News Briefs 11 March 2022

Southern Africa Focus


New Zimbabwe law threatens to criminalise and ban NGOs

Zimbabwe wants to criminalise and ban non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through the proposed Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill, which will regulate the NGOs’ working environment in the country.

The bill will effectively criminalise the operations of NGOs, proposing harsh penalties, including closure of the organisations, require them to disclose their source of funding and jail terms of up to a year for breaches.

The government say that the PVO Amendment Bill is necessary to comply with recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money-laundering and terrorist funding.

Civil society has expressed concerns over the proposed bill, saying it was a way to silence them and put unfair restrictions on them.

TimesLive 8 March 2022

Kenya signs bilateral agreements with Zimbabwe, as Kenyatta advocates end to Zimbabwean sanctions

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Nairobi on Wednesday March 9th, 2022. During the visit, both leaders signed some bilateral agreements that are expected to boost investments and development in both countries.

According to reports by local media, Kenya and Zimbabwe signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) on the following: tourism and wildlife consultation, civil aircraft accidents and serious incident investigations, political and diplomatic consultations, cooperative and sports recreational activities, women empowerment, community development and youth affairs.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta used the occasion to urge Western nations to consider lifting the many economic sanctions that were imposed on the Southern Africa country under Robert Mugabe. As he argued, these sanctions are partly responsible for the myriad of economic challenges the country has been grappling with for many years.

“And this we consider to be unfair for these hardships were artificially created and we continue to call on the international community to remove these illegal sanctions,” President Kenyatta argued.

Recall that some EU countries, the United Kingdom and the United States of America imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe back in 2002 after late President Robert Mugabe allegedly rigged a presidential election.

Business Insider 10 March 2022

South Africa proposes ‘dialogue’ in Eswatini, doesn’t want to say who the ‘aggressor’ is

While the South African government is loath to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has been similarly reticent to pronounce who has been the “aggressor” in the conflict in neighbouring Eswatini, calling for “dialogue” instead.

DA MP Darren Bergman asked in a parliamentary question about the government’s approach to the Eswatini situation it used to “determine who is the aggressor and victim”.

He also wanted to know what assistance the government intended to offer to show solidarity with the victim.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor responded that, “South Africa is working within the established protocols of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address stability and the political situation in Eswatini”.

“The SADC is already engaged to support the kingdom to resolve the challenges. This work is done within the overall objective of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation which is to promote peace and security in the region as stipulated under article 2.2. of the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.

News24 28 February 2022

Zuma slated for meeting eSwatini political group close to King Mswati

Over the weekend, at his home in Nkandla, Zuma hosted a powerful delegation of the eSwatini political party, Mangololo.

The conservative party was formed late last year, in reaction to many Swazi citizens rebelling against Mswati and his regime and demanding political reforms – such as being allowed to elect their own prime minister instead of having the king choose one (usually his proxy) for them.

The stated aim of Mangololo is that the status quo should remain, with Mswati retaining absolute power, including appointing judges, the cabinet and even controlling the country’s finances via proxy finance ministers.

According to media reports, the delegation looked to Zuma for “guidance” on how to contain the raging protests against the king, while giving him a “true picture” of what is happening in the kingdom.

IOL 22 February 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo militiamen kill 18 civilians in church compound

Militiamen have killed 18 civilians who had sought refuge in a church compound in eastern Congo, a witness and a local human rights groups said on Wednesday.

The attack took place early on Tuesday in Banyali Kilo, a district in the conflict-riven Ituri province, as the victims slept in church outbuildings. They had fled there after escaping from previous attacks, the sources said.

A survivor, Augustin Kolo, was asleep with his family when he heard cries from outside.

“I quickly got up and woke up my wife and my two children to flee. This is how we were saved even as 18 of our brothers and sisters were killed,” he said.

“It hurts so much. We are doubly wounded since we first left our villages and then the Codeco followed us here,” he said, referring to a militia group that an army spokesperson also blamed for the attack. The spokesperson gave no death toll.

News24 9 March 2022

China cobalt mine deal was ‘injustice’: my country did not get anything, ex-DRC leader says

As much of the world electrifies its cars, countries are relying ever more heavily on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Central African nation produces two-thirds of the global supply of cobalt – an essential component of electric vehicle batteries.

That should make the Congolese happy. But reality says otherwise.

The people believe they have been short-changed by foreign companies that control the mining and processing of the metal. President Felix Tshisekedi stirred up a storm last year, accusing his predecessors of having signed lopsided contracts with mining companies – most of them Chinese – and saying he wanted to renegotiate them.

President Tshisekedi’s campaign has further received rare support from Congolese opposition politician Adolphe Muzito, who said the DRC had not benefited much from mining deals signed with Chinese companies.

South China Morning Post 6 March 2022

East Africa and the Horn


Somalia’s Promised 30 Percent Quota for Women Lawmakers Unlikely

The chair of the Somali Women Association, Batulo Ahmed Gaballe, does not have much to celebrate this International Women’s Day.

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble appointed her to spearhead efforts to reach a 30 percent quota for women lawmakers in the country’s long-delayed indirect, parliamentary elections.

But as the world marks the global holiday celebrated annually on March 8, female candidates have secured only half the needed seats to reach the quota.

Gaballe says the way the elections took place is different from what was agreed upon, as well as the procedure for the plan’s implementation. Gaballe said each community with three or more seats should have allocated one seat for the women’s quota.

But some clan elders, who play a key role in selecting potential lawmakers, have been blocking women from seeking office.

Out of the 275 seats for Somalia’s Lower House, clans have so far selected only 44 women.

They would need to choose another 40 women by March 15 to meet the 30 quota, but only 65 seats remain to be filled.

AllAfrica 8 March 2022

UN worried about lack of funds to tackle Somalia drought

The United Nations warned Wednesday that it faces a crippling lack of funds to tackle Somalia’s devastating drought, which has been “overshadowed” by other humanitarian crises including the war in Ukraine.

The troubled Horn of Africa nation is being ravaged by drought, which has affected 4.5 million people — nearly 30 percent of its population — as of February, following three consecutive seasons of poor rains.

But so far the UN has only secured three percent of the $1.46 billion (1.23 billion euros) required to meet the needs of Somalis, Adam Abdelmoula, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, told a press conference in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

“The situation is grave and is deteriorating rapidly,” he said.

“The outlook was already grim prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. We have been overshadowed by the crisis in Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan and now Ukraine seems to suck all the oxygen that is in the room,” he added.

France24 9 March 2022

Central African Republic

UN to CAR Military, Russian Mercenaries – Stop Obstructing Rights Investigations

The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in the Central African Republic says the government and its Russian allies should stop obstructing investigations.

The U.N.’s Yao Agbetse says the C.A.R. military and Russian mercenaries prevent access for U.N. investigators and are believed responsible for nearly half the country’s rights violations.

Clashes are still going on in the Central African Republic countryside, where the national army and Russian mercenaries are chasing the rebels who attacked the capital of Bangui last year.

During the past four months, at least 229 civilians have died, according to a recent U.N. report. But that figure could be underestimated, because U.N. investigators are prevented from accessing sites of various alleged crimes.

AllAfrica 21 February 2022

Pro-Russia protesters rally in Central African Republic

A hundred people participated Saturday in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, in a demonstration in support of Russia in its offensive against Ukraine, noted a journalist from AFP.

The demonstrators gathered at the foot of a statue, inaugurated in late 2021 by President Faustin Archange Touadéra, representing Russian fighters protecting a woman and her children. Many waved Russian and Central African flags in the heart of the capital, near the university.

Faced with a threatening rebellion more than a year ago, President Touadéra called on Moscow to rescue his impoverished and poorly trained army, and hundreds of Russian paramilitaries were added to the many others who had been present for three years.

In a few months, they had pushed back the armed groups that were then occupying two-thirds of the country and recovered the vast majority of the territory.

Africa News 5 March 2022


Two dead as UN, AU warn of ‘grave danger’ in Sudan

Two protesters were shot dead during protests in Sudan on Thursday, as UN and African Union officials warned that the country was in “grave danger”.

Hundreds took to the streets across Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, witnesses said.

Security forces shot dead one protester in Omdurman and another in Khartoum, pro-democracy doctors said.

At least 87 people have been killed and hundreds wounded during more than four months of protests demanding civilian rule and justice for those killed in previous demonstrations, according to medics.

“All indicators available to us at the UN and AU show that the country is in grave danger,” said African Union envoy Mohamed Lebatt at a joint news conference in Khartoum with UN special representative Volker Perthes.

The East African 11 March 2022

54 Injured as Sudan Forces Meet Mass Demos With Violence

At least 54 civilians were injured after Sudanese security forces including troops from the army, police, and paramilitary Central Reserve Forces (Abu Teira), used tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and automatic weapons, against peaceful demonstrations in Khartoum yesterday.

Marches organised by the Khartoum Resistance Committees moved to the Republican Palace, while processions organised by women’s organisations to coincide with International Women’s Day, moved to El Sitteen Street in eastern Khartoum and the El Soug El Shaabi in western Khartoum.

Demonstrations expressing solidarity with women and political detainees, demanding a return to civilian government, were also held in more than 11 other Sudanese cities and towns.

The Socialist Doctors Association reported that 54 people with various injuries were admitted to El Jawda Hospital south of central Khartoum during yesterday’s marches. The Association said in a field report that among the cases are three injuries in the eyes, others have injuries in the face, abdomen, and neck as a result of excessive violence, tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and live ammunition.

AllAfrica 9 March 2022

South Sudan

Pope Francis to visit South Sudan and DR Congo in July

Pope Francis will visit South Sudan in July after repeatedly delaying his trip due to security concerns in a country still emerging from a post-independence civil war.

A statement from the Vatican on Thursday said the pope would be in South Sudan July 5-7 after visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo July 2-5 on the same trip.

In South Sudan, he will visit the capital, Juba, and in the DRC, he will visit Kinshasa and Goma.

In July 2011, South Sudan officially split from Sudan, but civil war erupted two years later, causing 400,000 deaths. The two main sides signed a peace deal in 2018.

Analysts say that while the peace deal halted horrific violence, there are several unresolved issues such as stalled reunification of the national army that could plunge the country back into widespread conflict.

Aljazeera 3 March 2022

HRW urges release of two S Sudanese arrested for gov’t criticism

Global watchdog Human Rights Watch has called for the release of a clergyman and a university professor in South Sudan, both detained since last year for criticising the government.

In a statement released on March 1, HRW called for the charges against the two to be dropped, saying the arrests were a “systematic intimidation of civil society and attempt to suppress free speech”.

Both men have been accused of sabotage and undermining South Sudan’sconstitution. They face the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted, their lawyers say.

Last July, Abraham Chol Akech, a Juba-based leader of Cush International Ministries was arrested at his home by the police.

Days before, the 69-year-old cleric had told his congregation during a Sunday service that both President Salva Kiir and his deputy Rick Machar would be unseated from office on July 9th, the independence anniversary, to make way for new leadership.

Aljazeera 9 March 2022

North Africa

Western Sahara

South Africa asks UN to send a mission to investigate the human rights situation in Western Sahara

South Africa renewed yesterday its call for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently send a mission to investigate the human rights situation in the occupied areas of Western Sahara, as well as reporting on the serious violations committed by the Moroccan occupation forces against Saharawi civilians.

Through a statement issued during the discussion of the second working point of the session of the Human Rights Council, the Permanent Representative of South Africa in Geneva, Mr. Mxolisi Sizo Nkosi, “demanded Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to include information on the situation of human rights in occupied Western Sahara in its report to the 50th Ordinary Session of the Human Rights Council”.

In his statement, Ambassador Nkosi stressed that “the government of his country will remain committed to ensuring that the Saharawi people can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, in accordance with all relevant United Nations resolutions.”

Sahara Press Service 10 March 2022

Western Sahara: US renews support for Moroccan plan

United States’ Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Rabat on Tuesday.

Us representative Wendy Sherman met with Moroccan Foreign minister Nasser Bourita. During the working meeting, the two officials discussed the issue of the Sahara. The vast desert area bordering the Atlantic and Mauritania is claimed by Rabat and Western Sahara since 1975.

Western Sahara clings to a self-determination referendum to settle the dispute. It was provided by the 1991 ceasefire agreement reached under the aegis of the UN but was never implemented. However, Morocco proposes autonomy under its sovereignty.

The Deputy Secretary renewed the US support for the Moroccan plan. “On the Western Sahara, United States and Morocco both strongly support the efforts of Stephan de Mistura, the United Nations Secretary General’s personal envoy for the Western Sahara. And we do so with an open mind, to find a resolution that will lead to an enduring and dignified outcome to all parties. We continue to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible and realistic.”

Africa News 8 March 2022