Southern Africa Focus:
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe has made a mouth-watering proposition to teachers in a bid to avert a catastrophic strike by government workers who say their salaries have been eroded by inflation.
The president made the offer on Tuesday, a day after teachers downed tools on the first day of the new school year. They demanded salaries of at least R10 736 (about US$671).
Currently, the lowest paid teacher in Zimbabwe takes home around the equivalent of R1 000 (US$60). That’s the same average for all government workers, including nurses, soldiers and police officers.
While members of the army and police cannot strike, there have been numerous cases of banditry linked to serving officers in the past year.
News24 10 February 2022
The Zimbabwe government has raised teachers’ salaries after children went back to school this week and found many teachers on strike.
It also said it would pay fees for teachers’ children and allow them to import cars duty-free, in an effort to lure them back to classrooms.
State newspaper billboards on Wednesday described this as a lucrative package.
The government said it would raise civil servants’ salaries by 20%, and then convert part of those salaries to $100 at the official exchange rate.
It’s meant to placate government teachers, many of whom failed to report for work when schools reopened this week because of low wages.
EWN 10 February 2022
Security forces in eSwatini have once again been cracking down on the student movement in the country. They have been accused of arbitrarily abducting, arresting, interrogating and torturing student leaders to confess to fabricated crimes.
The crackdown has become more pronounced since students throughout eSwatini embarked on protests in mid-January wanting scholarships and allowances for all tertiary students. They also demanded justice for law student Thabang Nkomonye, who died – allegedly at the hands of the police – in May 2021, and the release of two pro-democracy members of Parliament, Mduduzi Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, who were arrested in July 2021 on terrorism charges.
On 31 January, Colani Khulekani Maseko, 30, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (Snus), was arrested by about 40 plain-clothed police officers in Manzini while on his way to class at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (Sanu). The campaign officer of the union, Sibusiso Nkwanyana, 23, was also taken away and held by the police during the incident.
New Frame 9 February 2022
In June 2021, Swaziland/Eswatini was engulfed by a popularly supported uprising for democracy and human rights. The uprising involved students, women, trade unions and people from rural areas. Activists claim that more than 80 protesters were killed by the police and army. The protests and killings have been documented in The Unthinkable, a film made by the Swaziland Solidarity Forum that has been widely watched on YouTube. The film strengthened calls for justice.
In November 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Swaziland/Eswatini as part of the SADC Troika. After the meeting, King Mswati III committed to initiating a national dialogue to discuss the demands raised in the protests. This was yet to happen by early February 2022, and suggestions that it should form part of the king’s traditional Sibaya have been condemned by democracy activists.
Although the 2021 protests were quashed, tensions remain high and the thirst for democracy unquenched.
In early February, several student leaders were arrested and later released. But two of Swaziland/Eswatini’s MPs, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, remain in prison awaiting trial. Activists who spoke to Maverick Citizen allege that the judge presiding over their trial is the king’s sister-in-law whose husband is the attorney-general.
Daily Maverick 9 February 2022
Democratic Republic of Congo
Judges at the International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that Uganda must pay $325 million in reparations to the Democratic Republic of Congo for its role in conflicts in Congo’s resource-rich Ituri province.
Uganda must pay the sum in five yearly instalments of $65 million to start in September of this year, presiding judge Joan Donoghue said.
The total award is far short of the over $11 billion Congo had asked for. The court dismissed several claims including broad compensation for macroeconomic damage, saying a clear link between Uganda’s actions and alleged economic damage was not shown.
Representatives for Uganda at the court did not respond publicly to the ruling. In hearings in April, Uganda said its economy would be ruined by the billions of dollars Congo sought in reparations.
Reuters 9 February 2022
The East African Community Council of Ministers has now approved the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the regional bloc. The approval follows negotiations held between the EAC and the DRC from January 15th to 24th in Nairobi.
The EAC Negotiations Team was led by Dr. Alice Yalla, Integration Secretary at the Ministry of EAC and Regional development and Prof Serge Tshibangu, special envoy of DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.
“As you are aware the DRC delegation was in Nairobi in the last week of January 2021. The negotiations with the DRC have been concluded and a negotiation framework matrix jointly adopted,” said Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, EAC and Regional Development soon after an Extra-ordinary Council meeting virtually on 8th February, 2022.
“We have now recommended to the summit to consider admitting the DRC into the Community in accordance with Article 3 of the EAC Treaty.”
The East African 10 February 2022
East Africa and the Horn
A suicide bomber targeting a minibus full of delegates involved in Somalia’s parliamentary elections killed at least six people in Mogadishu, the ambulance service said, as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab armed group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast occurred early on Thursday as the vehicle was passing a busy junction on a road heading to the president’s office in the capital of the East African nation.
“The area was densely populated when the blast occurred and some of the victims, most of them civilians, are seriously wounded,” security official Abdullahi Muktar told the AFP news agency.
He said six people died and 12 were injured.
“The incident is still [being] investigated to know the exact details but preliminary observation we have indicates that someone carried out the blast,” he said.
Aljazeera 10 February 2022
The best path toward sustainable peace in Somalia is through the rapid conclusion of credible elections. The United States has repeatedly expressed concern over the delays and procedural irregularities in Somalia’s electoral process and the broader implications of those irregularities for the country’s democracy and stability.
Today, on the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the Somali president’s term in office, I am announcing the implementation of a policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that restricts the issuance of visas to current or former Somali officials or other individuals who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia, including through violence against protestors, unjust arrests or intimidation of journalists and opposition members, and manipulation of the electoral process. Immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.
This policy will apply to individuals who have played a role in procedural irregularities that have undermined the electoral process, who have failed to follow through with their obligations to implement timely and transparent elections, and who have targeted journalists and opposition party members with harassment, intimidation, arrest, and violence.
AllAfrica 10 February 2022
Central African Republic
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 11 to 18 February 2022.
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.
The independent expert will review findings from his visit at the Human Rights Council in March 2022.
OHCHR 8 February 2022
These are the victims of the Central African Republic’s long-running conflict. Some of them have been lived in displacement camps for years.
Working with the UN’s refugee agency, the country’s authorities are moving them from camps in major cities to settlements with bigger space and where they can grow their own food.
Internally Displaced Person Camps in the Central African Republic are beset by overcrowding. Authorities are also keen to reduce dependence on food rations.
“The advantage is that each household has its own plot of land, which is 20 meters by 15 meters, said Victor Bissekon, the administrator of Ouaka town.
The scheme dubbed integrated villages is still at its pilot stage and the first beneficiaries are being resettled here on the outskirts of the city of Bambari.
Africa News 10 February 2022
Two prominent Sudanese political figures who held top positions in the civilian administration before a military takeover in October have been arrested, their Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.
The arrests mark an extension of a crackdown on critics of the military and follow those of dozens of activists linked to a protest movement against the October 25 coup.
The two officials detained, Khalid Omer Yousif and Wagdi Salih, had previously been involved in a task force that seized property and fired bureaucrats linked to the regime of Omar al-Bashir, who fell to a popular uprising in 2019.
Yousif also served as a cabinet minister in a civilian government under a power-sharing agreement between the military and the FFC.
Aljazeera 9 February 2022
Sudan on Friday denounced Western criticism of the arrest of two high-profile former officials opposed to military rule and charged with corruption, saying it was contrary to “diplomatic norms and practices”.
Khalid Omer Yousif and Wagdi Salih were arrested on Wednesday, a move Norway, the United States, Britain, the European Union, Canada, and Switzerland condemned as “harassment and intimidation” by Sudan’s military authorities.
“This is blatant interference in internal Sudanese affairs, contrary to diplomatic norms and practices,” the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Both men had been part of the government that was toppled on Oct. 25 and had been detained in the weeks following. Since then, military leaders have repeatedly warned of foreign interference.
Reuters 11 February 2022
South Sudan, which is entering its 12th year as an independent state, is experiencing an increase in human rights abuses, corruption and political instability that continues unabated in 2022.
Aid agencies operating in the country – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network – say it is because Africa’s newest sovereign country inherited a legacy of prolonged civil war and severe underdevelopment.
Two years into independence, South Sudan was plunged into civil conflict, but a peace deal was reached in 2015, which only lasted for a year.
In September 2018, warring parties signed the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. This led to a Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity, which came into place in 2020.
News24 4 February 2022
The government of South Sudan on today inaugurated its Public Health Emergency Operations Center designed to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and emergencies of international concern.
The center is part of a $4.2 million African Development Bank grant-financed COVID-19 response project that included procuring an oxygen plant, vehicles, a wide range of essential medicines, lifesaving biomedical equipment and personal protective equipment. The World Health Organization (WHO) implemented the project.
African Development Bank Country Manager for South Sudan Themba Bhebhe and Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO South Sudan Representative, handed over the facility to Health Minister, Honorable Elizabeth Achuei Yol, in a ceremony attended by senior health ministry officials, development partners, WHO South Sudan staff and journalists.
During phase two, the Center was equipped with hardware and software to facilitate emergency response operations.
“The African Development Bank and WHO have played a crucial role in strengthening our capacity to reduce, mitigate and manage the adverse impacts of COVID-19,” said the Dr Victoria Anib, the Undersecretary, Ministry of Health. “I would like to thank [them] for enhancing national health security and supporting us in the fight against COVID-19 and request them to continue doing so going forward.”
WHO 10 February 2022
North Africa and the Sahara
Kenya is pushing for another round of discussions on the contested territory of Western Sahara, setting the stage for a possible counter-lobbying from Morocco which claims it is part of its land.
A provisional programme for Nairobi as the February Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) shows Kenya wants heads of state and government to hold a session on the “consideration of the situation in Western Sahara” which has seen renewed violence.
The final programme schedule is expected on Saturday this week, but Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will speak on the sidelines of the upcoming African Union Heads of State Summit on Sunday in Addis Ababa on “critical issues impacting Peace and Security in Africa” including rising extremism, instability, climate change and urban violence.
However, a tentative programme issued earlier in the week says Kenya has planned for a virtual meeting on February 16 “on the situation in Western Sahara.”
The East African 4 February 2022
The Minister of Information and Government Spokesman of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Mr. Hamada Salma Daf, stated today that “Moroccan manipulations have led to the conflict in Western Sahara to an impasse”.
in response to the statements made by the Moroccan foreign minister to the French television channel France24, the spokesman for the Saharawi government said that “it is truly a regrettable fact that all the efforts made by the international community to resolve the conflict in the Western Sahara by peaceful means have been sabotaged by Morocco, leading the conflict to an impasse with its intransigence and its flight forward, causing the region to return to the starting point marked by war, tension and instability”
Sahara Press Service 8 February 2022