Africa Media Review for August 31, 2023

Gabon Election Results Were a ‘Smokescreen’ for Soldiers to Oust Unpopular President, Analysts Say
The ouster of Gabon’s president by mutinous soldiers appears to have been well organized and capitalized on the population’s grievances against the government as an excuse to seize power, analysts said. Soldiers on Wednesday ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family has ruled the oil-rich country in Central Africa for more than five decades. The coup leaders accused Bongo of irresponsible governance that risked leading the country into chaos and said they put him under house arrest and detained several Cabinet members. The head of Gabon’s elite republican guard, Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, was announced on state TV as the nation’s new leader hours after Bongo was declared the winner of a weekend presidential election that observers said was marred with irregularities and a lack of transparency. “The timing of the coup, following the announcement of the implausible electoral results, and the speed with which the junta is moving suggests this was planned in advance,” Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said. “While there are many legitimate grievances about the vote and Bongo’s rule, that has little to do with the coup attempt in Gabon. Raising those grievances is just a smokescreen.” AP

UN Chief ‘Firmly Condemns’ Gabon Coup, Notes Reports of Election Abuses
The UN Secretary-General on Wednesday firmly condemned the on-going coup attempt in Gabon, while acknowledging that “serious infringements of fundamental freedoms” appear to have taken place during elections at the weekend. Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that UN chief António Guterres was following the evolving situation in the capital Libreville “very closely”. While condemning military action as “a means to resolve the post electoral crisis”, the Secretary-General said he had noted the announcement by the Central African nation’s electoral body of a win for incumbent president Ali Bongo with “deep concern” given reports of serious irregularities at the polls. UN News

Regional Bloc Calls for ‘Return of Constitutional Order’ in Gabon
The Central African regional bloc ECCAS Thursday condemned the use of force to resolve political conflicts as it called for a rapid return to constitutional order in Gabon. The Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States said in a statement it was closely monitoring the situation in Gabon, and that heads of state would hold an imminent meeting to discuss the political and security situation. After army officers said they seized power and placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest Wednesday, other nations condemned the events, including the United States which called for Bongo’s release and the preservation of civilian rule. … According to a French accountability group, nine members of the Bongo family are under investigation in France, and some face preliminary charges linked to corruption. The family has been linked to more than $92 million in properties in France, including two villas in Nice, according to the group. VOA

Zimbabwe: ZEC Dismisses Claims It Is Calling Agents and Observers Back to Sign New V11 Forms
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has dismissed reports that polling agents and observers were being recalled to sign new V.11 forms. Social media was on Monday awash with reports of election agents and observers in some parts of the country being summoned by ZEC to return to their respective polling stations. In a statement, the electoral body said the V.11 forms signed soon after counting of votes are safely sealed in ballot boxes. … According to Election Observer Missions (EMOs), the polls were not free, fair and credible. EOMs, African Union, SADC, Carter Centre, European Union and Commonwealth condemned the condition under which the elections were held. Among other concerns raised by the EOMs was ZEC’s centralization of key election processes such as regulation and supervision of the election process such as registering voters, drafting delimitation boundaries, designing, printing, and distributing ballot papers. The EOMs also highlighted the weaponization of the law by Zanu PF to deny opposition rallies and gatherings while raising red flags over the arrest of some local observers. New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Doctors, Nurses to Undergo Indoctrination at Zanu-PF ‘S Chitepo School of Ideology
AN undisclosed number of doctors and nurses across the country are set to undergo indoctrination through workshops at Zanu PF ‘s School of Ideology. In a letter dated August 18, 2023 Health Permanent Secretary, Jasper Chimedza instructed chief directors, provincial medical directors, chief medical officers and programmes managers to facilitate the training of medics in political consciousness. … Last September, at least 800 teachers from the Midlands underwent training at the institution of ideology. Derogatorily viewed as an attempt to “brain wash” professionals, the sessions were ostensibly aimed at raising the teachers’ consciousness on patriotism. After completion of modules, attendees were conferred with certificates by Chitepo School of Ideology Principal Munyaradzi Machacha at an event in Kwekwe during a program organised by a group of educationists identifying themselves as Teachers for Economic Development (Teachers4ED). The grouping of tutors aligned to Zanu PF campaigned for President Emmerson Mnangagwa in just-ended polls. New Zimbabwe

Russia Vetoes UN Resolution to Extend Sanctions, Monitoring in Mali
Russia has vetoed efforts to keep a team of United Nations experts in Mali who had accused foreign fighters – a veiled reference to Russia’s Wagner mercenary force – of involvement in widespread abuses in the military-run West African country. Thirteen of the UN Security Council’s 15 members backed a proposal on Wednesday that would have extended sanctions for one year on Mali and would have kept the experts in place. But Russia exercised its veto power at the UN meeting to block the extension proposal led by France and the United Arab Emirates. China abstained from the vote. … Russia proposed extending the sanctions for one final year but wanted an immediate end to the independent monitoring team. Al Jazeera

Kagame Promotes General Sanctioned by US for War in DR Congo
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has promoted a general recently sanctioned by the US for having a hand in the conflict in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in what could either be a show of defiance or protestation against the labelling. Brig-Gen Andrew Nyamvumba was named alongside several other top army officials in new positions. But he is now a fingered man after the US Department of Treasury listed him among six people considered warmongers in eastern DRC. It said Andrew Nyamvumba was among those who “helped fuel the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo”. … “Nyamvumba, the head of operations of the 3rd Division of the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) whose units penetrated Congolese territory and provided support to the M23, which has long-standing ties with the Rwandan government”, the Treasury Department statement said. He will now head the commandant of a military college in Nyakinama. Rwanda did not immediately respond to his listing alongside rebels when the sanctions were announced last week. American entities are barred from engaging with him. East African

Sudan War: Outcry over South Darfur Nyala ‘Massacre’
Sudanese have strongly condemned the deaths of at least 40 people in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, on Tuesday last week. About 30 victims were sheltering under the Teiba Bridge in the city when they were killed by a missile. Dozens of others were injured. Others were fatally hit in their homes. According to Nyala residents who spoke to Radio Dabanga, the shooting and shelling by the warring Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the vicinity of the Teiba Bridge claimed the lives of more than 40 people, including five entire families. … In a statement issued on Tuesday, the RSF said that the SAF indiscriminately shelled the eastern neighbourhoods of Nyala, including Teiba and El Sikka Hadid, with heavy artillery, “claiming the lives of 42 people and injuring dozens”. The paramilitary force evacuated several wounded to healthcare facilities, including the RSF field hospital in Nyala. Lawyer El Sadig Ali expressed deep concern about the continuous reports emerging from Nyala of missiles striking homes and causing civilian casualties. Dabanga

In Sudan’s East, Murky Arms Trade Thrives as War Rages
More than four months into Sudan’s devastating war, arms dealers are struggling to keep up with demand for a trade that is booming, at a deadly cost. “A Kalashnikov? A rifle? A pistol?” said a 63-year-old dealer known as Wad al-Daou, offering his wares with a resounding laugh. “The demand for weapons has soared so high that we can’t possibly meet it,” he said at a market near Sudan’s borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Fighting broke out on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The war has killed thousands, displaced millions and flooded the arsenals of a country already awash with weapons. Arms dealers say prices have skyrocketed, while authorities loyal to the army have repeatedly reported the seizure of “sophisticated” weapons. … Smugglers say authorities have been unable to curb the arms flow. “We used to receive a shipment every three months, but now we’re getting one every two weeks,” Daou said. … Since the war began, there have been many “fresh faces” trying to make a quick buck, said Saleh, another arms dealer who refused to give his real name. It’s a “thriving market”, the 35-year-old said after hopping down from his new four-wheel drive clutching two smartphones. Demand is high, since what began as a war between rival generals has spiraled to include tribes, rebels and civilians desperate to protect themselves. VOA

Anonymous Sudan Hacks X to Put Pressure on Elon Musk over Starlink
A hacking group called Anonymous Sudan took X, formerly known as Twitter, offline in more than a dozen countries on Tuesday morning in an attempt to pressurise Elon Musk into launching his Starlink service in their country. X was down for more than two hours, with thousands of users affected. “Make our message reach to Elon Musk: ‘Open Starlink in Sudan’,” the hackers posted on Telegram. X is the latest victim of the gang hacking to “benefit Sudan and Islam”. Over several weeks of private conversations with the group on the chat app Telegram, the BBC spoke to the hackers about their methods and motives. … Another hacking group member – Hofa – said the so-called DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack was aimed at raising awareness about the civil war in Sudan which is “making the internet very bad and it goes down quite often for us”. X has not publicly acknowledged the disruption caused, and Mr Musk has not responded to questions to launch his satellite internet service in Sudan. Anonymous Sudan has been accused by many in the cyber-security world of being a Russian cyber-military unit in disguise and causing cyber-chaos for the Kremlin under the cover of a foreign hacktivist outfit. The theory stems from its online support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and an apparent alignment of motives with other hacking gangs in the country. … Since it emerged in January, Anonymous Sudan has successfully disrupted dozens of organisations and government web services in France, Nigeria, Israel and the US. … the group has also unsuccessfully attacked hospitals. The gang claims to be carrying out the criminal attacks to “defend the Truth, Islam and Sudan”, but on at least two occasions it has also tried to extort victims for Bitcoin. BBC

Nigeria: Akwa Ibom State Govt Shuts Illegal Mining Company Run by Chinese
The Akwa Ibom State Government has closed down a Chinese mining firm, Ruitai Mining Company, for failing to produce an operation licence. The state’s Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Uno Eno, said this when he briefed reporters in Uyo. Mr Eno said the firm could not provide authorisation documents for titanium ore mining in Ibeno community of the state. He said the company had been mining titanium ore quietly in the area, before it was intercepted and ordered to produce relevant documents. He added that during inspection, it was discovered that the firm could not produce a mining license as well as an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to show impact of its operations on the host community. … Mr Uno said the Ministry of Environment discovered that the company was purely an exploration company while the board of directors were all Chinese nationals who were not eligible to acquire the small-scale mining licence as claimed. Premium Times