Africa Media Review for September 11, 2023

Powerful Earthquake Shakes Morocco, Killing More Than 2,000
A powerful earthquake struck Morocco on Friday night, killing more than 2,000 people and setting off frantic rescue efforts through rubble-strewn city streets and remote rural areas as some residents sifted through mountains of debris with their bare hands. The earthquake, which had a magnitude of at least 6.8 and was centered about 50 miles from the southern city of Marrakesh, was the strongest to hit the area in a century, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It rippled through the center of the country, shaking not only Marrakesh but also Agadir, a resort on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, and Ouarzazate, a major city in the southeast. Much of the affected zone is rural, with many houses made from mud bricks, a traditional construction method that is highly vulnerable to earthquakes and heavy rains. … Like many of its neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa, Morocco has suffered several blows over the last few years, starting with the coronavirus pandemic, which put the country’s vital tourism industry on ice. A long-running drought has sapped agricultural livelihoods, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent the price of imported wheat and other key goods soaring. New York Times

Abductions, Arrests Follow Zimbabwe Poll Outcome Dispute
Zimbabwe’s opposition supporters and human rights defenders are complaining of frequent harassment including detentions, in the aftermath of the recent elections. … The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, a grouping of over 40 civil society groups, said there was a worrying increase in cases of political violence against opposition supporters and human rights defenders. One of the prominent cases involved the abduction and torture of a newly elected councillor in Harare and his friend by suspected state security agents. On September 2, Womberaishe Nhende, who won a seat on a CCC ticket and his friend Sanele Mkhuhlane were picked from the latter’s home and bundled into a car by people believed to be security agents into one of the cars. The duo were allegedly assaulted and tortured before they were injected with an unknown substance and dumped about 70 km outside Harare in a bad state. … The forum said the cases were a tip of the iceberg as there were many ordinary people that were being victimised for not supporting the ruling party in the just ended elections. … After Advocate Chamisa refrained from challenging President Mnangagwa’s victory in the courts after arguing that the Judiciary was biased against his party, there was speculation that the opposition would stage protests as a way of pushing its demands for fresh elections. There has been heavy deployment of police officers in Zimbabwe’s major cities since the announcement of the election results on August 26, which has been accompanied with threats from the authorities that any protests will be crushed. EastAfrican

‘We Need Food and Shelter’: Farmers Flee for Their Lives as Terrorists Attack Villages in Mali
… The attack in mid-August was one of more than a dozen assaults last month on similar villages in a small area of central Mali that have killed at least 100 people and displaced tens of thousands. “We are really completely lost. We need food, shelter, everything. We want to go home to our village but there is no one to keep us safe there,” said Wilas Bujo, a 59-year-old farmer who fled with 13 members of his family to Bandiagara. Last week, the threat to civilians in Mali was underlined by an attack on a passenger boat on the Niger River by al-Qaida affiliated militants from the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) group. About 50 people died after three rockets were fired into the vessel in northern Mali. A government military base was attacked at the same time and 15 soldiers were killed. … In June, Mali’s [military regime] demanded the withdrawal of Minusma, a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force set up more than a decade ago. The attacks on Bujo and other villages around Bandiagara in August began only days after the UN force based nearby ended its decade-long deployment. Similar attacks have been seen in northern Mali, too, following the UN pullout there. The city of Timbuktu has been blockaded by emboldened militants and there have been clashes in the town of Ber. A 2015 peace deal that ended a rebellion by some Tuareg communities is under threat, analysts said. Guardian

After Prigozhin’s Death, a High-Stakes Scramble for His Empire
African leaders allied with Russia had grown used to dealing with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the swaggering, profane mercenary leader who traveled the continent by private jet, offering to prop up shaky regimes with guns and propaganda in return for gold and diamonds. But the Russian delegation that toured three African countries last week was led by a very different figure, the starchy deputy defense minister Yunus-bek Yevkurov. Dressed in a khaki uniform and a “telnyashka” — the horizontally striped undergarment of Russian armed forces — he signaled conformity and restraint, giving assurances wrapped in polite language. “We will do our best to help you,” he said at a news conference in Burkina Faso. The contrast with the flamboyant Mr. Prigozhin could not have been sharper, and it aligned with the message the Kremlin was delivering: After Mr. Prigozhin’s death in a plane crash last month, Russia’s operations in Africa were coming under new management. It was a glimpse of a shadowy battle now playing out on three continents: the fight for the lucrative paramilitary and propaganda empire that enriched Mr. Prigozhin and served Russia’s military and diplomatic ambitions — until the Wagner leader staged a failed mutiny against the Kremlin in June. … Nowhere does Wagner’s operation now carry more value for Russia than in African countries including Libya and the Central African Republic, where its mercenaries have gained trust and wealth by propping up strongmen and autocrats. New York Times

G20 Admits African Union as Permanent Member
The African Union was made a permanent member of the G20, comprising the world’s richest and most powerful countries, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the bloc’s summit in New Delhi on Saturday. The African Union, a continental body of 55 member states, now has the same status as the European Union – the only regional bloc with a full membership. Its previous designation was “invited international organisation.” Modi, in his opening remarks at the summit, invited the AU, represented by Chairperson Azali Assoumani, to take a seat at the table of G20 leaders as a permanent member. “Honoured to welcome the African Union as a permanent member of the G20 Family. This will strengthen the G20 and also strengthen the voice of the Global South,” said a message on Modi’s official account on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. … Other issues being decided on at the summit include more loans to developing nations by multilateral institutions, reform of international debt architecture, regulations on cryptocurrency and the impact of geopolitics on food and energy security. Reuters

A Drone Attack on an Open Market Has Killed at Least 43 People in Sudan as Rival Troops Battle
A drone attack Sunday on an open market south of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, killed at least 43 people, activists and a medical group said, as the military and a powerful rival paramilitary group battle for control of the country. More than 55 others were wounded in the attack in Khartoum’s May neighborhood, where paramilitary forces battling the military were heavily deployed, the Sudan Doctors’ Union said in a statement. The casualties were taken to Bashair University Hospital. The Resistance Committees, an activist group that helps organize humanitarian assistance, posted footage on social media showing bodies wrapped in white sheets in an open yard at the hospital. … In the western Darfur region — the scene of a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s — the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias attacking ethnic African groups, according to rights groups and the United Nations. Fierce clashes ensued over the weekend in al-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur province, following an attack on a military facility by the RSF, local media reported. AP

Filling of Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile Complete, Ethiopia Says
Ethiopia has announced that it has filled its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile, which has been the source of a long-running water dispute with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan. The announcement on Sunday came just a fortnight after the three countries resumed negotiations, after a lengthy break, on an agreement that takes account of the water needs of all three. Egypt and Sudan fear the massive $4.2bn GERD will severely reduce the share of Nile water they receive and have repeatedly asked Addis Ababa to stop filling it until they have all reached agreement on how it should work. … The Egyptian foreign ministry condemned as “illegal” Ethiopia’s announcement that it had filled the dam on the Nile. The “unilateral” measure by Addis Ababa to complete the mega-dam’s filling would “weigh on” negotiations with downstream Egypt and Sudan, which were suspended in 2021 but resumed last month, the foreign ministry said in a statement. AFP

Somali Forces Retain Key Base Following Al-Shabab Attack
Somali government forces have repulsed an al-Shabab attack on a key military base in the southern Lower Shabelle region. Hundreds of militants attacked government forces in the key town of Awdhegle on the bank of the Shabelle River early Sunday, officials said. The attack sparked heavy fighting between al-Shabab fighters and government forces who have been controlling the town since August 2019 when they removed the militants. Awdhegle is a strategic town where government forces protect a key bridge that officials say is key to preventing the smuggling of al-Shabab vehicles carrying explosives into the capital, Mogadishu. Residents told VOA Somali that the militants “entered” parts of the base before government forces beat them back. The governor of the region, Mohamed Ibrahim Barre, told VOA Somali that the militants used explosives in attacking the base. VOA

Libyan City of Derna Is Declared a Disaster Zone after Devastating Flooding. Dozens Are Feared Dead
Authorities in eastern Libya declared the city of Derna a disaster zone Monday after the Mediterranean storm Daniel caused devastating floods over the weekend in different parts of the North African nation. At least seven people were reported dead Monday in an initial tally in the coastal town of Susa in northeastern Libya, according to the Ambulance and Emergency Authority, and one other person was confirmed dead Sunday. The man was stuck in his car and surrounded by floods in the eastern town of Marj, according to Walid al-Arfi, spokesperson for the government-run emergency response agency in eastern Libya. The Libyan Red Crescent said it lost contact with one of its workers as he attempted to help a stuck family in the town of Bayda. Dozens of others were reported missing, and authorities fear they could have died in the floods that destroyed homes and other properties in several towns in eastern Libya, according to local media. AP

Climate Summit: We’re Targeting 30 Million Nigerians for Green Jobs – Minister
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment and Ecological Management, Ishaq Salako, has said the administration of President Bola Tinubu is targeting to provide 30 million “green jobs” to Nigerians in its Energy Transition Plans. … Between 4 to 6 September, African leaders met in Kenya to advance conversation on how Africa can achieve green growth and sustainable climate financing to curtail the devastating effect of climate change. The three-day extensive deliberation concluded with the African leaders adopting the Nairobi Declaration and a $23 billion climate commitment to promote green growth, adaptation and mitigation efforts across Africa. During the Presidential Day of the Summit, Mr Salako delivered Nigeria’s commitments on behalf of Mr Tinubu to African leaders and global delegates at the summit. In his speech, he told the leaders that Africa’s most populous country would require $17.7 billion annually to achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) unconditional pledges by 2030. … He said a core component of Mr Tinubu’s agenda is job creation and the government is willing to leverage the clean energy component to create green jobs. Premium Times

Tanzania Opposition Leader Lissu Released after Weekend Arrest
One of Tanzania’s main opposition leaders and former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has been released on bail hours after he was arrested by police for allegedly holding an illegal gathering. Lissu, vice chairman of Tanzania’s largest opposition party CHADEMA, was arrested from a hotel along with other party leaders in northern Tanzania’s Arusha region on Sunday and released later that evening, Lissu’s party wrote on social media platform X. Lissu has been holding political rallies across the country since returning from exile in January, criticising President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s administration for its human rights record and its handling of a controversial ports management deal. He returned from exile after Hassan lifted a six-year ban on political rallies. He had been in Belgium since he fled in 2020 after losing the presidential election to John Magufuli. In June 2016, Magufuli prohibited elected officials from holding rallies outside their constituencies. … Hassan, his successor, has made moves to reconcile with the opposition, including lifting the ban. … Police said on Sunday that Lissu and three other people were detained for questioning about accusations they were holding an unlawful assembly and preventing police from doing their job. Al Jazeera

Mangosuthu Buthelezi Dies at 95; Zulu Nationalist and a Mandela Rival
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Zulu nationalist who positioned himself as Nelson Mandela’s most powerful Black rival in South Africa’s tortuous transformation from a white segregationist society to a multiracial democracy in the 1990s, died on Saturday. He was 95. … In the political turmoil of apartheid’s final years, Mangosuthu Buthelezi (pronounced mahn-goh-SOO-TOO boo-teh-LAY-zee) was the third man in South Africa: the linchpin with whom F.W. de Klerk, president of the white minority government, and Mr. Mandela, a global symbol of resistance to injustice released from prison after 27 years, had to reckon to hammer out a new Constitution and the future of the nation. New York Times