Africa Media Review for June 8, 2023

“Those You Work for Are the People”: His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma’s Keynote Address
His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, former president of Sierra Leone, delivered the keynote address at the Emerging Security Sector Leaders Seminar hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. … President Koroma addressed current and emerging security threats in Africa, including violent extremism, civil wars, conflicts between farmers and herders, transnational organized crime, and health pandemics. He emphasized that these threats are exacerbated by factors such as bad governance, corruption, and marginalization. President Koroma expressed concern over the militarization and heavy-handedness of responses to these threats and the shrinking of democratic space in Africa, which limits the contribution of citizens in shaping governance and leadership decisions.President Koroma emphasized the importance of security sector reform, military professionalism, and the management of security resources, connecting these components to democratic good governance and the preservation of peaceful societies. … Reflecting on his own experience in post-civil war Sierra Leone, Former President Koroma highlighted the need for post-conflict countries to define their approach to national security and rebuild trust in the security sector. … President Koroma urged the young security professionals to be agents of positive change in their respective countries, reminding them that “those you work for are the people, and it is their rights and welfare that you should protect.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Massive Fire as Sudanese Factions Battle for Control of Arms Factory
A massive fire broke out on Wednesday near a military complex containing an arms factory in southern Khartoum that Sudan’s army has battled to defend in some of the fiercest fighting for weeks in its conflict with a rival faction, witnesses said. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), in the eighth week of a power struggle with the army, attacked the heavily protected, sprawling Yarmouk complex on Tuesday, witnesses said. The group on Wednesday posted videos in which it claimed to have taken over a warehouse filled with weapons and ammunition as well as several entry points to the site. The army used air strikes to try to repel the RSF advance, witnesses said. Reuters

‘No Woman Feels Safe’: Sexual Violence Rampant in Sudan War
Zeinab was fleeing war-torn Sudan’s capital to seek safety when she found herself pinned to the ground, a rifle to her chest, as a paramilitary fighter raped her. “I was sure we were about to die,” she told AFP, recounting how she, her younger sister and two other women, one with an infant daughter, were all sexually violated. Dozens of women have reported similar attacks — in their homes, by the roadside and in commandeered hotels — since the war erupted in mid-April between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. A month into the war, said Zeinab, the women were fleeing Khartoum when their minibus was stopped at an RSF checkpoint. … The horrors of the conflict have been compounded by a wave of sexual violence, say survivors, medics and activists who spoke to AFP. Most have requested anonymity or, like Zeinab, used a pseudonym for fear of reprisals against them and others. VOA/AFP

At Least 21 People Killed in Suspected Terrorist Attacks in Burkina Faso
Fourteen members of the VDP volunteer militia and four soldiers died on Monday in Sawenga in central-eastern Burkina, while five were wounded, a source said. Another security source confirmed the toll, saying that the clash occurred during an operation to secure the area, and that “more than 50 terrorists were neutralised” in an airborne counter-attack. Separately, a police source said a policeman and two civilians were killed on Monday night in an attack on a police border post at Yendere, on the southwestern frontier with Ivory Coast. A trucker in the area confirmed the attack, adding that many local people had already fled into Ivory Coast because of jihadist incursions. … One of the poorest and most troubled countries in the world, Burkina is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015. Nearly a third of the country lies outside the government’s control, according to official estimates. More than 10,000 civilians, troops and police have died, according to an NGO count, while at least two million people have been displaced. Anger within the military at failures to roll back the insurgency sparked two coups last year, culminating in the ascent of a young army captain, Ibrahim Traore. France24

Al-Shabab Attacks Ethiopia Military Base in Somalia
Ethiopia says its forces in Somalia thwarted an al-Shabab attack on a base Wednesday in the Somali town of Doolow. “The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) stopped the attackers in their tracks before they could wreak havoc,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted. It added: “The ENDF neutralised suicide bombers and destroyed weapons to be used by the terrorist group.” Earlier, residents in Doolow reported that two explosions targeted an Ethiopian military base outside the town on Wednesday, just after 10 a.m. local time. A resident who did not want to be identified for security reasons said the first explosion occurred at a checkpoint for the entrance of the base, while the second explosion took place away from the location of the first one. … Ethiopia keeps thousands of troops in Somalia to fight al-Shabab and protect its border. The troops serve as part of the Africa Union (AU) mission to support the Somali government. Ethiopia also has non-AU forces based on a bilateral agreement with the Somali government, to fight al-Shabab and protect its border. VOA

UN Official Urges “Responsible” Withdrawal from the DRC
A top UN official said on Wednesday that peacekeepers should withdraw from the DRC as “quickly as possible” yet responsibly. Speaking in the capital, Kinshasa, during a visit to the DRC, the UN official added that the Congolese state should step up its own response to the armed groups that plague the east of the country. “We’re obviously going to continue this work, and at the same time work with the Congolese authorities so that, as I said, the process of the Congolese state becoming more powerful will enable us to gradually reduce Monusco’s presence, but to do so responsibly. Once again, I would like to stress that there must be no security vacuum, which would be fatal to these populations”, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations. The UN official also acknowledged the frustration with the peacekeepers as the levels of insecurity remain alarmingly high in the country, particularly in the east. … The UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as MONUSCO, is one of the largest and costliest in the world, with an annual budget of around $1 billion. It has been present in the country since 1999. AfricaNews

Demand for VPN Connectivity Surged by 60 000% after Deadly Protests in Senegal
Senegal’s virtual private network (VPN) demand increased by more than 60 000% on 2 June compared to the daily average after the government restricted access to social media platforms and messaging services. The platforms were blocked because they were used to mobilise the protests that rocked the country after the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. … “It is by far the most significant spike in VPN demand that we have ever seen,” said Simon Migliano, the head of research at an independent VPN review website that monitors internet privacy, security, and freedom. Migliano added internet service providers in Senegal were “blocking access to social media platforms by timing out the connection via TLS [transport layer security] interference”. TLS encrypts data transferred over the internet so that eavesdroppers and hackers cannot see what is being sent. … On Tuesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published a statement criticising the 48-hour suspension of a TV channel, limits on the internet and social media access, and the ransacking of a journalism school on 1 June, amid widespread violent protests. The signal of Walfadjri TV, an independent broadcaster, was interrupted during a special show about the riots. The director of RSF’s sub-Saharan Africa bureau, Sadibou Marong, said press reforms were needed in Senegal to avoid such repression. News24

Libya: Joint “6×6” Committee Sign Agreements on Drafting Election Law
Members of the Libyan 6+6 Joint Committee for Preparing Electoral Laws announced that they had reached an agreement on presidential and legislative electoral laws, pending the signing of the agreement by the speakers of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS). In a press conference from Bouznika in Morocco, the head of HoR delegation at the Committee, Jalal Al-Shuwaidi, explained that they had completed the laws of the presidential elections and the National Assembly in its two chambers, and they are awaiting the presence of HoR and HCS Speakers, Aqila Saleh and Khaled Al-Mishri, for the final decision on these laws. Al-Shuwaidi confirmed that the Committee was not subjected to pressure or interference from Morocco or from abroad, expressing his thanks to the Kingdom of Morocco for hosting the committee’s meetings over the past ten days, and his appreciation for its efforts in support of Libya. AfricaNews

Zimbabwean Political Parties Gear Up for Election Season, Zanu PF Buys its Candidates 4x4s
Zanu PF is holding a winter school for its heavily pampered election candidates, while the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) is still in the process of selecting candidates ahead of the 23 August general elections. … President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed [Zanu PF’s] election candidates during the closed-door engagement, where he laid out his party’s agenda ahead of the elections. … He said: “… the party comes first and we are discussing issues to do with loyalty and issues to do with dedication.” Zanu PF has funds allocated to the country’s 10 provinces to help candidates during campaign season. They were also each given brand new off-road vehicles that range from Toyota Hilux GD6s to Ford Rangers and Nissan Navaras. … The CCC has yet to make its candidate list public amid concerns that some stalwarts were rejected by the party’s leadership during the vetting exercise. … Newcomer Robert Chapman of the Democratic Union of Zimbabwe (DUZ) said the upcoming polls will not be free and fair, accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of being pro-Zanu PF. “We know that ZEC is not free and fair, we know that ZEC is captured,” Chapman told a press conference in Harare on Tuesday. Chapman also suggested that to beat Zanu PF, political parties should form a grand coalition. News24

Zimbabwe Prisoner Release Triggers Trauma from ‘Green Bombers’ Years
In late May, Zimbabwe released more than 4 200 prisoners, a move that was hailed as good for decongesting its prisons that housed more than 22 000 inmates, well over their capacity of 17 000. Most of the released prisoners are older people, children, women imprisoned for nonviolent offences and the terminally ill and disabled. But a portion of those who benefited from the presidential amnesty are people who were convicted for violent offences but had served at least 75% of their sentence. In the country and its diaspora, the release of the latter group triggered speculation that the ruling Zanu-PF will use the released prisoners to commit elections-related violence. … The concerns of those who share Makomborero’s fears are perhaps best understood by remembering another episode in Zimbabwe’s halting democratic experiment: the “Green Bombers”. The Green Bombers were a youth brigade who played a pivotal role in ensuring that Zanu-PF won elections in the mid to late 2000s. The youth were trained to be militant by Zimbabwe’s National Youth Service, which was introduced shortly after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, shocked Zanu-PF by winning 57 out of 120 parliamentary seats in the elections of 2000. Graduates of the new National Youth Service went on a rampage, attacking opposition supporters, burning down their homes and even killing some people. Mail & Guardian

How a Radio Station in Kenya is Getting GenZ to Care about the Future of Oceans
Blue Radio is an online radio station that’s currently highly popular in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya. More than four million Kenyans who live in the coastal communities depend on the ocean for their livelihood. Despite this dependence, the blue economy is far from delivering its full potential in the local economy. According to the World Bank, the blue economy refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem. In 2021, Kenya launched the Go Blue project to create more jobs for youths and women in the blue economy. Despite these steps, one of the biggest challenges is the public lack of information, especially on available opportunities. This is the gap that Gilbert Were (25) and his partner, Johnson Muema (25), are seeking to fill. Their online radio startup, Blue Radio Kenya, promises to educate coastal youths about the blue economy, its opportunities and importance. Bird

Music Offers Hope for Kinshasa’s Street Children
In DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, some street children have found refuge in a small cultural centre which encourages creative talents like music. The Mokili Na Poche cultural centre offers hope to some of the estimated 20,000 homeless children in Kinshasa’s streets. “Children come with injuries because they live on the street and therefore there are always gangs that come to assault and threaten their lives, there are always injuries” … Junior Mayamba, aka “Business”, is a street child, who found hope in the recording studio of the Mokili Na Poche cultural center. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always preferred to be a musician. At 5 I was already listening to the songs of Gaz Mawete, Fally Ipupa and it made me happy, it gave me courage to work hard to become like them one day. … Despite its vast mineral wealth, the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the World Bank, about two thirds of the population of 100 million people live on under $2.15 a day. AfricaNews