THIS IS A RECAP OF STORIES THAT MADE THE HEADLINES ACROSS THE CONTINENT THIS WEEK.
We begin Africa weekly on Monday with South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma’s arrival in court for the expected start of a trial in a 20-year-old bribery case.
At Mondays’ hearing, Zuma’s corruption trial was yet again postponed to 26th May 2021 to allow his lawyers argue for the recusal of the main prosecutor, Billy Downer.
Zuma is also expected to formally plead on the 26th of May.
His legal team, led by Thabani Masuku, said they are ready to proceed with the case.
The court also allowed his previous lawyer, Eric Mabuza, to withdraw as the lawyer of record.
Zuma is facing 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering.
Over the years, the case has been postponed numerous times as Zuma lodged a string of motions to have the charges dropped.
We head to North Africa, where Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry that same Monday said the country will spare no effort to reach a ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip.
Speaking to a United Nations Security Council meeting through videoconference on the ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, Shoukry said Egypt will support peace efforts until the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights and the region enjoys the stability that the people seek.
He pointed out that the Israeli military operation threatens the future of peace and stability in the region, calling on the UN Security Council to take up its responsibilities to end the current conflict.
Still in north Africa where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said more than 650 migrants bound for Europe were intercepted and returned to Libya.
The UN agency said survivors departed aboard 4 rubber boats from Zuwara in Western Libya and were intercepted and returned in 2 different disembarkations.
UNHCR said it worked with the International Rescue Committee to offer urgent humanitarian and medical aid to all survivors.
We told you on Monday that Zambian President, Edgar Lungu filed in his nomination papers as a candidate in this year’s general elections and appointed another woman as his running mate.
Lungu’s papers, as well as those of his running mate, Professor Nkandu Luo, were verified and duly certified by the Electoral Commission of Zambia for the August 12 polls.
The Zambian leader said he was happy over his choice of his running mate, saying he has chosen her because she was politically strong and professionally accomplished.
In west Africa, authorities in Niger seized 17 tonnes of cannabis resin worth around 37 million dollars from warehouses in the capital Niamey.
Interpol, in a statement on Monday, said the drugs were destined for Libya and represented the largest bust in the country’s history.
In South Africa, the police also seized 973 cocaine bricks worth around 32 million euros from a fishing vessel and arrested 10 people. The police said the seizure was one of the country’s largest.
The two seizures were part of an operation that led to the seizure of drugs with a street value of nearly 100 million euros in Africa and the Middle East.
Still on Monday, an investigation was launched into the fatal fall of 2020 champion jockey Nooresh Juglall.
The Director of Public Prosecution in Mauritius announced the investigation into the 30-year-old’s death after a fall at the Champs de Mar course on the opening day of the season which was behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The DPP, Satyajit Boolell, said the investigation was important to shed light on the circumstances that led to death of the rider.
Juglall was trained at the South Africa Jockey Academy where he became the first Mauritian to be crowned champion apprentice as he won the award twice, first in the 2011/12 season and again a year later.
Moving on to Tuesday, The United Nations’ Under-Secretary for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, told the Security Council that the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel region has intensified.
Lacroix, said the groups are continuing to mobilise at regional, continental and international levels, despite the ongoing context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He noted that Task Force Takuba is now fully operational and has been supporting Malian armed forces in combat.
We also told you that the International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda has urged the Libyan Government of National Unity to take “urgent steps to put an end to the crimes committed in detention centres and to fully investigate allegations of arbitrary detention, and other forms of sexual violence.
Bensouda said members of her Office have travelled to Libya, interviewed witnesses and received essential documents and materials from various sources, and visited crime scenes in Tarhuna, including a site where over 100 bodies had been recovered from graves that were discovered in June.
The Chief Prosecutor urged all parties to the conflict in Libya to immediately put an end to the use of detention facilities to mistreat and commit crimes against civilians.
Still on Tuesday, The United Nations humanitarian agency said the recent torrential rains across Somalia have affected around 166,000 people.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said while the rains have reduced in some areas, it is alarming that Somalia has been hit by a double climate disaster, with drought declared on April 25th and recent heavy rains causing riverine and flash flooding.
According to OCHA, the combined impact of drought and floods is likely to exacerbate the already critical food security situation in Somalia, where more than 2.7 million people are projected to be food insecure.
The World Health Organization on tuesday issued new guidance saying expired Covid-19 vaccines should now be destroyed.
The WHO said it regretted having to give the advice, adding that there is just not enough data to know if the expired doses would be safe.
A number of African countries have not been able to use up all their supplies and have been waiting for guidance.
And on Wednesday in North Africa, Algerian authorities tagged a separatist group and an opposition movement as terrorist organisations.
The High Council for National Security said the Movement of Independence of Kabylie and the Rachad opposition movement are illegal and terrorist entities.
Both groups are based abroad, but have supporters in Algeria.
Supporters could be jailed for life, if convicted of membership in these organizations under a new Algerian law.
PIRACY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
Around 100 organizations involved in the shipping industry called for concerted efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea where vessels are routinely targeted with crew kidnapped for ransom.
Amongst those calling for better cooperation between local and international naval forces are Maersk of Denmark and the Chinese transporter, Cosco.
Out of 135 reported attacks on ships across the world last year, all but five were in that region.
There are allegations that most of these attacks were carried out by gangs operating out of Nigeria.
Some European naval vessels are already active, but it’s not on the same scale as the deployment of warships that helped reduce piracy off the coast of Somalia a decade ago.
Shipping companies also want greater effort to arrest the criminal gangs onshore.
In Burkina Faso, fifteen people were killed and one injured in an attack perpetrated by unidentified armed individuals in a cultivation hamlet.
A statement from the governor of the Sahel region, Colonel Major Salfo Kaboré, said the attack targeted people who were gathered for a baptism ceremony.
Kaboré said all the victims were male.
The governor offered his condolences to the families and urged the public to report all cases of suspicious movements to the defence and security forces.
Staying in west Africa, twenty-two people were sentenced to jail for trafficking children to work on Cote D’Ivoire’s lucrative cocoa plantations.
The deputy director of the criminal police, Luc Zaka, said five received jail terms of 20 years, while the other 17 were given five-year sentences.
The convictions by the tribunal in Soubre, in the heart of the country’s cocoa-growing region, resulted from a swoop early this month.
The two-day operation was the fifth of its kind carried out since 2009.
They rounded up 68 children.
Moving on to Thursday, the united nations mission in south sudan Child Protection joined hands with UNICEF and national partners to hold a series of related workshop in Juba.
This Followed the signing of the Comprehensive Action Plan to end use of child soldiers and protect children against the six grave violations of their rights by all parties to conflict in South Sudan in last year.
The objective is to educate and train participants from the military justice sector on the rights of children and the need to protect them when armed conflict arises.
We move to Central Africa where refugees are living in makeshift shelters and struggling to care for their families in hard-to-reach areas close to the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Close to 120,000 Central Africans have fled their country into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Congo, with the majority finding safety in the Democratic Republic of Congo since election-linked violence erupted in December.
Meanwhile, UNHCR is implementing the biometric registration of the refugees to establish the number of new arrivals and to identify people with specific needs or vulnerabilities.
Nearly one third of the Central African Republic’s population of 4.7 million have been forced to flee after years of on and off again conflict.
Still in Thursday, the Nigerian Army said it is investigating reports that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has either died or was seriously injured during a clash with a splinter group, the Islamic State in West African Province.
It’s not the first time Shekau has been reported killed. But the militant leader resurfaced each time.
Army spokesman Brig Gen Mohammed Yerima said the army was still looking into what may have happened, but will not issue a statement until it gets definite proof.
Shekau took over Boko Haram after its founder Muhammad Yusuf was killed by police in 2009.
Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed and over two million displaced from their homes in the deadly insurgency in north-east Nigeria
Moving on to East Africa, Kenya’s Tourism Minister, Najib Balala has refuted plans to privatize national wildlife parks and reserves.
Last week, Balala questioned why the state still manages key tourism assets.
He also told a European Union Green Diplomacy forum that the country is eyeing new investments and business models that would reduce the cost of operating the parks.
The minister’s remarks sparked criticism, with the local tourism and hotel keepers’ associations arguing that it is unwise to privatize a country’s natural and cultural resources.
Balala has denied these claims.
=PAUSE FOR SOT=
New research has showed invasive species of weeds, insects and worms are costing Africa more than $3.5 trillion annually.
Researchers based in Ghana, Kenya, Britain and Switzerland have highlighted the catastrophic effects of species introduced by human activity.
Nigeria, where losses are estimated at a trillion dollars a year, is the worst affected country.
The majority of the costs are from weeding work primarily carried out by women and children but damage caused by insects is estimated at almost $40 billion.
The research authors noted that the findings may be underestimating the true cost of invasive species to Africa’s agriculture as they did not consider the costs of herbicides for disease and pest control.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION
On Friday in North Africa, the United Nations’ top official in Sudan, Volker Perthes said the organization is worried over increase in violence against women in the country.
Perthes who made this known while briefing the Security Council said the situation in Sudan has been frustrating for women urging the government to ensure that the rights of women are respected.
Despite the limited progress in transition process, Perthes reported some achievement, such as the launch of the technical preparations for the Governance Conference and preparations for the establishment of the Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism for the Juba Peace Agreement.
In central Africa, a new government cabinet is in place in the Republic of Congo. It came after the appointment of a new Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso, with 11 new ministers including Denis Christel Sassou, son of the Congolese president.
Denis Christel Sassou will oversee the management of international cooperation and the promotion of public-private partnership.
Reactions are now following the appointment in his father Dennis Sassou Nguesso ‘s sixth term.
Still on Friday, Algeria kick-started its legislative election campaigns three months after the dissolution of the National People’s Assembly by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The vote has been brought forward after President Tebboune dissolved the parliament in a bid to calm down grievances from protesters who called for the dissolution of the government.
According to the Independent National Election Authority nearly 1500 contestants are running for the seats.
The vote is set for June 12th.
Same Friday, Former Ghanaian President John Mahama withdrew his acceptance as a special African Union envoy to mediate talks over the political crisis in Somalia.
Mahama noted the lack of support by the Somali federal government.
He said the proposed assignment required that he gets the unwavering support and co-operation of all political stakeholders.
Somalia last week formally rejected Mahama’s appointment, citing his “extensive links” with Kenya, saying it is important for such a person to be seen as being impartial.
Relations between the two countries have been frayed in recent years, with Somalia accusing Kenya of meddling in its domestic political affairs, which Kenya denied.
ADDRESSING HEALTH CHALLENGES
International organizations came together to launch a new One Health High-Level Expert Panel to improve understanding of how diseases with the potential to trigger pandemics, emerge and spread.
The panel will advise four international organizations on the development of a long-term global plan of action to avert outbreaks of diseases like H5N1 avian influenza; MERS; Ebola; Zika, and, possibly, COVID-19.
The High-Level Panel will operate under the One Health Approach, which recognizes the links between the health of people, animals, and the environment and highlights the need for specialists in multiple sectors to address any health threats and prevent disruption to agri-food systems.
NIGERIA LOSES CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF
And finally on Africa weekly, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Attahiru died in a plane crash on Friday evening. The Nigerian Air Force in a statement confirmed the accident involving one of its aircraft in Kaduna.
Eight people including Attahiru and his aide were on board the aircraft.
Attahiru was appointed Chief of Army Staff on January 26, 2021.
General Attahiru has held several appointments on the staff, instructional and in command during his military career.
Born on August 10,1966 in Doka, Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, he graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy.
He commenced cadets training in January 1984 and was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer. He held a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy.