Africa Media Review for October 10, 2018

Former South African Central Bank Governor Mboweni Takes Over as Finance Minister
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and appointed former central bank governor Tito Mboweni as his replacement. Nene faced calls to resign after he admitted visiting the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma who have been accused of high-level influence-peddling, and failing to disclose the meetings earlier. Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing. The rand firmed moments before Mboweni was announced finance minister at a ceremony in Cape Town. Ramaphosa said he had received a resignation letter from Nene and had decided to accept it. Reuters

Cameroon Has a Tense, Long Wait for Election Results as Social Media Claims Unverified Winners
Over the last two years, Cameroon’s government has gained a poor reputation for being repressive when it comes to internet freedoms. It’s had one of the longest-running intermittent internet shutdowns on record of 230 days between January 2017 and March 2018 as it tried to prevent political activists in the English-speaking regions of the country from using social media platforms to share information or organize. Because of this reputation, many watchers expected the government would again block the internet in the run-up to a highly contentious election in which the president, Paul Biya, 85, is looking to extend his 36-year rule by another seven years. But the government has left the internet alone—for now. Internet usage has been shaky at times, but it has by and large stayed on. High-profile pressure from internet rights organizations like Access Now and Internet Without Borders has, so far, helped to dissuade the government from disrupting connectivity like other Africa countries have done during elections. Quartz

Somalia’s Al-Shabab Says It Has Killed British Spy
Somali militant group al-Shabab says it has killed five men it accuses of spying, including one British national. The five men, aged between 22 and 36, were shot dead in a public execution on Tuesday in an area under the control of the Islamist group. According to a jihadi website, the Briton had admitted giving information to British intelligence services about al-Shabab supporters living in the UK. Another was said to be working for the Somali government. That individual is alleged to have attached a device to a vehicle in an al-Shabab convoy which had then helped American drones to carry out an air strike. Al-Shabab told Reuters news agency that three of the men were US spies who had helped guide drones to carry out strikes in Somalia. The UK, US and Somali governments have not yet commented on the reports. BBC

Iran Is New Transit Point for Somali Charcoal in Illicit Trade Taxed by Militants: UN Report
Criminal networks are using Iran as a transit point for illicit Somali charcoal exports that earn Islamist militants al Shabaab millions of dollars annually in tax, U.N. sanctions monitors said in a report seen by Reuters. In the unpublished annual report to the U.N. Security Council, the monitors add that domestic revenue generation by al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab “is more geographically diversified and systematic” than that of Somalia’s federal government. The report says that since March the main destination for shipments – using fake country of origin certificates from Comoros, Ivory Coast and Ghana – has been ports in Iran, where the charcoal is packaged into white bags labelled “Product of Iran”. “The bags were then reloaded onto smaller, Iran-flagged dhows (boats), and exported to Port Al Hamriya, Dubai, UAE, using certificates of origin falsely indicating the ‘country of manufacture’ of the charcoal as Iran,” the monitors wrote.  Reuters

Somalia: Hundreds Rally in Galkayo after an Inspiring Youth Activist Killed
In a show of ‘solidarity and demand for justice’, hundreds of Somali youths marched in the streets of Galkayo, the regional capital of Mudug province after the murder of an inspiring youth activist, Garowe Online reports. The demonstrators, including students wearing red hankie on their heads and carrying placards with slogans reading, “We want justice …We want healthcare” walked through the roads under the scorching sun before gathering a public square. Tuesday’s youth-led rally was prompted by a recent killing of Hamud Wardheere in the volatile city which straddles the border between the Somali Federal Federal Member States of Puntland and Galmaudug by unidentified assailants this week. The slaying of Wardheere has sent shockwaves among the local residents, mainly the youths who have come out in large number to voice their concern about the worsening security situation in the city and the rampant targeted assassinations. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the young man’s murder, but, the issue of revenge killings and clan feuding has been there previously. Garowe Online

Ebola Continues to Ravage Northeastern Congo
Ebola virus disease has sickened 188 people and killed 118 in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern region, the World Health Organization reported Monday. Of the total cases, 153 have been confirmed, and 35 are probable. Fifty-one people have survived the disease, according to WHO, the United Nations’ public health division. On average, Ebola — which causes fever, severe headache and in some cases hemorrhaging — kills about half of those infected, but case fatality rates in individual outbreaks have varied from 25% to 90%. “The response to the outbreak is being led by the government of the DRC, which is doing an outstanding job in an extremely difficult situation,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said at a UN Security Council meeting last week. He added that WHO has more than 200 staffers on the ground, operating out of four hubs and partnering with other organizations. CNN

Ugandan President to Meet DR Congo Counterpart over Rebel Groups
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he will meet his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart Joseph Kabila to discuss measures of wiping out rebel groups in the eastern part of the vast central African country. Museveni in a State House statement issued on Tuesday said the problems in DRC spill over not only to Uganda but also to other neighboring countries. Restive eastern DRC is a hideout of many rebel groups. Museveni said action is now needed by DRC, together with regional and international partners to establish total peace in the region. “That trinity of the DRC, Regional countries and the International Community, can work if we embark on it seriously,” he said.  Xinhua

DRC Presidential Hopeful Asks EU to Lift ‘Humiliating’ Sanctions
DRC President Joseph Kabila’s designated successor to contest the December 23 presidential election, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, on Tuesday asked the European Union to lift “humiliating, degrading and disproportionate” sanctions on him and 14 other officials. The sanctions, which include a freeze on visas that effectively prevent European travel, also affect government spokesman and Communications Minister Lambert Mende and intelligence chief Kalev Mutondo. Shadary, who was interior minister from December 2016 until the start of this year, was targeted for “human rights violations.” These sanctions “seriously undermine the image” of these people “some of whom are candidates in major elections which will take place on December 23,” their lawyers Thierry Bontinck and Patrick De Wolf said.  AFP

Zimbabwe Police Ban Protests against New Tax, Citing Cholera
Zimbabwe police will stop planned protests by the labour movement against a new tax on money transfers on Thursday because of a standing order outlawing public gatherings in the capital following a cholera outbreak, its spokesman said. The opposition has accused law officers of selectively applying the ban, saying supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa have been allowed to hold rallies in the capital while those for the opposition have been stopped. With post-election turmoil two months ago in mind, the government appears resolved to keep a lid on demonstrations in opposition urban strongholds fearing they could spiral into violence, analysts say. Six people died in that violence which followed an army crackdown.  Reuters

Pope to Visit Madagascar Next Year, Cardinal Says
Pope Francis will visit the African island nation of Madagascar next year, a cardinal from the country said on Tuesday. Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana, the archbishop of Toamasina, made the announcement at a news conference about a worldwide meeting of bishops, known as a synod, at which he is a participant. He did not say when the visit would take place but a Vatican spokesman said preparations were “well under way”. The pope told Reuters in June that Madagascar was among the countries he wanted to visit in 2019. Vatican sources said the trip would be part of a tour of several African countries. Pope John Paul visited Madagascar in 1989.  Reuters

UN Urges Algeria to Stop Expelling Migrants: Report
Algeria must immediately stop collective expulsions of African migrants across its border with Niger, a UN report said, after rights groups accused Algiers of rounding up and expelling thousands of people to the desert. Algeria has sent around 35 600 Nigeriens back to Niger since 2014, according to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures cited in the report, including more than 12 000 since the start of the year. “These collective expulsions from Algeria to Niger are in utter violation of international law,” Felipe Gonzalez Morales, UN special rapporteur on human rights for migrants, said in the report, a copy of which was provided to AFP on Tuesday. “I call on the government of Algeria to abide by its international obligation and halt with immediate effect all collective expulsions of migrants to Niger.”  AFP

UN, AU Ask S Sudan’s Warring Sides to Deliver on Peace Deal
The United Nations and African Union on Tuesday called on South Sudan’s warring parties to take concrete steps to implement the latest peace deal signed last month. Civil war in the world’s youngest country erupted in December 2013 and uprooted 4.2 million people – roughly a third of the population. “We are looking forward to further improvement in the security situation and other positive signals that can generate confidence and mobilisation from the international community,” Jean Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters, winding up a three-day visit. Lacroix visited the country with the African Union Commissioner for Peace, Smail Chergui. He went to UN-run camps for the displaced in Bentiu hosting 114 000 people. AFP

Kiir Invites Regional Leaders to Juba to Celebrate Peace Deal
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has invited all regional leaders to come to Juba to participate in a celebration of the signed revitalized peace deal towards the end of October, a top official said. The government said President Kiir’s move to invite IGAD leaders and opposition leaders to Juba is aimed at building confidence among the peace partners. On 12 September, parties to South Sudan’s conflict signed a power-sharing deal aimed at ending the civil war. South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Dau Deng said in a statement in Juba on Monday that President Kiir invited all IGAD leaders to attend peace celebrations in Juba during the meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region. Radio Tamazuj

First South Sudan River Convoy in Five Years, Delivers UN Aid to Remote Areas
For the first time since civil war erupted in South Sudan in 2013, a United Nations food convoy has managed to deliver thousands of tonnes of aid by river, to people in seven hard-to-reach locations, saving millions of dollars on costly aid flights. The World Food Programme (WFP) convoy transported just over 750 tonnes of food and nutrition supplies up the Sobat river, a major tributary of the White Nile. This meant negotiating access and security guarantees to allow safe-passage for the vessels through the Greater Upper Nile region, where thousands of South Sudanese people have been displaced by the war, said WFP. Life-saving aid for the isolated counties of Ulang, Luapiny and Nyirol, was previously only delivered by airdrop, which costs around six times more than using river or road transport.  UN News

Duke of Cambridge Recruits ‘Financial Taskforce’ to Tackle International Wildlife Crime
The Duke of Cambridge will today launch a financial task force to disrupt international money flows linked to the illegal wildlife trade as part of a British-led diplomatic effort to end the global poaching crisis. More than 30 international banks and financial institutions will pledge to train staff to identify and share intelligence on suspicious transactions linked to the illegal trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn, and other endangered species body parts. They will also sign up to an intelligence sharing financial task force led by United for Wildlife, a charity run by the Royal Foundation, and chaired by William Hague, the former foreign secretary. “Traffickers are brazenly exploiting global financial systems to move the proceeds of their crimes, remaining under the radar of investigation and law enforcement,” Lord Hague said.  The Independent

Canada and Quebec Pull Support for Michaëlle Jean for La Francophonie Top Spot
Members of la Francophonie will choose between Jean — who has held the top spot since 2014 — and Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo during the organization’s summit in Armenia on Oct. 11-12. Quebec Premier-designate Francois Legault tweeted today that his province will not support Jean and will instead join what he called the African consensus. The Rwandan minister already enjoys the support of France and the African Union. A spokesman for federal minister responsible for la Francophonie, Melanie Joly, said today in an email that Canada would rally around the consensus. Jean has been dogged by accusations of excessive spending during her time as head of la Francophonie after Quebecor media outlets reported she spent $500,000 renovating her rented Paris residence and as well as $20,000 on a piano. The Montreal Gazette

Senegal Faces Water Shortage Crisis
Along with an increasing number of countries around the world, Senegal is trying to handle a shortage of potable water. Aid agencies say a quarter of Senegal’s population lacks basic water access, with some homes completely cut off for months. The government has announced plans to build the country’s first desalinisation plant, but it is facing opposition from groups who worry about the damage to the site, considered sacred land, and the ecosystem surrounding it.  Al Jazeera

In Nigeria, Plans for the World’s Largest Refinery
On any given weekday, commuters in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, are snarled in traffic for hours.Container trucks and tankers take up several lanes of traffic on the major thoroughfares close to the city’s ports. Often these trucks have been parked on the highways overnight.Cars and minivans snake along the remaining single lane, sharing it with pedestrians fighting off early-morning road rage as they slowly make their way from one end of the city to another. There is a palpable fear of accidents, or a spill. Much of Lagos is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.It is here in this vibrant metropolis of 21 million people that Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, is undertaking his most audacious gamble yet. Mr. Dangote is building a $12 billion oil refinery on 6,180 acres of swampland that, if successful,— could transform Nigeria’s corrupt and underperforming petroleum industry. It is an entrenched system that some say has contributed to millions languishing in poverty and bled the “giant of Africa’’ for decades. Planned as the world’s largest refinery, Mr. Dangote’s project is set in a free-trade zone between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lekki Lagoon, an hour outside the city center. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones