Africa Media Review for November 15, 2017

Army Takes Control in Zimbabwe
The military has seized control in Zimbabwe but has said President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, is safe. After seizing state TV, an army spokesman announced it was targeting people close to Mr Mugabe who had caused “social and economic suffering”. The move came after Mr Mugabe sacked his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in favour of his wife, Grace. Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital Harare early on Wednesday. A statement read out by a general on air denied it was a coup. There was no immediate word from the president himself. BBC

Zimbabwe’s Apparent Coup: What We Know
Zimbabwe’s military said early Wednesday that it had taken custody of President Robert Mugabe. In a broadcast, an officer declared that the military was “targeting criminals” around the 93-year-old president. The military appeared to have taken control of the state broadcaster, ZBC. Maj. Gen. S.B. Moyo, the army’s chief of staff, said in a predawn appearance that the president and his family were “safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.” Mr. Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s only leader since it gained independence in 1980. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, had been seen as a likely successor, but he was removed from office last week, a move that bolstered the political fortunes of Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, 52. The New York Times

Zimbabwe: Army Chief Accused of ‘Treasonable Conduct’
Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of ‘treasonable conduct’ Zimbabwe’s ruling party has accused the country’s army chief of “treasonable conduct” after he warned of a possible military intervention in politics. General Constantino Chiwenga had challenged President Robert Mugabe after he sacked the vice-president. Gen Chiwenga said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. The party said the general’s comments were “calculated to disturb national peace… [and] incite insurrection”. In a statement, the party said it would never succumb to military threats, and that it “reaffirms the primacy of politics over the gun”. BBC

‘We’re Prepared to Die for Mugabe,’ Say Zanu-PF Youths after Army Threats
Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF youths say they are “prepared to die” in defence of President Robert Mugabe’s government, a day after the military threatened to intervene if the nonagenarian doesn’t rein in his warring Zanu-PF lieutenants.  In a statement on Tuesday, Zanu-PF’s secretary of the youth league Kudzai Chipanga said that Zanu-PF youths did not take lightly the military’s threats. “We as Zanu-PF youth league are a lion which has awakened and found its voice, therefore we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against Mugabe,” Chipanga said. News 24

U.S. Welcomes Pledge by South Sudan to Allow Free Access for Humanitarian Groups
The Trump administration is welcoming a pledge from South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to allow free passage for humanitarian agencies that have struggled to reach some of the war-ravaged country’s neediest people. Kiir’s written order promising “free, unimpeded and unhindered movement” for aid convoys followed months of international demands and a blunt warning from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Haley had told Kiir during a visit in late October that his U.S.-backed government is at risk of losing future U.S. diplomatic and financial support. The United States, U.N. monitors and others blame Kiir for sanctioning ethnic warfare and atrocities against civilians. The Washington Post

South Sudan Supreme Court Judge Quits Citing Lack of Independence
A judge of South Sudan’s Supreme Court resigned on Tuesday, saying a lack of independence from the executive had turned the judiciary into a “mockery” and complaining of poor working conditions. All of South Sudan’s judges went on a five-month strike in May over poor pay, raising the risk of impunity in a country already convulsed by criminality and war. South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, descended into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy, unleashing a conflict that has spawned a patchwork of armed factions. Reuters

Angola’s Dos Santos Family under Pressure to Give up Key Posts
The children of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos are facing increasing pressure to step down from key posts, two months after the first leadership change in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer in almost four decades. Since replacing Dos Santos at the helm of Angola in September, Joao Lourenco, 63, has fired the governor of the central bank, the head of diamond company Endiama and the boards of all three state-owned media companies. The string of dismissals has earned Lourenco the nickname “relentless remover.” Bloomberg

Nigeria’s Buhari to Visit Heartland of Biafra Secessionists
President Muhammadu Buhari is to visit southeast Nigeria this week, his spokesman said on Monday, his first trip since taking office to a region formerly known as Biafra. Calls for secession have become increasingly loud in the last few months in parts of the southeast, where the president is deeply unpopular, prompting Buhari to say he will not allow Nigeria to be divided by separatist groups. A million people died in a 1967-70 civil war over the short-lived Republic of Biafra. Buhari, a 74-year-old former military ruler who took office in May 2015, fought in the war as a young soldier on the government side. Reuters

Nigeria’s Army Will Stop Admitting Some of Its Best Combat Soldiers—Because They’re Women
Nigeria could soon stop admitting female combatants into the military training program after a recommendation by the country’s Armed Forces council. The decision represents a major policy reversal after female cadets were first admitted in 2011. If adopted, it will mean that female soldiers will never be able to rise high enough to head any of Nigeria’s armed forces. The policy is unlikely to affect current applicants to the army training program (applications for the 2018 program started last month), according The Punch newspaper. Quartz’s email inquiries to the army about the reasons for the decisions were not replied before publication. Given Nigeria’s largely conservative disposition, much of the rhetoric to explain the policy reversal has focused on religion. “The northern Muslim leaders want to prevent a situation where one day, a woman will lead the army and give orders to men,” an unnamed army general told The Punch. Quartz

People for Sale: Where Lives Are Auctioned for $400
“Eight hundred,” says the auctioneer. “900 … 1,000 … 1,100 …” Sold. For 1,200 Libyan dinars — the equivalent of $800. Not a used car, a piece of land, or an item of furniture. Not “merchandise” at all, but two human beings. One of the unidentified men being sold in the grainy cell phone video obtained by CNN is Nigerian. He appears to be in his twenties and is wearing a pale shirt and sweatpants. He has been offered up for sale as one of a group of “big strong boys for farm work,” according to the auctioneer, who remains off camera. Only his hand — resting proprietorially on the man’s shoulder — is visible in the brief clip. CNN

EU’s Policy of Helping Libya Intercept Migrants Is ‘Inhuman’, Says UN
The EU policy of helping Libyan authorities intercept people trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to prisons is “inhuman”, the UN has said. “The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” said the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in a statement issued on Tuesday. “The European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan coastguard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean [is] inhuman.” Chaos-ridden Libya has long been a major transit hub for people trying to reach Europe. Many have fallen prey to serious abuse in the country at the hands of traffickers and others. The Guardian

UN Calls DRC to Allow Peaceful Anti-Kabila Protests
The United Nations has urged the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to allow peaceful rallies on the eve of expected anti-government demonstrations called by opposition and civil society groups. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, called on DRC authorities “to respect the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Congolese Constitution, including freedom of assembly and of demonstration”. It also said that authorities should “instruct defence and security forces to respect the principles of necessity, proportionality and legality, consistent with international standards”. Al Jazeera

Before High-Level Discussions, US Aims to Strengthen Ties to Africa
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will welcome 37 African foreign ministers to Washington later this week in the largest African foreign policy event to date under President Donald Trump. The event on November 16 and 17 will include discussions on trade and investment, counterterrorism, and good governance. In addition to the ministerial attendees, African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and other A.U. representatives will attend. Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto told VOA’s Africa 54 the goal is to craft policy that goes beyond aid to build mutually beneficial partnerships. VOA

Former Rwandan Presidential Hopeful Flees Country
A former Rwanda presidential hopeful has fled the country fearing possible jail term over ‘falsified signatures’ during his election bid. Gilbert Mwenedata, one of the two independent candidates disqualified from running in the August 4 poll, said he has been questioned by the police on several occasions over signatures he had submitted to the electoral commission. In an interview with Radio Itahuka, a web-based station run by exiled Rwandan opposition groups, Mr Mwenedata said he fled the country for fear of arrest and being charged in court like the other disqualified presidential candidate Diane Shima Rwigara. The East African

Uganda Opposition Supremo Besigye Arrested Again
Uganda’s four-time presidential contender Kizza Besigye was Tuesday arrested after police scuttled a rally he was expected to address in Mbarara District west of Kampala. The security personnel fired teargas and live bullets to disperse the supporters of the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate. A scuffle ensued when the police blocked Dr Besigye’s car from passing through Mbarara Town High Street, on his way to Kakyeka stadium where Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi, who is vying for the FDC presidency, was expected to address a rally ahead of the November 21 election. Dr Besigye, his driver and the FDC secretary for mobilisation, Ms Ingrid Turinawe, were arrested and detained at Mbarara Central Police Station. The East African

Tanzania Will Auction 10,000 Cattle Seized from Ugandans and Rwandans – Minister
Authorities have seized more than 10,000 head of cattle from Uganda and Rwanda that were found inside Tanzania’s borders, a Cabinet minister told Parliament on Monday. Livestock and Fisheries Minister Luhaga Mpina said the cattle would be auctioned in a similar manner as the ones recently seized from Kenyans on the Tanzania-Kenya border. The minister made the remarks in Parliament when contributing to a discussion on the national development plan for 2018/19. Daily Nation



Photo: Adam Jones