News Briefs 4 October 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo President outlines vision for a ‘more representative’ UN Security Council

In his first address to the UN General Assembly, Félix Tshisekedi underlined the need to reform the primary body charged with maintaining international peace and security.

“It is indeed unfair that Africa remains the only region in the world that does not have permanent representation on the Security Council, when in fact the major issues – be they demographic, social or environmental – for the whole planet are inextricably linked to Africa,” he said.

“We want a configuration and that is more representative of the world’s peoples in their diversity.”

President Tshisekedi said the DRC can contribute to the global push to achieve a more just and equitable world, as outlined under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UN News

More than a dozen killed as unlicensed mine collapses in DRC

More than a dozen people have been killed after an unlicensed gold mine collapsed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government said.

The accident happened at Kampene, some 180km (110 miles) south of Kindu town, Steve Mbikayi, minister of national solidarity and humanitarian action, said on Wednesday.

“Fourteen dead, three hospitalised with serious injuries. Search continuing,” Mbikayi wrote on Twitter, giving a provisional toll.



Zimbabwe Senior Doctors Threaten to Join Strike

Scores of senior doctors in Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have threatened to strike starting Thursday, if the government fails to meet their demand for better salaries and working conditions.

They would join hundreds of their junior counterparts, who’ve been on strike since September 3 for the same reasons. Patients are being turned away from public health facilities amid the southern African country’s protracted economic crisis, given shortages of staffing, medical equipment and supplies.

“Appalling and disgraceful” conditions have left “no option but to openly declare our incapacitation,” the Senior Hospital Doctors Association said in a statement, setting a deadline of Thursday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to respond.

Voice of America

Zimbabwe’s leader begs for patience to fix ailing economy

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday acknowledged the economic hardships Zimbabweans are suffering and pleaded for patience to allow his government to fix the country’s rapidly deteriorating economy.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been badly suffering for two decades but the last 12 months have been the worst decline in 10 years, characterised by shortages of basic goods such as fuel and electricity.

Even when such goods are available, they are often unaffordable for most Zimbabweans.

Annual inflation neared 300% in August, according to the International Monetary Fund.


Zimbabwe accuses US of lying about diamond-mining forced labour

Zimbabwe angrily denounced a US government decision to curb imports of diamonds from its Marange field, branding the claim the country uses forced labor at the operations “a shameless lie.”

“Invoking the repulsive prospect of alleged forced labor is a new nomenclature for seeking to bar Zimbabwe’s diamonds from the international markets,” the southern African nation’s government said in a statement. “This move constitutes a grave and serious attack on Zimbabwe’s interests and is no less than a manifestation of undeclared sanctions.”

The Kimberley Process, which aims to ensure that the proceeds of diamond mining aren’t used to fund conflict, confirmed that it has no restrictions on trade in Zimbabwean diamonds. The body represents 81 countries, accounting for 99.8% of global rough diamond production.



Swaziland Police Shoot Union Leader in Back As Peaceful Workers’ Protest Turns Into a ‘Battlefield

Police in Swaziland / eSwatini once again attacked striking workers using teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets. One union leader was shot in the back with a live bullet. The kingdom’s main commercial city Manzini was brought ‘to a complete standstill’ and ‘became a battlefield,’ according to local media. The AFP international news agency reported the majority of shops in Manzini were closed due to the unrest.

This was the third time in a week that police attacked workers.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, said thousands of people took part in demonstrations. The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a prodemocracy group banned in Swaziland, in a statement on Facebook, put the number of protesters at ‘well over 7,000’. The Times of eSwatini (formerly Times of Swaziland), the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, put the figure at 8,000.


eSwatini workers clash with police in salary protests

Angry teachers and government workers clashed with police in the tiny kingdom of eSwatini on Wednesday as they rallied to demand better pay and lower living costs in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Civil servants took to the streets in Manzini, the kingdom’s second largest town, singing protest songs and blowing horns.

“We want cost of living adjustment not bullets,” read a banner wielded by one protester.

The crowd threw stones at the police, who responded with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas.


Communist Party of Swaziland rallies behind striking workers

The Communist Party of Swaziland has said it would continue to stand with the country’s workers in their demand for justice.

This after reports of violent clashes erupted in eSwatini on Wednesday after police cracked down on civil servants protesting against low pay and rising living costs in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

“Workers must strengthen their unity and ensure to avoid infiltration by the regime. All efforts must lead towards a decisive national strike and uprising against the regime, for the dismantling of the tinkhundla system and replacement by a people’s democratic republic,” the party said.



Sudan’s leader: Disaster if US sanctions not lifted

Sudan’s prime minister on Thursday warned of disastrous consequences for his country if the world doesn’t help get its name removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, thus ending the accompanying sanctions, Anadolu Agency reports.

Addressing a forum on the Sudanese economy in the capital Khartoum by UK-based Chatham House, Abdalla Hamdok said Sudan is at risk of failing if the US doesn’t take its name off the list.

The terrorist listing and sanctions “have so many implications for progress” for Sudan including such areas as investment, he argued.

If Sudan fails, the fallout in the region will be worse than the effect of the situation in Libya, Syria, or Yemen, he added.

Middle East Monitor

Sudan Seeks Removal from US Terrorism List

 Following months of political instability after the ousting of longtime President Omar al-Bashir, the new interim government in Sudan is now seeking to remove the country from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The move would help Sudan overcome economic challenges facing the African country after al-Bashir was overthrown in April following months of street protests, Sudanese officials said.

The removal of Sudan from the U.S. list is key to the new government’s efforts to stabilize the country in the transitional period, Abdalla Hamdok, the interim prime minister of Sudan, said in an interview with U.S. funded Alhurra TV on Tuesday.

Voice of America

South Sudan

South Sudan tells UN it’s ‘heading towards lasting peace and stability’

South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that his country is “heading towards lasting peace and stability.”

Despite ongoing concerns over the fragility of South Sudan’s peace process and ongoing human rights violations taking place in the country, Taban Deng Gai insists his country is making strong process and should be considered as a “beacon of hope” for country’s embroiled in political crises.

“Last year, I stood here representing a country many sceptics had considered was on the brink of deteriorating into violent conflict,” Taban Deng Gai told the UN General Assembly during the week.

“South Sudan is heading towards lasting peace and stability,” he insisted.

East Africa Monitor

South Sudan factions miss deadline to assemble fighters: peace monitor

Signatories to South Sudan’s fragile peace have missed a deadline set by the regional east African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to register and assemble all their fighters, a body tasked to monitor the pact said Wednesday.

Desta Abiche Ageno, chairperson of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), said that the parties to the agreement have missed IGAD’s Sept. 30 deadline to have half of the 83,000 unified force screened.

“While the number of forces being registered is encouraging, the cantonment process remains slow and the IGAD council of ministers’ deadline that at least 50 percent of 83,000 necessary Unified Forces should be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed by Sept.30 has now passed,” Ageno said.


Central African Republic

Three UN peacekeepers killed following helicopter crash

The four crew members onboard were all part of the Senegalese contingent, flying a Mi-24 helicopter providing air support to an ongoing MINUSCA security operation in Nana-Mabere province, before they were reportedly forced to make an emergency landing due to bad weather, near Bouar, not far from the Cameroon border.

Secretary-General António Guterres offered his “heartfelt condolences to the families of the peacekeepers, as well as to the Government and people of Senegal” in a statement issued in New York by his Spokesperson. 

He “reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to supporting the people and Government of CAR in their efforts to consolidate peace”, the statement continued.

UN News

Central African Republic launches reform of its diamond mining sector

Ahead of the annual general membership meeting of the World Diamond Council in Antwerp, the government of the Central African Republic has launched a full overhaul of the country’s alluvial diamond mining sector.

Going forward, the CAR’s government will stand for a bold new and drastic approach where full transparency and proper due diligence protocols, traceability of individual parcel and OECD due diligence guidance will be crucial.

The country direly needs diamond production to return to the formal market.

A comparison with the past demonstrates that while in 2012, the total production was about USD$62 million. In 2018 only $2.3 million was reached.

Mining Review


US reopens embassy in Somalia after nearly three decades

The United States has reopened its embassy in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, nearly three decades after it was shut as the Horn of Africa nation plunged into civil war.

Washington closed its embassy during the 1991 overthrow of then-President Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of chaos. However, diplomatic relations have strengthened in recent years.

“Today we reaffirm the relations between the American people and the Somali people, and our two nations,” said Donald Yamamoto, the US ambassador to Somalia, in a statement on Wednesday.


Somalia hopes to counter Al Shabaab with new education curriculum

Somalia’s government is implementing a new curriculum for primary and secondary school students, for the first time since the civil war broke out in 1991.

In the past, schools had to make do with whatever materials came to hand. More than 40 curricula were used across Somalia, creating a hodgepodge of competing education systems in a variety of languages, the government said.

Schools sourced textbooks from more than 10 countries during the civil war and English and Arabic replaced Somali as the language of instruction.

Africa News

Western Sahara

UN chief praises ‘momentum’ in Western Sahara

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he hopes to maintain the political “momentum” to seek a solution to the Western Sahara conflict, despite having not had a special envoy to the region for the past four months.

In a report Wednesday, Guterres praised the progress made by the UN’s former envoy, Horst Kohler, who left the position in May for health reasons.

He “was able to reinstate a much-needed dynamic and momentum to the political process, including through the round-table process he launched which brought together Morocco, Frente Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania,” Guterres said in the document delivered to the Security Council.

Middle East Online

Other News

OPINION: Migrants add value to economy

After the recent spate of attacks on foreign and locally-owned shops in South Africa, policymakers are now trying to regulate industries in which foreign businesses can or cannot operate.

Word on the street is that the Department of Small Business Development will be drafting new laws to restrict foreign-owned businesses from operating in certain sectors and locations, which in their view will help protect local ones.

For most governments, enacting new legislation and regulations is always a knee-jerk reaction whenever and wherever there is a problem.


MDC reaches out to African Union

Zimbabwe is facing a major socio-economic and political crisis which, if left unchecked, can spiral out of control, resulting in the loss of lives, the main opposition MDC has said in a cry to the Africa Union (AU).

MDC deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the MDC had reached out to the AU in a diplomatic missive, saying the continental body has to act before things spiral out of hand.

“We believe that the Zimbabwean situation provides a test to Africa, particularly in respect of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. Citizens are not safe. Several people have been abducted, others have disappeared, while the citizenry are generally not safe in their homes, particularly democracy and civic activists,” Tamborinyoka said.

News Day

Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this known in a joint communique issued in Pretoria following the State visit of President Buhari to South Africa.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa endorsed the establishment of an Early Warning Mechanism as a preventative and monitoring platform against the recurrence of attacks.

Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this known in a joint communique issued in Pretoria following the State visit of President Buhari to South Africa.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visit which was on the invitation of Ramaphosa also coincides with the inaugural session of the elevated Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Nigeria and South Africa.

In the communique, both Presidents condemned the recent violent incidents and destruction of property and reiterated their call for heightened law enforcement.