Africa Media Review for November 21, 2017

Zimbabwe: Change Is in the Air in, but So Is Uncertainty
Lawmakers from the two biggest parties in Zimbabwe, the ruling Zanu-PF party now led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the Movement for Democratic Change (T) led by opposition figure Morgan Tsvangirai, are set to get Robert Mugabe impeached in proceedings set to begin on Tuesday, amid suggestions that the veteran leader is plotting a comeback.[…] Zanu-PF deputy legal secretary Paul Mangwana confirmed to Zimbabwean news agency Pindula that the motion to impeach President Robert Mugabe was going to be presented on Tuesday in Parliament. But it is not “sealed yet”. Mangwana added that Zanu-PF would need opposition members of parliament to vote for the motion for it to succeed. “We need 125 votes from Zanu-PF and 73 from MDC-T for the motion to succeed. We need the support of the MDC because our own MPs aligned to the G40 cabal may not vote for the motion,” he said.  Daily Maverick

Zimbabwe’s Army Holds Talks with Mugabe on Plan That May Leave Him in Office
Zimbab­we’s defense forces appeared to open the door Monday to the possibility that 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe could stay in power, after both sides offered “several guarantees” nearly a week after the military detained him, according to a top army commander. Although Mugabe’s fate remained murky, the prospect that he might have survived a military takeover, historic opposition protests and removal from his own political party suggested once again his uncanny ability to hang on to power. In a statement Monday night, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, chief of Zimbabwe’s armed forces, said the military had held “further consultations with the president to agree on a road map” for the country. The plan includes the “expected” return of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe fired this month. The statement referred to Mugabe as the commander in chief and said the military was “encouraged by new developments.”  The Washington Post

Gen Constantine Chiwenga: The Army Chief Who Took Power from Mugabe
Gen Constantine Chiwenga, 61, is being hailed as a political saviour after he led the military takeover in Zimbabwe, however he is under sanctions from the European Union and the US – for his role in a brutal crackdown on the opposition, and over the seizure of white-owned farms. Zimbabweans took to the streets on Saturday to demand President Robert Mugabe’s resignation, holding aloft placards which declared: “Zimbabwe army – the voice of the people.” Pastor Patrick Mugadza, hounded by the police in January this year for predicting that the 93-year-old leader would die in nine months’ time, went as far as to announce that he intended to name his son after the general.  BBC

SADC Leaders Set to Meet in Angola over Zimbabwe Crisis
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is expected to discuss Zimbabwe’s political crisis in Luanda, Angola on Tuesday, the presidency has said in a statement. The statement said that President Jacob Zuma in his capacity as chair of SADC “will attend the summit of the SADC Organ Troika Plus Chairperson of SADC which will take place in Luanda, Angola on Tuesday”. The summit was expected to discuss the unfolding developments in Zimbabwe. The meeting was set to go on after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe stunned many on Sunday when he made no reference to his resignation in a speech aired on national television. “The (ruling Zanu-PF) party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes,” Mugabe said, pitching the country into further uncertainty. News 24

No Exams until Mugabe Resigns’: Zimbabwe Students in Mass Boycott
University of Zimbabwe students were doing last-minute revision, still savouring memories of the weekend’s jubilant march against Robert Mugabe, when the president went live on state TV to defy the nation and lay out his plans for staying in power. Like most Zimbabweans, they had expected it to be a resignation message from the 93-year-old leader. Mugabe has ruled the country since long before they were born and in recent decades has driven its economy into the ground, to the particular detriment of young people. “We were so angry, that was not cool,” 19-year-old Rouvarashe said of Mugabe’s unexpected defiance. “We were expecting him to step down, those were the magic words.”  The Guardian

Just as in 1980, Zimbabwe’s Celebration May Be Short-Lived
[…] In Rufaro Stadium, in April 1980, it seemed that colonialism’s tenure had been brief indeed. A hint of tear gas wafted over a wall from some indistinct encounter outside the stadium. Inside, the Union flag of Britain was furled and a band played “God Save the Queen.” The new Zimbabwean banner caught briefly on the flagpole, delaying freedom for a few seconds. But the moment of joy could not be denied. I recall driving with a colleague — both of us white — through poor areas populated mainly by Zimbabweans who had little to thank white people for beyond menial jobs. Yet everywhere we were welcomed, embraced and invited to quaff chibuku, a sorghum beer popular among the less affluent. The jubilation and the sense of renewal that suffused Zimbabwe in 1980 dissipated during the 37 years of Mr. Mugabe’s uninterrupted and increasingly despotic rule. But those same ardent passions resurfaced powerfully over the weekend, inspired by the clamor for Mr. Mugabe to go — as if the country had drawn a parabola beginning and ending in hope but passing on its course through violence, oppression and impoverishment.  The New York Times

Angola’s Lourenco Replaces Police and Intelligence Chiefs 
Angola’s President João Lourenço replaced the chief of police and the head of the intelligence service on Monday, state news agency Angop said, as the country’s new leader continues to cement his authority after the 38-year rule of his predecessor. Lourenço sacked Ambrósio de Lemos as Commander General of the National Police, replacing him with Alfredo Mingas. António José Maria was replaced as Chief of the Intelligence Service and Military Security by Apolinário José Pereira. Both Lemos and Maria were regarded as allies of former President José Eduardo dos Santos. Since taking office on Sept. 26, Lourenço has quickly sought to wrest control of key areas of the state by removing allies of dos Santos. Last week, Lourenço sacked the ex-President’s daughter Isabel from state oil company Sonangol. Reuters

Liberia’s Election Body Dismisses Voting Fraud Complaints
Liberia’s election commission dismissed charges that the first round of the country’s presidential polls were marred by fraud. The complaints were brought by Charles Brumskine, the Liberty Party candidate, who was eliminated from the race to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after winning 9.7 percent of the vote in the Oct. 10 polls. The round was won by former soccer star George Weah, with Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party coming second. Weah and Boakai were suppose to face one another in a runoff earlier this month because neither secured the majority needed for an outright victory. Boakai came out in support of Brumskine’s complaints and accused Johnson Sirleaf of having improper meetings with election officials. Bloomberg

US Arrests Former Officials in Africa Bribery Schemes
The bribery scheme was hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York and spanned several continents. Chi Ping Patrick Ho, Hong Kong’s former Home Secretary, and Cheikh Gadio, a one-time foreign minister of Senegal, plotted to bribe high-level African officials to secure business rights for a Shanghai-based energy and financial conglomerate. Their targets: Idriss Deby, the long-time president of oil-rich Chad, and Sam Kutesa, a Ugandan foreign minister who served as president of the U.N. General Assembly from 2014 to 2015. VOA

UN Chief: Libya Slave Auctions May Be Crimes against Humanity
The UN secretary-general said Monday he is “horrified” at reports showing African migrants sold as slaves and called for immediate investigations. The reports demonstrate some of “the most egregious abuses of human rights” and may amount to crimes against humanity, Secretary-General António Guterres said. “I abhor these appalling acts and call upon all competent authorities to investigate these activities without delay and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Guterres said. “I have asked the relevant United Nations actors to actively pursue this matter.” Urging the international community to unite on the issue, the UN chief called on all countries to adopt the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on human trafficking. CNN

Kenya Urges East Africa Not to Host S. Sudan Rebels
The Kenyan ambassador to Juba on Monday called for diplomatic resistance to South Sudanese rebels and urged countries in the region not to host or provide military support to rebel groups — a stance he suggests could help bring peace to the troubled eastern African nation. “I want to assure the government and people of South Sudan, the region and the internal community that the government of Kenya will not allow Kenya to be used as a launching pad for any subversive activity against the government and people of South Sudan,” Ambassador Cleland Leshore said during a plenary meeting of stakeholders in the capital, Juba He also called for a unified regional position to aid political developments in the country, noting that governments in the region held “significant influence” on political developments to end the four-year war. Anadolu Agency

Protests Break out after Kenyan Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Presidential Vote
Kenya’s supreme court on Monday upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s contentious re-election as president, a ruling that triggered fresh bloodshed and seemed all but certain to deepen the country’s protracted political crisis. Two people were killed as police opened fire on protesters who gathered in opposition strongholds, increasing the death toll since Friday to 17, the deadliest phase in three months of violence. Having overturned Mr Kenyatta’s first election victory in August, the court’s endorsement of the rerun might once have calmed tensions in a country with a reputation as among Africa’s most stable. However, Mr Kenyatta’s rival, Raila Odinga, boycotted the second poll claiming it would be no fairer than the first, and Kenya remains mired in one of its most serious political crises since independence from Britain in 1963. The Telegraph

In the area where U.S. soldiers died in Niger, Islamist extremists have deep roots
By the time a U.S. Army Special Forces team arrived in Tongo Tongo last month — its last stop in an ill-fated mission — Islamist militants already wielded power and influence in the remote border village. In a poor, barren region neglected by the state, the militants were at once the villagers’ benefactors, employers, customers and unofficial police force, according to residents. The militants bought goats, cows and supplies at the market. They gave food to farmers whose crops had failed and recruited jobless youths by offering motorcycles and cash. They caught thieves and punished drug traffickers. In return, the militants expected loyalty. “The government can’t protect us,” said Mounkaila Alassane, the village chief. “That’s why we collaborate with the jihadists.”  The Washington Post

Boko Haram Kills Six in NE Nigeria: Militia, Local
Boko Haram fighters killed six farmers outside the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the civilian militia and the brother of one of the victims said on Monday. Sunday’s attack in Lawanti village, in the Jere area of Borno state, again underlined the threat posed by the group to people outside heavily-fortified towns and cities. Mohammed Asheik, from the Civilian Joint Task Force assisting the military with security in the northeast, said: “Our people went to the farm to work. “Seven Boko Haram on two motorbikes met them and slaughtered two, then killed the other four. They killed six people in all.” Asheik’s account was supported by Jidda Ahmed, who said his elder brother, Musa Jidda, was “shot and beheaded” as he tried to flee. AFP

Continuing Support for Burundi Political Process Only Way Forward, Security Council Told
Despite challenges towards inclusive dialogue in Burundi, the United Nations must continue to support the political process there, the Organization’s envoy to the east African country told the Security Council on Monday. “The United Nations has the obligation, whatever difficulties persist, to continue its good offices mission, alongside regional actors, to allow Burundi to emerge from crisis,” Michel Kafando, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi said Monday, presenting his regular quarterly briefing (in French) to the 15-member Council. Mr. Kafando informed the Security Council that in supporting regional efforts to advance negotiations on the conduct of an inclusive intra-Burundian dialogue, he had met with national authorities, opposition figures both within the country and those exiled in Brussels, as well as regional actors, including the mediator, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda. UN

Somalia Illegally Surrendered Citizen to Ethiopia – Parliamentary Report
Somalia’s parliament, the House of the People, says the government’s formal handover of a Somali national to neighbouring Ethiopia was illegal. The parliamentary body set up to probe the circumstances surrounding the transfer of Mr. Abdikarin Sheikh Muse of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) presented its report with the conclusion that the government of President Farmaajo was wrong in the matter. The team of 15 legislators – from both houses of the parliament – was constituted on September 18, 2017 from the office of the Speaker of the House with the sole objective of reporting back on the circumstances surrounding the handover. Africa News

Morocco’s Secret Launch of a Powerful Observation Satellite Puts Neighbouring Countries on Alert
On November 7, Morocco launched its first high-resolution observation satellite into orbit, causing concern among its neighbours Spain and Algeria. Buying a satellite is usually a sign of a nation’s power, something to brag about. Not so for Morocco, which kept secret the acquisition of its first high-resolution satellite, the Mohammed-VI A, until its launch on the night of November 7 from Kourou in French Guiana. Images from the powerful Earth observation satellite have a 70 cm resolution and can be taken from anywhere on the globe in less than 24 hours. Morocco is the first African nation to acquire such a powerful surveillance aircraft. Moroccan officials insist the spacecraft will be used for civilian purposes but the satellite inevitably has military applications also. According to the CNES, France’s National Centre for Space Studies, these kinds of high-resolution images – based on the French imagery system Pléiades – “can also help to identify military installations in enemy countries in order to plan a military intervention.”  France 24



Photo: Adam Jones