Africa Media Review for September 6, 2019

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean Leader Who Helped Liberate and Destroy His Country, Dies at 95
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president who rose to power as a champion of anti-colonial struggle but during 37 years of authoritarian rule presided over the impoverishment and degradation of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising countries, has died. He was 95. His death was announced on Twitter on Friday by Zimbabwe’s current leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa. … Mugabe was forced to resign as Zimbabwe’s leader days after the army staged a coup in November 2017. At the time, he was world’s oldest head of state and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. … Mugabe emerged from the bush in 1980 and took power in what was once white-minority-ruled Southern Rhodesia after a protracted civil war. He pledged pragmatism and reconciliation. But after a promising start, the country once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa descended into a nightmare of widespread unemployment, hyperinflation, hunger and disease. The Washington Post

‘We’re at War’: A Covert Social Media Campaign Boosts Military Rulers
Days after Sudanese soldiers massacred pro-democracy demonstrators in Khartoum in June, an obscure digital marketing company in Cairo began deploying keyboard warriors to a second front: a covert operation to praise Sudan’s military on social media. The Egyptian company, run by a former military officer and self-described expert on “internet warfare,” paid new recruits $180 a month to write pro-military messages using fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Telegram. Instructors provided hashtags and talking points. Since the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April, new employees were told, protesters had sown chaos in Sudan. Their demands for democracy were premature and dangerous. Order had to be restored. “We’re at war,” an instructor told the new employees. “Security is weak. The army has to rule for now.” The New York Times

Sudan Forms First Cabinet since Removal of al-Bashir
Sudan’s prime minister has announced the formation of the first government since the military removed longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April after widespread street protests. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced the names of 18 ministers in the new Cabinet, and said he would name two more later. The members include Sudan’s first woman foreign minister and a former World Bank economist. “A new stage in Sudan’s history starts today,” Hamdok said at a news conference in the capital, Khartoum. “We are seeking an end to the war and [want to] achieve sustainable peace.” He said the cabinet would “immediately” go to work on the top challenges facing the transitional administration, which include overhauling the ailing economy and achieving peace with armed groups. “If we could put an end to this [military spending], it would go to health and education,” he said. Al Jazeera

North Darfur Academics Protest RSF Homes Near Campus
On Wednesday, dozens of professors and staff at the University of El Fasher staged a protest in front of the university director’s office to demand stop the allocation of large areas of land near the campus to members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia. Participants in the vigil condemned the continued silence of the government on this issue, calling on Acting Governor Malik Khojali to declare his clear and explicit position in the case. One of the organisers of the vigil, who asked not to be named, told Darfur 24 that the university administration recently received a letter from the state’s Ministry of Urban Planning that 139 residential plots west of the university are to be given to members of the RSF. He added that all professors and workers reject the measures. In a statement by Amnesty International carried by Radio Dabanga last week, the international human rights organisation calls on the Khartoum government to withdraw the ‘trigger-happy’ paramilitaries from all law enforcement activities across the country. Radio Dabanga

South Africa Vows Crackdown on Violence against Women
South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa vowed Thursday to crack down on perpetrators of violence against women, after thousands of protesters gathered on the streets of central Cape Town this week demanding the government address the issue. “It is a crime against our common humanity,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a video statement that aired on Thursday evening. “We’ve heard the calls of the women of our country for action and for justice.” Ramaphosa promised a raft of reforms but stopped short of declaring a state of emergency, one of the demands of demonstrators who have clashed with police in front of the convention center where the World Economic Forum on Africa is underway. South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. Ramaphosa’s pledge to take action follows days of outrage that have gripped the country after reports emerged in the last week of several women being raped and murdered. AP

ISWAP Fighters Kill Three Soldiers, Policeman in Borno
At least three soldiers and a policeman were killed on Thursday when IS-backed jihadists attacked the town of Gajiram, Borno state, security sources and residents told AFP. Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed the town around 0100 GMT in nine all-terrain trucks fitted with machine guns and engaged troops and policemen in a gunbattle. It was the third attack on the military in the town in a month, part of a wider Islamist militant insurgency that has raged in Nigeria for a decade. “The terrorists killed three soldiers and a policeman in the attack and seized some vehicles,” a security source told AFP. “They seized five military vehicles including a mine-resistant armoured truck and a police van in the attack,” said the source who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to speak on the incident. The militants first attacked the town late Wednesday, forcing troops and policemen to withdraw from the town, according to residents. AFP

Attackers Kill Two Aid Workers in Western Ethiopia – Aid Group, U.N
Unidentified attackers killed two aid workers who were returning from a refugee camp in an western Ethiopia region that shares a border with South Sudan, their aid group and a U.N. organisation said. The attack happened on Thursday in Gambella region, which shares a porous frontier with South Sudan, when the staff of U.S.-based Action Against Hunger were returning from a child nutrition centre at Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp. “Team members were in transit from our 24-hour paediatric Nutrition Stabilisation Center in Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp when they were ambushed by armed individuals,” Action Against Hunger said in a statement on Thursday. “Two employees were killed at the scene. Action Against Hunger has suspended full operations in Gambella, but are maintaining the provision of life-saving assistance.” Nguenyyiel camp hosts just over 74,000 refugees from South Sudan, according to data from the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. Reuters

Ethiopia Opens Up Notorious Maekelawi Detention Center to the Public
Authorities in Ethiopia have opened the doors of a former notorious detention facility located in the capital Addis Ababa to the public. The four-day opening up of Maekelawi Police Station is part of the celebration of Ethiopia’s Justice Day which falls on Tuesday Sept.10, 2019. State affiliated FANA Broadcasting Corporate quoted the Attorney General’s office as saying the public could visit the facility between today and Monday (6 – 9 September). After years of being at the heart of critical human rights reports and routine denials by the government, the facility was closed down in the post-Abiy Ahmed era. It was closed down in 2018. The place is to be turned into a museum, reports said. Africa News

Heroin Shipments from Afghanistan to Africa Rising – Report
The volume of heroin being shipped from Afghanistan along a network of maritime routes in east and southern Africa appears to have increased considerably, a report has revealed. In its 2019 report, a group called Enhancing Africa’s Response to Transnational Organized Crimes (ENACT) said Africa is experiencing the sharpest increase in illicit drug market. Heroin use and a spectrum of criminal networks and political elites in east and Southern Africa are substantially enmeshed in the trade. According to the report, most of the heroine is destined for western markets, but there is a spin-off trade for local consumption. … South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia serve as entry destinations to Africa, the report stated. Ezega

Canadian Military Wraps Up Mali Peacekeeping Mission
Canadian Armed Forces members are heading home after the military concluded its peacekeeping mission in Mali on Saturday. More than 200 soldiers and eight helicopters were sent to Gao in the northern part of the African nation last July to support the ongoing UN mission there. Over the duration of the mission approximately 1,250 CAF members have deployed on Operation Presence-Mali. They performed 11 medical evacuations, over 100 transport missions and had logged thousands of flying hours transporting passengers and cargo, according to a press release from the government. “The professionalism of Canadian Armed Forces members was on display throughout the past year in Mali,” Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, said. “I am beyond impressed with the work our people have done to support peace operations in Africa.” Canada is passing the baton to Romania and its helicopter division. CBC

Cameroon Sends Military to Troubled CAR
Cameroon is dispatching more than a thousand troops to help bring peace to its troubled neighbor, the Central African Republic. The troops are leaving as analysts say they are already stretched handling such internal crises as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Boko Haram insurgency and the separatist crisis that has left at least 3,000 killed in three years. The Cameroon military band plays as the first contingent of over 300 peacekeeping troops leaves for the neighboring Central African Republic on September 4. Cameroon’s defense minister, Joseph Beti Assomo, said they have been well trained to join the U.N. peacekeeping mission of more than 13,000 troops, police and civilians to restore peace to the Central African Republic while respecting the rights and dignity of the people they are protecting. Beti Assomo said Cameroon was deploying 1,300 troops and civilians who, by protecting the Central African Republic, will also be protecting Cameroon. Cameroon hosts about 250,000 CAR refugees, and rebels quite often cross over and hold Cameroonian farmers and cattle ranchers for ransom. VOA

Cameroon Villagers Say Chinese Miners Are Ruining Local Environment
Villagers near Meiganga, a town in northern Cameroon, are protesting against Chinese gold miners for allegedly ruining their land. The villagers say they are poorer than before the Chinese arrived, with their farms and forests now destroyed. Area cattle ranchers and farmers say that if nothing is done to save them from Chinese miners, famine may strike their locality soon. Their spokesman, rancher Mamoudu Poro, 54, says the miners destroy farms and do not bother to cover holes and trenches they dig on roads and ranches before leaving. He says they want the Chinese to build the roads they destroyed and fill the trenches they dug, give them electricity and at least a school and a market before leaving. Cameroon’s minister of mines, Gabriel Dodo Ndoke, says the complaints of the villagers are legitimate. He says he has asked the companies to respect the terms of their contract with the government. VOA

AU Hands Over Military Base to Somali Police
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Thursday it has handed over a military base in south-central region to Somali police as part of transition plan. AMISOM said Warsheikh Forward Operating Base (FOB) which was a base for the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) since 2014 has since served as a key route that secures the Mogadishu-Cadale main supply route to enable the free movement of goods and people. Richard Banyankimbona, Burundi contingent commander, urged the Somali Police Force who has taken over the control of the military base to remain vigilant in order to secure the base and its neighborhood. … The Burundi troops have exercised control and managed peace and security in Warsheikh military base for five years. The base which will now serve as the operational base to secure over 50 villages around Warsheikh district, the AU mission said. Xinhua

Flood-Ravaged Nigerian Communities Unprepared for More Rains
Nigeria will experience torrential downpours and massive flooding this month, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency warns. Nigeria is approaching the peak of its rainy season, and flooding is expected to hit 15 out of its 36 states this month. The agency has issued a red alert because of above-normal water levels on the country’s two largest rivers, the Benue and the Niger. In August, many communities along the rivers were cut off due to collapsed bridges and impassable roads. Four students were killed when a pedestrian bridge fell at a university in the northern region. With thousands of houses and hectares of farmland and produce destroyed along with schools and shops, the economic impact of this year’s flooding is expected to be high. The country’s emergency management agency is stepping in to distribute items like cement bags, blankets and hygiene products. VOA

Briefing: Why Women and Children Are at Greatest Risk as Ebola Continues to Spread in Congo
As schools reopen this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the situation is worrisome for some two million children and their families in the Ebola outbreak zones in the east of the country. Despite some promising new treatments and an effective vaccine, the disease continues to spread and consistently claim lives more than 13 months after the outbreak was declared in North Kivu province on 1 August, 2018. Out of more than 2,050 people known to have died from Ebola so far, more than a third have been children. Young children under five have been hit particularly hard in this outbreak, the second deadliest since the virus was discovered in 1976. Eastern Congo’s ongoing conflict and extreme poverty have only exacerbated the situation. The New Humanitarian



Photo: Adam Jones