Community dialogue on LGBTI issues in Soweto – 26 February 2018

(Karabo Primary school Naledi Soweto)

In partnership with the Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and South African Department of Justice, SALO will engage, through a series of meetings, with local stakeholders and community members to create a community-based approach in tackling the problem of gender-based violence, violence against lesbians and members of the LGBTI community in Soweto and the rest of South Africa. The first meeting comprised predominantly of youth; members from local civil society groups, DOJ, Naledi Community Policing Forum Youth Desk, Access Chapter 2, members of the diplomatic community, ANC, ANCYL and COSAS.

In the opening remarks of our first meeting, a member of the ANC Youth put it eloquently that the issue of gender-based violence and violence against LGBTI people is one that affects us all; our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and fathers, our girlfriends and boyfriends. The persistence of these issues, particularly in Soweto, is of great concern to community leaders and civil society groups. The Deputy President of COSAS (Congress of South African Students) stated that there are numerous contributing factors to this violence, all of which need to be researched thoroughly to find the best approach in tackling the violence as well as breaking the stigma associated with LGBTI individuals. The importance of youth engagement was a strong theme in this meeting as it was emphasised that the issue cannot be solved without their participation. Their ability to influence and engage with older community members will be paramount. Members of the youth community can also assist in combatting negative culture influences so that there can wider acceptance of LGBTI people. A traditional healer spoke to importance of changing culture and spoke to some success in his own community. Over the past few years however, SA have been lacking in leaders on these issues, so SA people need to be agents of change which requires active leadership in the community.

The Irish Ambassador spoke to the experiences of LGTBI people in Ireland and how they went from a deeply conservative and catholic country to one that is more accepting and now allows same-sex marriage. Ireland wants to share their experiences so to help others evolve into more accepting societies. Ireland will support the efforts that SA develop from the ground but emphasised the importance of hearing from local leaders and activists as their views and actions are essential in working towards positive and influential action.

The SA constitution is seen as one of the greatest in the world due to the protections it bestows on its people. The consensus during the meeting is that this certainly doesn’t translate into real life protections for the LGBTI community. Participants were quick to emphasise the impact culture had in the discrimination against LGBTI and spoke to the importance of educating people on the values set out in their constitution so that underlying culture issues can evolve into something more positive and accepting. The issue of education can also relate to training of the SA police forces. There have been numerous reports of police not treating attacks on LGBTI people as hate crimes which has negative consequences when measuring the impact of these issues. Gauteng province has taken steps after pressure from local civil society groups where local police forces are required to attend workshops on sensitivity training related to LGBTI issues. An LGTBI activist, along with a member of the Community Forum Health Youth Desk, stated that more needs to be done so that Police are adequately trained. Speaking specifically to Police in Soweto, they are not prepared for crimes against LGBTI people. The ANCYL spoke to the inadequacies of the police force in how they lock up violent perpetrators without any push for rehabilitation. The issue of sex work was touched upon but it was noted that more needs to be discussed particularly due to increasing violence against lesbians who are forced into prostitution.

Ultimately, there is a need to acknowledge that there is a problem before one can begin to tackle the issue. The ANCYL notes that there are personal differences on LGBTI issues so more engagement is required. Using SALO and their partners, community members must engage and provoke religious leaders and faith-based organisations. Religious leaders such as pastors or priests have an audience they can speak to about the importance of respect and humanity. The leaders who are most conflicting about LGBTI people are those who should be engaged with most.  SALO must also involve psychologists and mental health practitioners to address the growing concerns of mental health issues that members of the LGBTI community experience: isolation, trauma, anxiety, stress and suicidal tendencies. There is a capacity to build a strong network in the community, fostering new relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders with the aim of promoting stronger activism and support for the issues of Gender-based violence and violence against LGBTI people. Participants were confident in SALO’s ability to move this forward as initial discussions were fruitful.

Multi-stakeholder Dialogue – Are Free, Fair and Credible Elections Possible in Zimbabwe?

Tuesday 27 February 2018
TIME: (9:00 Registration) 9:30pm to 13:00pm with a tea break and followed by lunch
VENUE: Sierra Burgers Park Hotel, Pretoria


Is a free and fair election possible in Zimbabwe? Will the country’s new government deliver on the promise of a credible election? What is the country’s state of electoral readiness? How can South Africa, the Southern African region and the rest of the international community support a free, fair and credible election in Zimbabwe?

The Southern African Liaison Office (SALO) in partnership with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) hosted a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the prospects for free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe on the 27th of February 2018.

 

 

News Briefs 16 February 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Five killed in accident with DR Congo presidential motorcade

Three soldiers and two civilians were killed and 11 other people injured in an accident involving DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s motorcade, his office said Wednesday.

The accident happened on a road in the southwest of the country, 220 kilometres (110 miles) south of Kinshasa, as Kabila was returning to the capital on Tuesday.

“Last night, a vehicle in the presidential motorcade was hit on the Matadi highway at Kimpese by a truck carrying cement,” communications official Yvon Ramazani told AFP on Wednesday.

“Three soldiers in the Republican Guard were killed along with two civilians who were nearby,” he said. Seven soldiers and four civilians were also injured, Ramazani said, adding that the accident had been caused by heavy rain.

TimesLive

U.S. warns Congo against electronic voting for delayed election

The United States warned the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday against using an electronic voting system for a long-delayed presidential election in December this year because it has the potential to undermine the credibility of the poll.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on the Congolese electoral process that deploying “an unfamiliar technology for the first time during a crucial election is an enormous risk.”

“These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system,” Haley told the meeting, which was organized by the United States.

Several other countries on the 15-member council also raised concerns about the possible use of electronic voting.

Reuters

Somalia

Somali forces destroy Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia

Somali forces backed by African Union forces destroyed Al-Shabaab bases in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, the military said.

Lower Shabelle region military commander Ibrahim Aden Najah told journalists on Thursday that the forces raided the bases in Kurtunwarey and destroyed the bases used by the militants to attack Somali and Amisom forces.

The military officer said the forces were going on with operations in the regions to flush out the militants. Lower Shabelle region remains one of the strongholds of Al-Shabaab.

“We will not relent until we kick out all Al-Shabaab in the region,” added Najah.

Xinhua

UNHCR Special Envoy for Somalia commends South Africa for hosting Somali refugees

The generosity of the South African government has ensured that over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live in the country in a free and safe environment, noted UNHCR Special Envoy to the Somalia Refugee Situation.

“South Africa has a generous policy that grants asylum seekers and refugee’s free movement, access to jobs and public services,” said Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey during a recent visit to South Africa.

The Special Envoy visited Pretoria and Cape Town from 05 to 09 February and met with Government officials, the Ambassador of Somalia to South Africa and representatives from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, donors and partner agencies.

Horsed Media

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in C Africa

About 7 400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,”, according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

“Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui

News24

Central African Republic: UN, partners seek $515 million in humanitarian aid for 2018

“The situation requires greater attention more than ever,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Najat Rochdi, at the launch of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan on Wednesday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that due to violence perpetrated by armed groups, more than one in four Central Africans is either internally displaced or a refugee.

The number of internally displaced persons has increased by more than 70 per cent since the first quarter of 2017. This has prevented thousands of children from enjoying their basic right to education. The combination of these factors means that 2.5 million out of the total 4.6 million Central Africans will need humanitarian assistance in 2018.

UN News

Sudan

US says ‘deeply concerned’ over political arrests in Sudan

The United States Embassy in Sudan says it is “deeply concerned by the continued arrests and detentions of hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens” in the country.

In a Thursday statement it says that many of the detained are “being held in inhumane and degrading conditions, and without access to lawyers or family.”

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since it lost oil-rich South Sudan to secession in 2011, with double-digit inflation and rising food prices driving unrest. Security forces violently shut down attempted demonstrations.

News24

Russia to boost Sudan military: Bashir

President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday said that Khartoum and Moscow have agreed on a programme to boost Sudan’s military capabilities.

In an address to army officers and soldiers in the Red Sea town of Port Sudan, Bashir said the plan aimed to enable the Sudanese military to counter any threat.

He said, “Sudan has a programme with Russia to develop the Sudanese armed forces in a way that will deter anybody who intends to harm the country”, the official SUNA news agency reported.

SUNA gave no details of the plan.

News24

South Sudan

UN envoy hopes for some agreement at South Sudan peace talks

The UN envoy for South Sudan says he hopes “some form of agreement” will be signed Friday in Ethiopia’s capital where talks are taking place aimed at ending the country’s five-year civil war.

David Shearer told reporters Thursday that “it might not go quite as far as we all would have hoped, but it might provide the platform for ongoing discussions.”

Shearer says the Ethiopian-led talks “didn’t start well” last week, but over the last three days the parties have split into smaller groups “and there appears to be quite a bit more progress.” He says the two issues being discussed are security and constitutional and governance matters.

News24

200 000 more S Sudan refugees expected in Sudan: UN

About another 200 000 South Sudanese refugees are expected to arrive in Sudan this year, fleeing fighting and food insecurity in their country, the United Nations said on Thursday.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, descended into civil war just two years after it split from the north in 2011.

Since the war erupted in late 2013, 417 000 South Sudanese refugees have already crossed into Sudan, according to the UN.

About 200 000 more refugees are expected in 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Office, or OCHA, said in its latest bulletin.

News24

Western Sahara

EU promises to respect Western Sahara trade ruling

The European Commission is seeking a trade deal with Morocco but some MEPs say a draft appears to ignore a European Court of Justice ruling on the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

However, a commission spokesperson on Monday (5 February) said they are sticking to the judgement and that any final deal will follow the court’s ruling on the territory.

“The starting point is the respect of the court judgement and the goal is to clarify the status of products from Western Sahara,” the spokesperson said, in an email.

The Western Sahara is a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in the late 1970s. A shaky ceasefire between the Polisario independence movement and Morocco was signed in 1991.

The United Nations says the largely marginalised indigenous Sahrawi have a right to a referendum on independence. But the poll has yet to take place, posing questions on moves by Rabat and EU to secure any trade deals that involve exploiting resources in the desert area.

EU Observer

Morocco Invites UNSG’s Personal Envoy to “Examine Details” of Negotiations over Western Sahara

Morocco has reportedly sent an invitation to Kohler to discuss details of the future negotiations over the Western Sahara conflict. The invitation aims to examine thoroughly the details of the upcoming negotiations, according to an unidentified diplomat quoted by Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum.

Kohler is set to meet with officials of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to discuss his vision and his proposals that would help end the four-decade-long conflict over the region.

Kohler, who sent invitations to the parties to the conflict in January, hopes to devise a new vision and strategies to find a mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict.

Morocco World News

Swaziland

Swaziland: PM Admits Forcing Newspaper Closure

Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has said a newspaper in the kingdom was closed down because it published reports critical of his government.

He told a Cabinet retreat at the Pigg’s peak Hotel, ‘As the government we have seen people who are desperate to criticise us as their public servants at every opportunity. In the past we saw a certain news editor write only on government’s faults.’

The Swazi Observer reported his comments on Tuesday (13 February 2018). It said, ‘Dlamini said the editor in question would write volatile articles published in a certain newspaper every Monday resulting in the newspaper in question eventually being shut down for a period of time.’

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Students March on Government

University students in Swaziland have boycotted classes and marched on the government protesting against unpaid and inadequate allowances.

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) and the Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) have been affected.

The problem of delayed student allowances is not new as public services across the kingdom have been hit by the Swazi Government mishandling of the economy. Hospitals and health centres have run dry of medicines and blood. Schools are unable to run vital food programs for starving children and schools are without teachers.

SANU students were due to march and deliver a petition to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class boycott that started at the previous Wednesday and is continuing.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Grief as Zimbabwe opposition icon Tsvangirai dies

Zimbabwe was plunged into grief on Thursday following the death of veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, roundly praised as a hero, champion of democracy and symbol of resistance who will be hard to replace.

 

The former trade union stalwart who posed the most formidable challenge to the ruling Zanu PF party’s nearly four-decade hold on power, died on Wednesday in a hospital in neighbouring South Africa where he was being treated for colon cancer.

He was 65.

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa lauded his party’s arch-rival as “a strong trade unionist and opposition leader” and vowed free elections in honour of Tsvangirai who was assaulted, jailed and humiliated under his Zanu-PF government.

News24

Zimbabwe Govt to Help in Laying Late Opposition MDC-T Leader Morgan Tsvangirai to Rest

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the government will help in laying the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to rest.

Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer in Johannesburg yesterday.

Tsvangirai’s opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change also met this morning to make burial arrangements.

The ruling Zanu PF’s acting Information Minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, said the death of Tsvangirai was untimely, “Such a development was not expected and really we are very sad about it. I believe not only the party, not only the government — -minister of information as well, but I believe the entire people of Zimbabwe are saddened by this development and all I can say really is that God giveth and he taketh, and we wish his soul to enter and rest in eternal peace. We mourn of course with the family, the relatives and all those who were close to him, and we want to say go well, go well and go well.”

Voice of America

 

 

 

Africa in General

6 African nations among the worst to be young in a war zone

Six African nations are among the 10 worst in the world to be a child in a war zone, a new report says.

The Save the Children report released on Thursday looks at factors including attacks on schools, child soldier recruitment, sexual violations, killings and lack of humanitarian access and is based on analysis by the Norway-based Peace Research Institute Oslo.

Syria tops the list followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Iraq, Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.

 

Almost 360 million children worldwide, or one in six, live in affected areas, the report says. In addition, conflicts are grinding on longer than before.

News24

No witnesses appear to defend South African ex-colonel in South Sudan trial

Defence witnesses did not appear in court to testify on Thursday in the trial of a South African national who faces the death penalty in South Sudan, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

William John Endley served as an adviser to rebel leader Riek Machar, whose forces have been fighting those loyal to President Salva Kiir in a civil war since 2013. He was arrested in August 2016. A verdict in his case is expected next week.

On Thursday, a high court in the capital Juba said none of the witnesses called by the defence appeared.

“The defence case is closed and the final judgment will be given on the 23rd of this month,” presiding judge Ladu Eriminio Sekwat said during the hearing.

Business Day

SA troops accused of beating boy and sexually exploiting women in DR Congo – UN

South African troops serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of beating a 17-year-old boy and sexually exploiting women, the UN spokesperson said on Monday.

UN and South African investigators will conduct a joint probe of the four allegations of misconduct that took place in Kasai province and in North Kivu.

The allegations, which surfaced last week, involve a 17-year-old Congolese boy who was subjected to “physical violence” in eastern Kasai, said spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Probe to be completed within 90 days

Given the “serious concern raised by these allegations”, the United Nations has asked South Africa to send a team of agents to the DR Congo within five days and that the investigation be completed within 90 days, he added.

News24

 

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s veteran opposition leader has died at the age of 65.  

May 2010- BIC workshop at which he was the main speaker.

“Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be with you today. In particular, I wish to recognize Ambassador Sten Rylander who has not only been a strong supporter of SALO, but has, over many years, proven himself to be a true friend of the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for a truly democratic society.”

Click on the link below for the full Policy Dialogue Report:

May-2010-Policy-Dialogue-Report-No-3 – Building International and Regional Consensus Policy Dialogue Report Zimbabwe No.3: Transitional Challenges, the GPA and the International Response (27th May 2010, Keynote speaker Honourable Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai)

News Briefs 09 February 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Expects Congo Offensive Against Eastern Rebels To Displace 370,000

A military offensive launched last month by Congolese troops against Ugandan militants in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to force nearly 370,000 people from their homes, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The fallout from a joint effort by Congo and Uganda to defeat the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) will compound Africa’s worst displacement crisis and further stretch meager humanitarian resources.

Persistent conflict in Congo’s eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and insurrection in the center of the country have displaced 4.3 million people internally. Last year, it led the United Nations to declare Congo a level three humanitarian emergency – on par with Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

EWN

DRC crisis: aide says Kabila not standing in elections

Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016 resulted in ongoing, bloody street protests, will not stand in elections due to be held this year, a key aide has said.

Lambert Mende, the minister of communications, said Kabila, who has been in office since 2001, had never intended to seek a third term and would not seek to appoint a candidate to represent his interests in the polls, currently scheduled for December.

“This is not a kingdom, where the king appoints an heir. It is a democratic republic,” Mende told the Guardian on Wednesday.

Kabila’s second term as president expired in December 2016 and he has been accused of deliberately delaying preparations for a new poll. The central African country is in the grip of a worsening humanitarian crisis fuelled by inter-ethnic conflict and food insecurity.

The Guardian

Somalia

Somalia court issues death sentence over Oct. 2017 Mogadishu attack

A court in the Somalia capital Mogadishu has sentenced a man to death for his role in the suicide bomb attacks in October 2017.

The attacks killed over 500 people according to official records. It has been tagged the deadliest attack in a country that is beset by onslaughts from Al-Shabaab insurgents.

The convict, Hassan Aden Isak, according to the court was driving a truck intended to be used in a second bombing on the day.

A second person was also handed a similar sentence for his role in the incident. The court sentenced Ibrahim Hassan Absuge in absentia. He is believed to have brought the truck that subsequently detonated.

Africa News

Urgent help sought for AU force’s planned Somalia withdrawal

The African Union mission in Somalia’s planned withdrawal of 21 000 troops from the extremist-threatened Horn of Africa nation by 2020 cannot be met without urgent help from the international community, the mission’s chief said on Saturday.

In an interview, Francisco Madeira told The Associated Press he fears all gains made in the past decade could be lost in an abrupt departure.

Speaking on the sidelines of an African Union summit, he said the world must “fast-track” to meet the 2020 goal of handing over security responsibilities to Somalia’s military. “The UN and other partners must understand that this enterprise needs additional resources,” he said.

News24

Central African Republic

Thousands flee militia violence in Central Africa

About 7,400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,”, according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

“Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui.

eNCA

‘Drugs and ammo’ found in UN contractor’s vehicle in CAR

A stash of drugs and ammunition was found hidden in a truck chartered by a private company under contract with the UN in Central African Republic, the UN’s mission in the country MINUSCA said on Thursday.

“MINUSCA has opened an investigation,” after Blue Helmets discovered several hundred shotgun cartridges hidden in containers, and an unspecified drug, in Ippy in central CAR, mission spokesperson Vladimir Monteiro told AFP.

All UN materials transported by private companies in CAR are in sealed containers marked “UN”, but Monteiro said “these goods were not in the sealed containers”, but “under” the cargo.

The truck belonged to a subcontractor of Dubai-based company Ecolog – a provider of services, including transport – under contract with the UN in the CAR.

News24

Sudan

Sudan seizes 3 newspapers for covering protests

Sudanese security agents seized the entire print-runs of three newspapers on Thursday after they covered food price protests in Khartoum and other towns, their editors said.

Opposition groups have organised repeated demonstrations since bread prices jumped in early January when a government decision to leave wheat imports to the private sector triggered a sharp rise in the cost of flour.

Several newspapers have criticised the government’s decision, and on Thursday agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated the print-runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Midan and Al-Jadida newspapers.

“The agents of NISS confiscated all copies of our newspaper today without giving any reason,” Al-Jadida editor Ashraf Abdelaziz told AFP.

News24

Sudan says ambassador to Cairo to return ‘very soon’

Sudan’s foreign minister says the country’s ambassador to Cairo will return to Egypt “very soon.”

Ibrahim Ghandour spoke on Thursday, more than a month after Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt for consultation, at the time signaling deteriorating relations.

Ghandour’s statements were made during a news conference in Cairo with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Both stressed strong ties between the two countries.

Earlier, the two foreign ministers met with the heads of the intelligence services of both countries.

Cairo’s ties with Khartoum have been tense over Sudan’s revival of a longstanding border dispute. Egypt and Sudan have been also at odds over Khartoum’s perceived support for the construction of a massive Nile dam in Ethiopia that Cairo fears will reduce its vital water share.

News24

South Sudan

Freed South Sudan Child Soldiers Recount Trauma of Abduction

Bakhita was only 12 years old when rebels snatched her from her family’s farm, adding her to a grim list of almost 19,000 children that the United Nations says have been recruited, often by force, by armed groups in South Sudan’s brutal civil war.

 

“I was thinking of my family every day. Sometimes, I cried but I couldn’t escape, the soldiers were everywhere in the bushes,” Bakhita told Reuters in a soft voice from the western town of Yambio, where she was among hundreds of children handed over to the UN on Wednesday.

She had been with the rebels two years, she said.

“There’s no house. We sleep in a tent. Sometimes at night, some soldiers come to my place and want to rape me by force. If I resist, they will beat me and make me cook for a week as a punishment for refusing to sleep with them,” the 14-year-old said, beginning to cry.

EWN

South Sudan peace talks stall over punitive provision

South Sudan peace talks have stalled over a text mediators and opposition officials want added to a provision that authorizes levying punitive measures against individuals who violate the peace process.

The parties, multiple sources attending the ongoing talks said, also failed to reach a consensus on governance and security sector reform matters.

Government officials at the talks told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that they agreed on many issues but were unable to sign the agreement on declaration of principles because their team rejected a text which says peace violators should be sanctioned.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Polisario ‘ready’ for direct Western Sahara talks with Rabat

The Polisario Front which seeks independence for Western Sahara said Monday it is ready for direct negotiations with Morocco on the future of the disputed territory.

Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, foreign minister of the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which controls a thin strip of the territory, said a Polisario delegation had met in Berlin on January 25 with the UN envoy on Western Sahara, Horst Koehler.

“This is a new phase of discussions aimed at preparing for a new phase of direct negotiations,” he told a news conference in Algiers, which supports the Polisario.

The Polisario is “ready for direct negotiations with the Kingdom of Morocco to make peace”, Ould Salek said.

Morocco has also said it would meet with Koehler, a former German president appointed in August as special envoy to lead a new UN push for talks, but without giving a date.

The Citizen

Western Sahara: President Gali receives African Court delegation

Sahrawi President, Secretary General of Frente POLISARIO Brahim Ghali has received the delegation of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on a working visit to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) since Monday.

“Gali welcomed the visit of the African Court’s delegation to SADR institutions, wishing them pleasant stay in the Sahrawi Republic and refugee camps,”

In a statement to the press after the audience, the president of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Sylvain Ore said that the visit “aims at increasing awareness of the importance of the African Court, especially for states that ratified the Protocol of its creation.”

He also hailed the positive commitment of SADR, which is among the thirty countries that ratified the Protocol and among the fifty-five members of the African Union.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

Swaziland: Schools in Chaos

Schools across Swaziland are in chaos at the start of the new academic year.

Children have been turned away because there are no spaces for them in classes at High School. This is because the kingdom has in recent years introduced free primary school education. Now children have graduated there are not enough places in secondary schools. Parents were reported by local media to be walking from school to school in unsuccessful attempts to get their children placed.

Minister of Education Phineas Magagula told the Swazi Observer that new classes had been built across the kingdom to accommodate the expected influx of schoolchildren. Magagula was unable to tell media exactly how many new schools had been opened and how many had been upgraded from secondary to high school.

AllAfrica

Swaziland: True Life of Swazi Prime Minister

Swaziland’s unelected Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has published the first volume of his autobiography. It runs for 500 pages and more books are promised.

Unsurprisingly newspapers such as the Swazi Observer which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch who appointed Dlamini to office with the order to attack democrats who wanted political parties to be able to contest elections, was full of praise for the book.

The Observer on Saturday (3 February 2018) reported, ‘Dlamini disclosed during the launch of his book that he was inspired to write the book by the absence of a significant number of similar accounts by prominent public figures in Swaziland.’

Dlamini who is a very sick man turned 75 in May 2017. Informed readers (that is those who don’t rely solely on the censored and self-censoring news media in Swaziland) will not bother to buy the book which retails at E300 (US$25). Most people in Swaziland where seven in ten of the 1.3 million population have incomes of less than US$2 per day would not be able to afford it even if they wanted to buy.

Allafrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s top opposition party hurt by power struggles

Power struggles are ravaging Zimbabwe’s main opposition party months before the election as party leader Morgan Tsvangirai seeks cancer treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

Three deputies are vying to act as MDC-T party leader in Tsvangirai’s absence. Spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka told reporters that Tsvangirai remains unwell but will return to the country “soon”. The spokesperson described those interested in succeeding him as “political vultures.”

The 65-year-old Tsvangirai has dominated opposition politics for close to two decades as the leading voice against former president Robert Mugabe, who resigned under pressure in November.

The upcoming election will be the first without Mugabe, who led the southern African country for 37 years. The opposition is scrambling to counter new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime Mugabe ally who has vowed that the election will be free and fair as he seeks to re-engage the international community after years of sanctions over alleged human rights abuses.

News24

Zim land reforms: 99-year-leases ‘now bankable, transferable’, says official

Zimbabwe’s reserve bank governor, John Mangudya, has reportedly said that local banks have agreed to finance farmers after government tweaked the country’s 99-year land leases to be “transferable and bankable”.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, farmers were now going to be able to use their farms as collateral when obtaining loans, following the landmark development set to change the agricultural sector.

The southern African country’s financial institutions were previously refusing to lend money to farmers, arguing that they were not transferable in the event that the farmers were unable to repay their loans.

But following talks with government, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the bankers, it was agreed that the 99-year-leases were now bankable.

News24

 

 

 

African in General

Democratic Republic of Congo orders former coloniser Belgium to close consulate and cut flights from Brussels

The Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered Belgium to close a consulate and cut flights by Brussels Airlines in a further deterioration of relations between the European nation and its former Central African colony.

Belgium’s foreign ministry said it had shut a diplomatic office in the south-eastern city of Lubumbashi after being told to do so by Kinshasa. Congo has also decided to close its consulate in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp.

Brussels Airlines, owned by Germany’s Lufthansa, has had its flights to and from Kinshasa cut from seven a four week to four, a foreign ministry spokesman added.

The airline said it had been told by Congolese authorities the reduction was because of “an absence of reciprocity” in international air services between the two countries.

Independent

Local firms keen to invest as Zimbabwe opens its doors

There could finally be a sliver of hope for foreign companies in the post-Robert Mugabe era in Zimbabwe, particularly for South African companies, which stuck it out during the country’s darkest of times.

Mugabe often used threats of seizure and the closure of operations to have his way with foreign companies.

In 2012, mining company Impala Platinum was issued with a 14-day ultimatum to comply with Zimbabwe’s 51% indigenisation law or risk losing its mining licence.

David Brown, the then Impala CEO, had to lead a team of executives to Harare from Johannesburg in an effort to stave off the threat facing its subsidiary, Zimplats.

Business Day

Uganda’s EALA MPs divided over Somalia EAC application

Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA)have expressed divergent views on the proposal by the heads of states to admit Somalia into the community.

One of the issues to be discussed during the Heads of State Summit scheduled for later this month in Kampala is Somalia’s application to join the East African Community.

According to Susan Nakawuki, opening boarders for Somalia is a dangerous move that is likely to allow terrorists to attack the region with a lot of ease.

However, Fred Mukasa Mbidde says that bringing Somalia closer to the region will help improve monitoring and sharing of security strategies to eliminate terrorists from the region.

kfm.co.ug

Zimbabwe legislators call on Mnangagwa to end political unrest

Zimbabwean legislators and civic society organisations are seeking an end to political violence which has characterised the past few weeks as the country moves towards this elections this year.

The legislators want “something done” ahead of the coming elections.

MDC-T acting president and Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the National Assembly to intervene and order a stop to politically-motivated violence.

“I want to alert the House that Parliament needs to do something on the issue of vulnerability of MPs pertaining to violent attacks on them. I have checked with the police and noted that there was an attack on Epworth.

IOL