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Summary

  1. Didymus Mutasa backs Mugabe's long-time opponent Tsvangirai
  2. Naira 'hits six-month high' on the black market
  3. Senegal TV station says sabotage led to the showing of a porn film
  4. Four Ugandan policemen on the run after killing child
  5. French prosecutors drop sex abuse case against peacekeepers in CAR
  6. Hackers accused of siphoning millions of dollars in Kenya
  7. Bemba sentenced to one additional year for trial corruption
  8. Several dead after explosions in north-east Nigeria
  9. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Wednesday 22 March 2017

Live Reporting

By Farouk Chothia and Damian Zane

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:

An elderly person might miss you with a stone but not with a word of advice."

Sent by George Mubanga, Jonas Kaunda, Katele Chimpinde and Joseph Tembo, all from Zambia

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

And we leave you with this photo of workers in South Africa's coastal city of Cape Town installing a giant image of Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu in honour of the role he played in the campaign to end apartheid in the country:   


          Workers install a giant image of Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on the side of the Civic Centre in Cape Town, South Africa 22 March 2017. The artwork by artist Linsey Levendal is in honour of Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah Tutu for their great sacrifices and contribution to South Africa and stands alongside one of former president Nelson Mandela
EPA

'More than 400' Egyptian children hit by food poisoning

At least 435 students are suffering from suspected food poisoning in Egypt after eating government-supplied food at schools, health officials are quoted by AP news agency as saying. 

A total of 312 of the children had been hospitalised after consuming the meals yesterday and today at schools in Cairo, Aswan, Suez, AP reports. 

It is the latest in a series of mass food poisoning incidents caused by school meals produced by a military-owned company, the news agency adds. 

Some 2,200 students were treated last week for the same symptoms in the southern province of Sohag.  

Should you pay for a prophecy?

Self-styled prophets seem to be increasingly popular in Kenya. 

Time for What's up Africa satirist Ikenna Azuike to find out more about prophecies and whether people rely on them more than the weather channel, or their local bookmakers...  

Sierra Leone diamond pastor pledges to build a school

The Sierra Leonean pastor whose workers found one of the world's largest rough diamonds has pledged to build a new school and bridge in the village where it was found.

Diamond found by the pastor
AP

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh brought the 709-carat precious stone , found in the eastern Kono district, to the capital, Freetown, last week.

President Ernest Bai Koroma said Sierra Leoneans should benefit from the discovery and said it will be auctioned next month.

It's hard to say what price it will fetch, but last May, diamond-mining firm Lucara sold a 813-carat stone for $63m (£51m) at a closed auction in London. 

Pastor Momoh told the BBC's Umaru Fofana what he hopes to do with his share of the money:

I have an action plan. I have to give my tithes. I promised God. I know that God still has a plan for me.

After giving my tithes, the village where we got the diamond, we have to make a bridge, we have to build a school, we have to improve the lives of the people."

Pastor Momoh
BBC

Pastor Momoh also said he will build a "magnificent church".

The diamond is thought to be the 13th largest rough diamond ever to be found.

Hackers target Kenyan money

Abdinoor Aden

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Kenya's government says it has has unearthed a hacking syndicate that has been stealing money from its online financial systems.

The revenue authority has been the major victim in the scam, reportedly losing nearly $40m (£32m) this year.

IT expert Alex Mutungi Mutuku, 28, appeared in court today accused of electronic fraud but he denies any wrongdoing.  

Mr Mutuku
Daily Nation
Mr Mutuku's lawyers want him to be released on bail

Other government agencies affected by alleged hacking include the e-citizen online payment portal where people pay for government services.  

The cybercrime investigations unit has revealed that Kenya lost $165m through hacking last year.  

The government has admitted that its officials, including police officers, have been colluding with hackers. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told the BBC the government has now embarked on a thorough background check of employees.

Earlier this month, a group of people, including foreign nationals, were arrested in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, over their alleged involvement in the theft of money through hacking. A total of 10 suspects have so far been charged in court. 

The government maintains there is a larger ring, including expatriates from the United states and other countries, which is involved in the hacking. 

First photos of Gambia's ousted ruler

A pro-democracy activist who played a prominent role during Gambia's post-election crisis has tweeted a photo of the former President Yahya Jammeh him with Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema:  

View more on twitter

Mr Jammeh fled to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in January after regional troops threatened to capture him, following his refusal to accept defeat in presidential elections won by former estate agent Adama Barrow.

Africanews has published a series of photos of Mr Jammeh on a farm.

Protest in Mozambique over petrol price rises

Jose Tembe

BBC Africa, Maputo

Some private taxi operators in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, went on strike today following a 12% rise in the price of petrol.

A litre now costs the equivalent of $0.80.

The bus stops were packed with school children and commuters and some of them were forced to walk.

The price of other liquid fuels has also gone up.

The government has been hesitantly increasing  fuel prices, since earlier this year, after about six years of keeping the price steady.

In 2010, there were deadly riots sparked by fuel and food price increases. This led to government to maintain subsidies.

Rioters in Mozambiqe
AFP
Riots broke out in 2010 after petrol and food price increases

Third of Africans still without piped water

On World Water Day the research organisation Afrobarometer has published figures showing what's changed in the last 10 years when it comes to access to clean water and sewerage and what still needs to be done.

While the proportion of people with access to piped water has risen by 14 percentage points in the last decade, still more than a third of Africans do not have easily available clean water.

And when it comes to sewerage, nearly 70% of Africans still do not have access to good sanitation.

Charts showing the figures
AfroBarometer

In a tweet Afrobarometer describes the situation in Ghana:

View more on twitter

Islamic TV channel blames 'satanic trick' for hardcore porn

Screengrab from YouTube
YouTube

A religious TV channel in Senegal has accused an unidentified saboteur of taking over its programming in a "satanic trick" that led to a hardcore porn film being shown on Monday. 

Touba TV's viewers were shocked when explicit sexual content appeared on their screens between 13:10 and 13:30 local time.

In a statement, the channel  said it had laid a complaint with the office of the prosecutor to identify the culprits: 

"As a religious channel, the management of Touba TV and all our audience members are outraged and unreservedly condemn this criminal act which seems to be sabotage and a satanic trick designed to undermine a channel which is known to stand for Islamic values and teachings."

The privately run TV station had initially said that a troublesome "network bug" had led to the porn film being broadcast.

It usually broadcasts religious programmes promoting Islamic values and teachings. 

Is the dress really from Morocco?

Model wearing the pink dress
Inditex

"Made in Morocco" says the label on the pink Zara shirt dress.

While this may be where the garment was finally sewn together, it has already been to several other countries.

The material used to create it came from lyocell - a sustainable alternative to cotton. The trees used to make this fibre come mainly from Europe, according to Lenzing, the Austrian supplier that Zara owner Inditex uses.

These fibres were shipped to Egypt, where they were spun into yarn. 

This yarn was then sent to China where it was woven into a fabric. 

This fabric was then sent to Spain where it was dyed, in this case pink. 

The fabric was then shipped to Morocco to be cut into the various parts of the dress and then sewn together.

Map showing the route of the shirt
BBC

Read more from BBC News Online.

Men deny breaking into SA chief justice's office


          South African President Jacob Zuma (R) listens to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ahead of Zuma"s inauguration ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria May 24, 2014.
Reuters
President Zuma (R) took the oath in front of Chief Justice Mogoeng in 2014

Two men arrested in South Africa over the burglary at the office of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mgoeng ( see earlier post ) deny being involved in the crime, their lawyer Sammy Mahlangu has said. 

Fifteen computers were stolen from his office on Saturday morning, in a robbery which fuelled speculation that security agents were trying to intimidate judges who had given damning rulings against President Jacob Zuma and his government. 

Given Msimango, 20, and Bigboy Jose, 37, appeared in court today, but Mr Mahlangu said the charge sheet made no mention of the theft. 

He added:       

The charges against them relate to firearms and no mention was made in the media about any firearms having been stolen at the chief justice's office. On this basis they were not linked to the crimes."

Mr Maglangu said a third accused was released without being charged.

Egyptian policemen 'jailed' over detainee's death

 A court in Egypt's capital, Cairo, has sentenced six policemen to jail for torturing a detainee, 26-year-old accountant Saed Said, to death in 2012, the AFP news agency reports. 

One policeman was sentenced to five years in prison, another to one year, and four others to three years, a judicial official is quoted as saying. 

They had been convicted of beating to death Mr Said in a police station in 2012. 

SA restaurant apologises to woman in viral racially-charged attack

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

The South African restaurant chain Spur has apologised to a black woman filmed being threatened by a white man in their restaurant. 

The video of the argument between the pair inside one of their Johannesburg eateries, went viral on Tuesday. 

Screengrab from the video
YouTube

It was unclear what had caused the altercation at the time but many believed the attack was racially motivated. 

The restaurant chain said according to their CCTV footage, the man “aggressively grabbed” the woman’s child prior to the row adding that this was consistent with the woman's version of events. 

In a statement it said:

We affirm our decision to ban the male customer from our stores‚ physical aggression towards our customers‚ particularly against women and children will not be tolerated."

In addition to the statement, Spur CEO Pierre van Tonder said: “We will also offer her and her family trauma counselling and any other support where we can."

#CCTV is trending on social media in South Africa following the release of the statement by the popular restaurant chain. 

The film of the incident recorded by another customer on a mobile phone shows the two arguing and hurling insults at each other, while children were sitting at the table watching the row unfold. 

Martin McGuinness remembered by ANC veteran

A special sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly is to be held today to allow politicians to reflect on the life of Martin McGuinness. 

The IRA commander-turned political leader died on Tuesday, at the age of 66, after a short illness. 

In the immediate aftermath of South Africa's democratic era, the two sides in the Irish conflict travelled to the country for talks.

ANC veteran Mac Maharaj told the BBC's Newsday programme that Martin McGuinness managed to convince the two sides to sit together in the same room:

People share their high school stories on Twitter

#MyHighSchoolConfession is trending on Twitter in Kenya and South Africa as people discuss their school day memories.

Most people seem to be dwelling on their failings:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

And then there is the tardy one:

View more on twitter

Nigerian currency 'hits six-month high'

Nigeria's currency, the naira, reached its highest black market level against the dollar for six months earlier today, the Reuters news agency reports.

Traders were quoting a price of 430 naira to the dollar.

This comes as the central bank is trying to close the gap between the official rate, just over 300 naira to the dollar, and the black market rate.

Reuters says that last month one dollar could buy 520 naira on the black market.

In November 2014 Nigeria's central bank began to devalue the currency as the official rate was unsustainably high.

Naira cash
AFP

Creating a garden on a table top

Coumba Diop is a micro-gardener from Senegal. 

In this week's African Women You Need to Know, she explains how she grows crops on table tops to fight poverty and malnutrition.  

Ex-Mugabe ally endorses Tsvangirai

A former powerful ally of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has thrown his weight behind his rival Morgan Tsvangirai in next year's presidential election, reports the BBC's Shingai Nyoka from the capital, Harare. 

Didymus Mutasa, who was expelled from the ruling Zanu-PF party in 2015, said he wanted Mr Tsvangirai to lead an opposition coalition against the 93-year-old Mr Mugabe, who is seeking to extend his 37-year rule in the poll.

Mugabe (archive shot)
AFP
Mr Mugabe is the world's oldest ruler

Mr Mutasa attended a rally, along with Mr Tsvangirai and other opposition politicians, in Harare, to demand electoral reforms. 

Mr Mutasa played a key role in forming the Zimbabwe People First party after his expulsion from Zanu-PF, but has since fallen out with its leader Joice Mujuru. 

Nigeria bombers targeted people fleeing violence

Habiba Adamu

BBC Africa, Abuja

An official from Nigeria's emergency agency, Muhammad Kanar, has told the BBC that five suicide bombers, all of them male, carried out this morning's attacks in Maiduguri city, in the north-east of the country.

He said eight people were killed, including the bombers, while 20 other are receiving treatment at a local hospital. 

Two of the explosions took place at an informal camp for people who fled violence from militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Tanzania press to boycott government official after radio station raid

News editors in Tanzania are refusing to publish stories about Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda after he burst into a radio station last week making demands of the journalists, the BBC's Sammy Awami reports.

CCTV footage showed him (in the cap), escorted by police officers, entering the studios of Clouds Media Group (CMG) on Friday night.   

CCTV footage
CMG

Reports said that Mr Makonda was unhappy that the station had failed to run a story that would have portrayed a local cleric in a bad light.

Mr Makonda and the religious leader have had a public disagreement over an alleged drugs scandal. 

The editors say the protestis gainast what they called blatant disrespect and infringement of media freedom in the country.

They have also demanded that Mr Makonda apologise saying his action was an abuse of power meant to intimidate the media.