Media Review for March 17, 2016

Zika-hit Cape Verde Identifies First Case of Microcephaly
Cape Verde has identified its first case of the neurological disorder microcephaly, thought to be linked to the Zika virus, in what would be a first for Africa. The Ministry of Health said the baby was born at the main hospital in the capital Praia on March 14 to a woman who was not among more than 100 women being monitored for the mosquito-borne virus. Cape Verde is a volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean around 570 km (350 miles) west of Senegal. It has historic ties to Brazil, where an outbreak of Zika is suspected of causing a spike in birth defects including babies born with abnormally small heads. The World Health Organization in February declared the virus an international public health emergency due to its link to the birth defects in Brazil. Reuters

Kenya Army: 19 Extremists Killed Trying to Mount Ambush
Kenya’s military says it has killed 19 fighters from the Somali extremist group al-Shabab who were attempting to ambush Somali national troops. Military spokesman Col. David Obonyo said Wednesday Kenyan troops on patrol Tuesday night, in the southern city of Afmadow, found a group of militants suspected to have been preparing to attack a Somali National Army camp. Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, is waging an insurgency against Somalia’s United Nations-backed government, carrying out deadly attacks on military and civilian targets in and out of Somalia. Kenya is among six countries contributing troops under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia that are bolstering Somalia’s weak government. AP on Stars and Stripes

Niger’s Hama Amadou Flown to France for Medical Treatment
Niger’s jailed opposition leader Hama Amadou has been flown to France to receive specialist medical treatment. He is due to take part in Sunday’s presidential run-off, although his party says he will boycott the vote. He says being in prison has prevented him from campaigning. His doctor was arrested on Tuesday on charges of spreading false news, having told media that Mr Amadou had been hospitalised after losing consciousness twice. BBC

Death Toll Rises in Ivory Coast Terror Attack, Government Reports
The death toll from Sunday’s terror attack in the Ivory Coast is at 19, government officials say. The victims reportedly came from six different countries. Eleven Ivorians were killed, and four French citizens were among the dead, as well as one German, one Nigerian, one Macedonian and one Lebanese. The violence spared no group, Bruno Koné, a spokesman for the government of the Ivory Coast, said Wednesday. Among the victims were Ivorians from the north and the south, Africans and westerners, and Muslims and Christians. Koné announced the government will provide nearly $1 million in financial assistance to the town of Grand Bassam, as well as local hotels and traders. Earlier Wednesday, President Alassane Ouattara, dressed in black, placed a wreath on the beach next to the hotel where the shooting took place. He said the Ivory Coast will not respond to the attack with exclusion. BBC

South Sudan Rebels Sending 23 Generals to Juba
South Sudan rebels said 23 of their top generals are expected to arrive in Juba this coming Monday to prepare for the coming of their leader, Riek Machar, who is the designated first vice president in a soon-to-be formed national unity government. Machar has reportedly said he will only travel to Juba when nearly 3,000 of his troops and police are in the capital, with an additional 1,200 police deployed to Bor, Malakal and Bentiu. Disagreements between rebels and the government persist Implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement has been slow as both the rebels and President Salva Kiir’s government squabble over such issues as President Kiir’s creation of 28 new states. They have also been trading accusations of cease-fire violations. Rebels say they are serious about peace. VOA

South African Official Says Influential Family Offered Him Government Post
Mcebisi Jonas (pictured, right), a South African government official, said on Wednesday that he had declined an offer by the Gupta family to replace ousted Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, a move he called undemocratic. “The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy,” Jonas, the deputy finance minister, said in a statement. “No one apart from the president of the republic appoints ministers.” The Guptas moved to South Africa from India more than a decade ago and have built up a small empire of successful companies. They also have close ties to the country’s president, Jacob Zuma, who has come under fire after the former finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, was sacked in December.  France 24

South Africa: FIFA Says South Africa Paid Bribes to Host World Cup
The world soccer governing body, FIFA, is now describing a U.S. $10 million payment by South Africa to members of its executive committee as a bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup. FIFA effectively agreed with American prosecutors that the payment was a bribe when the body submitted papers to a New York court in a bid to reclaim money which it said was “pocketed illegally by corrupt FIFA members and other football officials.” FIFA said that in 2004, Caribbean football boss Jack Warner and U.S. chief Charles Blazer were offered a bribe of $1 million by Morocco in an attempt to have the tournament awarded to North Africa. But Warner and his family had already established close ties to South Africa during that country’s failed bid to host the 2006 World Cup. For example, Warner’s son, Daryan, had “served as his father’s bagman, traveling to a hotel in Paris, France to receive a briefcase with $10,000 in cash from a high-ranking South African bid committee official…” allAfrica

Imposing, Aggressive and Unwilling to Listen: How South Africans are Perceived in Africa
A new study released by Brand SA reveals what most South Africans who have travelled in other parts of Africa can confirm anecdotally: that South Africans are not particularly popular with their continental brothers and sisters. The study looked at key countries in each region and interviewed businessmen, academics and government officials to determine how South Africa is perceived. The results make for grim reading: the narrative of the Rainbow Nation has been well and truly replaced by a picture of South Africans as greedy and culturally insensitive. Or, in Brand SA’s own words: “South Africans are perceived as imposing, aggressive and unwilling to listen to local advice,” says research head Petrus de Kock. For Brand SA, this is a problem. They are a government-sponsored agency with a mandate to market South Africa abroad. It’s their job to convince sceptical Africans that South Africans are friendly, trustworthy people, and that the country is open for business. They’ve clearly got a lot of work to do. Daily Maverick

A hilly Dilemma: Should Paul Kagame be Backed for Providing Stability and Prosperity or Condemned for Stifling Democracy?
[…] By almost all social and economic measures Rwanda has proved to be the developing world’s shining star. Income per capita has doubled since 2000 and, unlike most other countries in the region, it has managed to grow quickly while also reducing inequality. One reason is that its Tutsi-dominated government (it would contest this designation, since talk of ethnicity is firmly suppressed) has bucked the trend of many of its neighbours. Instead of crafting policies aimed at benefiting the kin of those in power, many of its resources have gone to improving the lives of the rural poor, who are largely Hutu. The UN Human Development Index shows that Rwanda had improved by more than any other country over the past 25 years. […] Yet those pouring money into Rwanda are confronted by a dilemma. As much as Rwanda has progressed on the economic front, its record is badly blotted when it comes to human rights. Domestic opponents of Mr Kagame have a nasty habit of getting locked up or being murdered, even once they have fled into exile.  The Economist

Retribution For Hire: Ruthless Kenyan Gang Resurfaces Ahead of Crucial Polls
[…] As Vice explained in a 2012 report: “Gangsters in Nairobi generally make their living from exploiting illegal electricity hookups, extorting shop owners and taxi-bus drivers, robbery, and murdering people who cross them. But members of the Mungiki take things to another level. They’re shifty, often hypocritical, and occasionally psychotic, even by the standards of their fellow criminals. When there’s a riot that needs inciting, voters who require intimidation, or crimes against humanity to commit, they are the go-to guys, backing up their reputation with a track record of government manipulation, drinking blood, and beheading their enemies.” The sect was implicated in Kenya’s infamous post-election violence in 2007/2008; in charges since dropped, now-President Uhuru Kenyatta was accused of funding, arming and mobilising the Mungiki to commit violence against political opponents. Since then, the sect has flown under the radar, licking its wounds and regrouping. And now, in the run-up to another controversial election, it seems the Mungiki are ready to influence the outcome again, with Kenyan authorities ill-prepared to deal with their resurgence in towns and cities all over the country. Daily Maverick

89 Boko Haram Members Sentenced to Death in Cameroon
Cameroon has sentenced 89 members of the Boko Haram sect to death over terror charges, even though Nigeria, the hot bed, is yet to impose the penalty on any suspect. According to the BBC, a military court tried the insurgents over their roles in several attacks in the northern part of the country which borders Nigeria. Since 2009 when Boko Haram launched its campaign of violence, Cameroon has been its next target after Nigeria. In January 2015, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the sect, threatened to attack Paul Biya, president of Cameroon, over his country’s role in the regional force set up to fight insurgency. “Oh Paul Biya, if you don’t stop this your evil plot, you will taste what has befallen Nigeria,” Shekau had said in a video. The Cable

Benin Troops Ready to Join Anti-Boko Haram Task Force
Benin is to deploy 150 troops to a West African regional military force established to fight Boko Haram insurgents. Officially known as the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), it comprises troops from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The Benin Minister of Defence, Yarou Robert Theophile, has already held consultations with political and military authorities of the troop contributing countries, according to MNJTF spokesman Colonel Mohammed Dole. The Benin minister had also met with the commander of the Task Force, Major-General Lamidi Adeosun, and visited troops deployed in all the sectors where he assessed their immediate logistics and operational requirements. The MNJTF is headquartered in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. Col. Dole said arrangements have been made for the provision of office living and accommodation for the Benin contingent. Africa Review

The Next Disaster: Islamic State Expands as Libya Descends into Chaos
Nothing in the capital city of Tripoli hints that Libya is in the throes of a civil war. Still, an advance car equipped with a signal jammer that is supposed to block the detonation of any remote controlled explosives drives ahead of the foreign minister’s motorcade. And there are only a few consuls from neighboring countries walking along with the parade. After a brief address, the foreign minister plants an olive tree and then inaugurates a new low-rise government building. As he does so, secret service operatives dressed in civilian clothing go after a cameraman from the US TV station HBO. His offense is having filmed one of their white automobiles parked on the side of the road, though around three-quarters of all cars in Libya are white. They jerk the camera away from him amid the loud protestations of his crew. The band continues playing and then cake is served. Spiegle

Could Instability in Libya Bring Down Tunisia?
There is trouble on Tunisia’s southern border. Instability in Libya, which is fast becoming an ISIS redoubt, could cause serious discord in Tunisia, which despite it’s challenges stands alone as the single Arab Spring success. So, could Libya bring Tunisia down with it? A number of recent incidents do not augur well for the stability of the Tunisian state. On March 7, at least 54 people were killed when militants attacked the town of Ben Gardane in Tunisia and clashes ensued with Tunisian security forces. Among those killed were at least 36 militants, security forces and civilians, including a 12-year-old girl. Although there is some confusion around where the militants came from, Tunisian officials have claimed that many of them were Islamic State militants that crossed the border from neighboring Libya. This assault by ISIS into Tunisia comes after US airstrikes on an ISIS training camp in the Libyan city of Sabratha, near the Tunisian border, which killed at least 49 people. UN Dispatch

Algerian Navy Commissions Second Chinese Corvette
The Algerian Navy commissioned its second C28A corvette (El Fatih) into service on 10 March. The ceremony was attended by Ahmed Gaid Salah, Deputy Minister of National Defense and Chief of Staff of the Algerian People’s National Army, along with other senior officials, reports People’s Daily Online. The first vessel, built by China’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group, a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, arrived in Algeria in November last year. Algeria signed a contract for the three C28A corvettes in March 2012. The first vessel (Adhafer, 920) was launched on 16 August 16 2014 and the second corvette (921) was launched in February 2015. Delivery of the third is scheduled for 2017. DefenceWeb

President Sassou Nguesso Prepares for Final Stage of His Constitutional Coup: Elections in the Republic of Congo
When citizens of the Republic of Congo are called to the polls to elect the country’s next president on 20 March, turnout is likely to be low since most believe the results are foreordained. President Denis Sassou Nguesso has ruled the Republic of Congo for all but five years since 1979, and is poised to extend his reign for at least another five. After seizing power in a 1979 coup, he ruled as a military dictator throughout the 1980s. Swept up in the “Third Wave of Democracy” that hit Africa as the Berlin Wall fell, Sassou Nguesso momentarily lost power in 1992 elections, but he reclaimed it following a brutal civil war in 1997 and has claimed victory in two fraudulent presidential elections since. The 2016 presidential election was supposed to be different. Drafted by Sassou Nguesso’s personal lawyers in 2002, the constitution limits presidential terms to two and requires that candidates be no older than 70 years of age at the time of inauguration. Sassou Nguesso is now 73 and approaching the end of his second term. African Arguments

Thousands Flee Conflict-hit Mozambique
The UN refugee agency has welcomed a decision by Malawi to reopen a former refugee camp to help cope with the rising numbers of people fleeing a conflict brewing in Mozambique. The UNHCR said on Tuesday that close to 10 000 refugees have now been registered in southern Malawi, many of them fearing conflict between the Frelimo government and opposition Renamo party. “Most of the new arrivals, who have been crossing to Malawi since mid-December, are in a single village, Kapise, 100km south of Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe,” said Leo Dobbs, UNHCR spokesman. “Others are scattered throughout the neighbouring district of Chikwawa.” To date, UNHCR staff and the Malawi government workers have registered 9 600 people; others are waiting to be registered. The total including these is almost 11 500. IOL News

Confessions of a Mozambican Hitman: ‘This Person in the Photo Should Be Shot’
Extrajudicial, unexplained killings have been a feature of Mozambican political life in the post-civil war period. We know about the victims – the journalists, the opposition politicians, the activists – but we know very little about the men who actually pull the trigger. In an extraordinary interview, one member of the Mozambican police’s Special Forces Rapid Intervention Unit speaks to @Verdade and Savana, two of the country’s foremost independent publications. He explains how he became a state-sponsored hitman, and why he can’t stop. For his own safety, his identity has been kept anonymous. What was your career path to reach the Special Forces? Agent: I was a soldier in the Armed Defence Forces of Mozambique (FADM). I started my military training in Catembe, at the Marines Academy. Afterwards I looked for a job for two years before being incorporated into the police force. Those who were military cannot be police officers; they must belong to the Special Forces. I went to complete another anti-riot, crowd control training – in the case of demonstrations. This anti-riot training is a speciality, the Rapid Intervention Force is another area.  Daily Maverick

Egypt’s al-Sisi Under Stinging Criticism
Criticism of Egypt’s president has gathered momentum in recent weeks as Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s honeymoon in power appears to be ending. The boldness of the criticism suggests that al-Sisi’s aura as the man who “saved the nation” from Muslim Brotherhood rule and the chaos of revolution has faded. Replacing it now is the image of a leader struggling to fix the economy, stop police abuses or suppress an insurgency by Islamic militants. A recent speech in which al-Sisi seemed angry and frustrated was widely derided not only by social media mockery but also by powerful voices in the media who had backed al-Sisi’s rise to power. “Mr President and you gentlemen running the security agencies, you are wrong, and what you are doing will lead to the return of the Brotherhood. That will be hell for you and the people,” veteran politician Mohammed Abu el-Ghar wrote. “Read history and think a little, so we can all save Egypt.” IOL News

Western Sahara: Morocco Threat over UN Peacekeepers
Morocco has threatened to pull its soldiers out of UN global peacekeeping missions in a row over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. It is furious with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after he used the term “occupation” about the territory, which was annexed by Morocco in 1975. The foreign ministry also said it would immediately cut funding and personnel for the UN Mission in Western Sahara. Up to a million Moroccans protested in the capital Rabat on Sunday. Morocco currently contributes more than 2,300 soldiers and police to UN peacekeeping missions, mainly in African countries such as Mali, Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic and Burundi. A statement from the foreign ministry said it was “examining the ways and means of withdrawing Moroccan contingents engaged in peacekeeping operations”.  BBC

Has Besigye Become Uganda’s Assange?
Hearings at Uganda’s Supreme Court continue on Wednesday with members of the opposition contesting the recent presidential election results. However, a leading member of Uganda’s opposition is conspicuously absent. Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change party, has been under house arrest for almost four weeks since the announcement of results. “We have now filed a case in the Uganda high court, seeking to enforce my rights,” Besigye told RFI, referring to his continued house arrest. “We have not yet received a hearing date for that application,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Kasangati, just outside of Kampala. In the run-up to Uganda’s 18 February election, Besigye was detained several times. He was taken to police stations or his home on a number of occasions, but Ugandan authorities have never filed any charges, according to Besigye. The Ugandan police say Besigye poses a threat to public peace and national security. RFI

Angola Cuts 2016 Spending by 20%
Angola, facing economic and political pressures, has cut spending under its 2016 budget by 20% and is reassuring international investors it can cope with persistently low oil prices, Finance Minister Armando Manuel said Monday. Mr. Manuel said the surprise announcement Friday by President José Eduardo dos Santos to step down in 2018 shouldn’t concern the country’s foreign investors, and is part of “a normal process.” Mr. dos Santos has governed the Atlantic coast nation since 1979 and didn’t lay out a succession plan for the next leader of his party. Angola is expected to hold its next presidential election in 2017. “We are not talking about changes in regime itself, we are talking succession of one person. It’s a democratic country and this is what we expect,” Mr. Manuel said in an interview after speaking at a London conference Monday. He said the ruling party, the MPLA, would handle succession issues. The Wall Street Journal

Angola’s Trash Pile-ups Verging on ‘Health Catastrophe’
Rubbish is piling up everywhere in Angola’s sprawling capital Luanda. Filth and nauseating smells have overwhelmed the city ever since the local authorities admitted that they’d run out of money to pay the garbage collectors. While yellow fever ravages the country – killing an estimated 250 people since December – residents now fear that these unsanitary conditions could further spread disease. Since mid-2015, mountains of rubbish have piled up across the city, home to some 6.5 million residents. With the city teetering on the verge of a health catastrophe, Angola’s government has appointed a new governor in Luanda province, Higino Carneiro, to oversee the process of cleaning up the city’s streets. One of his first moves was to announce the creation of an ‘urban command post’ to fight the trash crisis. He also warned that if the situation worsens, he may be forced to declare a ’sanitary catastrophe’ in the city. France 24

Strategies Sought to Reduce African Food Insecurity
United Nations agencies and African governments are meeting to develop strategies to reduce food losses among smallholder farmers. Africa is grappling with higher than normal rates of food insecurity due to drought and flooding caused by El Nino. The United Nations is helping governments from across Africa to find ways to reduce food losses on the continent. A weeklong meeting in Harare is being attended by U.N. agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO’s Stephanie Gallatova says a third of the food produced on the continent is lost before it is consumed due to poor storage facilities, resulting in it rotting or pests feeding on it. She says meeting participants are prioritizing steps to reduce the waste. VOA

Illegal Fishing Hurting Continent’s Fisheries
The best net is the one that catches the most fish, said Kofi Nyamegbe, in a low and steady voice as he stared into the ocean, where lots of fishing boats dotted the horizon. “We say that all the time but it doesn’t mean anything anymore. There are many boats here, but the nets return empty most of the time,” said Nyamegbe. Nyamegbe is among some 25,000 people who reside in the fishing village of Moree, on Ghana’s Cape Coast, about 120 kilometres from the capital Accra. He has been fishing for the past eight years, but the nets no longer return enough fish to sustain his family. Ghana’s coastline is about 500km long, providing employment to at least 10 per cent of the population of about 27 million people. “That translates into so many boats, all competing for the few fish,” said Farnyi Kweigya, Moree’s chief fisherman.  The East African



Photo: Adam Jones