Africa Media Review for October 8, 2019

Mozambique Poll Observer Killed in Ruling Party Stronghold

A Mozambique poll observer was shot dead on Monday in a ruling party stronghold, the latest killing in the run-up to next week’s elections, a monitoring group said. Gunmen fired several shots at Anastacio Matavele – head of a local election observation mission – as he was driving away from a workshop in Xai-Xai, the capital of the southeastern Gaza province. … The attackers were involved in a car accident as they fled the scene, said the group. One died in the crash, another taken to hospital and a third was arrested. “Local observers have stated that the three assailants are known members of the riot police unit,” Sala da Paz added. … The electoral observation mission claims 38 people have died since the start of the campaign, hordes injured and dozens arrested. While most deaths were caused by traffic accidents, the mission accuses Frelimo supporters of attacking opposition members, blocking campaigns and burning their homes. Junta Militar da Renamo – an armed breakaway faction of Renamo rebel group that opposes the upcoming poll – has also claimed several attacks over the past month. AFP

Over 90,000 Ethiopians Have Left Exile: President

Ethiopia’s president Zewde Sahle-Work on Monday said more than 90,000 nationals had returned to the country because of her government’s citizen-centered diplomacy. Sahle-Work, who was appointed to the role in October last year, was delivering her maiden speech to the country’s parliament. Since taking office in April last year, the country’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has released political prisoners, engaged opposition parties and pursued radical economic and diplomatic reforms. These reforms have been cited by several opposition leaders and other Ethiopians who returned from exile, as the reason they have come back home. The government granted amnesty to individuals and groups, either under investigation or convicted on treason, crimes against the constitutional order and armed struggle. … Sahle-Work, also reiterated the government’s commitment to deliver a free, fair and credible election next year. The polls will be a critical test of the reforms, that have been premised on widening the political space. Africa News

New Deadly Migrant Shipwreck Hardens Calls to Revamp Rescues

The deaths of at least 13 people early Monday on an overloaded migrant boat that capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa have galvanized calls to shut down smuggler routes and revamp search-and-rescue efforts in the deadly central Mediterranean Sea. The Italian coast guard said one of its vessels was about to begin the rescue about six nautical miles Italy’s southernmost island when the boat capsized. Survivors told the U.N. refugee agency that the migrants moved to one side of their unseaworthy vessel when they saw the rescue ship, capsizing it. Twenty-two people were plucked from the sea and brought to safety. But 13, all women, were pulled dead from the water, and the search was continuing for 15 still missing, including an unknown number of children. The boat had departed Tunisia, with about 50 people on board, mostly west Africans and Tunisians. AP

DR Congo Fighting: Thousands Flee Ethnic Violence

Weeks of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have left at least 100 people dead, and tens of thousands displaced. A local armed group called Mai Mai-Bafulero attacked the Nyamulenge ethnic community. The UN peacekeeping mission and Congolese forces have deployed more troops to South Kivu. [Video] Al Jazeera

UNHCR: Global Forced Displacement Crisis Must Be Addressed and Resolved

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees is calling for urgent action to resolve the global forced displacement crisis as increasing numbers of people flee conflict, natural disasters and grinding poverty. Filippo Grandi was speaking at the opening of UNHCR’s annual weeklong refugee conference. Forced displacement has reached record highs. In recent years, nearly 71 million people have been uprooted from their homes. More than one-third are refugees; the rest are displaced within their own countries. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says the issue of forced displacement is far more complex now than in 1951. That was when the United Nations adopted the Refugee Convention to protect and assist millions of refugees who survived the horrors of World War II. Grandi says refugee protection since has become more complex. He notes the world now is faced with what he calls mixed flows of refugees and migrants. VOA

Guterres: Security Council’s African Alliances “Needed and Appreciated More than Ever”

The Security Council’s strong engagement with its Member States, partner organizations and institutions in conflict prevention efforts on the African continent is needed “more than ever,” the Secretary-General told the 15-member peace and security body on Monday. … During the meeting entitled, “Peace and Security in Africa: The Centrality of Preventative Diplomacy, Conflict Prevention and Resolution,” convened under South Africa’s presidency this month, members emphasized the Council’s role in cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations. Of them, the UN partnership with the African Union (AU) on peace and security matters is of particular importance, Mr. Guterres noted, deeming the entity “our key strategic partner across the continent.” … Targeting the absence of African women participation in formal mediation processes as addressed in the 1325 agenda, “remains poorly implemented,” Tanzanian Ambassador, Liberata Mulamula, told Members. UN News

Report Says South Sudan Fails to Provide War Victims Justice

South Sudan’s government is failing to provide justice for victims of atrocities committed during the country’s five-year civil war, Amnesty International asserted in a new report Monday. A lack of political will to hold warring parties accountable for crimes including rape and torture has allowed for widespread impunity, said the report based on 47 interviews with people working in or with the justice sector. It cited a justice system that lacks independence, with prosecutors following orders from above and judges risking being fired if they act against government interests. … South Sudan is emerging from a conflict that killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions. A power-sharing agreement provides for measures including the establishment of a hybrid court but the government has tried to stall it, the report said. When investigations do take place, committee members are hand-picked by President Salva Kiir and carried out in secrecy, it said. Reports are often buried and their findings largely ignore crimes committed by the army. AP

South Sudan: Machar’s Group Says Will Not Join Unity Government

Machar’s opposition group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM- IO), on Monday expressed its opposition to a unity government on 12 November. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman of Machar’s group, told Radio Tamazuj that they reject a push for a new coalition government without addressing challenges facing the 2018 peace deal. The statement comes as a November 12 deadline looms to form a power-sharing government, a key part of the deal that has been delayed by disputes and lack of funds. This comes a few days after the United Nations Mission in South Sudan called on the parties to the peace deal to form a new government by 12 November as originally planned. However, Manawa insisted that they will not be part of a unity government without proper security arrangements and agreement on the internal boundaries of states. “We want to see unified forces and reforms in the country,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

Sudan Paramilitaries Attack, Detain Public after Anti-Mining Protests

A force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked people living near gold mines in Talodi locality in South Kordofan on Monday. Environmental protection activist Khalid Mohamed told Radio Dabanga from El Tagola that members of the RSF government militia arrived in 27 vehicles from the South Kordofan capital of Kadugli yesterday, and attacked the residents living near the El Tagola and El Laffa mines. “They frightened them by shooting in the air and beat them with whips,” he said. “They detained six men, Salah El Riyal, Ibrahim El Sheikh, Somi Ahmed, Humeidan Omdala and two others, and took them to the RSF offices in El Tagola. In a statement later on Monday, the Sudanese Professionals Association of Talodi condemned “the oppression, intimidation, and detention of citizens near El Tagola and El Laffa mines carried out by the RSF militia.” Radio Dabanga

Egypt: Children Swept Up in Crackdown on Anti-Sisi Protests

More than 100 children are among thousands of people detained in Egypt in an effort to prevent further protests against the rule of Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi. At least 3,120 people have been arrested since hundreds of people took to the streets on 20 September, according to the Cairo-based NGO the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Amnesty International said at least 111 children were arrested in the crackdown, “some as young as 11, with several detained on their way home from school.” Many were held by security services after they were stopped at checkpoints, where officials demanded to see their phones in order to check for “political” material. Local rights groups as well as the government’s own National Council for Human Rights condemned the practice as unconstitutional. Detainees were added to a single charge sheet, accused of aiding a terrorist group, spreading false information, misuse of social media and participation in unauthorised protests. The Guardian

Zimbabwe Doctors Defy Government Ultimatum to End Strike

Striking Zimbabwean doctors defied a government ultimatum to return to work on Monday, after rejecting a 60% pay rise offer they say is not enough to keep up with soaring prices of basic goods. The southern African nation’s economy is grappling with its worst crisis in a decade, with triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars, medicines and fuel that have revived memories of the 2008 hyperinflation under late President Robert Mugabe. … ZHDA said in a statement that the government was not willing to address their concerns but had instead responded with “intimidation and threats of disciplinary action or dismissals.” … The doctors want their salaries indexed to the U.S. dollar because the Zimbabwe dollar is losing value against the greenback while earnings are being eroded by inflation, which the International Monetary Fund said stood at nearly 300% in August. Reuters

Cameroon’s Conflict: Will the National Dialogue Make Any Difference?

Life in Cameroon’s two English-speaking provinces has been brought to a standstill by three years of conflict, which has cost about 3,000 lives and forced 500,000 from their homes. … In an attempt to end the crisis, President Paul Biya called for talks, dubbed the National Dialogue, this week. Some were encouraged by this, but others dismissed it as a sham. So what has it achieved? The National Dialogue made a series of proposals: the adoption of a special status for the two Anglophone regions; the restoration of the House of Traditional Chiefs; the election of local governors; the immediate relaunch of certain airport and seaport projects in the two regions; the rapid integration of ex-combatants into society; the name of the country be returned to former name, the United Republic of Cameroon; implement the law that government officials declare their assets, in order to tackle corruption. … The proposals will be forwarded to President Biya, with the expectation that he will order them to be implemented. BBC

Problems Multiply in Déby’s Chad

A state of emergency, attacks by Boko Haram militants, and rebel incursions are bringing new humanitarian and security concerns to Chad – a landlocked central African nation that shares borders with some of the region’s most unstable countries. The state of emergency – which covers three provinces – follows an increase in inter-communal clashes in Ouaddai and Sila, in eastern Chad, and fighting between self-defence groups, rebel forces, and the national army around gold mines in the north. Chad’s President Idriss Déby announced that 5,000 troops would be deployed to the affected provinces, and effectively gave them the power to kill those deemed troublemakers – a plan rights groups say amounts to a “call to massacre civilians”. … “Déby feels he is losing control… that he and his security forces are overwhelmed by problems,” said Richard Moncrieff, central Africa project director for the International Crisis Group. The New Humanitarian

Rwanda’s Kagame Warns Insurgents and Critics over Human Rights Abuses

Kagame also warned that “Rwanda has come a long way to where it is right now, and no one can take this back or create insecurity.” He was addressing close to 4,000 Rwandans who live in Europe and North America and had turned out for the annual Rwanda Day in Bonn, last Saturday. The insurgents he was referring to are believed to be members of the Rwandan Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), that has bases in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The attack on the tourist resort was the first carried out inside Rwanda since the killing of the FDLR’s top commander Sylvestre Mudacumura in a recent battle with Congolese forces. … Kagame also took a swipe at rights groups and activists who use the media to criticize him and Rwanda in general. He said that, despite challenges, in the last twenty-five years his country was transformed into an oasis of peace and constant growth. … Human rights groups have often criticized Kagame for oppressing the media and clamping down on the opposition. DW

Mali President Dismisses Coup Speculation

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Sunday rejected as speculation talk of a military coup after recent jihadist attacks left dozens of soldiers dead. Keita said lessons would be learned after 38 soldiers were killed in two attacks last week near the border with Burkina Faso, a death toll that observers say is probably an underestimate. “No military coup will prevail in Mali, let it be said,” the president said in remarks recorded Saturday and released on Sunday. “And I don’t think this is on the agenda at all and cannot worry us,” he added. “We are at war,” the president said after the attacks last Monday and Tuesday in the towns of Boulkessy and Mondoro, which evoked memories of a 2012 army coup in the former French colony. “What happened at Boulkessy could unfortunately happen again,” Keita said. The assailants used heavily armed vehicles in the raids on the two military camps, during which the government said troops killed 15 jihadists. AFP

Mauritius Prime Minister Dissolves Parliament, Calls for Election

Mauritius’s Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth has dissolved parliament and announced that the Indian Ocean island nation would hold a general election next month. “I have advised the president of the republic to dissolve Parliament and to issue the writ for general elections,” he said in a video statement on Sunday, adding that voting would take place on November 7. The country, a popular tourist destination and one of Africa’s most stable nations, holds elections every five years, with the last one in 2014. … Jugnauth, 57, who is also finance minister will seek another term as leader of the Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM). He has served as prime minister since 2017 when he took over from his father, Anerood Jugnauth. Mauritian politics has been dominated by a small number of Hindu families since independence in 1968, with the last 40 years marked by stability and steady economic growth that has propelled the island into the ranks of middle-income countries. Al Jazeera

Malawi’s Public Protector on Crusade to Clean Up Government

The battle against corruption in the poor southern African state of Malawi has turned a shy, diminutive omsbudswoman, Martha Chizuma, into a popular icon. The quietly confident former magistrate and registrar of the High Court, appointed public protector in December 2015 when she was only 36, is the youngest person and only the second woman to hold the office. “There have been moments when you have had those you are dealing with or investigating looking down on me because of my age and gender,” the bespectacled mother of three told AFP. “Whenever I am confronted with such people I find myself feeling sorry for them, because in this day and age where you have females and young people literally transforming the world for the better, their attitude means that they have nothing else to offer besides their bigotry,” she said. … “I have always argued that maladministration, coupled with the attendant impunity, is the soil, fertiliser and the rain on which foundations or systems of corruption are built,” she said. Chizuma has uncovered a range of abuses. AFP

The Most Unusual Ways Many African Countries Got Their Names

Nearly every country on earth is named after after one of four things-a directional description of the country, a feature of the land, a tribe name or an important person, most likely a man. For the most part, Africa mirrors this trend with a few exceptions. The stories of how African countries got their names ranges from the more mundane, to the fantastical and sometimes even the mind-boggling. Cameroon, a country that has the complicated legacy of first having been colonized by the Germans, then later partitioned by the French and British, was actually named by a Portuguese explorer in the 15th century. Coming across the Wouri river, one of Cameroon’s largest rivers, he renamed it, Rio dos Camarões (shrimp river,) for the abundance of shrimp in it. The name stuck and evolved to become the country name. Quartz Africa



Photo: Adam Jones