News Briefs -1 July 2022

Southern African Focus


Investors excited by Zimbabwe plan to mint gold to curb inflation

Zimbabwe is set to introduce gold coins that will enable investors to store value within the country as inflation spirals out of control and the local currency continues to rapidly devalue against major currencies.

The move comes after inflation for June jumped to 191.6% from 132% in May.

In a statement on Monday, the southern African country’s central bank chief John Mangudya announced the new gold coins would be available through normal banking institutions.

“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) resolved to introduce gold coins into the market as an instrument that will enable investors to store value,” Mangudya said. “The gold coins will be minted by Fidelity Gold Refineries (Private) Limited and will be sold to the public through normal banking channels.”

Aljazeera 1 July 2022

Zimbabwe issues arrest warrant for top author

Zimbabwe has issued an arrest warrant for award-winning author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga after she failed to appear in court over charges of inciting violence, her lawyer said. Dangarembga is seeing her doctor in Germany and “missed court for medical reasons,” her lawyer Chris Mhike told AFP.

“We expect her to be well enough to return to Zimbabwe imminently, and to attend to the outstanding court processes.” Dangarembga was arrested in July 2020 for staging an anti-government protest alongside her neighbour in the affluent Harare suburb of Borrowdale.

Standing by the roadside, she held a banner that read “We want better — reform our institutions.” Dangarembga was charged with inciting public violence and freed on bail the following day. Nearly two years on, the trial has still not started and Dangarembga has filed to have the case thrown out for lack of evidence.

eNCA 28 July 2022


The Eswatini massacre one year on – lest we forget

Wednesday, 29 June marked the first anniversary of the Eswatini massacre of more than 80 protesters who were calling for democracy. Tomorrow, in the safety of the shadow of the Constitutional Court, a group of activists will hold a commemoration.

One of Eswatini’s leading activists is Khulekani Msweli, who leads the Vuvulane Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Outreach Foundation. This week on Facebook he took time to remember that fateful day and those who lost their lives.

“On this day, 29th of June 2021, the blood of young and old emaSwati soaked our land in a deadly massacre that we had never ever seen before in Eswatini’s recent history. This is a day to commemorate all those that lost their lives and those that were maimed due to the atrocities that were committed on this day.”

Daily Mavericks 1 July 2022

Eswatini: Security tight on protest anniversary

Wednesday marks one year since a violent clampdown on pro-democracy activists that left dozens of people dead, many injured and several arrested in the tiny southern African country of Eswatini.

Police and troops were deployed across Eswatini’s major cities for Wednesday’s anniversary of bloody pro-democracy protests.

Security forces patrolled the capital, Mbabane, and the city of Manzini, 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. Helicopters were also reported flying constantly overhead.

Eswatini — formerly known as Swaziland — is one of the last remaining absolute monarchies in the world. According to the constitution, King Mswati III is not bound to any law. And he takes great advantage of it.

DW 29 June 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

Kidnapped Congo woman forced to cook, eat human flesh twice: Rights group to UN

The UN Security Council was meeting for a regular briefing on Congo, where heavy fighting between the government and rebel groups since late May has sparked a surge in violence.

A Congolese woman was kidnapped twice by militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, repeatedly raped and forced to cook and eat human flesh, a Congolese rights group told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.

Julienne Lusenge, president of women’s rights group Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), told the woman’s story while addressing the 15-member council about the conflict-torn east of Congo.

Hindustan Times

Congo buries murdered independence hero Lumumba’s only remains

The family of Democratic Republic of Congo’s murdered independence hero Patrice Lumumba buried his only known remains, a tooth, in the capital Kinshasa on Thursday, 61 years after his death at the hands of Belgian-backed secessionist rebels.

Hundreds gathered in a vast square for the occasion, waving flags and looking upon a large photo of Lumumba, with his trademark horn-rimmed glasses and side-swept hair, framed by white flowers.

Lumumba was killed by a firing squad on 16 January 1961 in the south eastern province of Katanga after being ousted as prime minister the previous year, all within months of Congo’s independence from Belgium.

A banner with the words “Many thanks, National Hero” was suspended over the crowd, which included the president of neighbouring Congo Republic, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Belgium’s foreign minister and several African ambassadors.

News24 30 June 2022

East Africa and the Horn


Consensus required for Somalia’s new future

After a long electoral cycle, the Federal Parliament of Somalia on May 15 elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the 10th president of the Federal Republic of Somalia. In a ceremony held in the presidential palace on May 23, Mohamud took over from Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, widely known as Farmaajo. In fact, to see the denouement of such an arduous process was an overwhelming relief for both the exhausted Somali people and the country’s international partners. The relief stemmed from the nullification of an ominous expectation – the impossibility of conducting peaceful elections that lead to a power exchange, as has been the case for the last 20 years. That perception and fear was reinforced with the former president’s uncompromising power play against his adversaries, and the willingness of the coalesced opposition – who haven’t been united on a single agenda – to deprive the man of any opportunity of a second term by any means.

The diffuse nature of power represented by the embryonic federal system has forced politicians to accept the conclusion of the indirect election as the only way out from this quagmire. In addition, the pressure from the international community in the form of incessant statements and its active involvement in the country’s internal politics for the purpose of mediation was very decisive. Admittedly, the global financial institutions’ engagement with Somalia in the form of debt reduction and budgetary support was productive. The latest warning from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the organization would halt financial support if elections were not concluded before May 17 played a crucial role and compelled the political leaders to precipitate the election process. Without such efforts, Somalia would have gone in the wrong direction.

Daily Sabah 1 July 2022

Somalia Parliament Approves New Prime Minister

Members of Somalia’s Parliament have approved the appointment of Hamza Abdi Barre as the new prime minister.

More than 200 members of Parliament, who were present at a session held Saturday in Mogadishu, unanimously backed Barre, who also is member of the lower house of Parliament.

After the vote, Barre told VOA in an exclusive interview he would form “an effective government to deal with the current situation.”

“I will form a government that would advance the key priorities of my new government, including security, drought response, reconciliation, and development,” Barre said.

“I thank the respected lawmakers for giving me the confidence, a confidence, I know comes with a burden and challenges, a confidence that makes me both happy and a little bit worried about its extent and the huge expectations.”

Voice of America 25 June 2022

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: MINUSCA recaptures Ouanda-Djallé from rebels

Rwandan and Zambian peacekeepers from the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) have driven rebels out of a town in the northeast of the country’s nine-year civil war.

MINUSCA, whose official said two rebels had been killed, said on Sunday it had acted under its mandate to “protect civilians” in the town of Ouanda-Djallé, more than 800km northeast of Bangui.

But the rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) accused the UN force of “fighting alongside Wagner’s Russian mercenaries and militias allied to Central African forces”, in breach of its “obligation of neutrality”.

CPC fighters seized Ouanda-Djallé on 16 June, causing many of its 7,000 inhabitants to flee into the surrounding forests, according to several local MPs close to the government of President Faustin Archange Touadéra.

Africa News 30 June 2022

Central African Republic bishops warn of ‘convulsions’ from Ukraine crisis

Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic have warned that disrupted food and fuel supplies during the war in Ukraine are undermining the quest for peace and stability.

They said the Central African Republic was not becoming economically self-sufficient and, “like the other countries, it is undergoing convulsions from the Ukrainian crisis.”

“Marked by our own experiences of military-political unrest, we consider the war in Ukraine intolerable and call on the two parties in conflict, as well as their allies, to immediately stop the fighting and seek the path of dialogue for an effective peace,” the bishops said in a 10-page message published after their June 20-27 plenary meeting.

The bishops said the involvement of Russian troops in neighboring Rwanda, as well as in helping the CAR’s armed forces “reconquer and pacify” national territory, had placed the country in a “delicate position at the level of international diplomacy.”

They said their government should continue “finding solutions to alleviate suffering,” aided by the discernment and witness of Christians.

UCA News 1 July 2022


Nine protesters killed in Sudan anti-coup mass rallies

At least nine Sudanese demonstrators were killed on Thursday as security forces sought to quash mass rallies of protesters demanding an end to military rule, pro-democracy medics said.

In one of the most violent days this year in an ongoing crackdown on the anti-coup movement, AFP correspondents reported security forces firing tear gas and stun grenades to disperse tens of thousands of protesters.

“Even if we die, the military will not rule us,” protesters chanted, urging the reversal of an October military coup by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan that prompted foreign governments to slash aid, deepening a chronic economic crisis.

At least seven of the nine killed were shot in the chest or the head, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said, raising the overall death toll to 112 from protest-related violence since October.

One of them was a minor, the doctors said, killed by “a bullet in the chest”.

News24 1 July 2022

Pro-Democracy Movement Persists in Sudan

Thirty-three years ago, on June 30, 1989, Omar al-Bashir seized power in Sudan.  His long tenure in power was characterized by brutality at home, support for violent extremism abroad, and a fundamental rejection of human rights norms and the rule of law.  The people of Sudan took to the streets to demand change in a movement that began in 2018 and led to Bashir’s ouster by 2019, but military leaders threatened by the prospect of democracy and meaningful accountability took full control of Sudan’s transition in a coup in October of 2021.

They have since busied themselves with a project of restoration, rebuilding the machinery that for decades intimidated and repressed the Sudanese people and ensured that connected elites could enrich themselves while playing by their own set of rules.

The people of Sudan have other ideas. They have continued their protests despite lethal attempts to stop them, and resistance committees have called for commemorating this June 30 with massive countrywide demonstrations to continue demanding genuinely democratic, civilian-controlled government. Initial reports indicate that military authorities are responding with internet shutdowns and violence.

Council of Foreign Relations 30 June 2022

South Sudan

Resilient South Sudanese women deserve peace, respect and dignity

There was a growing sense of anticipation in South Sudan about the visit of Pope Francis to this country, originally scheduled for July, but now postponed. We are all so disappointed and are praying for the pope to be on his feet soon and to be able to come to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His personal commitment to establishing a lasting and durable peace is undoubted. His remarkable and unpreceded gesture in 2019 of kissing the feet of the two main political leaders and protagonists in conflict made headlines the world over. This clearly showed the power of two political leaders to do good or evil and the heartfelt desire of a spiritual leader to overcome all obstacles to peace, including personal ego.

There is a great yearning for peace, the cessation of violence, the establishment of democratic and accountable governance in a country that has known intermittent war for the last six decades. In my third year serving as a member of Solidarity with South Sudan, I have started to ask what peace will look like, especially for women in this new African independent country. Are we simply talking about removing the gun and the bullet from society, or does peace need to take on a different face and address the ordinary and often accepted face of violence?

Global Sisters Report 30 June 2022

UN rep in South Sudan urges authorities to prepare for polls

The head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan urged the East African country’s transitional government Thursday to set a date for elections as time passes.

Nicholas Haysom told journalists in the capital, Juba that with barely eight months remaining in the transitional period agreed by political parties, “I am urging south Sudanese leaders to do everything necessary to move the country out of transition and conduct free, fair, creditable and peaceful elections.”

A 2018 peace deal that binds President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar in a unity government encourages authorities to hold elections before February 2023.

The international community has long hoped a vote would usher in a democratically elected government in the world’s youngest country.

SFGATE 30 June 2022

North Africa and the Horn

Western Sahara

Worsening Algeria-Spain Relations Spell Trouble for Western Sahara

On Wednesday, the eighth of June 2022, Algeria announced it was suspending a decades-long ‘friendship treaty’ with Spain. The cooling of relations between the two countries, separated by only 150 kilometers of the Mediterranean sea, has major ramifications for peace and stability in the region of Western Sahara, a country contested by Morocco and an Algeria-backed independence movement headed by an organization known as the Polisario. Western Sahara came under formal Spanish control after the 1884 Berlin Conference, which saw the major colonial powers of Europe make a ‘scramble for Africa’ as they carved the continent between themselves. Though only a minor presence in Africa compared to the likes of Britain and France, Spain retained its hold over the region, a stretch of sparsely-populated desert on the coast of North-West Africa, until the death of Francisco Franco in the 1970s when the international pressure to decolonize led to a Spanish withdrawal. Since then, Spain’s position on the complex matter of Western Saharan sovereignty has been one of neutrality. However, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has recently begun to disavow neutrality, instead choosing to adopt a more Rabat-friendly approach.

Immediately after the Spanish withdrawal in 1975, Western Sahara was claimed by Morocco to the north and by Mauritania in the south, while the Polisario argued and fought a guerrilla-style war for self-determination. Morocco occupied most of the territory after Mauritania relinquished its claims in 1979. The Polisario, representing and descendant from nomadic Sahrawi-Arab tribes, have since found refuge in the country’s more inhospitable regions and in refugee camps set up in nearby Algeria. Armed conflict between the Polisario and Morocco has abated since a 1991 ceasefire, but recent developments and the failure to arrive at a workable solution for the government make this peace a tenuous one.

The Organisation for World Peace 30 June 2022

Western Sahara: Algeria and Spain’s dangerous row

In recent years, more western and Arab governments have moved towards embracing Morocco’s positions and narratives on the Western Sahara conflict.

This trend infuriates Algeria, the main state sponsor of the Polisario Front. Last March, Spain, Western Sahara’s former colonial ruler, endorsed the 2007 Moroccan autonomy plan, aligning Madrid with Rabat on this dispute.

Further, reports suggesting that Algeria had gone even further, suspending trade relations with Spain, are also false. Rather, the Algerian state stopped providing foreign exchange facilities to Algerian businesses involved in trading goods with Spain, causing a suspension of almost all imports and exports, except for existing long-term contracts, including Spain’s natural-gas imports.

The move was viewed as intended to punish Spain for abandoning neutrality vis-a-vis Western Sahara, which Algiers said was a “violation of [Madrid’s] legal, moral and political obligations”.

Middle East Eye 23 June 2022