Africa Media Review for November 29, 2018

Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector: Uganda’s Experience
In an interview with the Africa Center, Stephen Twebaze, a researcher on African parliaments and advisor to the Ugandan legislature, says that when members of parliament see themselves as constituent representatives rather than deployed cadres of their political parties, parliaments can exercise effective oversight even when they are dominated by the governing party. Twebaze has collected, analyzed, and published performance indicators on the Uganda parliament since 1986. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Uganda Diverted Weapons to South Sudan, New Report Says
A key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted European weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report says. It also asks how a U.S. military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls. The London-based Conflict Armament Research report , released on Thursday, raises questions about Uganda’s support for neighboring South Sudan’s government even as it promotes itself as a neutral negotiator in one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts. South Sudan’s warring sides signed the peace agreement in September to end a five-year civil war that has killed nearly 400,000 people. Previous deals have collapsed in gunfire. The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan. AP

Audit Finds UN Refugee Agency Critically Mismanaged Donor Funds in Uganda
The UN’s refugee agency wasted tens of millions of dollars in Uganda in 2017, overpaying for goods and services, awarding major contracts improperly, and failing to avoid fraud, corruption, and waste, according to a damning internal probe. The audit, by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, found multiple areas of mismanagement that were UNHCR’s responsibility, such as a $7.9 million contract for road repairs awarded to a contractor with no experience in road construction, and questionable payments to trucking and bus companies worth $7.7 million. It noted “pervasive non-compliance” with regulations on “vast sums” spent on water trucking and that UNHCR paid at least $10 million more VAT than it needed to.  IRIN

Nigeria Leader Tries to Rally Troops after Extremist Attacks
Shocked by deadly extremist attacks on soldiers in recent days, Nigeria’s president on Wednesday backed off past declarations that Boko Haram has been defeated and urged the military to “rise to the challenge” and wipe the Islamist group’s fighters “from the surface of the Earth.” President Muhammadu Buhari addressed security leaders in the turbulent northeast as he faces growing criticism ahead of next year’s election over the government’s failure to end what he called a “must-win war.” Opposition lawmakers have said a Nov. 18 assault on a military base killed 44 soldiers. The Islamic State West Africa Province, the largest Islamic State-linked extremist group in Africa and a recent Boko Haram offshoot, asserted responsibility.  AP

West African Leaders Meet to Tackle Boko Haram Upsurge
Leaders of three West African nations will meet in Chad on Thursday to discuss how to tackle a recent increase in activity by Boko Haram jihadist fighters in the region, the Chadian presidency told AFP. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou will meet behind closed doors with their Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby for a “mini summit” after which a statement will be issued. The armies of the three countries, along with Cameroon’s, are operating in the Lake Chad region in the Multinational Joint Task Force ( MNJTF) to counter the Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram, More than 27 000 people have died since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency, which began in Nigeria’s remote northeast in 2009. Some 1.8 million people are still homeless after fleeing the violence.  AFP

Resurgence of Terrorist Attacks in Nigeria Ahead of Elections
There are reports of at least 17 attempts to overrun army bases since July. Most of them took place in the northeast state of Borno, the epicenter of the nine-year conflict. An attack last weekend on a base in Metele village, near the border with Niger, killed around 100 soldiers. The government concealed the true toll for days, only admitting to the high number of dead after protests by soldiers. Nigerian analyst Kabiru Adamu says there are several reasons for the increase of attacks by Islamist terrorists. A major one is the underfunding of the Chad-based Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF), made up of Cameroon, Chad, Benin, Niger and Nigeria. “Nigeria has been bankrolling the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force with minimal support from international partners,” the analyst told DW. This summer, Chad and Niger pulled out troops they had stationed in Nigeria, allowing the terrorists to “carry out their attacks and then withdraw to their strongholds in the Chad Basin area” – according to Adamu.  Deutsche Welle

Nigerian Opposition Aims to Outflank Buhari with Regional Gambit
The main challenger in Nigeria’s election next year aims to outflank Muhammadu Buhari by campaigning in a sometimes neglected part of the country where the president is deeply unpopular: the southeast. With a tight race in prospect, a strong showing there could give Atiku Abubakar the votes he needs to deny Buhari, a former military ruler, a second four-year term as the elected leader of one of Africa’s most powerful nations. Abubakar is targeting regional voters – who are mostly members of the Igbo ethnic group – through his choice of a local running mate and policies designed to meet calls for autonomy. The numbers are tempting. There were 7.5 million registered voters in the five states of the southeast out of 67.4 million nationwide at the last election, in 2015. Reuters

Ailing Gabonese President Calls on Government to Join Him at Hospital Bedside in Rabat
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo travels to Morocco on Wednesday to continue medical treatment after being hospitalised in Saudi Arabia. Bongo’s wife said on Tuesday that her husband’s health had improved and he would “pursue his convalescence” in Rabat following an invitation by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. “This transfer to Saudi Arabia to Morocco has been made possible following a significant improvement in the health of the president,” Sylvie Bongo wrote in a Facebook post. “My husband intends to take advantage of this brief period of convalescence to regain his full physical abilities, as well as to work on the most important issues for our country Gabon.”  RFI

China Says 8,000-Strong UN Peacekeeping Standby Force Ready
China said Thursday it has assembled a standby force of thousands of United Nations peacekeepers, furthering its leading role in the global body’s efforts to tamp down conflicts worldwide. Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang told reporters at a monthly briefing that the 8,000-member force had passed an assessment last month approved by U.N. Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. That fulfills a pledge made at the U.N. three years ago by Chinese President Xi Jinping. China provides the most peacekeepers of any permanent U.N. Security Council member and is the second-largest contributor to the operations’ multibillion dollar budget, at slightly over 10 percent. The United States is the largest contributor to peacekeeping, but deploys only 50 officers to U.N. missions. AP

AFRICOM: US Airstrike in Somalia Targets Al-Shabab
A U.S. military airstrike Tuesday in Somalia killed three al-Shabab militants, according to the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The U.S. conducted numerous strikes in the same region of Qay Ad, near Dabad Shil, in Mudug region on November 19 and 20, killing 50 al-Shabab fighters. Local sources told VOA Somali that the latest strike targeted al-Shabab vehicles. The sources say the vehicles belonged to Abdishakur Mohamed Mire, a junior al-Shabab military commander. There was no confirmation on whether Mire was traveling in one of the vehicles at the time. Africa Command said Tuesday’s airstrike did not “injure or kill any civilians.”  VOA

AFRICOM Boss Travels to Somalia for High-Level Talks
America’s top commander for Africa made a rare visit to war-torn Somalia, meeting with local leaders to discuss security in a country where U.S. forces quietly serve in a fight against militants. U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser also met Tuesday with the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, who is in the process of establishing a permanent American diplomatic mission. A decade ago, such high-level talks inside Somalia involving top American officials were virtually unthinkable. U.S. military operations in the country were still a closely guarded secret and diplomatic efforts were minimal, given the widespread chaos in the country and the lack of a central government. Stars and Stripes

Heavy Security in Harare as Zimbabweans Protest ‘Cocktail of Lies’ amid Economic Decline
Zimbabweans are gathering for a nationwide protest over the country’s economic collapse and what the opposition calls the new government’s “cocktail of lies”. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is under growing pressure one year after taking office following the removal of longtime leader Robert Mugabe. Tensions remain high after July’s disputed election that Mnangagwa narrowly won. Zimbabwe’s government is struggling to even arrange a reliable currency as many citizens in the southern African nation say they’ve seen no progress on promises of “jobs, job, jobs.” There is heavy security in the capital, Harare, as opposition supporters sing anti-government songs. AP

Zimbabwe Left with Less than a Week of Fuel Supplies
Poor planning by the Zimbabwe government has resulted in the country facing dwindling fuel supplies. For the past two weeks there have been long, winding queues countrywide. The most affected are motorists with petrol-driven engines. At a queue that stretched for a kilometer in Bulawayo’s central business district, Charles Moyo told TimesLIVE on Wednesday morning that he had spent the greater part of his night waiting for fuel. “I spent the whole night in this queue. It’s now morning I have to go to work so my daughter who just finished exams will come and take over. There’s hope that by midday there will be fuel because this is the only station that has been consistent since the shortages started a few months ago,” said Moyo, a builder by profession. Times Live

Ethiopia: Oromo Parties, ODP and ODF Merge Ahead of 2020 Vote
Ethiopia’s Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), which is part of the ruling coalition has formalised its merged with the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), which recently returned from exile. Oromia state president, Lemma Megersa, who is ODP’s deputy chair signed a memorandum of understanding with ODF’s chair, Lencho Leta on Wednesday. The merger could play a significant role in the Oromia region, where the largest ethnic group (Oromos), have agitated for political power in recent years. Addisu Arega, ODP’s rural political mobilization head said the two parties will establish a technical committee that will share more details of merging strategy and policy programs. Africa News

Rwandan Dissident Draws US Congressional Support
U.S. congressional lawmakers are pressing Rwanda’s government against incarcerating dissident politician Diane Rwigara, who faces up to 22 years in prison after being convicted of inciting insurrection and forgery. Diane Rwigara, a former presidential candidate, is scheduled to be sentenced December 6, along with her mother, Adeline Rwigara. Both women were tried November 7, with the elder Rwigara convicted of insurrection and promoting ethnic hatred. They had been detained by police in October 2017 and jailed for a year but released on bail last month, prior to trial. They remain at home in Kigali, the capital city, under travel restrictions. “Peaceful political expression is not a crime. Running for office is not a crime,” the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission — a bipartisan congressional caucus named for its co-founder — said in a tweet posted earlier Monday. VOA

Regional SADC Force Ends Lesotho Mission
Some 200 soldiers deployed a year ago to bolster security in Lesotho after the killing of the country’s top army commander have left the landlocked kingdom, an official said on Wednesday. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc, deployed a force after Khoantle Motsomotso was shot dead in barracks by officers from a perceived rival faction. The shootout occurred two months after elections and rocked hopes of ushering in a new era of stability in the volatile country. The seven-nation SADC force, which included 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers and 24 police officers, was deployed for an initial six months which was later extended to a year.  AFP

Ivory Coast Creates Task Force to Monitor China-Backed Projects
Ivory Coast will create a panel to monitor the execution of close to $6 billion of projects in the West African nation, according a government spokesman.While the country and its continental peers are benefiting from Beijing-backed investment for the provision of much-need infrastructure, China’s growing influence has also generated complaints about its preference for loans and the use of its own nationals to work on the projects. Bilateral agreements between Ivory Coast and China include the financing of 14 projects, of which the average level of completion is 43 percent, government spokesman Sidi Toure told reporters Wednesday in the commercial capital, Abidjan. The programs include the extension of the city’s port to the construction of an industrial park.  Bloomberg

Racism against Black People in EU ‘Widespread and Entrenched’
People of African descent are facing “widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion” across the European Union, a study suggests. Race-related violence, discriminatory police profiling, and discrimination in the search for jobs and housing were commonplace for many, the EU’s agency for fundamental rights (FRA) said. Finland had the highest rates of race-related harassment and violence while the UK had amongst the lowest. The FRA urged countries to take action. “It is a reality both shameful and infuriating: racism based on the colour of a person’s skin remains a pervasive scourge throughout the European Union,” FRA director Michael O’Flaherty said in the foreword to the report.  BBC

Ethiopia Overtakes Dubai as Top Feeder of Air Traffic to Africa
Ethiopia has overtaken Dubai as a conduit for long-haul passengers to Africa, highlighting the success of the state airline’s expansion drive and the reforms of its new prime minister. Travel consultancy ForwardKeys said on Wednesday Addis Ababa airport had increased the number of international transfer passengers to sub-Saharan Africa for five years in a row, and in 2018 had surpassed Dubai, one of the world’s busiest airports, as the transfer hub for long-haul travel to the region. Analyzing data from travel booking systems that record 17 million flight bookings a day, ForwardKeys found the number of long-haul transfers to sub-Saharan Africa via Addis Ababa jumped by 85 percent from 2013 to 2017. Transfers via Dubai over the same period rose by 31 percent. So far this year, Addis Ababa’s growth is 18 percent, versus 3 percent for Dubai. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones