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Summary

  1. South African court orders President Zuma to reveal why he dropped Pravin Gordhan
  2. UN base attacked in South Sudan
  3. Ghana hit been nationwide power blackout
  4. President Mugabe says Zimbabwe is one of Africa's most developed countries
  5. Somali security forces kill government minister after mistaking him for militant Islamist
  6. Kenya's tea production falls by a third after drought
  7. Algerians vote in legislative elections
  8. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Thursday 4 May 2017
  9. Hearing over Zambia opposition leader's treason case

Live Reporting

By Hugo Williams and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

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Scroll down for Thursday'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 African proverb:

It is good to give the monkey a cup of water, but who will collect the cup from him?"

Sent by Ngwa Stanley Chenwi in Bamenda, Cameroon and Kay Emele in Abuja, Nigeria.

Click here and scroll to the bottom to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this picture of Zimbabwean TV personality Mis Red enjoying one of the installations at the renowned Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa): 

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Funeral held for Somali minister shot dead in Mogadishu

The funeral Abas Abdullahi Sheikh, with body wrapped up in fabric on the floor
BBC
The Somali president (C, in blue suit) attended

A state funeral has been held in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, for the 31-year-old government minister shot dead yesterday after security forces mistook him for a militant Islamist.

Abas Abdullahi Sheikh, who grew up in the Dadaab refugee camp before later becoming the country's youngest ever cabinet minister, was an inspiring role model to many Somalis.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo attended the funeral, along with the country's prime minister and other senior figures.

Relatives and government officials attend prayers for public works minister, Abbas Abdullahi Sheikh Siraji who was shot and killed in Somalia"s capital Mogadish
Reuters
Mourners carry the body of Mr Abas
Reuters

Here's a video of Mr Abas speaking earlier this year to organisers of the Tedx conference in Mogadishu, giving his answer to the question: "What can you do for your country?"

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Moroccan ship held in SA over Western Sahara complaints

A Moroccan ship is being held in South Africa over complaints that it is carrying cargo from the disputed Western Sahara, the AFP news agency reports, quoting a South African lawyer.

Andre Bowley told AFP that the Polisario Front, which is campaigning for independence for Western Sahara from Morocco, had gone to court to get the cargo of phosphate returned.

It argues that the phosphate was taken in violation of international law.

A South African court is due to hear the case on 18 May, AFP reports.

Morocco controls two-thirds of Western Sahara and sees it as part of its historic territory.

People waving Western Sahara flags
AFP
Thousands of Sahrawi refugees still live in refugee camps in Algeria

UN rights chief in Ethiopia calls for access to probe protest deaths

Man weeps at a funeral for protester
AFP
The government has not allowed independent investigators to look at protest deaths

The UN's most senior human rights official has called for the Ethiopian government to allow his investigators access to areas of the country hit by deadly protests. 

Speaking in the capital Addis Ababa at the end of a three-day visit to the country, UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said his staff had not been given permission to the areas to investigate the "facts of these events for ourselves" and that his office could therefore not "corroborate or confirm the findings of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission".

The state-affiliated rights body says 669 people, including 63 police officers, died in the latest wave of anti-government protests that began in November 2015.

But protesters say the number of those killed is much higher and that a government-backed body cannot reliably investigate abuses committed by the state.

Mr Al Hussein offered general praise for the Ethiopian government over its "notable acceptance of millions of refugees", but used a quotation from former Emperor Haile Selassie about the importance of fair treatment for all Ethiopians. 

He said the "extremely large number of arrests – over 26,000 – suggests it is unlikely rule of law guarantees have been observed in every case."

He called for reforms of the country's strict media and anti-terror laws, adding:

I am also concerned that an excessively broad definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists, bloggers and members of opposition parties."

Map of protests in Ethiopia
BBC

He said that he expected the remaining restrictions related to the state of emergency, declared by the government last year, to be lifted in July, when the decree runs out.  

UN repels attack on base in South Sudan

BBC World Service

United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan say they have repelled an attack on one of their bases. 

The UN says the camp, in Leer in the north of South Sudan, came under small arms fire from the direction of the nearby government-held town on Wednesday night. 

The Ghanaian peacekeepers returned fire. 

The base is in the part of South Sudan affected by famine. 

Earlier on Thursday, the UN's leading human rights official urged the government to halt any further offensive towards a key town, Aburoc, further to the north. 

He said tens of thousands of civilians who had fled to the town were at serious and imminent risk. 

Peacekeeper troops from Ethiopia deployed by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan
AFP
A multi-national force of 13,000 people make up the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan

The midwife who saved intersex babies

Illustration showing
Charlotte Edey

Five years ago Zainab, a midwife in western Kenya, delivered a child with male and female sexual organs. 

"When I looked to see if it was a boy or a girl, I saw two things protruding - this baby had male and female parts," she says.

Instead of saying what she usually said at this point - "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" - Zainab handed the baby to its mother and simply told her, "Here is your baby."

The parents did not want to take it and told Zainab to kill it.

Instead she took the baby as her own.

Two years later, the same thing happened again - and before long she was forced to flee to save the children's lives.

Read more about Zainab's story on BBC News Online and listen to the BBC World Service documentary Coming out of the shadows in Kenya.

Zuma 'must reveal the reasons for sacking Gordhan'

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

A South African High Court has ordered President Jacob Zuma to provide all the records explaining the reasons why he sacked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in March's controversial cabinet reshuffle.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) had gone to court to compel President Zuma to hand over an intelligence report, which he allegedly relied on when he fired Mr Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. 

The report, leaked to local media, accused Mr Gordan of plotting against Zuma. Mr Gordhan denied the allegation, and described the report as "unintelligent".  

Mr Zuma's lawyers argued that a cabinet reshuffle was a presidential prerogative, and he did not have to release any documents he may have relied on to make a decision. 

Mr Gordhan's dismissal resulted in credit ratings agencies downgrading South Africa to junk status.

It also led to mass protests to demand Mr Zuma's resignation. 

Pravin Gordhan
AFP
Mr Gordhan was widely respected as finance minister

A rising Somali star has been killed

Abdirizak Atosh

BBC Somali, Nairobi

Somali youth have been robbed of a role model following the shocking killing of Abas Abdullahi Sheikh.

The 31-year-old government minister was killed by security forces after being mistaken for a militant Islamist.

Always polite and well-dressed, the former child refugee was widely admired for his determination to succeed.

Coming from a prominent religious family, Mr Abas studied at Kenya's prestigious Nairobi University and entered politics last year. 

Mr Abas with another Somali politician
.Mohamed Gurey
People thought Mr Abas (right) had a bright future in Somali politics

He became an MP for the port city of Kismayo in Somalia's Jubbaland region after an electoral college chose him ahead of a government minister who had been on the political scene for more than two decades.

Mr Abas' victory showed that Somalis were fed up with the old guard, and were demanding change. Sensing his popularity with the youth, the president appointed him to the cabinet in March. 

Less than three months later, this rising star has become the latest casualty of more than two decades of violence in Somalia. But in this case some are asking: Has Somalia lost a future president? 

SA race rape row judge resigns

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

South African Judge Mabel Jansen, who was placed on special leave since last year after getting embroiled in a racism row, has resigned with immediate effect.

The complaints came after comments attributed to her went viral on social media.

Judge Mabel Jansen purportedly said the gang-rape of babies, girls and women was seen as a "pleasurable" pastime for some black men.  

In her own defence, the judge had said that the controversial comments were made in a private Facebook exchange with activist Gillian Schutte and that they were taken out of context.

Ms Schutte said she made the comments public to expose the "deep racism and colonial thinking" prevalent in South Africa.

Government spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said she announced her resignation in a letter to President Jacob Zuma.

The reasons behind her stepping down have not been made public, but News24 quotes Mr Mhaga as saying that she was being investigated over her comments and the "resignation will obviate a protracted disciplinary process".

Judge Jensen
eNCA
Judge Jensen was placed on special leave a year ago

African leaders 'fail to do what is right'

One of Africa's richest men, Tony Elumelu, has launched a stinging critique of leadership on the continent.

The Nigerian businessman has been speaking at the World Economic Forum event in Durban where he was part of a panel called Leadership in an Era of Disruption.

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He clearly wants governments to help create a context that is more conducive to successful enterprise:

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Love on film and in real life

Didi Akinyelure

BBC Africa, Lagos

Comments about a Nigerian celebrity engagement have been trending on Twitter as people discuss the impending nuptials of Banky Wellington and Adesua Etomi.

The irony is that they have already had an on-screen wedding. 

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Banky Wellington is an award-winning Nigerian singer turned actor. 

Last year, he was cast as the groom in Nollywood blockbuster The Wedding Party, a romantic comedy drama, that shows what it takes to plan a wedding in Nigeria. 

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The bride was played by actress Adesua Etomi. 

The movie was a hit with fans drawn to the chemistry between Banky and Adesua’s characters.  

Now the real-life engagement has been described as the ultimate fairytale ending. 

However, some cynics are saying this is a publicity stunt but the stars say that theirs is a case of true love. 

African response to Ghana's power outage

Ghana experienced a nationwide electricity blackout overnight due to a power surge, the cause of which is still unclear (see earlier story).

People are commenting on the story on the BBC Africa Facebook page, reflecting on the experiences in their own countries.

Many in Nigeria are wondering whether it's news:

Ikenna Egboka writes: 

In Nigeria this is not news because we sleep and wake up without light every night. Nigerians love this phrase so much: 'Nigeria go better'. I wonder when Nigeria will be better, I wonder when Nigeria well be like Ghana or even better than Ghana."

Bayak Luok in South Sudan has a similar view: 

This happened just for one night? Here in South Sudan we have never had electricity in our life."

But Francis Omananga Mugowa in Uganda is more positive about the situation where he is:

We are safe and happy in Uganda in terms of power stability."

Fears for millions of Nigerians in north-east as rainy season looms

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The senior Nigeria correspondent for Reuters news agency has been tweeting from the north-eastern city of Maiduguri. 

He reports that the situation is expected to get even worse for the nearly five million people in the region who rely on food aid, when the five-month rainy season begins in May and makes farming impossible in areas that are now accessible.

Read the full story here

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The women trying to keep Somalia safe

Being a police officer in Mogadishu is one of the most dangerous beats in the world, and it is even harder for women.  

The women trying to keep Somalia safe

French bank to pay billion-dollar settlement to Libya

BBC World Service

French bank Societe Generale has agreed to pay nearly 1bn euros (£0.85bn; $1.1bn) to settle its long-running legal dispute with the Libyan Investment Authority. 

The case concerns five financial transactions carried out between 2007 and 2009. 

The LIA argued the trades were part of a fraudulent scheme involving associates of the family of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, Libya's leader at the time. 

The bank has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing but in a statement it said it regretted the lack of caution of some of its employees, and apologised to the LIA. 

Nigeria's Kano Emirate Council investigated for misappropriation of funds

An influential Muslim body in northern Nigeria - the Kano Emirate Council - is being investigated over the alleged misappropriation of funds.

Two officials of the emirate have been invited for questioning over the allegations, the head of the anti-corruption agency in Kano state, Muhyi Magaji, told the BBC.

The investigation does not focus on the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, as BBC Africa Live previously reported and we understand that the Emir has not been invited for questioning. 

Mr Sanusi, the former central bank chief in Nigeria, was appointed Emir of Kano in 2014 following the death of his predecessor Al-Haji Ado Bayero at the age of 83.

Zimbabwe derby cancelled after stadium booked for Nigeria pastor

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A top-flight derby is cancelled after the stadium is booked out for a Nigerian pastor's church service... No, this isn't a wistful Arsene Wenger daydream after Sunday's drubbing at Tottenham, but the reality facing two top sides in Zimbabwe's Premier Soccer League. 

Sunday's showdown between bitter rivals CAPS United and Dynamos in the capital Harare has been called off because Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome is already booked in to lead a special service the National Sports Stadium on the same day, the government-owned Herald newspaper reports.

The league confirmed that the match has been postponed indefinitely because they could not find a venue for the big tie.

“The National Sports Stadium has been booked for a church event while the City of Harare is still to complete works on Rufaro Stadium," it said in an official statement.

“The new date will be announced in due course. We would like to apologise to all our stakeholders for the postponement of this much awaited derby." 

Nigeria forces foil suicide attack in north-east

BBC World Service

The Nigerian authorities say they have killed three female teenage suicide bombers who attempted to attack a military checkpoint. 

The incident happened on Wednesday night in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri. 

Officials say the attackers' explosives were set off when they were shot at by troops. 

One member of the security forces was injured. 

No group has said it carried out the attempted attack, but Maiduguri was the birthplace of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and it has attacked the city many times. 

Daughter of 'murdered' businessman to stand against Kagame

BBC World Service

A Rwandan woman from a prominent family has announced that she will challenge President Paul Kagame in this August's elections. 

Diane Rwigara
BBC

Diane Rwigara believes her father Assinapol Rwigara, a wealthy businessman who used to finance Mr Kagame's party, was killed two years ago for political reasons. 

The authorities say he died in a car accident. 

Ms Rwigara told a press conference in Kigali that every Rwandan knew people who had been disappeared or killed. 

Human rights groups have often accused the Rwandan authorities of killing opponents and stifling dissent. They have denied the charges. 

Mozambique opposition announces 'beginning of end of war'

Mozambique's opposition Renamo party has extended its ceasefire indefinitely, the AFP news agency reports.

Its leader Afonso Dhlakama was speaking to journalists from his hideout in the centre of the country.

AFP quotes him as saying "it is not the end of the war, but it is the beginning of the end".

"This is great news for the people of Mozambique," he added.

Renamo and the governing Frelimo party fought a civil war from independence in 1976 until a peace deal was signed in 1992.

Renamo then took part in multi-party elections.

But problems re-emerged in 2013 and there has been a sporadic low-level conflict ever since.

In 2014, the two parties signed a peace deal but Renamo restarted the conflict after it refused to accept the October 2014 election results.

Mozambican Resistance Movement (RENAMO) presidential candidate Afonso Dhlakama
AFP
Afonso Dhlakama returned to his hideout in 2014

Military spending in Africa falls

Tomi Oladipo

BBC Monitoring's Africa security correspondent

There has been a decrease in military spending in Africa over the past two years, a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) says.

In the previous 12 years money spent on the armed forces rose year on year.

Sipri estimates that in 2016 Africa's military spending came to $38bn (£29bn).

The report links the largest military spending cuts to falling oil revenues and related economic problems. 

Two key oil exporters, Angola and South Sudan, had some of the most notable decreases in 2016. South Sudan slashed its defence spending by more than half.

Algeria was Africa’s biggest spender, and one of the few to have an increase with $10bn - close to 7% of its GDP – going on its military. 

Troops of the South Sudanese army (SPLA)
AFP
Military spending in South Sudan has been by the country's economic collapse

Ghana hit by nationwide blackout

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Millions of Ghanaians were left without electricity last night after a massive power outage which affected "virtually every part of the country", according to the head of the national grid, local media report.

"There was a surge of power around 9:40pm last night; we lost many generators across the country," GRIDCo chief executive William Amuna told Citi FM.

He told the station that he expected full power to be restored by 10am local time (10:00 GMT).

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blackout, but have suggested it could have been down to a lightning strike. 

It was not due to any planned load-shedding, according to Mr Amuna.

The last nationwide blackout, in January 2016, was blamed on a "system failure".

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Read more: Eight surprising consequences of Ghana's power outages

Zambia treason case could go to high court

The magistrate's court looking into the treason case against Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is deciding whether it should be referred to the high court (see earlier story).

If it is, then his defence team is confident that it will be thrown out, the BBC's Karen Allen reports from the court.

The opposition believes the treason charges are an attempt to silence Mr Hichilema.

But presidential spokesman Amos Chanda told the BBC that the court case should run its course and that Mr Hichilema's UPND should "act like an opposition".

He added that President Edgar Lungu is happy to meet Mr Hichilema but the UPND is reluctant to do this.

Our reporter says diplomatic efforts are under way to try and resolve the problem.

Mr Hichilema was arrested after his convoy allegedly refused to give way to the president's motorcade.

Hakainde Hichilema
AFP
Hakainde Hichilema's party has accused the government of stifling dissent

Mugabe: We have problems but are not a fragile state

South Africa's eNCA news has posted a video on Facebook of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe defending his economic record.

He was asked at the World Economic Forum meeting in Durban if Zimbabwe was a fragile state (see earlier post).

Grab of video where Mr Mugabe is speaking
eNCA

He said "that is not true" and called Zimbabwe "one of the most highly developed countries in Africa, after South Africa".

Backing up his case he cited the 90% literacy rates among other achievements.

"I don't think of us as a fragile state from an economic point of view. 

"Yes, we have our problems... but we have resources, perhaps more than the average country... and our agriculture is very viable and this year we will have a bumper harvest".

In the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index, Zimbabwe is ranked as low, at 154th place in the world.

Neighbouring Botswana is 108th, South Africa is 119th and Algeria is 83rd.

Zambia's opposition leader back in court

Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who is facing treason charges, is back in the magistrate's court in the capital, Lusaka, for more hearings about his case.

A BBC reporter is tweeting from the court:

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Mr Hichilema is accused of trying to overthrow the government of President Edgar Lungu.

He was arrested last month after the convoy he was travelling in allegedly refused to give way to the president's motorcade 

Kenyan tea production 'falls by a third' amid drought

A drought in many parts of Kenya's farming areas has cut tea production by more than a third in the first quarter of 2017, a trend that is expected to continue throughout the year, the Tea Board of Kenya said on Thursday, Reuters news agency reports.

The average price of the crop at the auction rose to $3 (£2.30) per kg during the period from $2.50 a year earlier, the industry regulator added. 

Man creates 700 metre Koran by hand

Saad Mohammed with his scroll
Reuters

An Egyptian school drop-out is hoping to make history after spending three years painstakingly creating what he believes to be the world's largest Koran.

Saad Mohammed's intricately decorated, hand-drawn scroll is 700 metres long (2,296ft) - which means, when it is unrolled, it is almost twice as tall as the 381-metre-high Empire State Building.

Illustrated scroll
Reuters

And up until now, Mr Mohammed, who lives in the town of Belqina, north of Cairo, has funded every centimetre of his passion project.

He believes the scroll is long enough to make it into the Guinness World Records, which has yet to set a record for the largest handwritten Koran.

But in order to achieve his dream and make it into the record book, he needs some help with the cost of entering.

Read more on BBC News Online

Mr Mohammed with the scroll
Reuters

Security forces 'shot dead' Somali minister after mix-up

Somalia's security forces have shot dead a 31-year-old government minister after mistaking him for a militant Islamist, officials have said.

He was killed in his vehicle near the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu, the officials added.

The president has cut short his visit to Ethiopia following Abas Abdullahi Sheikh's killing, state radio reports.

Somalia's security forces have been battling militants who carry out suicide and gun attacks in Mogadishu.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has vowed to bring those behind the killing to justice:  

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Tributes have been pouring in for Mr Abas, who grew up and was educated in Dadaab, the world's biggest refugee camp, in north-eastern Kenya, before running for office. 

Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was among those offering his condolences on Twitter:

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President Mugabe defends his economic record

President Robert Mugabe has said that Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa, News24 reports.

He made the comments during a panel discussion about fragile states at the World Economic Forum meeting in Durban.

Mr Mugabe was challenged by the panel chair Anton du Plessis about whether Zimbabwe was a fragile state.

A journalist at the meeting has been tweeting the president's response: 

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He then went on to detail Zimbabwe's achievements:

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Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a cash shortage due to a lack of US dollar notes - one of the country's official currencies.

A recent World Bank report said that while growth in 2016 was low at 0.4% it is predicted to grow by 3.8% this year.

Lack of enthusiasm for Algeria poll

BBC World Service

A parliamentary election is under way in Algeria with the government saying a strong turnout is essential for the stability of the country. 

The National Liberation Front of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to retain its majority in parliament with its coalition ally, the Rally for National Democracy. 

But, despite Algeria's urgent economic problems, there is little sign of enthusiasm among voters, many of whom have become disillusioned by what they see as a failure to keep promises. 

The political system remains essentially presidential in nature so the parliament does not have much power and it is the poor health of President Bouteflika that is of major concern.  

Read more: Algeria election - what you need to know

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Getty Images
There are concerns about President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's health

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