Africa Media Review for August 2, 2023

Niger’s Premier Issues Call from France for International Help to Roll Back his Country’s Coup
Niger’s prime minister, who has been stuck outside the country since last week’s coup, appealed Tuesday for the international community’s help in rolling back the military takeover, saying it was crucial for defending democracy in West Africa. Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou said in an interview with The Associated Press that Niger should be considered a linchpin for supporting democracy in the region and for protecting countries to the south “against the spread of terrorism.” … Mahamadou noted that the coup comes after three similar events in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea since 2020. “If a fourth coup is confirmed, it’s the whole democracy in West Africa that is in danger, because there’s no reason why … there shouldn’t be a fifth, and after a fifth, a sixth,” he said. “For the ECOWAS countries, it’s a question of survival. For the international community too, it’s a question of credibility. Niger must remain a democratic state,” he insisted. … The current instability in the country ultimately “could encourage … the further development of insecurity linked to jihadists,” Mahamadou warned. “Because if the armed forces are preoccupied with issues other than ensuring the country’s security, you can understand that this will enable the jihadists to move forward on the ground.” AP

Niger Crisis Could Worsen Insecurity throughout West Africa, UN Envoy Warns
The security situation in wider West Africa could worsen unless the political crisis in Niger is resolved, the top UN official for the region said on Tuesday, underlining the need for peace. Briefing journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, Léonardo Santos Simão reiterated condemnation of the attempted overthrow of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum on 26 July. He also underscored support for efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) aimed at restoring constitutional order and consolidating democratic gains in the country. “The unfolding crisis, if not addressed, will exacerbate the deteriorating security situation in the region. It will also negatively impact the development and lives of the population in a country where 4.3 million people need humanitarian assistance,” he said, speaking from Accra, Ghana. He added that “Niger and the region do not need coups d’état. Populations deserve to enjoy peace, democratic governance and prosperity.” … Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed deep concern over reports of the arrest of several members of Niger’s Government. “(He) urgently calls for the strict adherence to Niger’s international human rights obligations and the prompt restoration of constitutional order,” said UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, speaking on Tuesday in New York. UN News

Niger Coup: A Litmus Test for Democracy in West Africa
President Bola Tinubu, who is at the helm of regional superpower Nigeria, regards the coup across the border in Niger as a litmus test for democracy in West Africa. Having assumed the chairmanship of regional bloc Ecowas a mere three weeks ago, he was confronted with a major foreign policy challenge when the military seized power in Niger – a strategic ally in the fight against militant Islamists wreaking havoc across much of West Africa. Mr Tinubu had raised concerns about the coups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea when he rose to Nigeria’s presidency in May, saying Ecowas needed to strengthen its regional force to prevent further coups, and to fight the militants. … The regional bloc gave an ultimatum to Niger’s junta – hand back power to the elected president within a week or Ecowas would take “all measures necessary to restore constitutional order”. … [T]he coup has a direct bearing on Nigeria. The two countries share a border which stretches for more than 1,500km (930 miles), and they have strong cultural and trade ties that date back to the pre-colonial era when a chunk of both were part of the Sokoto caliphate. Their security is also intertwined. Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out attacks in both countries, with a military force – made up of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon – fighting them. The force’s “strategic and technical partners” include the UK, US and France, with the latter two having military bases in Niger. BBC

Fighting Continues in Sudan’s Capital as Aid Organisations Leave Conflict Zones
Fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued in parts of Khartoum and Omdurman yesterday. The army claimed 23 RSF troops defected and joined its ranks. Meanwhile, aid organisations were forced to close their offices in areas where the security situation became too difficult for staff to operate safely. Omdurman residents reported a new attack by the RSF on the main base of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police forces in the city. They said the army shelled RSF sites in the neighbourhoods of old Omdurman with artillery and used its airpower heavily. The spokesperson for the SAF reported in a statement yesterday that the army clashed with RSF troops in central Omdurman, inflicting casualties. SAF Special Task Forces attacked the military complex near El Shajara in West Khartoum, which is occupied by the RSF, and the statement reported that 15 paramilitaries were killed. SAF warplanes also bombed targets in the areas of El Masoudiya and the Giad industrial complex south of Khartoum. The spokesperson further accused the RSF of “indiscriminate shelling of the Abu Adam area” in Khartoum on Sunday, causing the death of a child. Dabanga

FFC Leader Criticizes AU Plans to Include Former Regime in Intra-Sudanese Dialogue
Yasir Arman, a prominent leader of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), criticized arrangements by the African Union to hold an expanded political dialogue in Sudan that includes figures of the banned National Congress Party (NCP) of the former regime. The planned meeting comes within the efforts of the regional body and international community to end the ongoing political crisis and bloody fighting taking place between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for about 4 months. According to Arman, contacts are underway between Sudanese stakeholders, IGAD, and the African Union to hold a dialogue at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa on August 25, 2023. In a paper extended to Sudan Tribune, he underscored that there are no sufficient preparations to ensure the participation of the forces of the December Revolution. Also, he disclosed that the regional body intends to involve NCP leading members and other affiliated forces hostile to the democratic transition. Such a move “will reward the NCP, the Islamists, and their allies” for igniting the war in Sudan. Also, he added that their participation intervenes while they are rejecting any cooperation with efforts led by the IGAD and the African Union to settle the Sudanese crisis. Sudan Tribune

One Killed, 6 Injured in Suspected Kenya Al Shabaab Attack
One person was killed and six injured, including Hindi Member of County Assembly (MCA) James Njaaga and his wife, after suspected Al Shabaab militants ambushed them in Mwembeni area on the Lamu-Witu-Garsen road on Tuesday. Lamu West Deputy Commissioner Gabriel Kioni said the attack took place at around 7.30am. According to preliminary investigations, the militants organised themselves into groups before hiding in the bush on both sides of the road. They then began firing indiscriminately at vehicles passing along the road. … The terrorists used a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) to unsuccessfully target a Nyongoro Special Operations Group (Sog) armoured personnel vehicle whose occupants were responding to the initial attacks. … The attack comes just six days after President William Ruto and Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki toured Lamu and assured citizens of their safety. Nation

Women Facing ‘Offline and Online’ Violence Ahead of Elections in Zimbabwe – African Commission
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) said it was concerned with what it called “offline and online” attacks on women ahead of the general elections in Zimbabwe. Janet Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie, the Zimbabwe rapporteur and special rapporteur on the rights of women in Africa, said: “Persistent online violence targeting women often stems from the root causes of offline violence and, in many instances, escalates to physical harm.” To protect women who are at the forefront of political affairs, the ACHPR suggested the Zimbabwean government should “endeavour to strengthen its efforts in combatting hate speech and harmful content” because it led to violence against women in politics. The ACHPR said it had received reports about gender-based violence and discrimination against women because of their or their relatives’ political affiliations, particularly with the opposition. News24

Zimbabwe: Disgruntled Zanu-PF MPs Plotting ‘Bhora Musango’ against Mnangagwa – Claims CCC’s Chamisa
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has claimed Zanu PF MPs are dismayed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and have vowed to decampaign him in this month’s elections. With barely 22 days to go to the plebiscite, political temperatures are rising as political parties canvass for support across the country. Addressing multitudes of supporters recently, Chamisa said support for Mnangagwa in Zanu PF has waned. “This is no longer a party-aligned issue. In fact it is Mnangagwa who is not wanted in Zanu PF. His MPs tell me that they will do a ‘bhora musango’. I said yes I’m bhora musango. They say his rule has benefitted his family. They say he is now rewarding some who are not from the party. That is why he has structures such as FAZ because he does not believe in us,” said Chamisa. Chamisa’s claims follow reports of fears of factionalism in the ruling party sparked by former commissar Saviour Kasukuwere. Kasukuwere, a kingpin of the G40 faction, announced his ambitions to run for the presidency, challenging his erstwhile colleague Mnangagwa. However, his ambitions suffered a blow after the Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling barring him from contesting. … “We should not allow a competitor to choose other competitors. You cannot abuse power to eliminate your competition. You are the one who is not more suitable than Kasukuwere,” said Chamisa. New Zimbabwe

Sierra Leone Arrests Senior Military Officers
Sierra Leone police on Monday said they arrested several persons including senior military officers. The arrested persons, according to the police, were “working to undermine the peace and tranquillity of the state and unleash violence on peaceful citizens of Sierra Leone.” The police noted that preliminary investigations revealed that the arrested individuals planned to use the purported peaceful protests between 7th and 10th August as a guise to unleash violent attacks against state institutions and peaceful citizens. It noted that suspects are assisting the police with the investigations. … The police assured the public that the country remains peaceful and the situation is fully under control, encouraging them to go about their normal business. However, it encouraged members of the public to report any suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities. Since its election last month, the West African country has faced internal turbulence regarding the re-election of President Julius Bio. Supporters of the opposition party, APC, have alleged that the election was rigged and demanded the public release of disaggregated polling station results. Mr Bio did not attend the emergency ECOWAS heads of state meeting convened on Sunday in Abuja to address the coup in Niger. Premium Times

In Tunisia, Giving No Explanation, President Saied Dismisses PM Bouden
Tunisian President Kais Saied has dismissed Prime Minister Najla Bouden, the first woman to lead a government in the North African country, according to a video from the presidency on Tuesday evening, August 1. No explanation was given. Saied immediately appointed in her place Ahmed Hachani, who until now worked at the Tunisian central bank and studied law at the University of Tunis, where Saied taught, according to Hachani’s Facebook profile. The new head of government, a figure unknown to the general public, was immediately sworn in before the president, according to the presidency video. Bouden was appointed by Saied on October 11, 2021, two and a half months after the president granted himself sweeping powers on July 25 by dismissing his then-prime minister and suspending parliament. Since his power grab, Saied has ruled by decree. … On several occasions in recent months, the president has ordered the dismissal of various ministers, including the foreign minister, without giving a reason. Since last February, about 20 opposition, media and business figures have been imprisoned in a wave of arrests that also affected Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party and one of the president’s highest-profile critics. They are accused of “plotting against state security” and Saied has called them “terrorists”. Amnesty International has labeled the roundup a “politically motivated witch hunt”. Le Monde

Fighting Halts Flights to Famous Ethiopian Church Town
Fighting has flared up in multiple areas of Ethiopia’s Amhara region between the army and local militias. Since April the security situation in Amhara has been deteriorating following the decision to disband the region’s state-backed paramilitary group. Some paramilitary members were integrated into the army and police, but others are believed have joined local militias that feel Amhara has been left exposed to attacks from other regions. Clashes on Tuesday forced flights to be cancelled in the historic town of Lalibela, a Unesco world heritage site, where residents told the BBC the violence was “intense”. Amhara militias – referred to as Fano – now have control of the airport, according to activists and media outlets linked to them. The BBC has not been able to independently confirm this. Fighting has also been reported around at least four other towns – some of which have been described as “heavy” by residents. … An army spokesperson confirmed the military was engaged in an offensive against armed groups in Amhara. The advocacy group Amhara Association of America (AAA) said it had confirmed clashes in several areas and expressed its concerns about the safety of civilians. BBC

South Africa’s Stance on Russia Puzzles Many. Could a Mine in the Desert Hold Answers?
[…] Many miles from almost nowhere, a giant wall of dirt rises over the scrub. It’s the edge of an expansive manganese mine, a metal crucial for making iron and steel. The United Manganese of Kalahari (UMK) mines, of which this is one, are highly lucrative and the company has close financial links to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another major player in the mines – Chancellor House Holdings (CHH) – is a holding company linked to the ANC. For years, Chancellor House hid its connection to the party, but after extensive investigative reporting by the Mail & Guardian newspaper and other media outlets in South Africa, the holding company confirmed the links in 2021, when political parties were required to start making the large donations they receive public. … Based on publicly available records, [UMK is] the single biggest donor to the party in recent years. If you add in contributions from Chancellor House, the donations reach at least $2.9 million since 2021. … [I]n a country where the line between the ANC and the government is, at best, fuzzy, many here are concerned that South Africa’s foreign policy towards Russia could be impacted by the connection. … “I think South Africa is playing a dangerous game here and indeed sometimes politicians are putting the political party, the ANC, before the needs of the citizens because it just doesn’t make sense to be so closely associated with Russia when the stakes are so high and there’s so much at risk,” said Steven Gruzd, a Russia and Africa analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs. CNN

French Rap Star Cancels Tunisia Concert in Support of Evicted Migrants
French rapper Maître Gims has announced the cancellation of an upcoming concert in Djerba, Tunisia, to protest against the treatment of black African migrants stranded near the border areas with Algeria and Libya. “Children, women, men, expelled from Tunisia to Libya, live in inhuman conditions,” the rapper wrote on his Instagram account on Sunday. “I cannot maintain my visit to Tunisia, scheduled for August 11,” he added. “I don’t know what the solutions are. But this extreme distress is unbearable.” Tunisia has become a major gateway for irregular migrants and asylum-seekers attempting the perilous sea voyages in often rickety boats in the hopes of a better life in Europe. The distance between Tunisia’s port city of Sfax and Italy’s Lampedusa island is only about 130 kilometres. … Libyan border guards told French news agency AFP that, over the past two weeks, they have rescued hundreds of migrants who said they were left by Tunisian authorities in the border region near Al-Assah, about 150 kilometres west of Tripoli. … “They are stuck in the desert, facing extreme heat, and without access to shelter, food or water. There is an urgent need to provide critical, life-saving humanitarian assistance while urgent, humane solutions are found,” [a joint statement from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration] said. RFI

Rhino Poaching Declines in South Africa amid Crackdown
The number of rhinos killed by poachers at Kruger National Park dropped by half as part of a downward trend nationwide. But authorities said demand for illegal rhino horn persists. South Africa recorded a slight decline in the number of rhinos killed for their horns in the first half of 2023, authorities said on Tuesday. Poachers killed 231 rhinos in the first six months of the year compared to 259 in the same period last year, the Environment Ministry said. That represents an 11% decrease nationwide. At the world-famous Kruger National Park, the number of rhinos killed by poachers this year almost halved to 42. Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said it was “no secret” that the rhino population at Kruger National Park “has been severely battered through almost 20 years of poaching.” But increased surveillance and dehorning programs — where a rhino’s horn is safely removed by rangers so poachers have no incentive to kill it — have driven some poachers instead to turn their focus to provincial parks and private reserves. “This is why you see a displacement to other areas,” Creecy told reporters. In the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, for example, the number of rhinos killed by poachers in the first half of this year actually increased by 10 compared to last year. … [C]ontinued demand for rhino horns in Asia means the threat of poaching persists, the Environment Ministry said. Rhino horn is considered an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine. DW

Volunteers Redouble Efforts to Restore Mogadishu’s Golden Coast
On Urubo, Liido and Sugunto Liido beaches, piles of debris cover the sand. The pollution has scarred the landscape here in a place where people come, seeking a reprieve from the fighting between rival armed factions. Now local people in this old port city are working together to clean up and reclaim their beaches. They’re hoping that if the clean up is successful, renewed interest in the beach will again generate local tourism and help the city’s economy. Many of the volunteers here are students, or people who work at universities. It’s a grass roots movement, in which the young people in the city have taken the initiative. They’ve been out here every week collecting the rubbish which blights the beauty of this coast and endangers marine life. The work is already providing dividends, areas of the beach are once again shining in the sun. … The main push is to involve young people who make up 75% of the country’s population. Fisherman Hassan Mohamed says the work is important for the survival of the coastal region. He says: “As a matter of fact, I am very proud of these young people who have volunteered to clean the beach. As fishermen, we also request that the government support these efforts as it is important to keep the living creatures in the sea healthy, as well as to promote tourism.” AfricaNews

In Zimbabwean Language, ‘Animal Farm’ Takes on New Meaning
When Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah first read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” as a lonely 13-year-old at boarding school, she was transfixed. The story of a group of animals who overthrow an unjust regime only to be betrayed by their leader “made me sob,” she remembers. Years later, she revisited the novel as a university student and learned that the book had been written as an allegory for the Russian Revolution. “I respected it on a new level,” she says. But it was only when she read the book a third time many years later, with her teenage son, that she realized that the book’s cycles of revolution and betrayal were “such a Zimbabwean story.” That thought prompted another: The book should be translated into Shona – one of Zimbabwe’s dominant languages. Over the next several years, Ms. Gappah and Tinashe Muchuri, a poet, led a team of Zimbabwean writers to transform “Animal Farm” into “Chimurenga Chemhuka” – literally, “Animal Revolution” – which was published earlier this year. The goal, they say, is to reach a new generation of Zimbabwean readers with the classic story, but also to upend the way African languages are often seen in literature. CSM

South Africa Make Women’s World Cup History with Last-Gasp Win over Italy
Thembi Kgatlana scored a last-gasp winner to give South Africa their first-ever Women’s World Cup win as they defeated Italy 3-2, qualifying for the last-16 round of the tournament and sending the Italians home. Striker Kgatlana struck two minutes into stoppage time on Wednesday to set up a clash with the Netherlands in Sydney on Sunday and broke the hearts of the Italians, who needed just a draw to progress. Italy had appeared to salvage the draw they needed when Arianna Caruso scored from a corner in the 74th minute but were left to rue what could have been after a series of late missed chances. “They fought like warriors,” said an emotional coach Desiree Ellis, who was a founding member of the South African women’s side in 1993. “They fought like the heroines that we know that they are. They fought to be historically remembered and they’ve made history not just getting our first win, but going to the round of 16 and that is freaking amazing.” Al Jazeera