News Briefs 17 January 2020


Mbeki to resume Zimbabwe political dialogue

Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki will bring terms of reference for political dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC’s Nelson Chamisa when he returns to Zimbabwe by month-end, Business Times heard this week.

Mbeki was in the country last month where he met Mnangagwa Chamisa and leaders of other fringe parties that also make up the Political Actors Dialogue. The former South African President was expected to come back after Christmas holiday to bring to the table the warring parties.

Chwani Mtetwa, first secretary for political affairs at the South African Embassy in Harare, told Business Times that Mbeki is coming back to the country this month, although the working schedule has not been released.

“We know that former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki is supposed to be coming back at the end of this month to resume the political dialogue between Zanu PF and MDC leaders and we will let you know once we have information on the matter as we are in the process of communicating with him,” Mtetwa said.

The Zimbabwe Mail

No bailout: China tells Zim govt

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s desperate attempts to secure a financial rescue package from China were once again flatly rebuffed after Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi emphasised during his visit this week that Beijing was not going to give budgetary support to Harare.

Wang said Zimbabwe can only benefit from the world’s second largest economy through projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Forum on China Cooperation (FOCAC).

China’s top diplomat was in Zimbabwe on a three-day visit which ended on Monday. Zimbabwe was the only southern African country he visited on his five-nation tour of Africa which also took him to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea and Burundi.

The Independent

Zimbabwe: AfDB, UN and World Bank launch 2019 Needs Assessment Report to spur economic recovery

The African Development Bank, United Nations and World Bank Group recently launched the Zimbabwe 2019 Joint Needs Assessment Report.

The study, the first to be prepared jointly in Zimbabwe by the three organizations, was produced after the Government of Zimbabwe requested them to assess the scope of challenges and needs.

The southern African nation has engaged on a path to accelerate policy and legal reform for economic recovery and inclusive growth. This includes investments in quality social services; social cohesion and peace; improved governance; and re-engagement with the international community.

“I urge the Zimbabwean government to take advantage of the knowledge embedded in the report in its reform efforts,” Damoni Kitabire, Country Manager of the African Development Bank in Zimbabwe, said.

Morden Diplomacy


Swaziland Refuses to Register LGBTIQ Human Rights Group Because It Is ‘Annoying’

An LGBTIQ rights group in Swaziland (eSwatini) has been denied permission to register because its objectives are deemed ‘annoying’.

The Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorites (ESGM) was also told the Swazi Constitution did not include sexual orientation on the list of protections against discrimination.

Melusi Simelane, Founder and Executive Director of ESGM, said this suggested the government refused to recognise the existence of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) people in the kingdom.

Simelane was writing in a report on LGBTI experiences in Swaziland recently published. He said LGBTI identities were not criminalised in Swaziland but colonial laws that included the crime of sodomy still existed. He said this suggested homosexuality was ‘simply about a sexual act rather than a broader issue of love and respect’.


Democratic Republic of Congo

Killings and violence targeting ethnic group in DR Congo ‘may amount to crimes against humanity’

An investigation carried out by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the DRC, found that at least 701 people have been killed and 168 injured following attacks involving the Hema and Lendu communities in the country’s northeast province of Ituri, between December 2017 and September last year.

“In addition, at least 142 people have been subjected to acts of sexual violence” the report said, “most of them members of the Hema community.”

Since September 2018, Lendu armed groups have become increasingly organized in carrying out attacks against the Hema and members of other ethnic groups such as the Alur, the investigators said. 

Among their objectives is to take control of the land of the Hema communities and their associated resources, they added.

UN News

Cardinal asks President of DR Congo for solutions for North Kivu

The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix- Antoine Tshisekedi, met with Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo in the presidential palace in Kinshasa on Monday. Cardinal Ambongo is the Archbishop of the nation’s capital, and the vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference.

The reason for the meeting was the upcoming audience of the President with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

“Incomprehensible how human beings can behave like this”

According to the Palace’s own Twitter page, the discussion also turned to Cardinal Ambongo’s visit to the North Kivu region in eastern Congo last December.

 “I witnessed a traumatised population” the Cardinal said, adding that “it’s impossible to comprehend how human beings can behave like this towards their own brothers and sisters. As a pastor, this affected me profoundly.”

The Vatican

Central African Republic

UN peacekeepers protecting hundreds displaced by Central African Republic fighting

Peacekeepers are patrolling the city of Alindao, Basse Kotto Prefecture, after skirmishes last Thursday between the country’s armed forces and members of an armed group associated with the mainly-Muslim ex-Seleka coalition, which have fought with mainly Christian anti-Balaka elements, destabilizing the nation since 2013.

“Two personnel from the Central African Republic’s (CAR) armed forces died in the violence”, Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York. “Today, the UN Mission says that the situation is calm, despite continuing tensions”.

On 9 January, 650 families temporarily sought refuge in a hospital while at least nine people were injured by stray bullets and dozens of houses burned at the ELIM displacement site, according to the UN humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA).

UN News

Former child soldiers learn new trades in Central African Republic

“Now we can sleep safely at night, I want to set up a bakery,” said Prisca.

Forced into marriage with a rebel fighter, Prisca — not her real name — is one of thousands of former child soldiers in the Central African Republic.

Today, thanks to a retraining programme, she and other youngsters are gaining skills that are giving them the chance of a fresh start.

In the CAR capital Bangui, hundreds have enrolled in courses in cooking, carpentry, cabinet-making and other professions.

The East Africa


13 die at displaced persons camp in Mogadishu

Thirteen people have been confirmed dead at an internally displaced persons camp in Kahda district in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

Goobjoog News, a Somali radio and TV station, reported Tuesday that three of those who died were children.

“The three children died of hunger, while 10 others perished as a result of malnutrition. Surviving families are now forced to feed on tree leaves with no support in sight,” it said.

Adverse climatic conditions such as drought and floods coupled with conflict in Somalia have always equated to hunger, malnutrition, death of livestock and cash shortages.

On Jan. 12, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a humanitarian needs overview report which warned that 4.8 million of Somalia’s 15.4 million people are food insecure, 1.2 million are in emergency and crisis and one million children are projected to be malnourished, with 2.6 million people internally displaced persons.

Anadolu Agency

Shabab militants from Somalia may have received help from Kenyans for deadly Manda Bay attack

U.S. Africa Command officials believe that al-Shabab militants from Somalia crossed the border into Kenya to conduct an attack on U.S. and Kenyan forces earlier this month in Manda Bay — with the assistance of facilitators within Kenya.

“We assess that these are al-Shabab coming out of Somalia, but with the support of Kenyan facilitators and potential Kenyan aspirants of al-Shabab,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence, told reporters Thursday.

“We also assess that after the attack, they’re continuing to make their way back into Somalia as well,” he added.

Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr. and two U.S. Department of Defense contractors were killed in the attack on Manda Bay, which is currently under investigation. Although the incident coincided with tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the command previously said they believe al-Shabab’s actions were not related.

Military Times


Sudan peace talks on Darfur, Two Areas continuing

The Sudanese peace talks taking place in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, focussed on Darfur and on the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state) on Wednesday.

A government team headed by member of the Sovereign Council Mohamed El Taayshi held direct negotiations with representatives of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance on the Darfur track.

Dhieu Mathok, member of the South Sudanese mediation team, said in a press statement after the session that the discussion focused on the sharing of power in the conflict-torn western region.

He said that the SRF Darfur track team presented a detailed protocol proposing the structures of a transitional authority and the way Darfuri personnel can be deployed in federal institutions and civil service departments.


Sudan’s intelligence chief resigns after Khartoum mutiny

Sudan’s spy chief Abu Bakr Mustafa has stepped down two days after a revolt in the capital Khartoum.

“The director of intelligence has resigned. He called us by telephone and we asked him to submit a written resignation, so we are now considering it,” General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, told state television on Wednesday.

The revolt on Tuesday, involving former spies linked to former president Omar al-Bashir and armed forces over severance payout, left two people dead and four others injured.

Gen Burhan added that a committee had been formed to investigate the people behind the confrontation.

The East African

South Sudan

South Sudan rivals agree to meet unity government deadline

South Sudan’s rival leaders have agreed to form a coalition government by the February deadline, a South African special envoy says.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in their latest talks this week also agreed that key outstanding issues under the country’s 2018 peace deal would be arbitrated within 90 days of the new government’s formation, South African Deputy President David Mabuza said Thursday.

The United States and others have pressured South Sudan’s rival leaders to meet the Feb. 22 deadline after they failed to meet one in November. The country’s five-year civil war that erupted just two years after South Sudan won independence from Sudan killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced millions.


Kiir, Machar refer states issue to South Africa

South Sudan’s main peace partners on Wednesday agreed to refer the sticky issue of the number and boundaries of states to the South African deputy president to broker a compromise.

President Salva Kiir and the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar met in Juba in presence of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, Sudanese leading member of the Sovereign Council to discuss the contention over the 32 states.

Kiir struggles to keep the contested territorial administrative system while Machar and other peace parties call to restore the 10-state system if the president refuses their demand to review the boundaries and the number of states.

Presidential adviser Tut Kew Gatluak stated after the meeting that the two leaders discussed the number of states and they will continue to tackle it with the other peace partners.

Sudan Tribune

Western Sahara

Amid increased tensions in Western Sahara, Secretary-General urges maximum restraint as Africa Eco Race crosses Guerguerat Village

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The Secretary-General is concerned about increased tensions in Western Sahara as the Africa Eco Race is about to cross Guerguerat.

The Secretary-General calls on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and to defuse any tensions.

It is important to allow for regular civilian and commercial traffic to proceed and to refrain from any action that may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip.

The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations commitment to support the parties to reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict in Western Sahara in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

Relief Web

ANC calls on the international community to honour a promise made twenty-eight years ago to the Saharawi people on the referendum for self-determination

The African National Conference called on the international community to honour a promise made twenty-eight years ago to the Saharawi people on the referendum for self-determination.

The ANC reaffirmed, during the 15th Congress of the POLISARIO Front held from the 19th -23rd December 2019 in Tifariti, liberated territories of Western Sahara, its principled support to the Saharawi people.

“The 15th Polisario Congress takes place during a critical juncture whereby MINURSO is almost 30 years old without fulfilling one of its core mandates of organising a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people. The people of Western Sahara have been waiting for the United Nations to fulfil its promise and responsibility towards the peace-loving people of Western Sahara” stressed the ANC in a statement.

Sahara Press Service