News Briefs: 09 December 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

EU/US: Sanction Senior DR Congo Officials

The European Union and United States should expand targeted sanctions against those most responsible for recent violent repression and other serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 72 Congolese and 15 international human rights organizations said today.

Ten days before the December 19, 2016, deadline marking the end of President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally mandated two-term limit, he still has not made any clear commitment on when or even if he will step down. At the same time, government repression against pro-democracy activists, the political opposition, largely peaceful protesters, and the media has intensified at an alarming rate.

Human Rights Watch

US Envoy Hopes for Last-minute Political Deal in DRC

December 19 marks the end of President Joseph Kabila’s second five-year term in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many in the country are nervous as the date approaches.

Elections were to have been held this year but have not been organized. Kabila now plans to remain in office until polls can be held in 2018. A large opposition coalition known as the Rassemblement views the president’s prolonged second and, under the constitution, final term as a power grab. This group wants him to leave at the end of his mandate, and it calls for elections in 2017.

The lack of common ground between the parties has observers fearing a repeat of September 19, when a Rassemblement demonstration in Kinshasa descended into violence. The United Nations says security forces killed more than 50 people over two days.

Voice of America

Somalia

Somalia recaptures town from IS-linked fighters; 34 dead

A Somali official says security forces have recaptured a port town from Islamic State-linked fighters in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

Yusuf Mohamed, the governor of Puntland’s commercial hub of Bossaso, says 30 militants and four soldiers were killed during the operation today to recapture Qandala.

Residents confirmed that troops entered the town after fighters retreated into nearby villages.

The seizure of Qandala in October had been the first victory for the Islamic State-linked fighters, who are expanding the areas under their control amid a rivalry with the homegrown al-Shabab extremist group.

Times of India

 

 

Somalia’s National Leadership Forum kicks off in Mogadishu

Somalia’s caretaker President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has officially opened the National Consultative Forum in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday, Garowe Online reports.

Leaders of the Federal Member States of Puntland, Southwest, Galmudag, Hirshabelle and Jubbaland are attending the meeting at Halane compound, AMISOM headquarters in Somalia.

International diplomats led by Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the United Nations for Somalia are also in attendance in the meeting with the Somali leaders.

The talks are expected to focus on range of issues mainly on the ongoing parliamentary and upcoming presidential election of the horn of African nation. The meeting comes as the country is near to wrap up the ballot of both Lower and Upper Houses of Federal Parliament in the capitals of regional states.

Garowe Online

Central African Republic

UN completes investigations into allegations pf sexual abuse by peacekeepers

The United Nations announced today that it has completed an internal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against Burundian and Gabonese peacekeepers deployed in Dekoa, Kemo prefecture, Central African Republic (CAR).

The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) interviewed 139 people and then investigated their accounts. 16 possible perpetrators from Gabon and 25 from Burundi have been identified through photos and corroborating evidence. Of the 139 victims, 25 were minors who asserted that they were sexually assaulted. Eight paternity claims have been filed, six of which were by minors.

The United Nations has shared the report with the Governments of Burundi and Gabon, which includes the names of the identified alleged perpetrators. It has requested that appropriate judicial action proceed in order to ensure criminal accountability.

UN News

U.N. condemns recent outbreak of violence in Central African Republic

The peaceful and successful transition in the Central African Republic is apparently been marred by the recent outbreak of violence.

A United Nations official in the Central Africa region made this known to the Security Council.

The acting head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, François Fall, said the violence “resulted in a high number of fatalities, demonstrating once more the extreme fragility of the situation.”

But he admitted that the efforts of Lake Chad Basin countries in fighting terrorism have resulted in substantial military and security successes.

TVC News

Sudan

Sudan arrests top human rights activist – Amnesty

Sudanese security agents have arrested a prominent rights activist, Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, as part of an ongoing crackdown on dissent, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The 58-year-old was taken into custody on Wednesday at the University of Khartoum where he works as a professor of engineering, the rights watchdog said.

“He was arrested by National Intelligence and Security Service agents… and taken to an undisclosed location where he is at a grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” Amnesty said in a statement.

News24

Austerity measures fuel discontent in Bashir’s Sudan

Tensions are high as Sudan’s government tries to resolve the country’s economic troubles. Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s economy has struggled to recover after losing three-quarters of its oil production. Additionally, rising inflation and US sanctions are adding to the discontent.

Protests started in late November. Hundreds of pharmacies closed their doors and went on strike last month in solidarity with protesters and in response to the rising costs of medicine.

The Sudanese people have also been using several hashtags in Arabic and English, like #SudanCivilDisobedience, to share how they have been affected by austerity measures, fuel subsidy cuts and price increases in medication, food and electricity.

News24

South Sudan security arrest senior relief official in Juba

South Sudan’s National Security Service on Thursday afternoon arrested the Country Director of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Victor Moses. Victor was picked from his office in Tonpping and taken to NSS detention center in Jebel.

A source told Radio Tamazuj yesterday evening that the three officers in plain clothes came around 1pm at their office in Tonyping, near the US Residence, asked the security guard at the gate that that they want to see the country director.

“Three security personnel came this afternoon and asked the security guards at the gate that they want to meet the country director, but minutes later, a full truck of soldiers in uniform entered into the office compound and picked him,” he said.

“They picked him from the office and to the National Security office in Jebel were he’s currently held inside. There is no any clear reason given, as we are talking now, he’s now sleeping inside the national security detention site,” he said.

Radio Tamazuj

Us Worries About Spiralling Violence in South Sudan – State Department

The United States is alarmed by the violence in South Sudan, where ethnically motivated hate speech, the targeting of civilians and sexual violence is becoming widespread and cannot be ignored, the State Department said on Monday.

“The United States is alarmed by the violence in the Equatoria region of South Sudan and concerned it could quickly spiral out of control,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. “This situation is intolerable, will worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis.”

The United States has confirmed that more than 1,900 houses have been destroyed in the Central Equatoria of South Sudan since September, he said in a statement.

EWN

Western Sahara

EU should share Algeria’s position on Western Sahara conflict

Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries, Maria Teresa Gimenez Barbat, said that the duty of the European Union should be to share Algeria’s position on the Western Sahara, and underlined its crucial role in the stabilization of North Africa and the fight against terrorism.

“The EU’s duty should be to share the same position as Algeria and defend Sahrawi people’s right to decide their future,” wrote recently Gimenez Barbat in the European Parliament Magazine, Opinion.

In this regard, the MEP said that “Algeria has always expressed its unconditional support to the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination and the independence of Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.”

Sahara Press Service

France supports search for “just, lasting and mutually agreed” solution

France supports the search for a “just, lasting and mutually agreed” solution to Western Sahara conflict, reaffirmed on Tuesday the French foreign ministry spokesperson.

“The position of France about this issue is known and constant. France supports the search for a just, lasting and mutually agreed solution, under the aegis of the United Nations and in compliance with the Security Council resolutions,” spokesman Romain Nadal told an online news conference.

To a question on the reception of a Sahrawi human rights defenders delegation at the French Foreign Ministry, as reported Monday by APS, the spokesman said that representatives of associations held discussion on Western Sahara at the Quai d’Orsay.

Sahara Press service

Madagascar

Madagascar’s £152m vanilla industry soured by child labour and poverty

ine-year-old Xidollien has no idea that the vanilla pods he and his family so painstakingly cultivate throughout the year on their small vanilla farm in the north of Madagascar is one of the most valuable spices in the world.

He hides behind his mother, Liliane, as she stands among the family’s vanilla plants . He has spent all morning clearing weeds from the land with a machete. Tomorrow will be the same for him and thousands of other children in the northern region of the island.

Roughly 80% of the vanilla sold on the global market comes from Madagascar. Madagascan vanilla is used in chocolate, cakes and ice-cream sold to consumers around the globe by some of the world’s biggest brands.

The Guardian

Swaziland

U.S.$360 Million Missing Govt Funds – Swazi Workers Threaten ‘National Shutdown’

Swaziland’s largest workers’ federation has reportedly demanded a thorough investigation into alleged missing government funds from the country’s treasury department.

According to Voice of America, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action if the country’s prime minister Barnabas Dlamini failed to institute an independent investigation over the missing funds.

An independent forensic audit of the accountant general’s office conducted by Kobla Quashie Consultants reportedly revealed that the government treasury department bank accounts had a $360m shortfall.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe Unveils $4 Billion National Budget with Projected Billion Dollar Deficit

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has unveiled a $4.1 billion budget for 2017 with a projected funding gap of at least $400 million and state wage bill set to gobble the bulk of the budget.

Presenting the budget in parliament today, Chinamasa said the country is expected to grow by 1,7% from 0.6% estimated this year.

He said agriculture and mining are expected to drive overall growth with sector growth of 12% and 0.9% respectively in 2017.

Inflation is projected at 1.1% from a negative 1.5% in 2016 while total revenues are projected at $3.7 billion with total expenditure estimated at $4.1 billion.

Zimbabwe will have a financing gap of $400 million with capital expenditure amounting to $520 million, which is 3.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Voice of America

British bank may finance Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government

Standard Chartered Bank is considering the financing of a $262m (£206m) package to bail out President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government.

Bretton Woods institutions ? including the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank (ADB) ? suspended their financial assistance to Zimbabwe in 1999 when the nation defaulted, and rendered it unable to clear a $1.8bn (then £1.36bn) debt it owes the institutions.

In 2014, the IMF stated the government needed to pay off its arrears and restore confidence by implementing economic reforms, social development and poverty eradication programmes if it was to be awarded financial assistance to aid its struggling economy.

International Business Times

 

 

Africa in General

Uganda sends 2,745 troops to Somalia

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has commissioned 2,745 new soldiers to Somalia to replace an equal number of fighters who have been recalled from the battlefield after serving for one year.

The first batch of 80 soldiers left Entebbe Airport on Monday morning aboard a Boeing 737 managed by Ocean Airlines Company and landed at the Adan Abdulle International Airport at about 07.30hrs, East African time.

The UPDF deputy spokesman, Major Henry Obbo, said more troops were scheduled to join their colleagues in the war-torn country in an exercise that will take a week or more, depending on the air situation and other factors.

New Vision

AU to hold first-ever debate for contenders seeking to replace Dlamini-Zuma

The African Union Commission is reportedly set to hold its first-ever debate for the five candidates seeking to head the continental body and take over from the current chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

According to BBC Live, an invitation from the commission stated that all the candidates who had expressed interest in contesting would take part in a “town hall-style” debate on December 9 at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The elections were due in January 2017.

“It is our sincere belief that this debate will help in the transformation of our union and Africa, as often elections of the union leadership occur behind closed doors, thus denying the broad African public an opportunity to be informed and participate in the work of the commission,” the commission was quoted as saying.

News24

Angola to announce President Dos Santos’s successor

Angola is expected to formally announce the end of President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ controversial 37-year rule on Saturday, and name a successor to lead the ailing African oil-producing country.

News of the veteran leader’s impending retirement, announced on state radio on December 2, has made front page news in Angolan newspapers all week.

But the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), in power since 1975, has officially remained silent on the matter.

On Saturday, on the 60th anniversary of its founding, the party is expected to confirm that Dos Santos, 74, will not seek another term as president in the 2017 party elections.

New24

Zimbabwe to release another 7 million bond notes – central bank

Zimbabwe’s central bank says it is about to “drip-feed” another seven million US worth of bond notes into circulation – just as the finance minister readies for a difficult budget.

Said an RBZ statement on Wednesday: “The bank would like to advise the public that it is releasing the second batch of $2 bond notes amounting to $7m this week.”

Ten million US worth of bond notes – a surrogate currency that Zimbabweans are extremely sceptical of – were put into circulation last Monday.

News24

 

Policy Brief 9 of 2016 – The Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, 05 December 2016, CPT

On the 5th of December 2016, the Southern African Liaison Office held a dialogue on the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. The panel consisted of two speakers, including they key-note speaker, Honourable John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, as well as Sanja Bornman, Chairperson of the Hate Crimes Working Group Steering Committee. The context and timing of the dialogue was especially relevant, as the bill was nearing the end of its public consultation process. This had a significant impact on the aim of the dialogue, as both speakers had the intention of creating an open space in which questions from the audience aimed at strengthening the Bill and enhancing the public consultation process could be openly raised.

Download full PDF here: PB NO 9 of 2016 -5 December 2016

SALO Dialogue: The state of LGBTI Rights Protection in SA, with a focus on the proposed Hate Crimes Bill – 5 December 2016

5-dec-stillDate: Monday 5 December 2016

Venue: Alliance Française, 155 Loop street, Cape Town

PROGRAMME:

Registration: 17H30 – 18H00 (Wine and light refreshments will be served)

Chair: Marissa van Rensburg, SALO

Speakers

  • Keynote speaker:  Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery    
  • Sanja Bornman, Chairperson of the National Hate Crimes Working Group
  • Mabhuti Mkangeli, Senior Community Fieldworker, The Triangle Project

Open discussion: 19H15 – 20H00

Vote of thanks

Wine and light refreshments will be served

SALO would like to thank the following (in alphabetical order) for their direct support for this event:

The Alliance Française du Cap and the Consulate General of France in Cape Town, Irish Aid and the Embassy of Ireland, Pretoria; The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Pretoria; Open Society Foundation for South Africa

              

           

PRESS RELEASE: Conflict Diamonds from CAR Entering International Markets via Cameroon

Kimberley Process must act after new report reveals shortfalls in Cameroon’s traceability procedures create opportunities for smuggling and corruption
OTTAWA, Canada, December 2, 2016/ — Cameroon is allowing conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic to cross over its borders and into the legal supply chain due to poor controls, smuggling and corruption, Partnership Africa Canada (www.PACweb.org) said in a report published today.

The full report can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/fromconflicttoillicit

The report, From Conflict to Illicit: Mapping the Diamond Trade from Central African Republic to Cameroon, investigates the failure of Cameroon’s implementation of the Kimberley Process—the international diamond certification scheme meant to stop the trade of conflict diamonds. The report comes on the eve of the Kimberley Process Review Visit to Cameroon which evaluates the country’s implementation of internal controls that govern diamond production and trade.

Diamond exports from the Central Africa Republic were internationally embargoed after a coup d’état in 2013 sparked a civil war. The Kimberley Process partially lifted the embargo on zones it deemed compliant and conflict-free earlier this year. Yet, Partnership Africa Canada found the illicit trade of conflict diamonds is ongoing.

“While international outcry about ‘blood diamonds’ financing war in the Central African Republic sparked action to stop the trade, the same spotlight has not been turned on CAR’s neighbours. Our investigation shows the reality on the ground and how conflict diamonds from CAR still have entry points to international markets through Cameroon,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director.

Interviews with miners, traders and exporters detail the smuggling of Central African Republic’s diamonds across the 900km border its shares with Cameroon, corruption amongst officials charged with verifying the origins of diamonds, and large shipments of embargoed conflict diamonds passing through Cameroon’s transit hubs undeclared.

The report follows Cameroonian traders who buy diamonds from across the river—in the Central African Republic—and then on to buying houses in Cameroon’s East region. Diamonds are “self-declared” as originating in Cameroon and Kimberley Process Certificates are issued attesting to their conflict-free status, allowing for their export to international markets.

“As the Kimberley Process visits Cameroon, it must take action immediately and demonstrate to companies, retailers—and most importantly to consumers—that it is able to stop the flow of conflict diamonds,” said Offah Obale, Researcher for Partnership Africa Canada, and the report’s author.

Partnership Africa Canada calls on the Kimberley Process to place Cameroon under Special Measures which would require a tightening of internal controls within a three month period, during which time no diamond would leave Cameroon without expert and external oversight.

The report also calls on a Regional Approach to tackle the illicit trade of CAR’s conflict diamonds, bringing in other neighbours such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, for a harmonized strategy.

The full report can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/fromconflicttoillicit

Distributed by APO on behalf of Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).

 

News Briefs: 2 December 2016

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN envoy calls on political stakeholders to show flexibility to aid election process

Wrapping up a visit to Africa’s Great Lakes region, a United Nations envoy today urged stakeholders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) electoral process to do more to help ensure the country is able to hold peaceful elections.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is at an important turning point in its political history – I call on all parties to demonstrate flexibility and readiness for compromise to create propitious conditions for peaceful and credible elections,” the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, said today, according to a news release from his office.

The envoy’s comments came at the end of a four-day trip to the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa. According to his office, the aim of the visit was to consult with a wide range of national stakeholders on the electoral process and related political issues and seek their views on how best to support the ongoing mediation efforts led by the Conference Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO), which, it said, are aimed at broadening the consensus on, and inclusivity of the electoral and political process building on the so-called Global Political Agreement reached on 18 October.

UN News

UN mission in DRC condemns deadly attack on Hutu village

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have condemned Sunday’s attack on an internally displaced people’s camp by militiamen.

The attack attack on over 1000 Hutu displaced families was carried out by the Mayi-Mayi Mazembe group. It led to the death of over 30 people.

‘‘MONUSCO strongly condemns this attack against civilians and extends its sympathy and condolences to the families of the deceased. MONUSCO remains determined to protect civilians to the best of its ability,’‘ the statement said.

Africa News

Somalia

After election delay, Somalia’s first female presidential candidate says she may not run again

Fadumo Dayib, Somalia’s first female presidential candidate, is so dismayed by the decision this week by Somali’s electoral body to postpone the country’s presidential elections for the third time that she thinks she will not run for president again, even if a new date is set.

“I think I am not going to run … because the level of corruption, the shocking level of corruption, it is all very, very disheartening, and I don’t want to legitimize something that is that bad by running in it,” Dayib said via Skype from Nairobi.

Washington Post

Ethiopia promises to support Somalia for peaceful polls

As the presidential election in Somalia approaches, the Ethiopian government has promised support assuring peaceful elections.

Though much of the country is still under the control of Islamist militant group Al Shabaab, especially after the withdrawal of the Ethiopian military, the Ethiopian government seems to be committed to working towards building a peaceful Somalia.

During a visit this week, Somali Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke met Ethiopian officials, including newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Workineh Gebeyehu.

IOL

Central African Republic

Central African Republic clashes leave 85 dead

The latest clashes between rival armed groups in the Central African Republic have left 85 dead, a government official said Monday, in what the UN warns is a worsening situation.

“This figure is confirmed,” said presidential spokesman Albert Mopkem, referring to a toll provided by Adama Dieng, a UN special envoy for the prevention of genocide.

Nearly half the population needs humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations which has appealed for $399 million from donors to cover the country’s aid needs next year.

The latest deaths in the town of Bria, 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Bangui, were amplified by 76 wounded and nearly 11,000 people being displaced in battles between factions of the former “Seleka” Muslim rebel group last week, Dieng said.

eNCA

Half of population in Central African Republic need aid: U.N.

Nearly half of the population in war-torn Central African Republic – more than two million people – need humanitarian aid despite progress in stabilizing the country since it plunged into chaos in 2013, a United Nations official said on Monday.

The country has been plagued by conflict since March 2013, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by Christian militias. Despite a February election seen as a step toward reconciliation, fighting still flares.

Deadly outbreaks of violence have erupted across the country since September, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Reuters

Sudan

Opposition Forces Request Al Bashir to Step Down

On Wednesday, officials at the Republican Palace in Khartoum refused to accept a memorandum demanding President Omar Al Bashir immediately step down from power. Security agents blocked access to the premises of the Communist Party, and reportedly detained a number of party leaders.

More than 20 parties, organisations, and individuals, signed the memorandum in which they demand the president to hand the power to the Sudanese people.

Representatives of the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of leftist political parties), the Civil Society Initiative, and a number of public figures planned to hand the memo to the Sudanese president on Wednesday morning.

AllAfrica.com

Three UN workers abducted in Darfur

Two Nepalese and one Sudanese UN staff taken to an unknown location by unidentified gunmen. Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped three workers from the United Nation’s refugee agency in Sudan’s restive Darfur region.

The three workers – one from Sudan and two from Nepal – were kidnapped on Sunday from Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, and were taken to an unknown location, Abdallah Gar al-Nabi, West Darfur government spokesman, said on Monday.

UNHCR officials were not immediately available for comment, but its spokesman in Khartoum said a meeting was underway to discuss the “urgent incident”.

Aljazeera

South Sudan

UN calls for end to restriction on humanitarian agencies in war-torn South Sudan

United Nations Official for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said aid workers increasingly face “bureaucratic impediments”, and called on South Sudanese authorities to ensure unfettered access to the needy in the affected areas.

Eugene Owusu, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan and deputy head of UN mission in the country, said agencies registered more than cases of blockage to aid work in November.

“They (humanitarian organizations) continue to face obstacles and challenges which hamper their efforts. This must stop,” said Owusu in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

Sudan Tribune

UN warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’

Ethnic cleansing is taking place in war-torn South Sudan, the country’s UN human rights commission has warned. It says it has observed starvation, the burning of villages and rape being used as weapons of war across the country.

The three-member commission, which was established earlier this year, has just completed a 10-day visit to South Sudan, which has been blighted by conflict for more than three years. President Salva Kiir has denied that ethnic cleansing is taking place. In a statement released on Thursday, the commission says “the stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda” in 1994 – a reference to the killing of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in the space of three months.

BBC

 

 

Western Sahara

Morocco Accuses AU Chief of Obstructing Readmission

Morocco accused African Union Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of blocking its efforts to rejoin the organization it left 32 years ago, the country’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Morocco has asked the African Union (AU) to readmit it, as it seeks support for its plan to offer autonomy to the disputed territory of Western Sahara while keeping it under Moroccan sovereignty.

Morocco abandoned its seat in 1984 when the AU recognized Western Sahara, a sparsely populated stretch of desert that was formerly a Spanish protectorate, and admitted it as a member.

Voice of America

Morocco leads mass walkout at Africa-Arab summit over Western Sahara independence

Officials from Morocco, Somalia and seven Arab nations have walked out from an Africa-Arab summit in Equatorial Guinea in protest against the presence of a delegation from a movement that calls for the independence of Western Sahara. Morocco sees Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, as its “southern province”, and has occupied a large part of its territory since 1975.

Members of the Polisario Front (PF) seeks independence and calls for a referendum on self-determination.

The Moroccan delegation took the decision to protest at “the presence of the emblem of a puppet entity in the meeting rooms”, Moroccan news agency MAP said.

International Business Times

 Madagascar

Madagascar aims for annual growth of 6.5 percent by 2019

Madagascar needs to achieve growth of 6.5 percent to help it reduce poverty, the president told a donor conference in Paris on Thursday.

Madagascar’s economy has been struggling since a 2009 coup scared off foreign investors. The country is one of the world’s poorest, despite reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals.

“We need at least 6.5 percent annual growth rate. It is the only guarantor of the structural change that the country needs to reduce poverty,” President Hery Rajaonarimampianina told the conference.

Reuters

Drought Causes Severe Hunger in Madagascar

Hunger levels are so severe in drought-ridden southern Madagascar that many people in remote villages have eaten almost nothing but cactus fruit for up to four years, said a Catholic Relief Services official.

Eating this fruit leaves crimson stains on people’s faces and hands, and there is a “shame of poverty associated with these stains in Madagascar,” an island nation 250 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, said Nancy McNally, CRS information officer for East and Southern Africa.

The cactus plant “is the only thing that grows” in southern Madagascar, and the plants “are growing everywhere” in earth “that looks like white silt,” she said in a Nov. 23 telephone interview from Nairobi, Kenya.

American Magazine

Swaziland

Swaziland Workers Demand Inquiry into Alleged Missing Public Funds

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is threatening a “national shutdown” if Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini fails to ensure an independent investigation into alleged missing public funds from Treasury Department bank accounts.

This, after an independent forensic audit of the Accountant General’s office conducted by Kobla Quashie Consultants showed that the government Treasury Department bank accounts have a $360 million shortfall.

Local media reported that auditors fear there may have been fraud, misappropriation and embezzlement of the funds. The independent Times of Swaziland newspaper quoted Quashie as saying, “It should be stated that the amounts noted as differences are so significant that it renders the annual treasury accounts submitted to Parliament and other government agencies inaccurate and misleading.”

Voice of America

Political Bar in Swazi Broadcast Bill

People in Swaziland who are affiliated to any political group will not be granted radio or television broadcasting licences in a proposed law.

Swaziland is controlled by King Mswati III who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Broadcasting and newspapers in the kingdom are already heavily restricted. Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and those that advocate for democracy are in effect banned in Swaziland.

The Swaziland Broadcasting Bill was discussed by stakeholders at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe

Zim Opposition Political Parties Meet in SA

At least 12 Zimbabwean political parties have met at Stellenbosch University to discuss how they will compete in the 2018 elections.

The main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Party (MDC), however, did not take part in the discussions.

Talks of opposition parties forming a coalition ahead of the 2018 elections have been on the rise, mainly after the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and former vice-president and Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru made the announcement in August.

MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora told News24 during an interview that his party did not participate in Wednesday’s discussions due to “differing agendas”.

AllAfrica.com

Zimbabwe’s new currency, introduced on Monday, is already losing value

It may be in its infancy, but Zimbabwe’s new “bond note” currency is already coming under fire as some vendors refuse to accept it at face value.  Introduced by Robert Mugabe’s government on Monday as part of a desperate bid to stave off a cash flow crisis, the green notes are supposed to be traded 1 – 1 with the US dollar.

Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2008 and officially adopted the American currency as its own. But continued economic uncertainty led people to stash dollars outside the country, prompting a critical shortage.

In Harare on Wednesday afternoon, a small group of protesters declaring “No To Bond Notes” took to the streets of the central business district.

Though no more than 100 turned out from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the pressure group Tajamuka, they were quickly routed by riot police wielding water cannons and rubber truncheons.

Nehanda Radio

Africa in General

Namibia will stay in ICC – if US joins: Geingob

Namibia would remain a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the United States joined, Namibia’s president Hage Geingob told Reuters in London on Thursday.

Namibia said in March that it would withdraw from the ICC, which sits in The Hague and has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The court has come under criticism from African nations.

“People are saying that it only targets African leaders. That seems to be true … and that’s a problem,” said Geingob, who was elected as president of Namibia in November 2014.

IOL

Riek Machar denied entry to Ethiopia, returns to SA

Rebel leader and former South Sudan vice President Dr. Riek Machar was denied entry by the Department of Immigration and Nationality Affairs of Ethiopia to the country because of lack of proper documentation.

This move is seen as part of a regional policy to exclude him from the political process in South Sudan after Taban Deng’s appointment as First Vice President.

According to a report by a state media, Fana Broadcasting Corporate, the Department was forced to return Machar to South Africa because he has no permission to stay in Addis Ababa.

IOL

 

South Africa makes history with HIV vaccine trial

South Africa is participating in an experimental vaccine programme that could prevent HIV infection. With 5 400 adults taking part, the study, called HVTN 702, is the biggest and most advanced HIV vaccine trial to take place in the country.

The drug trial began last month.

“If deployed alongside our current armoury of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which falls under the American National Institutes of Health (NIH), a co-funder of the trial.

South African Info

President Salva Kiir in SA

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday held talks with President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan in Pretoria.

Deputy President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Special Envoy to South Sudan, said he was satisfied that peace is taking hold over the newest country in Africa. The East African country has been beset with conflict between government and opposition forces.

South Africa has been instrumental in negotiating peace to stabilise South Sudan through its participation in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus Peace Process, and the inter-party process led by the African National Congress and Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania.

AllAfrica.com