News Briefs 6 November 2020:

Zimbabwe:

Mnangagwa Rights Record Worse Than Mugabe’s – Says Top Rights Group

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has published a damning report on rampant human rights violations in the country under incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Forum, a union of 21 rights-based NGOs in the country, further accused the Zanu PF leader of making life unbearable for citizens as was the case during the horror days when the country was still under late strongman Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s regime saw the slaughter of an estimated 20 000 citizens in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early 1980s and Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, among other difficult post-independence periods.

The accusations are contained in the Forum’s human rights violations report.

AllAfrica 6 November 2020

Activists want Zimbabwean journalist freed

The re-arrest of Hopewell Chin’ono in Harare is drawing much criticism.

An opposition MP and a Zimbabwean civic movement are demanding his immediate release.

Chin’ono was arrested again, for remarks he made on Twitter against the country’s Chief Justice.

One activist who was in prison with Chin’ono in July says he’s being victimised.

“I shared [the] same prison cell with Hopewell at Chikurubi Maximum prison, he is a man who loves his country, he has no political ambitions,” said Job Sikhala, an MDC MP.

“Never shall we allow this government to take away our rights which are God-given, the right to allow everyone to express him or herself.”

eNCA 5 November 2020

eSwatini

eSwatini Broadcasting Bill still in limbo as doubt hangs over legislation

The tabling of the legislation follows a critical report by the Inhlase Centre for Investigative Journalism on the broadcasting regulator’s refusal to grant licences to two community radio initiatives that wanted to educate rural communities on Covid-19.

The eSwatini Broadcasting Bill was passed by the House of Assembly in October 2020. It was tabled by Manqoba Khumalo, the minister of commerce, industry and trade, who is standing in for the ICT minister, Princess Sikhanyiso. The princess has been on maternity leave since November 2019.

The bill was first drafted in 2007, meaning that it has been stalled for 13 years. Four previous ICT ministers failed to table it before they left office.

This has denied emaSwati access to the plurality of voices and divergent views in the broadcast media.

Daily Maverick 4 November 2020

Eswatini launches tender to deploy PV plant at international airport

The Eswatini Civil Aviation Authority (ESWACAA) has kicked-off a tender for the construction of an 850-kW solar plant at the KM III International Airport.

The facility will be developed under the build, own, operate and transfer (BOT) project model. Interested independent power producers will have time until December 22 to submit their expressions of interest.

The selected IPP will be awarded a 20-year PPA. “At least 15% of the total value of labor during construction must be from Eswatini entities,” the tender document reads. “Furthermore, 10% of material should be sourced locally.”

PV Magazine 4 November 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

Authorities blame Islamist militia for village massacre

A massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday night resulted in at least 17 deaths, local authorities said, blaming fighters from an Islamist militia group.

The army confirmed the raid occurred in a village in the Buliki area of North Kivu province between 8 p.m. and midnight.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan group active in eastern Congo since the 1990s, has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians in less than two years, according to figures from the United Nations.

Surge in attacks

The massacres have increased significantly since the army began an operation against the ADF last year.

Deutsche Welle 1 November 2020

WHO names independent body to investigate DRC sex abuse claims

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was setting up a seven-person independent commission to investigate claims of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers during the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In an investigation published last month by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian, more than 50 women accused aid workers from the WHO and leading charities of demanding sex in exchange for jobs during the 2018-2020 crisis.

Five out of seven of the organisations named in the expose have pledged to investigate, as has DRC’s health ministry.

Leading the WHO inquiry will be Aichatou Mindaoudou, Niger’s former minister of foreign affairs and social development, and Julienne Lusenge, a Congolese human rights activist, the UN agency said in a statement.

Aljazeera 15 October 2020

Central African Republic

‘Warlords still walk free in Central African Republic’

Many perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been brought to justice two years after country inaugurated a Special Criminal Court (SCC), Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday.

Various armed groups and individuals have enjoyed impunity for crimes under international law, including unlawful killings and sexual violence in the war-torn country for several decades, according to the Amnesty.

“Civilians have borne the brunt of successive waves of violence and armed conflict since 2002 in CAR. Thousands have been killed, raped, and over half a million people are still displaced.

“Impunity is an affront for the victims and a blank check for perpetrators of crimes. The inauguration of the SCC provided a glimmer of hope for victims, but progress is slow.

Anadolu Agency 22 October 2020

Making trade part of the peacebuilding process in the Central African Republic

The Enhanced Integrated Framework explores the work of its National Implementation Units in fragile and conflict-affected countries and looks at the role the units play in integrating trade into the rebuilding of these countries.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced recurrent episodes of violence since the 1970s. A peace agreement signed in February 2019 restored some stability to the country and helped reduce conflict?related violence. Political parties are increasingly focusing on the elections, which should be over by April 2021. The country’s recovery is a slow process, but one supported by a number of actors.

Edmond Mologodo is the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Coordinator at the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. A business lawyer and sales engineer, Mr Mologodo has worked in the field of trade for 18 years.

What makes you interested in trade?

Trade interests me primarily because it is one of the main areas of development activity in the CAR. My training (business lawyer and sales engineer) and experience also make me passionate about the work I do.

Trade for Development News 27 October 2020

Somalia

Doctor’s self-funded test lab leads way in Somalia’s COVID fight

Having scraped money together following medical studies abroad, Somali doctor Abdullahi Sheikdon Dini opened Mogadishu’s first advanced diagnostic laboratory in January.

Its arrival could hardly have been better timed because, just two months later, the coronavirus epidemic reached the Horn of Africa country.

Since then Medipark Diagnostics, which he runs with five other doctors who pooled $1 million to buy equipment, has become a linchpin of the country’s creaking, donor-supported health infrastructure.

Hospitals in the battle-scarred city that once had to wait weeks for blood test results now use the lab to test for conditions including HIV and hepatitis.

CNN 6 November 2020

Court in Somalia’s Puntland sentences two men to death for rape

A court in the semi-autonomous Somalia state of Puntland has sentenced two men to death for the rape of a 14-year old girl.

The Court of First Instance in Bosaso sentenced Mohamed Abdi Faray and Abdirahman Mohamed Isaq to death after they were convicted of raping and killing a 14-year old girl in Bosaso.

The court heard that the men confessed to kidnapping the girl before raping and killing her.

There has been an increase in rape cases in Puntland state and other parts of Somalia with several men sentenced to death for rape in the recent past.

Somali Affairs 4 November 2020

Sudan

Darfur’s troubled waters hold key to peace

Each year, 06 November marks the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Here we report on how a flagship UNEP-led project in Darfur has brought once-warring communities together to better manage limited natural resources.

Across Sudan’s arid Darfur region, water has always been one of the most precious commodities. Without it, life literally trickles to an end.

With climate change, the availability of water for farming and living has become more unpredictable. Rainfall has been erratic, and temperatures are rising higher, leading to food shortages and conflict as farmers and herders compete for scarce natural resources.

“Water is a priority anywhere in north Darfur. We sometimes have only one shower per year, and often, as little as between 150–200 mm of rain a year,” said Mohamed Siddig Lazim Suliman, who works on a UNEP project on water resource management in Darfur.

Relief Web 6 November 2020

Sudan closes border with Ethiopia

Sudan closed its border Thursday with Ethiopia after tensions in the Tigray region erupted in recent days.

Authorities in Kassala state said the closure is intended to stop any potential entry of fighters into Sudan. The acting governor of the state would also visit border areas to inspect the situation.

Ethiopia has accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking a military camp in the region, while Prime Minister Abyei Ahmed ordered the army to counter the attack.

Kassala state has witnessed wide tribal clashes which culminated in the deaths of at least 6 people and dozens injured in October.

Anadolu Agency 5 November 2020

South Sudan

South Sudan rape convictions reaffirm commitment to zero tolerance

Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, has welcomed courts martial verdicts which resulted in rape convictions for 13 members of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), according to a statement issued on Monday.

The military trials were held in the southwestern town of Yei, and the convictions last month were part of a process that saw 26 soldiers sentenced for killing, looting and other offenses committed in 2019 and 2020.

Civilian convictions also welcomed

“I also welcome the recent convictions in civilian courts in Kuajok and Wau of two SSPDF soldiers for gang rape and rape respectively of underage girls, one South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) officer for rape, and three members of the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in opposition (SPLA-IO) for rape in Yambio and Wau court,” Ms. Patten said.

UN News 3 November 2020

Journalists harassed, detained, and sentenced to jail in South Sudan

South Sudanese authorities should immediately release journalists Zechariah Makuach Maror and Jackson Ochaya and halt all acts of intimidation against the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On September 1, Ochaya, a reporter with the privately owned No. 1 Citizen newspaper, went missing and was later confirmed to be held at South Sudan’s National Security Service headquarters, according to media reports.

On September 14, Maror, a freelance journalist, was sentenced by a Juba county court to one year in prison and a fine of 5,000 South Sudanese pounds ($38) after being convicted of criminal defamation, according to news reports, court documents reviewed by CPJ, and the journalist’s brother, Saad Z. Maror, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Committee to Protect Journalist 5 November 2020

Western Sahara

Increasing tensions around Western Sahara

United Nations Security Council meeting adopted a Resolution renewing the mandate of its peacekeeping mission MINURSO in Western Sahara, for one year.

The resolution called for the resumption of consultations between Morocco Algeria The Polisarion front and Mauritania.

The Polisario, which threatened a few days ago to take up arms again, which it had deposited under the 1991 ceasefire agreement, responded quickly to the UN resolution, stating that it “will continue to intensify the national liberation struggle in the face of the failure of the United Nations to ensure the implementation of the mandate of its mission for the referendum in Western Sahara.

It must be said that the threat of the resumption of the war between The Polisario front with Morocco is plausible.

Former Colonel of the Mauritanian army and Expert in Strategy and Communication, El Boukhary Mohamed Mouemel says though Mauritania has not given a public position, but this does not mean that it has remained with its hands folded; it has worked on the issue through diplomatic channels more or less discreetly according to him.

 Africa News 4 November 2020

Ceasefire Continues in Western Sahara Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic and Violations

On September 23rd, 2020, the United Nations Security Council released a report concerning the situation surrounding the current ceasefire between the POLISARIO Front and the Kingdom of Morocco. This ceasefire, brokered by the UN in 1991, has existed in relative calm “on both sides of the berm” in Western Sahara, according to the report. West of the berm, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been relatively moderate. By August 31, 2020, 43 active cases were reported. No cases were reported among MINURSO personnel.

Tensions have been present since before the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in 2019, infrastructure investment by Morocco west of the berm was described by the POLISARIO as the “military occupation and illegal annexation of parts of Western Sahara”.  Although there have been demonstrations, most did not impact infrastructure and the flow of traffic. Of those that did, the MINURSO successfully negotiated and calmed protester activity. The UN mission observed a total of 61 violations committed by the parties between September 2019 and August 2020, eight by the Royal Moroccan Army and 53 by the Frente POLISARIO military forces. Alongside these violations were regular reports of drug smuggling and human trafficking within the area. Meanwhile, the Frente POLISARIO has criticized the MINURSO mission for “the failure … to act robustly [which has] undermined the credibility of the United Nations and deepened the loss of faith amid the Sahrawi people” in regards to lacking dialogue between the two groups.

Organization for World Peace 10 October 2020