Africa Media Review for September 12, 2023

Oversight and Accountability to Improve Security Sector Governance in Africa
With seven countries experiencing military coups or coup attempts since 2020, Africa is facing a crisis in civil military relations. This crisis builds on years of politicization of the security forces in certain countries. Employed as tools of repression and corruption, security actors in these contexts themselves become a threat to citizen security. In the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ latest Africa Security Brief, Brigadier General and Professor Dan Kuwali explains why Africa’s security sector institutions need to undertake fundamental reforms and recommit to principles of military professionalism. Strengthening military and civilian oversight mechanisms of the security forces, he notes, are vital to building more effective security sectors in Africa. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Aid Trickles Into Moroccans Stranded by Quake, but Desperation Mounts
Government rescue workers began to reach some devastated mountain villages in Morocco on Monday, but many more settlements were waiting desperately for help, three days after the country was hit by the strongest earthquake in the area in more than a century. In the town of Amizmiz at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains in the province of Al Haouz, more ambulances and uniformed emergency personnel were on the streets than on Sunday, and more survivors appeared to be sheltering in disaster relief tents rather than in makeshift structures. … Many survivors were without power and phone service, fueling criticism on social media about the government’s response. … The Moroccan government has been generally tight-lipped since the quake struck, offering little information about rescue efforts, providing infrequent updates on casualties and releasing few comments from King Mohammed VI, who waited hours before making his first public statement on the disaster. … In Morocco, power is concentrated in the king’s hands when it comes to critical matters of state like the response to the current crisis. This can leave other government institutions paralyzed, waiting for the king to take the lead. Mr. Abdelmoumni, the Moroccan economist, said many local officials were waiting for the king to make a public appearance before taking action. Mohammed, who has ruled since 1999, is wary of unrest and largely does not tolerate criticism or dissent. New York Times

Libya Flooding: Red Cross Reports 10,000 People Missing, Expects ‘Huge’ Death Toll
Rescue teams struggled amid devastation in eastern Libya, retrieving hundreds of bodies from the rubble in a coastal city that has been inundated by devastating floods, a humanitarian agency said on Tuesday, September 12. Authorities estimated that more than 2,000 people are believed dead in the city of Derna alone. Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said 10,000 people were missing after the unprecedented flooding. Speaking to reporters at a UN briefing in Geneva via videoconference from Tunisia, he said the death toll was “huge” and expected to reach into the thousands in the coming days. … The health minister in the eastern Libyan government said they have so far buried 700 people killed in the devastating flooding in the city of Derna and that the death toll is likely much greater. … Northeast Libya is one of the country’s most fertile and green regions. The Jabal al-Akhdar area – where Bayda, Marj and Shahatt are located – has one of the country’s highest average annual rainfalls, according to the World Bank. Le Monde with AFP

UN Rights Chief Calls for ‘Urgent Reversal’ to Civilian Rule in Coup-Hit African Countries
The U.N. human rights chief called on Monday for an “urgent reversal” of military takeovers and return to civilian rule in countries in Africa where coups have driven out elected leaders in recent years as he assailed a multitude of crises across the globe. … “The unconstitutional changes in government that we have seen in the Sahel are not the solution,” Türk said. “We need instead an urgent reversal to civilian governance and open spaces where people can participate, influence a company and criticize government actions or lack of action.” AP

Mali: Former Rebel Group Claims They Are in ‘Time of War’ with Ruling Junta
The ex-rebels from the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) in northern Mali said Monday, September 11, they were in a “time of war” with the ruling junta, in a statement received by AFP. The region has seen a resurgence of tension in recent weeks, triggered in part by the impending pullout of UN peacekeeping troops from Mali. The CMA, an alliance of Tuareg-dominated groups seeking autonomy or independence from the Malian state, called on all residents of the northern Azawad region to “go to the field to contribute to the war effort” in a statement also distributed on social media. In the statement, the CMA said its purpose was “defending and protecting the homeland and thus regaining control of the entire territory.” It was the first document signed by a group calling itself the “Azawadian National Army.” In its statement, the CMA also called for civilians to stay away from “Wagner terrorists.” Le Monde with AFP

Commercial Flights Halted to Mali’s Timbuktu amid Islamist Blockade
Sky Mali, the only commercial airline flying to Timbuktu in Mali’s interior, has cancelled flights there due to insecurity, it said on Monday, deepening the isolation of the northern city which has been under a month-long Islamist blockade. Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site and ancient trading centre on the edge of the Sahara desert, has been suffering from a shortage of food and aid supplies since a local affiliate of al Qaeda cut off access by road and river in mid-August. Two residents told Reuters that they heard shell fire near the city’s airport on Monday morning. Sky Mali later issued a statement saying it had suspended all flights to and from Timbuktu until further notice, citing a security alert. … The European Union said last week that the blockade had extended to more localities in the Timbuktu region, including Rharous, Niafounké, Goundam, Diré, Tonka, Ber and Léré. “Civilians do not have access to essential products and basic social services,” the EU’s humanitarian branch ECHO said in a note. Insecurity in Mali has intensified over the past year after the West African country’s military leaders kicked out French troops, asked United Nations’ peacekeepers to leave, and teamed up with Russian private military contractors Wagner Group. Reuters

Emmerson Mnangagwa Catapults His Son into Zimbabwe’s Cabinet – as Deputy Finance Minister
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday catapulted his son, 35-year-old Kudakwashe Mnangagwa — a first-time legislator – into his cabinet as the deputy minister of finance and economic development. Kudakwashe, a venture capitalist, made it into parliament under a youth quota for the Midlands province. He will deputise to Professor Mthuli Ncube in one of the embattled country’s most critical ministries. Tongai Mnangagwa, a nephew of the president, is also a new entrant, as deputy minister of tourism. Mnangagwa was not compelled to appoint opposition legislators “because I am in that category of people who do not want to do it,” he said. … His wife, Monica Mutsvangwa, was moved to women’s affairs, making way for Jenfan Muswere at the information, publicity and broadcasting services ministry. News24

Sudan’s Military Chief Visits Eritrea to Discuss Sudan Conflict with the President
Sudan’s military chief traveled to Eritrea on Monday for a meeting with President Isaias Afwerki, the general’s latest international trip since fighting broke out between his army and a rival paramilitary force in mid-April, state media said. Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan has been looking for international support since tensions with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, burst into open fighting that has reduced Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and its neighboring cities of Omdurman and Bahri, to urban battlefields. Sudan’s state-run SUNA news agency said the talks between Burhan and Isaias would focus on bilateral relations and the conflict in Sudan. … For years, relations between Eritrea and Sudan have been fraught. Sudan is host to some 126,000 Eritrean refugees, many of whom have fled political persecution in one of the world’s most repressive countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Influential tribal groups in eastern Sudan that have long campaigned for a separate state — including the Beja — have been backed by Isaias’ government. AP

Nigeria: Scores Abducted As Terrorists Demand Reopening Of Cow Market In Zamfara
Many local marketers were kidnapped on Saturday, Sept. 9 while in transit to Bagega for the weekly market in Anka, North West Nigeria. Residents say the number of people abducted is well over 50. The kidnapping happened in the Darita forest area at about 12:30 p.m. WAT when the armed terrorists intercepted nine trucks and Golf wagon cars conveying luggage and passengers to Bagega village. Sule Ado, 38, from Kurfa-Danya village of Anka LGA, narrowly escaped the hostage situation after reaching the terrorists’ camp with the other abductees. He told HumAngle, “We were moved to Kawaye forest by Halilu Buzu’s armed boys.” HumAngle

Amnesty Blasts Evictions Linked to DR Congo Industrial Mines
In a 98-page report, Amnesty International and Congolese rights group IBGDH found that communities in and near the mining town of Kolwezi, in the DRC’s southeast, had been forcibly evicted or threatened into leaving their homes to make way for mine expansions. “The people living in the region should be benefiting from the growth in mining. Instead, many are being forced out of their homes and farmland,” the report said. Based on interviews with 133 people, documentary evidence and satellite imagery, the report analysed the impact of four mining projects in the area. Entire settlements have been forcibly evicted, the report found, becoming “collateral damage of energy transition mining.” Such was the case with the settlement of Mukumbi, located in a mining concession near Kolwezi owned by the DRC-registered firm, Chemical of Africa SA. Congolese soldiers allegedly torched the settlement in November 2016, according to former residents interviewed by researchers. AFP

Death of Young Man Raises Debate on Police Violence in Mozambique
On July 21, a news report circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook showing that a young man had died in the cells of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM). Massacar Abacar, a dancer known as “Cebolinha,” died two days after being arrested by the PRM in the centre of the capital, Maputo. Some sources claim he was beaten by the police, an account that is denied by the Mozambican authorities. Abacar was arrested when he went to a bar allegedly to demand payment of a debt owed to his father, an act that was seen by the managers of the establishment as an affront, and who in response called the police to intervene. Local newspapers reported that after learning of the young man’s arrest, Abacar’s mother went to the police station, but was prevented from seeing her son. The situation has created a wave of solidarity among Mozambicans, who are drawing attention to the escalating police violence in the country. Global Voices

Malawi President Takes Steps Toward Eliminating Food Shortages
Malawi’s president has launched a large-scale crop production initiative known as “mega farms,” aimed at boosting the country’s agricultural-based economy and help end persistent food shortages. Malawi has long faced food shortages at both national and domestic levels each year. This, despite various efforts to boost agricultural production, including the Targeted Inputs Program, in which farmers buy seed and fertilizer at cheaper prices. According to a report last month from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, 4.4 million Malawians, representing 22 percent of the country’s population, are facing food shortages. And the situation is expected to worsen from October to March 2024. Speaking during the televised launch of a mega farm in northern Malawi over the weekend, President Lazarus Chakwera said the program aimed to improve the country’s foreign exchange reserves and make the country food sufficient. VOA

Korea to Support Africa’s Energy Transition, Food Security
Korea will share its know-how with African countries regarding the global transition to low-carbon energy and food security, during the 2023 Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Ministerial Conference, which started in Busan, Tuesday. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank), the seventh KOAFEC Ministerial Conference is taking place as global warming accelerates and wider use of renewable energies is becoming more crucial against the irreversible damage caused by climate change. Producing and securing enough food is also a shared interest regardless of region due to changing and more severe weather. … “The KOAFEC Ministerial Conference is a key event aimed at cementing Korea’s support to the development of the African continent,” the AfDB said, assessing that the event “has progressively become an important platform for Korea-Africa economic and diplomatic relations.” Korea Times

Senegal’s Sall Backs PM Ba as Ruling Coalition’s Presidential Candidate
Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Saturday named Prime Minister Amadou Ba as the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition’s candidate for the February 2024 presidential election. Ba, 62, a former economy minister who had also held the position of foreign minister, is a taxation specialist who was appointed prime minister in September last year. Sall ruled out running for a third term in July after violent unrest in the West African country, throwing wide open the race to succeed him. Members of the BBY coalition, seeking to avoid protracted primaries that could cause divisions just a few months before the deadline to submit candidates, had given Sall the green light to name a candidate. Reuters