Africa Media Review for November 4, 2016

Hundreds Feared Dead in Refugee Shipwrecks Off Libya
As many as 239 people are feared dead in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Carlotta Sami, a UNHCR spokeswoman in Italy, said 31 survivors of two shipwrecks who arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa reported that the rubber dinghies they were traveling in had capsized on Wednesday in heavy seas shortly after leaving Libya. The first dinghy – which carried around 140 people, including six children and about 20 women, some pregnant – sank when wooden planks laid at the bottom broke, causing the dinghy to capsize 40km off the Libyan coast, the UNHCR said. Twenty-nine people were rescued and 12 bodies were recovered. Al Jazeera

Amnesty International: Italy Has Violated Migrants’ Human Rights Under EU Pressure
Italy has committed human rights abuses that may amount to torture as it tries to process tens of thousands of boat migrants, Amnesty International said on Thursday, prompting a sharp denial from the national police chief. The report included allegations of beatings, electric shocks and sexual humiliation in a handful of cases involving mainly African migrants who resisted having their fingerprints taken. Italian police chief Franco Gabrielli dismissed the accusations, saying his officers, who work alongside EU officials and human rights groups in the migration centres, had shown enormous responsibility in dealing with the crisis. Mail and Guardian

Chinese Replaces Kenyan Commander in Juba
The Kenyan commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan is now “on leave,” and a Chinese military officer has been named acting commander, a UN spokesman has said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had called on Tuesday for the sacking of Lt-Gen Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya following the release of an investigative report. It documented failures at the top of the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) in responding to attacks in July on its headquarters and on civilian compounds in Juba. Lt-Gen Ondieki has been replaced on an acting basis by Maj-Gen Chaoying Yang, the Unmiss deputy commander, UN spokesman Stephen Dujarric said. The East African

Kenya Deports South Sudan Rebel Leader’s Spokesman to Juba
The Kenyan government in collaboration with South Sudanese authorities has deported the spokesperson of armed opposition leader, Riek Machar to the capital Juba, in a new shift in relations between the two countries. Relatives told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that James Gatdet Dak,l was picked on Wednesday afternoon in what a appears to have been a coordinated operation organised by the special service of Kenya and South Sudan and taken to the airport where he was allowed to speak to his some of family members and relatives. Sudan Tribune

Kenya Accuses United Nations of Scapegoating
Kenya has accused the United Nations of scapegoating – and took a personal dig at the Secretary General as it rejected the findings of an independent commission of inquiry that recommended the replacement of a Kenyan Force Commander to the UN mission in South Sudan. The inquiry investigating the response of UN peacekeepers to at attack on the Terrain Hotel Compound in Juba in July, found that a lack of leadership on the part of key senior mission personnel culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence. In response, Nairobi said it would withdraw its over 1000 troops from the mission and disengage from the peace process in South Sudan. SABC

Burundi MPs Call for Bringing Troops Back from Somalia
Burundian lawmakers have asked the government to call back all its troops performing duties in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The parliament on Thursday summoned Defense Minister Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye and Police Commissioner Alain Guillaume Bunyoni to answer questions about the Burundian peacekeeping force. “It’s been 10 months our troops in Somalia have not been paid, the EU now refuses to send their salaries via the Burundian government … we think it’s time to bring them back,” Victor Burikukiye, president of a parliamentary committee on security and defense, said. Anadolu Agency

Has Zuma Met His Match? Damning Report Details South African President’s Corruption
Political drama isn’t a U.S. monopoly these days. In South Africa, a scandal involving the government and a powerful business family could usher in the downfall of the embattled president. And in a country where corruption is the flavor of the day, South Africa’s independent public protector watchdog seems one of the few bright lights in an otherwise dark political storm, offering a much-needed example these days of a state institution that’s strong enough to resist political interference. On Wednesday, a damning 355-page corruption penned by former public protector Thuli Madonsela dropped like a bombshell. The report outlined a unique type of deeply-rooted corruption known as “state capture,” where business moguls get the government to shape emerging laws, financial regulations, and rules of the game to their advantage. Foreign Policy

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s $50 Billion Burden?
It is the question on the lips of many South Africans: how much is Jacob Zuma’s crisis-ridden leadership costing them? Measured by the rand, the answer may be as much as $50 billion. When Zuma, whose seven years in office have been marked by scandal and economic stagnation, withdrew a last-ditch court bid this week to block a watchdog report on alleged influence-peddling, the currency jumped 1 percent against the dollar. It gained further when the Pretoria High Court ordered the report by the constitutionally mandated Public Protector to be released by close of business – before retreating again when its contents failed to deliver a killer blow to Zuma. Reuters

Zuma Faces Demands to Quit After Graft Probe Suggests Crimes
South African President Jacob Zuma is under increasing pressure to quit after the nation’s graft ombudsman ordered a judicial inquiry into possible criminal and corrupt dealings between government officials and the prominent Gupta family. After thousands protested Wednesday against state corruption in Pretoria, the capital, a 355-page report said Zuma and some ministers may have breached the government’s code of ethics in their relationship with the family, who are Zuma’s friends and in business with his son. It details allegations that the Guptas may have influenced the appointment of cabinet members and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and Duduzane Zuma. Bloomberg

Niger Delta: Navy Deploys 4 Warships, 3,400 Troops
The Nigerian Navy has deployed four warships and 3,400 troops to tackle piracy, oil theft and vandalism of critical oil and gas installations at the nation’s maritime environment. Rear Adm. James Oluwole, the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, announced the deployment, codenamed “Exercise Sharkbite’’ on Thursday in Onne, Rivers. The warships deployed for the exercise were the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana, NNS Ologbo, NNS Burutu, NNS Sagbama, and a naval Augusta helicopter. He said that the two-day exercise would also serve as avenue to check combat readiness of troops to tackle militant attacks on oil and gas installations which plunged the nation into recession. Daily Post Nigeria

Nigeria Makes Progress on Long-delayed Plan to Share Oil Wealth
Nigeria’s Senate has moved forward a first piece of much-delayed legislation to tackle long-standing problems in managing the nation’s oil wealth, aiming to agree details for full consideration in just four weeks, lawmakers said. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), stuck in parliament for a decade, aims to tackle everything from an overhaul of state oil company NNPC to taxes on upstream projects in a sector riddled with corruption. The Senate, Parliament’s upper house, gave initial approval in the second reading late on Wednesday to the draft plan to overhaul the state oil industry, a procedural move that allows the bill to move forward, MPs said. SABC

74,000 Nigerian Refugees Registered in Cameroon: UN
Around 74,000 refugees from Nigeria fleeing violence committed by Boko Haram have registered in Cameroon this year, according to a UN report. United Nations Coordinator in Cameroon and United Nations Development Programme Cameroon Representative Najat Rochdi said recently Cameroon had received 74,618 refugees from Nigeria by the end of October. The refugees are settling in a secured camp in Minawa of Far North Region, which has been frequently attacked by Boko Haram since 2013. Xinhua

Zimbabweans Sleeping Outside Banks
Zimbabweans are not taking their chances with their money with the impending introduction of bond notes, which are designed to ease the country’s cash shortage.  Images of depositors sleeping outside a bank to wait for bank opening hours to withdraw their money has been shared on Twitter. Central bank governor John Mangudya said in May that the notes will be backed by $200m (£140m) support from the Africa Export-Import Bank. The specially-designed two, five, 10 and 20 dollar notes will have the same value as their US dollar equivalents. Zimbabwe introduced the US dollar after ditching its own currency in 2009 following sustained hyperinflation. BBC

Burkina Faso Mining Lost $1 Billion to Graft in Decade: Parliament
Burkina Faso lost nearly a billion dollars to corruption and mismanagement in the mining sector in the decade leading up to the fall of Blaise Compaore and the year after he was forced out, according to a parliamentary inquiry. The committee announced its findings late on Tuesday after a three-month investigation and called for charges to be brought against three ex-ministers as well as the former president’s brother, Francois Compaore. None of the ex-officials named in the report, who are living in exile in neighboring Ivory Coast, could be reached for comment. Reuters

Burkina Faso President Calls on Army to Remain ‘Neutral’
Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Tuesday implored the country’s army to respect the “rule of law”. The impoverished, landlocked west African country has been blighted by numerous coups and mutinies since gaining independence from France in 1960. Ten days ago the government claimed it had thwarted another coup plot earlier in the month led by troops loyal to former president Blaise Compaore, who was chased from power two years ago following a popular revolt. “Democracy needs a strong and republican army, an army that conforms to the rules and to the demands of the rule of law, and which doesn’t act as if in a state of emergency,” Kabore told soldiers gathered in the capital Ouagadougou for celebrations marking the 56th anniversary of the country’s armed forces (FAN). The Guardian

Equatorial Guinea’s VP Obiang’s Cars Seized in Switzerland
Prosecutors in Switzerland have seized luxury cars belonging to the vice-president of Equatorial Guinea, who they are investigating for corruption. Teodorin Obiang Nguema, the son of the country’s president, is accused of money laundering. He has not commented. Swiss authorities have seized 11 cars in total. Among them was reportedly a Porsche valued at more than $830,000 (£667,000) and a Bugatti Veyron which sells for $2m (£1.7m). The accused is due in court next year in France on similar charges, which he denies. BBC

Angola Seeks Smooth Exit for Kabila in DR Congo
Angola said Wednesday that a date must be set for presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo that will allow a smooth handover of power from President Joseph Kabila. Angola and France will be leading a Security Council visit to the DR Congo next week to meet with President Kabila, opposition leaders and civil society in a bid to ease tensions over the holding of the vote. “I want the elections to be set, to be done orderly and then let someone else continue to run the country,” Angola’s Ambassador Ismael Gaspar Martins told reporters. “I think that is doable,” said the ambassador. The East African

Ebola Evolved Into Deadlier Enemy During the African Epidemic
The Ebola epidemic that tore through West Africa in 2014 claimed 11,310 lives, far more than any previous outbreak. A combination of factors contributed to its savagery, among them a mobile population, crumbling public health systems, official neglect and hazardous burial practices. But new research suggests another impetus: The virus may have evolved a new weapon against its human hosts. In studies published on Thursday in the journal Cell, two teams of scientists report that a genetic mutation may have made Ebola more deadly by improving the virus’s ability to enter human cells. The researchers do not yet understand exactly how it works, but several lines of evidence suggest it helped expand the scope of the epidemic. One alarming finding: Patients infected with the mutated version of Ebola were significantly more likely to die. The New York Times

Liberian Opposition Sign Coalition Deal
Three opposition parties in Liberia signed a deal late Wednesday to unseat President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party in 2017 elections. Former President Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP), the Congress for Democratic Change of former football star George Weah and the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP) agreed to collaborate and field presidential and vice presidential candidates. Opposition parties have previously struggled to form a viable coalition due to a lack of agreement by their various leaders over who should head the anti-government effort. Anadolu Agency

Massive Cyber-attack Grinds Liberia’s Internet to a Halt
The entire internet infrastructure of the African nation of Liberia has been brought to a grinding halt after it was targeted by hackers using the same weapon that caused the largest cyber-attack in history just two weeks ago. The attack was a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, in which a network of infected computers – a botnet – is directed to bombard its target with traffic, overloading its servers. The weapon used in the October attack, the Mirai botnet, was particularly effective because it harnessed infected, internet-connected devices such as DVR players and digital cameras. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones