Africa – 31 October 2014

Sub-Saharan Africans worst affected by undernourishment

Africa is lagging behind in tackling hunger with reports showing that over 25% of Africa’s population suffer from acute undernourishment. Undernourishment measures the quality of food available, laying particular emphasis on protein and energy content.

According to the 2014 Hunger Map and a report titled “The State of Food Insecurity in the World: Strengthening the Enabling Environment for Food Security and Nutrition” jointly prepared by World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the number of hungry people has fallen by over 200-million since 1992. Mail and Guardian

President Ian Khama’s BDP wins election

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party secured 33 of 57 seats in Parliament, giving Khama another five-year term as president. Botswana’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has secured 33 of 57 Parliament seats in national elections, initial results showed, putting President Ian Khama at the helm for a second five-year term. Residents, who voted on Friday, re-elected the BDP party that has ruled the diamond-producing country since independence from Britain 48 years ago. Mail and Guardian

Western Sahara: Moroccan shame at UN human rights council

The UN has over the past decades appeared to pursue a just solution to the crisis in Western Sahara, Africa’s last colony still illegally occupied by Morocco. But it now emerges that Moroccan diplomacy at the world body has employed corruption to push its agenda against Western Sahara.

The machinations undertaken by Moroccan diplomacy continue to be unveiled by the Moroccan hacker, who uses the pseudonym “Chris Coleman24” on his Twitter account. Through this account, details of the shameful strategies and conspiracies of Moroccan diplomats in New York and Geneva have been revealed. The information exposed by the mysterious hacker on the Moroccan actions within the office of Navi Pillay, the immediate former High Commissioner for Human Rights, disclose an unprecedented scandal. Navi served as head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) between 2008 and 2014. Pambazuka

Ebola in Africa: A product of history, not a natural phenomenon

There is nothing inevitable about the Ebola epidemic now devastating parts of Africa. Like other disasters, it too is the product of history, of the decisions that governments have made in the past as well as the present.

Modern African history teaches, often tragically, the need to distinguish between what might be called natural phenomena from those that are essentially socio-economic-political. The droughts that ravaged many parts of the continent in the early 1970s were an example of the former. (I leave aside the issue of human actions and global warming.) As drought-stricken California presently shows, the famines and the tens of thousands of lives lost that came in their wake were not, however, inevitable. That horrific outcome was largely the product of the policies put in place by colonial governments and dutifully and sadly reproduced by post-colonial regimes. Pambazuka

Swaziland – 31 Oct 2014

Denmark Questions King On Rights
Denmark has raised the questions of political freedom, human rights, and the trial of political activists Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini with Swaziland’s government and absolute monarch King Mswati III, Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Martin Lidegaard told the Danish Foreign Affairs Committee last Wednesday (22 October 2014), writes Kenworthy News Media.

South Africa: #Swazijustice “The Path to Freedom Goes Through Prison”
This time next week, Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu may be released from their wrongful imprisonment in a Swazi jail. But they will not be free men. They are subjects of an absolute monarchy, the last in Africa, one which continues to use its courts to violate its people’s rights and abuse its powers. Yet very few people seem to care.
Many South Africans are unaware of what happens in the small country nestled within our borders. The #SwaziJustice campaign, an advocacy initiative calling for an end to human rights violations in Swaziland, has released a video trying to fix that.

MBABANE – Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) Secretary General Vincent Ncongwane said it was nice to be a minister as that appeared to be a licence to say anything that takes your fancy no matter how far it sails from the truth.
Ncongwane said he was very hurt to learn that Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini said the retrenched Tex Ray textile firm workers should have shed tears at the doorstep of their trade union offices.
He said the minister’s comments are like someone who either is not aware of the ILO Report dated March 26, 2014 which recommended to government how to deal with the issues of the benchmarks. Times of Swaziland

Zimbabwe – 31 Oct 2014

EU, Zim Smoke Peace Pipe
THE European Union has finally lifted economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, ending more than a decade of sour relations with Harare.
Addressing the media in the capital Harare on Thursday, the EU Head of Mission, Philippe Van Damme, said the latest development to remove its trade sanctions against Zimbabwe would see the 28-nation EU member bloc re-engage with Harare on bilateral economic agreements.

From wife-beaters to peace-preachers: tackling domestic abuse in Zimbabwe’s hinterland
A third of Zimbabwean women have experienced physical violence at the hands of their spouse or partner
MARONDERA, 21 October 2014 (IRIN) – Jairos Maruwe used to beat up his wife so badly he once knocked her unconscious and broke her arm. It landed him in jail at least once, but it was the way he was raised.
“We grew up thinking that women are our tools and we can do whatever we want with them,” the 34-year-old farmer in northeastern Zimbabwe’s Marondera region told IRIN. IRIN News

Top SA court orders Zimbabwe torture probe
SOUTH Africa’s highest court on Thursday ruled that the country’s police have a duty to investigate Zimbabwean officials accused of torturing opposition supporters seven years ago.
The landmark judgement by the Constitutional Court is likely to strain ties with the neighbouring country, whose President Robert Mugabe responded angrily to a similar order by a lower court, describing it as a “direct assault” on Zimbabwe’s sovereignty. New

MDC-T congress kicks off
ENFEEBLED by its electoral loss to veteran leader Robert Mugabe and a post-vote split, Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change meets on Friday to elect new leaders and forge a new plan against Mugabe’s 34-year rule.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the two-day party congress, expected to attract 7,000 delegates, was likely to retain Morgan Tsvangirai as leader and, MDC members hope, see the embattled party emerge stronger. The Zimbabwe Mail

Western Sahara – 31 Oct 2014

OSRN Condemns Illegal Activities of Oil Prospection in the Saharawi Offshore
This latest move by the occupying power Morocco is in violation of the international law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Western Sahara, which is Non-Self-Governing Territory.
Following the signature by Glencore Xstrata (an Oil company registered in Switzerland) with Morocco of two agreements of Oil prospection in the region of “foum Oughnit” South-West the Capital of the occupied Western Sahara, the OSNR strongly condemns the conclusion of SUCH an illegal and immoral agreement that violates the international law relative to Non-Self-Governing and colonized countries still in the UN List of Decolonisation.
OSNR recalls in this respect the legal opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1975, which clearly postulated that Morocco has no sovereignty over the occupied Western Sahara. It also recalls that the only status Morocco has in this territory is that of an “Occupying Power” according to the UN General Assembly’s resolution 34/39 of 1979.
Pambazuka News


President Receives Congratulatory Cable From Algerian Counterpart
President of the Republic, Secretary General of the Frente Polisario, Mohamed Abdelaziz, on Tuesday received a message of felicitation from his Algerian counterpart, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, on the occasion of the advent of the New Hijri Year.
President Bouteflika expressed, on his own behalf and on behalf of the Algerian people, his heartfelt congratulations to President Mohamed Abdelaziz and to the Saharawi people as a whole, wishing them a good health, happiness, progress and prosperity. Algerian President reiterated, in his cable, readiness to work with the Saharawi party to further develop the bonds of brotherhood and cooperation happily bind between the two brotherly peoples.
Sahara Press Service

UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Briefs Security Council
The UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, on Monday briefed orally Members of the Security Council on the developments regarding the peace process and UN efforts to find a solution to the conflict of Western Sahara.
Convened behind closed doors, the MEETING is only expected to witness a heated discussion, especially with Morocco continuing to thwart Ross mission aimed at achieving a final solution to the conflict of Western Sahara, as stipulated in last April Security Council’s resolution.
For observers, this session is being held amid an unprecedented tension characterizing the relations between Morocco and the United Nations, as a result of Morocco’s rejection to the newly-appointed Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara and Head of the MINURSO, Canadian Kim Bolduc.
Morocco also blocked Ross planned tours to the parties to the conflict and the countries concerned, in the aim to bring about a fair and final solution ensuring the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people, in accordance with resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations, added the same sources.
In its Resolution 2152 (2014), issued on 29 April 2014, the Security Council encouraged the parties to the conflict of Western Sahara to continue negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, without preconditions to reach a political settlement ACCEPTED by both parties guaranteeing the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people.
Sahara Press Service

Somalia – 31 Oct 2014

Somali Govt Co-Ordinates Aid Distribution in Former Al-Shabaab-Held Areas
Amid warnings of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Somalia and the dire need for assistance in areas liberated from al-Shabaab, the Somali government and international aid agencies are reaching out to residents in southern and central Somalia.

So far, the federal government has provided food aid to more than 10,000 families in Lower and Middle Shabelle regions who lived under the control of al-Shabaab militants for years, said Mukhtar Sheikh Hussein, director of the Ministry of Interior and Federalism’s department of co-ordination of humanitarian agencies.
“We intend to give the food, which was donated by the Turkish Red Crescent, to all the districts that the government regains control of,” he told Sabahi. “We began this work October 6th and we are STILL going.”
“The food we distributed consisted of flour and sugar, and each family received 25 kilogrammes of flour and 25 kilogrammes of sugar,” Hussein said, adding that they reached 4,000 families in Barawe, 3,400 in War Sheikh and 3,500 in Adale.

UAE, Somali Leaders Address Anti-Piracy Conference in Dubai
The 4th International Counter-Piracy conference opened Wednesday (October 29th) in Dubai, with more than 600 government officials, maritime officials and industry leaders in attendance.

Ahead of the two-day conference, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said stakeholders should focus on tackling the root causes of piracy and long-term prevention strategies, the UAE’s Gulf News reported.
There has been a drop in piracy off the coast of Somalia since 2011, when 236 attacks were recorded, with only two unsuccessful attacks recorded this year.
“This remarkable success is testimony to the effectiveness of international counter-piracy co-operation in the Horn of Africa,” Al Nahyan said. “Despite recent successes, there is no room for complacency.”

South Sudan – 31 Oct 2014

President to Visit Khartoum On Saturday
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, will arrive in Khartoum on Saturday to discuss outstanding issues between the two countries and the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, said in press statements on Wednesday that Kiir will arrive in Khartoum on Saturday, adding “the visit was previously delayed due to health conditions of the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir not for any political reasons”.
On 11 August, Bashir underwent a knee replacement surgery. He resumed his official duties after a period of convalescence that extended for more than a month.

UN Officials Welcome Launch in South Sudan of Campaign to End Use of Child Soldiers
The United Nations stands ready to support the Government of South Sudan in its renewed commitment to end the recruitment and use of children in the army, top UN officials declared today as the Organization launched a new initiative in the country.
“It’s encouraging to see that the Government is taking steps to protect the country’s children and the United Nations will continue to support them,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in a message read during the launch of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign in South Sudan.
UN News

Rival Forces Clash Over Control of Oil-Rich Town
Fresh clashes occurred on Monday between South Sudan’s rival factions in Unity state, as peace TALKS mediated by the East African regional bloc (IGAD) was to start in Ethiopia.
The incident, in violation of the cessation of hostile deal agreed on in January and re-committed to in May, comes days after the two rival leaders met for talks in Arusha, Tanzania.
“There is a fighting going on now in Bentiu as we are here. The rebels of Riek Machar have launched an attack on the positions of the SPLA forces in the area and we are expecting them to do the same in other areas, especially in Upper Nile state,” president Salva Kiir told the opening session of the governors’ forum in Juba on Monday.
Sudan Tribute

Sudan – 31 Oct 2014

Two SANDF Soldiers Wounded in Sudan
Two South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members have been injured during an ambush near the South African Battalion Base in Kutum, in the northern Darfur region of Sudan. The soldiers are from the 4 South African Infantry Battalion (4 SAI Bn) and were deployed as part of the United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan.
The injured soldiers were airlifted by helicopter to the hospital in El Fashir shortly after the ambush. The two members are in a critical but stable condition in the UN hospital. Two other members also sustained minor injuries during the ambush, however, they are back at the base and are doing well.

Bishop Plea End to ‘Bombing Campaign’
Bishop Emeritus Macram Max Gassis, of the diocese of El Obeid, Sudan, has appealed to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to end a months-long bombing campaign in the Nuba Mountains.
Bishop Max made the appeal on October 25 nine days after seven people, including six children, were killed and dozens more injured in a raid on a crowded MARKET and a home in Heiban in South Kordofan state.
“The gun will solve no problem and violence generates violence,” he said in condemning the Sudanese government’s attacks in the region. Reports from the region indicate that more than 800 bombs have been dropped in the Nuba Mountains this year, reported Catholic News Service (CNS).

President Bashir Orders Army to Launch Decisive Attack to End Rebellion
Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has said that the Sudanese army (SAF) has won more than 40 battles in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, recently ordering it to launch a decisive summer attack against rebels.
Bashir, who addressed the graduation ceremony of 175 officers at the national military academy in the presence of the Libyan prime minister, Abdullah al-Thani, pointed to “recent victories of the army and regular forces” in the battlefronts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.
He demanded the army to get ready for a decisive summer battle to end rebellion in the country, vowing to provide every possible support to build the army capacity.
Sudan Tribute


CAR – 31 Oct 2014

Bemba’s Lawyer, Aides Released From ICC Detention
Jean Pierre Bemba’s former lead defense lawyer and two associates were released from International Criminal Court (ICC) detention. The trio, along with another former lawyer to the Congolese opposition leader, had been held in The Hague for nearly a year on accusations of bribing witnesses and forging evidence.

According to a statement from the court, defense lawyer Aimé Kilolo Musamba was released in Belgium, Bemba’s former chief of staff Fidèle Babala Wandu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and defense witness Narcisse Arido in France. Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, who was Mr. Bemba’s case manager at the time of his arrest, will be released as soon as the ICC Registry finalized all the necessary arrangements.

Farming Sector Hit By Insecurity As Central African Republic Crisis Grinds On – UN Report
The continuing crisis in the embattled Central African Republic has taken a large toll on agricultural production and is eroding the capacity of the country’s population to secure sufficient food, a new report by the United Nations food and agriculture agencies has found.
The report – jointly produced by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – blamed widespread looting and insecurity for negatively impacting crops, livestock and fishing in the CAR. Such adverse events caused the country’s agricultural sector to contract by 46 per cent in 2013, in the wake of a crisis in the country that has caused massive displacements and driven hundreds of thousands of people to flee across its borders, the report found.
UN News

Dubai-Based Company to Supply Petroleum Products to CAR
The Dubai-based Tristar liquid Logistic Company in the United Arabs Emirates will supply petroleum products to the conflict-ridden Central African Republic within the framework of its humanitarian missions.
The intervention of the United Arabs Emirates company will be thanks to a partnership agreement it signed with the Central African Republic affiliate of the Cameroon petroleum products distribution company Tradex on September 26 in Douala. The information is contained in a press released published by Tradex on October 23, 2014. The current crisis rocking the Central African Republic caused by the ousting of former President François Bozize’s regime in March 2013 by the Seleka rebel movement, greatly perturbed the distribution of petroleum products in the country by Tradex, Afriquinfos reported. After months of inactivity, Tradex has reopened 80 per cent of the petroleum products filling stations in the Central African Republic.

DRC – 31 October 2014

TV Cameraman Badly Hurt in Targeted Goma Shooting
Reporters Without Borders joins its local partner Journalist in Danger (JED) in calling for a thorough investigation into a shooting attack on a TV cameraman in the eastern CITY of Goma on 25 October.
The authorities must end impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Democratic Republic of Congo, which is ranked 151st out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
The cameraman, Philémon Gira of Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise, was hospitalized in a serious condition with a gunshot injury to the thigh. Journalist in Danger’s press release follows: Call for urgent investigation to find those who shot Goma journalist. Journalist in Danger (JED) is appalled by a shooting attack on a journalist with the provincial bureau of Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) in Goma, the capital of the eastern province of Nord-Kivu, on 25 October.

State Dept. Congratulations to Dr. Mukwege On 2014 Sakharov Prize
The United States congratulates Dr. Denis Mukwege for the distinction of being awarded by the European Parliament the Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought 2014, which honors exceptional individuals who defend HUMAN RIGHTS and combat oppression. Dr. Mukwege stands among a distinguished group of human rights defenders who have the courage to lead and to inspire, and we join him in support of his compassionate leadership.
Health workers around the world like Dr. Mukwege are critical partners in supporting survivors of sexual violence, the majority of whom are women and girls. Their care lays a foundation for recovery and healing, and also restores the dignity survivors need to demand justice.
In his efforts to confront the devastating effects of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mostly targeted at women and girls, Dr. Mukwege’s leadership begins with medical care–and moves beyond, to championing Women’s Empowerment, and advocating for peace, justice and accountability.
Around the world, the United States applauds Human Rights defenders working on the front lines, including Dr. Mukwege and thousands of others, for their unwavering commitment to building societies where the voice, dignity, and human rights of all people are respected. We commend those who are prepared, sometimes at great personal risk, to take a stance against violence and repression and work for our common humanity.
State Department: US


Military Reshuffle Signals a Political Landscape in Motion
In September 2014, the Congolese government carried out a reorganization of its armed forces (FARDC). Congo is a huge country covering many local realities, each of which has its own threats, balance of power, conflict potential and economic assets.
The Congolese officers in question are individuals who have been trained in military schools or whose experience is the result of the years which they served in rebel movements, defending or attacking the nation. Many have, over the years, made a serious attempt to provide some rule of law, but many others are notorious violators of Human Rights considered by many Congolese citizens as being as much a part of the problem as the solution.
African Arguments

Madagascar – 31 October 2014

The Fight Against Exploitation Of Underage Domestic Workers In Madagascar
Madagascar, an Island off the south-east coast of Africa, is one of the nations that has ratified the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) core conventions on child labor, including Convention No. 138 regarding the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labor in order to provide the framework necessary to end child domestic labor
Approximately 17.2 million children around the world perform paid or unpaid domestic work for third parties or for an employer. Among them, 67.1% are girls between the ages of 5 and 17. In commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated on October 11, AWID interviewed Noro Ravaozanany, President of the Conseil National des Femmes de Madagascar (National Women’s Council of Madagascar) to identify the issues and challenges related to the fight against underage domestic labor in Madagascar.
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ban Urges Respect of Democratic Institutions as Former President Returns
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today rejected remarks made by former President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, challenging the legitimacy of his country’s democratic institutions.
In a statement delivered by UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, the Secretary-General noted the former President’s 13 October return to Madagascar from South Africa, where he had been living since 2009, and stressed the “imperative of respecting the legitimacy of the democratically-elected Government and the rule of law.”