News Briefs 08 October 2021

Southern Africa Focus:

Zimbabwe:

Nelson Chamisa says situation in Zim is worsening.

The clampdown on the opposition and journalists is getting worse in Zimbabwe, according to MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa. He says the situation has not changed under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A Zimbabwe Daily journalist was arrested earlier this week. While nine reporters were arrested at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

He said, “in particular, the persecution of MDC alliance leaders that is an ongoing problem, but it’s in the context of political consolidation, which we are fighting.”

“We are saying elections need to be free and fair so we continue to see the worsening of the political environment, the human rights situation, the bad governance continues to escalate … we had thought that with the exit of Mr. Mugabe the situation would have improved, but it’s actually worsened “

eNCA 6 October 2021

Church Calls for Sanctions Removal

Church leaders have called for the unconditional removal of the illegal financial sanctions imposed by Western countries on Zimbabwe as a result of land reform.

This comes as October 25 marks the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day, a day when the world joins Zimbabwe in calling for the removal of the unilateral sanctions.

Zimbabwe is this year marking the day under the theme “Friend to All, Enemy to None: Forging ahead and Enhancing Innovation and Productivity in Adversity of Sanctions”.

In an interview, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference Secretary-general Father Frederick Chiromba said it is the general public that is bearing the full brunt of the illegal sanctions.

“As church leaders, we have been calling for the removal of sanctions over the years,” he said. “Sanctions are a cruel way to correct the situation. In our case they have adversely affected the most vulnerable groups and destroyed our moral and social fabric.”

All Africa 8 October 2021

eSwatini

eSwatini army brutalises students boycotting exams

On 23 September, students of William Pitcher College in the city of Manzini, the economic hub of eSwatini, marched to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in the capital Mbabane and delivered a petition. The students have been striking and boycotting their exams. Planning is under way to organise further protests.

The students began their protest on 19 September. They were demanding the immediate dispersal of the unpaid monthly allowances and the promised refund of their hostel fees for the academic year 2020-2021, when accommodation and food facilities on campus were unused for the most part because of the Covid-19-induced lockdown.

The army, allegedly at the invitation of the college administration, entered the campus that evening and brutalised the students. The president of the college’s Students Representative Council (SRC), Bheka Mabuza, told Peoples Dispatch that the students were forced to do repeated push-ups while being beaten by the soldiers.

New Frame 8 October 2021

Amnesty International calling for investigation into Eswatini protestor shooting

Amnesty International is calling on Eswatini authorities to investigate the police shooting of a protester and the alleged excessive use of force in the tiny country.

According to the rights group, thousands of peaceful protesters outside parliament were violently dispersed with security agents using live ammunition on Friday.

The aim of the demonstration was to deliver a petition to the US embassy, urging the United States to intervene following the arrest and detention of two members of parliament.

“So, as Amnesty International we are saying that Eswatini authorities must launch a prompt, impartial investigation into the shooting that we saw on Friday, leading into one person landing into hospital after they were shot in the head by the security forces. We believe, as Amnesty International, that people should not be shot at for basically demanding basic freedoms in the country.  It’s upon the government of Eswatini to opt to sit down with these pro-democracy activists and have a genuine debate about the future of Eswatini because that’s the only sustainable way to be able to make sure that we have a country that aspires to what all people want to see,” says Amnesty International spokesperson Robert Shivambu.

SABC News 4 October 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

Violence, aid access, continues to obstruct humanitarian effort in DR Congo

Violence and access constraints in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue to hamper humanitarian operations in a context where one in three people need assistance, the senior UN official in the country told the Security Council on Tuesday. 

For Bintou Keita, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), food insecurity and cyclical epidemics are major concerns.

Attacks on schools and hospitals have also exacerbated humanitarian challenges in several parts of the east, particularly Ituri.

With over 5 million internally displaced people, the country has the highest number of internally displaced people on the African continent. More than 26 million Congolese also suffer from food insecurity, about 29 percent of the population.

UN News 5 October 2021

Four More People Kidnapped in DR Congo After Aid Workers Taken

Four people were kidnapped from a truck belonging to an NGO in DR Congo’s troubled east on Thursday, local sources said, days after three aid workers and a nurse were abducted in a neighbouring province.

The four were in the Virunga National Park travelling toward Goma in the North Kivu province when unidentified men stopped their pick-up truck, civil society leader Mambo Kawaya said.

They were then taken into the bush, he added.

Boniface Kagumya Chechire, the local mayor of Kibumba, confirmed the abduction, saying the identity of those taken was not known but that their truck belonged to an NGO.

“I am at the scene, our security services are conducting a search,” he told AFP by phone.

EWN 7 October 2021

Eastern Africa and the Horn

Somalia accuses Somaliland of forcibly evicting hundreds

Somalia accused breakaway state Somaliland on Tuesday of forcibly evicting hundreds of people from a border town, as the UN’s emergency response agency warned of a brewing crisis.

Fleeing families told AFP that armed police targetted southern Somali residents in the border town of Las Anod on Sunday, storming their homes, businesses and schools before ordering them to leave all belongings and immediately board trucks out of the city.

Authorities in Somaliland said the operation was in response to a security threat.

Las Anod has traditionally hosted thousands of people who fled violence in southwestern Somalia years ago, and witnesses said they were shocked by the evictions.

“It was a horrible operation and the police showed no respect to women and children,” Mohamed Abdiwahid told AFP.

Africa News 6 October 2021

Al-Shabaab Executes Two Men in Somalia

Al-Shabaab has again carried out an execution of two people in public area in southern Somalia yesterday afternoon.

The shooting which took place in Kamsuma was attended by senior members of Al-Shabaab and various members of the public who watched the execution.

The two men were identified as Abdullahi Ooyow Mayane, 20, and Abdullahi Mohamed Farah, 24, were sentenced to death by an Al-Shabaab court.

Abdullahi Ooyow accused al-Shabaab of sexually abusing a 5-year-old boy, while Abdullahi Mohamed was accused of being a member of the Jubaland army.

All Africa 7 October 2021

Central African Republic

At least 12 killed in Central African Republic road ambush

At least 12 people were killed in Central African Republic on Tuesday when rebel fighters ambushed and set fire to three semi-trucks ferrying passengers from a regional capital, a local official said.

The vehicles were travelling to the small town of Alindao from Bambari, the seat of the war-torn Ouaka prefecture, when militants linked to the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) attacked from the forest, prefect Victor Bissekoin said on Wednesday.

“This is very unfortunate because innocent people lost their lives,” Bissekoin said. “The provisional toll is 12 dead and several wounded, and it is likely that the wounded will die.”

Defence Web 7 October 2021

Looking Ahead, Banking On Human Capital – The Keys To Development In The Central African Republic

By Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa

Géraldine Wonzangba is a student like any other all over the world: a chemistry major at the University of Bangui, she is at that age where one can dream about any and everything.  Her dream: to become a teacher and researcher.

In the Central African Republic, access to higher education is a rare privilege: on average, a Central African child is enrolled in school for only 4.6 years of his or her life.  Central African women and young girls like Géraldine are especially vulnerable to a range of risks and obstacles: early pregnancy, gender-based violence, and high rates of maternal mortality (824/100,000).  Géraldine’s journey is therefore all the more impressive, given the many complex challenges in her path.

When I met Géraldine and her friends on my visit to Bangui last week, I was impressed by their willingness to contribute to the development of their country.  These young people show admirable resilience and determination, and yearn for a better future. Their expectations are as great as they are legitimate.  By spending time with them, I was able to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of the task involved in rebuilding this country, weakened as it has been by years of conflict.

All Africa 6 October 2021

Sudan

Sudan factions form new alliance as splits deepen

Several political factions including ex-rebel groups have announced the formation of an alliance separate from Sudan’s main civilian bloc, in the latest sign of splits marring the country’s transition.

The announcement on Saturday at a ceremony in Khartoum came as Sudan reels from fragmentation within the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), an alliance that spearheaded protests that removed President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Sudan has since August 2019 been run by an administration of military generals and civilians from the FFC through a rocky transition marked by economic woes.

Splits have deepened within the FFC in recent months, and support for the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has waned in large part due to a raft of tough economic reforms.

Aljazeera 2 October 2021

UN rights body should not end scrutiny of Sudan

The transitional authorities have taken some positive measures, including the ratification of key international treaties, but the outstanding tasks remain too critical to be delayed or ignored. A handful of cases involving unlawful killings of protesters are being prosecuted, but many more cases are not, and the government needs to adopt a clear accountability strategy. Security forces continued to hamper investigations by refusing to provide evidence or lift immunities.

The findings of the investigation into the violent dispersal of the sit-in on June 3, 2019, have still not been released. Key transitional institutions such as the legislative council have still not been established.

Meanwhile, increasing violence in Darfur has taken a heavy toll on civilians including loss of life, massive displacement and widespread property damage. The government has failed to provide protection to vulnerable communities there or ensure accountability. The government has still not handed over to the ICC three indicted suspects including ex-President al-Bashir.

Human Rights Watch 7 October 2021

South Sudan

South Sudan orders bank accounts of activists frozen

South Sudan has ordered the freezing of bank accounts of five members of a coalition of activists calling for political change.

The People’s Coalition for Civil Action, formed in July, has called for President Salva Kiir and his rival deputy Riek Machar to step down, accusing them of failing the people of South Sudan for a decade of war and fragile peace.

In a letter seen by The Associated Press, the director-general of the government’s banking supervision division on Wednesday directed all commercial banks operating in South Sudan to block accounts belong to the five activists “with immediate effect.”

The Canaan Advertiser 7 October 2021

South Sudan flooding affects more than 600,000: UN

At least 623,000 people have been affected by widespread flooding in South Sudan since May, with many forced to flee their homes, the United Nations said.

Rivers broke their banks following heavy rains, deluging houses and farms in eight of the country’s 10 states, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a briefing note on Thursday.

Jonglei and Unity states are the worst hit, representing 58 percent of those affected, the emergency-response agency said.

Aid workers are using canoes and boats to reach stranded populations, with more than two-thirds of the affected areas now facing the risk of hunger as food prices shoot up, recording a 15-percent jump since August, it added.

Aljazeera 8 October 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

UN appoints Western Sahara envoy after two-year search

United Nations veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura was nominated Wednesday as the organization’s envoy to the Western Sahara conflict, nearly two and a half years after the post had become vacant as a dozen other candidates were rejected by either Morocco or the Polisario Front rebel movement.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s nomination of the 74-year-old Italian a “positive signal,” after such a long selection process.

Dujarric said De Mistura would be set to take over the position, which has been empty since May 2019, on November 1.

Morocco had initially rejected De Mistura — the thirteenth name floated for the job — as envoy in May before finally accepting the nomination under pressure from the United States, according to diplomats.

France24 6 October 2021

Algeria urges Morocco to quit Western Sahara buffer zone

Algeria, the main backer of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement, calls on Morocco to withdraw from a key buffer zone, after the United Nations named a new envoy.

The UN on Wednesday named veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura as its point man on the decades-old conflict, a job that had remained vacant for nearly two and a half years as the Polisario and Morocco rejected a dozen other candidates.

The Algerian foreign ministry notes “with interest” the appointment of veteran diplomat Staffan de Mistura, and calls for the removal of Moroccan troops deployed late last year in the Guerguerat area in the far south of the territory.

The ministry says Algeria supports UN peace efforts and voices hope that de Mistura can “relaunch direct, serious negotiations between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco in order to reach a solution guaranteeing the Sahrawi people can freely and authentically exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.”

The Times of Israel 7 October 2021

International Affairs

Superpower rivalry and vaccine envy set stage for climate talks

Premiers, presidents, and princes come and go from the world’s biggest climate stage. It’s the nature of the annual international climate talks organized by the United Nations, known as the Conference of the Parties. The guest list changes with whichever parties are in power. Only someone like Jennifer Morgan, the head of Greenpeace International, gets to be a COP ­fixture – and in more than two decades she’s never seen the geopolitical backdrop change as dramatically as it has ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The pandemic that’s overwhelming governments and upending assumptions about future investment has also heightened the rivalry between the US and China. That can make climate diplomacy a lot harder, says Morgan, even if US President Joe Biden has returned the world’s richest nation to the table and a ­series of devastating weather events has increased pressure on leaders across the globe.

There’s also the vast chasm of inequality between rich and poor countries. It’s been a persistent fault line in climate negotiations, now exacerbated by bitterness over the uneven distribution of lifesaving Covid vaccines. Record debt levels, emptied treasuries, and even lingering divisions over Brexit could make progress difficult on two important ­issues: ending the use of coal and channeling climate aid from wealthier nations to the very same developing economies that depend on the cheapest, dirtiest fossil fuel.

Engineering News 8 October 2021

President Biden pledges 500m more vaccine doses to developing world

The US is to donate 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to developing nations from next year.

President Joe Biden made the pledge at a virtual Covid-19 summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, promising an “arsenal of vaccines”. The additional jabs will see the total US commitment on vaccine sharing exceed one billion jabs.

Experts say some 11 billion doses are required to vaccinate at least 70% of the global population.The World Health Organisation has set a minimum target of 40% vaccine coverage in every country by the end of 2021.

But the goal is unlikely to be met.

BBC 22 September 2021

With the Climate Summit Straight Ahead, the UK Takes a Wrong Turn

“Grow up!”, Boris Johnson told world leaders in his address to the United Nations. The British Prime Minister warned that all countries must commit to major changes ahead of the global climate summit in the UK, at the beginning of next month. If we don’t, he cautioned, we face destruction. While Johnson is certainly right, the UK looks to be the delinquent in the room by standing in the way of an important initiative at the United Nations that is designed to protect against global environmental destruction.

There is no doubt that ambitious climate action is urgently needed to limit the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. In the coming decades, temperatures are projected to increase in all regions of the world, intensifying extreme heat waves, flooding, drought, and coastal erosion. We will continue to see unprecedented human suffering and irreversible environmental destruction, or, as the world’s leading scientific body on climate change says: “a code red for humanity”.

Those hit hardest by climate change impacts are often those who are least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving it, from the Indigenous populations in Canada experiencing food insecurity to rural communities being deprived of their land in Indonesia. Community leaders trying to protect the climate, their land and the environment also continue to face harassment, violence or even death.

Human Rights Watch 6 October 2021