News Briefs 16 August 2021:

Southern Africa Focus:


UN Urges Zimbabwe to End Child Marriage After 14-Year-Old Bride Dies in Childbirth

Women’s rights activists, opposition groups, and the United Nations are pressuring Zimbabwean authorities to arrest a man who had married a 14-year-old who died last week while giving birth at a church shrine. Zimbabwean police say they are investigating the matter.

Hashtags #EndChildMarriagesNow and #JusticeForMemory have been trending on social media after 14-year-old Memory Machaya died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine about 400 kilometers east of Harare. The United Nations in Zimbabwe issued a statement saying child marriages continue to surface in Zimbabwe, where 1 out of 3 girls is married before the age of 18.

Sirak Gebrehiwot, the UN spokesman in Zimbabwe said that is not acceptable.  

“The United Nations in Zimbabwe notes with deep concern and condemns strongly the surrounding circumstances leading to the untimely death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya from Marange, who died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine,” he said.

Global Citizen 12 August 2021

Govt Accused of ‘Bribery’ in Early 2023 Campaigns

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe use of “soft” power to courting of the opposition has been termed abuse of power, after he gifted them vehicles.

Mnangagwa is pulling all stops ahead of what could be a tough re-election campaign in 2023 as he seeks a second term. He succeeded the late Robert Mugabe through a military coup in 2017.

A June Afrobarometer poll showed that 67 percent of Zimbabweans believe that the country is “going in the wrong direction” under the 78-year-old ruler’s leadership.

Analysts say President Mnangagwa is using a carrot and stick approach in his push to stay in power beyond 2023 and the dishing out of cars to 16 opposition leaders under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform was part of the strategy to divide the opposition.

AllAfrica 10 August 2021



Can eSwatini’s monarchy recover from the ongoing crisis?

Over the past few months, the Kingdom of eSwatini has experienced its worst bout of political violence in its postcolonial history. The unrest in the small southern African country, landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, started in May, when protesters took to the streets to denounce police brutality in the aftermath of the death of 25-year-old university student Thabani Nkomonye, widely believed to have been killed by traffic police officers.

Soon the unrest spread to the rural areas, which caught the royal regime unprepared. As demonstrators started to demand a wide range of political and economic reforms, the government refused to engage in dialogue. Confrontations with the police escalated, and the army was brought in to quash the ensuing riots. According to activists’ reports, close to 70 people were killed, while many shops, commercial properties, and farms were looted.

The unrest poses a major challenge to King Mswati III who has shown no willingness to respond to the demands of his people. This intransigence could deepen the crisis and lead to further violence.

Aljazeera 7 August 2021

eSwatini: the people versus the king

After eSwatini security forces sent many to early graves in late June and much of July, King Mswati III sat on a golden throne in his Lobamba palace on 16 July and declared, “Every person [in this country] is the king’s. Everything in eSwatini is the kings.” Then he announced the new prime minister would be Cleopas Dlamini.

This move was a snub to the people who have been calling for democratic reforms, specifically the election of a prime minister.

As the king spoke, many of his supposed subjects were lying in barely functioning hospitals all over the country, shot and beaten by his forces after pro-democracy protests began in May. Soldiers roam the streets and police raid the homes of sympathisers, shooting, maiming and killing. Many emaSwati are still coming to terms with the death of loved ones. Some have lost limbs; others suffer the long-term effects of their wounds. Many are dead.

New Frame 12 August 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

UNHCR gravely concerned about systematic sexual violence in DR Congo’s Tanganyika Province

The UN Refugee Agency, is gravely concerned about incidents of widespread and systematic sexual violence against Congolese women and girls, perpetrated by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Tanganyika Province, where thousands have been internally displaced this year.

More than 23,000 people have been displaced since May in northern Tanganyika’s Kongolo Territory alone, according to local authorities. Most have fled insecurity multiple times in the past three months.

In just the past two weeks, humanitarian partners in the Kongolo and Mbulula health zones, have recorded 243 incidents of rape, 48 of which involved minors, in 12 different villages. This is an average of 17 reported attacks each day. The actual figures are thought to be even higher as reporting of gender-based violence (GBV) remains taboo in most communities. In addition to the huge physical and psychological trauma from being raped, survivors of sexual violence can face stigma and possible exclusion from their families.

The attacks are reportedly being carried out by rival armed groups competing to maintain control over mining areas – especially gold mines – and as retaliation against government-led military operations. Civilians find themselves trapped in the middle of intense confrontations between different groups.

Relief Web 13 August 2021

Three killed in militia attack in eastern DR Congo

Three civilians have been killed in eastern DR Congo in a new attack blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group linked to the so-called Islamic State, the authorities said on Wednesday.

“Enemies associated with the ADF” carried out the attack in Beni overnight Tuesday, Muhindo Isaya, a representative of the governor of North Kivu province, told AFP.

“There is a provisional toll of three dead bodies,” Isaya said.

A historically Ugandan Islamist group, the ADF is the deadliest of scores of armed militias that roam the mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC’s Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6 000 civilians since 2013, while a respected US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1 200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.

News24 11 August 2021

Central and the Horn of Africa


Crucial Election Plans in Somalia Now Advancing Following ‘Period of Uncertainty’, Special Representative Tells Security Council, Spotlighting Women’s Quota

With Upper House of Parliament elections having begun in four of Somalia’s federal member states and broader electoral plans back on track following a political crisis earlier in 2021, speakers told the Security Council today that the process must be inclusive and credible, and meet the 30 per cent quota agreed for women’s representation.

Following a prolonged period of uncertainty and heightened tensions, “the long-awaited elections in Somalia are now moving forward”, albeit somewhat behind schedule, said James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2021/723).

Ensuring the success of the process will require constant effort by all parties, in particular the leaders of the federal Government and federal member states, and implementation of the existing electoral agreements, he emphasized, noting that the United Nations recently signed an agreement with the office of the Prime Minister to ensure that donor funds generously contributed by Member States are available for use by the electoral management bodies.

Africa News 13 August 2021

AU’s peacekeeping force in Somalia says investigating civilian deaths

The African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia said it had started investigating reports that civilians were killed during a gunfight between its troops and al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab fighters.

The force, known as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), said the incident occurred on Tuesday following an ambush, while its soldiers were on patrol along the Beldamin-Golweyn Forward Operating Base in the Lower Shabelle region.

There was a heavy exchange of gunfire between AMISOM forces and al Shabaab militants before the patrol team seized firearms, rounds of ammunition and mobile phones, it said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“AMISOM has since received reports that civilian lives were lost. To this end, AMISOM has launched a thorough investigation into the reported incident,” it said.

Defence Web 12 August 2021

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Who is responsible for the attack in the South-East?

Even though the security situation in the Central African Republic is gradually stabilizing, several areas keep experiencing turbulence.

While the capital and other big towns and transport hubs enjoy the stability brought by the national defense forces supported by their allies, the more distant provinces are subjected to fierce attacks from the armed groups that has changed their tactics.

At the beginning of the conflict the terrorists aimed at the major population centers and transportation connection points, however as they were met with a rebuff, they scattered in the bush and turned to the raid tactics.

The arms embargo imposed by the UN on the Republic leaves the national defense forces underequipped compared to the CPC armed groups. It makes the clearing operations, performed by the defence forces, more challenging.

Vanguard 10 August 2021

No arms supplies in the Central African Republic for another year

On 29 July 2021, the Security Council renewed the arms embargo by one year and created a derogation for 60-millimeter mortars.

By adopting resolution 2588 (2021) by 14 votes in favour and one abstention (China), the Security Council decided to extend the arms embargo on the Central African Republic (CAR) for one year, while creating a new exemption for mortars of a certain caliber.

It also renews the mandate of the Expert Group until 31 August 2022.

The Council has already made nine derogations in general.

Now the resolution includes for the first time the deliveries of 60 mm mortars and ammunition specially designed for these weapons.

The Russian Federation, for its part, hoped that in a year the Security Council would have “every reason” to lift it.

On the other hand, China reported a “disconnect” between improving the security situation in CAR and maintaining the arms embargo, which it said had become an obstacle to the Government’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

Pulse 3 August 2021


Sudan says will ‘hand over’ al-Bashir to ICC for war crimes trial

Sudan will hand longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) along with two other officials wanted over the Darfur conflict, officials say.

Al-Bashir, 77, has been wanted by The Hague-based ICC for more than 10 years over charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sudanese region.

The United Nations says 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur conflict, which erupted in the vast western region in 2003.

The “cabinet decided to hand over wanted officials to the ICC,” Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi was quoted as saying by state news agency SUNA, without giving a timeframe.

Aljazeera 12 August 2021

Sudan recalls ambassador from Ethiopia as tensions rise

Sudan has recalled its ambassador to neighbouring Ethiopia, the foreign ministry said Sunday, reporting Addis Ababa had spurned its efforts at trying to broker a ceasefire in war-torn Tigray.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, chair of the regional body IGAD, wanted “to encourage all Ethiopian sides to reach a ceasefire agreement, and engage in comprehensive political talks”, the ministry said in a statement.

But last week Ethiopia said their trust in some of Sudan’s leaders had been “eroded”, and accused the Sudanese army of launching an “incursion” into their territory.

Northern Ethiopia has been wracked by fighting since last November, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s then ruling party.

News24 8 August 2021

South Sudan

East African bloc says South Sudan’s warring opposition derailing peace

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Friday urged rival opposition factions in South Sudan to cease hostilities and abide by the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

During a meeting with First Vice President and leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) Riek Machar, Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of IGAD, urged rival factions to embrace dialogue.

“We encourage this thing (conflict) be resolved internally, that will be the best way to solve this issue, if not it could have spillover effect on the peace process,” Gebeyehu said at a briefing in Juba, capital of South Sudan.

The regional bloc, which groups Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, mediated the 2018 revitalized peace deal signed in Ethiopia by South Sudanese warring parties to end more than six years of civil strife.

Xinhua 13 August 2021

South Sudan president orders end to factional infighting

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has called for a halt to fighting between forces loyal to Vice President Riek Machar and a splinter group that threatens the country’s fragile peace process.

Clashes broke out earlier this month in the Upper Nile region between Machar loyalists and supporters of Lieutenant General Simon Gatwech Dual after Gatwech tried to replace Machar as the head of their party. read more

Machar said the move was aimed at trying to block the country’s peace process.

Civil war broke out in South Sudan two years after independence in 2011 when forces loyal to Kiir and Machar clashed in the capital. It killed 400,000 people and led to a major refugee crisis before a peace accord was reached in 2018.

Reuters 11 August 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

Boat capsizes off Western Sahara, 42 migrants feared dead

Some 42 migrants, including 30 women and eight children, are feared dead after their boat capsized in rough seas shortly after setting sail from the coastal town of Dakhla, in Western Sahara, a Spanish migrants rights activist said.

Helena Maleno Garzon, founder of the charity Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders), said the dead included 30 women, eight children and four men. Only 10 of the occupants survived.

“We must not get used to such tragedies,” another migrant aid organisation, Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR), posted on Twitter.

Moroccan officials in Dakhla could not be immediately reached for official confirmation. However, local media reported that 12 bodies had washed ashore on Thursday while 10 people were rescued by fishermen off the Dakhla coast.

Aljazeera 6 August 2021

Polish investors discuss investment in disputed Western Sahara region

A group of investors from Poland will visit Morocco in September to examine expanding investment opportunities in the Western Sahara region, which is disputed between Rabat and the Polisario Front.

In June, Morocco’s Ambassador to Poland Abderrahim Atmoun signed a declaration of intent for new Polish business cooperation in the Western Sahara.

At the time, media reports said the agreement will promote the production of both civil and military transport and logistics equipment for Poland.

According to the INN Poland website, the economic delegation is expected to visit the region from 12-19 September.

The site said the delegation includes entrepreneurs interested in expanding in “one of the most interesting markets in Africa” as well as representatives of a number of Polish companies that are actively working to increase their presence in the kingdom.

Middle East Monitor 11 August 2021

International Affairs Focus


’We stand with the people of Palestine’

Dr Naledi Pandor

On behalf of the South African government, I recently had to communicate our objection to the unjust and unwarranted decision of the African Union Commission to grant Israel observer status in the African Union.

The African Union Commission has taken this decision unilaterally without consultations with its member states. The decision to grant Israel Observer Status is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of their land.

The African Union strenuously objected to the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The decision by the AU Commission in this context is inexplicable.

The unjust actions committed by Israel offend the letter and spirit of the Charter of the African Union. The AU embodies the aspirations of all Africans and reflects their confidence that it can lead the continent through the practical expression of the goals of the Charter, especially on issues relating to self-determination and decolonisation.

IOL 12 August 2021

3 die of covid in Gaza as Palestine sees highest infection rate since May

Three people have died in the Gaza Strip and 486 tested positive for coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said yesterday.

Eleven critically ill COVID-19 patients are also receiving intensive care in hospitals and two patients have been placed on ventilators, it added.

There were 172 recoveries in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip during that period.

Some 98.1 per cent of the total cases have recovered from the disease, according to data from the ministry.

The occupied Palestinian territories have reported the highest coronavirus infection rates since May.

According to Reuters, at least 1,045,439 doses of covid vaccines have been administered in the area so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 11.2 per cent of the country’s population.

Middle East Monitor 13 August 2021


Myanmar military says had ‘nothing to do’ with UN envoy plot

Myanmar’s military had “nothing to do” with an alleged plot to attack the country’s ambassador to the UN, who has defied the military and backed the pro-democracy movement, state media have said as the country’s foreign ministry called for his extradition.

Kyaw Moe Tun made headlines after the army’s February coup, brazenly disregarding its insistence that he no longer represents the country at the world body in New York.

Last week United States prosecutors said they had charged two Myanmar citizens over an alleged plot to hire hitmen who would force him to resign or, if he refused, kill him.

“Myanmar has nothing to do with this incident,” the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said on Tuesday, in the military rulers’ first comments on the case.

Aljazeera 10 August 2021

Rohingya excluded from Myanmar vaccination rollout

Authorities in Myanmar have no plan to include minority Rohingya Muslims living in densely packed camps as they begin vaccinating priority groups against Covid-19 in western Rakhine State, the junta-appointed local administrator said.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during military operations in 2017 and those who remain complain of discrimination and mistreatment in a country that does not recognise them as citizens.

Local administrator Kyaw Lwin told Reuters from Sittwe township that the rollout had begun there with 10,000 vaccinations for priority groups such as the elderly, health-care workers, government staff and Buddhist monks.

Business Day 11 August 2021