News Briefs 15 November 2019

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe ditches austerity and warns corruption is killing growth

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said  Zimbabwe will ditch its crippling austerity measures and forecast 3% growth in 2020 after a projected 6.5% contraction in 2019, its worst downturn in a decade that saw increased public protests and widespread shortages.

Presenting his proposed ZWL$63.6bn budget for 2020 in parliament in Harare on Thursday Ncube said the economic rebound was based on expectations that Zimbabwe would record a better rainfall season, as well as improvements in electricity supply and infrastructure development.

“Economic recovery of up to 3% is projected in 2020, primarily premised on key assumptions that include a better rainfall season supported by increased support towards rehabilitation and development of irrigation infrastructure to sustain agriculture activities,” he said.

BusinessDay

Zimbabwe’s civic services on the edge

Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central Hospital is the largest and best-resourced hospital in southern Zimbabwe, and the second-largest in Zimbabwe. Like the rest of the country’s public institutions, it is not in good shape.

The outpatient department has been closed for the past two months, so patients with chronic conditions are not receiving treatment. Only four out of 10 operating theatres are currently available for surgery.

The paediatric theatre is not functional, and maternity recovery rooms have no monitors. The neurosurgery unit has almost shut down as the available equipment is outdated and is no longer recommended for use.

Mail & Guardian

Swaziland

Children Deprived of Education Now Excelling

The children who were deprived of their right to education, health and registration are now excelling in their studies.

One of them sees himself standing on a pulpit sharing the Word of God with congregants in the future. His vision is known to his schoolmates and teachers of Elshadai Primary School where he is attending with his siblings. Elshadai is situated at Ekufikeni between Mnyokane and KaNcesi in the Hhohho Region. The school was visited last Friday with intent to ascertain how the children were coping with school life.

Upon arrival at the school, a cook ushered this reporter to the Head teacher Lindiwe Maziya’s officer, where she (Maziya) was found busy with her daily duties. When asked about the situation since the children were admitted to the school, Maziya started by saying: “They are very good in class.” She stated that the children’s mother *Siphiwe was a regular visitor at the school since her children were admitted in February this year. “The children arrive at school an hour earlier. They are always neat. In case they are not at school, Siphiwe would come to report even before one can notice,” Maziya said.

Times of Swaziland

MPS’ Pleas Fall on Deaf Ears

Forget it! Pleas by Members of Parliament (MPs) calling for the Office of the Prime Minister, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini to take action against a ‘certain individual’ who refused to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have not borne fruits.

It is on record that Senate President Lindiwe Dlamini did not present herself before the committee to answer on issues pertaining the Nhlangano-Sicunusa Road while she was still the Minister of Public Works and Transport.

When the minister appeared before the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee early this week, Ndzingeni MP Lutfo Dlamini submitted that the PAC was established by the

Constitution and mentioned that if ‘any individual’ did not want to appear in public, she could have arranged for a private sitting.

However, instead of taking action, the PM’s Office has distanced itself from the issue saying it should be handled by the office of the Speaker and the Sessional Committee.

Times of Swaziland

Democratic Republic of Congo

Second Ebola vaccine introduced in DR Congo

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday introduced a second vaccine to fight the deadly Ebola virus in the east of the country, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said.

It said the new vaccine, produced by a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is aimed at protecting about 50,000 people over a period of four months.

More than 250,000 people in the region have already been received doses of another anti-Ebola vaccine since last year.

DR Congo declared an Ebola epidemic in August 2018 in the conflict-wracked eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, bordering Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

eNCA

DR Congo forces kill leader of splinter Hutu armed group

Congolese forces have killed a rebel leader and four of his bodyguards in a security operation in the restive east of the country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) army said.

Troops killed Hutu rebel leader “Musabimana Juvenal, alias general Jean-Michel Africa… following an intense clash” on Saturday at Rutshuru in North Kivu province, a statement from the army seen by AFP news agency said.

“Operations remain under way around Rutshuru to wipe out armed local and foreign groups,” Major Guillaume Ndjike Kaiko, regional military spokesman, said.

Aljazeera

Central African Republic

Floods displace over 20,600 in C.African Republic: UN

Unusually heavy rains continue to fall in the Central African Republic, causing displacement of over 20,600 people, the UN migration agency said Wednesday.

Uprooting at least 20,691 in the capital Bangui over more than three weeks, the showers have left “significant material damage” in the poverty-wracked country, which has also been suffering from repeated armed violence since 2013, according to a report by the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

“The situation is very difficult here. The neighbors have sheltered us, but we lack everything, and we can’t sleep as there are too many mosquitoes due to stagnant water,” Beatrice, mother of five, was quoted in saying in the report.

AA

Birao’s militia powderkeg in north Central African Republic

A heavy silence hangs in the dusty alleys of Birao, in the extreme northeast of Central African Republic, where figures only rarely wander between the empty houses and reed hedges.

Since September, Birao has been hit hard by fighting between armed groups despite a peace agreement that had helped bring a precarious calm to a country ravaged by years of civil war.

Most of Birao’s 14,000 inhabitants are now refugees camped out in makeshift tents next to a UN base, only metres from the abandoned homes that few can imagine returning to anytime soon.

RTL

Sudan

Arab fund offers US$305m loan to cash-starved Sudan

Sudan said on Thursday it would receive a US$305 million loan from an Arab fund to help tackle the country’s worsening economic crisis led by soaring food prices and foreign currency shortage.

Sudan’s economic woes had led to nationwide protests that resulted in the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.

On Thursday a delegation from the Arab Monetary Fund met Sudanese Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Badawi.

“During the meeting, the delegation said the fund plans to support the Sudanese economy with an estimated funding of US$305 million, including loans and trade facilities,” the finance ministry said in a statement afterwards.

Business Times

Sudan’s youths back on the streets – to ease bus crisis

After a year of mass protests that toppled an autocratic leader, Sudan faces a new kind of chaos – a public transport crisis that’s leaving thousands stranded by the dusty roadside.

In the crunch that started several weeks ago, noisy crowds of men and women have jostled desperately for a ride back home when they spotted one of the city’s increasingly rare buses.

Worsening shortages of fuel and spare parts for dilapidated vehicles have conspired with traffic jams on pot-holed roads to halt public services and drive many private operators out of business.

On a bad day it all threatens to bring the capital Khartoum, a city of four million, close to a standstill.

News24

South Sudan

US to Re-evaluate’ Relationship With South Sudan

The United States says it will “re-evaluate” its relationship with South Sudan after the country’s leaders failed to form a transitional unity government by Tuesday’s deadline.

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it is “gravely disappointed” by the failure of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to meet the November 12 deadline, which the sides agreed to earlier this year.

“Their inability to achieve this basic demonstration of political will for the people of South Sudan calls into question their suitability to continue to lead the nation’s peace process,” said the statement from spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

Voice of America

South Sudan Has 100 More Days to Transition to New Government

Public Debate, Free Speech Are Key to Creating a Stable Government.

Leaders and stakeholders of war-torn South Sudan have agreed to an additional 100 days to form a transitional government. Originally, the leaders of the peace process had a deadline of November 12. 

The delay buys them time to reach agreement on key outstanding issues like transitional security arrangements and deciding the number of states the country will have, and their boundaries.

Critical to the success of the pre-transitional period is whether leaders use the time to engage public debate around these issues and others including human rights concerns at both the national and state level. However, this cannot happen unless authorities respect a free press and free speech in general – something South Sudan constantly attacks.

Human Rights Watch

Somalia

Kenya, Somalia Agree to Restore Ties After Spat Over Oil Rights

enya and Somalia agreed to restore ties on Thursday after a months-long spat over oil rights that led the neighbors to halt the issuance of visas on arrival for each other’s citizens.

The two East African nations “agreed to normalize bilateral relations” beginning with the restoration of the visa policy, Kenya’s presidency said on Twitter late on Thursday.

The oil rights dispute is linked to the nations’ maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean, subject of a long-running case before the International Court of Justice that Somalia filed against Kenya in 2014.

Reuters

UN: Al-Shabab Remains ‘Potent Threat’ in Somalia and Region

Al-Shabab extremists in Somalia remain “a potent threat” to regional peace and are now manufacturing home-made explosives, expanding their revenue sources and infiltrating government institutions, U.N. experts say.

The panel of experts’ report to the Security Council, circulated Tuesday, said a significant escalation of U.S. airstrikes targeting al-Shabab militants and leaders has kept the al-Qaida-linked group “off-balance” but has had “little effect on its ability to launch regular asymmetric attacks throughout Somalia.”

The report said al-Shabab’s assault on Jan. 15 on a commercial business complex in Nairobi, Kenya, containing the DusitD2 Hotel “illustrates the danger the group continues to pose to regional peace and security.” That attack killed 21 people as well as four gunmen.

Voice of America

Western Sahara

UN Western Sahara peace process at critical juncture

The adoption of Security Council resolution 2494 (2019), without any concrete actions to advance the UN peace process, is a deeply regrettable and unacceptable return to ‘business as usual’ on Western Sahara and deals a serious blow to the political momentum that the Security Council built and maintained over the past 18 months.

By failing to follow through on its commitment to end the status quo and demand that Morocco terminate its illegal occupation of Western Sahara, the Security Council has missed another opportunity to prevent the UN peace process from collapsing. In the face of the UN Secretariat and the Security Council’s repeated failure to prevent Morocco from dictating the terms of the peace process and the UN’s role in Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO is left with no option but to reconsider its engagement in the peace process as a whole.

Mmegi Online

UK Commits to Western Sahara Political Process, Recognizes Morocco’s Efforts to End Conflict

The British ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Reilly, has renewed his country’s commitment to the UN-moderated political process in Western Sahara, echoing the prevailing consensus around the necessity of a compromise-based resolution.

Speaking on  Saturday, OCtober 26, in a brief interview with Moroccan television channel 2M,   the British diplomat said that his country supports a “just, pragmatic, sustainable,  mutually acceptable and compromise-based” political solution to the territorial dispute.

The UK, he argued, “understands very well the importance and the centrality” of the  Western Sahara conflict for Morocco.

Morocco World News

Other African News

Mozambique economy set to bounce back in 2020 – IMF

Mozambique’s economy is on track for a “strong rebound” in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday, as it urged the government to ensure an expected gas boom benefits all citizens.

The southern African country has sought to become the world’s third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas since vast offshore reserves were found in 2010.

But low gas prices, combined with a government debt scandal in 2016, delayed exploitation and triggered a prolonged economic downturn.

News24

Two years after coup, Zimbabweans still long for economic change

Two years ago on Thursday, under cover of darkness, members of Zimbabwe’s military rolled their tanks into the capital Harare intent on ousting then-President Robert Mugabe from power.

The late leader, who had ruled the troubled Southern African country since its liberation from Britain in 1980, was largely seen as the author of economic policies that had decimated the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans – a legacy that included hyperinflation that led the country to ditch its worthless sovereign currency in favour of the United States dollar.

In the euphoria that greeted Mugabe’s house arrest during what some call a “coup” and others call a “military intervention”, hundreds of thousands gathered in the capital. The jubilant masses embraced and took selfies with soldiers who were lauded as heroes for liberating the country from an infamous regime that would harass, threaten and arbitrarily arrest critics and activists.

News24

Renamo loses court bid to have Mozambique election result annulled

Mozambique’s top court has dismissed opposition party Renamo’s application to have the results of its recent general election dismissed – a scenario Renamo has said could result in violence in the country just months after an historic peace deal.

A written judgement posted on the Constitutional Council’s website and dated November 11 said the council had dismissed the appeal to have the victory of President Filipe Nyusi and his party Frelimo in the October 15 election annulled.

“The applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to support its claim,” the judgement said.

IOL