Africa Media Review for October 12, 2018

Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo Confirmed as Head of the International Francophone Organisation (OIF)
Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo has been confirmed as head of the International Francophone Organisation (OIF) in favour of Canada’s outgoing Michaëlle Jean. Ms Mushikiwabo, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, was appointed Secretary General by consensus at a closed meeting on the last day of the Yerevan Summit of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), a kind of mini-UN 84 states and governments. Her appointment was not longer in doubt after her rival, Canadian outgoing Michaëlle Jean, lost his two most important supporters: Canada and Quebec.  RFI

Ebola Could Spread from DRC to Uganda, Rwanda, WHO Warns
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is expected to last another three to four months and could spread at any time to Uganda or Rwanda, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. The WHO said on Thursday that the neighbouring countries are well prepared but have not yet approved the use of a vaccine. The most concerning area is the city of Beni in the DRC’s North Kivu province, where dozens of people who may have been exposed to the disease are hiding from health workers, WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama told Reuters news agency. Salama also disclosed that the clinical trial of therapeutic Ebola treatment is under discussion and could begin in weeks. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia: Addis Ababa Incident Raises Questions over Army Loyalty
Ethiopians have been reminded of life before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Out of nowhere, mobile internet services were shut down across the capital and not a word about it on the national broadcaster. “The internet blackout (on Wednesday) caused major disruptions in the city. For hours, we had no connection to the rest of the world,” DW’s correspondent Yohannes Tarake in Addis Ababa said. This is the new Ethiopia, where Abiy Ahmed, the 42-year-old former intelligence official has introduced sweeping reforms, turning things upside down since he was elected to office six months ago. […] But his biggest challenge stems from the military, with some top brass up in arms over his reform agenda and the resulting loss of political influence. It did not take long before Army Chief of Staff Fitsum Arega dispatched a tweet to an astonished Ethiopian public. Deutsche Welle

Migration on Agenda as Italy PM Visits Ethiopia, Eritrea
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte kicked off a two-day visit to Ethiopia Thursday, where he was expected to throw his weight behind the July peace deal signed with Eritrea, his next port of call. Conte, who heads a coalition with the far-right League, is also expected to raise the question of migration. “It’s an important visit to increase the relationship between Ethiopia and Italy, and our country and all African countries in general,” Nicola Latorre, a former Italian senator told RFI. Particularly when it comes to managing migrant flows from Ethiopia to Italy. The problem is “our stance on immigration has hardened with new interior minister Matteo Salvini,” says Latorre. “He no longer wants to share the migrant burden and the Five Star movement is divided. This contest is not positive.”  RFI

‘It’s Just Slavery’: Eritrean Conscripts Wait in Vain for Freedom
Dawit was tiring, but he could not stop. An Eritrean schoolteacher on the run, he was crossing the border to Ethiopia alone at night, with only a stick to protect himself against the hyenas and the military squads who pick up runaways. He was risking his life to get out so that he could take up a scholarship in the US. In Eritrea, one of the most isolated and repressive countries in the world, young people have no future. Their choice is to undertake compulsory national service, or try to flee. Eritrea’s national service is harsh, pays a pittance and goes on indefinitely. Usually, conscripts go into the military. But Dawit had been doing his national service as a teacher for more than 13 years. The government would not let him go. The Guardian

South Sudan President Meets Visiting Opposition Leaders
President Salva Kiir met Thursday with two opposition leading members who are in Juba in a gesture of goodwill to show their commitment to the revitalized peace agreement signed on 12 September. Next week the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) will hold its first meeting in Khartoum to discuss the implementation of the activities of the pre-transitional period. The NPTC among others will discuss the protection of the opposition leaders when they return to Juba to take part in the transitional period activities. However, against all odds, Deng Alor of the Former Detainees (FDs) group, Wednesday arrived in Juba where he was welcomed at the airport by a minister and met with presidential advisers. On Thursday, the South Sudanese Presidential Press Unit announced that President Kiir received him together with the Transport Minister and his friend John Luk Jok.  Sudan Tribune

Ruling Party Takes Lead in Mozambique Local Elections
Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party took a clear lead in early results from local polls, official data shown on Thursday, as the Renamo opposition looked to gain ground ahead of next year’s general election. With 18 declared results in the 53 municipalities, Frelimo had secured 17 wins against just one for Renamo after Wednesday’s vote. Counting continued in many areas where the race was close. Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since its independence from Portugal in 1975. “These results are provisional and do not cover the whole country. We call on competitors and citizens to wait calmly for the final results,” said Paulo Cuinica, spokesperson for the National Election Commission.  AFP

Blast Kills 3 Soldiers in Central Mali
Three Malian soldiers were killed in a restive central region overnight when their vehicle hit a landmine, sources said on Thursday. The blast happened on the road between Djoungani and Koro, near the frontier with Burkina Faso, a Malian military source said. “There were three fatalities and four other soldiers were wounded,” the source said, adding that reinforcements had been sent to the area. A local official confirmed the toll and described the blast as “the work of terrorists,” a term typically used to refer to Islamist militants. Mali has been plagued by violence since 2012, when Tuareg separatists staged an uprising in the north, which was then exploited by jihadists to take over key cities in the region. AFP

Mali Not Fulfilling Its ‘Sovereign Role’ in Protecting Its People: UN Human Rights Expert
At the end of a 12-day fact-finding visit, the independent expert said that the “general climate of impunity has been aggravated by the chronic dysfunction of the judiciary with magistrates on strike for more than 70 days. “The state has not fulfilled its sovereign role in protecting property and people and bringing perpetrators of criminal acts to justice,” added Mr. Tine. He pointed to a “resurgence of confrontations between members of different communities, the settling of accounts, targeted killings, the use of explosive devices, attacks on humanitarian convoys, kidnappings, robberies, rapes and sexual violence.” This visit comes just weeks after the formation of a new government, following crucial Presidential elections. A failed military coup in 2012 to remove the then-president erupted in chaos, allowing rebel groups to seize northern parts of the country. The UN Stabilization Mission in the country, MINUSMA, has become the deadliest peacekeeping mission in the world. UN News

Egyptian Military Court Sentences 17 to Death over 2017 Church Bombings – Agency
An Egyptian military court on Thursday sentenced 17 people to death for their involvement in bombing attacks on churches in 2016 and 2017, state news agency MENA reported. MENA also said that 19 other people were handed life prison terms for the attacks which hit churches in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta.  Reuters

Former Nigerian Leader Obasanjo Backs Abubakar for President
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo threw his support behind his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, in the February presidential election in the hope of stopping incumbent Muhammadu Buhari’s bid for a second term. Obasanjo, an influential politician and former military ruler of Africa’s top oil producer, decided to support Abubakar “because the alternative is unthinkable,” he said Thursday by phone from the southwestern city of Abeokuta, where the two men met earlier in the day. “Politically it is a significant endorsement for Atiku,” Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, said by phone. “Obasanjo’s views are taken seriously across the country, especially among the elite.”  Bloomberg

Buhari Signs New Executive Order to Collect Taxes on Foreign Assets of Nigerians
The Muhammadu Buhari administration is stepping up the regulations on money laundering and tax evasion by releasing a new Executive Order tagged ‘Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS).’ The new Executive Order (008) takes effect from October 8, the day it was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari. According to a spokesperson of Mr. Buhari, Garba Shehu, by the new order, Nigerian taxpayers who hold offshore assets and income are expected to, within a period of 12 months, declare voluntarily those assets and pay taxes on them. “When they do this, they should expect to derive certain specified benefits,” Mr Shehu said in a statement Wednesday. He also said that according to the order, “any taxpayer who truthfully and voluntarily complies with the conditions of the scheme, pays a one-time levy of 35 percent on the total offshore assets or pays all outstanding taxes, penalties and interest after forensic audit of their offshore assets and income shall obtain immunity from prosecution for tax offenses and offences related to offshore assets, among others. Premium Times

Abuses and Disappearances Mar Nigerian Counter-Insurgency Campaign
Hajja Gana last saw her son six years ago when soldiers took him away in an early morning raid in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, accusing him of being a Boko Haram terrorist. She has no idea whether he is alive or dead. Gana denies that her son, Mustapha Say’ina, then aged 25, was ever a member of the jihadist group. She insists this was a case of mistaken identity, and says the soldiers addressed Say’ina by another name when they questioned him in her home and that his phone number was not on the list they had. The soldiers nevertheless beat his six-month-pregnant wife as she protested his innocence and then took him away, she said. “They said they just wanted to ask him some questions and would bring him back,” recalls Gana. “I never saw him again.”  IRIN

Chinese Investors Are Using “Opaque” Deals to Control Ghana’s Fishing Industry
Chinese control is widespread in Ghana’s industrial fishing fleets despite national legislation prohibiting foreign ownership, a new study claims. Operating through “front” Ghanaian companies, over 90% of Ghana’s industrial trawl sector is now linked to Chinese firms, the London-based Environmental Justice Foundation said. Some of these deals include hiring purchase agreements, where the license holder pays part of the acquisition price of the vessel upfront and the remaining amount in installments over a period of time. Chinese nationals also captain the majority of these vessels, and given the “opaque” proprietorship arrangements are able to avoid scrutiny from officials. Quartz

Cameroon ‘Fake’ Election Observers Mask the Truth about Reality of Presidential Polls
Presidential polls in Cameroon were given a clean bill of health by a group of Transparency International election observers on Monday, a day after voters cast their ballot. The state broadcaster CRTV reported on a press conference with six international election monitors who described the 7 October polls as “extremely good”. However, not all is what it seems and the verdict from credible observers who monitored the polls was considerably different. “We felt the tense atmosphere, but outside of that, the most important thing was to see the polling stations were open that all the candidates were represented,” said Salomon Benros, one of the observers, referring to voting in the Anglophone regions of the country.  RFI

Zimbabwe Police Arrest Union Leaders, Activists before Planned March
Zimbabwe police arrested trade union leaders and scores of activists nationwide on Thursday ahead of planned marches over the country’s worsening economic crisis, lawyers said. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda told AFP that Peter Mutasa, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – the country’s largest trade union – was among those detained, along with activists in three major towns. Mutasa had called for protests in Harare on Thursday despite a police ban on public gatherings in the capital due to a recent cholera outbreak. ZCTU planned a national strike to protest against sharp price hikes, a new tax on electronic transactions and daily shortages ranging from fuel to bread as Zimbabwe’s economy endures a fresh bout of chaos. Times Live

Pik Botha, Apartheid-Era Minister, Dies in South Africa
Pik Botha, the last foreign minister of South Africa’s apartheid era and a contradictory figure who staunchly defended white minority rule but eventually recognized that change was inevitable, died on Friday at age 86. Botha died in “the early hours of the morning” at his home after an illness, his son, Roelof, told South Africa’s eNCA news outlet. Internationally, Botha was the most visible representative of apartheid at the height of protests and sanctions against the racist rule that ended with Nelson Mandela’s election as the first black president in 1994. As such, the longtime foreign minister was vilified around the world while drawing the ire of his own boss, President P.W. Botha, when he said in 1986 that South Africa might one day have a black leader. VOA

Burundi Arrests Aid Workers for Flouting Foreign NGO Ban
Three aid workers have been arrested in Burundi for defying a government ban on foreign relief agencies announced this month, authorities said on Thursday. A Burundian and two Congolese, reportedly employed by the US-based International Rescue Committee (IRC), were arrested Wednesday in the west of the country for violating a ban imposed on October 1. “Yesterday… acting on the information of the administration, police in Muyinga surprised three IRC agents at work, despite the ban on the work of NGOs,” said Pierre Nkurikiye, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security. “All were working without special permission, they are being interrogated,” he said.  AFP

More than 30 Killed in DR Congo Gold Mine Collapse
More than 30 gold miners have died in an informal pit in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu Province after a landslide, officials said Thursday, with dozens more feared trapped. The incident happened a week ago in Misisi in the Fizi region. “There has been an accident in a gold mine in Misisi. Proper searches only began today,” said Mr Aime Mutipula, the area’s top local official, without giving a toll. “At least 37 people have died according to a provisional toll,” said Tyber Kajemba from the Governance and Peace Observatory, a non-governmental organisation which specialises in mining activities in the area. He said others were trapped “between 70 and 80 metres” underground and added that the mine was “poorly maintained”. The East African

Africa’s Youngest Billionaire Kidnapped in Tanzania
Africa’s youngest billionaire has been kidnapped by gunmen in Dar es Salaam, according to officials. Mohammed Dewji, 43, who is said to have a fortune of $1.5bn (£1.1bn) and is the president of MeTL Group, which operates in about 10 countries across sectors ranging from agriculture to transport and food, was abducted as he entered a hotel gym. The regional governor, Paul Makonda, said: “Initial information indicates he was kidnapped by whites travelling in two vehicles. This kind of incident is new here.” Lazaro Mambosasa, the Dar es Salaam police chief, told a press conference the kidnappers had “shot into the air” before bundling Dewji into a car. He said police were looking for suspects and had already made arrests. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones