Media Review for April 15, 2016

Thousands March in Harare in Rare Mass Protest Against Robert Mugabe
In one of the biggest protests seen in Zimbabwe in recent years, thousands of opposition supporters marched in the capital to denounce Robert Mugabe’s alleged misrule. Mostly wearing the red colours of the main opposition MDC-T party, marchers in Harare chanted songs denouncing the 92-year-old president, who recently said he had no plans to step down. Such huge demonstrations are rare in Zimbabwe, where police routinely use force to break up opposition protests. Police had initially banned Thursday’s march before a court overturned the ban. The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who shared power with Mugabe for five years before losing disputed elections in 2013, organised the march. The Guardian

Zim Protesters Threaten to Shut Down Embassy in SA
Officials at the Zimbabwe’s embassy in Pretoria were taken to task on Thursday by protesting members of a new party, Zimbabwe People First, which was recently formed by sacked deputy president of that country, Joice Mujuru. The protesters were demanding the right to vote in Zimbabwe polls from South Africa, where they reside. Insults were hurled at the embassy’s minister counsellor, Simon Chisorochengwe, who came out to receive the protesters memorandum. He was closely guarded by members of the South African Police Service. The protesters, wearing white People First T-shirts, became agitated when Chisorochengwe told them that Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo was not available. IOL News

Step Down, Zimbabwean Churches Tell Mugabe
Zimbabwean churches have called on “long-time” President Robert Mugabe, 92, to step down over “his failed economic policies” and “worsening human rights record”, a report said on Thursday. According to NewsDay, the president of the Christian Voice International Zimbabwe (CVI-Z), Tapfumaneyi Zenda, claimed that Zimbabweans had suffered enough under the nonagenarian’s “misrule”. Zenda further alleged that the veteran leader was holding the country to “ransom” by refusing to step down. “As long as the president does not want to genuinely repent and to find a notable gesture for the butchered people and the surviving relatives, he continues to hold Zimbabweans to ransom. The honourable thing for him to do is stepping down,” Zenda was quoted as saying. News 24

Zimbabwe’s Thirstlands: Where Drought Shrivels Lives and Crops
In Mutaramuswa, Zimbabwe, for four months, Ripisai Manonge and her four orphan grandchildren and great grandchild have survived on half a dollar a day. Now she can’t go on, she says. On November 25 last year, the 80-year-old sold the last of her cattle for $350. That amount has kept 11-year-old Lewis Mukonya in class and provided food for HIV-positive Enoch Kwaramba, siblings Elvis and Moreblessing Mudzengerere, and 18-year-old Forget Muchumwe. “This year’s harvest equals a bucket,’’ she said, surveying drying maize grains salvaged from her scorched fields. “I have nothing left.’’ Zimbabwe, along with the rest of southern Africa, is in the grip of an El Niño-induced drought which has cut crop yields and killed livestock threatening half a million children with hunger, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Zimvac). The government has declared the drought an emergency and appealed for $1.6-billion in food assistance.  Daily Maverick

Burundi Ruling Party Official Killed in Tit-for-tat Violence
A official from Burundi’s ruling party was shot dead, a local administrator said on Thursday, in what appeared the latest in a spate of tit-for-tat killings that UN officials fear is driving the nation back into conflict. Phocas Bakaza, a member of the CNDD-FDD party in Mutimbuza area near the capital Bujumbura, was killed late on Wednesday. Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack, district administrator Damien Barindambi said. More than 400 people have been killed in politically motivated violence, UN officials and rights groups estimate, since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announced his bid for a third term in April 2015. Opponents said his move violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended the country’s 1993-2005 civil war. The government cited a subsequent court ruling that said he could run again, and he went on to win a disputed vote in July. The East African

Ghana Government Memo Warns of Possible Militant Attack
Ghana and Togo are the next targets for Islamist militants following high-profile attacks this year in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, according to a memo from Ghana’s Immigration Service. The memo calls for better border protection in the latest sign of a heightened government response to the threat to West Africa by militants based in northern Mali who have stepped up a campaign of violence in the last year. It says the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) has evidence from neighboring Ivory Coast from the interrogation of a man suspected of orchestrating an attack on March 13 in which 18 people were killed. Reuters

French, UK, Spanish Ambassadors Arrive in Libyan Capital
Ambassadors to Libya from France, Britain and Spain arrived in the capital Tripoli on Thursday, reiterating the international community’s support for the new, U.N.-brokered unity government and pledging to reopen embassies closed two years ago because of the fighting. Most foreign embassies closed in 2014 as Tripoli descended into heavy clashes between militias supporting rival camps. The country later became engulfed in turmoil that has split it into rival governments and parliaments: an outdated parliament and a government backed by a set of Islamist militias and seated in Tripoli, and second parliament and its government based in eastern Libya, which had been internationally recognized as legitimate. AP on Stars and Stripes

Four Chad Opposition Leaders Get Suspended Sentences
A Chadian court on Thursday handed down four-month suspended sentences on four civil society leaders arrested for urging anti-government protests ahead of a presidential election last weekend. The court convicted them for “attempting an unarmed gathering” in the run-up to Sunday’s election, in which President Idriss Deby is set to win another five-year mandate following 26 years of tough rule over the central African nation. But Mahamat Nour Ahmed Ibedou, Younous Mahadjir, Nadjo Kaina Palmer and Celine Narmadji were to be released later on Thursday, a judicial source told AFP. The case of a fifth activist, arrested several days after the four, will come to court on a later date. Those arrested came from the Union of Trade Unions of Chad (UST) and the civic movements “That’s Enough”, “Enough is Enough” and Iyina (”We are tired”). News 24

Polisario Urges U.N. to Keep Pressure on Morocco over Western Sahara
The leader of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front separatist movement on Thursday wrote to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging him and the Security Council to pressure Morocco to stop interfering with U.N. peacekeepers. Last month, Ban used the word “occupation” to describe Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara in 1975, when Rabat took it over from colonial power Spain. Infuriated by what it saw as a shift away from a neutral position, Morocco expelled dozens of U.N. staff working for the mission there known as MINURSO. “We warn that the absence of real and direct pressure on the occupation state of Morocco … will be considered a green light to a military aggression by the Kingdom of Morocco against the Sahrawi people,” Polisario President Mohamed Abdelaziz wrote to Ban in a letter seen by Reuters. Reuters

Revelations From Panama Papers are Old News for Africans
Outsiders have long claimed the moral high ground in accusing African elites of endemic corruption. But, by what seems an example of the law of unintended consequences, the disclosures from the Panama Papers of dubious financial dealings by a vast global cast of political and business leaders have — however briefly — flipped the perspective. True, a clutch of senior officials and relatives of political leaders from African nations have been identified in the leak of millions of documents from a Panamanian law firm relating to offshore havens that can facilitate the circumvention of taxes. “Poverty in Africa is also multidimensional, in the sense of limited access to education, health care, housing, potable water and sanitation,” the report said. “This situation puts the loss of more than $50 billion a year in better perspective.”  The New York Times

South Sudan: A New Dawn After Years of Wasted Lives?
The civil war in South Sudan is over. So claimed Alfred Ladu Gore, deputy chief of the rebels, as he returned to the capital Juba for the first time in two-and-a-half years on Tuesday. He said that the fighting “has come to an end”, and that the rebels were ready to “proclaim peace”. It was a good sound bite, and a promising omen for what might just be the most important few days in South Sudan’s short but bloody history. It was only in mid-2011 that South Sudan achieved its independence. Freed from Khartoum’s shackles, and with enormous oil wealth, the future was bright for the world’s newest nation. But this dream was shattered in December 2013, when vicious fighting in the capital forced the collapse of the government, as forces loyal to President Salva Kiir battled those who answered to the vice-president, Riek Machar. Ethnic divisions, between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer, fuelled the tensions, and it wasn’t long before Machar had fled Juba to initiate a fully-fledged rebellion. Daily Maverick

S. Sudan’s Machar to be Sworn in on Arrival Next Week
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has accepted to swear in the country’s first vice president designate, Riek Machar when the latter arrives in the capital, Juba on Monday in what appears a shift from a previously defiant government position. “President Salva Kiir has agreed to swear in Riek Machar as first vice-president on Monday April 18, 2018 without further delay,” the government chief negotiator, Nhial Deng Nhial told reporters shortly after a meeting attended by President Kiir and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) head, Festus Mogae. Sudan Tribune

Government Soldiers Leave Juba Before Rebel Leader’s Return
Rows of soldiers in camouflage uniforms stood at attention Thursday, chanting war songs in a dusty field at Jebel Makor, 45 minutes from South Sudan’s capital, Juba. The troops are some of the thousands that South Sudan’s army is supposed to move out of Juba before the arrival Monday of rebel leader Riek Machar. The idea is that limiting troops in Juba will reduce the chance of clashes. The two sides agreed that nearly 5,000 government soldiers and police can remain in town, while the rebels can bring in 3,000. But the rebels accuse the government of failing to withdraw its soldiers, and of secretly bringing in extra troops. VOA

Video of Chibok Girls Puts Pressure on Nigeria’s Buhari
A video showing 15 of the 219 schoolgirls held by the jihadist group Boko Haram has added pressure on the Nigerian government to secure their release, after activists accused authorities of mishandling the case in the two years since their mass kidnap. Weeping parents identified the girls captured by Boko Haram fighters, who want to establish an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria and have waged a seven-year campaign of violence, killing thousands of people and displacing two million. President Muhammadu Buhari, elected a year ago on a promise to end endemic graft and crush the group, said in December the government could talk to Boko Haram if credible representatives emerged. In January he said the government was launching a new investigation into the kidnapping, vowing to return the girls captured at a school in the town of Chibok while taking exams. But little has emerged since then. Reuters

If We Could #BringBackOurGirls, They Might Not Be Welcomed With Open Arms
When 276 girls were forced at gunpoint from their dormitory beds at a school in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 12, 2014, it sparked the creation of #BringBackOurGirls. The campaign, originating in Nigeria, became a global sensation as it pressured the Nigerian government and world leaders to rescue the girls from their Boko Haram kidnappers. In the first hours after the kidnapping, a few dozen girls escaped, but 219 girls in their teens essentially disappeared. Two years later, the world’s attention has waned. The kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls are still missing, with no indication of where they are or even how many are still alive. What if by some miracle the girls were brought back? You’d expect them to be welcomed with open arms, with love and support. Credit: International Alert/ UNICEF In fact, there are some victims of Boko Haram abductions who have returned to freedom. A February 2016 report by UNICEF and International Alert, a global peace-building organization, estimates that Boko Haram has kidnapped as many as 2,000 women and girls since 2012. Some of them have been rescued by military operations. NPR

Chibok Girls: Could UK Have Done More?
It seems unbelievable that two years on – apart from a few students who managed to escape soon after capture – not a single one of the 219 missing schoolgirls kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok by the Islamist Boko Haram group in April 2014 has been found. The British prime minister promised to help rescue the Chibok girls, as they had become known. “This is an act of pure evil,” David Cameron told the House of Commons. “It has united people across the planet to stand with Nigeria to help find these children and return them to their parents.” BBC

Libya Warns it Can Not Stop Migrants Crossing to Europe
Libya has warned that it does not have the resources to control the flow of people heading to Europe. It has accused the EU of failing to deliver on promises of help. The latest figures show more than 24,000 people have already made the crossing from Libya to Italy this year. The UN says 352 people have died since January. In Misrata the coastguard is struggling to cope with the numbers of migrants’ boats setting sail. BBC

The Geostrategic Consequences of South African Turmoil
Last week, nearly 40 percent of South Africa’s parliament voted to impeach President Jacob Zuma. The vote fell short of the two-thirds needed, but it shows the growing anger with Zuma and his catalogue of blunders. Even disregarding earlier scandals, Zuma has over the past few months dragged one of the most stable, powerful and important sub-Saharan democracies through a number of remarkable constitutional and political crises. In December, Zuma replaced his well-respected finance minister with an unqualified political ally, shocking investors. South Africa’s currency plummeted and business community outrage forced Zuma to reverse course. He then named the competent Pravin Gordhan to the post, but promptly directed spurious investigations toward him as punishment for enacting policies preventing opaque governance. Shortly after, reports emerged that amidst the Zuma Cabinet shake-up, various officials were being offered positions not by Zuma, as constitutionally appropriate, but by private-sector citizens — the unelected, ultra-wealthy Gupta family, who are close allies of Zuma. The Hill

UN Accused of Withholding New CAR sex Abuse Claims
The United Nations is withholding more than 40 new cases of sexual violence by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) in direct contravention of its promise to disclose all information to the public, an NGO has said. AIDS-Free World, the US-based NGO, said on Wednesday that it received information that the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) had documented 41 additional cases of sexual violence by peacekeepers in the country. The NGO, which is running the Code Blue campaign to end impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse, said that a cable leaked to them showed that MINUSCA had informed UN headquarters on April 7 that an “integrated team” sent to the town of Dekoa from March 25-April 4 interviewed 59 women and girls and found 41 new cases had never been previously reported. Al Jazeera

DR Congo MPs Want Court Ruling on Kabila’s Future if Polls Not Held
Supporters of DR Congo President Joseph Kabila want the country’s highest court to rule on whether he would stay in power if his government fails to hold election due in November, a senior ally said on Thursday. Kabila, in power since 2001, is required by the constitution to step down when his second elected term ends later this year. The government says logistical and budgetary problems could prevent it from holding the vote on time, while his opponents claim he is deliberately delaying the polls to extend his rule. The uncertainty over the polls has sparked debate over what the constitution prescribes is not held on time. The East African

Paris to Send Reinforcements to Mayotte After Violent Protests
France will send police reinforcements to Mayotte as the Indian ocean territory has been rocked by several nights of violent protests, Paris announced Wednesday. It follows a fortnight of sporadic social unrest on the archipelago, where protesters are calling for education funding, benefits payments and working conditions to be boosted to match the rest of France. France’s minister for overseas territories, George Pau-Langevin, told AFP that Mayotte is facing “a social movement with demands launched by trade unions” as well as an outburst of violence by some young people “who have no prospects”. She added that she had agreed with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to send police reinforcements to the islands but did not indicate how many officers would be deployed. France 24

Mali’s Keita Operated on in France for Tumour
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita underwent an operation at a hospital in Paris this week as part of treatment for a benign tumour on his neck, the presidency said in a statement late on Wednesday. Keita, 71, who has served as president of the West African nation since 2013, was operated on for a parathyroid adenoma in a procedure on Tuesday described by the presidency as routine. “The after effects are generally simple… The recovery is progressing normally,” the statement said. IOL News

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