News Briefs 14 January 2022
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has dismissed State Security Minister Owen Ncube. Ncube becomes the second minister to be fired by Mnangagwa within two years.
The first was former health and child care minister Obadiah Moyo over allegations that he was involved in corruption regarding a $60-million deal to procure Covid-19 medical supplies. In a statement, Mnangagwa said the axing was with “immediate effect for conduct inappropriate of a Minister of Government”.
Ncube was until recently viewed as a close ally of Mnangagwa, having come into government as provincial minister in the Midlands after the November 2017 coup.
Prior to that, Ncube had been in the ruling Zanu-PF’s youth structures in the Midlands, which is Mnangagwa’s political base.
eNCA 10 January 2022
Our warnings to South Africa about Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis were ignored. So, say Zimbabwe labour unions, civic society groups and human rights activists.
And now this has resulted in thousands of Zimbabweans flocking into neighbouring South Africa and Botswana in search of jobs and better lives. More than 89,000 illegal immigrants have already been arrested or deported.
“We have been talking about these issues as labour, as human rights activists that SADC and AU have to take a progressive and practical position on Zimbabwe crisis, we have got a crisis. SADC has to resolve this crisis before it degenerates and now it has degenerated. So SADC, South Africa and other Africa countries have to agree that Zimbabwe has got crisis,” said Peter Mutasa, former president Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Peter adds that this is a regional humanitarian crisis and deportation is not a solution.
eNCA 9 January 2022
What started as a protest to demand justice for Thabani Nkomonye, a university law student who was allegedly killed by the police in Eswatini, has grown into a series of demonstrations demanding the fall of King Mswati.
Swaziland News reported that Nkomonye’s body was found dumped at Nhlambeni, a few kilometres from Manzini. The police had earlier reported him missing but a family member spotted his car hidden at the Matsapha police station and alerted journalists.
Subsequent to a series of protests by the youth, particularly university students, pro-democracy members of parliament Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza, Mthandeni Dube and Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane raised the issue in the legislature. They demanded democratic reforms, saying the challenges facing the country were political and a result of poor leadership.
But King Mswati responded by unleashing soldiers and the police on protesting civilians, and further ordered the arrest of the pro-democracy MPs, adding fuel to the protests which evolved into political unrest.
Mail& Guardian 21 December 2021
“Please send me the article when it is done; we are not allowed foreign news in this country,” was how a heartfelt interview with Comfort Ndzinisa, the director of the documentary film The Unthinkable, ended.
Filled with sadness, I promised to do so and imagined at that moment the real horrors of what might be happening in Eswatini.
Formerly known as Swaziland, Eswatini has been going through civil unrest since June this year as calls for political reform have filled the streets.
The revolution which present-day Eswatini is experiencing is a continuation of the struggle that began in 1973 for constitutional democracy, which saw political parties soon banned in the kingdom as whispers of discontent echoed
City Press 15 December 2021
Democratic Republic of Congo
Burundian troops have been sighted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to local sources on Wednesday, with one saying the troops were after Burundian rebels holed up in the area.
“Burundian forces entered (the district of) Lemera on Sunday, December 19,” the Lemera area’s chief, Edmond Simba Muhogo, told AFP.
“They were estimated to number more than 380 troops, and they were clearly commandos. They came through the centre of Lemera… and went on to attack the Burundian rebels,” he said.
Lemera lies in the territory of Uvira in South Kivu province, which borders Burundi.
The troops are currently deployed in the Congolese districts of Bijojo and Bibangwa, the chief said.
News24 5 January 2022
A suicide bomber has attacked a restaurant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern city of Beni, killing at least five people and himself.
Officials blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) for Saturday’s attack. The militia is one of the deadliest armed groups in the region and is claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group as its central Africa arm.
“The suicide bomber, prevented by security guards from entering a crowded bar, activated the bomb at the entrance of the bar,” the regional governor’s spokesman, General Ekenge Sylvain, said in a statement.
Six people died in the blast, and 14 were injured, including two local officials, he added.
The ADF did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack.
Aljazeera 25 December 2021
Central Africa and the Horn
Somali leaders have announced they struck a deal to complete parliamentary elections by February 25, after repeated delays that have threatened the stability of the country.
The agreement on Sunday was reached after several days of talks hosted by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble with state leaders aimed at ending an impasse over the polls.
“The ongoing election of the House of the People [lower house] will be completed between the periods of January 15 and February 25, 2022,” said a statement issued after the talks in the capital, Mogadishu.
Roble and Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmaajo, have long been at loggerheads over the long-delayed elections, with fears their squabbling could erupt into violence.
Aljazeera 9 January 2022
In July 2011, the United Nations declared a famine in Somalia which attracted the attention of major news outlets across the globe. This declaration was issued during the holy month of Ramadan, which gave it added resonance in the Muslim world and contributed to massive fundraising efforts.
While the UN’s announcement helped mobilise people and governments across the world, the international community perceived it as having come too late, leading to a delayed scaling up of humanitarian assistance. An estimated 258,000 people – mainly women and children – lost their lives because global action was late.
In late 2016, warnings of another potential famine were issued, raising alarm bells in donor capitals. Memories of the tragic events of 2011 were still fresh, which helped mobilise funds earlier in comparison to 2011
Central African Republic
Paoua in the Central African Republic’s northwest is famous for peanut farming. But production of the crop has been affected by the presence of armed groups in recent years.
“This year, with the insecurity, there have been too many threats and thefts. We had to sell the crop very quickly and at low prices”, said Célestine Inforo, a farmer.
Like most of the local population, the young woman depends on peanut farming for survival, but regular attacks by armed groups – including the 3Rs (Return, Reclaim, Rehabilitate), one of the most powerful – have prevented her from exporting the goods.
The groups have taken advantage of the security crisis in the countryside to harass farmers, and take control of the peanut trade.
Africa News 7 January 2022
“Go get the children, we have to leave, they will kill us,” shouted Ousmane, Djanabou’s husband in the middle of the night, in December 2013. Having woken up abruptly, she gathered their four children, took the first bag of clothes she could find and got into her husband’s car. That night, Djanabou’s life was to change forever.
Djanabou and her family had no choice but to leave their home Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. On the road fleeing her hometown, cradle of a previously happy life, the muffled sounds of gunfire echoed through the screams and cries. Her husband continued to drive silently; their survival depended on it.
“We were shot at in the car, I was afraid we wouldn’t make it out alive,” she says, with tears in her eyes. It has been almost eight years since that fateful night, but she still remembers every detail of the narrow escape.
African Business 5 January 2022
The United Nations’ envoy to Sudan is due to launch talks on Monday aiming to resolve an escalating political crisis triggered by a military coup last year.
The coup, led by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on 25 October, derailed a power-sharing transition between the military and civilians that had been painstakingly put together in the wake of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir’s ouster in 2019.
Citizens have repeatedly taken to the streets in the last two months or so to demand civilian rule, sometimes in their tens of thousands, and at least 63 people have been killed amid a violent crackdown, according to medics.
On Saturday, the UN announced that it would launch “intra-Sudanese talks on Democracy and Transition” and the special representative to Sudan Volker Perthes is set to hold a news conference to that end at 2pm local time on Monday.
EWN 10 January 2022
Security forces fired tear gas Sunday as thousands rallied in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and a neighbouring city, witnesses said, keeping up pressure on the military following a coup 11 weeks ago.
The coup, led by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25, derailed a power-sharing transition between the military and civilians that had been painstakingly established in the wake of longtime autocrat Omar-al-Bashir’s ouster in 2019.
Security forces fired tear gas as pro-democracy protesters headed towards the presidential palace, witnesses said, amid roadblocks seeking to prevent people converging there and at army headquarters. Protesters also rallied in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city.
The resumption of protests since the coup has been met with a crackdown that has killed at least 60 people, according to medics.
EWN 10 January 2022
African Development Bank (AfDB) on Monday announced a 14 million U.S. dollar grant to boost food security, value addition and trade in South Sudan.
Benedict Kanu, AfDB country manager for South Sudan, said the five-year project would be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
Kanu said in a statement issued in the capital, Juba that “with South Sudan being land-locked and experiencing weak urban and peri-urban infrastructure, having good access to lucrative markets especially within the country is a necessary condition for farmers to be profitable, productive and reduce risk of loss of surplus farm produce.”
He said the project would help increase the production and incomes of almost 20,000 farming families in Central and Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei states noting that the grant would benefit formerly internally displaced persons now returned to their homes in need of economic reintegration.
Sudan Tribune 10 January 2022
North Africa and the Sahara
A United Nations diplomat newly tasked with reviving stalled negotiations for a settlement to the decades-old Western Sahara conflict met with Moroccan officials Thursday during his first visit to the region.
U.N. envoy to Western Sahara Staffan De Mistura held talks in the capital Rabat with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and the country’s U.N. ambassador.
Morocco’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Moroccan officials reiterated the country’s “commitment to the resumption of the political process conducted under the exclusive auspices of the U.N.”
The Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony, annexed by Morocco in 1975 and claimed by the Polisario Front, which wants the territory to be independent.
The Washington Post 13 January 2022
Since hostilities between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front in Western Sahara resumed in November 2020, the EU has been reluctant to play an active role in the conflict.
But a recent EU Court of Justice ruling against the inclusion of Western Sahara in the EU-Morocco trade deal could soon force Brussels to step into the fray.
Rather than attempting to circumvent the verdict, as it did in 2018, the EU should seize this opportunity to review its policy on Western Sahara and start leveraging its economic influence to push both sides to resume negotiations and find a mutually acceptable solution.
Since 1975, Morocco and the Polisario have been locked in a conflict over Western Sahara. While fighting ended in 1991 thanks to a UN-mediated ceasefire, diplomatic efforts have failed to produce a permanent solution.
Following a long deadlock, tensions escalated again in November 2020 after the Polisario blockaded a main road through the disputed territory’s Guerguerat area.
EU Observer 3 January 2022