Africa Media Review for August 28, 2023

Zimbabwe’s Opposition Alleges ‘Gigantic Fraud’ in Vote That Extends the ZANU-PF Party’s 43-Year Rule
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader on Sunday alleged “blatant and gigantic fraud” in the country’s election after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner and international observers reported an atmosphere of intimidation against voters. The returns from the latest troubled vote in the southern African nation were announced Saturday night, two days earlier than expected. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change party said it would challenge the results as “hastily assembled without proper verification.” “They stole your voice and vote but never your hope,” Chamisa wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, in his first public reaction to the election’s announced outcome. “It’s a blatant and gigantic fraud.” … “The vote will be challenged, it was fraught with unprecedented illegality,” Chamisa said later Sunday in the capital, Harare. … The election observers said they had specific concerns in this vote over a ruling party affiliate organization called Forever Associates of Zimbabwe that they said set up tables at polling stations and took details of people walking into voting booths. The head of the African Union observer mission, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, said the FAZ activities should be declared “criminal offenses.” AP

In a Departure, Zimbabwe’s Neighbors Question the Legitimacy of Its Elections
The presidential election in Zimbabwe last week that kept the governing party in power and was widely criticized as dubious … exposed Zimbabwe to increased scrutiny and pressure from a surprising place: its neighbors in southern Africa. Before President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner of a second term on Saturday, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union publicly questioned the legitimacy of Zimbabwe’s elections for the first time. While Zimbabwe has chalked up criticism from the West as colonial gripes, condemnation from other leaders on the continent may not be so easily brushed off, analysts say, particularly when it comes from countries that have to absorb the effects of Zimbabwe’s economic and social turmoil. … The Southern African Development Community, or S.A.D.C., observer mission criticized laws in Zimbabwe that restricted free speech, voter intimidation by the governing ZANU-PF party and mismanagement by the country’s chief electoral body, most notably the long voting delays because many polling stations did not get ballots in time. The mission also denounced the arrest on election night of dozens of members of a local electoral watchdog that has for years independently verified the results announced by the government. New York Times

Gabon Cuts Access to Internet, Broadcasts as Citizens Wait for Election Results
The government cut off the internet on Saturday evening and put a curfew in place… Earlier in the day, the opposition had denounced the way the election was being conducted, calling it a “fraud orchestrated by Ali Bongo and his supporters.” Later that evening, the communication authority announced “the provisional ban on the broadcasting in Gabon of France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde.” It accused them of “a lack of objectivity and balance… in connection with the current general elections.” In a statement on Sunday, France Medias Monde, the parent company of RFI and France 24, said it “regrets and is surprised by this provisional suspension, which lacks foundation,” adding that it “deprives the Gabonese of two of their main sources of reliable and independent information.” The elections in Gabon – presidential, legislative and municipal – have gone ahead without the presence of election observers. Bongo, the scion of a family that has ruled for 55 years, is seeking victory over a newly united opposition. Onda Ossa – a 69-year-old economics professor who served as a minister under Bongo from 2006 to 2009 – was chosen by the main opposition grouping, Alternance 2023, as its joint candidate just eight days before the election. The opposition accused the Bongo government of deliberately creating a disorganised election. Onda Ossa’s team said that he was only able to cast his vote after his polling station opened eight hours behind schedule. RFI

Niger Journalist: I Lie Awake at Night Fearing They Will Arrest Me
Rumours started to circulate that there had been a coup at the presidential palace. I immediately got to work, tapping up contacts, trying to establish the facts. I didn’t have to wait long – that same night the head of the presidential guard announced that President Mohamed Bazoum was under “house arrest”. The democratically elected president had been overthrown. Two days later, Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani proclaimed himself the new leader. For the next two weeks, I barely slept. Everyone across the BBC wanted to talk to me but communication was difficult. Before long, the atmosphere began to change on the street. “You’re either with us or against us” was the line from the military junta and their supporters. … I started being trolled heavily on social media and then came abusive phone calls. The military junta threatened to throw out all “foreign” media. It was too risky for me to go down the street in the capital Niamey and report on any of the pro-Tchiani demonstrations. … Anyone who openly opposes the coup risks being beaten up or having their house ransacked. I fear I could be arrested at any moment by the military junta. BBC

Russia Uses Social Media Channels to Exploit Niger Coup
Social media channels associated with the Russian state have launched a major effort to exploit last month’s military coup in Niger, seeking to reinforce Moscow’s influence in the country and possibly open opportunities for intervention. … Activity focusing on Niger on channels linked to the paramilitary Wagner group declined sharply after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s leader, in a plane crash north of Moscow last week, expert analysis has revealed. But pro-Russian Telegram channels more broadly have continued to discuss or push disinformation about Niger at generally the same levels as before Prigozhin’s death, according to research by Logically, a technology company tackling potentially harmful online content and disinformation based in the UK, India and US. Prigozhin, who led a rebellion in Russia in June, spearheaded a disinformation offensive in Africa that played a key role in the expansion of Russian influence in strategic areas such as the Sahel. Content about Niger across 45 Russian Telegram channels affiliated with the Russian state or Wagner increased by 6,645% in the month after the coup, suggesting a keen interest in Moscow in exploiting the upheaval. Guardian

Niger’s Population Struggles with Daily Life after Coup
Roughly one month after military officers seized power, there is little obvious consensus within Niger about whether to support the coup leaders or Bazoum, who is being held captive by the military. … In the small shop where Abbas Daouda used to make a good living, he hurried on a recent afternoon to grind maize and millet before electricity outages cut his workday short. “I hope that the bosses up there will find an agreement,” he said, referring to the country’s senior figures. … Laoual Sayabou, the coordinator of a network of human rights groups in Niamey, said that the sanctions had been severe and had deeply affected the lives of citizens but that many are still “continuing to fight to see their president and the institutions in which they had confidence freed.” “The Nigerien people elected President Bazoum, and it is him that we recognize,” said Sayabou, adding that support for the coup has been fueled by opportunists and propaganda targeting young people. Community leaders say they also worry about a shrinking of the space for dissent and criticism of the junta. In Niamey, professors who signed a letter lambasting their union for supporting the coup without consulting its members were questioned Wednesday by police and then demoted from their positions. “I fear for my country,” said one of the professors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns. “We are in a very dangerous place.” Washington Post

East Libya Strongman Launches Assault on Chad Rebels
Libyan troops loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an airborne assault on a Chadian rebel headquarters in the southern desert late Friday, his office said. The stop-start conflict which has gripped Libya for the past 12 years has seen its rival leaders forge alliances with various rebel factions in neighbouring Chad and Sudan. On Friday evening, the air force of Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) bombarded Chadian rebel positions on the Libyan side of the border, before launching an airborne assault, its press office said. The immediate target was an unfinished housing complex in the remote outpost of Umm al-Araneb in Murzuq district, where the more than 2,000 homes under construction have been taken over by rebel fighters and their families, said LNA chief press officer Khalifa al-Obeidi. Haftar’s son Saddam, who heads LNA ground forces, was “at the Chadian border to supervise operations… to cleanse the area of armed gangs,” Obeidi added. … Earlier this month, Chad’s transitional president Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno visited the far north to rally his troops after an attack by the self-styled Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), which has been active in the border region. Defense Post with AFP

Libya Suspends Foreign Minister over Talks with Israeli Counterpart
The leader of Libya’s government said Sunday, August 27, that he had suspended his foreign minister after her Israeli counterpart announced he had held talks with her last week in Rome. Najla al-Mangoush has been “temporarily suspended” and will be subject to an “administrative investigation” by a commission chaired by the justice minister, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah said on Sunday evening in an official decision posted on Facebook. The Libyan foreign ministry described it as a “chance and unofficial encounter,” but news of the meeting had already led to street protests in several Libyan cities. The political row broke out Sunday after Israel’s foreign ministry said the two countries’ foreign ministers had met the previous week. The statement said Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Mangoush, his Libyan counterpart in the Tripoli-based administration, spoke at a meeting in Rome hosted by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani. Le Monde with AFP

Somaliland Vows Revenge After Militia Attack on Army Camp
The president of Somalia’s separatist region of Somaliland on Saturday vowed revenge on a local militia which the previous day seized a major base belonging to his army. The breakaway region has seen months of conflict between Somaliland troops and a clan militia challenging the authorities of the self-proclaimed republic, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally. On Friday the SSC militia said it had taken the base of Goojacade in the Sool region, of which the city of Las Anod, claimed by both Somaliland and the neighboring autonomous region of Puntland, is the capital. … Las Anod resident Abdilatif Adan told AFP by phone that “the situation is calm today. There is no fighting but there is massive military mobilisation going on.” Defense Post with AFP

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Resume Negotiations over a Disputed Dam
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan resumed their years-long negotiations Sunday over the controversial dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary, officials said. The resumption of talks came after President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last month that they aim to reach within four months an agreement on the operation of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile meets the White Nile in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, before winding northward through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt fears a devastating impact if the dam is operated without taking its needs into account. It called it an existential threat. The Arab world’s most populous country relies almost entirely on the Nile to supply water for agriculture and its more than 100 million people. About 85% of the river’s flow originates from Ethiopia. … Key questions remain about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries will resolve any future disputes. Ethiopia has rejected binding arbitration at the final stage of the project. AP

‘Common Agenda’ Calls Intensify Ahead of Africa Climate Summit
Organisers of the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi are facing the heat from civil society activists and experts who are pushing for what they say should generate a meaningful stand for the continent. First point of contention has been on the agenda and sponsorship, with critics feeling those who bring in the money could sway the agenda, away from what Africa needs. This week, a letter to Kenya’s President William Ruto co-signed by more than 300 civil societies emerged on a website… In Nairobi, civil society put up eight key demands including criticising the influence by a consultancy company, Mckinsey and Company. … “The summit must press for increasing adaptation finance to Africa by more than double and ensure it is based on Africa’s needs and reaches the communities at the forefront of the climate crisis,” said Dr Mwenda. … And experts have called on the Summit to prioritise green energy transition. At least 15 African presidents are expected at the summit themed, “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the world.” “It should prioritise and advance the interests of Africa and facilitate climate action that supports a rapid and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, but also set ambitious targets for deployment of decentralised renewable energy that leverages the continent’s vast renewable energy potential,” said Charity Migwi of, a global grassroots climate change movement. EastAfrican

Cause of Kenya’s Longest Power Outage in Memory Remains Unclear as Grid Suppliers Exchange Blame
The longest nationwide power outage in Kenyans’ memory remained a mystery Sunday as the government-owned power company blamed a failure at Africa’s largest wind farm, which laid the responsibility on the power grid instead. Some of Kenya’s more than 50 million people, including in the capital, Nairobi, saw power return almost 24 hours after the massive outage occurred late Friday. It was an embarrassment to the East African economic hub that has sought to promote itself as a tech center on the continent but remains challenged by alleged mismanagement and poor infrastructure. Hundreds of people were stranded in darkness for hours at Kenya’s main international airport in Nairobi, leading to a rare public apology from a government minister in a country where tourism is a key part of the economy. “This situation WILL NOT happen again,” transport minister, Kipchumba Murkomen, said. … Kenya gets almost all its electricity from renewable sources, a fact that the government will promote as it hosts the first Africa Climate Summit early next month. AP

Modi Says India as G20 Host Will Be Inclusive and Invites African Union to Become Permanent Members
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country’s role as the G20 host this year would focus on highlighting the concerns of the developing world, and has proposed the African Union to become permanent members of the forum. “We have a vision of inclusiveness and with that vision, we have invited the African Union to become permanent members of the G20,” Modi said on Sunday as he addressed the Business 20 Summit in New Delhi. The B20 is an industry event and part of the summit of the 20 leading rich and developing nations, which will be hosted in the Indian capital next month. Over three days, industry and policy leaders from around the world have discussed themes like building resilient supply chains, digital transformation, debt distress facing developing countries and how to advance on climate change goals. Their recommendations will be shared with the G20 governments, organizers said. AP

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon: From Running Barefoot to the ‘Queen of 1,500m’
In yet another glorious moment in a record and medal-laden year on the track, Kenya’s middle-distance running “queen” Faith Kipyegon completed a hat-trick of world 1,500-metre gold medals at the World Athletics Championship in Budapest this week. The double Olympic champion has not lost over the distance for two years. Although Kipyegon launched her season with a slightly less comfortable win at the Doha Diamond League in May, she has since vanquished her competitors and past records in an astonishing season. … However, what she achieved the following week in Paris elevated her as simply one of the greatest runners of all time – in any category. Running a 5,000-metre race after a gap of eight years, Kipyegon stunned the world as she broke the world record at that distance. Kipyegon enjoyed a comfortable lead as she approached the finish line. Once over, she looked up to check the time and held her head in her hands in disbelief before collapsing into a heap in the arms of Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, whose record she had just broken in 14 minutes and 5.20 seconds. Al Jazeera