Africa Media Review for September 12, 2018

Burundi under Fire for Expelling UN Human Rights Team
Burundi’s ambassador in Geneva struggled to explain to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday why his government had thrown out a U.N. team that the council, with Burundi’s backing, had sent to investigate human rights abuses in the country. Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Kate Gilmore told the council that her office could not deliver a promised report on human rights in Burundi because the government had not cooperated with the team members, who were deployed in March and then were told that their visas were canceled in April. “It is a matter of concern that through its lack of cooperation, Burundi has prevented implementation of this council’s resolution and the mandated work of the group of experts,” she said.  VOA

South Sudan’s Machar Arrives in Addis Ababa for IGAD Summit
South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday afternoon for an IGAD summit on ending the conflict in the youngest nation. He is there for the Summit of Heads of State and Government at which sticky issues will be addressed before the final signing of the peace agreement on Wednesday. The power-sharing deal expected to be inked by the warring parties will see rebel chief Riek Machar return to his position as first vice president. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth Gual, the deputy spokesman of the SPLM-IO movement, told Radio Tamazuj that opposition leader Riek Machar arrived in Addis Ababa to attend the IGAD summit.  Radio Tamazuj

Zimbabwe on Tenterhooks as Opposition Chamisa Prepares ‘Inauguration’
Zimbabwe’s main opposition, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), plans to inaugurate its leader Nelson Chamisa as the ‘people’s president’ with the government threatening a “merciless” response. According to online publication NewZimbabwe.com, Chamisa announced his intention to be inaugurated during an address to thousands of his party’s supporters at Huruyadzo Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza on Saturday. He further announced that he would appoint an alternative Cabinet. “The leadership is saying that the person who was voted for by the people should be inaugurated by the people. “This is not a joke. Yes, you can have the military might, but no military might can defeat the popular vote. You can have false institutions but no false institution can ever replace a popular will,” Chamisa said.  Mail and Guardian

Mnangagwa’s Cabinet: Will It Drive Zimbabwe on a Path to Recovery?
Zimbabwe has been going through a continuous economic downturn for the past two decades under the leadership of former President Robert Mugabe and President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised that his government would usher in change that would see the country regain its status in the international community. Faced with a serious cash crisis that has seen three different price regimes, Mnangagwa had to carefully select his cabinet, expected to move the country away from its economic turmoil. Mnangagwa’s appointment of Mthuli Ncube, a renowned economist, has received widespread applause, with commentators saying it’s a sign he is committed to reviving the economy. Mnangagwa described his cabinet as diverse, dynamic and youthful, adding it had the skills and experience required to achieve his set goals. Daily Maverick

Zimbabwe Cholera Outbreak: State of Emergency Declared
A cholera emergency has been declared in Zimbabwe’s capital after 20 people died from the disease. It has led to many fearing a repeat of the outbreak that killed thousands in 2008. The government is saying that it is doing what it can, but say it is hindered by the current economic crisis. The opposition blames the lack of resources on decades of corruption and mismanagement. Whatever the cause, Zimbabweans cannot be sure how long it is going to take to contain this latest outbreak. Al Jazeera

Algerian Generals, Others Fired without Explanation
Heads have been rolling in the Algerian army, the North African nation’s most respected institution, and in other security services, with generals in top posts fired — without explanation — at a rate never before seen. The across-the-board changes, and the silence, are highlighting the opaque nature of the nation’s power structure. Since late June, nearly all top officials in the security hierarchy have been replaced. The changes are especially dramatic in a country with the best-equipped military in North Africa and the Sahel that has honed for more than a quarter-century its skills in fighting Islamic extremists. Today, Algeria is a bulwark against extremism for the West. Yet the noisy Algerian press, which habitually decodes the often inscrutable world of politics, has been unable to decipher the reason for the massive clearout.  AP

AU Limits Its Role in Western Sahara Crisis
The African Union (AU) will be limiting its peace efforts in the Western Sahara in order to support the United Nations’ (UN) process in the region. Western Sahara is a disputed area claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario Front, the representatives of the indigenous Sahrawi people. The UN oversaw a truce between the two sides in the early 1990s but the issue has never been resolved and tensions flare up periodically in the border regions. The AU has also asserted its role in resolving the crisis since the dispute erupted in the 1970s. The AU’s new decision to limit its efforts means that unlike before, its Peace and Security Council (PSC) won’t discuss the Western Sahara situation among ambassadors in Addis Ababa where security issues are usually considered.  Daily Maverick

Rebellion Boils as Cameroon’s President Seeks to Extend Rule
While President Paul Biya appears to be a shoo-in to extend his 36-year rule in elections next month, he’s had no success in stifling a rebellion in Anglophone regions that’s threatening to split the mainly French-speaking central African nation. Africa’s second-longest serving head of state, Biya, 85, is facing eight candidates in an Oct. 7 vote that will be overshadowed by insurgent attacks, a violent clampdown by the security forces and a drop in production in Cameroon’s biggest cocoa-growing areas. Thousands of people have fled to neighboring Nigeria. The situation’s become so polarized that days after Samuel Kleda, the archbishop of the commercial capital, Douala, called for mediation to avert “a useless, senseless civil war” and urged Biya to step down, shots were fired at the cleric’s residence. Bloomberg

DRC Opposition Figure Bemba Warns of ‘Chaos’ If Vote Fraud
A top Democratic Republic of Congo opposition figure who is barred from December’s presidential election is warning that “chaos” will follow if the vote is not transparent and fair. Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, days before his sentencing at the International Criminal Court after being convicted of interfering with witnesses. DRC’s electoral commission rejected him as a candidate in the December 23 election, calling the witness interference synonymous with corruption. Congolese law prevents people convicted of corruption from running for the presidency. Bemba accused both the commission and the Constitutional Court, which last week upheld the commission’s decision, of being under “full control” of the government of President Joseph Kabila, who after two years of deadly unrest amid the long-delayed election has said he will step aside. AP

After Migrants Drowned at Sea, Debate over Who Should Have Saved Them
Dozens of migrants — possibly more than 100 people — drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe this month after their boat sank and passengers waited in the water for hours until a rescue ship arrived, according to Doctors Without Borders.European airplanes dropped lifeboats at the scene, survivors said, but Italy did not dispatch a ship. Instead, it deferred to Libya. And although the Libyan Coast Guard rescued nearly 300 of the stranded migrants, the circumstances raised questions about whether more people might have been saved.Passengers said disaster had struck near the coast of Malta, a small island nation that is closer to Italy than to Libya, and that they had notified Italian officials of their coordinates. It was not clear whether Malta sent a ship, but none arrived in time to reach survivors.“Why didn’t the Italian Coast Guard intervene?” asked Sara Creta, a Doctors Without Borders humanitarian aid worker in North Africa. “Why did they send in the Libyan Coast Guard? I think it’s important to know that.”The Italian Coast Guard said the “rescue took place in the Libyan search and rescue area, and was coordinated by the Libyan authority, which sent its ships to the area after it had assumed the coordination of the operations.”  The New York Times

Islamic State Group Claims Attack on Libya’s Oil Firm
The extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on the headquarters of Libya’s national oil company in the capital Tripoli that killed two people. IS made the announcement in statement carried by its Amaq news agency late on Tuesday. Monday’s attack wounded at least 10 others. It followed recent fighting in Tripoli between rival armed groups, which left at least 61 people dead. A cease-fire has been in place since last week. Islamic extremists expanded their reach in Libya after the 2011 uprising plunged the country into chaos and toppled and later killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. IS was driven from its main stronghold, the coastal city of Sirte, in 2016 and fled inland. Libya is currently split between rival governments in the east and the west. AP

Kadhafi Son Accuses Sarkozy of Taking Libyan Cash in Letter to Judges
Moamer Kadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, has written to French judges repeating his claim that Libya contributed millions to Nicolas Sarkozy’s successful 2007 presidential election campaign. And the former head of nuclear giant Areva has told investigators that, once elected, Sarkozy put pressure on her to agree to build a nuclear power station in Libya. The Sarkozy campaign received a total of 4.5 million euros from Libya in 2007, Saif al-Islam says in a letter dated 11 July 2018, according to Le Monde newspaper. The allegations are not new – Sarkozy was indicted for passive corruption, illegal campaign finance and receiving misappropriated public money in relation to the Libya case in March. RFI

Ghana’s Public Says Farewell to Kofi Annan
A steady stream of mourners on Tuesday paid their respects to the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as his body lay in state in the capital of his native Ghana. The diplomat’s body was flown back from his home in Switzerland on Monday ahead of a state funeral and private burial in Accra on Thursday. Nobel peace laureate Mr Annan, who was the world body’s first leader from sub-Saharan Africa, died aged 80 on August 18 after a short illness. His coffin, draped in Ghana’s red, green and gold flag, was guarded by senior military officers in ceremonial uniform at the Accra International Conference Centre. A choir sang hymns and traditional dances were performed as the public got their chance to say farewell to one of the country’s most famous sons. AFP

Russia’s Scramble for Influence in Africa Catches Western Officials Off-Guard
Russia is engaged in a frantic new scramble for influence in Africa, which is being spearheaded by a rash of military cooperation and arms deals signed across the continent in 2018. The most recent – an agreement for a planned Russian logistics base in Eritrea, which would give it access to the Red Sea – was announced in early September after nine months that have seen Kremlin officials crisscross from the Horn to the Great Lakes and southern Africa. The pace of Russia’s renewed intervention has raised fears over the human rights and security implications of selling arms to regimes that are weak or in conflict, particularly as the US has signalled its own plans to withdraw troops and close missions.  The Guardian

Bilateral Deals, Corporate Investment to the Fore as China Trims State Funding to Africa
China has for the first time reduced the amount of money pledged to support the promises of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, as elements of the event suggest a maturing of Sino-African relations. Chinese trade with Africa has dropped significantly in recent years, down to $170 billion in 2017 from a peak of $220 billion in 2014. As scrutiny of China’s influence in Africa – the debts owed, political involvement via training programmes, military presence – intensifies and Beijing’s own attention is diverted by the emerging trade war with the US, the $10 billion reduction in funding announced at the 2018 FOCAC forum in Beijing this month should perhaps not be seen as a surprise. France 24

‘Relax’: South African Leader Makes the Case for Land Reform
That’s the message South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has for anyone fretting about the nation’s plans for land reform, which drew a critical tweet from President Donald Trump last month. The government won’t allow “land grabs,” and land redistribution designed to address racial inequities will be orderly, Ramaphosa said Tuesday in remarks to Parliament. He also said he doesn’t expect South Africa to be targeted by sanctions as it legally pursues land reform. Some South Africans have speculated that the United States might impose sanctions similar to those against neighboring Zimbabwe, where violent land seizures occurred years ago. “Just relax,” Ramaphosa said. “This process will end up very well.” Some groups in South Africa, however, worry about economic damage from plans for the expropriation of land without compensation.  AP

South Africa: Murders Surge by More than 7% in a Year
Murders in South Africa have surged by more than 7% in the last year, with more than 20,000 people killed in 12 months, new official statistics have shown. The country has long struggled to with violent crime. The new figures, released on Tuesday, showed that 57 people were murdered daily over a 12-month period between April 2017 and March 2018. “It borders close to [a] war zone while there is a peace,” said Bheki Cele, the police minister. He added: “We haven’t reached a state of lawlessness in South Africa and we won’t … This situation must be reversed with lightning speed.” The rise in the total was the biggest single increase since the end of the racist apartheid regime 24 years ago, experts said. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones