Media Review for April 5, 2016

Congo-Brazzaville: Attacks Blamed on Ninja Militia Group
The Congolese government has blamed attacks on government buildings in the capital, Brazzaville, on the Ninja militia group. Security forces were deployed on Monday morning and heavy gunfire was heard in the streets The Ninjas were a major anti-government force in the 1997-99 civil war. The violence comes weeks after Denis Sassou Nguesso won a third presidential term in a poll that the opposition said was marred by “massive fraud”. At least one police station and a government building were attacked in the Makelekele district. The Ninjas were loyal to former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas, the father of Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, who stood in the presidential election in March and got 15% of the vote. Mr Sassou Nguesso, in power for more than 30 years, won the election with 60% of the vote. BBC

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma Faces Impeachment Vote
South Africa’s parliament is due to vote on an opposition-sponsored motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma. The Democratic Alliance (DA) said he was no longer fit to govern after the country’s highest court ruled last week that he had breached the constitution by failing to repay public money used to upgrade his private residence. The governing African National Congress (ANC) is expected to defeat the motion. It denounced the impeachment proceedings as a publicity stunt. The DA said it would demand a secret ballot, but parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete has rejected the proposal. BBC

The Panama Papers Are the Tip of a Very Dirty African Iceberg
The murky world of offshore companies is suddenly marginally less murky – with potentially disastrous consequences for dodgy leaders and crooked businessmen. For African countries, who are disproportionately impacted upon by these illicit financial flows, the Panama Papers revelations highlight the injustices of a system that disproportionately impacts on the continent. Like the rest of the world, Africans woke up on Monday morning to a slew of headlines generated by the release of the Panama Papers. This leak of confidential information, described as the biggest in history, lifts the veil on the murky world of offshore tax havens, revealing how politicians and businessmen benefit from a system that is designed to be completely unaccountable. This is not entirely new information. Africans in particular have been lobbying hard for the global tax system to be completely overhauled, arguing that the billions lost by African countries through tax evasion or avoidance could revolutionise their economies. Daily Maverick

Offshore and Africa – What’s In the Leaked Panama Papers?
The leaked Panama Papers exposing the workings of offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca resulted in a number of stories published on Monday detailing offshore entities stretching from Uganda to Sierra Leone. The internal documents expose the company’s questionable dealings in Africa highlighting missing taxes, dodgy infrastructure tenders and secret holdings in the diamond industry. RFI spoke to Amanda Potgieter, managing editor, African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting.  RFI

Panama Papers: Flaws in Sierra Leone’s Diamond Trade
He is De Beers’ most prolific diamond buyer, a supplier to the luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co., and an alleged criminal, accused of bribing the wife of a former Guinean president to land a multibillion-dollar iron deal. Given that profile, it’s not surprising that Beny Steinmetz and his eponymous company try to stay out of the limelight. But with the Steinmetz Group’s alleged tax avoidance scam in South Africa and an ongoing US grand jury investigation into corruption in Guinea, for the past two years, Steinmetz hasn’t been able to keep his name out of the headlines. So, to avoid exposing the company, the embattled billionaire allegedly sold his 37.5% share in the Steinmetz Group’s diamond segment, Diacore, to his brother, Daniel, in 2014. Steinmetz left the Steinmetz Group’s diamond business, Diacore, but has kept a business in Sierra Leone diamonds through the British Virgin Islands-based entity Octea. Times Live

Panama Papers Highlights Links Between Oil And African Leaders, Businessmen
What do an Angolan minister, a Congolese politician, a Nigerian governor and the nephew of South Africa’s president all have in common? They all have ties to oil money and are among those implicated in the so-called Panama Papers leak.  […] Angola is the second-largest oil producer in Africa, pumping out 1.8 million barrels per day, according to 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Energy. Activists say the oil riches line the pockets of Luanda’s few elite and bypass Angola’s poor masses, though the Angolan government denies any corruption. “The oil sector is very opaque,” Fernandes said in a telephone interview Monday. “There are lots of links that are being confirmed just by this leak, and it’s only one firm in Panama where information has been leaked.” International Business Times

Panama Papers: Sons of Two Top Ghanaian Leaders Named
The sons of Ghana’s ex-president, John Kufuor, and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan have been named in leaked confidential documents that have revealed how the rich and powerful used tax havens to hide their wealth. The documents, leaked from one of the world’s most secretive firms – Mossack Fonseca, show how the company helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxes. The documents also link 72 current and former heads or States to the firm’s operations. Kufuor’s eldest son, John Addo’s offshore company, according to the reports, allegedly controlled a $75,000 bank account for the former first lady, Theresa Kufuor. According to the leaks, “In early 2001, shortly after the start of his father’s first term, Kufuor appointed Mossack Fonseca to manage the Excel 2000 Trust. Later that year it controlled a bank account in Panama worth $75,000. His mother – Theresa Kufuor, former Ghana first lady, was also a beneficiary”. The Africa Report

African Leaders Hit out at Transparency over Corruption Index
African leaders have criticised corruption measurement indices done by multinationals on perception of the vice in countries worldwide. The continent’s leadership is now asking for an ‘African’ way of measuring corruption that will represent the realities in Africa. At the just concluded African Development Week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the leaders say in their fourth Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) African Governance Review report that previous measures have misrepresented realities in Africa and are misguiding policymakers and investors.  The report, titled Measuring corruption in Africa: The international dimension matters, says that many existing indicators are highly subjective and based on the opinions of elites. As such, they are not suited for making country comparisons and ignore the international aspects of corruption. The East African

West Africa: Stability, Continuity in Governance Necessary to Defeat Terrorism in West Africa, Says Osinbajo
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has identified continuity in governance and political stability in the West African sub-region as important elements in the fight against Boko Haram and insurgency. A statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice-President, Laolu Akande, said Osinbajo spoke at the weekend in Niamey, Niger Republic at the inauguration of President Issoufou Mahamadou for a second term in office as the president of Nigeria. The vice-president said the re-election of the Nigerien leader was significant for the sub-regional coalition against insurgents. He said Niger remained a good neighbour of Nigeria and an important partner, and also in the war against terrorism Osinbajo noted that Mahamadou’s investiture “has great significance because first Nigeria understands President Issoufou well. He is an old hand and Nigeria has worked well with him as a partner. So, his re-election brings continuity and is good for the fight against Boko Haram and the insurgency in general.” This Day on allAfrica

Cameroon Opposition Defies Police, Protests Biya’s Hold on Power
The opposition in Cameroon has defied police and continued protests against efforts by the ruling party to organize early elections, with several protesters having been wounded or arrested since last Tuesday. The opposition, which encouraged protesters to dress in black on Sunday, said Cameroon President Paul Biya, 84, is angling to be “president for life” after 34 years already in office. Kah Wallah, opposition leader of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP), said they are dressed in black as a symbol of sadness over Biya’s long stay in power and persistent brutality against voices opposing his attempt to be “president for life.” Wallah said dozens of protesters have been arrested or wounded by heavily armed police in several towns, including Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, and the economic capital Douala during the protests. VOA

Libya: Can Unity Government Restore Stability?
Last week, Libya’s UN-backed Presidency Council sailed to the capital Tripoli and set up shop in the navy base. They travelled by boat from Tunisia because their rivals in the capital closed the airspace when they tried to fly in. The doomsday scenario of rival militia clashes in Tripoli did not happen. So is this just a honeymoon period, or is Libya turning a new page? The numerous militias in western Libya who led the battle for the capital in 2014, forcing the elected parliament to move to the east, remain in place. They are now supporting the Presidency Council. For five years, Libyan militias have been like an abusive partner in a relationship. The governments that have come and gone have persistently thought they can change them, but the end result is always the same. BBC

Tunisia Says Libya Embassy to Reopen to Back Unity Govt
Tunisia on Monday announced the reopening of its embassy and consulate in the Libyan capital following the arrival there of a UN-backed unity government. Tunisia closed its diplomatic missions in neighbouring Libya in 2014 when a militia alliance seized Tripoli and set up a government and parliament opposed to the internationally recognised administration. Prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj arrived Wednesday in the Libyan capital drawing the fury of the Tripoli government, but also praise and pledges of allegiance from several fronts. Tunisia’s foreign ministry said as a result it was reopening the Tunisian embassy and consulate in Tripoli in a bid “to support the political process in Libya”. It was not immediately clear if the mission had in fact reopened or if it was about to resume work. AFP on Al Ahram

Libyans at Guantanamo Bay Can’t Go Home, So the U.S. Sends Them to Senegal
The Obama administration is working to remove Guantanamo from the president’s to-do list, but an unstable Libya is making that already difficult task even harder. On Monday the Pentagon announced the transfer of two Libyan detainees to Senegal. Both current U.S. law and standing administration policy bar returning Libyan detainees to their home country because of the political instability caused by an ongoing dispute between the country’s two dueling governments and the violence sparked by the Islamic State’s growing foothold there.The two detainees, Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar, had both been held without charge at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. The Pentagon alleges both served as explosives trainers for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, according to Defense Department documents on their cases. The LIFG is an organization of fighters who had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and pledged to overthrow Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, and was believed to have some ties to al Qaeda, according to the State Department. The State Department removed the militia from its list of foreign terrorist organizations late last year. Per Obama administration policy, detainees cannot be cleared for transfer without the unanimous consent of six national security agencies. That task force cleared Ghereby to be moved in January 2009 but didn’t sign off on releasing Umar until August of 2015, according to the Pentagon. Foreign Policy

They Were Freed from Boko Haram’s Rape Camps. But Their Nightmare Isn’t Over
For months, they were kept in tiny thatched huts in the middle of the forest, waiting with dread each evening for their rapists to return. During the almost intolerable violence, the young women’s minds drifted to escape or death. The victims were as young as 8. At the heart of Boko Haram’s self-proclaimed caliphate in northeastern Nigeria was a savage campaign of rape and sexual slavery that has only recently been uncovered. Thousands of girls and women were held against their will, subject to forced marriages and relentless indoctrination. Those who resisted were often shot. Now, many of the women are suddenly free — rescued in a series of Nigerian military operations over the past year that dislodged the extremist Islamist group from most of the territory it controlled. But there have been few joyous family reunions for the victims.  The Washington Post

What Is the Other Militant Islamist Group in Nigeria Besides Boko Haram?
Despite hogging the column inches due to its bloodthirsty tactics, Boko Haram is not the only militant Islamist sect causing problems in Nigeria. The Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa—known by its abbreviated Arabic name of Ansaru—announced its existence in 2012 and has since carried out a spate of kidnappings, particularly of foreign nationals. Nigerian authorities claimed a success in their counter-extremism operations, when military spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said that the purported leader of Ansaru, Khalid Al-Barnawi, had been arrested on Saturday.  NewsWeek

Pentagon Confirms Senior al-Shabaab Leader Killed in Somalia
The Pentagon confirmed Monday that a senior al-Shabaab leader targeted in a drone strike in Somalia last week was killed in the attack. Hassan Ali Dhoore, who was killed Thursday, allegedly was part of the insurgent group’s security and intelligence wing, and had been involved in planning attacks in Mogadishu. “The Department of Defense has confirmed that Hassan Ali Dhoore, a senior leader of Al-Shebaab, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, was killed as a result of a US military strike in Somalia carried out on March 31,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said. “He has planned and overseen attacks resulting in the death of at least three US citizens,” he added.  AFP on al Arabiya

Djibouti Expels BBC Reporters Ahead of Presidential Vote
The BBC has written to the government of Djibouti to ask why a reporting team was detained for 16 hours and then expelled without explanation. They were in the country ahead of the presidential elections on 8 April. After interviewing the foreign minister and an opposition candidate, they were detained by plain clothes security officials and questioned for eight hours before being put on a plane. There has not yet been a response from the Djibouti government. The reporting team, including BBC’s Africa Security Correspondent Tomi Oladipo, had been granted media accreditation and advised by the government director of communications that they had the necessary authorisation to proceed with their work.  BBC

Donors Push Burundi to the Brink as ‘La Crise’ Deepens
Burundi is at a violent crossroads. The current crisis begs the question of how the situation can be de-escalated without being exacerbated. Many look to the African Union (AU), Belgium (Burundi’s former colonial power), and a small handful of important aid donors, like the European Union, the Netherlands, and the United States, for solutions. But what have these external actors done so far? Are they capable of doing more? If so, what would be the consequences of the aforementioned actors’ increased involvement in solving the crisis? The main tools used by the international community, namely leveraging its control over financial aid to influence the government in Bujumbura, are vital to understanding where Burundi is headed. Given that foreign assistance represents almost one-third of the Burundian economy, the consequences of removing aid are complex and potentially devastating for the African nation. The Huffington Post

Chad Arrests a Fifth Key Activist Ahead of Polls
Police in Chad arrested a fifth leading activist on Monday on the eve of a banned anti-government rally planned days before polls in which President Idrissy Deby Itno is seeking to extend his 26-year rule. Albissaty Salhe Alazam, one of the leaders of the “Ca suffit” (That’s Enough) protest movement, was detained by police in the capital N’Djamena after being summoned for questioning, a spokesperson for the movement said. “This state of affairs confirms the government’s desire to snuff out democratic values in Chad,” Bertrand Sohhoh Ngandjel told a press conference, held with the Chadian trade union confederation and another rights coalition named “Trop c’est trop” (Enough is Enough). News 24

Kenya’s William Ruto due to hear war crimes case ruling
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto is due to find out whether a crimes against humanity case against him will be thrown out by judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mr Ruto denies murder, deportation and persecution charges during violence that followed the 2007 elections in which about 1,200 people were killed. His lawyers want the case to be terminated due to a lack of evidence. Mr Ruto is one of the most senior politicians to be tried by the ICC. The prosecution case against him has been dogged by repeated setbacks. BBC

Top Rwanda Genocide Suspect Ladislas Ntaganzwa Trial Starts
Rwandan genocide suspect, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, refused to enter a plea on Monday when he made his first appearance in court for a pre-trial hearing. Ntaganzwa, who had been one of nine high-profile fugitives wanted in connection with the 1994 massacre, was extradited from DR Congo this March three months after his arrest in December. Ntaganzwa told the Nyarugunga Primary Court that he “cannot comment on the charges.” The prosecution said that the former mayor of Nyakizu, in the now Southern Province, faces five counts of charges namely: genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, and mass rape. “Ntaganzwa substantially participated in the planning, preparation and execution of the massacre of over twenty thousand Tutsis at Cyahinda Parish” the prosecution said, further asking the court to grant one month “to facilitate further investigation and completion of the case file preparation.”  The East African

Algeria’s Energy Exports Stagnate in 2015 as Production Falls
Algeria’s energy exports stagnated in 2015, held back by lower oil and gas production and a rise in domestic consumption, official data seen by Reuters on Monday showed. The North African OPEC member is trying to increase oil and gas production which has stagnated for a decade. But many foreign oil companies are reluctant to invest because of Algeria’s contract terms and the drop in world oil prices. Total energy sales reached 100 million tonnes of oil equivalent, unchanged from the previous year, while production declined 1.3 percent to 153 million tonnes of oil equivalent, the data from the energy ministry said. Energy sales make up 60 percent of the state budget and account for 95 percent of Algeria’s total exports despite efforts to diversify the economy. Reuters

Africa’s Petrostates Are Imploding
Africa’s petrostates are crashing hard. A cool $115 in the summer of 2014, a barrel of Brent crude, the international pricing benchmark, now fetches below $40. And having failed to build massive foreign exchange reserves like Saudi Arabia or other Gulf monarchies, African oil exporters are now being forced to grapple with depreciating national currencies, mounting inflation, and deep cuts in government spending. Some of these states are now dangerously unstable, staring down popular unrest or domestic insurgencies that left unaddressed could set them back years, if not decades, in development terms. The “Africa rising” narrative, built on climbing income levels and an emerging middle class on the continent, is now under strain. Foreign Policy

Six ‘Newcomers’ to Face Equatorial Guinea President in April 24 Election
Equatorial Guinea’s President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, will face six candidates in the April 24 presidential election, in the absence of the main opposition parties. “After the validation and proclamation of four candidates on March 30, the National Electoral Commission has validated three other candidates, giving a total of seven candidates to take part in the voting on April 24 in Equatorial Guinea,” the national television announced Sunday night. Mr. Obiang Nguema, who heads a coalition of ten parties, including the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), is almost certain to win this election. Africa News

Like Their Deadly Product, Kenya’s Illegal Boozers Go From Strength to Strength
The colourful underground world of Kenya’s illegal alcohol brewers is decorated by the similarly colourful names of the illicit liquor they produce. A sample: Flying Horse, Ferrari Movement, Napoleon and – prophetically – Kill Me Quick. According to Kenya’s National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada), more than 3,000 people have died since 2009 as a direct result of drinking illegally-produced alcohol. Although this has been a problem for decades, successive administrations – from Daniel Arap Moi to Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta – have failed to curb it, despite numerous crackdowns. Kenyans’ fondness for prohibited brews emerged in colonial times, when they were forbidden by colonial authorities from drinking bottled beer. Instead, they resorted to fruit and grain-based distillations such as muratina and changaa, flavoured with local herbs. After independence, although now free to drink beer, a national shortage forced drinkers to maintain the traditional methods.  Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones