SALO Deputy Director, Dr Showers Mawowa at World Bank Fragility Forum in Washington DC

In March 2018, SALO Deputy Director, Dr Showers Mawowa attended the World Bank Fragility Forum in Washington DC under the theme, Managing Risks for Peace and Stability. Dr Mawowa (centre) was one of the presenters for panel discussion on Forging Resilient Social Contracts where he presented findings from a co-authored (with Prof Erin McCandless of Wits University on the right) research paper on Social Contract Making and the Building of Sustainable Peace in Zimbabwe.

In the picture from the right, Dr Showers Mawowa, Deputy Director, SALO; Hon Deqa Yasin Hagi, Minister of Women and Human Rights, Somalia and Prof Erin McCandless, Associate Professor, Wits University and Research Director, Forging Resilient Social Contract Research and Dialogue Project.

News Briefs 30 March 2018

Civilians die as DRC troops and rebels fight

Ten civilians and a Ugandan militant died when Congolese troops clashed with rebels in the flashpoint town of Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) troubled east, an army spokesman said on Wednesday.

The incident took place on Tuesday evening when rebels attacked military positions around Beni in North Kivu, Capt Mak Hazukay told AFP.

“We listed 10 dead civilians so far,” he said. A rebel from Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia was also killed, he said, adding that fighting was ongoing. Michel Kakule, the lead physician at Beni hospital, told AFP that some of the victims “had gunshot wounds while others had been attacked with machetes”.

Business Day

UN strengthens role of DR Congo mission in elections

The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously backed a resolution that tasks the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo with helping to prepare elections and avoid deadly violence.

France presented the measure that renews the mandate for MONUSCO, the UN’s biggest peacekeeping mission, until March 2019 and emphasizes the need to protect civilians as the DR Congo heads toward historic elections in December.

The resolution “underscores the need to do everything possible to ensure that the elections on 23 December 2018 are organized with the requisite conditions of transparency, credibility and inclusivity and security.”

The council requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make plans for beefing up the peacekeeping mission if needed, “looking at all options” such as sending reinforcements from other missions.

Guterres will report to the council in 90 days on the contingency planning.

Times Live

Somalia

At least 3 hurt as bomb explodes near aid office in Somalia

Somali police say at least three people are wounded after a bomb attached to their vehicle exploded near the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital, Mogadishu.

Officer Abdifitah Ahmed confirms that the bomb went off shortly after the three left in the vehicle from a parking lot next to the ICRC office on Wednesday.

The ICRC says it is “shocked and deeply troubled” that one of its staffers was hurt.

The police officer says one victim is in critical condition while the other two are lightly wounded.

News24

Somalia calls for UN action against UAE base in Berbera

Somalia has urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the construction of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) military base in Somaliland.

Speaking at the Security Council on Tuesday, Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the agreement between Somaliland and the UAE to establish the base in the port city of Berbera is a “clear violation of international law”.

Osman also called on the Security Council to “take the necessary steps” to “put an end to these actions”.

“The Federal Government of Somalia strongly condemns these blatant violations and reaffirms that it will take the necessary measures deriving from its primary responsibility to defend the inviolability of the sovereignty and the unity of Somalia,” he added.

Aljazeera

Central African Republic

Scores Killed in Renewed CAR Rebellion

AN unspecified number of people, including a Catholic priest and children, have been killed after a clash between rival rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The deadly confrontation between the Christian extremist Anti-Balaka and elements of the Movement for Unity and Peace in CAR (UPC) has occurred in the village of Tagbara, located 70km from Bambari in the centre of the troubled country.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) said the fighting also resulted in several injuries and a significant displacement of the civilian population. Houses were burned and property ransacked.

AllAfrica

Six Aid Workers Killed in Central African Republic Attack

A Unicef employee and five other education workers were killed this week in an attack in the Central African Republic, the United Nations children’s fund said in a statement on Wednesday.

The attack took place on 25 February as the group was travelling to the northeastern town of Markounda, located in a remote region near the Chadian border. Unicef declined to immediately give the nationalities of those killed.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” Unicef’s West and Central Africa Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier said in the statement.

The agency said it was not yet in a position to release more details on the incident.

EWN

Sudan

Sudan extends ceasefire for another three months

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday announced a three-month extension of an ongoing ceasefire in conflict-prone parts of the country, according to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

It is the sixth such extension since mid-2016, when the ceasefire first came into effect between the Sudanese government and a handful of rebel groups.

According to a presidential decree issued on Wednesday, the ceasefire will remain in force until June 30.

The truce applies to Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, along with the western Darfur region.

AA

US sanctions lift paves way for Sudan’s e-commerce entrepreneurs

Sudan is opening up to the internet economy, thanks to the easing of US sanctions.

The country has experienced a growth in e-commerce businesses, such as online shopping platforms and an Uber-style taxi app Mishwar.

According to the most recent data from Internet World Stats, internet users made up 29% of the population in 2016 — a notable rise from the 9.3% in 2009.

This number is expected to boom even further as Sudan’s young e-commerce entrepreneurs drive customers out of the shops and into the online marketplace.

“The reason why e-trade at large is a new phenomenon is that we’ve been allowed to get in touch with the world once again,” said Yousif Ahmed El Tinay, CEO of Sudan’s United Capital Bank.

CNN

South Sudan

South Sudan peace not around the corner: first vice president

South Sudan’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai Wednesday has expressed doubt that peace was around the corner, saying differences between the armed and non-armed opposition were huge and wide

“Some people say peace is around the corner. I would say it is not. The gap between what the government proposes as the way to resolving the current situation and what the opposition is proposing is huge and wide. It is difficult to close,” said Taban Deng Gai in a statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.

Gai was speaking at a political function organized by his faction under the theme ‘give peace a chance’ attended by high-level delegates including Minister of Public Service and Dhieu Mathok, head of the Youth league, who underlined the importance of peace and security in governance.

The South Sudanese former rebel chief negotiator who turned an ally of the incumbent president made his remarks after a decision by the IGAD countries to end the confinement of the former First Vice President Riek Machar in South Africa and to bring to a country that has no direct border with South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune

IGAD to end house arrest of South Sudan’s Riek Machar

Rebel leader Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process.

The IGAD’s communique issued following its 61st Extra-Ordinary Session held on Monday in Addis Ababa, said it would release Dr. Machar as soon as possible if he would agree to renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighbouring South Sudan.”

Dr. Machar’s wife described the conditional “lifting of house arrest” as unfair.

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan, ’Angelina Teny, Machar’s wife said, who is also a senior opposition member.

Africa News

Western Sahara

AU Ready to Settle Western Sahara Dispute

The African Union is ready to propose a settlement to the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.

This is unsettling Morocco, the newest member of the continental organisation. Morocco has been illegally occupying its neighbour since 1975.

Morocco has expressed its displeasure at AU commissioner Moussa Faki leading a delegation to the region to prepare a Western Sahara solution.

When Morocco joined the AU last year, it was expected it would be pressed to keep its 30-year promise to hold a referendum, which will allow the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.

EWN

UN presses on with bid to restart Western Sahara talks

The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory.

Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara.

Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.

News24

Swaziland

Workers Sacked for Joining Union

Trade unionists in Swaziland are reporting that a textile factory has sacked workers for wanting to join a union.

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) said Taiwanese-owned company Far East Textiles in Matsapha also threatened to stop workers’ pay and closed down a factory.

In a statement circulated on social media on Thursday (22 March 2018) ATUSWA said, ‘Just for joining our organization and for showing interest to join ATUSWA the company unleashed terror to the workers by threatening not to pay their wages, closing down the factory and dismissing those suspected to have joined the union.’

It added the company tried to coerce workers to beat up union officials and organisers and when they would not it sent management to take photographs of all those seen interacting with the union.

AllAfrica

King in Total Control of His Kingdom

The Swaziland Attorney-General’s announcement that the conflict within the three arms of government in the kingdom is ‘normal’ and there cannot be a separation of powers between them is irrelevant because all power rests with the absolute monarch, King Mswati III.

The political structure in Swaziland exists only to deliver on the King’s wishes. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections, the prime minister and government ministers are appointed by the King and the monarch is above the Constitution.

Attorney-General Sifiso Khumalo made his comments because for many years there has been conflict in Swaziland between the three branches of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. In simple terms, the executive is responsible for the day-to-day running of government and is headed by the prime minister. The legislature is parliament made up of the House of Assembly and the Senate and is responsible for enacting and amending the law and controlling the money necessary to operate the government. The judiciary interprets and makes judgements about the law.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe minister vows upcoming elections will be free and fair

The highly-anticipated Zimbabwe’s first presidential elections in the post-Robert Mugabe era will be credible, free and fair, the country’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo said on Monday.

“Zimbabwe is preparing for harmonised elections around July or August, and we believe that the election is going to be free and fair … a credible election. We have allowed anybody who wants to observe our elections to come in so that they can really see for themselves,” Moyo said speaking to journalists in Pretoria on the sidelines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers.

“The winner is going to be the winner — without any limitations. We are saying everybody (should) come and observe. We are saying, the benchmark we are going to be using is the SADC guidelines for elections. That’s what everybody must use. SADC is where we belong, that is why we are here.”

IOL

Credibility of Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe vote is on the line

As Zimbabwe prepares to hold its first election since Robert Mugabe was toppled after almost four decades in power, a key question is whether the government can accomplish something he failed to do: oversee a free vote.

Whether the election due before September 1 is regarded as fair may determine the success of efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe as president in November, to attract investment to revive an economy that has halved in size since 2000. The government is keen to kick-start the nation’s stagnant mining and agriculture industries.

The main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, is threatening to disrupt the vote unless the government institutes procedural and legal reforms. It wants access to the voters’ roll, equal air time in the media and guarantees the security forces will allow it to campaign freely. Mnangagwa has pledged to hold a legitimate election and says international observers are welcome.

Moneyweb

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa in General

UN Security Council makes ‘historic’ warning on climate threat to Somalia

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has formally recognised climate change as a destabilising factor in Somalia.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday as part of a renewed mandate for assistance and peacekeeping in the country, the council noted “the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors on the stability of Somalia, including through drought, desertification, land degradation, and food insecurity”.

The council emphasised the need for peacekeepers and governments working in Somalia to be better prepared to cope with complications arising from climate impacts.

The links between climate change and insecurity have been emerging on the ground and in the halls of diplomacy.

Climate Change News

SADC prepares for Zimbabwe, DRC elections

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Tuesday said it was gearing up to support the holding of highly anticipated presidential elections in its member states — Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the conclusion of a SADC Council of Ministers summit in Pretoria on Tuesday evening, Executive Secretary of the regional block Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the much needed support will be afforded to the two nations, and advance observer missions had already visited Harare and Kinshasa.

“How we support our sister countries is that we observe elections. In both cases we have sent and undertaken our advance missions. Those missions assess the preparedness of the country, and that was done in the DRC and also in Zimbabwe,” said Tax.

“The next phase will be to observe elections. We have already been invited for Zimbabwe. We are waiting to be invited for the DRC. The invitation will come depending on the electoral calendar. As you are aware, elections in DRC take place on the 23rd of December so we still have time to get the invitation.”

IOL

Ethiopia’s Ruling Coalition Approves Abiye Ahmed As Prime Minister

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition voted in Abiye Ahmed as new prime minister on Tuesday following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn last month, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said.

The state-run channel said the 180-member council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) chose Abiye to succeed Hailemariam as the chairperson of the coalition, meaning he automatically became premier.

“In today’s session, the council held a vote and elected Abiye Ahmed as chairperson,” said the EBC presenter, without giving further details.

State-affiliated outlets said Abiye won over 60% of all votes in the council.

EWN

Zambian parliament delays debate on motion to impeach president

Zambia’s parliament has delayed a debate due on Wednesday on a motion seeking to impeach President Edgar Lungu over accusations of breaching the constitution, according to a letter from the parliamentary clerk seen by Reuters.

Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), filed a motion last week. The notice set Wednesday as the date for the lawmakers’ debate and vote on the motion.

“In view of the gravity of the motion, the same is being studied and we shall revert to you in due course,” said the letter sent on Monday from the Clerk of the National Assembly to Garry Nkombo, UPND parliamentary Chief Whip who filed the motion.

UPND spokesman Charles Kakoma said the motion would now not be debated until parliament’s next session begins in June. Signed by a third of the 166-member house, the motion needs the backing of two thirds to succeed.

IOL

 

News Briefs 23 March 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ aid crisis in DRC

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/un-warns-of-catastrophic-aid-crisis-in-drc-20180323

A humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening and has reached catastrophic levels in some parts of the country, with millions facing severe hunger, the UN Security Council warned on Thursday.

At least 13.1 million Congolese are in need of humanitarian aid including 7.7 million who are severely food insecure, said a unanimous statement from the top UN body.

The humanitarian crisis has been compounded by a doubling over the past year of the number of Congolese fleeing violence in the country who now total close to 4.4 million.

Council members “expressed great concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which has reached catastrophic levels in some parts of the country”, said the statement.

News24

Uncertainty Surrounds the Upcoming Election in the Democratic Republic of Congo

https://globalvoices.org/2018/03/22/uncertainty-surrounds-the-upcoming-election-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo/

For nearly two years, President Joseph Kabila’s regime has managed to cling to power in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite pressure from the country’s opposition and the international community. Now, to prevent a crisis, these groups are pushing the president to accept the holding of presidential elections. Under the 2006 constitution, the President is directly elected to a five-year term – renewable only once. The first President to have been elected under these provisions is incumbent president Joseph Kabila in the 2006 elections. Elections should have been held since 2016 but Kabila has pushed back on organizing them.

Kabila’s refusal to step down has numerous analysts concerned that the situation in the DRC could degenerate. The mounting opposition has denounced the state of political stagnation and continued its mobilization efforts. On February 25, a march in the streets of the capital Kinshasa was organized by the Lay Coordination Committee (“Comité laïc de coordination”, or CLC in French). Leading opposition politician Moîse Katumbi, currently in exile in Brussels, called on Congolese “lovers of justice and peace” to join the movement.

Authorities cracked down hard on the peaceful, multi-religious march; three people were shot and killed by the forces of order. An infant is on the brink of death after inhaling tear gas. For Women’s Day on March 8, women dressed in black to “honor the martyrs of democracy, fallen under the bullets of Kabila’s police.”

Global Voices

Somalia

Deadly car bomb blast rocks Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/car-bomb-blast-rocks-somalia-capital-mogahishu-180322142101528.html

At least 14 people have been killed in a car bomb blast outside a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to a government official.

The explosion on Thursday happened near Weheliye hotel on the busy Maka Al-Mukarrama Road.

A spokesman for the Somali interior ministry confirmed the death toll to Al Jazeera, adding that 10 others were wounded in the blast.

Witnesses at the scene said the powerful blast struck a street filled with civilians.

“Most of the casualties are … people who were spending time to take tea, there was devastation and buildings were damaged,” Mohamednur Abdirahman told AFP News Agency.

Aljazeera

UN office seeks proposals for solar energy enterprises

https://www.esi-africa.com/somalia-un-office-seeks-proposals-for-solar-energy-enterprises/

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Somalia office solicits proposals for solar energy enterprise development in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa.

Any proposal submitted will be regarded as an offer by the bidder and does not constitute or imply the acceptance of any proposal by UNDP.

In responding to this request for proposal (RFP), UNDP requires all interested bidders to conduct themselves in a professional, objective and impartial manner, and they must at all times hold UNDP’s interest’s paramount.

Eligible bidders must strictly avoid conflicts with other assignments or their own interests, and act without consideration for future work.

ESI-Africa

Central African Republic

Half the population needs aid

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/central-african-republic-population-aid-180223142253981.html

The United Nations is appealing to the international community to help with humanitarian efforts in the Central African Republic.

The agency says half the population requires urgent assistance.

Fighting between various armed groups plunged the country into civil conflict in 2013, and the violence is spreading fast with many groups involved in the fighting.

Aljazeera

1 Unicef worker, 5 others killed in Central African Republic

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/1-unicef-worker-5-others-killed-in-central-african-republic-20180228

A United Nations children’s agency staffer and five other education workers have been killed in an attack in Central African Republic, the UN agency said on Wednesday.

The team came under attack Sunday while traveling near Markounda, a remote northwestern area near the border with Chad.

“We strongly condemn this senseless act against aid workers who were there to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations,” said Unicef’s West and Central Africa regional director, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

The Unicef said it has no further details.

News24

Sudan

Egypt, Sudan presidents agree to patch up differences

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/egypt-sudan-presidents-agree-to-patch-up-differences-20180319

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hosted his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir for talks in Cairo on Monday, with the pair pledging to boost cooperation after tensions between their neighbouring countries.

Bashir’s visit comes two weeks after the reinstatement of Sudan’s ambassador to Cairo following his recall to Khartoum in January.

Ties deteriorated between Egypt and Sudan last year when Bashir accused Egypt’s intelligence services of supporting opposition forces fighting his troops in the country’s conflict zones like Darfur.

One bone of contention is Egypt’s administration of the Halayeb triangle, in a mineral-rich border area near the Red Sea, which Sudan claims as its own.

“We reiterate the eternal brotherly relations and common links that unite the two peoples of the Nile valley,” Sisi said in a televised news conference following a meeting with Bashir.

News24

Russia’s Putin accepts Bashir invitation to Sudan

https://www.enca.com/africa/russias-putin-accepts-bashir-invitation-to-sudan

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation from his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir to visit the North African country, Sudan’s state news agency said on Thursday.

Putin, fresh from an election victory granting him his fourth term and extending his leadership of Russia by six years, called Bashir on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations, SUNA said.

Bashir congratulated Putin who affirmed his country’s commitment to investing in Sudan’s energy, oil, gas, and gold mining sectors.

“The president extended an invitation to the Russian president to visit Sudan and discuss developing relations and building a strategic partnership and Putin accepted the invitation,” SUNA said. It provided no date for the visit.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region, and is mostly shunned by Western leaders.

eNCA

South Sudan

US targets South Sudan oil firms with sanctions

https://www.enca.com/africa/us-targets-south-sudan-oil-firms-with-sanctions

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil operators that it said were important sources of cash for the government, an action aimed at increasing pressure on President Salva Kiir to end the country’s conflict and humanitarian crisis.

The companies and government bodies would in future require special licenses to do business in the United States, the State Department said.

“The South Sudanese Government, and corrupt official actors, use this revenue to purchase weapons and fund irregular militias that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan,” the department said in a statement.

The groups on the list “are involved in activities that are contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States,” according to a related Department of Commerce document published on Wednesday.

The South Sudanese government was not immediately available to comment.

eNCA

South Sudan’s economy is among the victims of the conflict

http://www.dw.com/en/south-sudans-economy-is-among-the-victims-of-the-conflict/a-43062383

As the armed conflict rages on, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is looking for ways to revive the economy. The solution he came up with was to replace the finance minister. But will that help?

Economists say the reason South Sudan’s economy is in disarray is instability. The only way to revive the economy, they argue, is to restore peace and stability, thereby giving production a chance and encouraging investors to come back to the country.

Last week, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked and immediately replaced his long serving Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau with Salvatore Garang, himself a formerly sacked undersecretary at the finance ministry. Kiir said at the time that a change in the leadership of the finance ministry will help the economy along.  At the swearing-in ceremony of his new minister he said: “We have lost the value of our currency and there is nothing that we can do soon to gain the value of our currency unless we produce. This is a challenge that is ahead of you and you must think very hard on how to get out of this.”

Deutsche Welle

Western Sahara

UN presses on with bid to restart Western Sahara talks

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/un-presses-on-with-bid-to-restart-western-sahara-talks-20180322

The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory.

Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara.

Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.

News24

AU READY TO SETTLE WESTERN SAHARA DISPUTE

http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/22/au-ready-to-settle-western-sahara-dispute

The African Union is ready to propose a settlement to the decades-long Western Sahara dispute.

This is unsettling Morocco, the newest member of the continental organisation. Morocco has been illegally occupying its neighbour since 1975.

Morocco has expressed its displeasure at AU commissioner Moussa Faki leading a delegation to the region to prepare a Western Sahara solution.

When Morocco joined the AU last year, it was expected it would be pressed to keep its 30-year promise to hold a referendum, which will allow the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future.

EWN

Swaziland

Fraud At Swazi Deputy PM’s Office

http://allafrica.com/stories/201803210290.html

The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in Swaziland is in a financial mess; money is given to those who do not deserve it and withheld from those who do, overtime payments have been made fraudulently and rents not collected.

This is contained in the annual report of the Auditor General.

The DPM Office oversees the kingdom’s national policy that supports effect delivery of Government services, ‘through a well-coordinated decentralized system with a special emphasis on a comprehensive social welfare system, gender mainstreaming, children issues as well as proactive disaster preparedness’, according to the report.

Disability grants

The report which covers the year ending March 2017 stated there are no working guidelines on how to award disability grants yet the DPM’s Office gave out of E12.46 million (about US$1 million) to the three years ending March 2016.

AllAfrica

MPs Say Anti-Corruption Body ‘Corrupt’

http://allafrica.com/stories/201803220198.html

Members of Parliament in Swaziland have suspended the budget of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) because they say the organisation is itself corrupt.

They want a select committee to investigate alleged wrongdoings. They blocked a budget of E13.1 million (US$109,000) until a report is delivered. The ACC comes under the Ministry for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

It happened at the Swazi House of Assembly on Friday (16 March 2018). The Observer on Saturday reported MPs were concerned that the contract for ACC Commissioner Thanda Mngwengwe expired at the end of January 2018 but he still seemed to be at work and using a Mercedes Benz ML worth E1.2 million supplied by the ACC, plus a rented car.

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

UN throws its support behind Zimbabwe elections

https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/un-throws-its-support-behind-zimbabwe-elections-20180318

The United Nations on Saturday threw its support behind new elections in Zimbabwe set for July and urged the government to kickstart the African nation’s economy as an “urgent priority”.

Achim Steiner, administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was in Harare as part of a three-day trip that saw him meet Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“UNDP is committed to continue supporting the preparatory process for the elections and economic recovery efforts,” Steiner told reporters.

Presidential polls are due by the end of August, when Mnangagwa will face his first major test after taking over from long-time strongman Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November after four decades in office.

News24

Zimbabwe signs $4,2-billion platinum deal to transform mining sector

https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/business/2018-03-22-zimbabwe-signs-42-billion-platinum-deal-to-transform-mining-sector/

A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2 billion deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was “open for business”.

Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020, aiming to reach 1,4-million ounces annually within three years.

Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the project will include a coal mine and power station to produce electricity for the smelter, and should employ 15,000 people when fully implemented, according to Karo head Loucas Pourolis.

TimesLive

 

 

Africa in General

Russia provides free military aid to Central African Republic — Foreign Ministry

http://tass.com/defense/995674

Moscow has provided free military aid to the Central African Republic at the country’s government’s request, Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Artyom Kozhin said on Thursday.

“At the request of the Central African Republic’s president, Russia decided to provide the country with free military aid,” he said. According to him, with the consent of the United Nations Security Council committee, the Russian Defense Ministry handed a batch of small arms and ammunition to the armed forces of the Central African Republic and sent five military and 170 civilian instructors to train the country’s military servicemen.

Kozhin stressed that the aid “is provided in strict compliance with the UN Security Council’s sanctions” imposed on Central African Republic. “Russia has been providing aid in line with the global community’s efforts aimed at strengthening the Central African Republic’s security forces, handing full security responsibility over to them and finding a sustainable solution to the prolonged internal armed conflict,” he added.

Tass

South African peacekeepers in DR Congo face paternity claims – UN

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/south-african-peacekeepers-in-dr-congo-face-paternity-claims-un-20180320

Five peacekeepers from South Africa face allegations of sexually exploiting women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are now seeking child support, a United Nations spokesperson said on Tuesday.

One of the cases involves a minor who was allegedly sexually abused when the incidents took place between 2014 and 2016 in North and South Kivu.

“All five incidents involve paternity and child support claims,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

The latest allegations surfaced a month after South African troops were accused of beating a 17-year-old boy in the Kasai region and sexually exploiting women in North Kivu.

News24

‘Disband compromised Zim electoral body and allow UN to supervise vote,’ govt told

https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/disband-compromised-zim-electoral-body-and-allow-un-to-supervise-vote-govt-told-20180323

Zimbabwe’s trade union umbrella body has reportedly called on government to “disband” the country’s electoral body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and “allow the United Nations to supervise” the upcoming general elections.

According to New Zimbabwe.com, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), said this following the recent trip to Russia by ZEC’s chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumbu in the company of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special advisor Chris Mtsvangwa.

The trip was meant to “observe” the eastern European country’s just ended presidential election.

But, the ZCTU’s secretary general Japhet Moyo expressed concern, saying that the trip had since compromised the credibility of the forthcoming elections.

News24

Ramaphosa signs declaration on African free trade region

https://www.fin24.com/Economy/sa-signs-african-free-trade-agreement-20180321

South Africa is one of 44 African countries to sign a declaration on establishing a free trade region in Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration on the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday.

The Presidency tweeted that the signing of the declaration by Ramaphosa is subject to the conclusion of all outstanding issues that form an integral part of the agreement.

AFP reported that the signing of the agreement establishing a free trade area is seen as vital to the continent’s economic development, according to the head of the African Union.

“The agreement establishing the CfTA was signed by 44 countries,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission.

News24

 

Celebrating South Africa’s hard-won rights on Human Rights Day – 21 March 2018

Human Rights Day is a day for celebration, as well as solemn reflection. South Africa’s Bill of Rights is world-renowned for its inclusive protection of Human Rights, making SA one of the first countries in history to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

SA’s Bill of Rights:
“The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”

As we know, SA’s past was characterised by institutionalised Human Rights abuse. Human Rights Day presents an opportunity for us to solemnly reflect on the suffering of millions of South Africans at the hands of the Apartheid regime, and to appreciate the immense sacrifice and bravery of those who struggled to secure the rights and freedoms enshrined today.

As President Ramaphosa indicated in his State of the Nation Address, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all South Africans can enjoy these progressive human rights in practical terms. With the aim of tackling violent discrimination against LGBTI persons living in townships specifically, SALO is currently convening a series of community dialogues around this issue in Soweto. These community dialogues are supported by the Dutch and Irish Embassies, and facilitate candid discussion between national government leaders and relevant community stakeholders including religious leaders, youth leaders, community leaders and taxi operators.

SADC and the DRC crisis – 20 March 2018

The deteriorating situation is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues raise concern. Characterised by repression of dissent, which has resulted in the killing of protestors, an unclear elections roadmap, ambiguity on succession and an unreformed natural resource governance mechanism, the prevailing situation now poses significant threats to peace, stability and economic success in southern Africa. However, SADC appears ill-prepared to decisively deal with ongoing crises in the DRC and its accompanying silence has left the door wide open from the Joseph Kabila government to act with impunity.

The Open Society Initiative (OSISA), in partnership with the Southern Africa Liaison Office (SALO) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), invite you to a roundtable discussion on the DRC crisis and the role of SADC in resolving it.

Speakers:

Opening and closing remarks: Dr Showers Mawowa, Deputy Director, the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO)
Nicole Odia Kayembe, Lawyer and Human Rights Defender
Sylvain Mbaya Lumu, Lawyer and Human Rights Defender
Nick Elebe, Director (OSISA-DRC)
Prof André Mbata Mangu, Research Professor and Director of the Verloren van Themaat Centre of Public Law in the College of Law at UNISA. (TBC)

CHAIR: Stephanie Wolters, Head |Peace and Security Research Programme | Chef |Programme de recherche paix et sécurité Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria | Institute d’Etudes de Securite, Pretoria

News Briefs 16 March 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Dozens killed in DR Congo’s Ituri province

Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.

Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violence between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.

A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.

“There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way,” a government official told AFP.

Aljazeera

Exiled DR Congo opposition leader launches presidency bid

Exiled Congolese opposition leader Moise Katumbi launched a campaign Monday to be elected president in polls scheduled for December, unveiling his new “Together for Change” party in South Africa.

“We will fight the battle to take power – and we will win,” said Katumbi at a meeting of several hundred supporters at a hotel outside Johannesburg.

“This fight and the successful transfer of power are national issues… so we have decided to establish a political movement known as ‘Together for Change’.”

Democratic Republic of Congo’s election was originally scheduled for late 2016, but has been twice delayed, leading to unrest in the vast mineral-rich country.

eNCA

Somalia

Gambia, Somalia human rights strides praised by U.N.

The Gambia and Somalia were up for praise during a recent address to the Human Rights Council delivered by the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zei Ra’ad Al Hussein.

In his March 7, 2018 address, Hussein bemoaned how over a dozen Africa countries were flagrantly violating rights of citizens – be it the media, opposition groups, activists etc.

He however reserved praise for The Gambia in the wake of a freeze on death penalty and Somalia for government’s efforts to protect rights of citizens.

 

“I commend The Gambia for its announcement of a moratorium on the death penalty last month.

Africa News

Somalia parliament rejects Somaliland’s Berbera port deal with DP World, Ethiopia

Somalia’s lower house of parliament on Monday backed the federal government’s rejection of the Berbera port deal entered into by semi-autonomous Somaliland, Ethiopia and DP World.

A Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that the lower house had voted to reject the deal through a landslide with 168 of the 170 lawmakers nullifying all agreements between the United Arab Emirates-based company and Somaliland.

DP World have reached agreements with Somaliland over the Berbera and Bosaso ports but with the Monday vote – both deals are “null and void.” If the Upper House reaches a similar decision the President will sign it into law.

Africa News

Central African Republic

Militia commits mass rape in Central African Republic: MSF

Militia fighters attacked, kidnapped and then raped en masse a large group of women in an isolated area of Central African Republic last month, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

The medical charity treated 10 survivors of the Feb. 17 violence near Kiriwiri, a village in the country’s northwest. Fearing further attacks if they tried to reach a hospital, the women were unable to seek medical treatment until about two weeks later, it said.

Many other victims remained behind, fearing that, as rape victims, they would be stigmatised in their community.

“Some were totally in shock, others paralysed by fear or unable to talk about the incident. Some of the women had open wounds caused by blades,” said Soulemane Amoin, a midwife at the hospital in the town of Bossangoa where the women were treated.

eNCA

Central African bishop accuses U.N. forces of rape, abuse

A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic accused U.N. peacekeeping troops of sexual abuse in his diocese and warned they could be guilty of crimes against humanity.

“Women are selling their bodies to the Blue Helmets out of desperation,” said Bishop Juan Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou.

“Many are doing this to avoid dying of hunger, and some of the abused are minors. When I asked their mothers what happened, they sank their heads.”

The bishop spoke while staying in his native Spain on U.N. advice after his diocesan vicar general narrowly survived a machete attack.

In an interview with Madrid’s Alfa y Omega Catholic weekly, he said up to 2,000 Muslims had been sheltering in the seminary adjoining Bangassou’s Catholic cathedral, protected by peacekeepers, since a wave of anti-Muslim violence in May 2017 left dozens dead.

National Catholic Reporter

Sudan

UAE offers $1.4bn in aid to Sudan: state media

The United Arab Emirates has offered $1.4 billion to Sudan’s central bank to help Khartoum tackle an acute foreign exchange crisis, the official Sudanese news agency reported Tuesday.

The Sudanese pound has weakened against the dollar in recent months on the black market amid a shortage of hard foreign currency, in turn forcing the central bank to devalue the pound this year.

“President Omar al-Bashir has been informed by the UAE that it is giving Sudan 4 billion dirhams… as a central bank deposit to help support the country’s foreign currency reserves,” the official SUNA news agency reported.

The report did not provide further details on the aid.

News24

Sudan orders media to stop ‘attacking’ Egypt

Following a meeting between Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has directed the country’s newspapers to stop their hostile media campaign against Egypt, the Sudan Tribune reported.

The NISS media department circulated a memo directing newspaper editors to avoid raising controversial issues affecting the relationship between the two countries.

Egyptian-Sudanese relations have been strained over various issues including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the dispute on the border area of Halayeb, and mutual recriminations of supporting terrorism by the other side.

eNCA

South Sudan

UN urged to boost civilians’ protection efforts in South Sudan

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) must boost efforts to protect civilians against the senseless violence that has plagued the country for over four years and publicly report on the human rights situation, Amnesty International said.

The UN mission in South Sudan plays a crucial role in providing much-needed civilian protection, and timely public reporting on the human rights situation in the country.

“With the continuing conflict and associated human rights violations in South Sudan, the possibility of civilians returning to their homes or being resettled remains remote. The Protection of Civilians (POC) sites are truly life-saving for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of protection,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan runs out of cash

South Sudan has run out of cash and the economy will not be fixed unless the ongoing civil war is brought to a halt.

President Salva Kiir openly admitted as much on Wednesday and acknowledged that peace and stability had to return to the country in order for investors and other money-generating activities to resume.

The South Sudanese leader attributed the cause of being a cash-strapped nation to the war sparked by the power struggle which has ended in a more than four-year conflict with no resolution in sight despite global and regional efforts to salvage the situation, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Kiir made his comments during the swearing-in process of new finance minister following the sacking of predecessor Stephen Dhieu Dau earlier in the week.

IOL

Western Sahara

President Brahim Gali calls UN to urgently stop the organization of so-called Forum of Crans Montana in the occupied Dakhla

he President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Gali, called on the United Nations to stop the organization of the so-called Crans Montana Forum in occupied Dakhla, calling this act a provocation that would undermine the efforts of the United Nations led by it Personal Envoy President Horst Koehler in his letter to His Excellency ,Secretary General of the United Nation, Mr. Antonio Guterres

“I am writing to draw the attention of your Excellency to the Moroccan state’s insistence to organize, yet again, another so-called Forum of Crans Montana, from the 15th to the 20th of March, in the occupied city of Dakhla, Western Sahara.” Gali says in his letter to UNSG

President Brahim Gali also went on saying that “The Frente Polisario strongly condemns this new provocative act and calls for your urgent intervention to convince Morocco stop this provocation that undermines the efforts of the United Nations led by your Personal Envoy, President Horst Kohler.”

Sahara Press Service

EU-Morocco fishing deal: US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes ECJ decision

US Western Sahara Foundation welcomed Friday the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the European Union’s fishing agreement with Morocco, stating that it does not apply to Western Sahara and reaffirming Saharawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination.

“US Western Sahara Foundation welcomes European Court of Justice’s recent ruling on the EU-Morocco’s fishing agreement,” the foundation’s chairwoman Suzanne Scholte said, adding that “Once again, we see courts reaffirming the October 16, 1975 ruling by the International Court of Justice which denies Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.”

Scholte said the United States does not recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, noting that the occupied Saharawi territories are excluded from US-Moroccan free trade agreement signed in 2004.

Sahara Press Service

Swaziland

U.S. Ambassador Encourages Parties

Democracy advocates in Swaziland should put forward policies that would attract people to support political parties, the US Ambassador to the kingdom said.

Explaining why political parties were needed was not enough, Lisa Peterson told a meeting on multiparty democracy, good governance and human rights at the Happy Valley Hotel, Ezulwini, on Saturday (10 March 2018).

Peterson said a poll conducted in 2015 by Afrobarometer had suggested about 36 percent of those questioned supported political parties in Swaziland.

King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Advocates for democracy continue to be arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

AllAfrica

MPs Block Swazi State-Radio Funds

Members of parliament have blocked funding to state-controlled radio in Swaziland because they say they are not being allowed on air.

One said the stations under the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) were being used for ‘character assassination’.

Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini told the House of Assembly SBIS had been used to assassinate his character as a member of parliament.

The Swazi Observer newspaper, which is itself in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Tuesday (13 March 2018), ‘He said the national radio station was used to tell people how he was evil and disrespectful. The message was sent to the people in a way to de-campaign him. He strongly blamed the editors at SBIS for disseminating news meant to humiliate him.’

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

Activist abduction ‘dark shadow’ on Zimbabwe: Western envoys

Dozens of Zimbabweans protested Friday as Harare-based Western diplomats called on the new government to investigate the abduction three years ago of a rights activist and firebrand critic of ex-ruler Robert Mugabe.

Itai Dzamara, who was also a journalist, was kidnapped by five men as he left a barbershop near his home in Harare in 2015. He has not been seen since then.

In a statement, European Union and top US diplomats encouraged “the new administration to ensure that human rights violations are tackled decisively and transparently, to shed light on Mr Dzamara’s fate and to serve justice”.

“His disappearance remains a dark shadow on the new horizon for Zimbabwe,” they said on the anniversary of Dzamara’s abduction

He had led anti-government protests in a public park in the capital, overlooking parliament, vowing to not stop until Mugabe stepped down.

The Citizen

Mugabe acolyte forms new Zimbabwe political party to challenge Mnangagwa

A retired Zimbabwean general and acolyte of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls later this year, the new grouping said on Monday.

Mugabe, 94, was forced to step down last November following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the New Patriotic Front (NFP) party.

Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF party and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, then met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said.

CNBC Africa

 

 

 

 

Africa in General

Egypt’s foreign minister in South Sudan to boost relations

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, on Monday to encourage an end to the country’s civil war and to give assistance in health and education.

South Sudan is well into its fifth year of fighting and the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, shows no signs of ending.

“Egypt has been a steadfast supporter of the people of South Sudan in their darkest of hours,” said Mayiik Ayii Deng, South Sudanese Cabinet minister in the president’s office.

News24

Ethiopia, Sudan to develop nuclear power with the help of Russia

Ethiopia recently signed an agreement with Russia to set up nuclear technology to help power the Horn of Africa country.

The agreement was signed last week during the visit of the Russian foreign affairs minister, Sergey Lavrov who met Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa.

“We agreed to strengthen economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries. We have also discussed ways to cooperate on various sectors, including in setting up nuclear technology centre, education, science, and technology,” said Workneh.

He was quick to indicate that the nuclear development program which will be launched after the conclusion of the agreement will be used for “peaceful purpose”, reports local media FANA Broadcasting Corporation.

Face2Face Africa

Russia cementing military ties with the Central African Republic

Russia is deepening its military cooperation with the Central African Republic, donating small arms to the country’s military and holding diplomatic talks with its leader as it seeks to strengthen its influence on the continent.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been struggling with serious turmoil, civil war and brutal regime shifts in the past decade. Following conflict between government forces and the Seleka rebel coalition in 2012-2013, an arms embargo was implemented by the UN in December 2013.

Elections held in March 2016 established a new constitution and brought President Faustin Archange Touadéra to power. He made reconciliation, disarmament and demobilization of non-governmental armed forces his priorities. But these groups remain active, causing much violence across the country and making the redeployment of governmental authority a very difficult task.

Defence Web

ED Insincere About Polls, Chamisa Tells SADC

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been insincere in its commitment to holding a free, fair and credible elections, MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa, told Sadc envoys Tuesday.

The seven-member Sadc Electoral Advisory Council, chaired by Advocate Leshele Thoahlane, is currently on a week-long fact finding mission in Zimbabwe which is preparing for crucial polls between July and August this year.

Chamisa headed a mine member delegation that included secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, vice president Elias Mudzuri and youth assembly leader Happymore Chidziva among others.

AllAfrica

 

Press release issued by POLISARIO Representation to Europe

POLISARIO condemns holding of Crans-Montana forum in occupied Western Sahara

Brussels 13 March 2018 – POLISARIO Front condemns the decision to host the 2018 Crans-Montana Forum in the Western Saharan city of Dakhla; illegally occupied by Morocco.

The forum will take place on March 15-20; and is a clear attempt to whitewash the brutal daily reality of Morocco’s illegal occupation in Western Sahara. The promotional material for the forum describes Dakhla as part of the Kingdom of Morocco – in contravention with International and EU law. Polisario reaffirms its preparedness to seek recourse in legal action if necessary when the sovereignty over Western Sahara is threatened or undermined.

POLISARIO Front urges Crans- Montana Forum to desist from holding its meetings in Western Sahara.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled unequivocally in December 2016 and January 2018 that Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco are two distinct and separate territories.

The final declaration of the ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly, held 28 – 29 January 2018 in Addis Ababa, called for a boycott of the Crans –Montana Forum meeting. The declaration reads  “The Assembly REITERATES its repeated calls, in particular its declaration adopted at its 24th Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa, from 30 to 31 January 2015, on the Crans – Montana Forum, a Switzerland-based organization, to desist from convening its meetings in the city of Dakhla, in Western Sahara and APPEALS to all Member States, African civil society organizations and other relevant actors to boycott the upcoming meeting scheduled to take place from 15 to 20 March 2018”.

Western Sahara remains the last colony in the African continent and it has been on the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories since 1963 when it was under Spanish colonial rule. Morocco’s systematic human rights abuses in occupied Western Sahara, including torture and discriminate against Saharawis, are well documented by independent Human Rights organisations. The General Assembly has since consistently recognised the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and independence.

Leaders need to study what has worked in Africa

By Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa, a research associate for the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO).

First published on 4 March 2018: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-03-04-op-ed-leaders-need-to-study-what-has-worked-in-africa/

Photo: A villager greets farmer Robert Smart (L) and his son Darryn Smart (2-L) during the  traditional cleansing ceremony of their Lesbury Farm in Rusape, 170 km east of Harare, Zimbabwe, 06 January 2018, to celebrate their return to the farm.  EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

The recent leadership transitions in the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) and the African National Congress (ANC), after acrimonious succession battles in the ruling parties, brings to the fore unresolved debates on nation state formation, democratisation and economic transformation. By TAMUKA CHARLES CHIRIMAMBOWA.

In this article I will borrow from Professor David Moore’s characterisation of the Zimbabwe Crisis to be one of “primitive accumulation, nation-state formation, and democratisation”, simply put, how to create wealth and distribute it, building a community of citizens and the capacity of citizens to exercise agency to resolve issues in a civil manner. This point is generally applicable to the African Crisis in the post-colony.

There are three key areas of contestation when considering the future, namely questions of citizenship and rights, how people are governed and how they relate with their leadership and lastly, how wealth is acquired and distributed. The way these three issues are interconnected has made it difficult for leadership to successfully address Africa’s challenges.

There are those who argue that for Africa to industrialise and develop they have to negate the democracy question. This argument feeds into the long-held myth that Africa needs “strong men” or radical policies for transformation to take place. Strong and persuasive arguments have been put forward stating that democracy is a luxury and that democratic institutions have failed to deliver economic transformation. A gaze into history refutes such rhetoric, as the Malaysians successfully managed to build an ethnic Malay business class without disenfranchising the Chinese. Over and above this, the pursuit of economic transformation cannot escape reality, a reality in which the world has become sensitive to the question of property rights. Interestingly, the debate on property rights has been dominated by disingenuous and deceitful arguments from

In Zimbabwe, the new administration has already hit the ground running, projecting itself as reformist in the mould of China’s Deng Xiaoping or Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli. In South Africa, the new leadership has also projected itself as the new brooms that will cleanse the ruling party and country from State Capture. However, in order to maintain their reformed status and regain significant government control, the ANC will have to contend with President Jacob Zuma’s last two years in office.

Interestingly, both successors in Zimbabwe and South Africa are former vice-presidents who have fallen out of favour with their president. In both cases, the common fault line is allegations of State Capture in one way or another. In the case of Robert Mugabe, it was Grace Mugabe’s alleged grooming for the presidency as well as the G40. While in South Africa, it was allegations of State Capture regarding the Gupta family. Although Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is a political actor in her own right with a reputation for efficient administration, shown by her position as minister of home affairs and arguably at the AU, and clean hands, she was seen by some as a protégé of her ex-husband and likely to protect the Guptas. Both Zanu-PF and the ANC held elective congresses in 2017 and will be heading into national elections in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Already, the two countries are in election mode and at the centre of policy debate has been the question of economic transformation, in particular the inclusion of blacks within mainstream economics as well as controlling the levers or means of production. The major outcome of the Zanu-PF extra-ordinary congress was the watering down of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, whereas for the ANC it was the adoption of Radical Economic Transformation (RET) and appropriation of land without compensation. It is my contention that supporters or leaders of the ruling parties have tended to advocate for populist and redistributionist policy positions without paying heed to economic fundamentals and, in the end, breed authoritarian governance. At the centre of this authoritarian governance is a creation of messiahs and subjects, rather than leaders and citizens, a necessary dynamic that has been lacking in the African democracy matrix.

In Africa, in general, there has been a flip flopping between radical economics and neo-liberalism with adherents of each school adopting populist solutions that seek to empower black people on the basis of socialist dogma or market fundamentalism without paying heed to the nexus of the local and international political economy. The end result of this politics has always come to naught, thus leaving people in abject poverty and ultimately the diminishing of the people’s belief in democratic institutions to bring a good life. Thus, the argument becomes that Africa needs strong men or benevolent dictators, who can commandeer the economy and politics. The danger of this logic is to reduce every challenge in our society to a nail and thus the need for a hammer, even where unnecessarily so.

In South Africa, there is the argument that Mandela and democracy failed to give people their economic freedom and in particular land. It is also argued that in Zimbabwe, Mugabe gave the people their land and economic freedom despite the many problems he brought to the country. It is for this reason that Mugabe became popular in Africa and the developing world, as he is seen as a messiah of black people against white supremacism and imperialism.

Interestingly, those who succeeded Mugabe, whilst claiming to extol his legacy have revised the economic indigenisation programme and the position on compensation of land. A key point to note has been that the toppling of president Mugabe from power exposed shady deals in which the ruling elite have been secretly compensating farmers using the state in the form of Treasury Bills and, at the same time, venturing into ‘partnerships’ (fronting) with deposed white farmers.

The Zimbabwe Independent of 08/12/2017 reveals that the ruling elite sought title deeds to their newly acquired land, yet it has consistently argued against property rights for ordinary Zimbabweans. Similarly, after her dethronement from power, Joyce Mujuru, met the farmer whom her family dispossessed of land to arrange compensation.

The sustained attack on property rights and their characterisation as only white and Eurocentric by African Elites, speaks of duplicity within our policy circles. In addition, Mugabe’s revealed relationship with Interfresh Holdings’ Hamish Rudland exposes the duplicity of African elites who Nicodemously seek property rights, yet discouraging the citizenry against their pursuit. Mugabe is on record speaking out against leasing of land to whites by Zimbabweans. This challenge of duplicity has also been observed in South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment, where elites have become fronts of Capital (white or Gupta) at the expense of real economic transformation.

Programmes of economic transformation do not need to be radical to take people out of poverty, but should be well thought out within a broader economic strategy. For instance, when one looks at land, the idea is not to seek vengeance but to address questions of social justice and economic transformation at the same time. Beyond the socio-cultural significance of land, we also have to think of the neglected question of production (i.e. in terms of food security, employment and role of land in economic value chain).

The failure to appreciate the role of land and any other economic asset beyond the culture of rent seekers will only breed acquirers in the sense of Mobutu’s Zaire or what Moeleletsi Mbeki describes in Architects of Poverty as “an anti-developmental parasitic elite, only interested in their personal accumulation projects and not development of the ordinary person”. At the same time, there is the danger of policy makers swinging from one dogma to another at the heed of false prophets.

Already, in Zimbabwe, the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now on a local, regional and international charm offensive to former white commercial farmers to return to land and farm. Mnangagwa’s administration has gone further to promise compensation of white farmers and remove the 51% indigenisation threshold, except for diamond and platinum mining. This marks a radical departure from Znu-PF’s radical politics. However, this, without policy and institutional reforms, will not solve the African challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment, as it reduces policy reform to swinging from left dogma to neo-liberal dogma without paying attention to detail.

These policy somersaults in Zimbabwe provide a poser to the ANC, especially after the adoption of Radical Economic Transformation and appropriation of land without compensation as policy positions.

South Africa’ leadership has to be cognisant of the fact that the realities of the modern economy and its sensitivities to radical and uncertain policies have the potential to lead the country down the Zimbabwe Crisis path. This is an argument that many have often wanted to dismiss or not contemplate discussing.

South Africa will not transform its economy on the basis of dispossessing whites and replacing them with blacks. Building a modern economy is not that simple, unless South Africa simply wants replacement of black faces with white faces in the economy.

The challenge is that of RET without structural transformation. But some would argue, structural transformation by nature takes a long time. Frantz Fanon warned us many years ago of the structural limitations of this approach to economic change in his book The Wretched of the Earth. While the ideals and arguments of radical economic transformation and appropriation of land without compensation may appeal well for the ordinary South African, the realities of cases from elsewhere in Africa is that these have failed to work.

In Mozambique they had to re-open the country to the Portuguese after dispelling them. In Zambia, they had to re-privatise the mines after nationalising them and in Zimbabwe they are now begging the white farmers to return. South Africa does not need to follow the Zimbabwe or Mozambique route of destruction and then to somersault years later and clamour for the return of white capital to the economy.

Going forward, it is critical for the new Zanu-PF and ANC leadership not to pander to revolutionary gusto and emotions while being oblivious to the mutual interconnectedness of the nation-state formation, democracy and wealth creation and distribution questions. One of these questions cannot be successfully resolved whilst neglecting the other two. These questions are symbiotically linked.

It is often argued that democratic institutions cannot deliver economic transformation, a position that is not supported by evidence. Perhaps it is time for Zimbabwe and South Africa to consider debates around the democratic developmental state. In this case, the East Asian Miracle is instructive for our learning. It was hinged on building a craft competent and policy literate bureaucracy and working institutions. Whilst race played a critical role in creating the current inequalities, the realities of the modern world is that attempting to build policies on racialism and exclusivist policies is bound to fail. There is a need to re-imagine a new Africa that recognises its citizens not on the basis of race, creed, discrimination or any form of difference and yet, at the same time, address the colonial imbalances. This is the challenge that modern day African leaders face. The world has moved from Cecil Rhodes’ 1890 and Jan van Riebeeck’s 1652, yet the impacts still haunt our quest for nation building, democratisation and building socio-economic just societies. The answers are not easy but then such are the demands for more well thought-out solutions for Africa’s challenges. DM

Photo: A villager greets farmer Robert Smart (L) and his son Darryn Smart (2-L) during the  traditional cleansing ceremony of their Lesbury Farm in Rusape, 170 km east of Harare, Zimbabwe, 06 January 2018, to celebrate their return to the farm.  EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa is a research associate for the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO). He is currently pursuing a D Litt et Phil Development Studies with the University of Johannesburg. Tamuka’s research interests focus on investment and business-state relations in Africa, economic reform and transformation in Africa, citizenship and governance, elections, migration and remittances

Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai: heroic herald of an epoch foretold

Morgan Tsvangirai, who was born March 10 1952 in Buhera, in Manicaland just across the border from Zimbabwe’s Gutu District in Masvingo, became leader of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change in September 1999.

He was a very brave and iconic figure in the leadership of Zimbabwe’s anti-authoritarian and social justice movements that emerged in the wake of the austerity inducing structural adjustment programmes of the 1990s. Workers, students, and progressive church leaders were combined into the MDC. Later many white farmers and global supporters were to join. As a combined force they came to threaten the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) as never before .

But for ZANU-PF’s coercion, chicanery, and corruptive influences – with the help of its southern neighbour’s ruling party – Tsvangirai could well have become Zimbabwe’s second president, ushering in a democratic era for that country, still struggling to be born.

Alas, that historical moment of optimism and opportunity has passed for the present. Yet, with its inevitable revival, Tsvangirai will be remembered as an heroic herald for the epoch foretold, albeit ignobly postponed by the current ruling party and its pervasive, debilitating effect on Zimbabwe’s politics.

But his death, combined with Robert Mugabe’s coup-led removal as president of ZANU-PF and the country just a few months ago, could mark the end of the Zimbabwean political parties’ internecine fighting. Unfortunately the men in uniform filled the vacuum created by both parties’ factionalism won’t budge easily.

The early years

Tsvangirai’s rise to represent many Zimbabwean’s hopes for a democratic polity beyond Mugabe and ZANU-PF started with his leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in the late 1980s. He was instrumental in divorcing it from a corrupt relationship with ZANU-PF. He also supported the efforts of the university students and the Zimbabwe Unity Movement to deconstruct the one-party state.

The 1990s witnessed many serious and violently suppressed strikes, demonstrations and stay-aways. One nearly entailed Tsvangirai’s assassination and another brought the public servants into the union’s fold. Tsvangirai was viewed as a transformative leader. He commissioned serious evidence-based research from his team on how to conjoin the unions and other civil society groups to a new social project. As one reseacher told me:

He knew what ‘hegemony’ meant – he read the stuff – and he could use it correctly.

Thus he chaired the National Constitutional Assembly as it emerged in 1997. He also set the groundwork for the Movement for Democratic Change to be catapulted into action with the Working People’s Convention in early 1999. A new social democratic impulse had been ushered into Zimbabwe’s political order. Tsvangirai headed it.

The state reacts

Meanwhile Mugabe and ZANU-PF promised the unruly war-veterans huge monthly pensions and that he would speed up the take-over of around 1,500 white farms. He also depleted the fiscus when he joined Laurent Kabila in his efforts to stave off Paul Kagame’s proxies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s second war.

But by the end of 1999, with Mugabe’s constitution up for referendum and promising takeovers of the white farms, the commercial farmers joined the new party’s bandwagon. So too did the UK government, as if to atone for its wilful blindness during the massacres in Matabeleland known as Gukurahundi .

Thus even at its birth, the MDC was placed between the social democratic rock of the the working class and new social movements and the hard place of private property rights and other neo-liberal verities. These were the only some of the tensions plaguing the leader of an opposition party rather than a trade union or social movement.

As one young ex-MDC activist has put it, movements aren’t parties. Rather, they are “narrow in focus. They are susceptible to early political liquidation.” Yet parties without this foundation wax and wane as new socio-economic forces come in and of focus.

Stolen elections

By 2000, with Mugabe’s February referendum loss and mid-year parliamentary elections approaching, the MDC faced the first of five coerced and corrupted – stolen, to be blunt – ZANU-PF electoral roadblocks over the next 18 years.

In 2008 unprecedented hyper-inflation, unemployment, infrastructural decay and millions facing famine undoubtedly had a lot to do with Tsvangirai’s victory in the March elections. But his 47% to Mugabe’s 43% meant a run-off. ZANU-PF then waged what some observers called its mini-Gukurahundi. To save his party members’ lives Tsvangirai withdrew. He was also forced to agree to the South Africa initiated “government of national unity” from 2009 to 2013. This certainly encouraged many MDC members to abandon movement politics for the elitist parliamentary and semi-governance option.

The highly suspect 2013 election put ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe’s driver’s seat again – although it took four years for it to reject its sleeping pilot via a coup that gave the country as well as ZANU-PF a slightly new president. That the coup-makers could only make it light, with democratic pretense, was due in large part to the MDC’s efforts over the decades to keep the democratic discourse strong.

But the 2013 to 2017 political drought also caused the MDC to fragment even further: the sad end being what appeared to be a scramble of pretenders to the MDC’s fragile throne as a man deserving a much neater end to his career reached the last of his mortal coil.

They have done little to honour the man who veteran Zimbabwean journalist Peta Thornycroft remembers did more than anyone “in Zimbabwe’s sad history to challenge the fearful state created by Mr Mugabe”.

Honouring his legacy

If those inheriting Morgan Tsvangirai’s legacy want to restore it to its previous shine they should stop challenging each other long enough to revive the energy and clarity their leader had at millennium’s turn – perhaps inventing a new social base with it.

 

Old Beginnings – The political context of Zimbabwe and a report on Biometric Voter Registration (BVR): A National and Matabeleland Perspective

http://solidaritypeacetrust.org/download/report-files/SPT-Old-Beginnings-February-2018-.pdf

 

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Old Beginnings – The political context of Zimbabwe and a report on Biometric Voter Registration (BVR): A National and Matabeleland Perspective

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Political Context: 2017-­-2018
Introduction: The Trigger of Factional Politics

Poster saying Voice of the People, Harare

November 2017 witnessed tumultuous events in Zimbabwean politics. After months of factional struggles between the Lacoste faction led by then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, also nicknamed the crocodile, and the Generation 40 (G40) faction around President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, Mugabe fired Mnangagwa on the 6th November. This followed Mugabe’s warning to Mnangagwa two days before when Grace Mugabe was booed at a rally in Bulawayo. The President’s wife threatened the embattled Vice President with the call that the ‘snake must be hit on the head.’ This was the First Lady’s decisive move in her bid for the Vice Presidency in the upcoming Zanu PF congress in December 2017.
This most recent factional struggle in Zanu PF follows a long history of violent internal battles within the party, from the years of the liberation struggle in the 1970s around ethnic and ideological questions. A few years prior to his own party exile, Mnangagwa played a central role in the removal of the previous Vice President Joice Mujuru, the wife of a key liberation commander Solomon Mujuru. As Miles Tendi has demonstrated, Mnangagwa, in support of the Mugabe’s, with the central involvement of Army Chief Constantine Chiwenga and the machinery of the military intelligence, conspired in the ousting of Joice Mujuru. This event took place after a long factional struggle between the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions since the 1990s.1 Thus both the Mugabe’s succession plan and Mnangagwa’s long held Presidential ambitions have been in play for some time. While they have at certain times coincided in their strategic intent, at some point the final confrontation between the two was always on the cards.
The firing of Mnangagwa from the Vice Presidency and his expulsion from Zanu PF, however, had vastly different effects on the Zimbabwean polity. While Joice Mujuru’s dismissal and the expulsion of several of her allies caused some disturbance in the ruling party, it was nothing like the turbulence that followed Mnangagwa’s removal, and the attempt to arrest General Chiwenga at the airport on his return from China. The statement justifying the decision to fire Mnangagwa, accused the former Vice President of persistently exhibiting ‘disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability’, and that he had behaved in a manner ‘inconsistent with his official duties’.2
In response Mnangagwa, who fled the country soon after his removal from Government, accused Mugabe of allowing the ruling party to be ‘hijacked by novices and external forces’ with a track record of ‘treachery’. In a manner that gave a clear indication of the intervention that would follow Mnangagwa warned Mugabe:
I will go nowhere. I will fight tooth and nail against those making a mockery against Zanu PF founding principles. You and your cohorts will instead leave Zanu PF by the will of the people and this we will do in the coming weeks.3
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1 M.B. Tendi, State Intelligence and the Politics of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Succession. African Affairs, 2016. DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adis 074.
2 Press Statement: Termination of Employment of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. S.K. Moyo, Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, 6 November 2017.
3 Press Statement-­-Former Hon VP ED. Mnangagwa 8 November 2017. 

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