Africa Media Review for October 25, 2018

Ethiopia Appoints First Female President in Its Modern History in Latest Reform
Ethiopia’s Parliament on Thursday approved the East African country’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, a veteran of the United Nations and the diplomatic corps. The position of president is ceremonial in Ethiopia, with executive power vested in the office of the prime minister. But the appointment is deeply symbolic and follows up on last week’s cabinet reshuffle. Half the ministers are now women in Africa’s second-most populous country. “In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life,” tweeted Fitsum Arega, the prime minister’s chief of staff and de facto government spokesman. Parliament accepted the resignation of Mulatu Teshome, who had served as president since 2013. The Washington Post

New Report Exposes Pervasive Risks, Political Control in S Sudan Banking Sector
A set of banks has been hijacked for the personal benefit of leaders and powerful officials in South Sudan, according to a report released by an anti-corruption watchdog on Wednesday. The new report by the US group Sentry exposes pervasive risks and political control in the banking sector of South Sudan that have further undermined the country’s economy during years of war. The investigation found more than half the 26 banks operating in South Sudan, a total of 14 banks, are partially owned or controlled by powerful South Sudanese elites, suggesting an undue level of political influence in the banking sector. It stated that a mix of local banks, joint banks co-owned with East African investors, and foreign banks operate in the war-torn market but offer few banking services. These banks, the report said, receive preferential access to foreign exchange because Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) establish and control banks, either directly or through relatives and associates. Radio Tamazuj

Warring Parties in South Sudan Abducted Hundreds of Women and Girls -UN
Government and rebel forces in South Sudan abducted hundreds of women and girls this year and many have been raped and forced into sexual slavery, the U.N. mission to the country said on Tuesday. Other young people were forced to become child soldiers, according to a report by the U.N. Mission in South Sudan, which said that many of those abducted remain in the hands of their captors. The abuses were committed during a civil war by forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels fighting for Riek Machar. The abductions violate international law and may amount to war crimes, the report said. “The girls are sometimes only 12 years old and were chosen as wives for the military. They had to parade in front of them and they (soldiers) could choose whomever they wanted. They used them and of course they were raped and (subjected to) sexual slavery,” the report said. Reuters

Somali Clan Clashes Kill More than 40 in Two Days: Officials
Clashes between rival clans have killed more than 40 people in two days in a disputed region of northern Somalia, one of the worst such confrontations seen in the area, local officials and elders said. The clashes began early on Tuesday and continued on Wednesday around remote villages in the Sool region between militias from rival Darod sub-clans. “We are calling for a ceasefire from the brotherly clans, this is a serious situation we have more than 40 people killed since yesterday and nearly 100 others are wounded,” Ismail Yasin, a traditional elder from the region, said on Wednesday. Mohamed Abdulahi, a security official in the regional capital Galkayo said the “death toll is nearly 50, this is the deadliest conflict in the area”. AFP

Kenyans Look for Best Way to Fight Al-Shabab
Leaders of Kenya’s northeastern counties met this week and vowed to fight against al-Shabab, the Somalia-based militant group that has terrorized the region since 2011. One troubling question hung over the meeting: How can that be done effectively? The five counties represented at the two-day meeting — Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo, Wajir and Marsabit — all have seen their share of deadly al-Shabab attacks. The worst one took place in April 2015, when militant gunmen stormed Garissa University College and killed 148 people, most of them students. More recently, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for attacks that killed eight security officers in Wajir County in June and two teachers in Mandera County this month. Ali Korane, the governor of Garissa County, said northeast Kenya is hugely suffering as a result of such terror attacks.  VOA

Peace Talks Founder as Burundi Government Refuses to Take Part
Burundi’s government declined to take part in the latest peace talks due to begin Wednesday in neighboring Tanzania as it pushes ahead with plans to revitalize the economy. Authorities have suggested postponing the East African-mediated negotiations until next month, Burundi’s government said on Twitter. The ruling CNDD-FDD party wont attend the talks because there’s no agreement over which groups will be involved, the local Iwacu newspaper cited spokeswoman Nancy Ninette Mutoni as saying. A political crisis that began in the landlocked country of about 11 million in April 2015 has claimed at least 1,000 lives and sent refugees fleeing to neighbors including Tanzania. The government says the crisis is over and has unveiled a 10-year plan to boost the economy with agriculture and mining.  Bloomberg

Cameroon Election: Mansion for Poll Official after Biya Victory
Cameroon has invited bids to build a new house for the president of the Constitutional Council, two days after the council announced the re-election of long-time president, Paul Biya. The $475,000 (£370,000) mansion is in an upmarket neighbourhood of Yaoundé. Last week, the body dismissed 18 opposition petitions against the running of the elections. During the hearing, an opposition lawyer accused Judge Clement Atangana of supporting the president. His wife is an MP for the ruling party but Justice Atangana denied any bias and said all his judgements were based on the law. While the tender indicates that the building will be a public structure, given the timing, many Cameroonians view this as being specifically for Justice Atangana, reports the BBC’s Ngala Killian Chimtom in the Yaoundé.  BBC

Renewed Fighting Kills at Least 10 in Cameroon’s Anglophone Region
Heavy fighting between Cameroon’s army and separatist rebels killed at least 10 people, the two sides said on Wednesday, in the deadliest clash since President Paul Biya won a seventh term earlier this week. The conflict between Anglophone separatists who want to create an independent state called Ambazonia and government forces has killed hundreds since last year and emerged as Biya’s greatest security problem in nearly four decades in power. Threats by the separatists disrupted voting in Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions during the Oct. 7 election, keeping turnout to 5 percent in the Northwest and 16 percent in the Southwest. Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary told Reuters the army killed about 30 separatists in fighting early on Tuesday morning near the northwestern town of Ndu and freed 16 hostages held by the rebels.  Reuters

Mozambique Opposition Says Peace Talks on Hold
Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, said on Wednesday that peace talks with the government were on hold due to its allegations of fraud in this month’s local elections. Renamo said the election authorities had falsified results and robbed it of victory in five of the 53 municipalities. The October 10 polls were seen as a key test of the peace process between the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo, which maintains an armed wing. The two movements fought a civil war until 1992, and new peace talks started in 2016 after another outbreak of fighting between the government and Renamo rebels. “Now the peace negotiation is on hold,” Renamo spokesperson Andre Magibire told reporters shortly after the electoral commission confirmed the results.  AFP

Algerian Lawmakers Oust Parliament Speaker, Elect Youthful Replacement
Algeria’s governing coalition elected a relatively youthful new parliamentary speaker on Wednesday to replace Said Bouhadja whom it accused of mismanagement. The new speaker, Mouad Bouchared, is aged 47 – unusually young for a country where many senior officials are in their 70s and above. His election may be a sign that the ruling National Liberation Front seeks to rejuvenate a political elite which is dominated by figures from the war of independence against France which ended in 1962. Lawmakers of the FLN and its coalition partner, the Democratic National Rally, accused Bouhadja, who is around 80, of mismanagement in the job of speaker.  Reuters

Tension Rises in South Libya amid Clashes with Chadian Groups
The Mayor of Al-Sharqiyah municipality in southern Libya, Immhimmed Al-Arabi revealed that the battalions in the south gave the Chadian opposition groups stationed at the HQ of the Chinese company in the area until Wednesday to evacuate the site, stressing the continuation of the meetings of the committees formed within the city in this regard. “Several battalions from the south region have joined Khalid Ibin Al-Walid Battalion to confront the common enemy represented in the external invasion of the country,” Al-Arabi explained in a press statement Tuesday. Al-Arabi denied receiving any support from the Eastern or Western region, pointing out that they have asked the Chadian gangs besieged in the Chinese company to surrender and leave the country.  Libya Observer

Sudan PM Announces ‘Strict Austerity’ in Emergency Economic Reforms
Sudan’s Prime Minister Moataz Moussa announced to parliament on Wednesday a 15-month emergency economic-reform plan, including “further strict austerity measures”, to begin this month. Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of oil output and depriving Khartoum of a crucial source of foreign currency. The plan aims to “reduce the average inflation, stabilize the exchange rate of the pound, achieve a GDP growth of 4 percent and to fix the liquidity crises,” Moussa said. The measures include slashing all tax exemptions except for materials needed for production, withdrawing some vehicles provided to officials, no longer paying for meals served in government meetings and banning use of imported furniture in government offices, Moussa said. Reuters

Germany to Tighten Development Aid Conditions for Africa
Germany is out to tighten up its aid conditions for developing countries, in an attempt to combat corruption, safeguard human rights, and stimulate the creation of democratic structures. In a new strategy paper released ahead of the G20’s Compact with Africa summit in Berlin next week, the German Development Ministry outlined plans to reduce the number of partner countries and better control how aid money is spent. These so-called “reform partnerships,” which Germany already has with Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Tunisia, would involve the target countries also increasing their own development contributions. According to the strategy paper, entitled “Entwicklungspolitik 2030” (“development policy 2030”), “an important element of this is the creation of domestic finance and tax administrations, accounting offices, and institutions to combat corruption.”  Deutsche Welle

DRC Opposition Allowed to Hold Rally in Kinshasa
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition will be allowed to hold a Kinshasa rally on Friday to protest against voting machines they fear will permit fraud in December’s key election, an opposition official said. Political tensions are rising in the DRC before the long-delayed December 23 election to select a successor to President Joseph Kabila, who bowed to international pressure this year to step aside after nearly two decades in power. President Kabila last month promised at the United Nations the vote would go ahead and that he would take steps to guarantee a credible ballot. But the months before he said he would step aside were marked by protests that were brutally repressed, costing dozens of lives. Critics worry President Kabila is trying to ensure his favoured successor, Mr Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former Interior minister, faces no serious challenger. They fear the South Korean-made voting machines will allow fraud.  AFP

Zim Govt Workers Demand to Be Paid in US Dollars – Reports
Government workers in Zimbabwe are reportedly demanding that their salaries be paid in US dollars amid a worsening economic crisis that has led to shortages of basic commodities such as drugs and fuel. According to New Zimbabwe.com, public hospital doctors issued a petition to Health Minister Obadiah Moyo this week, demanding to be paid in the diminishing US dollars. The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said that their demands were not new but their situation had been worsened by the country’s deteriorating economic situation. The doctors association said its members were this month paid in RTGS and were unable to access basic commodities, or even travel to work. News 24

Ramaphosa Gives SA Ambassadors a Better Story to Sell
President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africa’s ambassadors that his government is working hard to generate “a really good narrative” about South Africa to make it easier for them to sell the country to the world. Ramaphosa acknowledged that State Capture and other misgovernance problems over the last eight to 10 years had made it hard for ambassadors to do their job properly and attract investment. “When things are hard here, you have a difficult task,” he told the annual Heads of Mission Conference in Pretoria on Tuesday. “We want to make your lives easier. No more ducking and diving and having to explain the unexplainable,” he told the ambassadors, to great applause. “We must generate good messages, a really good narrative which you can broadcast to the world,” he added, outlining the steps he was taking to curb corruption. Daily Maverick

West Africa’s Ebola Outbreak Cost $53 Billion: Study
An Ebola outbreak that ravaged Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014 cost economies an estimated $53 billion, according to a study in this month’s Journal of Infectious Diseases. The study aimed to combine the direct economic burden and the indirect social impact to generate a comprehensive cost of the outbreak, which was the worst in the world. The outbreak ran from 2013 to 2016 and killed at least 11,300 people, more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined. The vast majority of cases were in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The report’s authors, Caroline Huber, Lyn Finelli and Warren Stevens, put the economic costs at $14 billion and said the human cost was even greater, based on the people affected and a dollar figure that reflects the value of each human life. VOA

China’s Search for Sand Is Destroying Mozambique’s Pristine Beaches
As a commodity, sand has historically been ignored underfoot, but as the world realized that it was not in fact an infinite resource the same rush that has characterized unethical mining practices is now threatening the world’s most treasured sand deposits: pristine beaches. The community of Nagonha in northern Mozambique sits on a tall dune with lush greenery on the one side, and a turquoise Indian ocean on the other. It should have been the kind of unspoiled landscape that Mozambique’s growing tourism industry is beginning to take advantage of. Instead, a Chinese mining company has irrevocably tarnished the scenery, and people’s lives. Amnesty International has visited the village four times since 2015, when unprecedented flash flooding first partially destroyed the village. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones