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Summary

  1. South Africa's finance minister 'threatened' by police
  2. Nigerian lawmakers reject gender equality bill
  3. Zimbabwe government opposes WhatsApp ban
  4. 'Gunmen on boats' raid Somalia town
  5. Nigeria's oil firm 'fails to hand over $16bn'
  6. South African government loses Bashir case
  7. Get involved: #BBCAfricaLive
  8. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Tuesday 15 March 2016

Live Reporting

By Naziru Mikailu and Farouk Chothia

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Tuesday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all for today from the BBC Africa Live page. Listen to the Africa Today podcast and keep up-to-date with developments across the continent on the BBC News website.  

A reminder of today's proverb:

He who refuses to carry a head ends up doing it anyway.

A Luhya proverb sent by Moss Paul, Nairobi, Kenya.

We leave you with this photo of a white stork in flight, as the birds are giving up on their winter migration from Europe to Africa:

Undated handout photo issued by the University of East Anglia of a white stork in flight, as the birds are giving up on their winter migration from Europe to Africa
University of East Anglia/PA

Nigeria MPs reject gender equality bill

Muhammad Kabir Muhammad

BBC Africa, Abuja

Nigeria's Senate has voted to reject a proposed bill aimed at eliminating "all forms of discrimination" against women in Africa's most populous state. 

The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill was thrown out after a majority of lawmakers voiced their opposition. 

They argued there was no need for the legislation because the constitution recognises the rights of everyone. 

Rights activists campaigned for the bill, saying it will promote equality, development and women’s freedom of movement.

Some Nigerians have reacted angrily on Twitter to the Senate's decision:

@NGRSenate @Zahrahmusa @AishaYesufu @obyezeks @AminaJMohammed @STWKadaria Sad day for NGR Women.Bt cud move Motion to marry more Wives #GEO

@NGRSenate wow! This shows how worthless the less privileged Nigerians are. Men and women alike. Able and disabled. Muslim or Christian

@NGRSenate how can we identify the ones that voted Nay so we can make sure they don't return to the house

March is women's month and Nigerian policy makes have decided NOT to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill -what a tragedy! @NGRSenate

Hunting elephant poachers in DR Congo

The BBC's Alastair Leithead has joined rangers in Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Garamba National Park as they hunt elephant poachers:

Hunting elephant poachers in Democratic Republic of Congo

Mozambicans flee to Malawi

A  refugee camp will be opened in Malawi to cope with the growing number of people fleeing neighbouring Mozambique, the UN refugee agency has said.

About 250 people were crossing into Malawi every day out of fear of clashes between government forces and Renamo, the former rebel movement which is now the main opposition party in Mozambique, UNHCR said in a statement

At least 10,000 people have fled to Malawi since last year, amid clashes between the two sides. 

The Luwani camp had existed during Mozambique's 1977-1992 civil war, but was shut following a peace deal between the government and Renamo.

The decision to reopen it has raised concern that Mozambique's stability could once again be threatened, as the two sides fail to resolve differences through talks. 

A picture released by the international humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) (Doctors Without Borders) on February 17, 2016 shows Mozambican refugees who fled clashes between supporters of Renamo opposition leader and government forces,
AFP

Tanzania arrests 500 'sex workers'

A woman smoking cigaerrette
Getty Images

Tanzania is holding about 500 suspected sex workers and nearly 300 of their alleged customers in detention as part of a crackdown on prostitution.

The first suspects will start appearing in court on Wednesday, Dar es Salaam's deputy police commissioner told the BBC.

Rights groups have condemned the arrests, which started a week ago, urging police not to hold suspects beyond the legal 48-hour limit.

Prostitution is illegal in Tanzania.

Read the full BBC story here

South Africa's finance minister 'threatened'

South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has accused an elite police unit, the Hawks, of threatening him, Reuters news agency reports. 

His comments came after the Hawks said it would use its "constitutional powers" following his failure to meet two deadlines to answer questions about an alleged spy unit he had set up when he was the head of the tax agency, the South African Revenue Service (SARS). 

"The investigations will not be stalled by an individual who refuses to comply with the authorities and demand a preferential treatment," the Hawks said in a statement, published on South Africa's News24 site.  

Mr Gordhan said it was "factually incorrect" that he had failed to respond to a letter from the Hawks, Reuters reports.

outh African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures during a media briefing in Sandton near Johannesburg, March 14, 201
Reuters
Mr Gordhan was not the president's preferred candidate for the job

He has previously said that the so-called spy unit was a legitimate effort to tackle organised crime and tax evasion in South Africa, but his critics say that it was involved in illegal spying and other activities.    

Local media has previously reported that the investigation may be an attempt to oust Mr Gordhan, who is respected in financial circles. 

However, President Jacob Zuma's office denied there was any "conspiracy" against him, and said the president, who has been dogged by corruption allegations since he took office in 2009, had confidence in him.   

Mr Gordhan became finance minister in December after Mr Zuma was forced to sack his preferred candidate for the job, the little-known Des van Rooyen, less than a week after his appointment.

Mr Van Rooyen's appointment sent the economy into a tailspin, as it raised fears of cronyism and reckless spending in government.

Read: Zuma's sacking blunder

French 'force for Burkina Faso'

France is to station a force of gendarmes in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to react swiftly in the event of another attack by Islamist militants in West Africa, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said, Reuters news agency reports. 

He was speaking during a visit to neighbouring Ivory Coast, where 18 people, including four French citizens, were killed on Sunday in an attack on the beach resort of Grand Bassam. 

eople look at clothes left on the beach on March 14 , 2016 in Grand Bassam
AFP
This was the first attack by militant Islamists on Ivory Coast

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said it carried out the attack in response to France's offensive against them in the region. 

Read: France's ex-colonies under growing threat

How much has Nigeria lost in alleged corruption?

James Copnall

Africa editor, BBC World Service

US currency
AFP

The numbers are staggering. First came the more than $2bn (£1.3bn) allegedly siphoned off by Nigeria's senior military officers in arms procurement deals. 

Now the state oil company is accused of failing to hand over $16bn to the treasury in 2014 alone. 

Add in the millions of dollars of monthly salary which went to so-called ghost workers, and other apparent discrepancies, and the total comes to almost $19bn. 

Legal cases continue, and identifying gaps is not the same as recovering money. 

It's clear though that President Muhammadu Buhari has made fighting corruption a priority. But defeating such a deeply ingrained practice will be a very difficult task. 

Congo activists 'arrested'

Police have arrested at least six protesters in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's main city, Goma, during a peaceful demonstration over the jailing of two fellow activists, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said, Reuters news agency reports.

About 20 members of the Struggle for Change (Lucha) group began marching to demand the release of those arrested one year ago when police moved in to detain some of them, HRW senior researcher Ida Sawyer said.

Those arrested were put in a truck and it's not clear where they were taken to, she added. 

Watch our digital documentary on Lucha and its activities.

Kenya athletics needs 'overhaul'

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Former Olympic gold medallist Noah Ngeny
BBC

A former Olympic gold medallist has said that a complete overhaul of the Athletics Kenya leadership is needed if widespread doping and corruption in the sport is to be dealt with effectively. 

Noah Ngeny, who quit his position on the athletics governing body last week, told me that some officials had turned a blind eye to doping.

He said Athletics Kenya had not done enough to warn and educate Kenyan athletes on the dangers of using banned substances.     

Kenya faces serious sanctions ahead of the Rio Olympics if it fails to put in place regulations in line with World Anti-Doping agency guidelines by 5 April. 

More than 40 Kenyan athletes have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances since 2011.

Who are the Ivory Coast attack victims?

The identity of some of the victims of Sunday's attack in Ivory Coast's coastal town of Grand Bassam, which left 18 people dead, have been released:

  • Three members of the Ivorian special forces, who were killed responding to the attack. President Alassane Ouatarra paid tribute to the "brave soldiers who lost their lives defending the homeland."
  • Four French nationals were killed, according to the office of the French President, though it has not identified them:
  • Two of the French victims, aged 75 and 78, had retired in the country after living there for many years, French media report. They were riding bicycles in the town when the attack started.
  • One male victim was the boss of an IT company which had been operating in the country for nearly 30 years. His stepson told Europe 1 radio that he had just finished building a house in Grand Bassam a month earlier.
  • The final French victim, aged around 50, was working for a subsidiary of the French multinational conglomerate Bollore.

People lay flowers outside the French embassy in Abidjan
afp
Grand Bassam beach is popular with locals and foreigners
  • One German. Henrike Grohs, aged 51, was head of the Abidjan branch of Germany's Goethe Institute cultural body. She was passionate about Ivorian culture and was a massive reggae fan, a friend told local media.
  • One Macedonian. The UN mission in Ivory Coast confirmed that Anita Andreevska Mitrovska, a volunteer with its engineering section who has been in the country since December, was among the dead.
  • Other victims included foreign citizens from Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Mali. No details about their identities have been released.

Sudan newspaper copies 'seized'

Sudan's security agents have confiscated all copies of the daily Al-Sudani newspaper, its chief editor has said. 

The copies were seized last night, after today's edition was printed, Dia al-din Bilal told AFP news agency. 

He said the last time his newspaper was seized was five months ago. "We have become more careful about the material we publish and despite no seizures for five months, it has happened again," Mr Bilal is quoted as saying. 

The powerful National Intelligence and Security Service often confiscates entire print runs of newspapers over articles that it deems to be offensive, rarely explaining why.

Sudanese journalists protest against the suspension of El-Tayar daily newspaper in Khartoum, Sudan, 01 March 2016
EPA

About a fortnight ago, Sudanese journalists protested in the capital, Khartoum, against the closure of the El-Tayar daily newspaper.

Using drones to tackle HIV in Malawi

The BBC's Karen Allen reports on the new experiments being carried out in Malawi which could speed up the delivery of HIV tests in remote parts of the country.

Using drones to tackle HIV in Malawi

South Africa no 'safe haven' for Bashir

Court documents
AFP

A leading rights group in South Africa has welcomed a ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) condemning the government for its failure to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country last year. 

“We are thrilled with the SCA verdict as South Africa should not be treated as a safe haven for suspected perpetrators of egregious crimes” said the Southern Africa Litigation Centre executive director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh. 

The group brought the case against the government, arguing it was obliged to execute an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Bashir when he attended an African Union summit in the main city, Johannesburg, in June. 

Mr Ramjathan-Keogh added:

“The South African government should seek to uphold the rule of law instead of shielding suspected war criminals and the SCA has made this clear today.”

Read our 13:43 and 09:07 posts for more details

Egypt hits back at Slovenia over tennis tournament

Piers Edwards

BBC Sport

The Egyptian Tennis Federation (ETF) has told the BBC it has no issues with security ahead of next month’s Fed Cup tournament in Cairo. 

Earlier, the Tennis Federation of Slovenia announced its withdrawal from the women’s tournament, citing security concerns on the part of both the government and players. 

However, the ETF has hit back, saying that the venue in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, has received approval from the game’s governing body, the International Tennis Federation. 

“We don’t have any problems of security. A committee from the ITF has already come to view the venue and hotel, and they are extremely OK with our selection at the El Gezira Sporting Club in Zamalek,” Mara Abdel Rahman, the ETF’s Executive Manager told the BBC. 

"We have submitted a security plan to the ITF which they have agreed to, so we don’t have any problems. I don’t know why Slovenia pulled out. It is totally safe and secure,” he added. 

Slovenia’s withdrawal leaves Bosnia, Finland, Lithuania, Denmark, Liechtenstein and Austria competing with the hosts in a tournament that is the female version of the Davis Cup.

Nigeria vigilantes killed by landmine

A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram
AFP
Boko Haram has waged an insurgency since 2009 to establish Islamic rule

Three vigilantes on their way to fight militant Islamist group Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria were killed and seven others injured when their vehicle hit a landmine, residents told AFP news agency. 

The vigilantes from Chul village in Borno state were approaching neighbouring Huyum village, which was under attack from Boko Haram when they hit the landmine.

"We lost three of our colleagues to a roadside bomb yesterday evening on their way to repel Boko Haram in Huyum," Adamu Galadima, who attended the victims' funerals said, AFP reports.

One woman was shot dead and a girl was shot and injured in the attack on Huyum village.

In June, militants killed 15 people in a raid on the village.

France-born star opts to play for Morocco

Sofiane Boufal
get

France-born Sofiane Boufal has been included in Morocco's final 25-man squad for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Cape Verde.

The Lille midfielder, 22, is eligible to play for the Atlas Lions through his parents and has pledged his allegiance to the north African country.

Boufal was not part of provisional squad but the Moroccan Football Association and coach Herve Renard were able to persuade him to join the team.

Read the full story here

South African government's conduct 'disgraceful'

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal was harsh in its criticism of the government over its failure to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country last year. 

It described as laughable the government's claim that Mr Bashir slipped out of the country without being noticed. 

The full bench of judges also said the government's attempt to mislead a lower court which heard the case was disgraceful. 

Omar al-Bashir
AFP
Mr Bashir attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg

The government reacted by saying it will study the judgement and decide whether to appeal at the Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa.  

Mr Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity over the conflict in Darfur. 

He denies the charges. 

See our 09:07 post for more details

Clans insure cars in Somaliland

Bidhaan Dahir

BBC Somali service

Hargeisa street
BBC

The roads in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway state of Somaliland, are becoming increasingly congested. 

Car use is on the rise, and the government has embarked on a road maintenance programme, with financial assistance from the European Union.

There has also been a sharp increase in road fatalities, with 30 people killed so far this year. 

"One of the biggest accidents of the year saw 14 people killed, and many others injured,” said Abdiwahaab Nakruma from the health ministry.

Many motorists do not have insurance cover. Somaliland's sole car insurance provider, Takaful, told me they mainly deal with officials from the government or international organisations. 

To pay for damages, many people turn to their clans. Motorist Abdi Hussein said that “all liabilities are paid by my clan because there is no insurance”. 

Car accident
BBC

Clan chiefs collect and manage money through a system called MAG.   

One of them, Hassan Jama, told me that “everybody goes to his clan to cover the damage, and it is our duty to pay for members”. 

That's not surprising. The clan system is firmly entrenched in Somaliand, and people have strong loyalty to their clan. 

Slovenia cancels Egypt matches

Slovenia says its national women's tennis team will not attend a next month's Federation Cup tournament in Egypt due to security fears, Reuters news agency reports. 

A statement from Slovenia's Tennis Federation says the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised its citizens against travelling to certain parts of Egypt, including Cairo and Alexandria, where the competition will take place, it added.

"The players themselves also expressed fear for their own security," the statement added.

Teams from Bosnia, Finland, Lithuania, Denmark, Liechtenstein and Austria were also due to play at the tournament in Egypt from13 to 16 April.

Egypt has seen a rise in militant Islamists attacks since the 2013 overthrow of President Muhammed Morsi by the military.

Ivory Coast attack 'won't scare' investors

Leading US businessmen are visiting Ivory Coast, two days after militant Islamists killed 18 people at a beach resort. 

A BBC reporter the main city, Abdijan, is tweeting about it:   

View more on twitter

The presidents of Togo and Benin, as well as the French foreign minister, are due to visit the country later today.

Zimbabwe 'malnutrition crisis'

The worst malnutrition crisis in Zimbabwe in 15 years could "spiral out of control" if efforts to feed children were not stepped up, the UN children's agency has said, as the government estimated that four million people would need food aid.

Unicef spokesman Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva that close to 33,000 children, mostly aged 1 to 2 years old, required urgent treatment for "severe acute malnutrition".

Unicef is appealing for $21m (£15m) to meet the humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe this year.

 The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Social welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira as saying up to four million people required food assistance, and the government was speeding up efforts to import grain so that no-one starved. 

 Zimbabwe has been hit by a devastating drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. 

In this photo taken Sunday Jan. 29, 2016, Last Zimaniwa feels the broken ground at a spot which is usually a reliable water source that has dried up due to lack of rains in the village of Chivi , Zimbabwe
Ap

Nigeria minister visits Ogoniland

Nigeria's environment minister Amina Muhammed has visited the Ogoniland region in the oil-rich Niger Delta, which has has been badly affected over the years by oil spills. .

Oil giant Shell has been sued by residents who are demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. It denies full responsibility for the spills.

A UN report in 2011 said the Ogoni communities faced a severe health risk, with some families drinking water with high levels of carcinogens.

A Nigerian blogger has tweeted:

Minister Of Environment Visits Ogoniland Ahead Of Environmental Cleanup omojuwa.com/2016/03/minist…

Minister Of Environment Visits Ogoniland Ahead Of Environmental Cleanup omojuwa.com/2016/03/minist…

Softening pain with fado music

One of Portugal's best cultural exports is fado music, and Mariza is among the most successful singers of this musical genre, which is known for its melancholic tones.

She's performing in London later today as part of an European tour. 

Ahead of that event, she met with the BBC Newsday's Lawrence Pollard to explain how fado is helping her deal with the trauma of leaving her native Mozambique and starting life from scratch in Portugal:

Mariza says fado has redefined her life as an exile in Portugal

'Gunmen on boats' raid Somalia town

A new group of gunmen on boats have docked in a coastal town in Somalia's Puntland region, seizing control of it, a resident has told the BBC Somali service. 

People were now fleeing Gara'ad, said Farhaan Farah Abdi.

Another eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said the gunmen were downloading weapons from their boats.  

The town was once a base for pirates, but the gunmen are suspected to be from militant Islamist group al-Shabab. 

They arrived in two big boats, and seized the small boats of fishermen, Mr Abdi said.

Yesterday, another group of suspected al-Shabab gunmen entered Gara'ad and slept the night there. There are unconfirmed reports that this group left by road this morning, after their colleagues arrived and took control of the town. 

Can drones help Malawi test for HIV?

The BBC southern Africa correspondents tweets:

View more on twitter

Libya 'foils' militant attack

A general view taken on January 6, 2015 shows the Mellitah Oil and Gas terminal on the outskirts of Zwara in western Libya
Getty Images

Libya's security forces foiled a major attack on a power and water plant in the east of the country late last night, a security guard says, Reuters news agency reports.

Suspected militants attempted a suicide car bomb attack about 80km (50 miles) from the major Sarir oil field but security forces killed the driver, before engaging the attackers in clashes, he added.

Any attack on the Sarir area would cause particular alarm because more than half of Libya's remaining oil production comes from the region. 

No group has said it carried out the attack, but fighters from the Islamic State group have previously targeted oil installations in the country.

Instability in Libya has led to its oil production falling to about 360,000 barrels per day, less than a quarter of its level before the killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Reuters reports.

Nigeria's 'missing $16bn'

Chris Ewokor

BBC Africa, Abuja

Nigeria's state-owned oil firm failed to transfer $16bn (£11bn) to the treasury in 2014, the government says. 

An audit of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) showed the amount was withheld without any explanation.

This could be the biggest fraud discovery yet. The NNPC is yet to react to the allegation. 

A similar allegation made two years ago by then-central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi led to him being sacked by the former government. 

He had accused the oil company of failing to remit $20bn, higher than the present amount.

Nigeria’s oil exports are worth about $77bn annually, according to oil producers' group Opec.

But there are allegations some of the funds are diverted to private pockets. Development in Africa’s biggest oil producer and largest economy has been stunted by decades of corruption and mismanagement.

A worker inspect facilities on an upstream oil drilling platform
AFP
Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer

The government’s anti-corruption fight now seems to be shifting to the oil sector. 

It started with investigations into the alleged diversion of $2.1bn meant for weapons to fight the Islamist insurgency in northeast Nigeria. 

High profile politicians and some top military officers linked to the alleged arms fraud have been arrested and are being prosecuted.  

President Muhammadu Buhari took power after winning elections last year, vowing to fight corruption.

South African government loses Bashir case

South Africa's government has failed to overturn a court ruling condemning it for refusing to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir when he attended an African Union summit in June. 

The government's failure to execute the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was inconsistent with South African law, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled. 

A lower court gave a similar ruling, and the government hoped that it will win an appeal.

It argued that Mr Bashir qualified for presidential immunity.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (C) waves to the crowd during a campaign rally for the upcoming presidential elections in El-Fasher, in North Darfur, on April 8, 2015
AFP
Mr Bashir says the ICC's charges are political

He is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes over the conflict in Darfur.

He denies the charges, but refuses to stand trial because Sudan does not recognise the ICC's jurisdiction.

Read: Will South Africa leave the ICC? 

UN chief 'angry' with Morocco

BBC World Service

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has delivered an unusually sharp rebuke to Morocco. 

A statement said Mr Ban was both angry and disappointed by a mass protest in Rabat over remarks he made about the disputed territory of Western Sahara. 

It said the rally on Sunday showed disrespect to him and to the UN. 

Moroccan protesters hold placards and shout slogans in the capital Rabat, on March 13, 2016, during a demonstration against statements made by the United Nations chief earlier in the week regarding the Western Sahara
AFP
Morocco's state media says three million people took part in the rally

Mr Ban had used the word "occupation" to describe the situation in Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed in 1975. 

He's been renewing a diplomatic drive to hold a referendum on its status.  

Zimbabwe rejects WhatsApp ban

The Facebook and WhatsApp applications' icons are displayed on a smartphone on February 20, 2014 in Rome.
AFP

Zimbabwe's government has rejected a proposal by mobile phone firms to ban Over The Top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp and Skype, a minister is quoted in the Herald Newspaper as saying. 

The firms requested that OTT services be regulated, arguing they were knocking their profits. 

"We did mention that as a progressive government, which promotes access to technology, we were averse to the idea of stifling these technologies or banning them," Information Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said, the Herald reports.   

South Africa's lawmakers have also been considering a request from mobile phone companies to regulate OTT services, which are cheaper to use.

Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day: 

He who refuses to carry a head ends up doing it anyway."

A Luhya proverb sent by Moss Paul, Nairobi, Kenya.

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

Good morning

Welcome to the BBC Africa Live page where we will bring you up-to-date news from around the continent.