News Briefs 10 December 2020:

Democratic Republic of Congo:

African Union Urges ‘Peace’ As Dr Congo Crisis Widens.

The African Union called on Democratic Republic of Congo leaders to preserve “peace and stability” as a crisis in the perennially restive nation’s shaky ruling coalition widened on Saturday.

President Felix Tshisekedi is due to unveil new decisions on Sunday on the simmering tensions pitting his supporters against those loyal to his powerful predecessor Joseph Kabila.

Tshisekedi took over from Kabila in January 2019, in the DRC’s first peaceful transition since independence from Belgium in 1960.

But his room for implementing much-trumpeted reforms was cramped by the need to forge a coalition with the pro-Kabila Common Front for the Congo (FCC), which has a crushing majority in parliament.

EWN 5 December 2020

DR Congo: Political tensions, armed attacks, displacement and COVID threats continue

There is a critical need for State institutions in the Democratic Republic of the?Congo?(DRC) to provide more stability and safety for citizens facing multiple threats, the head of the UN mission there told the Security Council on Monday.

Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), warned of heightened political tensions in the country, including fissures within the ruling coalition and a presidential threat to dissolve the national assembly.

Over the past month, the mission’s leadership has met with numerous representatives, including civil society leaders, to diffuse “further provocations” that threaten security and economic stability, encouraging them to “resolve their differences through dialogue”, she explained, assuring that the UN would continue “to facilitate an expeditious and peaceful resolution”.

UN News 7 December 2020


Out Going S.A. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Says One of His Roles Was to Keep Zanu PF and ANC Talking To Each Other

The ANC’s September flight to Zimbabwe might have caused consternation on the southern side of the border, but was beneficial to both countries.

This is according to outgoing South African ambassador to Zimbabwe Mphakama Mbete, who is winding up his time in Harare with “hope for the future” of the countries’ bilateral relations.

Mbete, who arrived in Zimbabwe in 2016, bade farewell to Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, at State House on Monday. He told journalists the important part of his mission was to strengthen economic ties between the neighbours.

Part of this mission, he said, was his involvement in meetings between the ruling parties of both nations. These included the controversial one-day September meeting which left the ANC with a R105,000 bill because its delegation hitched a ride on a South African government jet with defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Zim Eye 10 December 2020

Zimbabwe: Arrest of Harare mayor Mafume, incompetence or corruption?

Jacob Mafume, the mayor of Zimbabwe’s capital was arrested in November and released on bail on 8 December by a High Court judge. His arrest comes just months after his predecessor was also incarcerated.

Mafume was released on Tuesday following a $Z30,000 ($333) bail. His arrest comes in a space of a few months after the former mayor Herbert Gomba was arrested on alleged charges of corruption.

The two incidents have raised eyebrows among experts who say opposition party-led council officials are incompeten. But not so, says the opposition.

It alleges that the Zimbabwean government is using its law enforcement agents to clamp down on council officials led by the MDC Alliance on allegations of corruption.

Mufume was reportedly denied bail by a Harare magistrate following his arrest in late November, on grounds that he would intimidate witnesses and conceal evidence. He was meant to stay in custody until 14 December.

The Africa Report 9 December 2020


Eswatini in major COVID-19 response … as Mozambique lays foundation stones

An 18-month project on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security using Climate Smart Technologies (CSA) funded to the tune of US$180,000 by the European Union (EU) was launched at a colourful event in Eswatini on November 23, 2020, while Mozambique was still doing preparatory work.

The project in Eswatini will be implemented in Dvokolwako, at Philani Mswati Charity Trust home for the elderly. A mushroom expert from the Ministry of Agriculture is going to train about 47 women on how to grow and produce mushrooms for commercial purposes.

Some of the funds will go towards improving the greenhouses at the home which will be used to grow vegetables and fruit tree seedlings. A packing house will also be set up to store produce ready for market.

Similar projects are in the process of being launched in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is part of efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCADERSA), through the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), to mitigate the effects of climate change on farming households using CSA technologies.

The Southern Times 10 December 2020

Central African Republic

Central African town finds Muslim-Christian peace after years of war

In the crowded alleys of Bambari’s Kidjigira market, customers of all faiths brush together as steam rises from hanging cooking pots and flies swarm around them.

At last, people are not afraid. Until recently, the marketplace remained a no man’s land separating the Muslim and Christian districts of Bambari, a town at the epicentre of civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR) from 2013 to 2017.

Today, three weeks before presidential and parliamentary elections in a tense climate, the town at the heart of one of the world’s poorest countries could be an emblem of reconciliation between communities that tore one another apart.

International donors and humanitarian agencies have concentrated their efforts on Bambari since 2017, treating the town as a “pilot project” for the rest of a divided, landlocked nation.

France24 8 December 2020

Central African Republic court rejects former leader François Bozizé’s candidacy

The top court in Central African Republic (CAR) rejected on Thursday the candidacy of former President François Bozizé in a December 27 election being held despite security concerns because of fighting between rival militias.

Bozizé planned to run against President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. But the court said Bozizé did not satisfy the “good morality” requirement for candidates due to of an international warrant and UN sanctions against him for alleged assassinations, torture and other crimes.

The court validated the candidacies of Touadéra and 16 others, according to the order read by the court’s president.

Bozizé, a former general who seized power in a 2003 coup and was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion, has denied the accusations against him. His party criticised the court’s ruling in a statement, noting that he had not been convicted of any crimes, but called for “calm and restraint” from supporters.

Business Day 3 December 2020


Somalia’s election impasse: Crisis or successful state-building?

As the year 2020 comes to a close, people across the world are breathing a sigh of relief anticipating a better 2021. But for Somalia, a country transitioning from chaos to statehood, the worst of 2020 seems far from over.

Somalia finds itself once again at a crossroad due to the ever-recurring political disagreements over electoral processes.

The current contentious issues plaguing the country are: the composition of electoral and dispute resolution commissions and election procedures for Somaliland and Gedo regions, all of which continue to delay each round of elections.

There are those who view this election impasse as a new stumbling block for Somalia’s road to democratisation. Others see it as an opportunity to strengthen electoral structures and processes – key components for Somali state-building. And there are those who suspect incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’ of wanting to subvert Somali nationhood to consolidate power.

The Africa Report 7 December 2020

UN calls for joint efforts to end gender-based violence in Somalia

The UN on Wednesday called for concerted efforts to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) in Somalia and to make services more accessible to women and girls.

James Swan, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia said since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the frontlines have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified and Somalia has not been spared from this scourge.

“Regardless of any progress made against the pandemic, more needs to be done to prioritize addressing violence against women during the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, and this includes funding to fill gaps in service provision and raising awareness and ensuring accountability,” Swan said in a statement issued as 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign which will end on Thursday.

CGTN Africa 11 December 2020


Sudan at critical juncture in path towards democratic transition, Security Council hears

International support for Sudan is critical as the country continues on the path to democratic transition, amid challenges that include political disagreements, economic decline, and the COVID-19 pandemic, UN political affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo told a virtual meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday.

Ambassadors were updated on developments since the signing in October of a milestone peace agreement between the authorities and two armed movements from Darfur, and on the potential drawdown of the UN-African Union force in the province, known as UNAMID.

“Sudan is at a critical juncture. It can move forward decisively in its transition, but that progress can still be derailed by the many challenges it faces. It is incumbent on all of us to support Sudan in its efforts to achieve democratic governance, economic prosperity and an inclusive society for all Sudanese”, said Ms. DiCarlo. 

This month will mark two years since the Sudanese Revolution, which led to the overthrow of longstanding leader, Omar Al-Bashir, in April 2019.  A joint military-civilian body, known as the Sovereign Council, is ruling the country until elections can be held.

UN News 8 December 2020

UN-African Union envoy says mistrust deep in Sudan’s Darfur

The joint U.N.-African Union envoy for Darfur cautioned on Wednesday that mistrust still runs deep in Sudan’s troubled region and urged the transitional government in Khartoum to embark on the “huge task” of gaining the trust of the local people.

Jeremiah Mamabolo’s remarks came as U.N. Security Council members remained divided on the timing to end the mandate of the joint mission, known as UNAMID.

The people of Darfur “have been betrayed … A lot of crimes and injustice have been committed against them, so they feel insecure,” Mamabolo told The Associated Press. “It’s a delicate situation.”

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, after nearly three decades of rule. Since then, the country has been led by a joint military-civilian government, which has been struggling to end Sudan’s decades-long civil wars and overcome the country’s dire economic conditions.

The Washington Post 9 December 2020

South Sudan

South Sudan signs 5-year health cooperation deal with China

South Sudan has reached a health cooperation agreement with China for the next five years. The information was reported by Xinhua, which cites official sources.

The deal between the two countries, inked last week, allows China to deploy its medical teams in the African nation over the period from 2021 to 2026. This move paves the way for strengthened cooperation between China’s Anhui Medical University and South Sudan’s Juba Teaching Hospital through knowledge sharing and capacity reinforcement.

Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011, China has become one of its main partners in health, a sector that is greatly affected by the security and economic challenges facing Africa’s youngest state.

Since 2013, Beijing claims it has sent eight medical teams to South Sudan to provide free medical services to the population. Recently, Beijing’s health care workers were called in to help Juba cope with the covid-19 pandemic.

Eco Fin Agency 7 December 2020

South Sudan factions break stalemate on formation of local governments

Signatories to South Sudan’s 2018 peace deal on Wednesday agreed to form state and local governments in nine out of the country’s ten states, ending months of stalemate over the establishment of leadership at the grassroots level.

The agreement was reached during a meeting with South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and his five deputies in Juba, the presidency said in a statement.

During the meeting, the South Sudanese leaders also agreed to set up a reconstituted parliament and the upper house, the Council of States.

On the delayed appointment of the governor of Upper Nile state, the peace parties agreed to hold a conference aimed at resolving tribal tensions that have stalled efforts to establish local administration in the oil-reach northern region.

Xinhua 9 December 2020

Western Sahara

The East Timor Model Offers a Way out for Western Sahara and Morocco

It’s not often that Western Sahara makes international headlines, but in mid-November it did: Nov. 14 marked the tragic—if unsurprising—breakup of a tenuous, 29-year cease-fire in Western Sahara between the occupying Moroccan government and pro-independence fighters. The outbreak of violence is concerning not only because it flew in the face of nearly three decades of relative stasis, but also because Western governments’ reflexive response to the resurgent conflict may be to upend—and thereby hamper and delegitimize for perpetuity—more than 75 years of established international legal principles. It is imperative that the global community realize that, in both Western Sahara and Morocco, the path forward lies in adhering to international law, not overriding it.

The conflict in Western Sahara dates back to 1975, when the territory was on the verge of gaining independence from its colonizer, Spain. Under pressure from the United States, which did not want to see the leftist independence movement known as the Polisario Front lead an independent state, Madrid granted administrative authority over the northern two-thirds of the country to Morocco and ceded the southern third to neighboring Mauritania. In early 1976, the Polisario established the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which has been recognized by 80 countries and is a full member state of the African Union. Mauritania ceded its portion of Western Sahara to the SADR in 1979, only to see it immediately seized by Morocco. For over a decade, Morocco—with French and U.S. support—continued to battle Polisario guerrillas while violently suppressing pro-independence demonstrations and other nationalist activities within the occupied Western Saharan territory it considers part of Morocco.

Foreign Policy 9 December 2020