LETTER TO AU CHAIRPERSON REQUESTING URGENT INTERVENTION TO PROTECT PEACEFULLY PROTESTING WORKERS AGAINST ALARMING VIOLENCE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE


Your Excellency,

The African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa www.ituc-africa.org ) calls for your urgent intervention with the Government of Zimbabwe to bring an end to the alarming and dangerous situation faced by the leaders and members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for taking peaceful protest action against steep fuel prices that have worsened an already unbearable high cost of living in the country. The ZCTU called for a three-day ‘Stay Away’ from 14 to 16 January 2019 demanding an end to the economic crisis faced by the country and a reversal of the over 200% increase in fuel prices announced by the government.

On Monday, January 14 2019, police and security forces violently attacked peaceful protesters by opening fire on them, injuring many, with reports of eight killed and over 200 arrested. The fierce crackdown has continued with reports of heavy military and police presence on the streets and security forces arbitrarily assaulting citizens, including entering homes to drag out and beat people in an effort to instill fear and to clampdown on dissent. Furthermore, cell and landline communications, the internet and social media were blocked for two days to prevent access to information.

The Government of Zimbabwe has clearly reneged on its duty to ensure that the country’s social climate is free of violence and fear. It is violently attacking protesters on the streets and individuals in their homes instead of protecting and guaranteeing their safety. Workers have the right to express their views on the government’s economic programs, including through peaceful demonstrations in an atmosphere free of fear, intimidation, coercion, repression and violence.

ITUC-Africa therefore requests your immediate intervention with the Government of Zimbabwe to demand an end to the violation of the right to freedom of association and to call for the safety of all protesters as well as the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested. The government must accept the call of the ZCTU for social dialogue in order to address the economic woes of the country.

We also call for an independent judicial inquiry into the excessive violence against protesters to be instituted without delay in order to punish guilty parties and to prevent the repetition of such rights violations.

Yours sincerely,
Kwasi Adu-Amankwah
General Secretary, ITUC-Africa

Read PDF here: letter to AU chairperson on situation in Zimbabwe

SILENCING OF ZIMBABWEANS DISTURBING – COSATU

Source: https://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/silencing-of-zimbabweans-disturbing–cosatu

Federation condemns forceful nature in which govt of the country is responding to legitimate protests

COSATU Solidarity Statement against the clampdown on legitimate protests and attempts to silence the growing frustration in Zimbabwe

17 February 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] is deeply disturbed and concerned by the blatant disregard for human rights in Zimbabwe, and the level of violence ordinary people are exposed to. This systemic abuse of power and repression against leaders and members of the trade union movement led by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions [ZCTU] as well as the opposition should be condemned.

We condemn the forceful nature in which the government of Zimbabwe is responding, following legitimate and legal protests organised by the ZCTU and its affiliates. We have watched with dismay as the legalised repression unfolds in Zimbabwe.

These protests were organised based on legitimate demands about salaries, fuel price hikes, deteriorating economic situation, living conditions and general affordability of essentials for ordinary Zimbabweans. The Government of Zimbabwe was given the demands with the ultimatum for them to do away with the fuel hike in particular.

We applaud our sister federation the ZCTU in the unwavering determination to represent the working class and poor even in such conditions. The Federation took care to avoid violence by calling for a stay-away protest to avoid violent clashes but, instead of a formal response to their demands the government unleashed the army and the police on people.

In an attempt to cover up the awful and unlawful suppression of human rights by the Zimbabwean Government ,particularly unleashed on the people mainly residing in townships,  the Zimbabwean government suspended the Internet on the 15th January 2019 around 7 am; which was confirmed by Twitter and that the shutdown was as a directive from Zimbabwean Government.

This act clearly was meant to silence the growing frustrated voices and limit communication on the subsequent clampdown today against leaders, workers, and members of the community who are involved in the stay-away since Monday, 14th February 2019.

It is reported that the police and the army have been raiding homes dragging everyone outside, forcing them to go to work and beating them up and also arresting others. It is said no one is spared this humiliation, people as old as 60years old, women included are being dragged from their homes and beaten while others are taken and their whereabouts unknown.

A number of activists have been taken and these include Pastor Evan Mawarira known for the #thisflag campaign and the Organising Secretary of the MDC Alliance, Amos Chibaya one taken by police and the other by soldiers. We call for their immediate release.

It is deplorable that live ammunition has been used on citizens, with more than 27 cases of multiple gunshot wounds and fatalities reported, as well as more than 1600 people reportedly injured and seeking medical care from Doctors without Borders.

Reports from the ground are that the numbers of those who have died since this morning have reached double digits and may increase as people regain the ability to communicate through the internet again.

We call on SADC to stop treating the issue of Zimbabwe lightly, there needs to be a stronger and more sustainable response to normalise the situation in that country, a solution that will include improving the lives of the citizens of that country. Change needs to come urgently.

The Zimbabwe Diaspora has sanctioned a march to the Zimbabwean Embassy on the 26th January 2019 in Pretoria in Solidarity with ZCTU and we call on all to join the march in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum will convene a meeting on 17th January 2019 to develop a formal response to the situation currently unfolding in Zimbabwe and COSATU will be part of this.

COSATU remains resolute as a strong partner of the ZCTU in its struggle for human and trade union rights, social justice, economic and political freedom.

Amandla ZCTU!

Issued by Zanele Matebula, Deputy International Secretary, COSATU, 17 January 2019

Blind eye being turned to the abuse of boys, says report NEWS / 17 JANUARY 2019, 05:15AM / YOLISA TSWANYA

Source: https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/blind-eye-being-turned-to-the-abuse-of-boys-says-report-18844072

Picture: Pixabay

Cape Town – Boys are overlooked when it comes to cases of sexual abuse and exploitation.

This is highlighted in the report “Out of the Shadows: Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation”, which was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with support from the World Childhood Foundation, the Oak Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation.

The report found child sexual abuse and exploitation was a pressing concern for countries.

“Girls are the primary victims, and boys are overlooked. Just over half – 21 of the 40 countries – have legal protections for boys within their child rape laws, while only 18 countries collect prevalence data about the sexual abuse of boys. Just five collect prevalence data for boys related to child sexual exploitation.”

While statistics on boys is lacking, the research showed that 120 million boys, globally, had been subjected to some form of sexual abuse.

“The adverse effects of sexual violence in childhood on health and mental well-being carry into adulthood, foreshadowing societal and public health risks that, like abuse itself, remain largely overlooked.”

The study found that boys were barely addressed in some legal frameworks covering sexual violence against children, nor were they the focus of much government attention.

UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed said: “Every day, across all countries and levels of society, millions of girls and boys face the alarmingly common childhood experience of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

The report found that South Africa had demonstrated its commitment to tackling sexual violence against children by enacting comprehensive legislation on sexual offences against children.

However, victim support and resources for legal and law enforcement professionals could be strengthened.

“South Africa has a comprehensive system of training and guidance for front line support workers who respond to cases of sexual violence against children.

The Department of Education issues guidelines for teaching professionals, and there are similar programmes for medical, social and psychiatric workers.

“The country, also, provides protections against the procurement of minors for sexual services and the visual depiction of minors engaging in sexual activities, having signed into law the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill in 2013.”

Army, Zanu PF role in protests exposed By Newsday

Source: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/01/army-zanu-pf-role-in-protests-exposed/

A SERVING top military official and a police officer were yesterday unmasked as leaders of the deadly protests in the Epworth dormitory town, which led to the death of civilians and looting of shops.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/ XOLISANI NCUBE

Some of the hundreds of protesters arrested over the last three days appear at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday

This came as more Zanu PF officials were exposed for their riotous role during the three-day mass stayaway organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and social movements to protest the sharp fuel price hikes announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Saturday.

Lieutenant Morrosi Carnage of Inkomo Mounted Regiment, who was arrested together with other 60 protesters, appeared before Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo yesterday charged with public violence.

While opposing bail, Epworth police officer-in-charge Peter Mangwende told the court that Carnage was one of the leaders who led the violent protesters from the front.

Mangwende also told court that a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Ignatius Zuze, was also shot while leading the protesters.

However, Zuze could not be located at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, where he was supposed to be under treatment.

Carnage and his 60 alleged accomplices are represented by members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights — Kossam Ncube, Marufu Mandevere and Nontokhozo Dube-Tachiona.

The lawyers took the State to task after prison doctors failed to treat and examine the suspects, who were severely assaulted by the police and some had visible injury marks.

Mandevere, however, successfully filed for the accused persons to be examined by private doctors, saying the court should have granted the order to have them treated.

“The court cannot just watch. These accused persons were severely assaulted and some have visible injury marks. The suspects cannot lose dignity or human rights because of the arrest. This can happen to anyone. The court needs to maintain the accused person’s rights,” Mandevere said

The defence applied for bail pending trial, but the State opposed, saying they must proceed to trial.

Mapfumo postponed the matter to today for continuation.

Eight other Zanu PF youth leaders have appeared in court facing allegations of public violence and looting after they allegedly burnt a Zupco bus along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway before they looted a shop belonging to Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu (Zanu PF).

Zanu PF Harare provincial youth league boss Godwin Gomwe was on Wednesday night also reportedly assaulted by soldiers for leading a terror group that was attacking suspected MDC supporters in Budiriro as well as participating in looting under the guise of restoring peace.

Yesterday, a subdued Gomwe had promised to discuss the issue with NewsDay later in the evening, as he claimed to be with “certain important people” discussing important matters.

“Can I call you later. I have your mobile number. I am with important people here, talking something very important. I will call in 30 minutes time,” Gomwe said in a hushed tone.
After 30 minutes, Gomwe was not picking up calls. He also did not respond to messages sent to his mobile phone.

But Zanu PF insiders said the youth league boss was leading a gang of 70 youths that went on a rampage in Budiriro and other residential areas, assaulting known MDC supporters, accusing them of having participated in the protests before he unleashed his troops to loot some shops.

“He was using a fleet of 20 unmarked vehicles and he terrorised people, but luck ran out when they were stopped by the military, who wanted to know what they were doing and who had sanctioned their actions. He ignored them and went away. But the soldiers followed him to his residence, where he was assaulted together with members of his gang. He was left at Harare Central Police Station,” a senior Zanu PF official said.

The ruling party and government have blamed the opposition Nelson Chamisa-led MDC for orchestrating violence during the three-day national strike, to force the administration to address the economic decay bedevilling the country.

During the three-day stayaway, junior military officers, who were earlier reportedly moving around high-density suburbs beating up people for participating in the national strike that turned violent, were seen engaging residents, telling them to exercise their right peacefully.

In Dzivarasekwa and Mabvuku, the soldiers ordered residents to stay indoors and exercise their right to stay away peacefully by not barricading roads or attacking each other.

“The suffering you are going through is shared by everyone. But let us not be violent. Don’t barricade the roads, especially with big stones and logs, try something which is not violent. Do the stayaway in peace,” a soldier at Dzivarasekwa 4 said.

“Do whatever you want, we are supporting you, but don’t be violent. We had to beat you because you were being violent. We don’t want violence,” the soldier told the residents.

Earlier in the day, the military had subjected most men in Dzivarasekwa to beatings for allegedly barricading the roads to block traffic from getting into town or offering transport to anyone who wanted to get into town.

In Mabvuku, according to residents, soldiers summoned all men in the neighbourhood after they had clashed with them in the morning for allegedly blocking traffic.

“They told us that they were not against the idea of the stayaway or protests, but barricading of roads and destruction of property. They actually said they sympathised with ordinary citizens,” a resident told NewsDay.

Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore requested that written questions be brought to Josiah Magama Tongogara barracks.

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY ON THE CRACKDOWN ON LEGITIMATE PROTEST IN ZIMBABWE AND THE SILENCING OF ZIMBABWEAN VOICES BY SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET 15th January 2019

The Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum is deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in
Zimbabwe. The level of frustration and anger amongst citizens who feel excluded and
alienated by the successive economic and political attacks carried out by the ZANU PF elites has clearly reached a boiling point. The spark of a callous 150% fuel price increase has ignited the fires of years of political manipulation, the failure of elections to provide a legitimate set of leaders, deteriorating economic conditions and the growing sense that the government of Zimbabwe has no interest in the living conditions of ordinary citizens.

The closing down of social media and the restrictions placed on access to the internet, the direct result of collusion between private sector companies like Econet, and the Zimbabwean regime, are utterly unacceptable. This kind of draconian action is normally associated with despotic regimes. The actions by ZANU PF expose the ugly face of a militarised approach to governance and cannot be tolerated. The ZSF calls for the immediate and unconditional lifting of all restrictions on the use of the internet. We remain deeply concerned that this silencing of legitimate voices provides the pretext for state sanctioned violence and even more severe forms of repression.

Read full PDF here: ZSF Statement January 2019 FINAL

News Briefs 7 December 2018

Africa in General

UAE to open an embassy in Zimbabwe

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will open an embassy in Zimbabwe, the UAE president has said.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued several federal decrees to establish the UAE Embassy in Zimbabwe and appointed and promoted members of the diplomatic corps.

The decrees were published in the latest edition of the Federal Official Gazette and stipulate the establishment of the UAE Embassy in capital, Harare.

The UAE is a destination of choice for many young people, especially from Africa.

IOL

Libya could vote on constitution in February: electoral commission

Libya’s electoral commission could organise a referendum on a new constitution for the strife-torn country in February if it gets security guarantees and funds, its head said on Thursday.

“It is possible to organise a referendum on the constitution… towards the end of February,” commission chief Imed al-Sayeh told a news conference.

He said the first hurdle was overcome when the parliament, based in the remote east of the country, approved in mid-September a law on the referendum.

Sayeh, who received the text of the law in November, said the legislation was a first step “even if it is incomplete and imperfect”.

News24

Morocco meeting to adopt UN migration pact despite withdrawals

Representatives from around the globe are gearing up for a major conference in Morocco to endorse a United Nations migration pact, despite a string of countries shunning the accord.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalised at the UN in July following 18 months of negotiations and will be formally adopted at the two-day gathering in Marrakesh starting Monday.

The non-binding UN accord, which aims to promote a common approach to growing migrant flows, has become a target for populist politicians who denounce it as an affront to national sovereignty.

The United States quit negotiations last December, and was followed by Hungary seven months later.

News24

‘Slaughterhouse’ Burundi boots out UN human rights office

The United Nations human rights office on Thursday said Burundi’s government has asked it to leave, months after the outgoing UN rights chief called the country one of the “most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times.”

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva confirmed they received a letter on Wednesday “requesting us to close the office. We of course regret this decision and we would like to continue our cooperation with Burundi.”

She declined to comment further, calling the issue sensitive. Sources within the UN office in Burundi told The Associated Press that they were given two months to leave. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

The East African nation’s government has long been angered by U.N. reports describing alleged abuses amid the political turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for another term in 2015.

IOL

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

Aid groups accuse U.N. of manipulating data ahead of Congo polls

Aid agencies working in the Democratic Republic of Congo have accused the United Nations of manipulating data ahead of elections to give an overly positive impression of the situation in a country beset by conflict and disease.

They say new figures from the U.N. humanitarian agency that show a large drop in the number of displaced people are misleading, accusing it of bowing to government pressure before a presidential election scheduled for December 23.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Congo said it did not manipulate data and that it is in ongoing discussions with agencies on the issue.

The government also rejected the accusation, saying aid agencies deliberately exaggerated crises to increase funding.

Reuters

Deadly clashes in South Kivu ahead of elections

At least 18 people have killed in clashes between the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s army and rebels loyal to a renegade former general in the country’s eastern region, according to military sources.

The latest round of violence comes less than three weeks before crucial elections to replace long-time President Joseph Kabila.

Fighting killed 14 rebels and four soldiers in Fizi, a region of South Kivu, a mineral-rich province which is prone to ethnic tensions, a military spokesman and other sources said.

Violence in the troubled eastern region is just one complication before the December 23 elections in DR Congo, which has not seen a peaceful transfer of power since independence from colonial Belgium in 1960.

Aljazeera

Somalia

US re-establishes permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia

The US has re-established a “permanent diplomatic presence” in Somalia for the first time in 27 years.

“On December 2, for the first time since the closure of the US Embassy in Mogadishu on January 5, 1991, the United States re-established a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia,” said Heather Nauert, the US State Department spokeswoman, in a statement.

Ms Heather called the new move “another step forward in formalising US diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognizing the Federal Government of Somalia in 2013.”

Ambassador Donald Yamamoto and his staff looked forward to working closely with the Somalian government, she added.

The United States has based its diplomatic mission to Somalia in the capital of neighbouring Kenya since 2013, from where US diplomatic staff and other personnel travel frequently into Somalia to conduct official business.

Khmer Times

Senate chief seeks to mediate political crisis

High level delegation led by the chief of Upper House of Somali Federal Parliament Abdi Hashi Abdullahi will be flying to Kismayo, a town lies some 500km south of the capital Mogadishu.

Hon. Abdullahi said the Upper House has been trying to defuse the escalating political crisis pitying between the central government and its member states for the past months.

He will hold talks with Jubaland state President Ahmed Mohamed to resolve the current political tension.

“We will visit to the headquarters of Jubaland to start talks the President Ahmed Madobe, in a bid to defuse the rifts between the central government and its state members”, he said.

Mareeng

Central African Republic

Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on

Children are bearing the brunt of five years of fighting in Central African Republic as thousands are trapped in armed groups, many suffer sexual violence, tens of thousands go hungry and one in four have fled their homes, the United Nations children’s agency said on Friday.

The new report pleads for millions in funding for one of the world’s most “neglected” crises.

Deeply impoverished Central African Republic has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Violence has intensified and spread in the past year after a period of relative peace as armed groups battle over lands rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.

News24

Boys, Men Raped and Castrated in CAR War

Rebel groups have raped and cut off genitals of scores of boys and men in the Central African Republic (CAR).

According to findings, most cases have gone unreported because of stigma, societal attitudes and shortcomings by state and international bodies.

Documented cases indicate sexual violence against men and boys has been most common during armed attacks or when victims were held captive by armed groups during the civil war that started in 2013.

The All Survivors Project (ASP) said it had compiled information involving cases of forced nudity, forced masturbation and of incidents in which men had their genitals beaten, mutilated and cut off.

AllAfrica

Sudan

Sudan, armed groups agree to resume talks for peace in Darfur

Sudanese government and two armed groups in Darfur region signed Thursday a pre-negotiation agreement paving the way for the resumption of peace talks in Qatar next year.

The signing of the declaration of principles with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnwi (SLM-MM) took place in Berlin after two years of informal talks facilitated by the German foreign ministry with the support of the Berghof Foundation.

The signing ceremony was attended by Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister Walter Lindner, Qatari Special Envoy for Combating Terrorism and Conflict Resolution Mutlaq Al Qahtani, Amin Hassan Omer Sudan’s Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer.

The Joint Chief Mediator Jeremiah Mamabolo co-signed the deal with the Sudanese government representative Mohamed Mukhtar, Ahmed Tugud JEM Chief Negotiator and Ali Trayo SLM-MM Chief Negotiator.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan Lawmakers Back Amendment to Let Bashir Stand Again

Sudan’s long-serving President Omar al-Bashir came closer on Tuesday to another term in office after a majority of lawmakers backed a constitutional amendment to extend term limits that would have required him to step down in 2020.

Unless the constitution is changed, Bashir, in power since 1989, is not permitted to stand again when his present term ends, having won two elections since a 2005 constitutional amendment took effect imposing a two-term limit.

Parliament speaker Ibrahim Ahmed Omar said he had received a letter signed by a majority of lawmakers backing an amendment that would extend the limit.

EWN

South Sudan

South Sudan Army Accused of ‘Brutal’ Sexual Violence

A group of human rights lawyers has filed a lawsuit against the government of South Sudan for sexual violence on behalf of 30 women and girls who were allegedly raped by members of the army and the presidential guard.

Antonia Mulvey, director of Legal Action Worldwide, a nonprofit network of human rights lawyers, said the South Sudan army committed “brutal” sexual violence, including sexual slavery, sexual torture, rape and gang rape against women and girls.

Mulvey says the complaint was lodged Thursday in Geneva at the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

“They [CEDAW] will review the complaint and a copy will be sent to the government of South Sudan for comment,” Mulvey said.

Voice of America

South Sudan urged to end death penalty as evidence shows children among dead

Children are among those being executed in South Sudan, in an “extremely disturbing” escalation of the state’s use of the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.

This year, seven people, including one child, were hanged, the highest number since the county gained independence in 2011, according to evidence provided to Amnesty by legal professionals and government officials.

In 2017, two of the four people executed were children at the time of their conviction, the organisation said.

Amon the 342 people currently on death row – more than double the number recorded in 2011 – are a secondary school pupil, who was sentenced to death when he was 15, and a breastfeeding mother. The country’s lack of transparency on its use of the death penalty meant the figures were likely to be underestimated, Amnesty said.

The Guardian

Western Sahara

First Western Sahara talks at UN in six years, begin in Geneva

In 1991, the UN helped bring an end to fighting in the territory, before setting up a peacekeeping mission there: the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Delegations from Morocco, the Frente POLISARIO, Algeria and Mauritania are present at the roundtable meeting in Geneva.

It will involve two days of talks that have been convened by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, former President Horst Köhler of Germany, the UN confirmed in a statement.

“The meeting is the first of its kind in six years and takes place in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2440 as a first step towards a renewed negotiations process with the aim of reaching a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the communiqué said.

 

In adopting Resolution 2440, the UN Security Council called on the parties to the dispute over the territory “to engage constructively” in talks, according to a Council statement published on 31 October.

UN News

UN envoy: ‘Peaceful solution’ to Western Sahara conflict possible

The UN envoy for Western Sahara said he believes a peaceful solution to the decades-long conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front is possible.

Horst Koehler, a former German president, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday that he was “very pleased to announce the delegations committed to engaging further,” adding all sides promised to meet again for a similar “roundtable” in the first quarter of 2019.

The talks, which were attended by the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and representatives from the Western Saharan Polisario secessionist movement, are the first to take place since 2012.

“From our discussions, it is clear to me that nobody wins from maintaining the status quo, and it is my firm belief that it lies in the interest of all to resolve this conflict,” Koehler said.

Aljazeera

Swaziland

Government Offers Yet Another 0.0%

A three-hour Joint Negotiations Forum (JNF) between government and public sector associations (PSA) could bear no fruits as the two parties finally signed a deadlock.

The deadlock between government and the PSAs was signed at the ministry of public service yesterday with the meeting chaired by Secretary to Cabinet Mbuso Dlamini and signing on behalf of the Government Negotiation Team (GNT) was the ministry’s Principal Secretary Evart Madlopha.

The deadlock signed by the GNT and the public sector associations dates back to 28 august 2018 when the negotiations on the Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) commenced for the 2018/2019 financial year.

Swazi Observer

Sipho Shongwe To Know Fate on Dec 17

PRINCIPAL Magistrate David Khumalo will decide on December 17 whether businessman Sipho Shongwe should go home or not.

This comes after Shongwe’s legal team made serious arguments at the Manzini Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

His legal team argued that Shongwe was suffering injustice by being kept in prison, while the High Court made a ruling on the matter that he is not a flight risk, hence he should be granted bail which indeed was granted.

Making submissions was Lucky Howe, who told the court that the director of public prosecutions is conducting the trial in a very unprofessional manner and in an unethical way when he argues that the issue which touches on Shongwe escaping from custody was never mentioned at the High Court.

Swazi Observer

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is running out of fuel, according to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority’s (Zera) acting chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani.

He told Parliament on Thursday that the country had exhausted the $60 million worth of fuel imported last week, Pindula reported on Friday.

“The $60 million foreign currency which was released for fuel has already been exhausted because it came when we were at zero in terms of fuel supplies,” said Mazambani.

“The $60 million is about 100 million litres of fuel and it will be gone in about two-and-a-half weeks, and because we are at zero everyone wants to fill up their vehicles, and we do not know how much per week the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allocates to oil companies,” added the CEO.

Meanwhile, US Senators said new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who took over the country in last year’s military coup leading many Zimbabweans to believe that a new and brighter era had dawned on the country in the wake of the overthrow of former president Robert Mugabe – is saying the rights things but not producing real results.

IOL

MDC says Zim ‘now a regional security threat’… asks SADC to intervene – report

Zimbabwe’s opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has reportedly said that the country is “fast degenerating into a regional security threat as its economic situation worsens”.

According to NewsDay, the MDC said it had petitioned the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to intervene in bringing the country’s worsening state under control.

MDC spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said that the party would go on a regional offensive to discuss the country’s state with regional leaders.

Mafume also said that the party was planning countrywide protests to allow party supporters a chance to raise their own grievances.

News24

 

 

Update on the Political Situation in Lesotho – By Letlhogonolo Mpho Letshele

 

The Kingdom of Lesotho has been plagued by persistent political instability since the country gained independence in 1966. Identifying the factors at the heart of Lesotho’s persistent political instability could be an important contribution to attempts to solve the country’s general problems of underdevelopment, insecurity, gross human rights violations, and breakdown of the rule of law. At the center of the current political crisis are the outcomes of the elections that took place in 2007, 2012, and 2015. The involvement of the security sector in the governance of the country has also played a significant role in contributing to the current political instability. Lesotho has a weak state, and state institutions that are highly party-politicised. There are too many political parties, most having been formed for the single purpose of the pursuit of the interests of those who established them.

State of rights

Citizens’ recent opinions indicate that the country still has a long way to go in transforming human rights conventions into the people’s everyday experience and culture. Although Lesotho has ratified and domesticated a number of international conventions that protect basic rights and freedoms, Amnesty International (2018) reported a ‘sharp increase’ in human rights violations as the country experienced prolonged political and security instability. Findings from the latest Afrobarometer survey shows that 75% of Basotho say the police routinely abuse or torture civilians in their custody. Basotho are increasingly terrified of the police, whom they accuse of torturing and killing with impunity.

Governing party

The All Basotho Convention (ABC) came into power through a coalition with the Basotho National Party (BNP), the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL). The coalition had hoped to bring political stability after the 2017 election failed to produce an outright winner. However, recently the coalition has been plagued by personality clashes, political infighting and intra-party struggles for power, which could derail the ongoing reform process in the country, and could potentially have a bearing on the party’s upcoming electoral committee in 2019.

Constitutionalism in Lesotho

The development of constitutional democracy in Lesotho took a turn after the inconclusive 2012 election. The outcome of the election resulted in the first coalition government in Lesotho. Since then, major causes of political instability in Lesotho have been around the formation and running of coalition governments. In fact, the failure of coalition governments has urged Basotho to seek an alternative governing institution. According to a recent study by the Afrobarometer, 69% of Basotho have shown more political trust in the King than any other governance institution in the country.

Analysis

To an extent, Lesotho’s history of civil-military relations could be blamed for the killings of civilians by the military and the police. After Lesotho transitioned from military rule to democratic rule in 1993, tensions between the ruling Basotho Congress Party (BCP) government and the military were left unresolved. Moreover, democratically elected leaders did not fully reform the institutions when they were in power. During the 2014 political crisis, the security sector was split along party lines. This led to the misuse of the security force by opposing factions. Even though there are a plethora of theories that explain persistent conflict, the security sector’s involvement in the state takes the leading position in terms of reasons why Lesotho keeps falling back into political instability.

At the heart of Lesotho’s current political crisis lies the outcome of the 2012 election. There had been contestations within the coalition over the nature of the executive powers of the Prime Minister. This led to the collapse of the marriage of convenience, which contributed to events that plunged Lesotho into political instability. As a result, Basotho have recently expressed that the constitution should be amended to allow the King more say on issues of national importance, because the constitution has been ineffective in resolving political instability in Lesotho.

International community involvement in Lesotho

SADC has been called upon to curb political instability in Lesotho more than in most member states. Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) recommended the implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms in Lesotho after the political instability in 2014. Reform process becomes a necessity when institutions fall short of their expected effectiveness in addressing economic, social and political needs.

However, Basotho have since expressed dissatisfaction over the reform process, especially on the circumstances surrounding the extradition processes of individuals involved in the security forces’ atrocities in 2014. The reform agreement protects accused persons from prosecution until the end of the reform process.

The main obstacle is that there was no timeline imposed on when the reform process would end. In addition, the reform process undermines the constitution. The process is not clear on a number of issues, such as what would happen to cases that were already set in the court of law. Does this mean the executive will now be forced to impose itself on the judiciary to stop all the processes, because there was an agreement made?  This could bring Lesotho’s justice into dispute.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) also expressed concern over the persistent allegations of police brutality in Lesotho, and called on the government to capacitate the relevant institutions to enable them to investigate the allegations of human rights violations.

The European Union (EU) has rallied behind Lesotho’s reforms process. The EU endorsed the new reform agreement between government and the opposition, for implementing multi-sectoral reforms that are crucial to long-term stability in Lesotho. The EU is also in support of the decision not to prosecute alleged perpetrators of the 2014 atrocities until after the completion of the multi-sector reform process. This agreement would break the recurrent trajectory of violence in the country and usher in a negotiated solution of the conflict.

 

Conclusion

SADC has played a significant role in promoting peace and political stability in Lesotho. The international community, through the EU, has also supported the reform process as a form of mediation between two opposing sides. With the ABC’s upcoming electoral committee next year, the ‘four by four’ ought to resolve its internal disputes. Failure to resolve the party’s political infighting could cost the ABC votes in the next election in 2022. SADC gave Lesotho until May 2019 to have fully implemented constitutional and security reforms. Should Lesotho’s political instability persist as it has done since 1966, the futures of Basotho and their country could be threatened.

 

 

Bibliography

Adams, P. and Nkuebe, M., 2018. Basotho favour multi-sector reforms as support for elections ebbs. Results from 2018 Afrobarometer survey in Lesotho.

Adams, P. and Nkuebe, M., 2018. Rights in Lesotho: Citizen views on police abuse, media and personal freedom, gender equality. Results from 2018 Afrobarometer survey in Lesotho.

Amnesty International. (2018). Lesotho 2017/2018. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/lesotho/report-lesotho/.

Pherudi, M., 2016. Governance and Democracy in Lesotho: Challenges faced by SADC intervention 2007-2015. Preflight Books, Pretoria.

Staff Writer, 2018. EU backs reforms deal. Lesotho Times.

Thabane, M. ed., 2017. Towards an Anatomy of Persistent Political Instability in Lesotho, 1966-2016. National University of Lesotho.

Zihlangu, B., 2018. Aggrieved families slam Metsing deal. Public eye.

 

News Briefs 30 November 2018

Zimbabwe

Thousands of demonstrators rally in Zimbabwe in support of MDC

Zimbabwe’s main opposition group the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has showed its disdain for President Emmerson Mnangagwa with a rally in the streets of the capital Harare denouncing the government.

Several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched through the streets on Thursday, singing and waving placards, closely watched by armed police, who gave the event their approval, in the first rally since a deadly crackdown on an election protest in August, the East African reported.

The MDC claims its leader Nelson Chamisa was the real winner of the July elections.

“Mnangagwa must go”, read one banner alongside others reading “You stole my vote, please give it back”.

IOL

Shun violence, move on: UK

Zimbabwe’S political leaders should reject violence, observe the rule of law and focus on moving the country forward, a top British government official has said.

Britain is also ready to play a role in support of Zimbabwe’s recovery in line with Harare’s reform agenda.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said this on Monday in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords in response to a written question by The Marquess of Lothian.

The Marquess wanted to know Her Majesty’s government’s assessment of the current political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

Herald

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo Ebola outbreak second largest in history: WHO

The UN health body confirms 426 cases, with 198 deaths reported since August, as DRC struggles to contain the disease.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Peter Salama, WHO’s emergencies chief, called it a “sad toll” as DR Congo’s health ministry announced the number of cases has reached 426.

That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.

So far this outbreak, declared on August 1, has caused 198 confirmed deaths, DR Congo’s health ministry said.

Aljazeera

‘Possible terrorist threat’ closes US embassy in DRC for fourth day

The US embassy in Kinshasa will on Thursday be closed to the public for a fourth day following “credible and precise information” about a possible terrorist threat, a month ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election.

In a statement on its website, the embassy urged “US citizens in Kinshasa and throughout DR Congo to maintain a high level of vigilance”.

“The US embassy in Kinshasa will remain closed to the public on Thursday, November 29” due to “credible and precise information on a possible terrorist threat” targeting “US facilities in Kinshasa”, it added.

On Monday, after the embassy first closed and warned US nationals to keep a low profile, Congolese authorities described its reaction as “useless psychosis”.

News24

Somalia

UN mission head condemns deadly terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, Galkayo

The top United Nations official in Somalia has “strongly condemned” terrorist attacks in the north-central city of Galkayo and in the Somali capital on Monday, which left a prominent cleric and a number of other civilians dead.

Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and the head of the UN mission there (UNSOM), said no legitimate political agenda can be advanced through the indiscriminate killing of innocent children, women and men.

“Today’s attacks on civilians in Mogadishu and Galkayo demonstrate the disregard of violent extremists for the sanctity of human life”, he said, adding that the UN “stands with the people and government of Somalia in their rejection of terrorism.”

The Al-Shabaab terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the early morning assault on a compound belonging to Sufi Muslim cleric Abdiweli Ali Elmi, in the southern portion of Galkayo, according to UNSOM. In early afternoon, a car bomb was detonated at a busy market in Wadajir district of Mogadishu. A suspect has been arrested by Somali security forces.

CNBC Africa

AFRICOM boss travels to Somalia for high-level talks

America’s top commander for Africa made a rare visit to war-torn Somalia, meeting with local leaders to discuss security in a country where U.S. forces quietly serve in a fight against militants.

U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser also met Tuesday with the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, who is in the process of establishing a permanent American diplomatic mission.

A decade ago, such high-level talks inside Somalia involving top American officials were virtually unthinkable. U.S. military operations in the country were still a closely guarded secret and diplomatic efforts were minimal, given the widespread chaos in the country and the lack of a central government.

However, Somalia has emerged as AFRICOM’s main effort during the past three years as the military carries out regular airstrikes against Islamic militants in the country. U.S. special operations troops also serve on the front lines as advisers to government forces.

Stripes.com

Central African Republic

Children suffering in Central African Republic 5 years on

Children are bearing the brunt of five years of fighting in Central African Republic as thousands are trapped in armed groups, many suffer sexual violence, tens of thousands go hungry and one in four have fled their homes, the United Nations children’s agency said Friday.

The new report pleads for millions in funding for one of the world’s most “neglected” crises.

Deeply impoverished Central African Republic has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Violence has intensified and spread in the past year after a period of relative peace as armed groups battle over lands rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.

ABC News

 

Central African Republic Militia Leader Appears at ICC

A Central African Republic militia leader and lawmaker who goes by the nickname Rambo told the International Criminal Court on Friday he was beaten and tortured after his arrest late last month in parliament.

Prosecutors at the global court allege that 43-year-old Alfred Yekatom is responsible for crimes including murder, torture and using child soldiers during his country’s bitter conflict. He allegedly commanded some 3,000 fighters in a predominantly Christian militia that killed Muslims in attacks between December 2013 and August 2014 in and around the capital, Bangui.

At his first appearance before ICC judges since his transfer to the Netherlands over the weekend, Yekatom confirmed his name, age and that he had read the charges in his arrest warrant. He wasn’t required to enter a plea at the 35-minute hearing.

Voice of America

Sudan

Sudan, Darfur armed groups to meet in Berlin next week: chief negotiator

The Sudanese government said it would meet with the Darfur rebel movements next week in Berlin to agree on the general framework of the upcoming round of talks.

Sudan’s Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer told the semi-official Sudan Media Center that the government would meet with an African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) envoy in Khartoum next week to discuss the resumption of Darfur talks.

He pointed out that the Berlin meeting would determine the date of the upcoming talks as well as the requirements set forth by the AUHIP.

Omer said the parties agreed to hold the next round of talks in Doha, adding a date to resume the talks could be set after consulting with the AUHIP envoy.

South Sudan

Sudan’s East Darfur embracing shared natural resource management to curb conflict

Abdulrahman Ismail is passionate about education. The retired primary school teacher, turned cleric, is also concerned about changes to the environment he has witnessed in Bakhiet village of Sudan’s East Darfur State where he has lived since his early childhood in the 1970s.

“This village has experienced dramatic changes both in population and in the social fabric. When I was growing up, there were less than 50 households here. Now, it has risen to more than 5,000. Trees, once abundant, have been decimated due to cooking energy demands, “says the turbaned and bearded grandfather who dons a jalabiya, a long loose-fitting robe with a collar-less rounded neckline.

The environmental changes in Bakhiet are not unique to the village. They are also highly visible in other parts of the semi-arid state, which covers an area slightly larger than Greece—about 52,867square kilometres—and home to about 1.5 million residents.

UN Environment

South Sudan

Tense 1st meeting of South Sudan armed leaders since peace

Stepping out of a helicopter last week, South Sudan armed opposition commander Ashab Khamis came face-to-face with his rival in a crushing five-year civil war, army Gen. Keer Kiir Keer.

The meeting, witnessed by The Associated Press, was their first attempt at reconciliation since the conflict began and a crucial test of a new peace agreement ending a war that has killed nearly 400,000 people.

The governor of Wau state where the meeting occurred called it a “historic event,” while the atmosphere around the table was tense. Surrounded by bodyguards, the regional commanders glared at each other as words of encouragement were laced with accusations.

While they eventually pledged to work together, deep-seated distrust lay behind the handshakes as South Sudan’s warring sides, blamed for vicious abuses against civilians and each other, are now under international pressure to get along — and eventually merge.

The Washington Post

Despite Sanctions South Sudan Stays Armed for War – Report

Despite long-standing restrictions, new weapons have continued to reach South Sudan’s battlefields, often via neighbouring countries, a detailed report by an arms monitoring group said Thursday.

A four-year investigation, by London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR), into the supply of weapons that have helped keep South Sudan’s civil war alive since December 2013, has revealed the important role played by neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda, in circumventing arms embargoes.

While the UN Security Council did not impose an arms embargo on South Sudan until July 2018, more than four years into a war that has killed an estimated 380,000 people, the EU has banned direct sales of weapons by member states to Sudan since 1994, amending the embargo to include newly-independent South Sudan in 2011.

Nevertheless, the government army – known as the SPLA, or Sudan People’s Liberation Army – has been kept well supplied with weaponry, often funnelled through Uganda and sometimes originating from Europe or the US.

EWN

Western Sahara

A new push to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara

In the Sahara, rain is said to bring good luck. So, negotiators from the United Nations should be encouraged by a recent downpour in Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara. On December 5th they will gather in Geneva to try, yet again, to resolve the differences between Morocco, which rules two-thirds of the territory, and the Polisario Front, a nationalist movement that controls the other (mostly inhospitable) third. Since Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, upon Spain’s withdrawal, Polisario has fought for its independence.

Expectations for the talks, the first between Morocco and Polisario in six years, are low. The main goal is an agreement that more talking is needed. But even that may be a tough sell. Polisario insists that Morocco must at last hold a referendum on independence in Western Sahara, which it promised to do as part of a UN-backed ceasefire in 1991. Morocco says a vague autonomy plan that it produced in 2008 should be the basis for negotiations.

Pressure from Donald Trump’s administration helped to restart the talks. In March America made the renewal of minurso, the un peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, conditional on political progress. Neither side in the conflict wants to see the peacekeepers go, lest the result be more war. The Trump administration has also been more willing than its predecessors to press Morocco. When John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, was involved in past un efforts to find a solution in Western Sahara, he thought the kingdom negotiated in bad faith.

The Economist

Moroccan king left waiting as Algeria remains silent on talks offer

Morocco has urged Algeria to respond to an offer for talks on mending diplomatic relations after King Mohammed VI’s olive branch was met with silence, but analysts say the entire initiative may be more about image than substance.

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry said it regrets that Algeria hasn’t responded to the king’s overture, adding that Rabat “remains open and optimistic” on the future of relations between the two states.

“Morocco can only regret that this initiative did not [see] the desired response, especially that it has always been requested by Algeria itself,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Animosity between the two states is longstanding, with ill will over the shared borders established by Algeria’s French colonial government in 1957 and on the future of the Western Sahara region, where Algiers backs the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi liberation movement, against Rabat.

The Nation

Swaziland

Swaziland Has No Cash to Pay Elderly Pensions, Prime Minister Says He Will Fly Business Class to Save Money

Swaziland/Eswatini is so broke that pensions for the elderly are not being paid. State-controlled radio has been broadcasting the news over the past few days.

It is another example of how the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III has been mismanaged. The pensions for people aged 60 and over, known locally as elderly grants, are for E400 (US$30) per month.

About 70,000 people receive the grants which often are the only income a family has.

A year ago, it was reported more than 80 percent of women aged 60 and over and 70 percent of men in Swaziland lived in poverty. The figures were contained in the National Strategy and Action Plan to End Violence in Swaziland: 2017 to 2022.

About seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population live in abject poverty defined as having incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The report said poverty among people aged 60 or over was highest compared to other age groups.

AllAfrica

Swaziland: Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse

The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, lost US$2.09 million due to fraud and corruption in various sectors of the government, the national police deputy commissioner said Monday at an event celebrating International Fraud Awareness week, the Swazi Observer reported.

“This is a substantial monetary loss comparative to the economic size of the country,” Mumcy Dlamini told an audience assembled at the Mountain Inn in the capital of Mbabane.

While an estimated 63 percent of Swazis live below the poverty line, making less than two dollars per day, the government agreed in March to buy Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini – who died in September at age 76 – a $380,000 retirement house.

In her speech, Dlamini attributed much of the losses to fraud in the “banking sector business,” such as illicit electronic fund transfers and false banking instructions. She cited examples of cloned or skimmed bank cards used to make ATM cash withdrawals.

OCCRP

Africa in General

Uganda diverted weapons to South Sudan despite arms embargo

A key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted European weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report says. It also asks how a US military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls.

The London-based Conflict Armament Research report, released on Thursday, raises questions about Uganda’s support for neighbouring South Sudan’s government even as it promotes itself as a neutral negotiator in one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts.

South Sudan’s warring sides signed the peace agreement in September to end a five-year civil war that has killed nearly 400 000 people. Previous deals have collapsed in gunfire. The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan.

News24

Female equity bill collapses in Kenyan parliament

A gender equity bill, which would have ensured that not more than two-thirds of parliament can be of the same gender, has failed to pass in the Kenyan National Assembly.

The house failed to raise the necessary numbers to pass the two-thirds gender equity bill so it deferred the vote to next year.

The suspension of the vote followed a request by Majority Leader Aden Duale during the debate attended by opposition chiefs Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, the East African reported.

Duale informed speaker Justin Muturi that the house did not have 233 members required to support the proposed law to address Kenya’s gender inequality in political representation.

IOL

Zim inquiry into post-vote violence presents findings summary to Mnangagwa

The commission of inquiry into the August 1 post-election deadly shootings in Harare by the military has on Thursday presented a summary of its findings to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“Today, the commission presented to the President what we call an executive summary, while the complete report will be presented this Saturday,” commission spokesperson John Masuku said.

“In short, what I am saying is that, yes, the report is complete, but we have sent it to government printers for printing and binding and it shall be presented to the President and public this Saturday.”

The commission, chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, made the presentation two days after wrapping up public hearings. The completed report is expected to be completed on November 31.

IOL

Protests over Zim government’s ‘cocktail of lies’ as economy collapses

Zimbabweans are gathering for a nationwide protest over the country’s economic collapse and what the opposition calls the new government’s “cocktail of lies.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is under growing pressure one year after taking office following the removal of long-time leader Robert Mugabe. Tensions remain high after July’s disputed election that Mnangagwa narrowly won.

Zimbabwe’s government is struggling to even arrange a reliable currency as many citizens in the southern African nation say they’ve seen no progress on promises of “jobs, job, jobs.”

There is heavy security in the capital, Harare, as opposition supporters sing anti-government songs.

IOL