Africa Media Review for September 24, 2020

Corruption on Epic Scale Robs Future of South Sudan’s People, UN Report Finds
U.N. Investigators warn peace in South Sudan and the future of its people are being compromised by deeply entrenched government corruption. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has submitted its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.The report presents a deeply disturbing picture of a country mired in crooked schemes aimed at enriching the political elite at the expense of millions of impoverished people who are bearing the scars of years of conflict and abuse. Commission chair Yasmin Sooka says South Sudan is a country where lives are being destroyed by financial corruption on an epic scale.  She says looting and pillage are not just offshoots of war, they are the main drivers of the conflict. … Sooka says the commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and the government.  She says they have misappropriated a staggering $36 million since 2016. VOA

UN Rights Experts Calls on Mali Junta to Release Officials
A United Nations human rights expert on Wednesday urged Mali’s junta to release former government officials they have held since a coup d’etat on Aug. 18. The call by Alioune Tine, U.N. independent expert on human rights in Mali, came as a mediator for the West African regional economic bloc arrived in the country to discuss a transition government named earlier this week and that will be installed Friday. Former defense minister and retired Col. Maj. Bah N’Daw will be inducted as the transitional president while the head of the junta, Col. Assimi Goita, will be the transitional vice president. The junta, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August, detaining him, the prime minister and other government officials. Keita, who became ill, was eventually released and has gone to the United Arab Emirates for treatment. … Tine said 13 of the 18 detained officials are still being held at the Kati military camp in the Malian capital of Bamako. AP

Gambia Opposition Laments Failure of Bid to Curb Term Limits
The Gambian parliament’s rejection this week of a new constitution that would have limited the number of presidential terms represents a “dark day” for democracy, the leader of the West African nation’s main opposition party said on Wednesday. The draft bill included a two-term limit, which would have applied retroactively, preventing President Adama Barrow from emulating other West African leaders who have used new charters as reset buttons on their mandates. After days of intense debate, 31 lawmakers in Parliament voted to reject the bill on Tuesday, while 21 voted to approve it for a national referendum. … Barrow came to power after a 2016 election, ending 22 years of authoritarian rule by Yahya Jammeh. After winning plaudits for committing to respect rights and investigate abuses under Jammeh, Barrow has faced sometimes violent public protests since he reneged on a promise to step down after three years in office. Reuters

Ethiopia: From Nobel Peace Prize to Uproar in Less Than One Year
Outraged by the slaying of a popular Ethiopian musician, about 100 youths descended on the British Lodge in the Rift Valley town of Batu, torched its 16 rooms and forced its guests to flee. Almost three months later, the tourist getaway some 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa, remains shut. All but five of its 33 staff have been let go, and the smell of charred furniture permeates what remains of its buildings. … The Batu attack was part of a wave of protests following the June 29 assassination of singer Hachalu Hundesa that saw an eruption of long-simmering ethnic tensions in the east African nation. With a fresh outbreak of violence in western Ethiopia over the past three weeks, the upheaval is compounding a succession of setbacks for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed less than a year after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Bloomberg

Ivory Coast to Free Opposition Leader’s Allies in Pre-Vote Peace Gesture, Spokesman Says
Seeking to calm tensions in Ivory Coast ahead of a presidential election, the authorities plan to release associates of opposition leader Guillaume Soro who have been held in detention for months, a government spokesman said on Wednesday. President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term, following the sudden death of his handpicked successor in July, has led to recurrent violent protests. The opposition has called for further unrest in the run-up to the Oct. 31 poll. The detainees close to Soro, who include five lawmakers, have been held without trial since they were arrested in December over an alleged coup plot that has led to Soro’s exile in Paris. Government spokesman Sidi Tiemoko Toure said some of the detainees would be released, although they may still face prosecution. Reuters

Somalia’s Lawmakers Approve Roble as New Prime Minister
The Somali parliament on Wednesday approved the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble as prime minister, less than a week after his nomination. Roble, who was appointed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo last week, replaces Hassan Ali Khaire, who was removed from office after a no-confidence vote. The appointment was approved by 215 lawmakers, with no objections. Roble, a Swedish-Somali who has been working for the International Labour Organization in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, takes office at a time when the country is in a transition period, with elections set for early 2021. Addressing parliament, Roble promised to form a cabinet that would steer the country through the transition. Khaire announced on Sept. 13 that he would run for president in Somalia’s upcoming election. Bloomberg

Eastern Libyan Forces Say They Killed Islamic State Leader
Eastern Libyan forces said on Wednesday they killed the leader of the Islamic State group in North Africa during a raid in the southern desert city of Sebha earlier this month. The Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed al-Masmari said Abu Moaz al-Iraqi was among nine militants killed during the raid but was only identified afterwards. Islamic State in Libya was formed by al Qaeda militants who took advantage of the chaos after the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi to seize territory and launch attacks. The group took control of the central coastal city of Sirte in early 2015 and established a presence in the vast southern desert as well as active affiliates or cells in major cities. Reuters

Assassination of Top Anti-Gang Cop Shocks South Africa
The killings of Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear and Sergeant Thabile Mapoma have sparked outrage across the South African Police Service. Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear was, at the time of his murder, investigating high-profile cases within the Anti-Gang Unit, while another officer – Sergeant Thabile Mapoma – was shot dead in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. They were both killed outside their homes. An investigation by Maverick Citizen found that Kinnear received death threats for almost ten years, more so after 2018 after he, along with colleague Major General Jeremy Vearey, investigated a gun racket in Durban. A week before his murder, Kinnear visited Springs in Ekurhuleni where he was investigating the application for gun licences of Cape Town underworld figures not approved by the Northwood police. allAfrica

Regulators in Africa’s Big Economies Are Scrambling to Get on Top of a Spike in Cryptocurrency Trade
In August 2018, a report on the state of cryptocurrency regulation across Africa came back with one obvious conclusion: most countries were undecided on what to do. In fact, 21 African countries had made no public stance on cryptocurrency regulation at the time, while only two had shared favorable stances about potential regulation. But, in what represents a major shift, Nigeria and South Africa … are stepping up regulatory plans. In April, South Africa took its first steps towards creating cryptocurrency laws by publishing a framework proposal and, more recently, Nigeria laid out plans to regulate cryptocurrencies through its Securities and Exchange Commission. … Luno, one of the continent’s oldest exchanges says monthly trading volume in Nigeria and South Africa alone topped $549 million in August-a 49% increase since the start of the year. … There is also evidence of increasing adoption specifically due to the global Covid-19 pandemic … Quartz

Libya: How Russia Tried to Weaponize Charlie Sheen
What’s behind an odd, international campaign to free a Russian operative from a Libyan jail? … In June, Libyan prosecutors formally charged Shugaley and his translator, accusing them of espionage and of working for Yevgeny Prigozhin as part of a wider plot to help Russia secure a military base in Libya. Prigozhin is the catering magnate believed to be behind Russia’s troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, and the linchpin of a shadowy group of Russian mercenaries known as the Wagner group. According to documents obtained by the London-based Dossier center and reported by various media outlets, Shugaley was part of an operation to bring Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, the fugitive son of deposed dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, to power in Libya. If so, it would fit Russia’s pattern of betting on all horses in the Libyan quagmire to ensure that they are well-positioned no matter who wins. FP

Oil Exports to Resume from Blockaded Libyan Port
The first oil exports from a Libyan port blockaded since January by Khalifa Haftar, the renegade general trying to seize power in the country, are due to be loaded on to a tanker on Wednesday, according to the state-owned Arabian Gulf Oil Company. Agoco said that the Delta Hellas tanker would enter Hariga port on Wednesday and load 1m barrels of oil from the port’s storage. The export of oil from Hariga was made possible by a controversial Russian-backed agreement announced on Friday between Gen Haftar and Ahmed Maiteeg, deputy prime minister of the internationally recognised government based in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The deal was negotiated by Mr Maiteeg independently of ministers in the Government of National Accord, which Gen Haftar has been trying to unseat. Russia is a main backer of the military strongman who has a power base in eastern Libya. FT

Chad Halts Lake’s World Heritage Status Request over Oil Exploration
Chad has asked to suspend an application for world heritage site status for Lake Chad to explore oil and mining opportunities in the region, it can be revealed. In a letter leaked to the Guardian, Chad’s tourism and culture minister wrote to Unesco, the body which awards the world heritage designation, asking to “postpone the process of registering Lake Chad on the world heritage list.” The letter says the government “has signed production-sharing agreements with certain oil companies whose allocated blocks affect the area of the nominated property.” … The request follows a multiyear process involving the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria to jointly nominate the Lake Chad cultural landscape to the Unesco world heritage list. It has been nominated as both a natural and a cultural site. … Lake Chad, is the setting for one of the world’s most complex humanitarian crises, triggered by factors including the climate crisis, religious extremism, population displacement and military operations. The Guardian

We Learnt Lessons from the Ebola Outbreak; DR Congo President Says Country Moved Swiftly to Curb Coronavirus Spread
Learning its lessons from the Ebola outbreak, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) took swift and decisive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, when the first cases were detected in March, the country’s President told world leaders, gathered virtually, at the UN General Assembly. Addressing, via a pre-recorded video, President Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi said that quick action by the Government brought down the mortality rate in the DRC from 10 per cent in the first days of the pandemic to 2.5 per cent today. He also called for international efforts, including cancellation of debts and “no-strings-attached financing” to help developing countries recover from the pandemic and to build back better. UN News

Maasai Gather for Once-in-a-Decade Ceremony to Turn Warriors into Elders
Thousands of Maasai men clad in red and purple shawls and with their heads coated in red ochre gathered this week for a ceremony that transforms them from Moran (warriors) to Mzee (elders). Around 15,000 men from all over Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania congregated in Maparasha Hills in Kajiado County, 128km from Nairobi, to feast on an estimated 3,000 bulls and 30,000 goats and sheep. The ceremony occurs once every decade at the site, which is surrounded by hills and dotted with acacia trees. … The arrival of the novel coronavirus in March forced a postponement of the ceremony, which was meant to have been held earlier in the year. … During the ceremony, the men were accompanied by their wives, who also wore colourful shawls and beads around their necks and sang songs praising and encouraging the incoming group of elders. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones