Africa Media Review for October 2, 2020

Amnesty Slams Guinea’s Lethal Protest Crackdown
Guinea has failed to hold security forces accountable for the lethal crackdown on anti-government protests since last year, Amnesty International said on Thursday, ahead of this month’s presidential poll. At least 50 people were killed during protests against President Alpha Conde between October 2019 and July 2020 in the West African state, the rights group said in a report. At least another 70 were arrested over the same period, or held in detention incommunicado, “for only exercising their right to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly and denouncing authoritarian excesses of power,” it added. The report comes ahead of the October 18 presidential election in Guinea, where Conde is running for a controversial third presidential term. Mass protests against that possibility began in October last year, but the president defied opposition and pushed through a new constitution in March, allowing him to reset the two-term presidential limit to zero. AFP

Central African Republic: Elections Are ‘Unique Opportunity’ for Peace – Guterres
The UN Secretary-General has called for parties in the Central African Republic (CAR) to prioritize national dialogue and consensus-building ahead of elections scheduled to begin in December. “The coming period will be decisive for the country,” António Guterres told a high-level meeting on the country, held on Thursday. His remarks were shared after the meeting, which was held behind closed doors. “The presidential, legislative and local elections represent a unique opportunity for national reconciliation and the consolidation of peace, as well as the country’s constitutional order and democratic achievements.” … The Secretary-General said the elections also constitute a crucial step for the continuity of the political process, and he upheld the February 2019 accord as “the only viable framework” for lasting peace in the country. UN News

Pentagon Calls for New Cooperation with Algeria to Counteract Growing Russian Influence in Africa
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper met with leaders in the capital of Algeria on Thursday, making a rare high-level American visit to the largely isolated North African nation. The Pentagon chief, during a stop on his first official tour of African countries, spent about five hours in Algiers, meeting with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and laying a wreath at a memorial honoring Algerians who died in the country’s war for independence from France. “All Americans have a soft spot in their heart for a people who want and pursue and fight for their own liberty,” Esper said following lunch at the presidential palace in the hills above the Mediterranean. … Pentagon officials say they see an opening to expand U.S. defense ties with Algeria and, they hope, counteract growing Russian influence across Africa. … Algeria’s long-standing defense ties with Moscow offer a template for what U.S. officials fear will become more the norm across Africa, as Russia pours weapons, mercenaries and money into nations on the fringes of Europe and elsewhere. The Washington Post

Ethiopia Region Arrests 503 on Feared Violence at Weekend Festival
Police in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region have arrested 503 people on accusations they planned to cause violence during an annual thanksgiving festival this weekend and seized guns and hand grenades, the state-run news agency reported. State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting also reported on Friday that police and intelligence services had foiled what they said were plans to incite violence in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia ahead of the Irreecha festival of the Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group. The latest arrests happened a week after Ethiopia’s attorney general said about 2,000 people had been charged over deadly violence after the killing of popular Oromo musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa in June. … Last year’s Irreecha festival in Addis Ababa was held peacefully amid tight security. But in 2016, a stampede, triggered by a clash between police and protesters, at the capital’s celebrations left more than 50 dead. Reuters

Sudan to Strike Peace with Rebels after Decades of War
Sudan’s government and rebels are set to sign a landmark peace deal in a bid to end decades of war in which hundreds of thousands have died – an historic achievement if it holds. Ending Sudan’s internal conflicts has been a top priority of the transition government in power since last year’s removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir amid a popular uprising. Both sides are due to sign the deal in full on Saturday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, after putting their initials on the agreement at the end of last month. The location of the ceremony holds great significance – South Sudan’s leaders themselves battled Khartoum as rebels for decades, before establishing the world’s newest nation-state. “This is a historic day. We hope that the signing will end the fighting forever and pave the way for development,” Suleiman al-Dabailo, chairman of Sudan’s Peace Commission, told the AFP news agency. AFP

The Arrest and Release of Filmmaker Hajooj Kuka Shows Sudan’s Revolution Is Not Over
Renowned filmmaker Hajooj Kuka and four artists were released today from prison in Khartoum, almost two weeks after the group and six other artists were arrested in the Sudanese capital. After his release, Kuka told VICE News that the fight for justice would continue, so that the Sudanese people “will be able to create art, we will be able to have freedom of speech, and move on.” “The big thing that we hope will come through this also is getting rid of all these rules that could be used against us, and also, finding ways to protect first art and artists,” Kuka said. “Right now, the remainders of the old regime still use these laws that exist, and [there are] folks within the police, the judiciary, the prosecution office, that still believe in the old ways. Despite the release of Kuka, Duaa Tarig Mohamed Ahmed, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hamdan, Ayman Khalaf Allah Mohamed Ahmed and Ahmed Elsadig Ahmed Hammad, concerns about freedom and justice in post revolution Sudan endure. Six other artists remain imprisoned, awaiting appeal. Vice

Inequality Seen as a Root Cause of West Africa’s Sahel Crisis
Unequal access to wealth is one of the main causes of worsening violence in West Africa’s Sahel, which has forced millions to flee their homes, conflict analysts said on Thursday. While Islamist groups are active in the troubled region, just south of the Sahara desert, the unrest is driven more by inequality than poverty or religious beliefs, found a study commissioned by the aid group Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “Community members are saying, ‘We see people in the capital cities who have all this wealth but in these rural areas we don’t have any of this,’” said Patrick Williams, CRS programme manager for the Sahel Peace Initiative. “It’s not that people are poor, it’s that the wealth, the resources that are there, aren’t equitably managed and shared,” Williams told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. … The wealthiest 1% of West Africans own more than everyone else in the region combined, and their governments are doing the least in Africa to reduce inequality through policies like taxation and social spending, Oxfam said last year. Reuters

Total Warns of Islamic State Instability Risk in Mozambique
Total SE Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne called on European nations to help Mozambique fight an insurgency, backed by Islamic State, in part of the East African nation where the energy company is developing a natural gas project. For more than a month, militants have occupied a town about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of where a group led by Total plan to spend $20 billion to extract gas from below the ocean and export it to European and Asian customers. The violence, including alleged human rights violations by security forces, is now creeping toward Total’s Mozambique LNG project in the far northeast of the company. Bloomberg

How China’s Addiction to Coal Is Ravaging Zimbabwe’s Environment
Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is one of the world’s most diverse game reserves, home to over 100 mammals and 400 species of birds. Among its most important residents are the last of the critically-endangered black rhino population, which have been decimated in recent years as a result of poaching and environmental impacts. So it’s the last place you’d expect to find a group of Chinese men drilling core samples for coal. … Once the mining in Hwange National Park hit the international news Sept. 3 and caused a huge uproar, the government quickly backed down a few days later, announcing it would ban all mining activities in national parks in the country. The world cheered the news, but VICE News has learned that the praise may have been premature. On Tuesday, the High Court in Harare threw out a legal challenge brought against the two mining companies, meaning the mining rights remain in place and, despite the government’s declaration last week, no legal or legislative papers have been produced to put the ban into effect. Vice

Alleged North Korean Sanctions Violations in DRC Draw Scrutiny
Business and banking dealings by North Koreans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo appear to violate numerous international sanctions, according to watchdog groups who say Pyongyang is taking advantage of the DRC’s lax bank system. A report in August by Sentry, a Washington D.C.-based organization that tracks money which finances conflict in Africa found that in 2018 two North Korean businessmen traveled to the DRC on non-commercial visas, set up a construction firm, opened a bank account and were awarded contracts for numerous projects including building government-funded statues. Investigators say the report shows that North Korea is seeking out parts of the world where it can operate secretly and obtain foreign currency otherwise unavailable to the secretive and internationally-isolated government. VOA

Ghana Records over 11,000 Cybercrime Cases since 2019
Ghana has so far recorded a total of 11,550 cases of cybercrimes since launching its Cybercrime Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC) in October 2019. This, according to the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, has been achieved as a result of the enhancement of the work of the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) with that of the PoC. The PoC was launched in October 2019 by the Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to facilitate the reporting of cybercrime and cybersecurity incidents by the public. Speaking at the formal opening of the 2020 National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the launch of the Child Online Protection (COP) Portal in Accra on Thursday, October 1, 2020, Dr Antwi-Boasiako, said the Points of Contact are especially crucial as it will augment the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Reporting Portal. Graphic Online

South Africa Reopens to International Flights Amid Virus
South Africa has reopened to international flights, ending a more than six-month ban on international travel that was part of its restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. A Lufthansa plane from Germany was the first international flight to arrive Thursday morning at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. Flights from Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe quickly followed. Airports in Cape Town and Durban have also resumed international traffic. … After imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to combat COVID-19 at the end of March, South Africa has been gradually relaxing its restrictions. The country has passed its first peak of the disease, according to experts, and has reported 674,000 confirmed cases, including 16,734 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. South Africa has nearly half of the total of 1.4 million cases reported by Africa’s 54 countries. AP

Tunisia Reports Daily Coronavirus Record of 1308 Cases
Tunisia recorded 1,308 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the health ministry said on Friday, a record since the start of the pandemic, prompting the government to impose a night curfew in two governorates. The total number of cases has jumped to around 20,000 compared with roughly 1,000 cases before the country’s borders were opened on June 27. The total number of deaths has reached 271, the Health Ministry said. The authorities on Thursday imposed a night curfew in Sousse and Monastir, two coastal governorates, to curb the increase in infections, amid fears that hospitals will be unable to cope with a high number of patients because of the shortage of intensive care beds. Reuters

Nigerian Scientists Have Developed a COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate but Need Funding for Human Trials
There have also been concerns that since the vaccines were developed mostly with data from non-African populations it may result in a low vaccine efficacy for Africans. To that end, scientists in Nigeria have developed a new vaccine candidate which they say is optimized for the African population. The vaccine has undergone a successful pre-clinical trial but the human trial is being delayed due to a lack of funds. The new vaccine candidate was developed by professor Christian Happi, a molecular biologist and genomicist, with his research team at the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) in Nigeria. ACEGID is a WHO and Africa CDC Reference Laboratory for genomic research in Africa. The ACEGID Covid-19 vaccine is said to have gone through the required preclinical trial to test the vaccine’s efficacy and toxicity on mice before testing it on humans after working with partners at Cambridge University. Quartz Africa

Nigeria at 60: Civil Society Actors, Youth Leaders, Journalists Demand Transparency, Responsiveness in Governance
As Nigeria marked its 60 years of independence on Thursday, youth leaders, civil society actors, journalists and other stakeholders have decried the country’s failure to tackle critical problems such as impunity and corruption by public officials. Speakers at the Fix Nigeria National Youth Conference, an initiative of the Ernest and Ibrahim Foundation, on Thursday in Abuja, spoke on how lack of accountability and transparency from different sectors had aided bad governance. … According to the Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Nigeria ranked second most corrupt ECOWAS country and is rated 146th of 180 countries. “Transparency and accountability are the bedrock of good governance,” said Shola Olapade, a leadership and government consultant who spoke first at the event. Reducing corruption and strengthening accountability at all levels of the government and ladder of the society are recipes for effective governance, added Mr Olapade. Premium Times

Remembering Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti: Nigeria’s ‘Lioness of Lisabi’
On February 18, 1977, approximately 1,000 soldiers stormed a compound in Lagos. It belonged to the famed Afrobeat musician and critic of Nigeria’s military government, Fela Kuti. During the raid, Kuti’s 76-year-old mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was thrown from a second-storey window. She sustained injuries from which she never recovered and died at the General Hospital in Lagos on April 13, 1978. At least two Nigerian news outlets reported her death with the headline: “Fela’s Mum is Dead.” But Ransome-Kuti was not just “Fela’s mum.” The anti-colonial activist and feminist was, in many ways, the mother of the nation. … As the leader of the AWU [Abeokuta Women’s Union], in the years before Nigeria declared independence from Britain in 1960, Ransome-Kuti often spoke to British district officials to explain her organisation’s position – best captured by their slogan “no to taxation without representation.” At the meetings, she would speak in the Yoruba language, leaving officials scrambling for an interpreter. Al Jazeera

20 Best African Films – Ranked
As the UK’s leading African film festivals showcase the past decade’s classics online, we pick 20 great landmarks from the continent’s dazzling movie-making history. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones