News Briefs 28 September 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

At UN, Joseph Kabila Vows ‘Peaceful & Credible’ DRC Vote

Congolese President Joseph Kabila pledged at the United Nations on Tuesday that elections planned for December will go ahead, promising to take steps to ensure the vote is peaceful and credible.

In power for two decades, Kabila this year bowed to international pressure and agreed to step aside, allowing a new candidate to stand in the December 23 vote in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Addressing the General Assembly, Kabila said that despite the challenges of holding elections in his vast country, “I now reaffirm the irreversible nature of our decision to hold the elections as planned at the end of this year.”

“Everything will be done in order to ensure that these elections are peaceful and credible,” said Kabila.

EWN

DRC boycotts 2 UN events because it wasn’t consulted

Democratic Republic of Congo is boycotting two planned UN events focusing on the central African nation because it was not consulted on the agenda or expected outcome, the president’s top adviser said on Wednesday.

Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi told The Associated Press the government was informed that as a result the meetings had been cancelled.

He said Thursday’s planned meeting, hosted by Germany and UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, was for special envoys on central Africa, “but we all know that the main issue there was going to be the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

A second ministerial meeting on Friday organised by the United Nations was “to review all aspects of problems facing the DRC,” Kikaya Bin Karubi said.

“The problem is that these meetings were planned without consultations with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said. “We are of the opinion that to organise such a meeting, we must give our input … so we know what are the objectives, what are we going to achieve.”

News24

Somalia

World Bank to provides financing to Somalia for first time in 27 years

The World Bank is providing direct financing to Somalia’s government for the first time in 27 years, calling it a “milestone” in the reconstruction of the Horn of Africa nation long shattered by fighting, according to a statement.

The bank’s board of directors has approved R1.1 billion in investment programmes to help Somalia’s federal government “mobilise and redistribute the resources needed to rebuild the country after three decades of conflict”.

IOL

EU approves 1st budget support to Somalia as trust grows

The European Union says it has approved $116m in its first-ever budget support to Somalia’s government in the latest sign of confidence in a country long shattered by conflict.

The EU announcement comes a day after the World Bank said it would provide $80m in direct financing to Somalia’s government for the first time in 27 years, calling it a “milestone.”

The EU statement says “this combined response opens entirely new opportunities” in Somalia’s nation-building and will help to increase local authorities’ role in providing basic services.

The money from the EU, which calls itself the largest donor to the Horn of Africa nation, will be disbursed until 2021.

News24

Central African Republic

A tribunal to ensure war crimes are prosecuted

Human rights organizations have for years urged a resolution of the war crimes cases in Central African Republic. The Special Criminal Court is expected to begin its work in this regard next month.

“The special court is a big hope for us. Long, agonizing years of impunity will finally come to an end,” Flavien Mbata, the justice minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), said in an exclusive DW interview.

The worst human rights violations, such as the massacre and displacement of people and plunder during the ethnic and religious hostilities between 2003 and 2013 has gone unpunished.

“Most of the murderers and their supporters are still walking around freely in Bangui and other cities or living unchallenged in neighbouring countries or in Europe,” said Fernand Mande-Djapou, a human rights activist.

DW

UN Report: Peace Impossible in CAR Without Justice for Victims

A United Nations human rights expert warns true peace in Central African Republic will not be possible without justice for the hundreds of thousands of victims who have suffered violence and human rights abuse during more than five years of civil war.

War between the Muslim Seleka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups in Central African Republic (CAR) has taken a heavy toll. The U.N. refugee agency reports nearly 582,000 people have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries and more than 687,000 are internally displaced.

The Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in CAR says some crucial steps have been taken in establishing a system of transitional justice and peace in the country.

Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum welcomes these moves but said the success of ongoing reforms can only be assured if they are based on justice for the victims. She said people in the country are still suffering from lack of consultation at all levels.

Voice of America

Sudan

Sudan: UN Rights Body Should Ensure Robust Next Steps

Sudan’s human rights situation has not improved.  Armed conflicts in Darfur since 2003, and in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile since 2011, are not over. While evidence suggests the government has stopped indiscriminate bombing, its forces still attack, burn and loot civilian property, forcing thousands to flee their homes.  To date, Sudan has taken no meaningful steps to ensure justice for victims of atrocities committed during these long-running conflicts.

Across the country, government authorities continue to stifle dissent and criticism. Security forces routinely use excessive violence to break up protests. In January 2018 in West Darfur, they used live ammunition against students, injuring several and killing at least one. There has been no accountability for the injuries and deaths of over 170 protesters in Wad Madani in September 2013.

Police and security forces continue to disperse protests by arbitrarily detaining protesters and activists. Some detainees have been held for months without charges. All detainees are at risk of torture, and many released detainees reported torture and other ill-treatment. To date, Sudan has not investigated, far less prosecuted national security officials implicated in such crimes.

Human Rights Watch

Sudan accepts UN humanitarian proposal for the Two-Areas

Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) Thursday agreed UN initiative to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the rebel-controlled areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

In a press conference held in Khartoum, HAC General Commissioner Ahmed Mohamed Adam made the government official declaration adding they received the initiative earlier this year for the first time and was renewed last June.

He further said that they delayed their response because they were waiting for the SPLM-N’s response to the U.S. proposal which is part of the initiative.

Khartoum refuses the delivery of relief from outside the country to the rebel areas as it is part of the rebel demands. Also, the government wants to oversight food distribution in the rebel-held areas fearing that rebel fighters benefit from it.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

South Sudan president orders to release PoWs and detainees

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Thursday ordered to release all the prisoners of war, and detainees in line with the revitalized peace agreement

In his Republican Order N° 17, President Kiir directed the Chief of Defence to release the prisoners of War (PoWs) and detainees immediately under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In his decision, Kiir stressed the need to register and hand over the released Pows and detainees to a third party (the ICRC).

The presidential decision comes in line with Chapter II (Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements) article 6 of section one dedicated to the permanent ceasefire.

Manawa Peter Gatkuoth SPLM-IO Deputy Chairperson of the National Committee for Information and Public Relations said they had already released all the PoWs.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan civil war death toll at almost 400,000 people

The latest death toll estimates are far higher than previous versions and more than the conflict in Syria, according to a new study.

South Sudan’s civil war has caused the deaths of at least 382,900 people – far higher than previous estimates and more than the conflict in Syria, according to a new study.

The statistical research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine university was published Tuesday after being commissioned by the US Institute for Peace in partnership with the US State Department.

Researchers measured both the number of deaths that were a direct result of the violence as well as deaths caused by the increased risk of disease and reduced access to healthcare.

The Citizen

Western Sahara

UNSG Personal Envoy for Western Sahara meets with a Saharawi delegation in New York

Personal Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Western Sahara, Mr. Horst Kohler has received a Saharawi delegation on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

During the meeting, Mr. Kohler informed the Saharawi delegation on the proposals and steps he intends to take in the near future in order to boost the political process sponsored by the United Nations, to a new round of direct negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco before the end of this year.

For its part, the Saharawi delegation welcomed the efforts made by Mr. Kohler, voicing at the same time, POLISARIO’s commitment to cooperate fully with the Personal Envoy, in direct negotiations with Morocco under the auspices of the United Nations, as requested by the Security Council in order to reach a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, ensuring the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence.

Sahara Press Service

UN: US diplomacy pays more attention to the Western Sahara question

On the side-lines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, met with Horst Köhler in New York on Tuesday.

The meeting between the two men was held behind closed doors, as indicated by the department of Mike Pompeo in a note to the press.

This is the second meeting of its kind in a few weeks between the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy for Western Sahara and a senior official from the Trump administration. On August the 8th, only a few hours before Köhler’s briefing at the Security Council, he met with John Bolton, the US National Security Adviser.

On September the 17th in Washington, David Hale also received the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita.

Yabiladi.com

Swaziland

No Food for Hospital Patients As Broke Swaziland Government Leaves Supplier Bills Unpaid

The public hospital in Swaziland’s capital city Mbabane has run out of food for patients because the government has not paid its bills to suppliers.

It is the latest in the long line of cases of the kingdom’s health services grinding to a halt because of government mismanagement of the economy.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (26 September 2018) that patients only had apples and juice at Mbabane Government Hospital. It said bills to food suppliers had not been paid. It was unclear how much money was owed.

AllAfrica

Police Turn Swaziland City Into ‘Warzone’ As National Strike Enters Second Day

Police in Swaziland turned the city of Manzini into a ‘battlefield’ and a ‘warzone’ on the second day of the national strike in the kingdom.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, said the bus rank in Swaziland’s major commercial city was ‘turned into a warzone as stun grenades, teargas, teasers and rubber bullets became the order of the day’.

It happened on Wednesday (19 September 2019) as workers across Swaziland continued their protests against poor pay and other working conditions. They are on a three-day stoppage coordinated by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).

AllAfrica

Zimbabwe

US Leans on Zimbabwe Over Media, Security Laws – US Diplomat

The United States is pressing Zimbabwe to change laws restricting media freedom and anti-government protests, the US’s top diplomat for Africa told Reuters on Wednesday amid calls by the country’s new leader for US sanctions to be lifted.

“The Zimbabweans absolutely understand exactly the US point of view,” said Tibor Nagy, who was recently sworn in as US assistant secretary of state for Africa.

The laws Nagy referred to include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which restrict media freedoms and bars foreign correspondents from working in Zimbabwe full time. The other is the Public Order and Security Act, which is used by the security agencies to prohibit anti-government protests and arrest pro-opposition activists.

EWN

Africa in General

Eswatini King wants Africa to play bigger role in UN

Eswatini King Mswati III has called for Africa to play a bigger role in the work of the United Nations, pointing out that as most of the world body’s peacekeeping missions are based on the continent.

The king made his call on Wednesday during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) annual debate in New York.

“Africa calls for the allocation of not less than two permanent seats, with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership – including the right of veto; and five non-permanent seats, in the United Nations Security Council,” stated the monarch of the tiny Southern African kingdom previously known as Swaziland.

Turning to development, he said that with strong national leadership and international cooperation, achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring social welfare, gender equality, and tackling many other issues in Africa was within reach.

IOL

Pro-democracy activists jailed ahead of DRC vote

Four pro-democracy activists in DR Congo have been sentenced to 12 months behind bars for insulting the president and another seven are being held in secret detention, their lawyers told AFP on Wednesday.

The four were arrested in late December as they were going from house to house, urging people to join a march organised by the Catholic church to demand President Joseph Kabila step down.

“The magistrates court on Tuesday sentenced four activists from the Filimbi movement to 12 months’ jail for insulting the head of state,” their lawyer Jacquemain Shabani told AFP.

The four — Carbone Beni, Mino Bopomi, Grace Thiunza and Cedric Kalonji — are members of Filimbi, a grassroots pro-democracy citizen movement involved in the effort to mobilise support for a nationwide rally last New Year’s Eve.

IOL

Zim’s Mnangagwa promises to fight corruption, debt

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave his first state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday, promising to fight corruption, address the country’s ballooning external and local debt and meet people’s expectations of his administration.

Opposition MDC-Alliance members if Parliament (MPs) continued the tradition of walking out of the address, and walked out of Mnangagwa’s address.

The tradition gained traction during the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s tenure as MDC-T president, and was meant to show the then president Robert Mugabe that he was illegally in office after “stealing” the vote from the MDC-T in 2013.

Despite the walkout, Mnangagwa continued with his first address as president.

IOL

African Union Election Observation Mission to the 2018 General Elections in the Kingdom Of Eswatini PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Source: https://au.int/en/pressreleases/20180924/african-union-election-observation-mission-2018-general-elections-kingdom

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

• The Kingdom of Eswatini held primary and secondary level elections on 18 August and 21 September 2018 respectively. The primary level elections were held in each of the country’s chiefdoms to nominate candidates as well as elect the members of the Executive Committee (Bucopho). At the secondary level, two elections were conducted, namely, the Heads of the Executive Committee (Indvuna yeNkhundla) and the members of the House of Assembly from 59 constituencies (Tinkhundla) into which the country is divided in terms of section 80 of the Constitution. The primary and secondary level elections were conducted on the basis of the first-past-the-post system in which a candidate receiving the highest number of votes is elected into office.

• The African Union (AU) participated in the elections following the invitation by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini by deploying a short-term election observation mission, which arrived in the country on 14 September 2018. The Mission is led by His Excellency James Alix Michel, former President of Seychelles and comprises thirty (30) short-term observers (STOs) representing a total of seventeen (17) AU member states. The presence of the AU election observation mission (AUEOM) in Eswatini is part of the AU’s mandate to promote democratic governance in Africa, which is in line with its vision for “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.

• In this preliminary statement, the AUEOM presents a summary of its key observations and findings of the electoral process, including the political context, legal framework, election administration, voter registration, civic and voter education, women’s participation and media, as well as election day operations including voting and counting. Given that important stages of the electoral process are still ongoing, this statement does not provide a comprehensive assessment, but only covers observations to date. The AUEOM will release a comprehensive final report within three months after the conclusion of the elections. The final report will include the post-election developments including results management and election disputes resolution.

KEY FINDINGS

• The electoral process was conducted in a generally calm and peaceful environment. However, stakeholders consulted briefed the mission about a wage-related workers’ strike prior to Election Day. The protests intensified in Manzini leading to police intervention. By Election Day, the strike action had ended.

• The legal framework within which the 2018 elections were conducted remains largely unchanged since the 2013 elections. The 2005 Constitution guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of association, assembly and expression. However, electoral stakeholders informed the Mission that practical restrictions on civil and political rights remain. These relate to, among others, to the formation and participation of political parties in the electoral process.

• The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) conducted both the primary and secondary level elections in a generally well-organised, professional and timely manner despite some budgetary constraints. However, the closing of polling stations and transportation of ballots to central counting centers has the potential to compromise the security of the ballot as well as transparency and credibility of the counting process.

• The constitution and legal framework seeks to enhance women’s political participation in the electoral processes through the provision of quotas. The electoral stakeholders consulted by the Mission raised a concern that few women were nominated as candidates in both the primary and secondary elections.

In the spirit of the cooperation, the AUEOM offers the following recommendations:

• Encourages the Government of Eswatini to consider reviewing the 1973 decree and allow for the formation, registration and participation of political parties in elections in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 Constitution, and in compliance with the country’s international commitment.

• The EBC to consider reviewing the transporting of ballots from the polling stations to central counting locations to ensure transparency, credibility and efficiency of the counting process. The best practice is to count ballots at polling station level immediately after voting.

• While applauding relevant electoral stakeholders in Eswatini for ensuring that a large number of women participate in the electoral process as polling staff and voters, the Mission encourages them to promote women’s participating and gender equality in elected office.

The AUEOM concludes that, despite the prevailing constitutional and political environment, which proscribes political parties from participating in the electoral process, the elections were peaceful and well managed by the EBC.

II. INTRODUCTION

Upon the invitation from the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) deployed a short-term election mission. The Mission is led by H.E. James Alix Michel, former President of the Republic of Seychelles, and comprises of thirty (30) short-term observers (STOs) drawn from members of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), i.e. African Ambassadors accredited to the African Union in Addis Ababa, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Election Management Bodies (EMBs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Think Tanks and independent electoral and governance experts. A total of seventeen (17) AU members states are represented on this mission.

The key objective of the AUEOM is to make an independent, objective and impartial assessment of the conduct of the General Elections held on 21 September 2018 and proffer recommendations for the improvement of future elections in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The African Union normative frameworks guiding the Mission included: the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the 2002 OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa and the 2002 Guidelines of the African Union Election Observation and Monitoring Missions. The Mission was also informed by other international principles as well as the legal framework for the conduct of elections in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

The Mission also undertook a number of activities, including organising a two-day briefing programme for its observers on 17-18 September 2018 and engaging in stakeholder consultations including, the Chairman and members of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC), the Commissioner of the Royal Eswatini Police Service, political parties and civil society organisations. The Mission Leader also paid a courtesy call to His Majesty King Mswati III. The briefing and consultations were meant to orient the Mission and its observers on the historical and political context of the election, the preparedness of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC), the legal framework governing the election, and the role of civil society organisations and others in the electoral process.

Following the debriefing programme, the Mission deployed a total of eleven (11) teams to the four (4) regions of Eswatini. On Election Day, the teams visited 155 polling stations, 100 urban and 55 in the rural areas. It is acknowledged that the results tabulation is still underway. Therefore, this statement reflects the Mission’s preliminary findings and recommendations based on its consultations and observations up to the close of polling and counting. A more detailed final report of the Mission will be shared with relevant Eswatini authorities after the elections and made available to the public on the African Union website.
III. PRE-ELECTION ENVIRONMENT

Political Context

As was in the past elections, the 2018 elections took place within an environment that does not officially recognize the formation and operation of political parties in Eswatini. The elections were conducted in line with section 79 of the 2005 Constitution, which emphasizes individual merit as the basis for election or appointment to public office.

The Constitution seeks to incorporate and guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual in line with international and regional norms of democratic governance. According to the 2005 Constitution, The Executive reigns supreme over the other arms of government (the Judiciary and the Legislature) with the King as the highest authority.

The Legal Framework

The legal framework governing the 2018 elections includes the Constitution (2005), the Elections Act (2013), the Parliament Petition Act (2013), Senate Elections Act (2013), the Elections and Boundaries Commission Act (2013), the Voters Registration Act (2013) and the Election of Women Act (2018), as well as regulations promulgated by the EBC. In addition, Eswatini is a signatory to a number of regional and international instruments governing democratic elections, including the 2004 SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (as amended in 2015) and the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

In general, the legal framework provides for the preservation of key rights and freedoms, including freedom of association and assembly. Despite this, the AUEOM notes that the Constitution does not address the formation or role of political parties in the electoral process. There is an apparent contradiction between articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution, which guarantee freedom of association and assembly, and article 79, which establishes the system of government for Eswatini and emphasizes “individual merit” as a basis for election or appointment to public office.

The AUEOM further notes that despite the constitutional and legal reforms undertaken in 2013, the 1973 decree passed by King Sobhuza II, which dissolved and prohibited all political parties and similar bodies in Eswatini remains in force.

Election Management

The EBC is an independent body that is mandated to prepare, conduct and supervise the electoral process. According to Section 90 of the 2005 Constitution, the members of the Commission are appointed by the King on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission from among persons with qualifications of a judge or a superior court or with high moral character and demonstrable competence.
In preparation for the 2018 General Elections, the EBC undertook a number of activities, including, boundary delimitation, voter registration, voter education, training of electoral officials, procurement and distribution of election materials. The Mission notes that the EBC carried out these activities according to the publicized Electoral Calendar in line with international best practice and was well-prepared for the elections. However, the Commission did cite budgetary constraints in the run up to the elections, although these did not have any significant impact on the smooth running of the polls.

Constituency Delimitation

Both the Constitution and the Electoral Act require the EBC to review and determine the boundaries of constituencies (Tinkhundla) every fourth year of Parliament and submit recommendations to the King whether to change or maintain the existing boundaries. In doing so, the EBC is required to take into consideration the population quota, terrain, means of communication and other factors. For the 2018 elections, four (4) constituencies were added to make a total of 59.

Voter Registration

A new voter registration exercise was carried out between May and June 2018 in preparation for the elections. The mission received reports that the process recorded a high turnout of eligible voters intending to cast the ballot.

Campaigning

Canvassing for votes during primary elections is prohibited. According to Section 87 (5) of the Constitution, campaigning was only authorized for the secondary elections, starting on 19 August and ending on 20 September 2018. During this period, a candidate may publish any campaign material but this has to be approved by the EBC. It was reported that campaigning for the 2018 elections was mostly done on a one-to-one basis as opposed to utilizing the print media and mass rallies. Campaign posters were also observed in some areas.
The AUEOM notes that the prohibition of campaigning during primary elections does not allow for thorough scrutiny of potential candidates to be elected to parliament.

Civic and Voter Education

Civic and Voter Education was mainly conducted by the EBC although civil society organisations complemented its efforts. The messaging centred on mobilization of people to go and vote, promotion of peace and this is disseminated largely at community level. Civil society groups also held public outreaches calling for the stop of ritual killings related to boost chances of getting elected.

Participation of Women

The legal framework of Eswatini provides for an increase in women representation in Parliament. The Constitution of Swaziland in articles 84(2) and 86(1) requires quotas for women and marginalized groups be observed in the composition of the House of Parliament. A new piece of legislation was also introduced in 2018, the Election of Women Act to particularly address women’s representation into elected office. Eswatini also committed to a number of regional and international instruments to promote gender equality. These include the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Political Rights of Women (CPRW) and SADC Declaration on Gender and Development of 1997.

The Mission notes that despite these commitments, women remain under-represented in parliament. The number of women contesting for parliamentary and local government seats in this election remains low, thus negatively impacting on the representation of women in parliament.

Media

The media’s role in the election is regulated by a code of conduct developed by the EBC. The mission notes that there is a lack of media pluralism.

IV. ELECTION DAY OBSERVATION

The AUEOM observed the opening in eleven (11) polling stations, voting in one hundred and fifty-five (155) polling stations, and closing and counting in seven (7) centers. Based on its observation of the voting process, the Mission notes that:

• The voting process took place in a generally peaceful and orderly environment.
• Most of the polling stations visited by AU observers opened on time, and had sufficient materials to conduct the process.
• All polling stations visited had adequate staff, with the majority being women. Observers noted that the staff performed their duties professionally and generally adhered to voting procedures.
• Most polling stations were accessible to the elderly and people with disabilities who were also given preferential treatment.
• Candidate agents and citizen observers were present in some polling stations and were allowed to perform their duties without restriction or interference.
• No campaign materials or activities were observed in all polling stations visited excepted in two cases where campaigning was observed.
• Security personnel were visibly present in all polling stations visited but their presence was professional and non-intrusive.
• Long queues were observed in some polling stations visited particularly in the rural areas. Observers also noted the long distances between polling stations in the rural areas.
• The secrecy of the vote is generally guaranteed.
• The closing process at polling stations was done in accordance with EBC procedures, though it was time consuming. Counting of ballots was done at central locations, a situation that has the potential to compromise the security of the ballots.

Generally, the voting process was administered well except for the challenges encountered with the counting process.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on its observations and consultations, the Mission:

• Applauds the Kingdom of Eswatini for signing the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance on 29 January 2008, and further implores the Kingdom to consider ratifying, domesticating and implementing the Charter.
• Encourages the Eswatini authorities to consider reviewing the 1973 decree, which dissolved and prohibited all political parties and similar bodies in Eswatini and allow parties to freely participate in the electoral process in accordance with provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
• Urges the Eswatini authorities to consider entrenching the principle of separation of powers between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary in accordance with the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
• Urges electoral stakeholders to consider reviewing the electoral system to enhance inclusivity and foster participation of marginalized groups such as youth and people with disabilities.
• Urges the Government of Eswatini to ensure that the Electoral and Boundaries Commission is adequately resourced to carry out its mandate effectively and efficiently.
• While applauding relevant electoral stakeholders for ensuring that a large number of women participate in the electoral process as polling staff and voters, it encourages them to promote women’s participation and gender equality in elected offices.
• Urges the EBC to consider counting of ballots at polling stations immediately after voting to enhance efficiency, transparency and integrity of the process.
• Implores all electoral stakeholders to embark on comprehensive and continuous voter and civic education.
• Applauds the EBC for providing transportation for voters to polling stations. However, the Commission is encouraged to consider increasing the number of polling stations, especially in rural areas where the distances between the stations are too long.
• Encourages candidate agents and citizen observers to enhance their participation throughout all the stages of the electoral process.

CONCLUSION

The 2018 General Elections in the Kingdom of Eswatini were conducted in a peaceful environment. The EBC administered the election in a professional manner, despite the challenges observed by the Mission, especially during closing and counting stages of the electoral process.

The Mission extends its profound gratitude to all Eswatini electoral stakeholders and voters for participating in the electoral process with enthusiasm and in a peaceful manner.

Ezulwini, The Kingdom of Eswatini
22 September 2018

News Briefs 21 September 2018

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC unveils candidates for troubled vote

Election officials in Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday released an official list of candidates for December’s presidential election, formally excluding two heavyweight opposition figures.

“Now we have finished with the candidacy stage, we are in the home stretch for the December 23 elections,” said electoral commission chief Corneille Nangaa as he unveiled the list.

More than two dozen people registered their bid with the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), a much-contested panel tasked with overseeing the ballot in one of the Africa’s biggest and most unstable nations.

It gave the green light to opposition figures Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe, as well as to Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister backed by President Joseph Kabila.

News24

DR Congo political heavyweights excluded from presidential election

Election officials in Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday released an official list of candidates for December’s presidential election, formally excluding two heavyweight opposition figures.

“Now we have finished with the candidacy stage, we are in the home stretch for the December 23 elections,” said electoral commission chief Corneille Nangaa as he unveiled the list.

More than two dozen people registered their bid with the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), a much-contested panel tasked with overseeing the ballot in one of the Africa’s biggest and most unstable nations.

It gave the green light to opposition figures Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe, as well as to Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister backed by President Joseph Kabila.

France24

Somalia

Somalia ‘vulnerable but making progress’

The troubled Horn of Africa country, Somalia, is still vulnerable but is making progress towards a more stable future, according to the UN’s most senior official in the country.

Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, says the situation in Somalia, politically, economically and from a security perspective is improving; but he adds that after 30 years of civil war, long-held grievances are impeding progress in the country.

Mr Keating is leaving his post on Friday – he’s also head of the UN Mission in Somalia, UNSOM – after more than two and a half years in the job.

UN News

 

Intelligence officers in Somalia agree to strengthen collaboration in the fight against Al-Shabaab

Intelligence officers in Somalia have resolved to strengthen collaboration on information gathering and sharing to counter threats posed by terrorist group, Al-Shabaab.

The resolution was made at the end of a three-day intelligence information sharing conference organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the UK Mission Support Team (UK MST).

The conference, attended by senior intelligence officers from AMISOM and Somali national security agencies, sought to forge closer working ties among security agencies in the country. Intelligence officers gather critical information that informs security decisions taken by AMISOM and the Somali government.

Speaking at the end of the workshop, Col. Naboth Mwesigwa, the AMISOM Chief Military Intelligence Officer (CMIO), urged intelligence agencies in the country to work together by sharing critical information.

Relief Web

Central African Republic

Representatives from 14 militias in the strife-torn Central African Republic have held “positive” talks that could lead to negotiations with the government, the African Union (AU), acting as a mediator, said on Friday.

The “positive meeting in Bouar (in western Central African Republic) ended yesterday with a single document on demands, signed by the representatives of the 14 armed groups,” Francis Che, a spokesperson for the AU panel in Central African Republic said.

The document will now be put to the government as “the basis for negotiations between the two sides,” Che said.

The AU, supported by the UN and the Central African Republic’s main partners, has been striving to set up negotiations between the militias and the government since July 2017 but progress has been scant.

News24

Rival Central African Republic militias agree demands in ‘positive’ African Union meeting

Representatives from 14 militias in Central African Republic have held “positive” talks that could lead to negotiations with the government, the African Union which is acting as a mediator said on Friday, August 31.

The talks in Bouar in western CAR ran in parallel to a dialogue brokered by Russia between rival militias in Sudan that led to the Tuesday signing of a declaration of understanding between the armed groups.

Supported by the United Nations and other international partners, an A.U. panel has been working to set up negotiations between the militias and the government since July 2017.

Francis Che, a spokesperson for the African Union expert panel, said the “positive meeting in Bouar ended yesterday with a single document on demands, signed by the representatives of the 14 armed groups.”

The Defense Post

Sudan

Sudan’s new cabinet has uphill battle lifting the embattled economy

Sudan’s new 21-member cabinet was sworn in on Saturday, with Prime Minister Moutaz Mousa Abdallah also assuming the finance portfolio in a bid to revive the country’s economy.

Sudan has been grappling with an acute foreign exchange shortage and inflation above 65% for several months, prompting President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday to sack the previous 31-member cabinet to “fix the situation”.

Bashir had initially nominated Abdallah Hamdok as the new finance minister, but Sudan’s official news agency Suna reported earlier on Saturday that Hamdok had “apologised” and declined.

“After consultations with Prime Minister Moutaz Mousa Abdallah, President Bashir decided that the prime minister will hold the finance portfolio,” the presidency said in a statement on Saturday.

Business Day Live

Sudan rejects UN proposal to reconfigure Abyei peacekeeping force

Sudan has opposed a proposal by the United Nations Secretary-General to reconfigure the mandate of UN peacekeepers deployed on the disputed area of Abyei as it might affect the establishment of a local administration that Juba rejects.

The Security Council Thursday was briefed by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, outgoing UN Special Envoy Nicholas Haysom on the need to adjust the mission mandate to the changing needs in the disputed area.

Lacroix proposed to deploy additional police units, to enhance the UN’s focus on maintaining law and order there, and furthering peace between local communities.

According to the proposal, the military personnel of the Mission would concentrate its deployments along the borders of the Area, to safeguard against armed incursions.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Report Accuses South Sudan Troops of Rapes, Killings

Children and elderly burned alive. Women gang-raped. Civilians shot, run over with armored vehicles, or hanged from trees and rafters.

A new report by the rights group Amnesty International alleges that South Sudan’s government committed such atrocities earlier this year in a military campaign targeting the northern area once known as Unity state. The area, which borders Sudan, is an opposition stronghold.

The report, released Wednesday, contends the government offensive began in mid-April and continued for more than two months. During that period, President Salva Kiir and former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar were in negotiations for a peace agreement that they signed Sept. 12. It aims to end nearly five years of armed conflict.

The alleged attacks “seem to have been carried out with an absolute intent to displace civilians” and to leave their villages “uninhabitable,” said Joanne Mariner, the report’s co-author and Amnesty’s senior crisis adviser. Amnesty’s research indicates systematic targeting of women and children, as well as widespread looting and destruction of property.

Voice of America

  1. Sudan Ambassador Hopes to Repair Relations with US

In an interview Thursday with VOA’s South Sudan in Focus, Phillip Jada Natana, South Sudan’s new ambassador to the United States, said he wants to repair the damaged relationship between Washington and Juba.

The South Sudanese envoy said that Tibor P. Nagy, U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, has expressed a willingness to work with the Kiir administration.

“He is someone who has been following keenly the situation in South Sudan, and he said he was really willing to open a new page and work with me as a representative of South Sudan here in Washington,” Natana said.

Relations between South Sudan and the United States have been strained in recent years. In September 2017, Washington imposed unilateral targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Central African country.

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Trump has suggested building a giant wall in the Sahara. But it already exists

It stretches for almost three thousand kilometres under the Saharan sun, patrolled by military personnel and surrounded by landmines.

The Moroccan Western Sahara Wall is one of the longest separation barriers in the world, by some measurements second only in length to the Great Wall of China and certainly the longest in North Africa.

But its existence has escaped the attention of US President Donald Trump, who suggested, according to Spanish media reports this week, that Madrid should “build a wall” across the Sahara to stop refugees reaching the Spanish mainland.

Josep Borrell, Spain’s foreign minister, said that Trump made his comments to a Spanish delegation in the US in June, telling him: “The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico.”

Middle East Eye

AU limits its role in Western Sahara crisis

The African Union (AU) will be limiting its peace efforts in the Western Sahara in order to support the United Nations’ (UN) process in the region. Western Sahara is a disputed area claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario Front, the representatives of the indigenous Sahrawi people.

The UN oversaw a truce between the two sides in the early 1990s but the issue has never been resolved and tensions flare up periodically in the border regions. The AU has also asserted its role in resolving the crisis since the dispute erupted in the 1970s.

The AU’s new decision to limit its efforts means that unlike before, its Peace and Security Council (PSC) won’t discuss the Western Sahara situation among ambassadors in Addis Ababa where security issues are usually considered.

The AU will now only support the UN peace process through a troika of heads of state, together with the AU Commission (AUC) chairperson. While the troika will report to the AU Assembly and possibly the PSC at the level of heads of state, no major AU decision on Western Sahara could be expected going forward.

Daily Maverick

Swaziland

eSwatini, Formerly Swaziland, Heads for First Elections Under New Name

The tiny African nation of eSwatini is officially holding its first set of elections Friday under its new name, which was bestowed by the king in April. Critics say this poll is nothing but a pretense of democracy in the state, that was known as Swaziland, until the king unilaterally changed the name to celebrate the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Voters will choose 55 parliamentarians to fill the lower house in this nation of some 1.3 million people. King Mswati III, who has ruled since 1986 with unlimited constitutional powers, gets to choose another 10 legislators.

VOA made multiple attempts to reach government officials to discuss the elections, but calls and messages were not returned. The government’s official website makes no pretense of eSwatini being an ordinary democracy, describing the king as being “born to rule,” and “the only absolute monarch in Africa who rules his country with a firm hand.”

Voice of America

New name, same flaws in eSwatini election, say critics

Political parties cannot be involved, there are no campaign rallies and the king wields absolute power, choosing the prime minister and cabinet: a parliamentary election in eSwatini is a vote like no other.

Opposition activists in the tiny southern African country formerly known as Swaziland say Friday’s election is a mockery of democracy and reveals how its 1.3 million citizens have long lived under a repressive regime.

Around 540,000 eligible voters must choose from candidates who have no party affiliation and who are almost all loyal to King Mswati III, one of the world’s last absolute monarchs.

Winners from the 59 constituency ballots take seats in a parliament over which the king has complete control. He also appoints a further 10 directly.

“It is a total misnomer to even call them elections,” Alvit Dlamini, head of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, the oldest political party in eSwatini, told AFP.

Times Live

 

 

Zimbabwe

New faces as Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa makes civil service changes

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday made sweeping changes to the country’s top civil service.

He retired a batch of long-serving bureaucrats and promoted new faces in a break with his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, elected in July in a vote ratified by the courts after an opposition challenge, is under pressure at home and abroad to differentiate his administration from that of his former mentor Mugabe, who was ousted in a bloodless coup in November.

Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the president, said Mnangagwa had retired nine senior government officials, including Tobaiwa Mudede, an abrasive lawyer-turned-bureaucrat who had served as registrar general since independence in 1980 and was until recently in charge of the voter register.

The Star

New Zimbabwean president rules out early return to local currency

Zimbabwe’s new president on Tuesday ruled out an early return of the Zimbabwean dollar, toning down remarks by his finance minister that backed reintroducing the currency.

In an inaugural address in parliament marked by an opposition walkout, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged a raft of economic measures, including currency reforms and better forex availability.

But, he said, conditions had to be right before foreign currencies were replaced once more by the Zimbabwean dollar.

“My government shall continue with the use of the multicurrency system up until the current negative economic fundamentals have been addressed to give credence to the introduction of the local currency,” Mnangagwa said.

News24

 

 

Africa in General

Zim’s Mnangagwa promises to fight corruption, debt

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave his first state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday, promising to fight corruption, address the country’s ballooning external and local debt and meet people’s expectations of his administration.

Opposition MDC-Alliance members if Parliament (MPs) continued the tradition of walking out of the address, and walked out of Mnangagwa’s address.

The tradition gained traction during the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s tenure as MDC-T president, and was meant to show the then president Robert Mugabe that he was illegally in office after “stealing” the vote from the MDC-T in 2013.

Despite the walkout, Mnangagwa continued with his first address as president.

“My government is alive to the economic challenges being faced by the ordinary Zimbabwean,” Mnangagwa said.

His government recently come under fire for failing to attach the ongoing cholera outbreak the importance it deserves as the disease continues to take lives.

IOL

SA unions ‘must support struggling comrades in eSwatini’, says SAFTU

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has criticised eSwatini police’s heavy handedness in dealing with striking workers this week after they used batons and stun grenades to disperse protesting workers in Manzini.

Demonstrators and police clashed during a protest action to demand higher wages and reforms to the way the state pension fund was managed.

According to Reuters, several workers were wounded in the clashes, as police used batons, stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The organisers of the demonstrations, however, vowed to continue with the protest until Thursday, as the protests were also taking place in other parts of the country, including the capital Mbabane, Siteki and Nhlangano.

News24

South Sudan’s security gaps can only be filled by regional force says UN

The outgoing United Nations Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Nicholas Haysom has warned that security gaps in the world’s newest country can only be filled by regional security forces.

Haysom said on Tuesday that he supported the deployment of forces from regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in South Sudan within the UN peacekeeping force (UNMISS) there.

Haysom, who has been appointed UN special envoy for Somalia from October, also threw his weight behind the revitalised agreement which was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on September 12 by the South Sudanese governments and various opposition groups.

Pointing out that the peace deal fell short in certain areas the UN envoy stressed that it could still be an effective platform for peace, “if the parties demonstrate the political will to implement it”.

IOL

 

The passing away of a Mother

PRESS STATEMENT

The passing away of a Mother

15 September 2018 | https://bit.ly/2OpOmwx

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization BDS South Africa mourns the passing away of mama Wafieh, the 76 year-old mother of senior Palestinian BDS leader, Comrade Omar Barghouti.

In a moving, personal and powerful message, titled “on loss and faith,” Comrade Omar writes:

“Today, I experienced a personal Nakba (catastrophe). I am rarely broken, but today I am….[my mother was] a feminist, an avid reader of literature and politics, an incredible cook, an unwavering supporter of popular struggles the world over against all forms of injustice, a moderate addict of Facebook (much less so of Twitter), a fan of the BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace (US), a cleanliness freak, and an exceptional care giver with the biggest heart possible. That heart stopped today, for the last time.”  (Below find Cde Omar Barghouti’s full letter on the passing of his mother).

Before Israel imposed a travel ban on him, Comrade Omar had previously travelled to South Africa, where he met with several Government Ministers, MPs and other officials. Last year, at its 14th National Congress, the SACP conferred a special recognition award to Barghouti. We and fellow South African activists know comrade Omar personally, and as a stalwart in the struggle for justice for all Palestinians. We now learn (through his letter, found below) that he comes from a family of resistance against oppression and determination to secure their liberation.

Like many of the heroes of our own struggle against apartheid, who did not live to see the end of Apartheid in South Africa, Omar’s mother Wafieh Barghouthi, left this world without seeing the end of Israeli apartheid. She was a fighter, a resister, never a victim. Our hearts go out to Comrade Omar at the loss of his mother. It is never easy to lose a mother, and if there is one common expression that is utterly untrue in relation to the loss of a mother, then, it is that “time heals all wounds”.

In addition to our sadness at this deep personal loss, is our anger that the Israeli Apartheid regime prevented Comrade Omar the simple decency to visit his mother during her last days (in her fight against cancer, click here). Futhermore, stooping to a level of utter cruetly, Israel is now also denying Cde Omar permission to attend his mother’s funeral in Amman. He writes: “They are trying to punish me for my role as a human rights defender in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights. They think they will break me or deter me. Little do they know that this branch comes from that tree, and that tree has its strong roots deep in the fertile ground of Palestinian identity, Palestinian quest for justice and freedom, Palestinian resistance and Palestinian insistence on life that is worth living.”

There seems no limit to the indecency of the Israeli regime. Time and time again, Israel pushes the boundaries of the cruelty that they are capable of inflicting on the Palestinian people – a people who desire nothing but freedom and justice.

We are moved but not surprised at the deep love expressed by Comrade Omar in his letter below, for love is what lies at the heart of our struggle for freedom – a love for people (all people), for freedom and justice. It is this love that inspires and drives us in our solidarity with Cde Omar, the Palestinian people struggling against Israeli apartheid and all oppressed peoples of the world.
Hamba Kahle, Comrade Wafieh! Go well, mother. Rest, for you have done your part. Your son, will pick up the spear and we will fight along with him and all the Palestinian people along with all those in solidarity with them – Jew, Christian Muslim, non-religious people – everyone who dreams of a world wherein children (including Palestinian children) are free to be children.
Our deepest love from South Africa goes out to you and your family, dear Comrade Omar.
ON LOSS AND FAITH

– Letter by Omar Barghouti on the passing away of his mother, Wafieh (14 September 2018)

Today, I experienced a personal Nakba. I am rarely broken, but today I am.

At 6:30 am, my beloved mother, Wafieh, which translates to loyal or faithful, passed away in her home in Amman, unexpectedly, swiftly, at the age of 76. She died on September 14, a day after the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, without any apparent connection. Or so it seems.
My mother was born in Jerusalem in 1942, six years before the Nakba. She never cared much for Valentine’s Day, and she despised the “tacky red heart-shaped merchandise” that came along with it, but she was born on it.
They found her this morning on her kitchen floor with half a lemon in her hand, a smile on her face, and her suitcase at the door.
She was preparing her daily lemon water, to improve her immunity, as she was set to travel in a couple of hours — accompanied by my wife, Safa — to celebrate her victory over breast cancer. I was not planning to travel with them as I am still effectively under an Israeli travel ban.
When I saw her last, it was in Ramallah, a week ago. She was happy that she has recovered well and that her fingernails were finally growing normally after she had lost them all during chemotherapy. “These little victories are absolutely necessary,” she said. “They nourish our willpower to keep the good fight against the monster inside.”
Once we were discussing the concepts of victimness and resistance whether pertaining to the struggle against settler-colonialism or to cancer. She told me, “I do not see myself primarily as a victim, although I am a survivor of cancer. I see myself as a fighter who cannot relent. But I am so fortunate to have had the love and care and to be able to get medical treatment. How many sisters with cancer in Gaza are not allowed to travel for treatment and cannot get treated in Gaza either due to the fascist siege? It is beyond cruel and criminal. It’s fascist. I do not know how much longer I’ll live, but I shall dedicate my time to fight for their and their loved ones’ right to have this most fundamental right of theirs respected.”
She then went on a tirade against the Palestinian leadership for “failing to fight for our most basic rights; not just the right of return for refugees but also the right to life itself.”
Those who know my mother would know that political tirades are a genuine part of her unique and intriguing character. She was a secular Nasserite (supporter of the late Arab leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser), a feminist, an avid reader of literature and politics, an incredible cook, an unwavering supporter of popular struggles the world over against all forms of injustice, a moderate addict of Facebook (much less so of Twitter), a fan of the BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace (US), a cleanliness freak, and an exceptional care giver with the biggest heart possible.
That heart stopped today, for the last time.
She was loving, responsible, fiercely independent, and quite expressive of her loathing of Zionism, religious coercion, sexism, despotic Arab regimes and, of course, the target of her daily attacks, the “hopelessly corrupt, co-opted and treacherous” Palestinian leadership.
My father, who was less intense but no less resolute in fighting for his beliefs and for our people’s rights, shared many of her opinions on politics and society, but not all.
He passed away 12 years ago.
He was among the independent founders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Jerusalem in 1964. Throughout his activity in the PLO in various positions (voluntary, not paid), he consistently opposed and often publicly condemned every effort by the leadership to surrender Palestinian rights.
After the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, he publicly attacked it, considering it a form of capitulation to Israel’s settler-colonial project. My mother was 100% in agreement with him. But she did not much like the fact that he still had to meet Palestinian leaders from various political parties to explain his opposition to Oslo.
Whenever those meetings happened in their home in Amman, his assorted guests of politicians had to listen to mother’s unsolicited views. She would use the occasion of offering hospitality (she is a great cook, as I said earlier, so everyone looked forward to tasting her delicacies) to pause and offer a piece of her fearless mind.
She would usually start by reminding them how women’s voices are becoming less and less heard in the movement, to its detriment. And then she would share with them her analysis of what’s wrong with the movement, why it has strayed away from the liberation path, and what needs to be done to recover.
I’ll miss her tirades, her profound views on life, her unconditional love, her willpower, and her world-class sitt-il-hussun (a Levantine dessert of a special dough stuffed with walnut, black sesame and cinnamon, fried and dipped into a sugary syrup).
My lawyer is still trying to get me a reprieve of the de facto travel ban imposed on me so I can attend my mother’s funeral in Amman. In contempt of a 2016 court decision, the Israeli Ministry of Interior has for more than two months failed to renew my travel document, without which I cannot travel.
They are trying to punish me for my role as a human rights defender in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights. They think they will break me or deter me. Little do they know that this branch comes from that tree, and that tree has its strong roots deep in the fertile ground of Palestinian identity, Palestinian quest for justice and freedom, Palestinian resistance and Palestinian insistence on life that is worth living.
Wafieh, you have lived a life of “loyalty” and “faith” to your principles, to your people’s struggle, to your loved ones. I shall forever be faithful to your loving memory and the lessons you have taught me.
Omar
ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA

Continue reading

Civil Society Consultation on the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement

On the 22nd of August, the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO), in partnership with the Southern African Trust (SAT) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), hosted a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the role of civil society in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement. This policy brief provides a summary and recommendations from the dialogue. In Botswana on the 10th of June 2016, after 10 years of negotiation, the EU and six countries of the SADC region – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique – signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) giving the SADC EPA Group 100% free access (South Africa had 98.7% customs duties removed) to the EU market. The EPA became fully operational in February 2018. The economic partnership is development-orientated with the expectation of facilitating sustainable development, reducing poverty and advancing regional integration. Some of the key issues raised in this dialogue pertained to the developmental and economic intentions of the EPA, the role of civil society within a SADC EPA framework, the post-BREXIT environment, development finance, implications for regional integration of SADC countries belonging to different trade blocs, opportunities and challenges faced by the EPA and possible partnerships available for work on EPAs.

Read PDF here: SADC-EPA PB 19Sept2018 – Illustrated

News Briefs 07 September 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Rebels Ambush South African Peacekeepers in Congo Ebola Zone

Two South African peacekeepers were wounded in a rebel ambush near the epicentre of an Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, their UN mission said on Tuesday.

The attack on Monday on the outskirts of the city of Beni underscored the challenges authorities face in tackling a flare-up of the deadly disease in an active conflict zone stalked by dozens of armed groups.

Health officials say they have made progress slowing the haemorrhagic fever’s spread with experimental vaccines and treatments. But they cannot be sure the situation is under control due to difficulties accessing some areas.

The peacekeepers’ patrol was attacked in the town of Ngadi by militants believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan Islamist group active in eastern Congo, said Florence Marchal, spokeswoman for the UN mission known as MONUSCO.

EWN

DR Congo opposition leader Bemba barred from presidential poll

Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, a top opposition figure who returned to the country after more than a decade, has been barred as a presidential candidate in December’s long-delayed election.

The Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) late on Monday backed the electoral commission’s decision that Bemba cannot run because of a pending case at the International Criminal Court.

Bemba became a surprise contender after ICC appeals judges in June acquitted him of war crimes committed by his Movement for the Liberation of Congo forces in the neighbouring Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003. He returned to the DRC last month after more than a decade away.

The electoral commission, however, pointed out the pending case in which he was convicted of interfering with witnesses, calling it synonymous with corruption. Congolese law prevents people convicted of corruption from running for the presidency.

Aljazeera

Somalia

World Bank’s Flagship Infrastructure Project Launched in Somalia

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the World Bank launched the flagship infrastructure project in Somalia. The Somali Urban Resilience Project (SURP), worth US$ 9 million, will be the country’s first national test case for municipal infrastructure delivery.

“The World Bank’s role in Somalia is about working with and through government and building the capacity of the authorities to spearhead reform and development,” said Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Representative for Somalia. “The SURP will allow us to build on the initial work in urban resilience and to expand this agenda across the country.

SURP is a national urban resilience project that aims to pilot the use of country systems at the sub-national level and strengthen municipal governments’ capacity. Initial interventions will begin in Mogadishu and Garowe, and will expand to Kismayo and Baidoa. These cities were chosen as they experience rapid and large influxes of returnees and Internally Displaced Persons.

The Somali Urban Investment Planning Project prepared the ground for this larger-scale, World Bank supported infrastructure project. “SURP signals the importance of supporting urban resilience, and places regional and municipal authorities in the forefront of the urban agenda,” said Eng. Abdirahman Omar Osman (Yariisow), Mayor of Mogadishu. “SURP would also create jobs by financing basic rehabilitation of infrastructure.

Relief Web

With stability in Somalia everybody wins – UN envoy

“Somalia’s enormous potential will not be realised unless there is stability.”

That was the key message of the United Nations envoy to Somalia at a gathering of leaders from the country’s Federal Member States.

Held in the southern port city of Kismayo, the meeting of the Council of Inter-state Cooperation (CIC) brought together the presidents of Puntland, HirShabelle, Galmudug and South West states, as well as Jubaland, of which Kismayo is the capital.

Addressing the gathering, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia encouraged the state leaders to strengthen cooperation between their governments and the federal authorities, noting how doing so can create stable conditions beneficial to all Somalis.

Mr. Keating listed the areas in which action was needed to achieve this goal. They included tangible progress in building security forces that are both capable and trusted, adopting a justice model, clarifying constitutional arrangements and power-sharing arrangements, passing an electoral law, and increasing revenues on the basis of resource- and revenue-sharing agreements.

Relief Web

Central African Republic

Xi meets Central African Republic president

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday met with Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera after the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) concluded on Tuesday.

Xi stressed that China has always supported and actively helped the peace process and development of Central African Republic, and hopes it will achieve new progress in its endeavor towards lasting peace and sustainable development.

China is ready to work with Central African Republic to strengthen political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, help it improve food security and people’s living standard, and continue to send medical teams to the country, said Xi.

China will continue to stand up and speak for Central African Republic at multilateral organizations, push for more international concern and input in the peace process of the country, as well as more constructive assistance.

Xinhua

Central African Republic militias sign agreement brokered by Russia and Sudan

Russia and Sudan hosted talks between some of the Central African Republic’s rival militias, CAR officials said on Wednesday, August 29, while documents showed the groups had signed a preliminary agreement to “converge towards peace.”

The meetings in the Sudanese capital Khartoum began on Monday, August 27 and unfolded in parallel to another effort to mediate between the armed groups and the government led by the African Union which is ongoing in Bouar in western CAR.

In their declaration of understanding signed on Tuesday, rival ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka armed groups said they had decided to “create a common framework for dialogue and action for a real and lasting peace” in the country.

CAR’s Minister of Communication and Media Ange-Maxime Kazagui in a government statement read on national radio said Russia and Sudan “took the step of holding a meeting in Khartoum with the heads of armed groups.”

The Defense Post

Sudan

Sudan’s participation in Yemen war part of commitment to Arab issues: FM

Sudan’s Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed said his country’s participation in the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen was part of a collective commitment toward Arab issues.

In an interview with the Yemen news agency Saba on Monday, Ahmed said Sudan took part in the military alliance in order to restore security and stability in Yemen.

He underlined Sudan’s support to the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffith, to arrive at a peaceful solution to the crisis through dialogue.

The Sudanese army has been participating in the Saudi-led military coalition since 2015 in a regional effort to back the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after he was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

Last May, President Omar al-Bashir underscored Sudan’s continued participation in the military coalition, three weeks after State Defence Minister Ali Mohamed Salim said his ministry was evaluating pros and cons of the participation in the Yemen war in order to decide on it soon.

Sudan Tribune

Sudanese parliament to endorse elections law in October: NCP

The head of political sector at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Abdel-Rahman al-Khidir Wednesday said the 2020 elections law would be endorsed at the parliament in October.

Last June, the Sudanese Council of Ministers approved 2018 elections law amid objection of several political forces participating in the national dialogue.

In press statements on Wednesday, al-Khidir said the law would be endorsed in agreement with all political forces in the parliament, stressing convergence of views with these forces on many of the provisions of the law.

He added the NCP political sector has recommended continued contacts with all political forces without exception, saying the amendment of the constitution and approval of elections law are the public responsibility that requires the participation of all political parties.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

Humanitarian convoy reaches insecure areas of S. Sudan

An inter-agency humanitarian convoy has reached Baggari region in South Sudan for the first time since it was cut off in June because of renewed fighting in the area.

The World Food Programme (WFP), lack of security and of safety guarantees for aid workers has left some 28,000 people in Baggari, a region located southwest of Wau town, in dire need of humanitarian assistance in recent months.

A 14-truck convoy, led by WFP, reportedly brought 40 aid workers from 11 different organizations into Baggari region on Wednesday. The teams, some of which are already assisting people, are due to start a count on Friday to determine the number of people in need and their conditions, with food deliveries expected to start over the weekend.

The 11 organizations in the convoy were UN Children Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Organization for Migration, ACTED, Oxfam, Islamic Relief, Community Organization for Emergency and Rehabilitation, Johanniter International, Hold the Child, Islamic Relief and WFP.

“Access to vulnerable people continues to be challenging in South Sudan,” says WFP acting country director, Simon Cammelbeeck.

Sudan Tribune

  1. Sudan military court jails 10 soldiers for rape, murder

South Sudan’s military court on Thursday handed jail sentences to 10 soldiers accused for raping foreign aid workers and murdering a local journalist in the capital, Juba.

The incident in Terrain Hotel, a luxurious facility accommodating foreigners and employees from the United Nations agencies, was attacked by suspected government soldiers loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir on 11 July when fighting erupted between rival forces of the South Sudan’s former first vice president, Riek Machar.

12 soldiers were on trial, but while one was freed for lack of evidence charged, another died under unclear circumstances during the trial.

Thursday’s ruling has sentences ranging from seven years to life. The court also ordered the government to pay damages to the victims.

Each of the rape survivors are to be given $4,000 in compensation, the court ordered and that government pays 51 heads of cattle to the slain journalist’s family.

Sudan Tribune

 

 

Western Sahara

Moroccan Institutions Have No Right to Speak for Western Sahara People, Says Sidati

Saharawi Deputy Minister for Europe Mohamed Sidati on Sunday warned the institutions under Moroccan law against speaking on behalf of Western Sahara people, as the occupied towns of Al-Ayun and Dakhla are bracing to welcome a European Parliament delegation.

“A European parliament delegation will pay a two-day visit to the occupied territory of Western Sahara, from Monday, for a better understanding of the situation,” Sidati said in a press statement.

“The Polisario Front welcomes the efforts that show the will to gather as much information as possible before taking any decision.”

Sidati said he wanted to recall three essential points.

“The Kingdom of Morocco, a military occupying power, under the 4th Geneva Convention, has no sovereignty over the territory (of Western Sahara)”

The authorizations they think they can give, especially to get access to the territory, are worthless under the international law and the European law,” the Saharawi diplomat said.

AllAfrica

Western Sahara Governor Slams Democracy Now! for ‘Human Rights’ Comments

The wali of Western Sahara has slammed the Democracy Now! television program for reporters’ comments on human rights in Western Sahara.

A former member of the Polisario Front, Wali Yahdih Bouchaab, lost his temper and asked American journalists working for Democracy Now! to rather focus on human rights violations in the US.

Democracy Now! posted an hour-long exclusive broadcast on Western Sahara on Youtube on August 31. Twenty minutes into the feature, the crew of journalists recorded video as they headed into the office of the wali in Laayoune. But on arrival, Bouchaab refused to give the interview, asking them to get authorization.

“If you have the authorization, I would be more than glad to provide this interview.”

However, the journalist interviewing the official started asking him questions on human rights in Western Sahara in front of a hidden camera.

“If I am retired, I can even come to your station in the US and to deliver that interview,” he said, emphasizing that he could not give information if the crew did not have authorization.

Morocco World News

Swaziland

eSwatini has no interest in $60bn the Chinese have earmarked for Africa

As more than 40 African heads of state arrived at the China-Africa Cooperation summit Monday, one figure stood out: $60 billion. That’s how much additional funding Chinese President Xi Jinping promised the continent as the two-day summit got underway.

And all of Africa is competing for it – except for one country: eSwatini, an absolute monarchy previously known as Swaziland.

 

The tiny kingdom was absent from this week’s Africa summit and appears to have no plans of attending anytime soon. It’s the last African nation that still recognizes Taiwan as an independent country, much to the dismay of the Chinese leadership in Beijing that considers Taiwan to be a wayward province.

Swaziland Foreign Minister Mgwagwa Gamedze recently reemphasized the kingdom’s commitment to Taiwan, warning China that Beijing “must not play mind games because our relationship with Taiwan is over 50 years so we will not dump them … We have no desire to change camps since Taiwan has been good to us.”

China has halfheartedly rejected Swaziland’s criticism, with Beijing’s Africa envoy, Xu Jinghu, recently saying that “on this issue, we won’t exert any pressure. We’ll wait for the time to be right … I believe this day will come sooner or later.”

IOL

eSwatini celebrates 50 years independence

ESwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is celebrating 50 years of independence marking half century of sovereignty from colonial rule.

In April 2018, King Mswati III had announced that the country would henceforth be called the ‘Kingdom of ESwatini’. It was a lead up to the Independence Day celebrations.

He wanted to stop the confusion between Swaziland and Switzerland, whose English name is ‘Switzerland’.

ESwatini is distinguished by their rich culture and unique government structure as a diarchy. Ruled jointly by King Mswati III and the Queen Mother Ntfombi Tfwala since 1986, the king is the administrative head of state while the queen is the national head of state with focus on serving as keeper of the ritual fetishes of the nation and presiding during the annual Umhlanga rite.

Africa CGTN

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe says now accepts Mnangagwa as legitimate president

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has said he now accepts President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country’s legitimate leader after initially accusing him of leading a “disgraceful” de facto coup that ended his near four-decades rule last year.

On the eve of the July 30 vote, Mugabe said he would vote for the opposition to remove Mnangagwa’s “military government”, as the 94-year-old leader expressed bitterness and turned against his one-time allies in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

But at a funeral wake of his mother-in-law, Mugabe said Mnangagwa’s victory, which is still disputed by his main opponent Nelson Chamisa, made him a legitimate president, the privately-owned NewsDay and state-owned The Herald newspapers reported on Friday.

Reuters

 

Britain to replace controversial ambassador to Zimbabwe – report

Britain will reportedly replace its “controversial” envoy in Zimbabwe with current World Bank director Melanie Robinson at the beginning of next year.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Robinson will replace long-time ambassador Catriona Laing in Harare after she is redeployed to Nigeria.

Laing was expected to be deployed to the west African country after her departure from Zimbabwe in January 2019.

“Melanie Robinson has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe in succession to Catriona Laing who will be transferred to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Ms Robinson will take up her appointment in January 2019,” reads part of the British government statement.

According to the Daily Mail, Laing was recently accused of “putting lipstick on a crocodile” by “cosying up” to the winner of the southern African country’s election.

News24

 

 

 

Africa in General

France, Benelux to propose EU aid for Africa in return for migrant help

France and the three Benelux countries on Thursday launched a plan to offer EU funds to African countries in return for help stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.

With the issue of immigration fuelling populist movements across Europe, the EU is under pressure to come up with ways to stop the arrival of illegal migrants, many of whom risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats.

French President Emmanuel Macron and the prime ministers of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands said they had agreed on “concrete” proposals to put forward at a meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria, later this month.

News24

Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia leaders to meet in Asmara

Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somalia leaders are set to meet in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, furthering the diplomatic thaw in the strategic Horn of Africa region.

By bringing together the leaders of former arch-foes in a summit on Wednesday, Eritrea is building newly friendly relations with neighbours Ethiopia and Somalia.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed arrived at Eritrea’s in Assab port for a two-day working visit in Eritrea, said Eritrea’s Minister of Information, Yemane Gebremeskel. He tweeted that Ethiopia’s leader and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki will hold “extensive discussions” to follow up on an agreement signed by the two countries in July.

He later tweeted that Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will arrive in Asmara later on Wednesday for a tripartite summit.

News24

Zimbabwean members of parliament to be sworn in

The swearing in of Zimbabwe’s newly-elected members of Parliament (MPs) and senators has been set for Wednesday, the Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, said on Tuesday.

Chokuda, who will preside over the swearing-in, said the 270 legislators were expected to take their oaths of office at the Parliament of Zimbabwe in Harare.

The swearing-in of MPs will set in motion business for the ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe.

“Swearing in of Members of the ninth Parliament will be done in line with section 128 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It will be done starting with the National Assembly at 10 am and the Senate at 14h30 hours,” Chokuda said.

He said they had also sensitised legislators of what is expected of them and what they should expect in Parliament.

The swearing in of MPs present an opportunity for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to announce the cabinet.

IOL

Rescued migrants must not be sent back to Libya: UN

Migrants and asylum-seekers rescued while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe should not be sent back to Libya, where they risk “serious abuses,” the UN’s human rights agency has warned.

In an update to its official position on returns to Libya, the UNHCR warned against any such move, mooted recently by Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in a standoff with other EU nations on the migrant influx.

“Insecurity and the lack of governance have enabled illicit activities such as corruption as well as people-smuggling and human trafficking to thrive, further fuelling instability in the country,” the agency wrote this month.

Proposals to set up processing centres for asylum applications in Libya and other North African countries, as called for in a deal struck by EU leaders in June, did not change its position, the UN’s refugee body said.

News24