figure represents a 60 percent increase in human rights violations in the country in two months. “The main perpetrators of these violations are state agents including elements of the DRC armed forces (FARDC) and elements of the police. “They account for 63 percent of all reported human rights violations, including the extrajudicial execution of 56 people.” It added that armed groups were responsible for 162 human rights abuses, with 135 summary executions in October. Anadolu Agency

Analysts, Leaders Say Returning IS Foreign Fighters Are Concern for N. Africa
As the embattled Islamic State terror group has lost much of its territory and strength in Syria and Iraq, governments in North Africa fear many returning fighters from the Mideast battlegrounds could trigger instability in the region. “The region is threatened … with the return of foreign fighters,” Algeria Foreign Minister Abdul Qader Messahel told reporters in Cairo last week. “The signs and reports indicate that the [foreign fighters’] return will be in our region,” Messahel added. Recent reports indicate at least 5,600 foreign fighters have left the battlefield following IS defeats in Syria and Iraq. Hundreds of fighters from North African states, including Tunisia and Morocco, have already returned to their home countries, according to a recent report by the Soufan Center, a New York-based think tank following the developments in the region. VOA

A City in Niger Worries a New U.S. Drone Base Will Make It a ‘Magnet’ for Terrorists
Beyond the sign reading “Military Zone,” beyond the olive-green Humvees patrolling near a security tower, rows of tan tents stretch across the desert. For nearly two years, the remote, barren site has been home to several hundred U.S. troops working around the clock to turn it into a high-tech, multimillion-dollar drone base. Mohamed Seraji doesn’t like what he sees. Dust kicked up by the construction makes the 29-year-old vendor cough. At night, the noise keeps him awake. But his biggest worry is that the facility — as well as Nigeriens like him who live in this city, just minutes away — will become a target for Islamist extremists. “The base is too close,” Seraji said. “If there’s an attack on it, the people are exposed.” Such concerns have escalated since an ambush last month by Islamist militants that killed four U.S. and five Nigerien soldiers in the village of Tongo Tongo, along the Niger-Mali border. Agadez is in north-central Niger, more than 600 miles from that attack site, but the militants have also targeted this region in recent years. The Washingtown Post

Former Nigerian VP, Leading Ally of President, Quits Ruling Party
Nigerian former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a leading ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, quit the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party on Friday, he said in a statement, a blow to government unity ahead of elections in early 2019. Abubakar said the ruling party “has failed and continues to fail our people,” adding that the APC had instituted “a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it’s produced”. The former vice president’s departure is one of the first major fractures to emerge publicly in Buhari’s APC, formed from a coalition of smaller parties to contest the 2015 election against then-president Goodluck Jonathan. Reuters

Sudan’s President Visits Russia, Asks for Protection from US
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on a visit to Russia Thursday that his country needs protection from the U.S. and could serve as a gateway to Africa for Moscow. Al-Bashir, speaking at the start of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, accused the U.S. of fomenting the conflict in Sudan. Al-Bashir added that “we need protection from the U.S. aggressive actions.” The Darfur region has been the site of violent conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in the capital, Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died in the conflict and some 2.7 million have fled their homes. Al-Bashir, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court’s wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. ICC prosecutors issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest, in 2009 and 2010. AP

At Least 25 Killed in Fresh Clash in Northern S. Sudan
About 25 people have been killed in renewed fighting between government soldiers and rebels in the northern South Sudanese town of Leer, officials said Thursday. Information Minister for Southern Liech State Peter Makouth Malual said clashes erupted early this week between government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO), which is loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, and continued until Wednesday. Malual said at least 20 rebels and five government soldiers were killed in the fighting. He blamed the rebels for starting the violence. “Since Nov. 19, the rebels have been attacking our positions in Leer. The government forces responded in self defense which led to heavy casualty on the rebels,” Malual said. Xinhua

Key Ally to South Africa’s ANC Seeks to Limit President’s Powers
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is seeking to alter the balance of power in its alliance with the ruling African National Congress and wants the party to change its constitution to limit the president’s power to reshuffle the nation’s cabinet. “The ANC constitution must be amended to tell the president of the ANC what he can do,” Bheki Ntshalintshali, the general secretary of the country’s biggest labor group, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office on Tuesday. “The ANC constitution should say even that if the law allows it, its president in government will not make decisions alone.” Cosatu and the South African Communist Party have accused President Jacob Zuma of alienating the ANC’s allies by spurning consultation and making cabinet changes that knocked the rand and bonds and prompted credit rating downgrades. A split in the alliance could harm the ANC’s chances in elections in 2019. Bloomberg

South African Court Doubles Oscar Pistorius’s Prison Sentence
A South African appeal court has more than doubled the former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’s prison sentence for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The supreme court of appeal (SCA) increased Pistorius’s sentence from six years in prison to 13 years and five months. Pistorius killed Steenkamp by firing four bullets from a handgun through a closed toilet door in his luxury home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day 2013. He claimed he mistook her for a burglar. Steenkamp’s family welcomed the increased sentence and said it showed that justice could prevail in South Africa. “This is an emotional thing for them. They just feel that their trust in the justice system has been confirmed this morning,” Tania Koen, a spokeswoman for the Steenkamp family, said. The Guardian

African Countries Are Seeing A “Brain Gain” as Young Elite Graduates Give up on the West
In July 2017, Alexandra Ndiwalana, 28, moved back to Johannesburg, South Africa after ten months of pursuing her MBA at the IE Business School in Madrid. By returning home right after her completing her studies abroad, Ndiwalana joined an emerging crop of African graduates that seem to be reversing the continent’s long-running brain drain problem. It’s a trend that offers some hope of bridging the continent’s huge skills gap. Nearly 70% of African MBA students at the top 10 US and European schools planned to return home and work after graduation, found a survey by Jacana Partners, a pan-African private equity firm. Another study shows nine in ten African PhD students studying abroad plan to work on the continent. Motivations behind the trend are understandable given the once promising “Africa rising” narrative and the continent being home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones