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Summary

  1. Abuja airport to receive its last flight for six weeks before shutting for repairs
  2. Kenyan MP charged with inciting land invasions
  3. Attempt to overturn controversial Tanzanian cyber law fails
  4. Dakar mayor detained over alleged embezzlement of city funds
  5. SA man and pregnant fiancee locked up in UAE
  6. US embassy in Abuja says no reason for Nigerians with visas not to travel
  7. Armed groups clash in Libyan town after bank shooting
  8. South Sudan edging closer to genocide, says UN
  9. Thieves disguised as police carry out heist at Johannesburg airport
  10. Medics investigate mysterious fatal disease in Nigeria's Zamfara state
  11. Ghana election boss rejects 'sex favours' jibes
  12. South Africa revokes withdrawal from International Criminal Court
  13. Two people reported dead in Madagascar cyclone
  14. Bongo family's LA villa on market for $17.5m
  15. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Wednesday 8 March 2017

Live Reporting

By Dickens Olewe

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Wednesday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from the  BBC Africa Live  page today. Keep up-to-date with what's happening across the continent by listening to the  Africa Today podcast  or checking the  BBC News website

A reminder of today's wise words:

If people come together, they can even mend a crack in the sky."

A Somali proverb sent by Abdifatah Muse Gas, Somalia

Click here to send us your African proverbs

And we leave you with this photo from Instagram of a tattoo artist at work in Kenya's capital, Nairobi:

View more on instagram

DR Congo rejects proposed UN probe

Sammy Maina

BBC Monitoring

The Democratic Republic of Congo government has rejected a call for a UN probe into civilian killings in the central Kasai and Lomani provinces, French broadcaster RFI reports.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende told RFI: "It is our judges who uncovered more than three mass graves and all manner of horrific acts by the Kamuina Nsapu [militants]."

Mr Mende was reacting to UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's appeal earlier, asking the UN Human Rights Council to consider opening a high-level investigation into alleged abuses against civilians by the DR Congo military following the discovery of the mass graves.

Mr Mende said local militia, whom he accused of "killing local administrators, intellectuals or even police in cold blood", were behind the deaths, RFI said.

A graphic video posted on social media in February appeared to show evidence of a massacre of unarmed men and women in Kasai, allegedly by soldiers. The government later agreed to open a probe into the killings.

Speaking at the time, Mr Mende said: 

The Congolese justice [system] is not so weak that it needs to be supported by non-governmental organisations. NGOs are not fit to conduct judicial investigations... We must exactly understand why those images are on social media platforms and seriously accuse the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Call for Kenya to 'hire politicians at lower cost'

The Kenyan doctors' strike is edging towards its fourth month and it has inevitably conjured up other debates over the use of public money. 

In the early days of the strike, the doctors adopted a hashtag #LipaKamaTender which translates to - pay like a tender - a jibe at the government after media reports exposed that it had allegedly paid dubious entrepreneurs, who had won state tenders, inflated amounts and in record time. 

The government and county governors have also been saying that the doctors are being selfish and their demands cannot be met because of lack of funds. 

Now that governors are planning to recruit foreign doctors to replace the medics who have refused to return to work one tweeter has a suggestion - replace Kenyan politicians too. 

She has shared a screenshot of a chart in a 2010 edition of the Economist magazine that shows the ratio of pay to GDP per person in various countries - and Kenya tops the league table:

View more on twitter

Clashes in Libyan town of Gorji after bank shooting

The BBC North Africa correspondent is reporting that clashes are taking place in the Libyan town of Gorji after a man was shot dead by a guard at a bank. 

Our correspondent says it is being reported that the dead man's family and other residents then attacked the armed group that guards the bank.

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View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Could you be an anti-corruption tsar?

One of the biggest challenges facing Africa is corruption.

It is an old story with apparently no immediate solution - unless you’re satirist Ikenna Azuike, who went to solve the problem in Kenya for What's Up Africa.

What's Up Africa quiz: Could you be Kenya's anti-corruption tsar?

Debate closed. Will Smith is in the 'Soul of Africa'

We posted earlier that three east African countries had claimed that Will Smith was in their country. 

Uganda's government account welcomed the US actor to the 'Pearl of Africa'. Tanzanians celebrated his presence in the 'Soul of Africa' while tweeters in Kenya said the US actor was in their country. 

A Twitter account that promotes tourism in Tanzania has shut down the debate with several pictures to show that he is (or has recently been) in the Soul of Africa:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

US 'clarifies' visa situation for Nigerians

The US embassy in Abuja has issued a statement saying it wishes "to clarify that there is no reason for Nigerians with valid visas to postpone or cancel their travel to the United States". 

It comes after Nigeria on Monday advised its citizens against non-urgent travel to the US after several Nigerians with valid visas were denied entry.

The US statement goes on:

Nigeria is not named in the Executive Order on Immigration issued on March 6, and there is no prohibition against Nigerian lawful permanent residents or persons with a valid visa or other US government authorisation from entering the United States."

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a special adviser to the Nigerian president on foreign affairs, had said on Monday that in the past few weeks there had been cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry US visas being denied entry and sent back immediately on the next available flight with their visas cancelled.

She said the US immigration authorities had given no reason for these actions.

Parenting magazine launched in Ivory Coast

Tamasin Ford

BBC Africa, Abidjan

This year's International Women's Day theme is #BeBoldForChange. 

Two entrepreneurs in Ivory Coast who say they are being "bold for change" are 29-year-old Delali Damessi and 26-year-old Rim Assad. 

Together they have set up the country's first parenting magazine, BabiMams - after they both became pregnant and felt they had nowhere to turn for information. 

About 10,000 copies of the first edition are being printed in Abidjan today:

Two young entrepreneurs in Ivory Coast have set up the country's first parenting magazine

Tanzania court says controversial cyber laws are legal

The High Court in Tanzania has ruled that two controversial clauses of the cyber crime act, being challenged on grounds of contradicting freedom of expression laws, are constitutional. 

Articles 32 and 38, which cover disclosing of the identity of sources, collection of internet traffic and content data - also give power to police to search and seize suspects' communications devices.

Jamii Media company, which owns a popular Tanzanian whistleblowing website, Jamii Forums, had challenged the two articles, arguing they violated citizens’ rights to privacy, freedom of expression and the right to be heard. 

Last December, police in Tanzania arrested Maxence Melo, the Jamii Forums co-founder, and demanded that he reveal identities of the website's users.   

Mr Melo says the ruling means that freedom of expression in the country both on and offline is under threat:

With this kind of ruling, I am seeing the police force in the country using these clauses to pressurise website owners to reveal identities of their contributors. And with that, I don’t think whistleblowers will be safe.”

Jamii Media’s lawyer, Benedict Alex, has vowed to appeal against the decision.   

The website has been credited as being the source of stories about major corruption scandals in Tanzania, and many of these stories went on to be picked up by the mainstream media in the country.

The cyber crime act was enacted in 2015 and has since been constantly criticised by freedom of expression campaigners.

Jamii Media’s lawyer Benedict Alex
BBC
Jamii Media’s lawyer Benedict Alex has vowed to appeal against the decision.

Kenyan MP charged with incitement

Mathew Lempurkel, the MP for Laikipia North, in northern Kenya, has been charged with incitement. 

At the Nanyuki Law Courts, the politician’s supporters caused rowdy scenes demanding his release.   

Mr Lempurkel denied the charges and was released on bail, Capital News reports

He is expected in court again on 23 March, the report adds. 

Police had arrested Mr Lempurkel yesterday following an investigation into the killing of a British rancher, Tristan Voorspuy, at the weekend, allegedly by armed cattle herders.

The ranch is in Mr Lempurkel's constituency and the government has deployed extra security personnel to the area amid allegations that land invasions are being fueled by politicians seeking votes from certain ethnic blocs in the upcoming national election in August.

A persistent drought has also been blamed for driving armed migrant cattle herders onto private farms in search of pasture.

Why is the airport in Nigeria's capital closing?

Abuja airport will close from midnight for six weeks to undergo repairs on its runway which have been overdue for 15 years. 

Aircraft will now use Kaduna airport, 190km (120 miles) to the north, to and from which passengers will be transferred by bus along a road where there have been kidnappings.

About 12,000 people usually fly in and out of Abuja every day - so what do frequent travellers think about the relocation of flights to Kaduna? 

Why is Nigerian capital's airport closing?

African whistleblower platform launched

Leone Ouedraogo

BBC Africa

A protection platform for whistle blowers in Africa (PPLAAF) has been launched in the Senegalese capital, Dakar. 

The group formed of lawyers, legal associations and non-governmental organisations aims to reduce the risks that whistleblowers face by providing technical, legal and media assistance.

So called whistleblowers are under increasing threat, the group said.  

The platform's goal is to provide a support system for those "who choose to do what is right by defending the common good" without having to pay for it sometimes even with their lives. 

The platform, which is available in French and English, also aims to defend whistleblowers by helping to find funding for legal representation.

The group also allows users to send information via a secure, encrypted messaging service. 

PPLAAF says it is not only intended for African journalists but for anyone "whether they come from Africa or the information they wish to share concerns Africa".

View more on twitter

Death of Kenyan tusker 'inconclusive'

Satao2
PA

Kenya Wildlife Service has been in touch with us about a post we had on Monday's live page about a famous elephant called Satao II, known as a tusker because of his giant tusks. 

We reported that it was believed the elephant had been killed by poachers in Kenya's Tsavo Conservation Area.

Kenya Wildlife Service says: "We wish to confirm that the elephant was found dead on January 4, 2017 in Tsavo East National Park near Satao area. The initial inspection by a joint Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo Trust team during the removal of tusks did not find any unusual marks on the carcass and, therefore, was considered to have died from natural causes.

"The carcass was subsequently not touched by any scavengers which led to the deduction that the elephant could have died from poisoning. However, this remains inconclusive as to whether it was as a result of poaching or retaliatory attack by community members due to human wildlife conflict."

Mali's Yves Bissouma extends Lille contract

Yves Bissouma
AFP

Mali international midfielder Yves Bissouma has signed a new contract to stay with French club Lille until 2021.

Bissouma penned a professional deal with the northern club only in July 2016, four months after joining the reserves from AS Real Bamako.

The 20-year-old, whose previous deal ran until June 2019, says he is very happy at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

"In football, when you put in the work you always get rewarded," Bissouma told the  club's website.

Read the full story at BBC Sport.

Five top tips for women in the media

In this week's African Women You Need to Know, we speak to Susan Makore, head of Zimbabwean media company AB Communications.

She gives her five tips for women who want to be successful in media.

Look out for a longer interview with her on Focus on Africa TV and radio, to mark International Women's Day.

Zimbabwe media boss gives five tips for women in the industry

Lessons to prevent Zanzibaris from drowning

Despite being surrounded by water, many people in Zanzibar do not know how to swim.

Official figures are not available but it is believed that the number of drownings are on the rise. 

A local NGO, with the backing of UK charity the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, is now trying to change that, by teaching swimming skills to young people.

The BBC's Sammy Awami, a non-swimmer himself, has been along to try it out.

BBC man learns to swim in Zanzibar

Ghana election boss responds to 'sex favours' insult

The head of Ghana's electoral commission, Charlotte Osei, has dismissed attacks by a member of parliament that she got the job by giving sexual favours:

My sense of self should not come from somebody who does not know me. If the person thinks I got my job through sexual favours, surely, there are other more rewarding and less difficult jobs I could use those sexual favours for."

Ms Osei, the first woman to hold her position, was being interviewed on a special programme to mark International Women's Day on Joy FM's Super Morning Show.

She said men's tendency was to try to prevent women from coming into their space and to disparage or belittle them:

So they are going to throw everything at you to just get you out of that space. Once you recognise that, then you recognise those comments for the distractions that they are and you just focus on doing what you have been called to do and do an excellent job."

View more on twitter

Ethiopian Airlines plane lands at Kaduna

The first international flight has touched down in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, since aircraft began being diverted from Abuja airport, which is being closed for repairs. See earlier post.

The Ethiopian Airlines plane came from Addis Ababa and is due to return there later.

Passengers are being taken by bus to and from Abuja. 

View more on twitter

Kenyan doctors' union: Return to work is career suicide

Leaders of Kenya's doctors' union have been responding to the government's decision to pull out of negotiations to resolve the 95-day strike and order the medics to return to work or be sacked.

The strike has paralysed medical services in public hospitals and has been blamed for several deaths.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday denounced the doctors' demands  as "blackmail".

Ouma Oluga, secretary-general of the union, says that resuming work under the imposed order would amount to career suicide: 

While all doctors have been ready to resume duty, doing so under threats, intimidation and show of disrespect is tantamount to career suicide.”

The government on Tuesday said it would review the registration and role of the doctors' union with a view to reverting its functions to the health ministry, the Daily Nation reports .

Dr Oluga called on members to stay united:

The success of the union depends on the very resolve and the unity we exhibit. Let us guard it.”

He said doctors were committed to an agreement that had been negotiated with religious leaders and overseen by the appeals court, which remains unsigned.  

Meanwhile, the chairman of the council of governors, a body that brings together governors from 47 counties, Peter Munya, has said that doctors who do not report to work will be given dismissal letters. 

View more on twitter

SA man and pregnant fiancee locked up in UAE

Pumza Fihlani

BBC News, Johannesburg

Emlyn Culverwell and Iryna Nohai
Culverwell family

A mother in South Africa is pleading for the release of her son and his pregnant fiancee after they were arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for unlawful sex.  

The couple were arrested after visiting a doctor when Iryna Nohai complained of stomach cramps. 

The doctor discovered that the 27-year-old woman was pregnant and when the couple couldn’t produce a marriage certificate they were reported to the authorities and arrested in the hospital.  

South African national, Emlyn Culverwell‚ 29, and his fiancee from Ukraine have been in detention since January.  

"The only thing they did wrong was fall in love," News24 quoted Mr Culverwell’s mother, Linda as saying. 

He’s been working for five years in Abu Dhabi, where he met his future bride. There has been little news since they were arrested.  

The Culverwell family want the South African authorities to help secure the couple's release. 

The government has advised the couple to get legal assistance. 

Sex outside marriage is punishable by law in the UAE. 

If found guilty under the Islamic legal system, they can be locked up for months or even years.

Two dead in Madagascar cyclone

At least two people have died after tropical Cyclone Enawo made landfall in Madagascar, causing considerable damage in the north and north-east of the Indian Ocean island. 

The cyclone, with sustained winds of around of 205 km/h (127 mph), was expected to strike the capital, Antananarivo, and its surroundings around noon.

A tweeter has shared a video showing heavy rain and trees swaying in high winds:   

View more on twitter

Yesterday around noon, the cyclone hit Ampahana, a small town in north-east Madagascar.

It left destroyed houses, uprooted trees and floods almost everywhere. 

Electricity there has been cut off and the town's telephone network has also been cut, isolating the area and making it difficult to collect information for official records.  

In Antananarivo, events marking International Women’s Day have been cancelled.

The city has been put on red alert. Schools and offices are closed. 

South Sudan edging closer to genocide - UN

Tomi Oladipo

BBC Monitoring's Africa security correspondent


          Three women carry a sack of food distributed on March 4, 2017, in Ganyiel, Panyijiar county, in South Sudan.
AFP
Parts of South Sudan are experiencing man-made famine, the UN has said

A UN report says South Sudan is experiencing ethnic cleansing and edging closer to genocide. 

Findings also included details of armed forces targeting civilians in deliberate attacks and starvation. 

The report, which is the result of a seven-month inquiry into human rights in South Sudan, found that since fighting broke out in July 2016, human rights violations and abuses have been on the rise. 

It says government forces and other armed groups have been using the conflict as a smokescreen to carry out ethnically-motivated attacks on civilians, deliberate starvation, forced displacement and hate speech. 

While both the army and rebel forces were accused of abuses, the report places most of the blame on the governing SPLA, National Security Service, police and other affiliated militia groups.

The UN recently said that parts of South Sudan are experiencing a man-made famine. Now it details the restrictions placed on aid agencies – saying the resulting starvation of civilians is being used as a method of warfare, in violation of international law.

The report also accuses government forces, many of whom are ethnic Dinka, of targeting civilians from the Nuer, including raping women.

The government of South Sudan has denied that genocide and ethnic cleansing are going on and President Salva Kiir has called for national dialogue.

Pascaline Bongo's LA mansion for sale at $17.5m

The Los Angeles mansion of Pascaline Bongo, daughter of Gabon's long-time ruler Omar Bongo, has been put on the market for $17.495m (£14m),  Mansion Global reports .

The gated villa is more than 9,000 square feet and sits in a compound covering nearly an acre, with a tennis court, gardens, pool and separate guest house.    

Images  published by the estate agents managing the sale also showed a glass grand piano and large abstract works of art on the walls. 

Mansion Global says Ms Bongo bought the Beverly Hills property for $4.55m in 1997, when she was director of her father's cabinet.

The sale was registered under the name of a company, Aminisha Corp, according to property records. Ms Bongo is listed as the firm's chief executive, and two of her children, Christopher Ping and Nesta Ping, are named as officers, according to filings.  

Pascaline Bongo's Beverly Hills mansion
The MLS/Nourmand & Associates

Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for more than 40 years until his death in 2009. The current president is Ms Bongo's half-brother, Ali Bongo.

The Bongo family have faced persistent allegations of embezzlement, which they have always denied.

Gabon is a major oil producer, but a third of its population live in poverty, according to the World Bank.  

Zimbabwe's Herald paper blasted for women's day tribute

Zimbabwe's state-owned newspaper, The Herald, has been called out on Twitter for being disingenuous in its message on International Women's Day. 

Several tweeters responded to the Herald post, criticising it for its reporting on women saying that it is misogynistic and insensitive. 

View more on twitter

One tweeter got into a spat with the paper's editor, Caesar Zvayi, telling him that he should take reporters for gender sensitivity training:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Mr Zvayi responded: 

View more on twitter

Where is Will Smith?

Tweeters in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have used a picture of Hollywood star Will Smith circulating on social media to claim that he was visiting their countries. 

The Ugandan government's official account boasted that the film star had made a call on the "Pearl of Africa". 

An account that claims to promote tourism in Tanzania posted: "Will Smith is in Tanzania, Welcome to the soul of Africa." 

And in Kenya people also claimed the US actor was in their country.

One Twitter user has put together the tweets:

View more on twitter

South Africa revokes ICC withdrawal

South Africa has revoked its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. 

It came after the High Court ruled last month that the government's move to pull out was unconstitutional and invalid. 

South Africa had notified the UN of its intention to leave last October, saying the ICC pursued "regime change".

The decision followed a dispute over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's visit to South Africa in 2015.

The authorities there refused to arrest Mr Bashir despite him facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.

Mr Bashir was attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg, when the government ignored an ICC request to arrest him.

Deciding on the government move to withdraw from the court, the High Court ruled in favour of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which argued that the government had to first seek parliamentary approval.

The Gambia, under new President Adama Barrow, has also recently revoked its withdrawal from the court.

View more on twitter

Dakar mayor held over alleged fraud

Khalifa Sall, the mayor of Dakar
AFP
Mr Sall has been seen as a possible contender in Senegal's 2019 presidential election

The mayor of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, has been placed in custody over alleged fraud, BBC Afrique reports. 

Khalifa Sall was charged with embezzling 1.38bn CFA francs ($2.85m; £2.34m) in city funds. 

The mayor denies any wrongdoing. His lawyers described the arrest as politically motivated, saying in a statement: 

This arrest and detention is only to stop Khalifa Sall in his political ambitions."

Mr Sall is a maverick member of the Socialist Party and has been considered a possible contender for the 2019 presidential election. 

He has been mayor of Dakar since 2009.  

Supporters of arrested Kenyan MP 'storm court'

Supporters of a Kenyan MP, Matthew Lempurkel, who was arrested yesterday after the government warned that it would apprehend any leaders inciting violence in Laikipia county, have stormed a court where he was to be charged, the Daily Nation reports:

View more on twitter

They chanted ""Release Lempurkel! Release him!", the Star newspaper reports.

Mr Lempurkel is the member of parliament for Laikipia North, the constituency where British rancher Tristan Voorspuy was killed by armed herders on Sunday.

The Star newspaper quotes the area Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Isaac Musyoki as saying that the legislator was detained to help police with investigations over the killing of Mr Voorspuy. 

Robbers 'pose as police' in Johannesburg airport heist

Armed thieves masquerading as police have carried out a robbery at Johannesburg's international airport in South Africa, reports say.

The thieves are said to have driven into a restricted zone and taken containers of cash.

Estimates vary but reports suggest that millions of dollars in different currencies may have been stolen.

The company that operates OR Tambo Airport, the continent's busiest, confirmed a robbery had taken place.

Read full story

Policeman
Getty Images
The thieves are said to have driven into a restricted zone at the airport

Medics to investigate mysterious disease in Zamfara

Authorities in Nigeria's north-western state of Zamfara have dispatched a team of medics to a village to investigate the causes of a mysterious disease that has killed several people in close succession there. 

Residents of the mining community of Bindim reported the outbreak, which has killed 13 people in just one week.

They said the disease was characterised by vomiting, joint pain, bleeding from the eyes and convulsions.   

More than 400 people died from lead poisoning in the area in 2010. 


          Two young boys stand in front of a pond infected with lead poison at Dareta village, Anka district in Zamfara State
AFP
Illegal gold mining has previously caused lead poisoning in Zamfara

Abuja airport to receive last flight for weeks

Martin Patience

BBC News, Nigeria correspondent

Abuja airport
AFP

By the end of today the capital of Africa’s most populous nation will be without a functioning airport. 

The Nigerian government ordered the closure of Abuja's airport to carry out an upgrade on the runway, which is 15 years overdue.  

Last year, a South African Airways jet was damaged when landing on the potholed tarmac.

In the next few hours, the last plane will be landing in the Nigerian capital for at least six weeks.    

Instead passengers will be rerouted to a tiny airport in the city of Kaduna. 

They then face travelling along a road notorious for kidnappings. 

Despite government assurances of beefed-up security many Nigerian travellers are worried.

Most international airlines – including British Airways – are not flying into Kaduna apparently out of security concerns.   

Wise words

Today's Africa proverb:

If people come together, they can even mend a crack in the sky."

A Somali proverb sent by Abdifatah Muse Gas, Somalia

Click here to send us your African proverbs  .  

Good morning

Welcome to the  BBC Africa Live  page, where we'll be keeping you up-to-date with news and trends across the continent.