Africa Media Review for September 13, 2016

The African Continent Celebrates Eid al-Adha
Millions of Muslims across Africa have marked Eid al-Adha with a call for peace and perseverance. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in his Eid message saluted the €œpiety and sacrifice of his countrymen in the face of biting economic downturn, assuring them of better years as his government works to fix the crisis. “I salute your steadfastness in spite of the difficult economic times the country is going through,” said Buhari in a country where about half of the population is Muslim and resides overwhelmingly in the North. “The lessons of Eid are piety and sacrifice and, my dear brothers and sisters, you have exhibited these in equal measure,” he stressed. Anadolu Agency‎

Dispute Intensifies over Gabon Presidential Election
The dispute over Gabon’s presidential election intensified Thursday as opposition candidate Jean Ping mounted a legal challenge, accusing the incumbent leader of fraud. The filing at the constitutional court was lodged by the Thursday deadline, according to a Ping lawyer, Jean Remy Bantsantsa. Ping, who seeks to unseat the family that has ruled this oil-rich Central African country for more than four decades, already has publicly declared himself the winner. Official election results said incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba won the August 27 vote by less than 2 percentage points. There is no provision for a runoff in Gabon. News 24

All Eyes Are on the Constitutional Court in Gabon
Gabon’s Constitutional Court has until September 23 to confirm the re-election of incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba. This follows an appeal filed by opposition leader Jean Ping who has on several occasions called for a recount of the votes, claiming the ruling party committed fraud. The nine magistrates expected to give the verdict on the case are currently examining the results in the areas where both parties claim fraud was committed. Africa News

US Think Tank Hails African Leader Accused over Election ‘Anomaly’ and Crackdown on Critics
An American think tank with close ties to government will next week fete Ali Bongo, the president of Gabon, as an “exceptional global citizen” despite his brutal crackdown on opposition supporters who accused him of stealing last month’s election. Mr Bongo, who has been president since 2009, will receive a Global Citizen Award from the Atlantic Council during a glittering reception in New York. It is not known whether he will risk leaving Gabon to accept in person. The award is given to “individuals who have made exceptional and distinctive contributions to strengthening the transatlantic relationship”. The Telegraph

George Clooney’s Group Tracked South Sudanese Leaders Using Instagram
Investigators at The Sentry, an initiative co-founded by actor George Clooney, said during a press conference Monday that they used information from Facebook and Instagram to confirm how officials had spent the profits they made from controlling South Sudan’s natural resources. Photos posted on those sites showed that the relatives and subordinates of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his opponent Riek Machar, whose forces have been engaged in a civil war since 2013, live outside of their own war-torn nation in lavish mansions or five-star hotels and drive luxury vehicles, according to the author of the report, J.R. Mailey. “In some cases we would be able to confirm that certain people are in a house that we already suspected because they post a bunch of pictures next to a really beautiful pool,” Mailey said. Time

UN: More Than 600 South Sudanese Evacuated from Congo Park
The U.N. mission in Congo says it has now evacuated more than 600 South Sudanese who fled with opposition leader Riek Machar into Garamba National Park in northeastern Congo last month. A statement issued Monday said the latest group of 152 South Sudanese were evacuated and disarmed on Sunday, bringing the total to 634. The mission said 134 more South Sudanese remain in the park and warned that the situation risked becoming “a threat to peace in Congo and the sub-region.” AP on ABC News

Flight of South Sudan Fighters to Congo Poses Security Threat: U.N.
The flight of South Sudan’s main opposition leader and more than 750 of his supporters across the border into Democratic Republic of Congo will threaten regional stability if not properly handled, the DRC’s United Nations mission said on Monday. The mission, known as MONUSCO, said it had rescued another 268 people from Garamba National Park in northeastern Congo over the weekend. They had all fled South Sudan with the country’s former vice-president Riek Machar, following fierce fighting in the capital, Juba. The Kinshasa government has limited control of Congo’s eastern border regions, which have bristled with militias for decades, and relies on MONUSCO, the world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping mission, for significant security assistance. Reuters

South Sudan Denies President Kiir Condoned Corruption
A South Sudanese presidential aide denounced on Monday an investigative report accusing President Salva Kiir of having condoned corruption, describing it as “rubbish and “nonsense”. “That is a complete nonsense. Don’t ask me again, it is rubbish”, Tor Deng Mawien, presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage angrily told Sudan Tribune on Monday. Mawien was reacting to an investigative report by The Sentry which released a report of findings of a groundbreaking two-year investigation into the networks of South Sudan’s senior officials and their international facilitators. Sudan Tribune

Resource Mismanagement a Threat to Security in Africa
The President had finally signed off on a high-value procurement of main battle tanks and sophisticated anti-tank weapons as part of an aggressive military modernization program. Shortly thereafter, an intense political crisis erupted, leading to a full-blown rebellion and the defection of several army divisions. Insurgents seized a sizeable amount of territory and a general state of chaos ensued. As a now-fractured army struggled to take back territory, the leadership realized that their country had not benefited from its new tanks, as they were ill-suited to fighting the more lightly armed but determined and highly mobile insurgents. The tanks were ultimately a costly waste—and one that still had to be paid for and maintained. “The problem in Africa is not resources per se. … The problem is their misuse”. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Opposition Walks Out of Election Talks in DRC
Opposition parties walked out of talks on elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo Monday, saying their position on the order in which presidential and local elections should be held is non-negotiable. A spokesman for the ruling coalition said the walk-out is a negotiating tactic and the talks are not over. The talks began September 1 and this is the first time the opposition party members, who make up about one-third of the 285 people taking part, have suspended their participation en masse. Only a few of the country’s dozens of opposition parties have been taking part in the dialogue anyway, so it is questionable whether any agreement reached here could overcome the obstacles to elections. VOA

On the Road in Zimbabwe: Winners and Losers from Mugabe’s Land Legacy
It is dawn on a perfect winter’s day in Harare. The air is chilly, but the sun soon brightens up the clear blue sky. Driving towards the city centre from the northern suburbs – home to President Robert Mugabe’s State House with its unblinking sabre-armed guards – the sense of economic desolation amid colonial pomp is unmistakable. Thousands of people, trekking in from townships such as Highfield, are making their way to offices… or more likely to set up a stall to sell maize meal, tomatoes, onions or potatoes. Or they stand at street corners selling cellphone top-up cards, tea towels and handkerchiefs. The well-educated generation after independence is being reduced to penury. There is talk of a breaking point soon. Even tougher times loom ahead. With the worst drought in a quarter of a century, more than four million people – almost a third of the country – could require food aid. Supplies will dwindle further in next year’s lean season. The Africa Review

Human Rights Groups Slam World Bank, Accuse it of Belittling Zimbabwe Rights Abuses
Human rights groups slammed the World Bank on Thursday over an internal report on Zimbabwe that suggested it would be a sign of “political development” for the country if its poor human rights record did not get any worse. In the leaked July 27 document, seen by Reuters and reported by some African media, the Washington-based bank laid out a potential plan for clearing $1.88 billion of Zimbabwe’s arrears with the region’s big three multilateral lenders – the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB). The report identified progress on Zimbabwe’s human rights record as a needed benchmark to justify re-engagement with the southern African country and bring it back into the international financial fold. The bank believed Zimbabwe was committed to “major change”, with 92-year-old Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence from Britain in 1980 – recognising the need for outside help to resuscitate a moribund economy, the report said. Mail and Guardian

Seizure of Libyan Oil Terminals Prompts Call for Military Action
Forces opposed to the UN-backed Libyan government in Tripoli appear to be making a clean sweep through the country’s “oil crescent”, seizing control of oil terminal headquarters and gaining a stranglehold over the export of Libya’s economic lifeblood. The capture of the oil terminals through the weekend and Monday changes the balance of political forces inside Libya and makes the survival of the UN-backed, Tripoli-based government of national accord (GNA) less likely. The oil ports were seized by forces under the control of General Khalifa Haftar, who opposes the GNA and supports the rival government in the east of the country. The victory for Haftar is likely to increase his prestige and his negotiating power in the event of Libya being carved up. The Guardian

Darfur Group Denies Involvement in Fighting in East Libya
Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Monday has denied participation in the ongoing fighting in east Libya. On Sunday, forces opposed to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) launched an attack on three ports, claiming control over oil-exporting facilities held by troops loyal to the GNA. The attack by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces on terminals in the so-called oil crescent in east Libya is the first armed conflict between Libya’s eastern government and the GNA, which is based in the capital, Tripoli. Sudan Tribune

Italians Plan Misrata Military Hospital and Troops to Guard It
Italy has confirmed that it plans to send 200 paratroopers to guard an Italian military hospital to be set up near Misrata airport. Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said today that the fully-equipped field hospital with a hundred doctors, nurses and technicians was being sent at the request of the Presidency Council. It is unclear what deal was reached with the PC over the presence of the Italian soldiers. Gentiloni told Reuters that the details of the “technical aspects” of the deployment would be explained to parliament in Rome tomorrow by defence minister Roberta Pinotti. Libya Herald

Two Ethiopia Opposition Leaders Arrested
Two Ethiopian opposition leaders have been arrested and held in detention for the last two weeks, their party said on Monday, as the country grapples with rare anti-government unrest. The authorities detained Agaw Democratic Party leader Andualem Tilahun and another senior party member, Beyilu Teshale, on August 29, but the information was only made public on Monday. The party represents the Agaw people, an ethnic group numbering around two million based in the northern Amhara region, who have largely kept out of the trouble that has flared in Ethiopia this year. “Andualem Tilahun was charged on allegedly public incitation against the government, which is not true,” Tesera Be, a party advisor who is currently in the United States, said. News 24

S Africa: Jacob Zuma Pays $500,000 over Nkandla Row
South African President Jacob Zuma has paid back more than $500,000 of public money spent on non-security improvements to his private home, according to his office, after a scandal over lavish upgrades, including a swimming pool and a chicken coop. The money is just about three percent of the total amount of state funds that were spent on the president’s rural home at Nkandla in the KwaZulu-Natal province. In late March, the Constitutional Court had said that Zuma should repay some of the $16m spent on enhancing his residence. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwean Opposition Calls for Nationwide Protests on Saturday
Zimbabwean opposition has called for a nationwide protest on Saturday to push for electoral reforms, despite new menaces from President Robert Mugabe to suppress the revolt that shook the country for weeks. “We will demonstrate without further delay on September 17,” said Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). “We will do this with or without the permission (from the authorities). We have the law on our side and we will not negotiate the law with Mugabe,” he added, speaking on behalf of a coalition of 18 opposition parties. Africa News

Zimbabwe: U.S. Probes Abuse of Its Food Aid By Zanu-PF
The U.S. government has said its Harare office is now investigating reports alleging abuse of food assistance Washington isproviding to the starving communities around the country. This follows a report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission – a government agency – which revealed that some Zanu PF officials were politicising food donated to drought-hit communities. The state funded human rights watchdog said some Zanu PF officials in Bikita East, Mazowe central, Muzarabani North and South as well as Buhera North were denying opposition party supporters food donated by the international community. New Zimbabwe on allAfrica

IMF Weighs Lifting Freeze on Guinea-Bissau Funding
The International Monetary Fund could lift a suspension on payments aimed at helping Guinea-Bissau emerge from years of political turmoil following an evaluation mission this week, the institution’s country representative said on Monday. The IMF agreed a program with Guinea-Bissau last year after 2014 elections drew a line under a coup two years earlier – one of a succession that have spawned chronic instability and helped make the West African country a haven for South American cocaine traffickers. Disbursements were suspended in June, however, after the government took on 34 billion CFA francs ($58.3 million) in bad loans from two private banks. Donors followed suit and suspended budget support for 2016 equal to around 2.1 percent of GDP. Reuters

Liberia: Where Has Liberia’s Speaker Gone?
The whereabouts of House Speaker Alex Tyler are becoming the concerns of Liberians a week after he sought excuse to go for medical checkup outside of Liberia. Speaker Tyler who recused himself from presiding over Sessions of the House of Representatives as was demanded by some of his colleagues left the country last week for ‘medical checkup’ without stating where he was headed, though it is speculated he is in the United States where most government officials go for leave or medical checkups. Speaker Tyler was expected in Session the following week after his recusal but instead communicated to the body thru Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue asking for six weeks out of the country. The New republic on allAfrica

China and World Bank Form Firm to Fund Africa Projects
China and the World Bank have formed an infrastructure firm with an initial $500 million investment to help fund projects in Africa. China Overseas Infrastructure Development and Investment Corporation Limited (COIDIC) will invest and manage projects from concept to feasibility studies. It will also follow up on financial close and take part in commercial operations. Its shareholding comprises China Development Bank (CDB), China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) and China Gezhouba Group Overseas Investments. Others are China Telecom Global Limited Changjiang Survey, Planning, Design and Research (CISPDR), China ENFI Engineering Corporation and HCIG Energy Investment. It expects to rope in more partners next year. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones