By - Adedoyin Shittu
Major highlight of the 42nd week of 2019 was the environmental challenges faced in many parts of Africa. The occurrence of natural disasters is of growing concern globally due to drastic changes in climatic conditions and this week Africa has had it fair share in the global climate crisis.Heavy rains have been pouring ceaselessly in many past of Africa for the past two weeks, this has caused flooding and landslides in many parts of the continents, destroying lives and properties and also rendering thousands homeless, Ghana was one of the worst hit and floods this week have left at least 28 people dead.
The first lady of Nigeria also returned to Nigeria after two months outside the country amid marriage rumours. Aprecon brings you a brief of these and some other major headlines in Africa this week.
Flooding across Africa
Heavy rain has caused serious flooding in several countries in Africa with northern Ghana amongst the worst hit. At least 28 people have been killed and several others injured following eight days of torrential rains in north-eastern Ghana. Authorities fear the casualty figures could rise. Some 1,264 houses were partially damaged while another 286 were completely destroyed, they said. The country’s National Disaster Management Organisation has started supplying relief items to more than 600 people were displaced. The displaced people are sheltering in churches and schools.
Nigeria, Benin, Chad, the far north of Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan are also badly affected by floods. At least 11 people have died in the Morogoro region of eastern Tanzania. At least 100,000 people have been left homeless on both sides of the border between northern Cameroon and Chad.
Nigeria: More Torture house discovered
More torture house for children were discovered this week in Northern Nigeria. On Monday, October 14, Police freed 67 persons from an Islamic school where they were allegedly tortured in the north-western town of Daura – President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown. The victims – all male – included children as young as seven. They were allegedly chained up, beaten and sexually abused there, according to Katsina state’s police spokesperson. On Thursday, October 17, another Islamic school was discovered where more than 300 people were detained in degrading conditions, some of whom were in chained up. Last month, more than 300 male students were freed from a similar boarding school in neighbouring Kaduna state.
Two clerics have been charged following this week’s raids on private Islamic schools, police in northern Nigeria say. The police said they had been charged with multiple counts including running illegal detention centres, torture and abuse.
Guinea: Several killed in protests against new constitution
Thousands of opposition supporters, civil society groups and trade unionists gathered on Monday, October 14, for nationwide demonstrations and strikes. The coalition, known as the Guinean Organisation for the Defense of Human Rights, were protesting against the president’s bid to adopt a reformed constitution that could extend his time in office beyond the end of his mandate in 2020. Police shot tear gas and live bullets at the protesters as they ransacked military posts, threw stones and blocked roads with burning tires in the outskirts of the capital, Conakry.
Opposition leader Cellou Diallo told reporters that four people were shot by security forces in the capital on Monday and at least 38 people were wounded.
Nine protesters had been killed and at least 20 people had bullet wounds. Residents in the Wanindara district of Conakry, told reporters that they witnessed two young men being wounded by bullets shot by men in National Gendarmerie uniforms. A coalition of opposition groups said that 70 protesters had been wounded by bullets and 200 people had been arrested in recent protests. The government has not commented on those allegations.
Conde was elected as president in December 2010 in the country’s first democratic transition of power since independence from France in 1958. He was re-elected in 2015 for a second and final term that expires in 2020. Under Guinea’s constitution, adopted just nine years ago, presidents are limited to two five-year terms. A provision of the constitution also forbids changing or amending “the number or duration of the mandates”. Conde has indicated several times that he wants to run again but has refused to make an official pronouncement on the subject.
The international community has called for a political dialogue in Guinea. In a joint statement, the regional group Ecowas, the UN, and European countries said the government should organise elections that respect the country’s constitution.
Kenya: Kenya launches HPV vaccine campaign
Kenya has rolled out a nationwide campaign to vaccinate girls against HPV, that is linked to some types of cancer, including cervical cancer. The country is the 16th African country to embark on such a programme. The vaccine will be given to 10-year-olds, and the authorities are hoping to reach 800,000 in the first 12 months. The government has 1.3 million doses of the vaccine that will be offered alongside other routine infant vaccines through public, private and faith-based health facilities.
Doctors from the Catholic Church have opposed the campaign alleging that the vaccine could cause severe side effects, including brain damage, seizures or paralysis. No side effects have been reported in countries where the vaccine has been rolled out. The president, himself a Catholic, told off critics opposed to the vaccine.
Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe president ‘seeks deal on high prices’
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has summoned local business executives to a meeting next week in a bid to stabilise the price of basic commodities, state-owned Herald newspaper reports.
President Mnangagwa, while addressing local leaders, was quoted as saying that, the government sees no justification for the high prices and he wants to hear the challenges being faced by the business community. President Mnangagwa also accused the country’s striking doctors of working with external forces to destabilise the health sector, the paper reports. One of the doctors’ complaints is that their salaries have not kept up with inflation.
Mozambique: Mozambique elections
Mozambicans voted on Tuesday, October 15, in presidential, legislative and provincial elections, with provisional results expected before the weekend. An estimated 13 million people were eligible to vote.
Unofficial results in Mozambique’s elections point to sweeping victories for the ruling Frelimo party and President Filipe Nyusi, prompting some analysts to question the credibility of the polls and warn that the lopsided result may prolong the country’s instability. Mozambique’s electoral commission has not released any official results yet, but the Sala da Paz consortium of Mozambican civil society organizations said it projects that Nyusi won 71% of the vote, far ahead of 21% for Ossufo Momade, leader of the Renamo opposition party. The estimates are based on the group’s calculations of results posted outside polling stations.
The election was also marred with some violence and irregularities, there was accusation of ballot box stuffing. Mozambican police arrested 17 people on suspicion of attempting to interfere with vote counting in 10 polling stations in Maganja da Costa, in the central province of Zambezia. District police commander Vasco Mariano told journalists that the suspects were ringleaders of a group that vandalised a police vehicle carrying officers who were responding to chaos in the area, after residents burnt tyres and placed barricades on roads. He accused them of having machetes and blunt objects. The police in Mozambique have arrested 73 people for offences connected to Tuesday’s general election, a spokesperson says.
Nigeria: NLC in meeting with Federal government for the implementaion of the new minimum wage
After long hours of negotiations for three consecutive days, the federal government and the labour unions finally signed an agreement in the early hours of yesterday, October 18, on the consequential adjustments of N30,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers. The full payment of the minimum wage should start immediately by government and all employers of labour, the minister said shortly after the federal government’s team signed the agreement with labour, adding that wage adjustments for the military and paramilitary personnel had been completed and would be communicated to them through the appropriate channel.
Egypt: Egypt bans pilot for life
An Egyptian pilot has been banned for life after he allowed a square-jawed film star to sit in the cockpit and ham it up at the controls of a private jet en route to Saudi Arabia. Actor and singer Mohamed Ramadan bragged about the Oct. 13 stunt to his 10 million online followers — sharing a video of himself sitting in the pilot’s seat, slapping hands with the co-pilot and even appearing to take over the control wheel. “In a first of its kind, I will go drive the plane,” Ramadan, 31, said in the clip before a man off-camera can be heard saying, “I swear to God, Mohamed Ramadan is the one driving the plane now.”
Egypt’s civil aviation authority revoked the pilot’s license and banned him for life, while the co-pilot has reportedly been banned for a year over the incident, according to the report. “After confirming the violations against the Egyptian civil aviation law, we have taken deterrent measures towards the reckless and irresponsible actions [of the pilot],” Egypt’s civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Passengers are not allowed to enter the cockpit while a plane is in operation, according to Egyptian aviation rules.
Gambia: Jammeh’s ally admits to role in killings
A senior former politician from The Gambia has admitted to the country’s truth commission that he was responsible for the execution of soldiers accused of trying to topple the former President Yahyah Jammeh. Edward Singhateh was one of four junior officers who carried out the coup in 1994 that brought Mr Jammeh to power. Months later 11 soldiers were accused of launching a counter-coup. Mr Singateh told the truth commission that he and Mr Jammeh had agreed to execute the soldiers although he says he did not fire the shots.
The commission is investigating alleged rights abuses during Mr Jammeh’s 22-year rule. He went into exile in 2017 after losing an election.
Congo: Gunvor oil ordered to pay $95m for Congo oil corruption
Swiss federal prosecutors have found oil trader Gunvor Group criminally liable for corruption in Congo Republic and Ivory Coast, ordering it to pay almost 94 million Swiss francs ($94.8 million), the Swiss Attorney General’s Office said on Thursday, October 17. The settlement includes a fine of 4 million Swiss francs, out of a maximum of 5 million, as well as gross profit plus interest it gained from oil deals in the two west African countries in 2009-2011 worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The decision is the first time in Switzerland that a major trading firm has been found guilty on such charges, Swiss campaign group Public Eye said. It published an investigation into the deals in 2017. “The Geneva commodities trader has been convicted of failing to take all the organizational measures that were reasonable and necessary to prevent its employees and agents from bribing public officials in order to gain access to the petroleum markets in the Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast,” a statement from the Swiss Attorney General’s Office said.
Gunvor, one of the world’s top energy traders, said in response to the ruling that there was “no conscious or desired involvement of employees or members of management in these activities”. It added that no current employees or businesses of Gunvor Group were involved in any related ongoing litigation or investigations.
Nigeria: Aisha Buhari return to Nigeria amid marriage rumour
Nigeria’s First Lady Aisha Buhari returned to the country after two months abroad, telling reporters when she arrived on Saturday that “fake news” was a scourge that will “lead us to something unimaginable”. On her return, the first lady appeared to confirm rumours that President Muhammadu Buhari had intended to marry fellow politician Sadiya Farouq, telling BBC Hausa in cryptic comments that the purported bride-to-be was disappointed the marriage hadn’t taken place. “The person that promised her [Sadiya Farouq] marriage didn’t know it wasn’t going to happen. She [Ms Farouq] didn’t deny the marriage until the day passed,” she said.
Aisha Buhari also apologised for a viral video that shows her arguing with her husband’s niece at the presidential compound. Mrs Buhari commented on the video on Wednesday, October 15, while hosting a delegation of wives of politicians who paid her a courtesy visit after her return from a two-month stay abroad. “I used the opportunity to apologise for the embarrassment I might have caused my children, my immediate family members, well meaning Nigerians and the institution I represent, on the circulated leaked video clip,” she posted on Instagram. The president’s niece, Fatima Mamman Daura, who recorded the video, recently told the BBC she filmed the video herself in 2018 but it had been circulated more recently by “mischief-makers”.
Ethiopia: Hundreds of Ethiopians return home from Saudi Arabia jails
About 400 Ethiopian migrants serving prison sentences in Saudi Arabia returned home on Wednesday, October 16. The returnees were welcomed at Bole International Airport, in the capital Addis Ababa, by an official from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The crimes the returnees had committed was not mentioned and it is also unclear if they will continue serving their jail terms in local prisons or be set free. According to the foreign affairs ministry, 32,890 Ethiopian migrants jailed in different countries have been returned in the past three months alone.
Liberia: Liberia teachers strike over two months’ pay arrears
Classrooms in government-run secondary schools in and around Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, remained empty on Wednesday, October 16, because of a teachers’ strike over salary arrears, among other things. This kind of strike action to demand the payment of wages has become common in Liberia in recent times.
On Tuesday, October 15, thousands of students affected by the teachers’ action staged street protests and then gathered in front of the presidency and other locations to draw President George Weah’s attention to the situation. As President Weah’s motorcade approached his office, protesters tried to get in the way but they were driven back by the police. Many of the student demonstrators were treated for wounds. The strike began on Monday, october 14, with the teachers demanding that their August and September salaries be paid.
Liberia ranked number one for helping strangers
Liberia has been named number one in the world when it comes to helping strangers, according to the World Giving Index, an annual ranking of people’s generosity. Helping strangers is one of the three criteria the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation used to draw up the overall index of generosity. It also looked at how much money people donate to charity and how much time people give to volunteering. The index was based on a 10-year study that surveyed 1.3 million people across the globe.
In the overall rankings, Kenya was listed as the most generous country in Africa and the 11th most generous in the world. Liberia was listed as 17th, Sierra Leone 20th and Nigeria 22nd. But it is in helping strangers that Africa excelled. Including Liberia, there were seven African countries in the top 10 in that category: Sierra Leone (second), Kenya (fourth), Zambia (fifth), Uganda (sixth), Nigeria (seventh) and Malawi (joint 10th).
DRC: Crashed government plane found in DR Congo
Search teams in the Democratic Republic of Congo have found the wreckage of a government-chartered cargo plane, four unidentified bodies have been found in Congo amid the wreckage of a plane, the government said on Tuesday, October 15. The plane went missing last Thursday with eight passengers on board. One of those was President Félix Tshiseked’s personal driver.
The aircraft, also carrying military personnel, had provided logistical support for a presidential visit to eastern DR Congo. The Russian embassy in Kinshasa said two Russians had been on the Antonov 72 plane when it crashed.
Ethiopia: Ethiopia landslide kills 22 amid fears of more destruction
Rescue workers on Tuesday, October 15, used excavators to dig out bodies after a landslide in southern Ethiopia washed away homes and killed more than 20 people, a local official said. The landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains, said the official, Takele Tesfu. “There are 22 people dead and we have only been able to dig up 17 using manpower and machine power,” Takele told reporters. He said the victims included nine women and six children.
While the district — located in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region — sees landslides with some regularity, Takele said this was the deadliest he could remember. “The area where this occurred is very mountainous, and this means the landslide was very dangerous,” he said. The disaster in Konta district, Dawro Zone, saw waves of mud destroyed five homes, killing residents and animals,” a local official told reporters.
Doctors in Zimbabwe have defied a court order to return to work, saying a pay rise offered by the government is too low. High inflation has reduced the doctor’s pay to the equivalent of about $100 (£80) a month. On Friday, October 11, a court ruled the doctors’ strike was unlawful and gave them 48 hours to resume their duties. The doctors said they could not comply with the court order because they lacked the means to get to work or meet their basic needs. The strike is now in its sixth week.
Ivory Coast: Former Ivory Coast rebel leader Soro to run for president
Former Ivory Coast rebel leader Guillaume Soro has announced he will run in next year’s presidential election, a vote seen as a major test of stability in the West African country after two civil wars this century. Soro, 47, led the rebels that tried and failed to oust former President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002, dividing the country for nearly a decade until a second civil war in 2010-11 installed Alassane Ouattara in the presidency instead.
But Soro has since fallen out with Ouattara and his candidacy could open fissures within the ruling coalition because the president is widely expected to back his prime minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, in the 2020 election.
Africa: Young Africans face poor job prospects as education deteriorates: report
The quality of education and training provided by African countries has deteriorated since 2014, leaving many of the continent’s growing population of young people ill-prepared to enter the job market, an influential report said on Tuesday, October 15.
The African Governance Report 2019, which uses data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), the most comprehensive survey of its kind on the continent, found that enrolment and access to education was particularly low in the tertiary sector. “This has resulted in the burgeoning youth population being faced with increasing struggles when entering the job market,” researchers at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation wrote ahead of a full report due to be published next year. Under 15s now made up the majority age group in Africa, the authors added. The index rates 54 African nations on criteria such as security, human rights, economic stability, just laws, free elections, corruption, infrastructure, poverty, health and education.
Namibia: Namibians to go to the polls
Namibians will elect a president on Nov. 27, with Hage Geingob expected to be returned with a reduced margin as voters complain about the worst economic crisis since independence nearly 30 years ago. Geingob, Namibia’s third president since rule by apartheid South Africa ended in 1990, is seeking a second and final term. He is being challenged by nine other hopefuls including a member of his own SWAPO party, Panduleni Itula, who is running as an independent. The country will also elect 96 members of parliament.
Tunisia: Independent Conservative Kais Saied Wins Tunisian Presidential Election
Independent law professor Kais Saied has overwhelmingly won Tunisia’s presidential run-off that was held Sunday as the North African country grapples with economic and security challenges, according to a polling agency. Saied secured 72.53 per cent of the vote against 27.47 per cent for media mogul Nabil Karoui.
Sudan: Fighters block major road, demand integration into official institutions
Protesters from the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) on October 14, blocked a main road linking Khartoum and West Kordofan, western Sudan, calling on the government to meet their financial demands and integrate willing individuals into state institutions. A statement issued by the High Committee for the Recovery of the Rights of State of West Kordofan’s Fighters, the coordinator on behalf the popular defence of the civilian component, said that the demands of the protesters include the settlement of the financial rights of the families of “martyrs and wounded” affiliated to the PDF and the integration of willing elements into state bodies.
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