Africa Media Review for September 18, 2023

Beating and Torture Allegations Emerge in Zimbabwe after Election
There are signs that Zimbabwe has slipped into another era of brutal oppression, even as newly reelected President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks publicly of “peace, love, harmony and tolerance.” Behind those words, more than a dozen opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) figures — from elected representatives to officials and activists — have been arrested by police in the three weeks since the election, the party says. Others have been targeted with violent abductions. Among those arrested recently was opposition CCC MP and councillor, Maureen Kademaunga, who appeared in court this week on charges of attempted murder and malicious damage to property. Her lawyer said the court decided there was no evidence against her. “There’s a broad crackdown against the opposition, which includes the use of law enforcement and the judiciary,” human rights lawyer, Douglas Coltart, told The Associated Press. In another incident, barely a week after being elected as a local councillor for Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, Womberaiishe Nhende and a relative were pulled out of their car by unidentified men, shot with a stun gun and handcuffed. They were then bundled into a pickup truck and driven about 70 kilometers (more than 40 miles) outside of Harare, the capital, where they were whipped, beaten with truncheons and interrogated, and injected with an unknown substance, their lawyers say. … [T]he president, who turned 81 on Friday, described the opposition’s allegations as “noises from some little boys” and threatened to imprison “anybody who wants to be nonsensical and bring chaos.” … The CCC and analysts say there is a clear post-election clampdown now that the international observers have left. AfricaNews/AP

Sudan Conflict: Khartoum Landmarks in Flames as Battles Rage across Country
Flames gripped the Sudanese capital on Sunday and paramilitary forces attacked the army headquarters for the second day in a row, witnesses reported, as fighting raged into its six month. “Clashes are now happening around the army headquarters with various types of weapons,” said a Khartoum resident, who declined to be named. Other witnesses in southern Khartoum said they heard “huge bangs” as the army targeted bases of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries with artillery. Witnesses also reported fighting in the city of El-Obeid, 350km (about 220 miles) south. Nawal Mohammed, 44, said battles on Saturday and Sunday between the regular army and the paramilitaries had been “the most violent since the war began”. Her family lives at least 3km away from the nearest clashes but Mohammed said “doors and windows shook” with the force of explosions, while several buildings in central Khartoum were set alight. In social media posts verified by Agence France-Presse, users shared footage of flames devouring landmarks of the Khartoum skyline, including the Ministry of Justice and the Greater Nile Petroleum Oil Company tower – a conical building with glass facades that had become an emblem of the city. … Since war erupted on 15 April between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, nearly 7,500 people have been killed, according to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. The Guardian

Sudan Now Has Highest Number of IDPs Globally, Says OCHA
Sudan currently has the highest number of internally displaced persons globally, the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) said. The number of people displaced within and outside Sudan since mid-April is now 5.25 million, the agency said on Friday adding that up to 15,500 people have been displaced following inter-communal fighting in West Darfur State of Sudan. The country has been at war since fierce clashes broke out in the capital between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Last week, the UN food security agency (FAO) said it requires at least $123 million to reach 10.1 million people across Sudan’s 17 states with vital livelihoods support. This came as the agency launced an emergency response plan to provide essential support to communities grappling with effects of the conflict in Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Libya’s Flooding Death Toll Soars to 11,300
The death toll in Libya’s coastal city of Derna has soared to 11,300 as search efforts continue following a massive flood fed by the breaching of two dams in heavy rains, the Libyan Red Crescent said Thursday. Marie el-Drese, the aid group’s secretary-general, told The Associated Press by phone that a further 10,100 people are reported missing in the Mediterranean city. Health authorities previously put the death toll in Derna at 5,500. The storm also killed about 170 people elsewhere in the country. … Officials in eastern Libya warned the public about the coming storm, and on Saturday, they ordered residents to evacuate coastal areas, fearing a surge from the sea. But there was no warning about the dams collapsing. VOA/AP

Libya: UN Agency Warns Two Other Dams Could Collapse
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has expressed concern regarding two more dams in east Libya which were said to be dealing with massive amounts of pressure, after the collapse of two dams in a storm last week killed thousands. The UN agency said reports regarding the two dams’ stability were “contradictory.” The Jaza Dam, which lies between the storm-hit, devastated city of Derna and nearby Benghazi, and the Qattara dam near Benghazi were both in good conditions and functioning, authorities meanwhile said. Jaza Dam was being equipped with pumps to relieve pressure, the OCHA cited authorities as saying. DW

Mali’s Tuareg Rebels Claim Capture of More Military Bases
Fresh fighting broke out between Mali’s army and northern Tuareg rebels on Sunday, with the rebels claiming to have taken control of two army bases in the central town of Lere. The rebel alliance, called the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), has been fighting the army since August, a conflict unleashed in part by the departure of a United Nations peacekeeping mission that for years had helped maintain a fragile calm. But clashes appear to be intensifying as both sides seek to control territory in the desert centre and north of the West African country, just as U.N. peacekeepers withdraw. … The CMA signed up to a peace deal with the government and pro-government militia in 2015. But tensions have resurfaced since the military consolidated power in two coups in 2020 and 2021, teamed up with Russian military contractor Wagner Group, and kicked out French forces and U.N. peacekeepers. Reuters

Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso Sign Mutual Defence Pact
The military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger on Saturday signed a mutual defence pact, ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries announced in Mali’s capital Bamako. The Liptako-Gourma Charter establishes the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita posted on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. … The Liptako-Gourma region — where the Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders meet — has been ravaged by jihadism in recent years. … A jihadist insurgency that erupted in northern Mali in 2012 spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015. All three countries have undergone coups since 2020, most recently Niger, where soldiers in July overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum. AfricaNews

Cybersecurity: Rise of the Enemy Within
Kenya has experienced two major cyber-attacks in the last few months, with the latest one affecting the government’s online portal, paralysing services for days and raising questions over safety of cyber systems in the country. A leading retail store chain also recently reported a data breach, resulting in the theft of customer and employee data by criminals, poking holes in their cybersecurity resilience in the face of rising cybercrime on a global scale. The latest Africa Cybersecurity Outlook report by consultancy firm KPMG released last year September revealed that three in 10 businesses in the region fell victim to a cyberattack in 2022, higher than anywhere else on the continent, as firms rapidly adopt digital technologies but with minimal expertise and awareness on protection of their digital systems and infrastructure. The survey of about 300 companies across different sectors on the continent also showed that despite the rising incidences of cyberattacks, about 20 percent of the companies have no clearly defined frameworks and strategies to mitigate cybersecurity risks. But experts argue that even though many companies today are investing in cybersecurity, they are mostly focusing on deploying antiviruses and firewalls, which only protect them against external attackers but not internal ones, who have become a significant, yet subtle, threat to companies lately. East African

Egyptian Court Hands Opposition Figure Hisham Kassem Six-month Sentence
An Egyptian court has sentenced prominent dissident Hisham Kassem to six months in prison, his lawyer and political movement said, a move barring him from taking part in campaigning for next year’s presidential election. It comes one day after Egypt’s only candidate campaigning so far for the election, Ahmed al-Tantawi, revealed his phone had been bugged by authorities, according to a report by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. A day earlier, Tantawi had denounced harassment by the security forces against his teams and supporters. Kassem was also slapped with a 20,000 pound (about $650) fine after being found guilty of defaming a former minister and “contempt of officials”, Gameela Ismail, a member of his Free Current liberal opposition movement, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. … He was initially summoned after a former minister complained he had shared online articles suggesting the minister had embezzled funds. The opposition activist was later accused of “contempt” by officers during questioning at a police station. He has been in custody since August 20. Kassem’s Free Current coalition, formed in June by opposition parties, advocates economic liberalisation and calls for an end to the army’s stranglehold on the Egyptian economy. … The government also launched a “national dialogue” last year seeking to bring in Egypt’s opposition, which has largely been decimated since general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized the reins in 2013. … But despite the release of nearly 1,000 in the past year, non-governmental organisations say almost three times as many have been detained over the same period. France24

Nigeria: Security Operatives, Vigilantes Rescue 30 Kidnap Victims from Bauchi Forest
Security operatives and local vigilantes have rescued over 30 people kidnapped from Gujin Duguri village in the Alkaleri Local Government of Bauchi State. The victims were rescued unhurt, a community leader, Adamu Duguri, told journalists on Saturday. He said the abducted were being held in the vast Yankari, which is along the boundaries of Bauchi with Plateau, Gombe and Taraba States. A resident of the Duguri, Dawa Sani, told Premium Times that since December 2022 his family has paid about N30 million to kidnappers as ransom for the release of relatives. “In my family, one of our women was kidnapped in December 2022 we paid N15 million for her release and in August one of our sons was kidnapped we also paid another N15 million before he was released to us. “This insecurity situation has been increasing in the rural areas unabated, especially in the four local government areas of Alkaleri, Toro, Ningi and Tafawa Balewa. “The problem of banditry in this part of the state has been going on for some time now without respite despite the fact that authorities concerned said they are on top of the situation all the time,” he said. Premium Times

Ethiopia Faces New Charge of Atrocities in Amhara
Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) are facing new allegations of atrocities in Amhara region, just a month after authorities in Addis Ababa imposed a state of emergency in the area to deal with a local rebellion. And the Amhara Association of America (AAA), a grouping of ethnic Amhara professionals based in the US says it has sufficient proof the Forces carried out a door-to-door massacre in Majete and the surrounding area in Efrata Gidim Woreda, and North Shewa Zone, killing at least 33 people on September 3. The organisation says in its report that ENDF—currently fighting against Amhara Fano Militia—killed the unarmed civilians and injured an additional 13 and has sought the help of the Oromo Liberation Army (Ola) fighters from the neighbouring Dawa Chefa Woreda. The organisation is based outside of Ethiopia but says it used local agent to conduct interviews. … The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had said three weeks ago that Ethiopian authorities had abused their powers in dealing with the rebellion by the local Fano group. East African

Al-Shabab Attacks Ethiopian Military Convoys in Somalia
Al-Shabab militants attacked convoys carrying Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia’s southwestern Bakool region early Sunday, Somali officials said. The ambush targeted two convoys, one traveling from the Somali town of Yeed to Wajid and the second convoy as it traveled from El Barde to the town of Huddur. Ethiopian troops have bases in Wajid and Huddur. A Somali official said local forces were accompanying the convoy that was en route to Huddur from El Barde. The mayor of Huddur, Omar Abdullahi Mohamud, told VOA Somali that the fighting started after the al-Shabab ambushes. … A senior Somali regional official who asked not to be identified told VOA Somali that the more intense ambush targeted Ethiopian troops escorting military supplies to Ethiopian soldiers in Wajid. … Ethiopia has thousands of troops in Somalia serving as part of the African Union Transition Mission, or ATMIS, and other forces in Somalia that are there based on arrangements with the government in Mogadishu. A security source told VOA the ambushed troops were not part of ATMIS. … Meanwhile, Somali officials have reported that government troops have captured the main town of Ba’adweyne and the three smaller villages of Qodqod, Qay’ad, and Shabelow. VOA

Tunisia Expels Hundreds of Sub-Saharan African Migrants amid Crackdown
Tunisian authorities expelled hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants from the port of Sfax Sunday after they were thrown out of their homes during unrest in July, a rights group said. “The security forces on Sunday evacuated a square where some 500 migrants were assembled in the centre of Sfax,” Romdane Ben Amor, spokesman for the FTDES non-government organisation, told AFP. He said the migrants were “dispersed in small groups towards rural areas and other towns”. Since Saturday, authorities in Tunisia have been cracking down on illegal migrants, most of whom are from sub-Saharan African countries. According to authorities, around 200 migrants “who were preparing to make the clandestine boat trip” towards Europe were arrested. Tunisia is a major gateway for migrants and asylum-seekers attempting perilous sea voyages in hopes of a better life in the European Union. … Xenophobic attacks targeting black African migrants and students increased after an incendiary speech in February by President Kais Saied. France24

Unions Push on Dr. Mukwege to Vie for Presidency in DR Congo
The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege, said he had received $100,000 from his supporters for a possible candidacy in the December 20 presidential elections in the DR Congo. Members of civil society (women’s associations, local organizations, trade unions) flocked to his hospital in Bukavu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to present him with a check for the amount of the deposit required to run for president. For almost 30 years, the region has been plagued by armed group violence, mass rape and genital mutilation. The 68-year-old Denis Mukwege who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of women who have been raped, has not confirmed whether he will stand as a candidate. One of the most outspoken critics of President Félix Tshisekedi’s regime, Dr. Mukwege once again vilified the head of the state’s diplomacy, criticizing him in particular for having called on East African armies to confront the “war on terror”. The single-round presidential election is scheduled for December 20. Tshisekedi, who has been president since January 2019, is running for a second five-year term. … The political climate is tense with three months to go to the polls. Prosecutions and arrests of opposition members and journalists are multiplying across the country. At least three journalists have been arrested or detained in recent days. AfricaNews

Inside South Africa’s Operation Dudula: ‘Why We Hate Foreigners’
South African anti-migrant group Operation Dudula has become notorious for raiding businesses belonging to foreign nationals and forcing shops to close. BBC Africa Eye has gained rare access to members of the country’s most-prominent anti-migrant street movement. … Operation Dudula was set-up in Soweto two years ago, the first group to formalise what had been sporadic waves of xenophobia-fuelled vigilante attacks in South Africa that date back to shortly after white-minority rule ended in 1994. It calls itself a civic movement, running on an anti-migrant platform, with the word “dudula” meaning “to force out” in Zulu. Soweto was at the forefront of anti-apartheid resistance and home to Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president. Now, the township has become the home of the country’s most-prominent anti-migrant group. With one in three South Africans out of work in one of the most unequal societies in the world, foreigners in general have become an easy target. But the number of migrants living in South Africa has been grossly exaggerated. According to a 2022 report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), an independent research organisation based in the capital, Pretoria, there are about 3.95 million migrants in South Africa, making up 6.5% of the population, a figure in line with international norms. This number includes all immigrants, irrespective of legal status or where they come from. BBC

Over 200 Arrested in Germany after Violence at Eritrean Diaspora Event
More than 200 Eritrean opposition supporters have been arrested in Germany after violence broke out on Saturday during a cultural festival organised by the supporters of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in the southern city of Stuttgart, local police said on Sunday. At least German 26 police officers were injured in the riot that broke out on Saturday, drawing condemnation from German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Sunday. “Foreign conflicts must not be carried out in our country,” she said on Sunday about the violence that erupted after around 200 protesters began throwing stones, bottles, and other items at police officers and participants of a pro-Isaias gathering. Four participants and two opposition supporters were also among the injured. … The event saw up to 90 Eritrea government supporters face off against several hundred opposition backers who refused to go to the site designated by authorities to hold the protest, police said. … Saturday’s protests were the latest in a spate of unrest surrounding Eritrean cultural events in Germany and elsewhere. … Tens of thousands of people have fled Eritrea for Europe, many alleging they were mistreated by Isaias’s repressive government. Al Jazeera

‘I Want to See the First African Woman in Space’: The Kenyan Stargazer Bringing Astronomy to the People
Susan Murabana’s passion for astronomy was only sparked in her 20s as science was just ‘for boys’. Now she tours Kenya with a telescope on a mission to reveal the cosmos to all children. … The Star Safari is organised by a Kenyan astronomer, Susan Murabana, who has brought the SkyWatcher Flextube – a 50kg, 170cm-long telescope – to allow the group to view Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus, and deep-sky objects such as the Orion and Trifid nebulae, star clusters and galaxies such as Pinwheel and Andromeda. But here in Samburu, where light pollution is minimal and the air is warm and full of anticipation, the Perseid meteors – visible with the naked eye – steal the show. … Every two months, Murabana and her husband, Daniel Chu Owen, a photographer, load their telescope and an inflatable planetarium on to the roof of their 4×4 and set off to rural communities, where they give up to 300 children a chance to view the planets and learn about constellations and the basics of astrophysics. … She estimates that she has shown the wonders of the night sky to 400,000 people since the launch of the Travelling Telescope. They primarily targets schools in remote areas because of the quality of the night sky and because of her mission to give children an opportunity that she wishes had been available to her. The Guardian