Africa Media Review for September 16, 2016

Overlapping Effects of Autocracy and Conflict in Africa
Marking the International Day of Democracy, these maps highlight the strong relationship between governance and conflict on the continent. Central, Northern, and the Horn of Africa exhibit the persistence of autocratic systems of governance. This overlaps closely, though not entirely, with the frequency and magnitude of conflict on the continent. The complementarity underscores the strong political dimensions of Africa’s contemporary conflicts. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Analysts: S. Sudan Arms Embargo – Better Late Than Never
Better late than never, that’s what analysts say about an arms embargo on South Sudan. The United States says it will back an arms embargo if the country’s government blocks the deployment of a regional protection force in the war-torn country and continues to hinder the movement of U.N. staffers and peacekeepers. But how much impact can the threat really have? A former arms expert on the U.N. Panel of Experts on South Sudan, Luuk van de Vondervoort, told VOA the United States has used the threat of an arms embargo as leverage several times, including once to get the government to sign a peace deal with rebels last year. VOA

South Sudan Refugees ‘Reach One Million’
The United Nations says the number of people who have fled South Sudan because of the country’s civil war has passed the one million mark.  The total includes more than 185,000 people who have left the country following fresh fighting that began in July.  More than 1.6 million people are also displaced within South Sudan.  Estimates for South Sudan’s total population vary between 10 and 12 million. This means that at least more than 20% are homeless as a result of the conflict. BBC

UNHRC Seeks Accountability for Human Rights Volations in S Sudan
Head of the Human Rights Commission on South Sudan has said that impunity in the country will continue unless there’s accountability for human rights violations. The commission is charged with looking into abuses that may constitute war crimes. Recent fighting between rival military factions in South Sudan has raised fears that the five-year-old nation could slide back into civil war. The three-member UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has said that lack of accountability in the country has seen human rights violations and abuses continue with impunity. UNHRC South Sudan’s Yasmin Sooka says: “One message that is coming through is that impunity will continue in South Sudan unless there is accountability. We believe that in the visits we make around the country, we will be able to relay this back to the human rights council and to make recommendations about what needs to be done.”  SABC

South Sudan Not Yet Acting on Pledge to Work with UN
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said on Wednesday South Sudan’s government had not taken any action on a pledge it made 10 days ago to cooperate on the deployment of more United Nations troops in a bid to avoid a possible arms embargo. During a UN Security Council visit to South Sudan earlier this month, President Salva Kiir agreed to accept 4 000 extra peacekeepers and to allow some 12 000 peacekeepers already on the ground to move around freely so they can protect civilians. Ladsous told reporters after briefing the Security Council on Wednesday the agreement “has not been enacted upon at all.” In the wake of heavy fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba in July, the 15-member council last month authorized a regional protection force as part of the UN peacekeeping mission and threatened to consider an arms embargo if Kiir’s government did not cooperate or stop hindering the movement of peacekeepers. SABC

Hunger, Shortages, and Hyperinflation: How are South Sudanese Making Ends Meet?
Nationwide, food inflation hit a record 850 percent in August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Some food price rises are 1,000 percent above the five-year average in Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal, the World Food Programme has warned. Renewed fighting in July in the capital, Juba, between the forces of President Salva Kiir and those of his rival-turned vice president Riek Machar contributed to the latest jump in the inflation rate. The fear the country would return to civil war sent the South Sudanese pound tumbling to the current rate of 80 to the dollar, compared to 15 to one a year ago. That is driving up prices in a country dependent on imports from its neighbours, including much of its food and all of its fuel.  IRIN

Kabila to Retain Power in Congo as Head of Caretaker Government
President Joseph Kabila will remain in power in the Democratic Republic of Congo until a voter registration process is completed and a new caretaker government will be appointed to run the nation before a delayed vote can be held. Representatives from Congo’s ruling party and members of a small opposition delegation, led by Vital Kamerhe, said they agreed that a comprehensive review of the country’s voter register must be completed before presidential elections, originally scheduled for November, take place. Justice Minister and ruling-party member Alexis Thambwe said the government would be reorganized to include members of the opposition to run the country until the vote. “We will manage the country together,” he told reporters in the capital, Kinshasa, late Wednesday. Bloomberg

DRC: Kabila Systematically Delaying Polls amid Opposition Repression – Amnesty
The International rights group, Amnesty International, has in its latest report on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accused the Kabila led government of doing all it takes to remain in power amid stifling of dissenting voices. This was contained in a 43-page report which documents how the government is violating rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, a situation they say is pushing the country into crisis. Amnesty accused the government of further labeling opposition parties as insurrection groups in order to jail their members. They also touched on the political dialogue which is ongoing but has been suffering setbacks in the recent weeks. Africa News

Arab Spring Star Tunisia Emerges as Islamic State’s No. 1 Source for Foreign Fighters
It’s considered the star performer of the ill-fated Arab Spring, the one country in the region where representative democracy has made major strides. But even here, the fight against radical Islamic violence requires an unceasing vigil. The head of a secretive U.S.-backed counterterrorism Fusion Center based in the capital says Tunisian government authorities are keeping at least 1,000 people under surveillance in the nation on suspicion that they are clandestine operatives of the Islamic State group. “Some have come back from Libya and some from Syria and Iraq,” said Karim Ammar, who heads the center at the heart of a growing struggle to prevent the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, from undermining Tunisia’s tenuous democratic rule. The Washington Times

Egypt to Receive Second Mistral Helicopter Carrier on Friday
Egypt is set to receive its second Mistral-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) warship from France on Friday, state owned news agency MENA reported. According to MENA, the Egyptian navy chief Osama Rabie arrived in France leading a senior Egyptian military delegation to attend the inauguration of the LHD named after the late Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat. The agency added that Rabie would raise the Egyptian flag on the helicopter carrier in the Saint-Nazaire harbour located in western France with the attendance of France’s marine chief Admiral Christophe Prazuck and a number of military leaders from both sides as well as representatives for the Mistral manufacturers DCNS. Al Ahram

Boko Haram Video Reinforces Schism with Daesh
A faction within Nigeria’s Boko Haram terror group released an Eid al-Adha video message Wednesday that further underlined tensions within the group and its movement away from Daesh. The group is led by Abubakar Shekau, who in March last year pledged allegiance to Daesh and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “We would want greet all our brothers in the faith and let them know this greeting is coming from the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, who is the leader of our group and we use this medium to reinforce his leadership,” a man in a white robe said after Eid prayers at a mosque in the Sambisa forest, the group’s main stronghold in northeast Nigeria. Unlike previous videos, there was no sign of Daesh banners or any acknowledgement of al-Baghdadi during the 13-minute footage. The speaker also referred to the group as Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad — the name it used before it was commonly called Boko Haram. Anadolu Agency

Can Buhari Get Nigerians to Queue Again?
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari famously ordered people to form neat queues as part of his 1980s “War Against Indiscipline”. Can he make Nigerians queue again? During Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election campaign one of the tactics used by the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign was to remind voters of life under President Buhari when he was a military leader in the 1980s. Pictures of Nigerians in long queues at banks and bus stops and people being whipped by soldiers imposing Gen Buhari’s so-called War Against Indiscipline were distributed in an effort to make him unelectable. However, the anti-Buhari campaign had the opposite effect. Many Nigerians voted for him because of what they saw as his tough stance. BBC

Mugabe Faces ‘Massive’ Protests at UN Summit
Exiled Zimbabwean cleric Evan Mawarire has urged his followers to join him in protests ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s arrival at the United Nation’s general assembly this weekend. According to New Zimbabwe, Mugabe left Harare on Wednesday to attend the 17th Non-aligned Movement summit in Venezuela as well as the UN general assembly in the US. Mugabe was reportedly seen off at the Harare international airport by his long time ally and Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa and a number of other ministers. In a video posted to his Twitter account, Mawarire said he was organising week long massive protests that would coincide with Mugabe’s arrival in the US. News 24

Running Out of US Dollars, Zimbabwe Says it Will Print its Own ‘Bond Notes’
The country, led by authoritarian President Robert Mugabe, adopted the US dollar and South African rand in 2009 after inflation — which peaked at 231 million percent — rendered the local dollar worthless. But Zimbabwe has run out of US dollar notes in recent months and hopes to ease the cash crunch by printing its own “bond notes” that will be valued in denominations of $2, $5, $10 and $20. The plan immediately attracted criticism, with analysts saying the token currency would not hold its US dollar value and would be seen as a new version of the valueless local dollar. PRI

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 East African

Zimbabwe VP Leaves Hotel after Incurring $620,000 Bill
One of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s two deputies has left a top Harare hotel after two years amid protests by disgruntled taxpayers. Mr Phelekezela Mphoko reportedly left the Rainbow Towers Hotel (formerly Sheraton Hotel) at the end of last month after spending 613 days at the presidential suite, arguing that he had no suitable accommodation in Harare. According to reports, the vice-president blew at least $620,000 in hotel bills after he checked in on December 10, 2014, only to leave last month to stay in a $2 million mansion. He moved to Harare’s leafy Highlands suburb after the government completed renovations and security upgrades. Mr Mphoko, a former ambassador to South Africa, Botswana and Russia, among other countries, was appointed by President Mugabe in December 2014. The East African

South Africa’s Political Infighting Adding to Downgrade Risk: Moody’s
Political infighting, weak economic growth and mounting debt at state-owned companies all pose a risk to South Africa’s credit rating, Moody’s said on Thursday. Moody’s, which rates Africa’s most industrialised economy two notches above sub-investment grade, said its negative outlook reflected “wide and rising political divisions that generate policy uncertainty and impede structural reforms”. President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan are locked in a power struggle over spending at state-owned companies and plans for a multi-billion dollar nuclear power programme, political and financial analysts say. Zuma denied this week that there was a “war” between the Presidency and Treasury. Reuters

Fuel ‘Too Dirty’ for Europe Sold to Africa
Campaign group Public Eye says retailers are exploiting weak regulatory standards. Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named because they are shareholders of the fuel retailers. Trafigura and Vitol say the report is misconceived and retailers work within legal limits enforced in the countries. Three of the distribution companies mentioned in the report have responded by saying that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market and have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be. BBC

Kenya refugee return scheme flouts international law: HCR
The repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya’s Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, breaks international standards as many returns are motivated by fear, a Human Rights Watch report said. Kenya wants to close Dadaab in north-east Kenya by November, insisting the camp is a security threat and a drain on national resources. It currently houses some 266,000 Somali refugees. But the rights watchdog said after a visit to the camp last month that many Somalis return home involuntarily, only to face danger, persecution and hunger. “Many refugees … say they have agreed to return home because they fear Kenya will force them out if they stay,” said HRW after interviewing around 100 refugees at the camp. Times Live

235 000 Migrants Ready to Head to Italy – UN
At least 235 000 migrants in Libya are ready to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Italy as soon as the opportunity arises, the UN envoy Martin Kobler said in an interview published Thursday. According to Italy’s interior ministry, nearly 128 400 migrants have arrived via the Mediterranean since the start of the year – which is a five percent jump over the same period in 2015. “We have on our lists 235 000 migrants who are just waiting for a good opportunity to depart for Italy, and they will do it,” Kobler told Italian daily La Stampa. “Reinforcing security is the most important issue at the moment. If we have a strong and unified army… then the dangers of terrorism and human trafficking will cease,” he added. News 24

A Canadian Peacekeeping Mission in Mali Could Be Most Dangerous Choice
Justin Trudeau is thinking of taking Canada’s military where Stephen Harper wouldn’t: to a mission in Mali. Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government plans to send a sizable peacekeeping mission to Africa, though the Prime Minister hasn’t said where. But a lot of work is being done on a potential mission in Mali. Canadian officials are in Paris to discuss a potential Mali mission with their French counterparts. That’s because France, the former colonial power in Mali, has its own troops in the country on a separate counterterrorism mission and the most extensive intelligence network in the region. At the same time, a Canadian Forces reconnaissance mission is in Mali. And back in Ottawa, the Canadian military is doing the planning for a large peacekeeping mission in Mali. It isn’t set. Mr. Trudeau and his cabinet have not signed off on any specific mission. The government announced it’s willing to send up to 600 troops and 150 police officers to a UN peace operation, and that they’re looking at several possibilities in Africa.  The Globe and Mail

Five Charged with Insulting Tanzania President Magufuli on Social Media
Five people appeared before a Tanzanian court Wednesday charged with insulting President John Magufuli on social media. The five – Dennis Temu, Suleiman Nassoro, Shakira Makame, Juma Mtatuu, Dennis Mtegwa – were arraigned before different magistrates where they denied the charges. They were separately charged with five offences of sharing offensive content targeting the president and the police between August 24 and 30, this year, contrary to Section 118(a) of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act No. 3 of 2010. State Attorney Salum Mohamed told the court that Mr Mtegwa posted an abusive and offensive comment on a WhatsApp group called DSM 114U Movement. He was arraigned before Resident Magistrate Yohana Yongolo. The East African

Africa’s Large Companies are Growing Faster and Making More Money Than Their Global Peers
Large companies in Africa are growing faster than their peers in the rest of the world, raking in $1.4 trillion in annual profits and contributing to government taxes and higher wages, a new report finds. The continent has 700 companies with annual revenue of more than $500 million, 400 of which generate more than $1 billion, says the new study from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). These large companies consist of both African-owned brands and foreign-based multinationals operating within the continent across a wide range of sectors. Five years ago, African economies were accelerating, and the continent was home to six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies. Yet that sunny confidence has waned due to the drop in oil and commodity prices, besides the sociopolitical instability that came along with the Arab Spring. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones