Africa Media Review for September 5, 2019

S. Africa, Nigeria Beef Up Security after Xenophobic Attacks
Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa and Nigeria stepped security on Wednesday after deadly attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg triggered reprisal assaults on South African businesses in Nigerian cities. The centre of Johannesburg and the impoverished suburb of Alexandra were calm as police stepped up patrols following two days of looting, AFP reporters saw. Shops cautiously began to open again, as some residents sifted around in wrecked stores, looking for food. Amid mounting concern for relations between South Africa and its neighbours and Nigeria — the continent’s most populous market — President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated his condemnation of the violence. “We face a huge challenge. A number of people (are) taking the law into their own hands,” he said in Cape Town, ahead of a three-day meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) due to be attended by 15 African leaders. Five people, most of them South Africans, have been killed and at least 289 have been arrested since the violence flared on Sunday. AFP

Femicide Protests Rock WEF Africa Conference in South Africa
Students, men and women on Wednesday demonstrated against South Africa’s “femicide epidemic” as the World Economic Forum on Africa kicks off in Cape Town, amid growing alarm over gender violence in the country. Some 500 demonstrators, mainly young women, gathered in front of the conference venue, where government and business leaders are gathered for the three day meeting, in an effort to draw attention to recent high-profile rapes and killings. With chants of “we want justice”, protesters carried banners that read “Am I next?”, “Rape is a man’s issue” and “This is a femicide epidemic, but it’s time to fight back”. Some scuffled with police outside the venue. … The rally was prompted by two recent brutal murders that have triggered outcry and much soul-searching in a country that is seen as one of the world’s most dangerous places for women and often appears numb to murder and sexual violence. … The foundation for the country’s moral compass, retired archibishop Desmond Tutu, said gender and xenophobic violence in South Africa “reflect a national emergency”. Africa News

U.N. Outlines 8 Reasons Why 2020 Burundi Vote Is ‘Risky’
The United Nations says all factors indicate that Burundi’s elections in 2020 will be problematic because of an unresolved political crisis and a president who is increasingly portrayed as a “divine” ruler. The report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said there was a climate of fear and intimidation against anyone who did not show support for the ruling CNDD-FDD party. Police, security forces and the ruling party’s youth league, the Imbonerakure, had continued to commit serious human rights violations, including killings, disappearances, torture and gang rape of people allegedly opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza. Using a U.N. risk analysis for potential atrocity crimes, the U.N. investigators said all eight common risk factors were present in Burundi. “There is no better early warning than this,” the U.N. panel’s chairman Doudou Diene said in a statement. Reuters

Libyans Continue ‘Spilling Their Blood on the Battlefield’ as Fight for Tripoli Rages On
Renewed conflict has “spread geographically” and “exacted a heavy toll on civilians and those fighting”, said UN Special Representative for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, revealing that more than 100 civilians have been killed, over 300 injured and 120,000 displaced. Acknowledging that there are “no confirmed figures” for fighters who have died, he informed the Council that “anecdotally the figure appears to be in the low thousands” as another generation of young Libyans “are spilling their blood on the battlefield, when their skills could better be used to rebuild their country”. Drawing attention to airport attacks, he noted that “disaster” was narrowly averted last Sunday when a plane full of returning pilgrims was “miraculously not hit” by a series of shells fired at Mitiga airport. Seven people were, however, injured. Mr. Salamé, who also heads the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) asked for the Council’s “strong support” in condemning indiscriminate shelling, “which threatens the lives of substantial numbers of civilians”. UN News

Uganda Questions Open-Door Refugee Policy
The Ugandan government has decided to review its open-door refugee policy, citing concerns about security and criminality. The country has, in the past few years, been hailed around the world for its all-embracing approach to hosting refugees and has given shelter to more than a million people from across the region. Refugees Minister Hillary Onek told the BBC that Uganda was looking at its refugee policy because some neighbouring countries had abused it by deploying spies disguised as asylum seekers to destabilise the country. Uganda has previously accused Rwanda of infiltrating its intelligence services. The minister said that some high-profile refugees had been abducted and even killed by people who had come into the country as refugees. Another concern is criminals fleeing justice in their own countries, who come to Uganda as refugees, the minister added. BBC

Ceasefire Monitors Concerned over Clashes in S. Sudan Areas
The body monitoring South Sudan ceasefire (CTSAMVM) has expressed concerns over military confrontation incidents involving non-signatories to the peace agreement in Aweil East, Raja and Yei River State areas. “These incidents are a matter of concern. They are being investigated by CTSAMVM, and we will discuss the findings from our investigation into Aweil East here today,” Maj. Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno, the CTSAMVM chairman said at a meeting in Juba Thursday. “CTSAMVM continues to monitor the overall security situation and reports of tension in order to encourage early mediation to prevent escalation,” he added. The CTSAMVM is mandated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to monitor and verify the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities as per the peace deal. Abiche, however, said the ceasefire continues to hold with no reported incidents of clashes between the parties to the revitalized agreement. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Rebels Urge Government to Fund Peace, Not Roads
South Sudanese opposition leaders said that the government’s failure to make funds available for the implementation of a peace accord could plunge the country back into war. The country’s largest rebel group accused President Salva Kiir of failing to provide $100 million needed to support the establishment of a transitional government within two months. The criticism intensified after reports that Kiir’s administration allocated $700 million to build a highway. “What is the point of saying that we don’t have funds and yet you have heard that the government is going to build a $700 million road? What is the priority, those roads or the peace?” said Henry Odwar, deputy chairman of the rebel group led by former Vice President Riek Machar. In the worst-case scenario, the alternative “would be war,” Odwar said in an interview in the capital, Juba. Bloomberg

CAR: Two Boys in Need of a Home, Two Parents Mourning Lost Children
Two children who walked into a village in the north-west of the Central African Republic earlier this year, after a long trek through forest and savannah, are symbolic of a growing problem: after years of civil war, thousands of children in the country have been orphaned. Could recruiting large numbers of foster parents be the answer? Late one morning at the height of the dry season, Henriette Idjara was heading home to her village when she spotted two boys slumped by a parched riverbed. Clothes torn, caked in dust, the teenagers were in dire need. Henriette couldn’t turn away. As a mother who had lost five of her own children, the 53-year-old felt a strong maternal instinct telling her to help. BBC

Charity Helps Fight Child-Trafficking in Malawi, as Country Grapples to End Vice
Since last September, however, their case has been beset by delays, largely due to lack of interest in reinforcing existing anti-trafficking laws. In 2015, Malawi enacted a Trafficking in Persons Act, which mandated the creation of a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Fund to support victims in terms of care and court proceedings. Child rights campaigners say the arrangement continues to lack procedures to support the victims. They say, for example, no budget has been allocated to the fund this year. Caleb Ng’ombo is the director of People Serving Girls at Risk. “Lack of enforcement of laws is affecting us in so many ways,” Ng’ombo says. “For example, for an institution to take a case to court, requires a lot of resources. And for you just to lose on a technicality is a major setback not only for us as an organization, but also to the girls who are searching for justice.” Ng’ombo says with support from international women’s rights organization Equality Now, efforts are being made to seek justice for victims. VOA

Ethiopia: Ethnic Strife Threatens Church’s Unity
Simmering ethnic strife in Ethiopia has reached the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Nationalists of the biggest ethnic group, the Oromo, are threatening to split the church. Developments are bound to further undermine unity. It started out as a legitimate grievance, Reverend Daniel Seifa Michael acknowledges: “There are issues that they have raised which are really of concern. Like the church has to be strong in the evangelical services in the Oromo communities. And the church has to provide Oromo language services,” the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC’s) foreign affairs department told DW. But he added that the solution cannot come from the outside and must be part of an internal administrative process. The man behind the drive to create a separate Oromo Orthodox Church is the Reverend Qesis Belay. Over the weekend, he gave the EOC a deadline of 30 days to comply with his demands. DW

E. Guinea Holds Journalists for ‘Work They Shouldn’t Have Done’
Two journalists working for a private TV station in Equatorial Guinea are being held by police after they interviewed a suspended judge, sources told AFP on Wednesday. The tiny West African state has one of the world’s worst records for media rights, ranking 165th out of 180 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Raul Obiang, head of news for Asonga TV, said journalists Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Dario Bacale were picked up a week ago after broadcasting an interview with a judge, Nazario Oyono. Oyono was suspended on August 21 by the president of the Supreme Court for “irregularities.” … RSF called on the authorities to free the pair, adding that their arrest “shows the extreme vulnerability of journalists” working in Equatorial Guinea. VOA

SANDF Chief Outlines Plans to Create Food Security in South Africa
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief general, Solly Shoke, visited the city last Wednesday with a contingent of defence force personnel at the Army Support Base Combined Club. Central to the chief general’s address were plans to eliminate the military’s dependence on obtaining food and vegetables from other parties. He stressed the importance of the SANDF’s involvement in upskilling the reservists in the army by teaching them about farming, in order that they are able to sustain themselves during the times they are out of uniform. Shoke said, “Globally, there is no country that is successful without a strong defence force. There is no economy that can grow if the defence force is weak.” In light of this, the SANDF has launched Operation “Koba Tlala”, which means “chasing away hunger”. The general touched on aspects in contemporary South African society which contribute to crime, adding that the migration of large portions of the population to urban areas creates a number of challenges, such as overcrowding and a scarcity of resources. Lowvelder

Xenophobic Attacks on African Migrants in South Africa Have Been Escalated by Misinformation
Nigeria’s government is responding to reported xenophobic attacks on its citizens in South Africa by boycotting the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa and will reportedly recall its ambassador to South Africa. Nigeria’s foreign minister also invited the South African high commissioner to Nigeria “to protest the unacceptable burning and looting of properties belonging to Nigerians” and make “concrete proposals” for compensation of Nigerians affected. … The graphic images of these latest xenophobic attacks-both real and fake-have had an impact that’s now reverberating across the continent, resulting in reprisals. … Graphic videos and photos purported to be recent have been a key element driving the waves of reprisal attacks and rhetoric. Nigerians have been sharing videos on WhatsApp of burning bodies claimed to be the bodies of Nigerians in South Africa attacked in recent days. However, as fact checks have already shown, several videos and images that have gone viral “are unrelated to the recent outbreak.” Quartz Africa

Malaria Breakthrough as Scientists Find ‘Highly Effective’ Way to Kill Parasite
Human trials of new antimalarial drugs are in the pipeline after Kenyan scientists successfully used bacteria to kill the parasite that causes the disease. The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and global health partners say the breakthrough could potentially lead to the development of a new class of drugs in less than two years. The promise of a new treatment comes after vaccine trials in Burkina Faso proved that Ivermectin, a conventional drug used for parasitic diseases including river blindness and elephantiasis, reduced transmission rates. The medication worked by making the blood of people who were repeatedly vaccinated lethal to mosquitoes. The study also found that Ivermectin can kill plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite carried by female mosquitoes, when administered to humans. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones