Africa Media Review for October 28, 2016

When Ethics Avert a Crisis: Two Cases from Africa
Ethical leadership is a key ingredient for governance that is accountable and committed to the safety of citizens. More often than not, however, African security institutions are designed not to protect citizens but regimes in power. This makes them vulnerable to politicization. In addition, given the resources that security institutions control, often in opaque budgets, the temptation for corruption is strong. This ultimately undermines trust in government, which in turn breeds public resentment and at times violence. The importance of ethical leadership within Africa’s security sectors is a key theme of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ Next Generation of African Security Sector Leaders academic program involving 75 participants from 40 countries that is currently underway in Washington. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Africa’s Presidents Are Struggling to Meet Their Own Ambitious Anti-corruption Targets
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta was last week roundly criticized by his country men and women after admitting, in startlingly frank terms, his helplessness in fighting against endemic corruption. Kenyatta said he had tried everything in his power including sacking cabinet ministers and others implicated in corruption to no avail. “Show me any one administration since independence that has taken action on corruption like I have done, the president said. “I have removed everybody. I have done my part, at great expense also, political, by asking these guys to step aside.” His frustration is a classic tale of failed attempts by different African governments in their relentless struggle to fight the vice that has plagued the continent for decades. His comments came as no surprise, though, as a survey by market research firm, Infotrack, in August this year, ranked his office and that of his deputy the most corrupt state departments in the country. Like his Kenyan counterpart, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has spoken of frustrations in fighting the corruption in Africa’s largest economy, despite the zeal to do so. Quartz

South Africa’s Zuma Stops Release of Corruption Report
South African President Jacob Zuma is leaving no stone unturned to stop the release of a report that implicates him in alleged corruption. It is the latest chapter in a series of corruption scandals in the past year that have eroded support for Zuma and his party, the African National Congress. Two weeks ago, Zuma halted the release of a report from South Africa’s former anti-corruption chief, Thuli Madonsela. Zuma intercepted the report October 13, a day before it was to be released. At the time, Zuma said he acted so the report would present his side of the story. VOA

‘Why? Why? Why?’ Man Asks, Stabbing U.S. Embassy Guard in Kenya
The shots rang out in front of the American Embassy on Thursday afternoon. Boosh! Boosh! A knife-wielding assailant attacked an armed Kenyan police officer guarding an entrance to the embassy’s visa section, which was closed at the time. Kenya’s capital is notorious for violent crime, but this attack was happening outside one of the most heavily fortified buildings in East Africa, on a congested street, with diplomatic cars stuck in traffic right nearby. Witnesses said the assailant had walked up to the officer, pulled out a knife and began shouting: “Why? Why? Why?” He stabbed the officer in the face, and the officer struggled to push him away. One witness said the men tumbled, with the assailant landing on top of the officer. The New York Times

African Delegates Welcome Decision to Exit ICC
African academics, civil and government representatives have welcomed African nations’s decision to exit the International Criminal Court. Delegates from over 29 African states are gathered in Centurion to try and find lasting solutions to Africa’s challenges. The programme has debated A d perceptions of bias against Africans levelled against the ICC. Africa’s leading political and social thinkers discussing ways to solve the continent’s problems. Delegates are calling for similar engagements but at the highest levels of government. This as the continent tries to resolve tensions in Burundi and the high profile withdrawals from the International Criminal Court by South Africa, Kenya and Gambia. SABC

African Revolt Threatens International Criminal Court’s Legitimacy
The claim that the international criminal court unfairly targets Africans is gaining significant traction after the Gambia became the third country on the continent to announce its withdrawal from the Hague-based tribunal. The move follows similar announcements from Burundi and South Africa, who informed the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, of their decision to quit the court last week, making them the first countries to begin the year-long exit process in the court’s 18-year history. The Guardian

Pope Francis Accepts Church Leaders’ Invitation to Visit South Sudan
Pope Francis has accepted an invitation to visit South Sudan to preach peace in the country embroiled in inter-ethnic and political strife, religious leaders said after talks with the pontiff on Thursday. “He accepted the invitation and said that in principle he really wants to come,” said Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow of the SoutH Sudan’s Presbyterian Church. Marrow and Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Archbishop of the capital, Juba, and Episcopalian Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak held talks with the pope, who had asked them to come to the Vatican to discuss the situation in their country. Reuters

Following the Herd: How Cows Fuelled the War in South Sudan, and How They Can Consolidate the Peace
Tracking the progress of South Sudan’s civil war is a near-impossible task. Little reliable news arrives in Juba, and the spin doctors from each opposing side are masters of the art. So the legion of war-watchers in the capital – the diplomats, the peacekeepers, the humanitarians, and the journalists – deploy a crude proxy to figure out what’s going on. “Just follow the president’s cows,” they say. They are only half joking. Although officials won’t confirm or deny the figures, President Salva Kiir is rumoured to own enormous numbers of cattle – probably in the tens of thousands, and worth tens of millions of US dollars. He wants to keep his investment safe. So when the herd moves, it is always moving away from conflict. Not all of South Sudan’s cows are so lucky. The war has taken its toll on cattle populations, which in turn poses a serious threat to the country’s financial – and, ultimately, physical – health. It is difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the importance of cattle to South Sudan’s economy. Daily Maverick

More Than 90 Migrants Believed Missing after Boat Sinks off Libya -Coastguard
More than 90 migrants are believed missing after their boat sank off the coast of western Libya on Wednesday, a coastguard spokesman said. Ayoub Qassem said coastguards had rescued 29 migrants some 26 miles off the shore east of Tripoli, and that survivors said 126 people had been on the rubber boat before one of the sides was ripped and it started taking on water. Libya is the main departure point for mostly African migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Smugglers arrange ill-equipped and overcrowded vessels that frequently break down or sink. Qassem said the boat that sank on Wednesday had left at dawn from Garabulli, about 50km (31 miles) east of Tripoli. Reuters

New Branch of Isis Seizes Its First Somali Town as Jihadists Show Signal of Intent
A group of fighters loyal to the Isis militant group has briefly occupied a small Somali port town, their first significant act in the region since breaking away from al-Shabaab a year ago. Identifying themselves as simply the Islamic State, up to 50 jihadists entered the town of Qandala on the coast of Puntland, a small semi-autonomous state in the horn of Africa. Video released by Isis’s central Amaq Agency showed about a dozen of the fighters entering the seemingly abandoned town, entering government buildings and raising a black-and-white Isis flag. The Independent

Ethiopian Troop Withdrawals in Somalia Raise Concern of Al-Shabab Resurgence
Ethiopian troops who have been fighting Al-Shabab militants in Somalia have vacated a series of military bases, sparking fears of a militant resurgence and a possible setback for African Union efforts to stabilize the country. On Wednesday, Ethiopian troops vacated their posts in Tiyeglow which was seized from Al-Shabab in August 2014. It was the third town the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) vacated this month after El-Ali on October 11 and Halgan on October 23. Experts have linked the withdrawals to the frequent anti-government protests in Ethiopia and the recent declaration of the state of emergency, but Ethiopian officials dismissed the connection. VOA

2 Eritrean Pilots Defect to Ethiopia With Jets, Group Says
Two Eritrean pilots have defected with their fighter jets to neighboring Ethiopia, an Eritrean opposition group confirmed Thursday, in a dramatic exit from one of the world’s most closed-off states. “The two pilots flew their small-sized fighter jets to Mekelle on Wednesday morning,” Nasredin Ahmed Ali, spokesman for the Ethiopia-based Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, told The Associated Press. The spokesman identified the pilots as Afeworki Fisehaye and Mebrahtu Tesfamariam and described them as being very experienced with Eritrea’s air force. He said Ethiopian fighter jets accompanied them upon their entry into the country’s air space. VOA

HRW Demands Probe in Kenya Police Killings
Kenyan police have been accused of 1,200 deaths in the last five years, more than two-thirds of people killed by guns in the country, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The rights group reported Kenyan security forces have forcibly disappeared at least 34 people in counter-terrorism operations during the last two years. Only one police officer in Kenya has been successfully prosecuted and imprisoned for an unlawful killing in the last three years. The Daily Nation, one of Kenya’s top-selling newspapers, published the country’s first comprehensive database detailing hundreds of such alleged killings in the past two years. Al Jazeera

Will New Constitution Bring Peace to Ivory Coast?
The people of Ivory Coast are going to the polls on Sunday to approve or reject a draft constitution which the government says will address the question of identity which has been at the heart of years of unrest. The draft constitution was adopted earlier this month by the National Assembly but opposition parties have called for a boycott, as they say the country already has one of the best constitutions in Africa. They also accuse President Alassane Ouattara of using it as a way of trying to nominate his successor. BBC

Nigerian Leader Asks for $30 Billion in Foreign Loans
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari wants $30 billion in foreign loans for infrastructure and other projects over the next three years to overcome a recession in Africa’s biggest economy. Buhari sent letters Wednesday to parliament seeking approval to borrow $29.6 billion — more than the entire budget — for power, railways, roads, education, health and water resources. The African oil giant has been unable to secure loans of $5 billion to plug this year’s budget deficit. The World Bank reportedly is demanding further reforms. In June, Buhari’s government belatedly floated the naira currency, losing 40 percent of its value. VOA

Nigeria Says Security First Goal in Oil Roadmap: Oil Minister
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will meet leaders of the restive Niger Delta in Abuja next week in an attempt to end an insurgency in the oil-producing region, the oil minister said. Ending unrest in the region that accounts for most of Nigeria’s oil production was the first goal of an energy industry roadmap unveiled on Thursday, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said. “Our target is to ensure zero militancy in the area,” he told a forum in Abuja aimed at outlining strategy for the petroleum industry. “This planned meeting shows the level of interest the president has to ensure peace in the area.” Reuters

DR Congo Arrests Rwandan FDLR Rebel Commander
A Rwandan Hutu rebel commander wanted for atrocities committed on Congolese soil has been arrested in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Habyarimana Mucebo, a senior member of the Rwandan FDLR rebel group, was captured in Rutshuru, north-eastern DR Congo. Members of the FDLR fled into DR Congo after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The slaughter of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus sparked years of unrest in the region. BBC

DRC Tensions Continue Despite Regional Backing of Election Delay
Central African heads of state meeting Wednesday in Luanda, Angola, endorsed the deal signed last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo that delays that country’s elections by nearly two years. But the regional stamp of approval has not diminished tensions in the country itself. The African Union-mediated agreement pushes elections in the DRC from next month to April 2018. President Joseph Kabila will stay on until then at the head of a new power-sharing government, though his elected mandate expires in December. Angola’s president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, himself in power since 1979, said Wednesday the accord will help “put an end to the climate of contestation and destabilization.” VOA

Jail Time for Using South Africa’s Worst Racial Slur?
While South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, it excludes “advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” An act passed in 2000 broadened the definition of hate speech to include expressions that are “hurtful” and “harmful” or that will “incite harm” or “promote or propagate hatred.” Pierre de Vos, a constitutional scholar at the University of Cape Town, said the country was already “quite aggressive in targeting hate speech.” “Given our history, the people who drafted our Constitution assumed that although freedom of expression is very important, hate speech cannot under any circumstance serve any valuable purpose,” he said.  The New York Times

Facebook’s Free Basics Is an African Dictator’s Dream
[…]  Zuckerberg’s lighting public relations blitz contrasted sharply with Facebook’s under-the-radar expansion in Africa, which is built around a no-frills internet app called Free Basics. India’s government rejected the same app, which provides access to a low-data version of Facebook and a limited number of pre-selected websites, on the grounds that it amounted to a two-tiered internet system, one for the rich and one for the poor. But Facebook continues to roll it out quietly in Africa so quietly, in fact, that many of hundreds of millions of people who now have access to the app in 23 different African countries don’t even know they do. But there’s a dark side to Free Basics that has the potential to do more harm than good, a side that suggests that Zuckerberg doesn’t get Africa after all. The app is essentially a cheap version of the internet, a fact that by itself implies that some people aren’t good enough to merit the whole thing. Even worse, it’s a version of the internet that gives Facebook and by extension the corporations and governments that partner with Facebook total control over what its users can access. Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones