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Robert Mugabe is under house arrest, Zimbabwe’s Military says!

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Zimbabwe’s military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr Mugabe told Mr Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader’s office said.

Troops are patrolling the capital, Harare, after they seized state TV and said they were targeting “criminals”.

The move may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents say.

Mr Mnangagwa’s dismissal last week left Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace as the president’s likely successor.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the country’s political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.
How the drama unfolded

After days of tension and rumour, soldiers seized the state broadcaster ZBC late on Tuesday.

A Zimbabwean army officer, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, went on air and denied there was a coup, but said the military was targeting “criminals” around President Mugabe.

Maj Gen Moyo also said Mr Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”. It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Since then military vehicles have been out on the streets of Harare, while gunfire has been heard from northern suburbs where Mr Mugabe and a number of government officials live.

In a statement, Mr Zuma’s office said: “President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine.”
How we got here
Media captionWho is Grace Mugabe?

At heart is a power struggle over who succeeds Mr Mugabe. The rivalry between his wife Grace and Mr Mnangagwa has split the governing Zanu-PF.

Did Mugabe go too far?

Following a call from Mrs Mugabe, Mr Mnangagwa was removed from the vice-presidency earlier this month.

But on Monday, army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Zanu-PF.
Media captionWho is the “crocodile” and is he behind the military takeover in Zimbabwe?

Gen Chiwenga is a close ally of Mr Mnangagwa and both are veterans of the 1970s war which ended white minority rule.

One of the leading members of the Zanu-PF faction led by Grace Mugabe, Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, is being detained, a government source told Reuters.

A quick show of military force, a few arrests… and then what?

These are, of course, unpredictable times for Zimbabwe and yet there is a chance that the army’s extraordinary overnight gamble will pay off, and that President Robert Mugabe, humiliated and powerless, will nonetheless be allowed to retire with at least the pretence of dignity.

It is important to remember that Mr Mugabe is not being challenged by the Western governments he has warned against for decades, or by Zimbabwe’s political opposition, or by a mass uprising against economic hardship.

This is, fundamentally, an internal power struggle within Zanu-PF and whoever emerges victorious can expect a newly purged party to fall obediently into line.

Mr Mugabe’s mistake, at 93, was to assume he was still powerful enough to build a dynasty to back his wife, Grace, to succeed him.

Instead, his once loyal deputy, Emerson Mnangagwa, may be poised to take control. If so, many foreign governments are likely to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he can rescue Zimbabwe from years of misrule.
Is this a coup?

In his statement Maj Gen Moyo said “this is not a military takeover of government”.

But despite the Zimbabwean military’s denials, to many observers their actions bore many of the hallmarks of a coup.

There has been no direct comment from President Mugabe, nor his wife Grace, whose whereabouts are unclear.

Key regional blocs the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) do not look favourably on unconstitutional changes of power, which might explain the Zimbabwean military’s wording.

How can you tell a coup is happening?

How the news is being seen

In Harare, some were delighted. “We are going to have a good life, we are looking forward to Christmas, because of what has happened,” one woman told BBC News.
Media captionZimbabweans react to the news that troops had taken control

The leader of the war veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa, told Reuters: “It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”

Both the UK Foreign Office and US embassy in Harare has advised its citizens to remain indoors until the situation becomes clearer.

China, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.

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Africa

Buhari Appointed by ECOWAS to Champion COVID-19 Response

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President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has been appointed the mantle of the COVID-19 response leadership by presidents under the Economic Community of West African States.

A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja, said the appointment took place on Thursday, at the Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on COVID-19, which was held via teleconference under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou.

During the teleconference, Buhari was said to have called on fellow ECOWAS leaders to look beyond the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and tap into various opportunities that it presents for the betterment of lives in member states.

Buhari was quoted as saying, “In every challenging situation such as the current one, there are also opportunities. Our region must therefore seek to find those opportunities provided by this gloomy global outlook for its benefit by embarking on the implementation of such critical policies, which, before now, will be difficult to accept.”

While calling on his colleagues to intensify collaboration to save the region from “this deadly pandemic through sharing our experiences and best practices,” Buhari outlined some measures taken by his regime in response to the pandemic.

They include reduction of interest rates on all applicable Central Bank of Nigeria interventions from nine per cent to five per cent and introduction of a one-year moratorium on CBN intervention facilities. The inauguration of a presidential task force to coordinate national efforts to combat the spread of the virus and ensure efficiency and effectiveness in line with the Nigerian Action Plan on Health Security.

The President also stated that unprecedented economic uncertainties, including severe fiscal and foreign exchange constraints, amid a slowdown in global economic growth that most nations are grappling with, had made it imperative for “our sub-region to refocus on accelerating the implementation of our popular vision of ‘ECOWAS of the people’ by adopting progressive regional policies aimed at providing relief to our citizens.”

Buhari added, “At a time of global uncertainty such as this, caused by the devastating impact of the COVID-19, let me convey Nigeria’s solidarity with all the member states as we collectively battle to defeat the pandemic.

“I am greatly saddened by the loss of numerous lives and extend my heartfelt condolences to families of those who have lost loved ones throughout the region. I also wish infected victims speedy and full recovery.”

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Africa

COVID-19: AU on Nigeria’s Behalf Seeks Debt Relief

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The African Union, Nigeria office, has urged China, France, Japan and India to write off Nigeria’s debt or allow two-year abeyance on repayments.

It commended the International Monetary Fund for granting relief to 25 nations under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to tackle the novel coronavirus.

The AU agency’s Nigeria Representative, Oba Olasunkanmi, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, explained that as major lenders, they should also grant a reprieve to the Federal Government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said, “Certainly, this will further assist the benefiting countries to significantly cushion the impact of the dreaded disease on their economies. Nigeria, at this time, needs support to enable it to recover from the financial impact.”

The AU further  noted that it would be difficult for the nation to service the debts in the face of the economic realities imposed by COVID-19 “as the United Nations had projected that the world would need $1 trillion for continual existence.”

It noted, “Nigeria needs China’s support at this trying time, with the long and fruitful bilateral relationship between both countries which has led to Nigerian government owing China the debt of about $3.2 billion.

“We are faithful in payment of service charges. In 2019, Nigeria paid $138.8 million (N53.7billion) to EXIM Bank of China in settlement, the highest amount paid to any bilateral institution for the year.”

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Africa

COVID-19 May Claim 300,000 Africans — UNECA

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The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
has disclosed due to deductions, 300,000 Africans may lose their lives due to COVID-19.

UNECA Communications Section, the ECA said the scenario would also push close to 27 million people into extreme poverty.

The report, which was launched virtually on Friday and titled: “COVID-19: Protecting African Lives and Economies”, the ECA said Africa’s fragile health systems could see additional costs being imposed on them.

The UN agency explained that this is because of the growing crisis that has, to date, resulted in over 16,000 infected Africans and claimed over 800 lives at the time of the report’s launch.

Ms Vera Songwe, UN Executive Secretary, ECA, said that to protect and build toward the continent’s shared prosperity, 100 billion dollars is needed to urgently and immediately provide fiscal space to all countries.

She said this is to help address the immediate safety net needs of the populations

Songwe noted that Africa is particularly susceptible because 56 per cent of its urban population is concentrated in slums or informal dwellings, and only 34 per cent of African households have access to necessary handwashing facilities.

“The economic costs of the pandemic have been harsher than the direct impact of the COVID-19.

“Across the continent, all economies are suffering from the sudden shock to the economies.

“The physical distancing needed to manage the pandemic is suffocating and drowning economic activity,” she said.

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Africa

Insurgency Confrontation Leaves 4 Soldiers, 63 Unknown Gunmen Killed in Niger Republic

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The Nigerien Army lost four soldiers in the fight against insurgency but vanquished sixty-three armed men suspected to be affiliated with major terrorist cells in the Sahel region of Africa.

“After a fierce fight” on Thursday in the Tillaberi region near the border with Mali, the soldiers who had been on an anti-terrorist operation put the attackers “on the run” and recovered dozens of motorcycles and weapons, and the Nigerien Defence Ministry said in a statement read on public television.

The Tillaberi region is in close to the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso.

Use of motorcycles has been banned there since January to curb attacks by jihadists who are active there.

According to an official report, 174 soldiers were killed in three attacks in the area in January and December. Two were claimed by the Islamic State group.

The entire Sahel has become blighted by jihadist violence — often interspersed by conflicts between communities — which left 4,000 dead in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in 2019, according to the United Nations.

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