News Briefs 06 September 2019


Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean leader who helped liberate and destroy his country, dies at 95

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president who rose to power as a champion of anti-colonial struggle but during 37 years of authoritarian rule presided over the impoverishment and degradation of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising countries, has died. He was 95.

His death was announced on Twitter on Friday by Zimbabwe’s current leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Mnangagwa wrote.

The cause of death wasn’t immediately made public. Mugabe, who had displayed physical decline over recent years, had been receiving hospital treatment in Singapore since April, Mnangagwa said earlier this week. A spokesperson for Singapore-based Parkway Pantai, a private healthcare provider which owns a Singapore hospital where Mugabe had previously sought treatment, said it was saddened by Mugabe’s death.

Washington Post

Zimbabwe Plans Talks on Foreign Debt Arrears in Early 2020 – Finance Minister

Zimbabwe plans to start talks in early 2020 on clearing arrears on its international debt, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said, as it seeks to rebuild confidence in an economy ravaged by high inflation and shortages of hard currency and basic goods.

Arrears on World Bank and African Development Bank loans total almost $2 billion, he said, and clearing that may be crucial to securing new funds to help lift the country out of crisis.

Ncube, speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum on Africa conference in Cape Town, said Zimbabwe would “cast the net wide”, from G7 countries to banks, to secure the bridging loans it would need to pay off those arrears.


Article for the Website

US economic sabotage of Venezuela a crime

The economic war waged against Venezuela by the US and its allies is a war crime under the UN Charter and international law and must be exposed as such.

The reason we should care is not only due to the gross injustice, but because it is a slippery slope – today it is Venezuela and tomorrow it will be another country the US seeks to control.

What is playing out in Latin America today is the 21st century version of the Monroe Doctrine – the Americas for the Americans. This paradigm is in contrast to the Bolivarian Doctrine held by Venezuela and other countries that is about the sovereign equality of states and the right to pursue independent foreign and economic policies.

US President Donald Trump made his position clear in a speech three months ago in Miami when he targeted Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, saying that there will be no socialism in Latin America.


Africa in General

ICJ postpones Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute case for 2 months

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has postponed the Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute case following an application by the Kenya government, which sought time to recruit a new defence team.

Kenya’s request is contained in a letter from the Attorney General’s office, dated September 3.

“I have the honour to inform you that the court has duly considered the request made by the Republic of Kenya on September 3 that hearings due to open on 9 September 2019, be postponed by 12 months, as well as the views expressed by the Federal Republic of Somalia in its letter dated 4 September, 2019,” ICJ’s registrar Philippe Gautier wrote.

“In light of the circumstances and the possible alternative dates in its judicial calendar, the Court decided to grant a postponement of the oral proceedings in the case and rescheduled the oral hearings to the week beginning Monday 4 November 2019,” the registrar stated.

Capital News

Attacks on foreigners offend spirit of African unity, say Zimbabwe authorities

The government of Zimbabwe on Wednesday urged its citizens based in South Africa, or travelling to the neighbouring country to “take necessary precaution” in the wake of widespread attacks on foreign business owners and looting of their goods.

“All Zimbabweans living in South Africa, and those travelling to the country are urged to take necessary precaution to ensure their safety,” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

The Harare authorities expressed “heartfelt sympathies to all Zimbabweans and other African nationals who suffered from the senseless orgy of violence in South Africa”.

Mutsvangwa added: “The government and people of Zimbabwe condemn the barbaric acts, which clearly offends the spirit of African unity and solidarity espoused by the African Union’s founding fathers in Addis Ababa in 1963”.


Nigeria sends special envoy to SA, Zambians urged to avoid ‘trouble spots’

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed his Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon South Africa’s High Commissioner to Nigeria and get an explanation on the situation in South Africa.

Onyeama is also instructed to use the occasion “to express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens, and [get] assurance of the safety of their lives and property”.

A statement released by Buhari’s special advisor Femi Adesina said the West African leader has noted with deep concern, the attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August.

“President Buhari has also dispatched a Special Envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa his concerns and also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation.


Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo boosts business ties with Japan

Top African business leaders joined heads of state and government at the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Their presence at the summit in Yokohama highlighted a shift in policy, as Tokyo changes its focus on Africa from aid to investment.

Japan has long been a player in international African development conferences and set up TICAD in 1993.

Noanori Yamada, of the Japanese Foreign Trade Organisation, JETRO, said TICAD countries are now opting for a more trade-oriented approach to accelerate the continent’s development through business.

Euro News

Urgent support needed for violence-affected women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Several weeks ago, a woman brought her 11-year-old daughter, Anne*, to a UNFPA-supported health facility. Their family had been uprooted by the conflict in Ituri Province and, in the chaos, Anne was sexually assaulted.

A nurse welcomed the girl, who was too terrified to speak. With a lot of time and patience, clinic staff helped Anne feel comfortable enough to tell her story and consent to an examination. A social worker began to help her through the healing process.

Tragically, Anne’s experience is far from unique. Thousands of women and girls in Ituri Province have been subjected to gender-based violence, as have women and girls in conflict-affected North Kivu and South Kivu.

“Since the beginning of the year we have seen an escalation of various forms of violence against women and girls in conflict-affected areas of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu,” said Sennen Hounton, UNFPA’s representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

United Nations Population Fund


Somalia urges South African govt to protect its citizens

Somalia on Thursday called on the South African government to protect its citizens in the country as a wave of attacks targets foreigners and their businesses.

Seven people have been killed and dozens of shops destroyed in xenophobic violence in and around Johannesburg this week – a recurring trend that has often targeted Somalis.

“The Somali government is keeping an eye on the violence in South Africa where members of the Somali community, mainly traders, have been attacked and suffered both death and injury in recent years,” read a statement from the information ministry.

“The Somali government is deeply concerned about the looting and eviction of its citizens and their businesses and requests the South African government protect and guarantee the safety of the Somali citizens and their property.”


UN warns of worsening food insecurity in Sudan, Somalia

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed concerns about food insecurity in Sudan and Somalia, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said some 6.3 million people – or 14 percent of the Sudan’s population – are experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity, the highest on record since the introduction of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification in Sudan in 2007.

In Somalia, late and erratic rains this year, coupled with low river levels, have led to the poorest cereal harvest since 2011 – up to 70 percent below average, the spokesman said, adding that without humanitarian assistance, up to 2.1 million people across Somalia face severe hunger through the end of the year.


Central African Republic

Central Africans ‘need our help now’: UN’s deputy relief chief

“Spikes of violence” in previously unaffected areas of the Central African Republic (CAR) have prompted new displacement, the United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator said on Wednesday, calling for additional funding to meet the humanitarian needs of 2.9 million people.

“I have witnessed the level of suffering among people affected by this complex emergency”, said Ursula Mueller in Bangui, after a week-long mission to the CAR.

“The humanitarian situation in this country continues to deteriorate”, she continued, noting that “most displaced people have been forced to flee multiple times and are unable to return home due to continued insecurity and lack of essential services.”

Africa News

C. Africa President Defends Peace Deal Despite Clashes, Defections

A peace accord aimed at ending years of violence in the Central African Republic remains solid, the country’s president affirmed Thursday, despite a fierce clash between rival militias this week and the departure of two rebel leaders from their government posts.

“These are setbacks but we hope that they won’t endanger the accord,” President Faustin-Archange Touadera told AFP in an interview in Paris after holding talks with France’s Emmanuel Macron.

“I think the accord is quite strong, it has the support of the entire international community and the Central African people,” he said.

Around a dozen people were killed in the outburst of fighting last Sunday and Monday in Birao, a town in the far north, Touadera said, by rival groups who had nonetheless signed the peace deal reached in February.



Sudan Forms First Cabinet Since Fall of Bashir

Sudan’s prime minister announced on Thursday the formation of the first government since the overthrow of long-term ruler Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April.

The government was formed as part of a three-year power-sharing deal signed last month between the military and civilian parties and protest groups.

Abdalla Hamdok announced the names of 18 ministers in the new cabinet and said he would name two more later.

“[The new government] will start its work immediately in a harmonious and collective way,” Hamdok told a press conference in Khartoum on Thursday evening. “Today, we start a new phase in our history.”

Voice of America

Sudan Court Formally Indicts Al-Bashir on Corruption Charges

A judge in Sudan formally indicted former President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption.

A senior police officer had testified earlier that Mr. al-Bashir, who was ousted in April after months of street protests, had admitted to receiving $90 million from Saudi Arabia.

Mr. al-Bashir, 75, questioned in court for the first time during his trial in Khartoum, said that he had received $25 million from the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, but that he had not used the money for private purposes.

New York Times

South Sudan

South Sudan Rebels Urge Government to Fund Peace, Not Roads

South Sudan’s opposition leaders said that the government’s failure to make funds available for the implementation of a peace accord could plunge the country back into war.

The country’s largest rebel group accused President Salva Kiir of failing to provide $100 million needed to support the establishment of a transitional government within two months. The criticism intensified after reports that Kiir’s administration allocated $700 million to build a highway.

“What is the point of saying that we don’t have funds and yet you have heard that the government is going to build a $700 million road? What is the priority, those roads or the peace?” said Henry Odwar, deputy chairman of the rebel group led by former Vice President Riek Machar.


South Sudan: Missing File Blocks Justice for Rapes, Murder

A missing case file is blocking appeals in the sexual assault case stemming from the July 11, 2016 attack on the Terrain hotel in Juba, South Sudan, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Legal Action Worldwide said today. The case file has not been seen since it was sent to President Salva Kiir in 2018.

One year after 10 soldiers were convicted for the sexual assault and rape of at least five aid workers and the murder of a journalist during the attack, the Supreme Court is unable to move forward with appeals by the victims and those convicted because of the missing file.

“It is outrageous that a year after the conviction the parties’ appeals cannot be heard because of a missing case file,” said Antonia Mulvey, founder and executive director of Legal Action Worldwide. “The authorities should ensure that there are no deliberate attempts to obstruct justice and locate the file, so the Supreme Court can examine the appeal.”

Human Rights Watch

Western Sahara

UNSC September Schedule Omits Western Sahara Amid Post-Kohler Concerns

Four months into the UN’s deafening silence on the prospects of its Western Sahara agenda after the show’s main performer threw in the towel, Western Sahara is once again the notable absentee in UN Security Council’s scheduled meetings for September.

As the UNSC announced its September schedule, the talking points for the upcoming security discussions do not feature the Western Sahara conflict. The glaring omission will likely revive circulating suggestions about the visible stasis that has set in among UN diplomatic circles and informed Western Sahara observers since the untimely resignation of Horst Kohler as personal envoy.

Included in the UNSC’ schedule for September are security concerns as varied as the Libyan crisis, the Syrian predicament, and the global migration crisis and related topics such as human trafficking, among other global security challenges.

Morocco World News


eSwatini women gain equality to their husbands following court ruling

Married women in eSwatini are now equal to their husbands following a historic high court ruling that the previous common law doctrine of marital power was offensive to women’s constitutional rights to dignity and equality.

The ruling last Friday means that married women will no longer need to seek the consent of their husbands in dealing with marital assets and administering property. Furthermore, they will be able to represent themselves in civil suits, Swazimedia Blogspot reported.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) reported the court struck down sections 24 and 25 of the Marriage Act to the extent that it provided that marriages were governed by common law “unless both parties to the marriage are African in which case the marital power of the husband and proprietary rights of the spouses shall be governed by Swazi law and custom”.

“Relying on recent judgments by the Botswana and India courts relating to the criminalisation of sexual orientation, the eSwatini High Court emphasised that dignity is an essential element of respect and honour and being subjected to marital power and minority status denies women their right to dignity,” said the SALC.


LGBTI Discrimination in Swaziland Leads to Big Mental Health Issues, Report Finds

LGBTI people in Swaziland/eSwatini suffer mental health issues and many have attempted suicide because of the way they are discriminated against in the kingdom.

This has prompted the authors of the first study of its kind to call for same-sex activity to be decriminalised in Swaziland. They also call for legal reform to abolish laws which contribute to stigma, prejudice and discrimination against sexual and gender minority people living in the kingdom, including men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women.

The report written by two academics and the Southern and East African Research Collective on Health was based on interviews with 104 LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people in Swaziland. The Rock of Hope, a community-based organization that supports the needs and advocates for the rights of LGBTI people in Swaziland, helped in compiling the report.