News Briefs 06 November 2021:

Southern Africa:

Zimbabwe’s positive outlook clouded by political risk

Tensions between President Mnangagwa and Vice-President Chamisa present a degree of political risk, but the overall outlook for Zimbabwe is positive.

African Business: What has Emerson Mnangagwa’s presidency been like and what does he stand for?

Dr Knox Chitiyo: Mnangagwa’s big mantra was and continues to be that Zimbabwe is open for business. He was seen as more of a business technocrat, in some ways kind of similar to Ramaphosa in South Africa as the business guy who would get the economy going. There have been positives and negatives. The positive is that he has tried to push on the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe has improved in that regard. 

Border bureaucracy has been reduced to some extent, but there’s still a long way to go. They’ve set up the Zimbabwe Investment Authority which is there specifically to guide investors. Some areas of the economy had improved prior to Covid – the tourism sector had definitely improved.

African Business 19 October 2021

Senior UNICEF Official in Zimbabwe Assesses Funded Projects

elinda Kaziwisi of Mount Darwin, Zimbabwe, about 200 kilometers north of Harare, is among the Zimbabwean mothers seeing the benefits that have grown from money provided by UNICEF.

“What I see has changed for the better is that from when I got pregnant until up to the delivery of my child, I didn’t pay anything,” Kaziwisi said, her healthy baby in her arms. “When I delivered, I was given soap, cotton and other things for free. It was all nice compared with what used to happen before.”

With funding from UNICEF, the Zimbabwe government has hired health workers who encourage pregnant mothers in rural villages to seek assistance from the country’s health institutions to avoid complications.

“We encourage pregnant mothers to come to clinics,” said Letty Chindundu, one of the health workers. “We tell them: When you get to the third month of your pregnancy, please go to the clinic. Health workers there will tell you what to do. The journey to delivery of your baby becomes easy. Even your baby will be taken care of while in the tummy, since there are now so many diseases. If they do not come to clinic, the baby may be delivered with ailments. That’s how we encourage them to come to clinic — when they [become] pregnant.”

Voice of America 4 November 2021


Swazi opposition tentatively welcomes Ramaphosa’s national dialogue plans

Thulani Maseko, chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholders Forum (MSF) which represents a broad range of political parties and civil society groups, expressed appreciation that President Cyril Ramaphosa had made King Mswati realise that the format of the national dialogue would have to be negotiated. But Maseko also expressed some reservations about Ramaphosa and Mswati’s agreement.

Ramaphosa intervened in the Eswatini crisis as chair of the security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). He said in a statement after the meeting that he and Mswati had agreed that SADC’s Secretariat would work closely with the Eswatini government to draft the terms of reference for a national dialogue forum. These terms of reference would specify the composition and processes of the forum.

“The process towards the national dialogue will take into account and incorporate structures and processes enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini, including the role of the Parliament of the Kingdom, and the Sibaya convened by His Majesty King Mswati III,” Ramaphosa said.

Daily Maverick 3 November 2021

Eswatini: No Justice for June Protester Killings

Eswatini authorities should ensure accountability for their security forces’ crackdown on protesters in June 2021, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite concerns, including by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that Eswatini security forces used live ammunition and engaged in “disproportionate and unnecessary use of force,” as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, no member of the security forces has been held accountable.

A report published on October 29 by the Eswatini Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration says that at least 46 people died during the June protests; 245 people had gunshot injuries; 22 people multiple gunshot injuries; and 118 people had unspecified injuries. Victims told the commission that they were shot by members of the Eswatini armed forces. While the report covers protests in June, the protests have continued, together with reports of excessive use of force by Eswatini security forces, Human Rights Watch found.

“The Eswatini government should urgently agree to an independent, international investigation into all of the killings and any other human rights violations resulting from excessive use of force,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Human Rights Commission said it faced constraints and was unable to cover all the alleged human rights violations during the June protests.”

Human Rights Watch 2 November 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN accuses Congo army of beating human rights defender to death

The United Nations on Monday accused Democratic Republic of Congo’s army of beating to death a human rights activist protesting illegal taxes in the war-torn east of the country.

Cabral Yombo, the leader of a civil society group in Hombo town, was killed by soldiers operating on the alleged orders of local administrative officials, the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) said on Twitter.

An army spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Partnership for Integrated Protection, a local human rights group, said Yombo was tortured on Friday and died of his injuries at a hospital in the city of Bukavu on Sunday.

Juvenal Munobo, a local lawmaker, said: “I condemn the torture which led to the death of Mr Cabral Yombo. Responsibility must be established.”

News24 2 November 2021

Fighting kills 11 in Congo’s eastern city of Bukavu

Armed men burst into Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern city of Bukavu overnight on Wednesday, triggering clashes that killed 11 people and left the 1 million residents in lockdown.

Gunfire was heard around the city from about 1:45 a.m. (0245 GMT) but the fighting appeared to have stopped by the afternoon, local residents and a Reuters journalist said.

The city, which sits on the border with Rwanda and was at the centre of violence during two regional wars around the turn of the century, was last convulsed by fighting in November 2017 when the army clashed with troops loyal to a renegade general.

More than 120 rebel groups operate across large swathes of eastern Congo since the official end of the wars in 2003.

Reuters 3 November 2021

East Africa and the Horn


Somalia gives African Union envoy seven days to leave country

Somalia has asked the African Union Commission (AUC) representative in the country to leave within a week after declaring him persona non grata.

In a statement on Thursday, Somalia’s foreign ministry said Simon Mulongo, the AUC’s deputy special representative in Mogadishu, was no longer welcome in the country due to his engagement “in activities [that are] incompatible with AMISOM’s (African Union Mission in Somalia) mandate and Somalia’s security strategy,”

He had seven days to leave Somalia, it added, without giving any further reasons for the decision.

Aljazeera 4 November 2021

Somalia kicks off next stage of long-delayed elections

Somalia on Monday began electing lawmakers for its lower house of parliament, the next phase in a long-delayed and turbulent process toward a presidential vote that has sometimes turned violent.

The first two lawmakers for the next 275-member lower house of national parliament were elected at a voting ceremony in the capital Mogadishu under heavy security.

“I am delighted that today we have officially started the election of the Somali lower house,” Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said in a brief statement afterwards.

Somalia has not held a one-man one-vote election in 50 years. Monday’s ballot followed a complex indirect model used in the past to choose new leaders in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

Africa News 1 November 2021

Central African Republic

UN says Central African Republic soldiers wounded ten Egyptian peacekeepers

The United Nations mission in Central African Republic on Tuesday accused the country’s presidential guard of opening fire on unarmed Egyptian peacekeepers and wounding ten of them, but the government said the allegation was inaccurate.

The alleged shooting is the latest in a series of incidents to strain the relationship between the government and the UN mission, known as MINUSCA, which has accused security forces of repeatedly violating the two sides’ status of forces agreement.

MINUSCA said in a statement that the Egyptian peacekeepers had just arrived at the capital Bangui’s airport on Monday when they “suffered heavy fire from the presidential guards without any prior warning or response, even though they were unarmed”.

Defence Web 3 November 2021

Secretary-General Strongly Condemns Attack by Central African Republic Presidential Guard on Unarmed United Nations Peacekeepers in Bangui

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary?General António Guterres:

The Secretary?General strongly condemns the attack by the Presidential Guard of the Central African Republic against a vehicle of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in Bangui, on Monday, which resulted in the wounding of 10 unarmed, newly deployed, Egyptian peacekeepers.

The Secretary?General emphasizes that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime. He calls on the Central African authorities to spare no effort in investigating and promptly holding accountable the perpetrators of this unacceptable attack.

The Secretary?General wishes a speedy and full recovery to the wounded peacekeepers and civilians, and reiterates his gratitude to the people and the Government of Egypt for their contribution to peace and stability in the Central African Republic. The Secretary?General also expresses his deep condolences to the bereaved family of the Central African civilian who was killed during the incident.

Relief Web 4 November 2021


Sudan coup leader agrees with US to speed up new gov’t formation

Sudan’s military leader has agreed with the United States on the need to speed up the formation of a new government after he ordered the release of four ministers of the now-deposed government, Sudan’s state-run news agency reported.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s office released a statement on Thursday after he spoke on the phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Al-Burhan’s office said the two parties agreed on the need to accelerate the formation of a government.

“The two parties agreed on the need to maintain the path of the democratic transition, the need to complete the structures of the transitional government and to speed up the formation of the government,” his office said.

Aljazeera 5 November 2021

Sudanese army announces a new government

The Sudanese army announced on Thursday the formation of a new government, ten days after the coup d’état of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, a move condemned by the international community.

Mr. Burhane, who led the country since 2019, dissolved the government on 25 October, arrested civilian leaders and declared a state of emergency in the country.

After the coup, Sudanese citizens took to the streets en masse in demonstrations that were suppressed by security forces, leaving at least 12 people dead and hundreds injured, according to a committee of pro-democracy doctors.

Africa News 4 November 2021

South Sudan

Peacekeeping chief encouraged by ‘warming’ relations between Sudan and South Sudan over Abyei

The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations told the Security Council on Wednesday that he was encouraged by a thaw in relations between South Sudan and Sudan, now that both have established national committees on the question of Abyei, the disputed oil-rich border territory claimed by both countries. 

“The warming of their relations was visible in Abyei, where most of the threats to the community were of a criminal nature, not of military nature”, Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed Council Members. 

The area was accorded special administrative status in 2004, and a UN Interim Security Force, UNISFA, operates there to provide support for local policing, and the deployment of armed forces, in accordance with a 2011 Agreement. 27 October 2021

EU provides €2 million in emergency humanitarian funding for victims of floods

The European Commission has allocated emergency humanitarian funding of €2 million for those affected by recent unprecedented floods in South Sudan. To date, an estimated 40 people have died and more than 750,000 people are affected. Many people had to flee their homes due to the floods in 31 of the 78 counties of the country, including most famine- affected areas. Projections indicate that over a million people may be affected by those floods by the end of the year.

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenar?i? said: “Severe flooding in several areas of South Sudan has exacerbated an already fragile humanitarian situation. Prior to the flooding, around 70% of South Sudan’s population was already in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Thousands of people live in famine-like conditions, and undernutrition is at critical levels. The emergency funding will be used to respond to the immediate needs of those affected. The floods in South Sudan are a timely reminder for urgent action on climate change, in view also of the COP26 conference: The effects of climate change are real, and they are here – and vulnerable populations suffer the repercussions.”

EU Reporter 4 November 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

Algiers blames Morocco for deadly attack on Algerians in Western Sahara region

Algeria said Wednesday three truck drivers had been killed in a bombing as they drove from Mauritania, an attack Algiers blamed on neighbouring Morocco, the official APS news agency said.

The reported strike comes as tensions ratchet up between Algeria and Morocco, particularly over the contested desert region of the Western Sahara.

“Three Algerians were assassinated… in a barbaric strike on their trucks,” Algeria’s presidency said in a statement, quoted by APS.

It reported they had been travelling between the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott and the Algerian city of Ouargla.

“Several factors indicate that the Moroccan occupation forces in the Western Sahara carried out this cowardly assassination with a sophisticated weapon,” the statement added.

France24 3 November 2021

UN renews peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, calls for talks

The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN peacekeeping mission in the disputed Western Sahara for a year, expressing concern at the breakdown of the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front and calling for a revival of UN-led negotiations.

The vote on Friday was 13-0 with Russia and Tunisia abstaining.

The resolution was spearheaded by the United States, which under former President Donald Trump broke with the world to recognise Morocco’s claim to the territory as it persuaded the kingdom to normalise relations with Israel.

Weeks after the appointment of a new UN envoy on Western Sahara, veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura, the resolution called for “the parties” to resume negotiations “without preconditions and in good faith” in search of a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution”.

Aljazeera 29 October 2021