African press review 17 November 2016

Kenya has agreed to delay the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp to give the estimated 250,000 Somali residents more time to find new homes.

According to regional paper the East African, Nairobi had vowed to shut Dadaab camp this month, saying it was being used by Islamist militants from neighbouring Somalia who have launched a series of attacks on Kenyan soil.

But rights groups criticised the decision, saying it would hurt Somalis fleeing violence and poverty, and accused Nairobi of forcibly sending people back to a war zone. The government dismisses that allegation.

A spokesman said the extension would keep the Dadaab camp open for a further period of six months.

In Kenya itself the Daily Nation briefly covers the same story, saying the government yesterday announced that Kenya was postponing the closure following a request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

DRC mining cash goes to the Cayman Islands

The East African also reports that cash from a lucrative mining deal in the Democratic Republic of Congo could be diverted to operations run by President Joseph Kabila.

The London-based rights organisation Global Witness has revealed that the DRC government last year signed over royalty rights in a company operated by the London-listed commodities company, Glencore.

Global Witness estimates that royalties now paid to an anonymous Cayman Islands company called Africa Horizons Investment Limited, could generate as much as 800 million euros – more than Congo’s annual health spending.

The anonymous company is run by Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire mining magnate and close friend of Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

Global Witness says it is troubling that the state mining company has signed away rights to potentially huge flows of cash that should go towards building Congo’s future.

Salva Kiir offers amnesty to rebel soldiers, and their leader

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has granted an amnesty to 750 troops loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar who crossed into the DRC when fighting broke out in Juba in July. This is the main story in the Sudan Tribune.

A statement from the defence ministry yesterday said that Juba was ready to welcome the disarmed combatants currently residing in refugee camps in Goma should they accept the amnesty offer.

The defence minister pointed out that the amnesty is open to all rebel fighters, including Riek Machar, currently living in exile in South Africa, on condition that they renounce violence.

Rand takes a hammering as emerging currencies contract

The main story in South African financial paper BusinessDay is that the local currency took a battering yesterday.

The rand fell more than 20c against the dollar in late Wednesday afternoon trade. The BusinessDay report says this was due to something called emerging market contagion as Turkish and Chinese currencies sank.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent his currency to a record low after criticising EU members Germany and Belgium for not backing his fight against terrorism. That was after Germany asked Turkey to restrain its crackdown on Kurdish politicians.

Adding to pressure on the rand, China’s yuan fell to a eight-year low on disappointing economic data and fears of the Trump administration taking a protectionist line on China.

The rand usually weakens in line with other emerging market currencies.

Egypt votes to regulate non-governmental organisations

According to the Cairo-based Independent newspaper, Egypt’s parliament yesterday approved a bill to regulate non-governmental organisations in a move human rights groups say effectively bans their work.

Egyptian rights activists say they are facing the worst crackdown in their history as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seeks to erase freedoms won in a 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

The bill, which is subject to a final vote, bans any civil society work that does not fall under its regulation, restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non-compliance.

It also bans NGOs from conducting fieldwork or polls without permission or from cooperating without the necessary approval in any way with any international body, which human rights groups say includes the United Nations.

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