News Briefs 10 February 2023

Southern Africa Focus


Mozambique’s extremist rebels kill aid worker in north

Extremist rebels in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province have killed a worker for the international charity Doctors Without Borders, shortly after a former vice president of the organization was asked to produce a report into the humanitarian situation in the conflict-hit region.

Mozambique’s Islamic extremist insurgency, which started in October 2017, is blamed for the deaths of more than 3,000 people and for displacing an estimated 900,000 people. In March 2021 the rebel violence forced the France-based firm TotalEnergies to put on hold its $20 billion liquified natural gas project in the north of the province. TotalEnergies invoked force majeure after the insurgents attacked the town of Palma, very near the gas project.

Palma was later recaptured by Mozambican and Rwandan forces and the government has urged TotalEnergies to resume work on the gas project.

Last week TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne made a lightning visit to Mozambique during which he inspected the gas project site and Palma as well as the port town of Mocímboa da Praia, once an insurgent stronghold. Pouyanne later dined with Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi in Cabo Delgado’s provincial capital of Pemba before flying out the same day.

ABC News 7 February 2023

Total Bides Its Time on Mozambique LNG Restart

TotalEnergies is in no hurry to lift the force majeure on the $20 billion Mozambique LNG project, and will wait to see the results of an independent report on human rights and security in the northeastern region of Cabo Delgado at the end of this month before making any decision, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne told analysts on a conference call Wednesday.

But a relatively new theme also emerged on the call as Pouyanne added that cost would also play a role in the decision to restart construction.

Work on the 13.12 million ton per year scheme was suspended in April 2021, following a series of militant attacks near the project site in the Afungi peninsula.

Security Situation

After a one day visit to the area last Friday, Pouyanne said he felt “positive” about the project, and saw clear signs of an improvement in the overall security situation.

“Life is back to normal, but it’s one step,” he said, stressing the need to review the dossier now being drawn up by French humanitarian veteran, Jean-Christophe Rufin, that will recommend any remedial steps that Total and its partners should take regarding both security and human rights.

Pouyanne said it would share all the feedback with its partners, who comprise Mozambique’s state oil company ENH with 15%, Japan’s Mitsui and Jogmec with 10% apiece, Indian trio Bharat, ONGC Videsh and Oil India sharing 30%, and Thailand’s PTT with 8.5%.

Energy Intel 8 February 2023


SA faces largest exodus: Zimbabweans open up as permit expiry date looms

A country which was once looked at as a place of refuge and possible safe haven for Zimbabwean nationals, is gearing up for what is expected to be one of the largest exoduses of Zimbabweans this year.

This follows a directive by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi stating that the six-month extension of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) would be the last extension, bringing the ZEPs to an end come June 30.

According to the “Country Report South Africa: Complementary pathways and the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project” authored by UCT associate professor Dr Fatima Khan and UCT’s refugee rights unit, this will impact 178000 holders of the temporary protection permit. The permits were due to expire on December 31, 2022, prior to the extension granted.

The ZEPs were the government’s temporary response to the large numbers of Zimbabweans entering the country from 2008 due to economic and political precarity, placing strain on the asylum-seeker system.

IOL 9 February 2023

Zimbabwe polls predict a Chamisa triumph over Mnangagwa

esults of an independent survey of Zimbabwean voters show that opposition leader Nelson Chamisa could defeat the incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in the national elections later this year. But many voters expressed concern about whether the election would be free and fair.

The survey was done in January for The Brenthurst Foundation by independent London-based research group SABI Strategy. Using an in-depth 15-minute questionnaire, the survey shows Chamisa would win 53% of the vote to Mnangagwa’s 40% among those who say they will definitely vote.

It also showed that Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change party (CCC) is set to win the parliamentary election, out-performing Zanu-PF, which has held power for 43 years since independence in 1980.

Asked “Thinking ahead to the next general election, which party will you cast your vote for?”, 52% said they would vote for the CCC while 40% said Zanu-PF. Some 42% of survey respondents said they had voted for Zanu-PF in 2018, and 40% had voted for the CCC’s predecessor, the MDC Alliance, suggesting a sea-change in voter sentiment as Zimbabwe’s economic collapse accelerated under Mnangagwa.

Mail& Guardian 8 February 2023

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN troops kill eight civilians in DRC convoy attack: Governor

United Nations peacekeepers have killed eight civilians during an attack on their supply convoy in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a military governor said.

The troops were firing “warning shots”, which also wounded 28 people in the violence on Tuesday, the governor of North Kivu province said.

The UN convoy was returning from a resupply mission north of Goma, the provincial capital, when assailants set four trucks on fire, the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO, said on Wednesday.

The attack took place at Kanyaruchinya, where thousands of displaced people live.

MONUSCO had said three people died when the peacekeepers, accompanied by Congolese soldiers, “tried to protect the convoy”.

“The MONUSCO soldiers in charge of security fired warning shots, which unfortunately caused the death of eight of our compatriots among the displaced and 28 wounded,” Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima, the governor’s spokesman, said on Wednesday. He said an investigation would be carried out.

Aljazeera 9 February 2023

Eastern DRC peace processes miss the mark

Leaders of East African countries meeting in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on 4 February again called for an immediate ceasefire in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) conflict. The region was plunged into violence after the M23 rebel group relaunched its offensives in March 2022.

As diplomatic relations between neighbouring countries worsened, the East African Community brokered the Nairobi Process in November 2022. It is one of two recent efforts to address the crisis – the other being the Luanda Process.

The two initiatives have different but complementary formats. While Nairobi focuses on armed groups, Luanda addresses the DRC-Rwanda political dimensions – a reminder of the 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region, which has not been implemented.

The Nairobi Process calls for an immediate ceasefire, the repatriation of foreign militaries, and adherence by local armed groups to the newly established Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program. It authorises the deployment of a regional force in eastern DRC to confront those who don’t heed the disarmament call.

ISS Today 8 February 2023


Calls for justice for slain Eswatini human rights defender

On 3 February, South African unions from the Congress of South African Trade Unions and civil society organizations campaigning for democratic reforms picketed at the Eswatini Embassy in Johannesburg to call for justice and for an independent investigation following the assassination of Thulani Maseko, a human rights and social justice lawyer.

The speakers reiterated calls made earlier by various continental and global organizations including the UN Human Rights, the Commission on Human and People’s Rights – African Union, ITUC-Africa, and other pan African and global organizations.

Maseko, who was the chairperson of the multistakeholder forum for the democratization of Eswatini – a coalition working on democratic reforms through dialogue – and a member of the Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland, was assassinated by unknown gunmen at his home in Manzini on 21 January in front of his wife and two young sons.

“Comrade Thulani was a person that we would go to for legal advice on labour rights on a regular basis especially as employers are notorious for dragging unions to court. We had a good working relationship with him that was characterised by mutual respect for our roles as leaders,”

says Wander Mkhonza, Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) secretary general.

Industrial Global Union 3 February 2023

Eswatini newspaper silenced from printing terror suspects’ confessions implicating leaders

State security and freedom of expression have once again collided in Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

A high court temporary interdict on Wednesday on that country’s biggest newspaper, the Times of Eswatini, stopped them from continuing to publish a series of articles based on the confessions of two terror suspects. This follows a spate of attacks, killings, and burning of property in the strife-torn country.

The two Swazi men, Sibusiso Nxumalo and Lucky Muzi Mnisi, were arrested and have allegedly confessed to the crimes, implicating various leaders.

Since the beginning of the week, the Times has been carrying sensational accounts from their purported confessions, giving intimate details of the alleged plotting and execution of various attacks around the country.

Members of the security forces, traditional authorities and state-linked people were targeted in the attacks, said by clandestine groups to be in retaliation to the state security apparatus’ killing of civilians.

News24 9 February 2023

East Africa and the Horn


Somalia: $2.6 billion appeal to support millions amid historic drought and famine fears

Humanitarians are seeking $2.6 billion to assist some 7.6 million people in Somalia this year, the UN and partners announced on Wednesday, together with the Federal and State authorities. Somalia is in the midst of the longest and most severe drought in its history, following five consecutive poor rainy seasons, which has devastated the country.

Roughly 8.25 million people, nearly half the population, require immediate lifesaving aid and protection.

Lives on the line

They warn that famine is a strong possibility from April to June and beyond if humanitarian assistance is not sustained and the next rainfalls are insufficient.

“The efforts of local communities and the scale up of humanitarian assistance prevented famine thresholds from being surpassed in 2022, but millions of lives remain on the line,” said Adam Abdelmoula, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

UN News 8 February 2023

Somali President Calls for Cease-Fire After Deadly Fighting

Somalia’s president has called for a cease-fire after clashes in a disputed town in the breakaway region of Somaliland left at least 13 people dead.

Both sides accuse the other of starting the fighting; Somaliland insisted it was defending itself from aggression.

“The reason for the confrontation is not due to animosity, but for political reasons,” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Tuesday. “Therefore, we are sorry and not happy about what is happening there. … Respect the interest of the people, lay down arms, and stop the fighting. Start negotiating.”

Tensions have been building in Las Anod, the capital of the contested Sool region, since December. The region has been a point of conflict between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, both of which lay claim to the territory.

“The fighting in Las Anod was ignited by a series of killings in the town and the lack of arrests of the perpetrators,” said Mohamed Abdulle, a security analyst and the founder of Daludug Security Services in Somalia. “Somaliland authorities made no arrests to ease the situation. That angered the public.”

Voice of America 7 February 2023

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: United Nations (UN) expert to visit for human rights assessment

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR), Yao Agbetse, will conduct an official visit to the country from 7-17 February 2023.

The visit is in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 51/37, which mandated the expert to assess, monitor and report on the situation and make recommendations relating to technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights.

During his mission, the expert will meet government officials and Institutions, representatives of civil society and the UN system, as well as members of the diplomatic community. He will visit the countryside to meet with local authorities and various actors and partners operating in these localities, with particular emphasis on the situation of children.

The UN expert will hold a press conference to share his preliminary observations of the visit on 17 February. Access will be strictly limited to journalists. The time and venue of the press conference will be notified later.

African Business 6 February 2023

€33m Central African Republic backbone now in service

The Central African Republic is now connected to a backbone fibre linking it to neighbouring countries, via its own 935km fibre.

The network connects the republic to the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and Cameroon, with 11 points of presence in Bangui, the capital, and in strategic towns in the north-west of the country.

Faustin Archange Touadéra (pictured), president of the republic said: “The whole country needs to be connected. We are a continental country. It takes work, trenches to get here. Now that it’s done, we must optimize to reduce the handicap of isolation.”

François-Xavier Décopo, coordinator of this project, said: “The next step will be the marketing of this optical fiber to Central African populations. The government will make a public-private partnership with another managing operator to manage the infrastructure. It will sell the capacity to telephone operators such as Orange, Telecel and Socatel.”

Capacity Media 9 February 2023


All roads lead to Khartoum as Russia, Israel and West vie in game of thrones

Everyone is coming to Khartoum.

At the end of last week, an Israeli delegation that included Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met Sudan’s ruling General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as part of what the Israelis called a “historic diplomatic visit” intended to pave the way for the signing of a peace agreement later in the year.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in the Sudanese capital as part of a tour that includes Iraq, Mali and Mauritania.

Lavrov held separate meetings on Thursday with Burhan, leader of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and his deputy, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commonly known as Hemeti.

At a press conference in Khartoum on Thursday, Lavrov said that the Russian mercenary Wagner Group was fighting terrorism in Central African Republic, that Russian military bases would be established on Sudan’s Red Sea coast and that western powers were putting pressure on African governments to denounce Russia.

Middle East Eye 9 February 2023

Western Envoys Vow to Resume Support for Sudan Transition

Special envoys from the European Union, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, and the U.S. have vowed to support Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led government. The six envoys arrived in Khartoum on February 8, 2023 and met with Sudanese political leaders to show support for the country’s ongoing political transition. But they agreed to resume financial support to Sudan only once a civilian-led transitional government is formed.

The envoys’ visit coincided with an official visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Khartoum, as part of his African tour to strengthen economic and political ties. Sudanese political analyst Haj Hamed said Russia was trying to send a signal to western countries that it also has strong ties with Sudan, and that it has to protect its interests.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has affirmed his commitment to the Framework Agreement and his cooperation with all involved parties. The junta leader also called for his opponents to reach a comprehensive final agreement, to pave the way for a transitional government with civilian leadership leading the country to free and fair elections, by the end of the transitional period.

AllAfrica 9 February 2023

South Sudan

South Sudan aims to turn ailing economy around

Nearly 12 years after its independence, South Sudan, which holds the third largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, is unable to feed more than 7 million of its people who live on humanitarian aid.

Because of corruption and years of instability, the country only benefits from forty-five thousand barrels out of an annual production of about 150 000 to 170 000 barrels.

To get more on that, I am joined by Dr. Peter Biar Ajak from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

Africa News 9 February 2023

Peace in South Sudan remains elusive, says FVP Machar

South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar has said peace in the country remains “elusive”, citing the slow pace at which the 2018 revitalized peace agreement is being implemented by the parties.

He was speaking at a prayer service held in the capital, Juba on Saturday.

The armed opposition (SPLM-IO) leader said the peace deal that led to the formation of a coalition government, appointment of a unified military command and deployment of forces has not changed much on ground.

“We told our people on 31 October 2018 at the mausoleum that peace has come but for me, this peace remains elusive because we still have IDPs [internally displaced persons) and refugees yet to return to homes,” he said.

Machar urged church leaders and the government to spearhead the dissemination of the peace deal and to reconcile citizens in the country.

“Let us reconcile first in the church before moving to those involved in inter-communal violence,” he further explained.

Sudan Tribune 6 February 2023

North Africa and the Horn