Africa Media Review for September 28, 2016

Confidential UN Report Details South Sudan Threats, Violence
The U.N. ambulance carried an urgent patient: a local woman in labor. South Sudan government soldiers stopped the ambulance 15 times at checkpoints in the capital, Juba. The Aug. 2 journey, which usually takes 15 minutes, lasted nearly two hours. “The baby was dead on delivery,” says a confidential report from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the U.N. Security Council. The report, obtained by The Associated Press, is a stark list of the ways South Sudan’s government has obstructed the U.N. peacekeeping mission in a country devastated by civil war. In one incident last month, two South Sudanese soldiers stopped a U.N. vehicle and threatened to kill the international staffers inside, the report says. In another, soldiers in the capital beat the driver of a U.N. truck “with an electric cord.” AP on Fox News

South Sudan Rebels Say Government Troops Attack Base in North, Threaten Retaliation
Rebel forces in South Sudan said government troops attacked their garrison in a town in the north on Tuesday, and they threatened swift retaliation, stoking fears of another full-blown military confrontation in the young nation. Political rivalry between South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and former vice president, Riek Machar, sparked a civil war in 2013. Although the pair signed a shaky peace deal a year ago, fighting has continued and Machar fled the country in July. He is now in Khartoum in neighbouring Sudan. Kiir’s government on Tuesday asked Sudan and other states in the region not to let Machar launch a new rebellion, after he threatened a return to the battlefield unless his demands needed to revive a peace deal were met. Reuters

South Sudan Urges Sudan, Neighbours Not To Let Machar Launch Rebellion
South Sudan’s government urged Sudan and regional states on Tuesday not to let opposition leader Riek Machar launch a new rebellion, after he threatened a return to the battlefield unless demands needed to revive a peace deal were met. Machar is in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, having fled South Sudan after fighting flared between his supporters and those of his rival President Salva Kiir in July. The two had signed a shaky peace deal in 2015 after two years of conflict. After talks in Khartoum involving senior commanders and officials in the SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) last week, Machar and his allies in a statement ordered their forces to reorganise for “armed resistance” to Kiir’s government. The East African

Cobra Faction of Ethnic Murle Defects from South Sudan Government
The Cobra Faction of the armed forces composed of ethnic Murle community based in Pibor county have declared defection and joined opposition forces to fight against the government of President Salva Kiir, accusing him of no commitment to peace in the country. The top leadership of the Cobra Faction of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A), which signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014 that ended more than two years of armed struggle under the command of the current deputy defense minister, David Yauyau, said they have defected from the government and formed armed opposition under the command of General Khalid Boutros, Yauyau’s former deputy. Sudan Tribune

Top South Sudan Journalist Found Dead
A respected South Sudan journalist, Isaac Vuni was reportedly found dead alongside a road, three months after he was abducted from his home by unknown gunmen. According to BBC live, Vuni’s wife, Lucy Jua, confirmed that her husband had been found dead in what she believed to be a politically motivated murder. “On Thursday we were informed that he was killed, but there is no information. Two youth or three found him dead, so they buried him. “We don’t even know where he was buried. No information up to now,” Lucy was quoted as saying. News 24

Burundians Protest Against UN Report on Human Rights Violations
“The report is full of lies. They were told big lies and they accepted them, but did not verify the lies with the (Burundian) government authorities,” said Burundian National Assembly Speaker Pascal Nyabenda at Mubimbi, Bujumbura Rural province. According to him, some Burundians living in exile are responsible for all those “fabrications.” The three UN independent experts had been to Burundi twice in March and June this year. The third visit due this month was however cancelled for security reasons. The report, issued on Sept. 20 in Geneva, covers a period ranging from April 15, 2015 to June 30, 2016, and fears the possibility of a “genocide (in Burundi) if preventive measures are not taken”. News Ghana

Kabila and Katumbi Fight for US Favours
Two well-connected Washington lobbying firms are working towards influencing the US government policy toward the Democratic Republic of Congo. The BGR Group, described in a press account last year as “a multi-pronged political powerhouse,” is being paid an initial fee of $875,000 to represent the government of Joseph Kabila. Akin Gump, considered one of the most profitable and prestigious US lobbying firms, is meanwhile working on behalf of Moises Katumbi, one of President Kabila’s strongest opponents. The wealthy Congolese businessman paid an upfront fee of $180,000 for six months’ worth of Akin Gump’s services. Mr Katumbi, the former governor of Katanga Province, was convicted in June, while outside the country, of selling a house that he did not own. The East African

No DRC Leader Gives Up Power Peacefully, So Why Would Joseph Kabila?
ust over a decade ago, the Democratic Republic of the Congo witnessed a profound moment in the country’s history, when millions of people went to the polls to vote for a new constitution. It was significant, not least because the wording of the constitution had been agreed by the government and dozens of rebel leaders, who had finally come together after seven years of war. A key part of the constitution dictated that a presidential election must be held every five years, with a non–renewable presidential limit of two terms. This detail was crucial for a simple reason: no president of the DRC since independence in 1960 had met a peaceful political end. The Guardian

US Military Says it Kills 4 al-Shabab Fighters in Somalia
The U.S. military says it has killed four al-Shabab extremists in Somalia in what it calls airstrikes in self-defense. A U.S. Africa Command statement on Tuesday says the extremists launched attacks on Somali troops and their U.S. advisers on Monday in a village near the port city of Kismayo. The statement says Somali forces returned fire, killing several extremists, but the attack continued. The U.S. then conducted its strike, killing four fighters. U.S. forces have carried out several airstrikes in Somalia in recent years, killing many al-Shabab leaders. The extremist group is now mostly active in rural regions but continues to launch lethal attacks in many parts of this Horn of Africa nation, including the capital. AP on Stars and Stripes

Somali Radio Journalist Shot Dead in Mogadishu
Somali radio journalist Abdi Aziz Ali Haji has been shot dead in Mogadishu. Director of Shabelle radio Abukar Sheikh Mohamud told VOA that two men armed with pistols on a motorbike shot and killed Haji in Yaqshid district on Tuesday evening. Mohamud said the victim was walking when he was targeted. “He did not come to work today he was on leave, he was visiting his father and relatives who live in that area,” Mohamud said. Shabelle Radio has lost the most journalists of all media organizations Somalia. Haji is the 13th journalist working for the station killed since 2007. Eleven of them were gunned down while two others died in al-Shabab suicide attacks. VOA

UN Fears ‘Manipulation’ As Somalia Delays Elections
The United Nations has expressed disappointment over a new delay in Somalia’s presidential and legislative elections, and expressed hope that the balloting will be “transparent and credible.” The UN special representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, said on Tuesday that UN officials are worried about the postponement – the latest in a series of election delays in the troubled Horn of African country. “The renewed delay raises a number of fears. Let me name just two: that the process is being politically manipulated, and that this delay may only be one of yet further ‘rolling delays’,” Keating told the UN Security Council. Al Jazeera

Bongo Sworn in As Gabon President After Disputed Election
Ali Bongo was sworn back in as Gabon’s president Tuesday, calling for unity after a disputed election win that sparked deadly unrest and revealed deep divisions in the oil-rich country. The 57-year-old used the ceremony to appeal for unity after the deadly violence that followed the announcement of his victory last month. He pledged to ensure “equal opportunities” for all in the new government “which I will name in a few days.” Government spokesman Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze said Bongo wanted to install “a unity government by this week or the start of next week”. France 24

Massacre At a Stadium: Guinea Confronts Its Past
Asmaou Diallo was watching television in her home on the outskirts of Guinea’s capital, Conakry, when the shooting began on the morning of September 28, 2009. Her heart sank. Her oldest son, 33-year-old Ali, had left home to join a pro-democracy rally that day, and she had feared the event could turn violent. She dialled his number but got no answer. She called again repeatedly until, eventually, someone picked up. But the voice on the other end was not her son’s. “That’s when I knew, deep down, that he was dead,” she tells Al Jazeera from her living room. “Ali was never without his phone.” Ali was one of the 156 people killed that morning in the West African republic after soldiers stormed the national stadium where an anti-government rally was being held. Seven years later, with an unprecedented trial scheduled for 2017, his mother is leading the fight for justice. Al Jazeera

U.N. Calls For Support For Libya Government, Upholding of Ban on Arms
The top United Nations official in Libya called on Tuesday for countries to support the fledgling national unity government of the North African country and do more to halt banned arms shipments there. U.N. envoy Martin Kobler also cited “positive signs” of management of Libya’s oil sector and in ensuring that revenues go into the central bank’s coffers. But Libya remains plagued by corruption and an absence of the rule of law, marked by “abominable” state-run detention centres holding migrants trying to reach Europe, he said. The fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 brought chaos that splintered Libya into rival armed fiefdoms. A U.N.-backed Government of National Accord has been trying for months to extend its authority beyond its base in Tripoli in western Libya. Reuters

Nigeria Mulling Oil Assets Sale That Could Reshape the Industry
Nigeria’s possible sale of some of its oil and gas assets to raise money and boost the contracting economy in Africa’s most populous country could reduce the government’s influence over its biggest industry. President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic advisers are working on a plan “to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning,” to help deal with the slump in oil revenue, Budget Minister Udoma Udo Udoma said in a Sept. 24 statement. The ministry of Petroleum Resources is examining what oil assets could be sold, Udoma’s spokesman, James Akpandem, said last week. Battered by low oil prices and a dearth of foreign investment, Nigeria’s economy will probably shrink in 2016 for the first time in 25 years, according to the International Monetary Fund, which forecasts a 1.8 percent contraction. A 15-month currency peg, fuel and power shortages and a slump in crude production, have cut output. The country’s foreign-exchange reserves have fallen by more than a third since the end of September 2014 to $24.8 billion. Bloomberg

Internal Warfare Tears at South Africa’s Ruling African National Congress
Beset by plunging poll numbers, factional infighting and a raft of corruption allegations, the party of Nelson Mandela is at war with itself. In the weeks since the African National Congress recorded its worst election results since the collapse of apartheid, cabinet ministers, activists and party grandees have squared off, exposing deep rifts ahead of a leadership contest scheduled for December 2017. Allies of President Jacob Zuma are openly fighting with Treasury Minister Pravin Gordhan over control of state finances, including the running of state-owned enterprises, anticorruption agencies and the central bank. The drip of corruption allegations against Mr. Zuma and his wealthy business associates has swelled to a torrent. Ratings firms have warned that political infighting could see South Africa downgraded to junk status. The Wall Street Journal

How Senior Laos Officials Cut Deals With Animal Traffickers
Officials at the highest level of an Asian government have been helping wildlife criminals smuggle millions of dollars worth of endangered species through their territory, the Guardian can reveal. In an apparent breach of current national and international law, for more than a decade the office of the prime minister of Laos has cut deals with three leading traffickers to move hundreds of tonnes of wildlife through selected border crossings. In 2014 alone, these deals covered $45m (£35m) worth of animal body parts and included agreed quotas requiring the disabling or killing of 165 tigers, more than 650 rhinos and more than 16,000 elephants.  The Guardian

Morocco Goes Bilingual As King Rounds Off Reforms
Morocco is adopting Amazigh spoken by its Berber community as an official language alongside Arabic, rounding off a reform programme launched by King Mohammed VI in 2011. The government adopted bills on the use of Amazigh and on the right to strike, the royal palace said on Monday night. It said the language bill covers “the methods of [its] integration in education and in different sectors of public life” in Morocco. The cabinet also approved the establishment of a royal institute on Amazigh culture. On the labour front, conditions and terms have been adopted on the right to strike, a first in the history of the former French colony. News 24

Climate Change on the Front Line, in Rural Zimbabwe
The last time Tabitha Moyo’s borehole went dry was the drought of 1992, a disaster that affected 20 million people across southern Africa. That the 50-metre well is bone-dry now is an indication of just how severe this year has been for farmers in Zimbabwe. It rained just four times between November and February in Sanyati, a rural hamlet 350 kilometres south of the capital, Harare. “There’s real hunger in this area. People are suffering,” said Moyo. “The last two years have been the worst in living memory.” Sixty-five-year-old Gogo Dlamini is partially blind. Together with her frail 72-year-old husband, they lost everything they planted this season and are forced to live off aid handouts. “There’s nothing in my granary,” she told IRIN. IRIN

What It Takes to Make a Conflict-Free Smartphone
On a moonscaped rise in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of men and women carve a heavy, off-white mineral away from the hillside with pickaxes, then wash it with shovels in man-made streams and haul it down the hill in 110-pound sacks. They are the sort of independent miners that big companies usually chase away when they get a minerals concession in Africa. Here, the workers instead are the face of a new collaboration that allows miners and company alike to profit — while proving to companies such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. that what they mine doesn’t fund armed conflict. The face of this effort is Ben Mwangachuchu, a 56-year-old University of Notre Dame graduate who came home from Washington, D.C., to try to make it work in a country still torn by factional conflict. It’s a struggle as he copes with low prices and spates of smuggling, he says. But the system is slowly paying off and he’s beginning to reinvest profits in mechanization that will help him improve efficiency and double revenue. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones