Africa Media Review for September 3, 2019

South Africa: Scores Held after Looting, Anti-foreigner Protests

Police have arrested scores of people in South Africa’s commercial capital, Johannesburg, after protesters looted what appeared to be foreign-owned shops and set fire to cars and buildings. At least 70 people were arrested, the police said in a statement on Monday, in the second outbreak of urban rioting in a week. Hundreds of people marched in Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) earlier in the day, demanding foreigners leave, according to local news agency News 24. They targeted “shops they believed to be owned by foreign nationals”, the news website reported. Police fired rubber bullets at looters as burned cars were stranded on the roads. … The unrest started on Sunday when an old building in the CBD caught fire and collapsed, killing at least three people. It then spread to two eastern suburbs and to the executive capital, Pretoria, where local media reported shops burning in Marabastad – a central business area largely populated by economic migrants. Al Jazeera

Tunisian Security Chief, 3 Extremists Killed in Shootout

A Tunisian national guard chief and three extremists were killed in a clash Monday, on the first day of the country’s presidential campaign, authorities said. National guard officers and army troops were tracking a radical group in the Kef mountains near the Algerian border when shooting broke out, killing the four, national guard spokesman Housameddine Jbabli told The Associated Press. The security operation was ongoing near the town of Hydra in the Kasserine region, he said. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who is among 26 candidates running for president, told reporters that the extremists “were planning large-scale terrorist operations,” without elaborating. Radio Mosaique reported that two of the extremists were Algerians from the Okba Ibn Nafaa brigade, which is linked to al-Qaida’s North Africa arm. Tunisian security forces have stepped up land and air operations against extremists hiding in the hard-to-reach mountainous region, where dozens have been killed in clashes in recent years. AP

Burkina Faso Coup Leaders Given Lengthy Jail Sentences

Two senior allies of Burkina Faso’s deposed former president Blaise Compaore were sentenced to 10 and 20 years in prison respectively on Monday for organising a 2015 coup attempt against a transitional government. Protesters, angered by Compaore’s attempt to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule, forced him to flee the West African nation in 2014. Troops from the elite Presidential Security Regiment under the command of General Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s right-hand man, took members of the transitional government hostage less than a month before elections the following year. The week-long power grab failed, but 14 people were killed and more than 250 others were wounded as they attempted to resist the putsch. A military tribunal in the capital Ouagadougou found Diendere guilty of murder and threatening state security and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Reuters

‘If I Don’t Pay, They Kill Me’: Al-Shabab Tightens Grip on Somalia with Growing Tax Racket

Interviews with a dozen business owners in Mogadishu reveal al-Shabab’s quickly growing ability to tax the country’s most lucrative businesses, which analysts and former government officials say earns the group tens of millions of dollars per year, which it uses to fund its attacks on government and military targets, as well as on those who refuse to pay up. In most of rural Somalia, al-Shabab is in firm control and operates a parallel government. It has its own courts, road tolls and tax collection. But that system is spreading into Somalia’s capital, undermining the legitimacy of the U.S.-backed federal government in the only city that government reliably controls. “It is a very scary situation,” said Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Beileh. “We have not been able to address it. It is the number one problem in this country.” The Washington Post

Somalia Arrests Jubbaland Minister

A minister from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Jubbaland state has been arrested in Mogadishu, Somalia police said on Sunday, in a case underscoring tensions with the federal government. Jubbaland State Security Minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur was arrested for “serious crimes” arriving in Mogadishu from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, police said without giving details of the charges. But in a 2017 United Nations report, the minister is accused of ties to torture and human rights abuses between 2014 and 2015. … The minister’s arrest comes at a time of rising tensions between the Somalia federal government and the government in Jubbaland and their respective foreign backers. Jubbaland’s parliament last month re-elected Sheikh Islam Ahmed alias Madobe as its president, though the central Somalia authorities have refused to recognise the election results. AFP

Kenya-Somalia Cold War Continues amid Security Risks

Varying interests and pressure from outsiders are continually pushing Kenya and Somalia apart, with the two neighbours increasingly taking divergent positions on crucial issues such as regional security and diplomacy. Experts warn that this trend risks the resurgence of terrorism as the divisions could embolden the Somalia-based militants, Al Shabaab. The differences have lately manifested in the discussions around UN sanctions against Al Shabaab, Kenya’s candidacy for a seat at the UN Security Council and the conduct of Kenya’s military inside Somalia. Last week, it became clear that President Mohamed Farmaajo’s government may no longer be keen on working with Kenya, after Mogadishu fronted a spirited fight to block Kenya’s bid to tighten sanctions on Al Shabaab. The East African

The Big Threat to Uganda’s President Is a 37-Year-Old Pop Star

His life has been threatened and he’s been charged with treason, but a Ugandan pop-star-turned-politician is on a mission to do what no one else has managed for more than 30 years: topple the president. Robert Kyagulanyi, known by the stage name Bobi Wine, has emerged as the biggest threat to President Yoweri Museveni as a hugely popular figure among the majority of the nation’s people: the young, a third of whom are either unemployed or not receiving an education. His loose movement of supporters from across the political divide is proving to be a conundrum to Museveni, who’s had little trouble in the past routing traditional opposition parties. “We know that people power is stronger than the people in power,” Kyagulanyi, 37, said in an interview at his home in the capital, Kampala. “We are not into this for formality. We are into this to change our country.” Bloomberg

Tanzania has finally ratified the UN Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, despite being among the first to sign it when it was introduced in 1972. Tanzanian legislator Jasson Rweikiza, who led a three-year lobbying campaign for the country’s official endorsement of the treaty, confirmed this week that the long-delayed ratification was sealed in London on August 14, making the country the 183rd out of 197 eligible states that are now fully party to the convention. The convention, also known as the BWC, is an internationally co-ordinated effort to prohibit the wanton development, production, and stockpiling of toxic weapons in the midst of ongoing terrorism threats around the world. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have already ratified it, while South Sudan is among the few countries that have neither signed nor ratified the treaty. The East African

Nigerian Insecurity Requires Urgent Attention, U.N. Rapporteur Warns

Nigeria’s multiple security problems have created a crisis that requires urgent attention and could lead to instability in other African countries if it is not addressed, a United Nations rapporteur said on Monday. Security forces in Africa’s most populous country are trying to tackle a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, banditry in the northwest and bloody clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities over dwindling arable land in central states. Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Nigeria was a “pressure cooker of internal conflict”. “The overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern,” she told a news conference in the capital, Abuja, where she presented her preliminary findings following a 12-day visit to the country. Reuters

UN Chief Guterres Fears Eruption of ‘Full Civil War’ in Libya

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has said he fears Libya will end up in a “full civil war” unless moves are soon made to end the conflict. “Unless action is taken in the near term, it is highly likely that the current conflict will escalate into full civil war,” Guterres said on Thursday in his latest report on the UN Support Mission in Libya. He acknowledged the need for the support of the international community in finding a political solution for the country, where forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in early April. … “I am concerned by the presence of foreign fighters and mercenaries being employed by parties to the conflict in Libya, as well as by the influx of weapons to the country,” he added, calling for strict adherence to an arms embargo in place since 2011. Al Jazeera

DR Congo President and UN Chief Meet at a ‘Historic Moment’ for Democracy in the Country

On the third and final day of his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), UN chief António Guterres declared that the country is experiencing a historic moment, which could herald the development of democratic institutions. … The UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) will strengthen its capacity to tackle armed ADF militants, announced the Secretary-General, and increase its cooperation with the DRC Armed Forces, with the aim of better responding to the security concerns of the population. Mr. Guterres appealed to Congolese members of armed groups to lay down their weapons and integrate into the community, noting that the UN will do more to assist the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants. … The ultimate aim of the United Nations, continued the Secretary-General, is that MONUSCO will no longer be necessary, and that it can be replaced with a country team that concentrates on working with the government for the development and well-being of the Congolese people. UN News

Why the Ebola Response Is a Success in Goma – but Not Elsewhere in Congo

Even at Sunday Mass, you cannot miss the signs of Ebola. Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Goma line up behind buckets to douse their hands with a solution of bleach and water. Then they get in another line where a team of health care workers check their temperature with an infrared thermometer. The bells from the church tower toll. Girls run around in formal dresses. They flit around posters warning of Ebola symptoms, as the health workers look out at them from behind protective goggles. This scene was very different a few weeks ago, says Jean Roger Paluku Lula, the team leader from Congo’s Health Ministry. People were angry. They did not want health workers in their community. NPR

On a popular show in Conakry, Radio Espace Guinee presenters rant about the state of the country and in recent months, the attempt to keep President Alpha Conde in power has been a recurring theme, reflecting the local population’s concerns. In 2010, Conde, who leads the ruling Rassemblement du Peuple Guineen (RPG) party, won the first-ever democratic elections since the country’s independence from France in 1958. Four years ago, he was re-elected with a 58 percent majority against former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo’s Union des Forces Democratiques de Guinee (UFDG), which secured 32 percent. Under the current constitution, a president can serve two five-year terms. Another election is expected next year, but if the term limits are struck out either by a referendum or consent of two-thirds of parliament, Conde could remain president for life. Al Jazeera

Botswana to Hold National and Local Elections on Oct. 23

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has set Oct. 23 as the date for parliamentary and local elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said on Monday. The poll will elect 57 national assembly and 490 local government representatives, IEC spokesman Osupile Maroba said in a statement. The leader of the political party that wins most seats in parliament will become president of the country. Masisi’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been in power since independence from Britain in 1966, but has seen its support erode gradually, and in 2014 lost the popular vote for the first time. Masisi came to power in April 2018 through a well scripted transition, succeeding Ian Khama, who had served the maximum 10 years. The BDP’s main challenger is an opposition coalition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which says the BDP has been in power too long and presided over increased corruption, joblessness and inequality. Reuters

Algeria Army Chief Demands Presidential Election by December

Algeria’s army chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah has said the date of the country’s long-delayed presidential election should be announced by mid-September – a move that would result in polls being held before the end of the year. The official APS news agency on Monday quoted Gaid Salah – a key powerbroker since longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April in the face of the mass protests – as saying that an independent body “for the organisation and surveillance of the election” should be quickly installed. Angry at unemployment, corruption and an elderly elite seen as out of touch with the young, Algerians have been relentless in taking to the streets since February to protest, initially against the ailing Bouteflika’s plans to remain in office, and then for the removal of all remnants of a secretive political and military establishment that has dominated the country for decades. Al Jazeera

Life in an Internet Shutdown: Crossing Borders for Email and Contraband SIM Cards

When Zimbabwe turned off the internet during a recent crackdown, Obert Masaraure, a prominent government critic, had no way of knowing when it was safe to emerge from hiding. He waited one day, then another. On the third day he broke cover, hoping that a wave of arrests had come to an end. He was seized at home by soldiers 12 hours later. “If I had been connected,” Mr. Masaraure said, “maybe I would have got information that it wasn’t safe to be out there.” Internet shutdowns have become one of the defining tools of government repression in the 21st century – not just in Zimbabwe, but in a growing number of countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, that are seeking to quash dissent. The New York Times

New Tool to Quell Violence in Ethiopian Refugee Camps: Podcasts
A team of researchers and humanitarian professionals have developed a unique approach to combat domestic violence in the refugee camps of Dollo Ado in Ethiopia. The approach involves the co-creation of a podcast series called Unite for a Better Life, together with Somali refugees living in the camp to target the underlying factors that contribute to intimate partner violence in this setting. Theodros WoldeGiorgis, research manager and intervention specialist in humanitarian crisis, told VOA displacement and the breakdown of social structures is driving intimate partner violence in the refugee camps. … Over the past month, eight young Somali refugees have been trained and mentored to produce these podcasts in the local language. Together with researchers on the team, they have been developing content they believe will be effective in changing the way domestic violence is viewed in their community. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones