Africa Media Review for September 1, 2020

‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero, Paul Rusesabagina, Is Held on Terrorism Charge
Paul Rusesabagina, whose bravery in saving more than 1,200 fellow Rwandans from genocide inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” has been arrested by the authorities in Rwanda who are holding him there on charges that include terrorism, arson and murder. During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Mr. Rusesabagina, a Hutu who was working as a manager at a hotel in the capital, Kigali, helped shelter people fleeing the violence that eventually killed as many as one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. But in recent years, Mr. Rusesabagina, 66, has become an opponent of the government of Rwanda’s long-serving president, Paul Kagame, who has kept the country politically and economically stable but is accused by human rights groups of brutally silencing his critics. Mr. Kagame’s government has alleged for years that Mr. Rusesabagina is supporting Rwandan rebels attacking the country from abroad. … The authorities did not provide any evidence of the charges against him. The New York Times

Guinean President Alpha Conde’s party announced on state television late Monday that he will seek another term in office, becoming the second West African leader this month to say term limits don’t apply when there is a new constitution in place. The announcement sets the stage for violent election seasons in both Guinea and Ivory Coast, where presidential elections are set for Oct. 18 and Oct. 31 respectively. Already tens of thousands have taken to the streets in Guinea to oppose another term for Conde. His proposal has been particularly unpopular given Guinea’s half-century of strongman rule that only ended with Conde’s election in 2010. … Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president since the country’s independence from France in 1960. Many Guineans celebrated his election as it ended several of turmoil that had followed the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte, who had exploited the country’s riches for nearly a quarter century. AP

Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro on Monday filed their candidacies for a tense presidential election in October. The candidacies of the exiled leaders add to those of incumbent President Alassane Ouattara and former president Henri Konan Bedie — while the top Catholic leader warned the country was approaching a dangerous point. Both Gbagbo and Soro had been barred by the electoral commission from running due to convictions in the country’s courts. … The country remains scarred by a conflict that erupted after the 2010 vote when Gbagbo refused to hand over power to the victor, current President Alassane Ouattara. Around 3,000 people lost their lives in several months of violence. Gbagbo currently lives in the Belgian capital Brussels after being tried by the International Criminal Court. He was freed conditionally by the ICC after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity, a ruling prosecutors are appealing. … Soro, 48, has been forced into exile in France in the face of a long list of legal problems at home. AFP

What Does the Coup Mean for Mali’s Spiralling Security Crisis?
What began with reports of gunshots at an army barracks just outside Bamako in the morning of August 18 ended hours later with a group of mutinous soldiers arresting and forcing the resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Mali’s embattled president. The coup leaders swiftly declared their intervention was meant to prevent the country from plunging into chaos, which they blamed on the government’s failure to tackle a series of overlapping crises. … the reality of the continuing conflicts in the country’s vast north and central regions remains. And while the coup has cast into uncertainty Mali’s political future, it has also raised fears the effects of the upheaval could further spill beyond the country’s borders and threaten the wider region. Al Jazeera

‘Historic Agreement’ Signed by Sudan Govt, Armed Groups in Juba
The Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance initialled a comprehensive peace agreement in the South Sudan capital of Juba yesterday. The agreement includes eight protocols for the five tracks (Darfur, the Two Areas, central Sudan, eastern Sudan, and northern Sudan) that have been the subject of a year’s intensive negotiations. The accord heralds the start of a transitional period of three years, effective from the date of the signing of the peace agreement. Three new seats on the Sovereign Council will be filled by representatives of the peace signatories, who will also be allocated five ministerial portfolios according to the procedure stipulated in the Constitutional Document (signed in August 2019), equivalent to 25 per cent of the Council of Ministers. … A federal regional system of government will be re-established in Sudan. The transitional government will take the required legal measures within a period of 60 days from the date of signing the peace agreement. Radio Dabanga

Sudan: Darfur Deal a ‘Significant Step,’ Says Head of UN-AU Peacekeeping Mission
A peace agreement between Sudanese authorities and key armed movements from Darfur could provide a path to national unity, the head of the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said on Monday. Sudan’s transitional Government initialled the deal alongside the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM), at a ceremony held in neighbouring South Sudan. “I would like to congratulate Sudanese people on this significant step and commend in particular the signatory parties for their determination, courage and commitment to lasting peace in Sudan,” said Jeremiah Mamabolo, the UNAMID Joint Special Representative, who attended the ceremony. UN News

Global Call for Holdout Sudan Rebels to Join Peace Talks
Parties within Sudan and internationally have called on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) in South Kordofan and parts of Blue Nile state, and the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement in Darfur, led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), to join the peace negotiations. The comprehensive peace agreement signed by the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance in the South Sudan capital of Juba yesterday did not include the SPLM-N El Hilu or the SLM-AW. In speeches after the signing of the peace accord, Chairman of the Sovereign Council Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, and South Sudan President Salva Kiir, all called on El Hilu and El Nur to join the peace negotiations. Radio Dabanga

DR Congo Attackers Disrupt School Final Exams, Rape Students
Militia attacks in DR Congo’s volatile east disrupted the start of school final exams Monday with hundreds of students fleeing violence and some girls raped by the attackers, officials said. The school-leaving exams had already been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and began on Monday. In Sud-Kivu province, about 700 students and their teachers fled after fighting near an exam center in Haut Uele, near the border with South Sudan, Nyange Saluba, an official with a civil society group said. Saluba said the attack was staged by the Banyamulenge militia – a group of Congolese Tutsis that has been waging war for several months. “We have chased them away,” Captain Dieudonne Kasereka, the local army spokesman told AFP, adding that the attackers wanted to “sabotage the exams.” The Defense Post with AFP

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has condemned death threats made against Congolese Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege and called for his protection. Dr. Mukwege is best known for helping thousands of women victims of sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For decades, he has also called for perpetrators to be brought to justice and advocated against the use of rape as a weapon of war. He survived an assassination attempt at his home in 2012. In Geneva, spokesperson for the UN rights chief, Rupert Colville, said that the recent surge of threats against him had been conveyed via social media and in phone calls to him and his family. These were likely connected with Dr. Mukwege’s condemnation of rights abuses linked to longstanding violence in the highlands of South Kivu, where mainly Banyamulenge herders have been involved in conflict against the Babembe, Bafuliru, and Banyindu communities. UN News

Uganda’s Bobi Wine Complains of Threats to Presidential Bid
Ugandan singer and opposition politician Bobi Wine said on Monday he faces “a pattern of repression and suppression” seeking to derail his bid to challenge the country’s long-time president in elections next year. A Ugandan attorney claims that Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, lied about his age and academic record in papers he filed with the electoral commission. The attorney asked electoral officials to publish Wine’s papers for public scrutiny. Wine, 38, insisted he filed correct information on his age and education in the papers. He said he faces a number of accusations, including tax evasion and even an ownership dispute over the property where he lives with his wife and young children outside the capital, Kampala. “Fighting a dictator is no simple task,” said Wine. “You lose friends. You are stabbed in the back. You are persecuted. You are prosecuted. You are slandered. You are maligned. You’re embarrassed. You are threatened.” AP

Cameroon Secures Borders Amid Renewed Threats
Cameroon says it is increasing security along its borders with the Central African Republic and Nigeria after suspected rebel incursions and interceptions of vehicles transporting explosives. Government officials and the military braved a heavy downpour in northern Cameroon Monday to visit the commercial town of Pakete on the border with Nigeria. Jean Abate Edi, governor of Cameroon’s North region where Pakete is located said his trip is to make sure that the border with Nigeria is immediately secured. He said intelligence reports at his disposal indicate that security is threatened on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria. He said henceforth vehicles known locally as Starlettes are prohibited from transporting goods into Cameroon from Nigeria and that the military has been reinforced along the Nigerian border. VOA

S Africa’s ANC Says Officials Charged with Graft Must Step Aside
South Africa’s governing party executive has decided at a weekend meeting that party officials formally charged with corruption and other serious crimes must step aside from their posts, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said. The African National Congress (ANC) has been buffeted in recent weeks by reports of corruption during the coronavirus crisis, with state investigators probing irregularities in government tenders worth 5 billion rands ($297m). In a statement read out on Monday by Ramaphosa, the governing party ordered members who are formally charged with corruption to “immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, in legislatures and other government structures pending the finalisation of their cases.” Al Jazeera

Jailed Zimbabwe Journalist Hopewell Chin’Ono Gravely Ill; Personal Doctor Attending to Him
A lawyer representing jailed Zimbabwean freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono said via social media on Monday that Chin’ono is ill and is awaiting a doctor visit in prison. “I have just visited Hopewell Chin’ono at Chikurubi Maximum Security prison and can confirm that he is unwell,” wrote human rights lawyer Doug Coltart on twitter. Coltart did not indicate what Chin’ono was suffering from, but that his doctor would be there shortly to attend to his patient. “We will act accordingly based on the medical treatment and advice,” he added. Chin’ono is being represented by a team of lawyers, including Coltart and Beatrice Mtetwa. Chin’ono was arrested on 20 July along with opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume. He has been denied bail three times after being charged with incitement to participate in public violence. Chin’ono uncovered an alleged government scandal in Covid-19 tenders, leading to the sacking of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo. RFI

With School Suspended, Kenya’s Children Become Students of Gang Culture
“I have been earning at least 500 [Kenyan shillings] through the scams,” 13-year-old Brian* says. “Why do I need to go to school if I can already make what my mother makes in a day?” This year Brian was supposed to complete class eight and proceed to secondary school. However, he does not see this happening, even when school reopens because, according to him, he has already achieved what school would give him. Criminal activity among children has increased in areas such as Kivumbini, Flamingo and Kwa Rhonda in Nakuru. These low-income estates have become hotspots for Confirm, a gang made up of young people that specialises in cellphone-based crime and phone- and bag- snatching. One popular scame is to send false messages, supposedly from M-Pesa, the mobile money service, to unsuspecting members of the public. The messages are designed to look like a genuine confirmation of receipt of funds. Mail & Guardian

Coronavirus Denialism Still Holding Africa Back
Denialism is impeding the ability of African governments to curb the spread of COVID-19. State corruption and poor communication across Africa make buying into conspiracy theories tempting, especially for young people. At the Kariobangi market in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, people go about their daily business. Some are wearing masks while an almost equal amount of people are walking without them. Porters carry heavy goods for trade, sweating profusely in the heat as they push their way through the crowd. They don’t seem to observe Kenya’s social distancing measures. One of the porters is 34-year-old primary school dropout Paul Amani. “I don’t believe the coronavirus disease exists. Look at the people around here: No one is wearing a mask. I don’t think that disease has reached Kenya,” he says. … But this fearless attitude has created an uncomfortable climate for those who do feel threatened by COVID-19. Margaret Sonne, a resident of Osu near Accra was forced to leave a family party because relatives and friends refused to follow health guidelines. DW

COVID-19 Takes Loved Ones, Then the Rituals to Mourn Them
When Khumbulani Moyo heard that his daughter had died of pneumonia while he was away on a work trip, he was shattered. Then he faced South Africa’s new reality: His beloved 22-year-old Siphesihle Sithole would have to be buried within four days, in the absence of relatives beyond her parents. Traditional burial practices were set aside. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought layers of pain to the country, claiming more than 14,000 lives and the rituals to mourn them. A South African funeral is usually an elaborate affair, often held on Saturday and last through Sunday, with family members and other mourners traveling from around the country, holding overnight vigils and washing the body. AP

R&B Singer Akon Moves Ahead with ‘Akon City’ in Senegal
American R&B singer Akon is moving ahead with plans to create a futuristic pan-African city, announcing Monday that construction will begin next year on the $6 billion project despite global tourism’s uncertain future. Akon, who first announced his idea for the utopian city back in 2018, has described it as a “real-life Wakanda,” comparing it to the technologically advanced fictional African place portrayed in the blockbuster film “Black Panther.” On Monday, Akon said he hoped his project would provide much needed jobs for Senegalese and also serve as a “home back home” for Black Americans and others facing racial injustices. … Akon, who was born in the United States to Senegalese parents, spent much of his childhood in the West African country where in only 44 percent of rural households had electricity even in 2018. Senegalese authorities have embraced him as a native son, introducing him by his given name Aliuane Thiam and praising him for investing in Africa at a time of such global financial uncertainty. AP



Photo: Adam Jones