News Briefs 06 May 2022

Southern Africa Focus


Parliament to Summon Mnangagwa Over Rampant Corruption

Parliament must move a motion to summon President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the National Assembly to answer questions about rampant corruption in his government which were flagged Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri in her 2020 report, outspoken Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa has said.

Mliswa, chairs the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC), told journalists and chairpersons of the Budget and Finance and Public Accounts committees on Tuesday that Mnangagwa was presiding over a dysfunctional government.

“Government is full of corruption. If you go through this report, you then ask why we even pass the budget. I will be very clear on that. Governance implementation or recommendation is not done. The president is presiding over a dysfunctional government, a corrupt government,” Mliswa said.

AllAfrica 4 May 2022

Zimbabwe to launch measures to protect currency, President says

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the government will soon introduce measures to halt the rapid devaluation of the local currency. The move would include “measures to increase confidence in the local unit,” Mnangagwa wrote in the opinion page of the state-run Sunday Mail.

“De-dollarisation will be managed carefully to avert disruptions,” the president said. “This government is determined to continue with a tight fiscal policy to maintain the current surplus.” The southern African country’s currency officially trades at Z$159.34 to the US dollar but changes hands in the streets of the capital for as much as Z$400 to the greenback.

Mnangagwa said he met with a team of experts “in the wake of last week’s exchange rate turbulences and upward movement in prices” to analyse and review the situation.

News24 1 May 2022


eSwatini court refuses to recognise LGBTQ rights group

A court in eSwatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy where homosexuality is still banned, has rejected a bid by the country’s leading LGBTQ rights group for official recognition, the group said Saturday.

The judges “continually state that the organisation wants to sell sex to the public. This is nowhere found in the mandate and vision of the organisation,” said Sisanda Mavimbela, executive director of Eswatini Gender Minorities, which aims to protect, promote and advance LGBTQ rights.

The country’s high court in the capital Mbabane ruled Friday that the real purpose of the NGO, which fights for access to care for LGBTQ people, is to spread information about same-sex sexual practices, and condemned the publicity of such issues.  

“What is in the sanctity of the home should not be shouted out on the mountain top,” said judge Mumcy Dlamini. 

The Citizen 1 May 2022

King Mswati III placed on notice by EFF and pro-democracy groups

Pro-democracy groups led by South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have given Eswatini’s King Mswati III a year to abdicate.

This was said as the EFF led the blockage of the Ngwenya (Oshoek) and Golela border posts for six hours on Tuesday in solidarity with the Eswatini chapter of the party’s call for democracy and human rights.

The border blockage on the king’s 54th birthday was to make sure “he’s broke on his birthday”.

“Today is Mswati’s birthday. We are presenting him with a special gift. He is used to taking taxpayers’ money via the gates and spreading it for his lavish lifestyle with his wives and children. Today we are here to suppress the economy sustaining the livelihood of the regime,” Mthokozisi Makhunga, the EFF deputy president in Eswatini, told journalists.

News24 30 April 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

Blame games, fears of isolation at meeting to seek peace for DRC

The latest peace bid for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled eastern region appeared headed for a solid footing after 24 armed groups gathered in Nairobi to express their grievances, in a meeting endorsed by the UN and the African Union.

But the conference between the government of President Felix Tshisekedi and the rebel groups, brokered by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, was also an arena for blame games, amid feelings of isolation by some.

In a speech delivered virtually to the more than 81 participants at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi on Wednesday, President Kenyatta told the armed groups to choose peaceful means of airing grievances.

“Without laying down weapons and forging an unbreakable national compact to secure the DRC, the fruits of prosperity — which you deserve — from the teeming rich endowments will remain elusive,” he said.

The East African 2 May 2022

The failed ‘state of siege’ in eastern DRC should not be extended

On May 1, 2021, President Félix Tshisekedi announced an “état de siège” – effectively martial law – in Ituri and North Kivu, two eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Since then, the Congolese army, Ugandan forces, and the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, have all been playing their part in a big push against the region’s myriad armed groups.

The état de siège has been prolonged no fewer than 22 times. But violence continues to worsen: abductions have more than doubled and destruction of property has trebled over the last year, according to the Kivu Security Tracker project coordinated by Human Rights Watch.

Green and rich in minerals, this part of the Congo has been plagued by conflict for decades. By some estimations, DRC has seen the deadliest conflict globally since World War II. More than five million people remain displaced. Elections set for 2023 could escalate violence further.

Aljazeera 5 May 2022

East Africa and the Horn


Islamist militants overrun AU camp in Somalia

Al-Qaeda-linked militants overran an AU peacekeepers’ camp in the centre of Somalia, a security source and the group said on Tuesday in what appears to be one of the Al-Shabaab group’s biggest attacks this year.

A resident said three civilians died in crossfire during the attack, while the number of AU soldiers killed or captured was unclear.

The chairperson of the AU commission Moussa Faki Mahamat paid tribute to the Burundian peacekeepers who lost their lives, but did not say how many died.

Somalia is preparing to hold long-delayed presidential elections with political rivalries having split the security services, distracting them from the fight against the Al-Shabaab insurgency.

TimesLive 4 May 2022

Somalia is still fragile: what the new African Union mission can do to help stabilise it

The African Union Mission in Somalia – AMISOM – has ended its 15-year political and military experiment in post-conflict state building. On 1 April 2022, a shift took place as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) came into being. The transition’s mission is to pave the way for lasting peace and stability in the Horn of Africa country.

The initial mission’s mandate – which began in 2007 and ended on 31 March 2022 – was unusual. It had to contend with systemic and institutional dysfunction and security collapses in Somalia.

It also faced a major militant threat from the Al-Shaabab islamist insurgency. The terror group had captured territory in central and southern Somalia in its quest for a Utopian caliphate. This included key ports in Kismayu and Mogadishu.

The Conversation 19 April 2022

Central African Republic

Russian mercenaries behind Central African Republic atrocities – HRW

Russian mercenaries have been accused of summarily executing, torturing and beating civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR). Witnesses told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that in one incident last July, Russian-speaking fighters shot dead at least 12 unarmed men at a roadblock.

Most victims were put in a shallow hole by the road near Bossangoa, they said. CAR’s government denies hiring mercenaries from the private Russian Wagner Group to fight rebels. UN experts have also accused Russian mercenaries of committing systematic and grave human rights violations in CAR, which is one of the world’s poorest countries but is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium.

The Wagner Group is widely reported to have deployed forces elsewhere in Africa – in Mali and Libya – and has played a major role in the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

BBC 4 May 2022


At least 168 killed in violence in Sudan’s Darfur: Aid group

At least 168 people have been killed in fighting between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, a Sudanese aid group said.

Adam Regal, spokesman for the General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, said on Sunday that fighting in the Kreinik area of West Darfur province had also wounded 98 others.

He said the clashes first erupted on Thursday with the killing of two people by an unknown assailant in Kreinik, around 30km (18 miles) east of Genena, the provincial capital of West Darfur.

The clashes later reached Genena, where armed groups attacked wounded people while they were being treated at the city’s main hospital, according to Salah Saleh, a doctor and former medical director at the hospital.

Aljazeera 14 April 2022

Six months since coup, Sudan promises to keep up democracy fight

Six months ago, Sudan’s military staged a coup that put an end to Sudan’s frail democratic transition that had begun with the removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir three years ago.

Since the October 25 power grab, security forces have killed dozens of anti-coup protesters and arrested hundreds more, with rights groups accusing them of forcefully disappearing, raping, and torturing demonstrators.

But while the crackdown has upended countless lives, it has not broken the spirit of the pro-democracy movement.

Members of the resistance committees – neighbourhood groups driving the protests through coordinating nationwide marches – say the brutal repression has only hardened their opposition to military rule and pledge to to step up demonstrations after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan concludes next week.

Aljazeera 25 April 2022

South Sudan

Dozens killed, wounded as armed clashes ravage South Sudan’s Leer County

Dozens of people have been killed and wounded in continued violence in northern South Sudan, according to the United Nations on Tuesday.

The deaths occurred amid armed clashes in Unity State’s Leer County, which has seen devastating attacks in recent months, pan-Arab news website Arabi 21 reported.

The county has witnessed people being burnt alive, beheadings and dozens of cases of sexual violence since mid-February, causing 40,000 people to seek refuge elsewhere.

In late April, UN South Sudan chief Nicholas Haysom said: “I am strongly appalled by these horrific attacks on civilians in Leer.

The New Arab 4 May 2022

Reporting Under Attack in South Sudan, Sudan

Journalists in both Sudan and South Sudan say threats, intimidation and arbitrary arrests are part of everyday life, limiting their ability to inform the public.

South Sudan ranks 128th and Sudan ranks 151st out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index, released Tuesday to coincide with the United Nations’ annual recognition of World Press Freedom Day. The bigger the number, the worse the environment for news media.

Irene Ayaa of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan says government censorship in her country is widespread.

“Last month, we registered four articles removed from newspapers,” she said.

Between January and March alone, security personnel removed dozens of articles from the Juba Monitor, Anna Namiriano, editor-in-chief of an English-language daily, told South Sudan in Focus. “They removed stories and we left the space blank. They say why we are not listening to them, so on 17th of March, they suspended the newspaper.”

AllAfrica 4 May 2022

North Africa and the Sahara

Western Sahara

Polisario Front breaks off contact with Spain over U-turn on Western Sahara

“The Polisario Front has decided to break contacts with the current Spanish government” over its “instrumentalisation of the Western Sahara question in shameful bargaining with the (Moroccan) occupier”, the movement wrote in a statement.

It said the break will last until Madrid “conforms with decisions of international legality, which recognises the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination, and with respect for the borders of their country, as internationally recognised”.

Spain on March 18 said it had agreed to publicly recognise Rabat’s autonomy plan for the territory, ending a decades-long stance of neutrality.

In agreeing to a long-standing Moroccan demand, Spain sought to end a dispute which erupted in April 2021 when it allowed Western Sahara’s independence leader Brahim Ghali to be treated for Covid-19 at a Spanish hospital.

France24 11 April 2022