News Briefs 16 July 2021:

Zimbabwe:

Zanu-PF a Militarised Graveyard – Jonathan Moyo

Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo says Zanu PF has become a military outfit working against the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens.

Commenting on the readmission of former Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanayi Chipanga and other senior Zanu PF officials minister into the ruling party, Moyo said Zanu PF was now a “blunt military tool”, and those rejoining it should not be deceived.

Moyo was also responding to Zanu PF’s remarks by Zanu PF officials that the G40 cabal key members were non-existent.

However, in an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com Thursday, Moyo said: “Zanu PF has become a blunt military tool of Gukurahundists at State House, Defence House, and KGVI Barracks to oppress Zimbabweans.”

AllAfrica 16 July 2021

Zim frets over possible raw material shortages after SA riots

Zimbabwean businesses are worried over possible shortages of basic commodities and critical raw materials, following unrest in South Africa that left factories, infrastructure and supply channels closed or destroyed.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and economic players believe events taking place in South Africa have dire consequences for the Zimbabwean economy.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), which represents the country’s manufacturers, spent the better part of Friday morning deliberating on the likely effects of the riots.

News24 17 July 2021

eSwatini

Eswatini king appoints new prime minister

King Mswati III announced a new prime minister for Eswatini on Friday.

During a national dialogue to address the unrest in the country, the king announced that Cleopas Dlamini would be the country’s new prime minister.

Dlamini is chief executive officer of the Public Service Pension Fund, and becomes the eleventh prime minister appointed by the king.

Dlamini replaces acting prime minister Themba Masuku, who took over after Ambrose Dlamini succumbed to Covid-19 in December last year.

The announcement was made during a sibaya, a traditional forum for public dialogue. It was the first time the king had addressed the violent protests in the country that have led to the deaths of at least 50 people.

News24 16 July 2021

Historic protest march and king’s Sibaya are both happening today – which call will Eswatini heed?

In the absence of an outcry from the world media over rights abuses inflicted upon activists, Friday’s march will be the biggest test yet for both the king and the pro-democracy movement – and could be a tipping point that may shape Eswatini for generations.

Amid the chaos in South Africa over the past few days, purportedly orchestrated by supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, it is easy to overlook what is happening across the border in South Africa’s neighbour, the Kingdom of Eswatini. Yet, as neighbours, and as the largest developed force for democracy on the continent, the events unfolding in Africa’s last absolute monarchy deserve our attention.

Three weeks ago, several simmering socioeconomic and political issues led to some of the most unprecedented pro-democracy demonstrations since the kingdom’s independence in 1968. Some groups initially took to the streets to protest against recent rises in and management of gender-based violence cases. This was followed by widespread public outrage and demonstrations over an alleged case of police brutality against a young law student. Other protesters have gone further, calling not just for the direct election of the prime minister, a position at variance with the king’s current constitutional power to appoint the head of government, but for the legalisation of political parties, multiparty elections and an end to the monarchy. Matters quickly escalated to encompass broader issues around economic disparity, poor service provision, democracy and human rights abuses. Petitions were delivered to inkhundla (electoral constituency) centres articulating many of these concerns.

Daily Maverick 16 July 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Year after year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are first-hand witnesses of the scale and impact of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In 2020, 10,810 survivors of sexual violence received medical and/or psychological care in MSF-supported medical facilities throughout the country.

Sexual violence is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical and psychological care to limit the consequences for survivors.

Unfortunately, emergency and long-term care for survivors of sexual violence remains largely unavailable in DRC.

Given the magnitude of the problem and its consequences, we believe that emergency and long-term support programmes must be put in place as soon as possible, with significant and continuous funding, to accompany survivors until they have made a full medical, psychological and socioeconomic recovery.

Médecins Sans Frontières 15 July 2021

Literacy training empowers women in DR Congo

“I remember how thrilling it was when our teacher asked me to read from the blackboard for the first time,” says Furaha — a participant in a literacy project in Kasheka, South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She is among thousands of farmers trained by the UN’s World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization, in techniques that increase yields — but it is her newfound ability to read, write and count that she says she’s most proud of.

This is remarkable given how critical farming skills are in this rural community, which struggles with the combined impact of conflict, extreme weather and the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the crops didn’t grow, we didn’t eat anything,” she says — the impact on the 12 children she and her husband are responsible for was devastating.

Relief Web 16 July 2021

Central and the Horn of Africa

Violence and Abuse Wreak Havoc in Central African Republic

A human rights lawyer appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council reported to the body Friday that the war-torn Central African Republic’s civilian population is being battered by both armed groups and security forces meant to protect them.

The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since rebels overthrew the government in 2013, displacing 1.2 million people. Togolese human rights lawyer Yao Agbetse was appointed by the U.N. council in 2019 to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the C.A.R.

He says the Coalition of Patriots for Change, a collection of major rebel groups, has intensified its attacks against the civilian population since March.   He accuses the CPC of recruiting child soldiers, committing sexual violence and murders, illegal taxation, destruction and looting of property, and occupation of schools.  He says action is being taken to hold them to account.

Voice of America 10 July 2021

Russia Bolsters Presence in Central African Republic With 600 More Military Instructors

Russia recently sent a group of 600 military instructors to the Central African Republic to train the army, police, and national gendarmerie, Russia’s foreign ministry said Friday.

Moscow is in the spotlight after a United Nations report, seen by Reuters Tuesday, said Russian military instructors and local troops had targeted civilians with excessive force, indiscriminate killings, occupation of schools and large-scale looting.

The Kremlin has said it is a lie that Russian instructors had taken part in killings or robberies.

Russia notified the United Nations Security Council of the deployment of the 600 instructors, Russia’s foreign ministry told Reuters in a statement Friday. It did not say when exactly they arrived.

Moscow has been jockeying for influence in the troubled African nation with France, which has around 300 troops there. The gold and diamond-rich country of 4.7 million people is mired in violence.

Voice of America 02 July 2021

Sudan

Sudan gets $14bn in debt relief from Paris Club

Creditor countries have agreed to cancel $14.1bn of Sudan’s international debts, praising its economic reforms and efforts to fight poverty.

In a statement Friday, the Paris Club of creditor nations also announced that it rescheduled Sudan’s remaining $9.4bn in debt to the group, and held out the possibility of more debt relief in the future.

Sudan’s overall foreign debt is estimated at $70bn. The Paris Club, a group of 22 nations that lend to governments in need, urged other lenders to provide similar debt forgiveness.

On his Facebook page, Sudan’s Finance Minister Gebriel Ibrahim congratulated the Sudanese people on this development, vowing to work on reaching similar or “even better” agreements with other creditors from outside the Paris Club.

Aljazeera 16 July 2021

Sudan Leader Visits Juba, Urges Peace Deal Implementation

Sudan’s vice president visited South Sudan’s capital on Wednesday to reiterate Khartoum’s support for its neighbor and to urge the government and armed groups to fully implement the 2018 peace agreement.    

After meeting with President Salva Kiir, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, vice president of Sudan’s transitional government, said Sudan will continue to offer its support to the peace partners in South Sudan so they can carry out security arrangements and other parts of the deal that have yet to be implemented. 

Dagalo commended South Sudan’s leaders for progress made in reconstituting the National Legislative Assembly, the council of states and establishing state governments.  He said they need to move more quickly on implementing agreed-to security arrangements, especially the training of government and former rebel forces into a unified army.  

“We have been assured that the joint forces are going to be graduated [from training], and this is positive news. And we hope that their graduation should not delay any more because we want to see the second batch go for training as well,” said Dagalo. He said Sudan would be monitoring “this development more closely through the different joint committees,” as a guarantor of the peace deal.

Voice of America 15 July 2021

South Sudan

Archbishop: Decade after independence, South Sudan ‘is bleeding slowly’

A triumphant independence euphoria worldwide 10 years ago welcomed the birth of the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.

But today, church leaders — including senior Catholic bishops — say there is little to celebrate, as the African nation marks yet another quiet Independence Day July 9. The government has told the citizens to mark the 10th Independence Day quietly in their homes, as part of the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The people will pray, chant and sing victory songs, but deadly conflicts are devastating their country. Millions may wonder what went wrong with their independence, as they struggle with extreme poverty, hopelessness and the reality of living on humanitarian assistance.

“Everyday somebody is killed. It is like the people turning against themselves,” Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Mulla of Juba told Catholic News Service. “It is the like the country is bleeding slowly and there is no way to cure it.”

Catholic Sun 12 July 2021

10 years after independence, MSF reflects on the humanitarian challenges

the Republic of South Sudan marked its tenth birthday. But this milestone is also marred by the bloody legacy of its first decade, including a five-year civil war.

In a new report, South Sudan at 10: An MSF record of the consequences of violence, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) gives an account of the medical and humanitarian challenges since South Sudan gained independence, serving as a record and a reminder of the human toll of violence as seen by our staff and patients.

For nearly 40 years, the area that now constitutes South Sudan has been among MSF’s highest priorities, in terms of the scale of our operations, staffing, and financing. As the young nation moves into its next decade, MSF remains committed to the people of South Sudan.

Médecins Sans Frontières 09 July 2021

Somalia

Somalia’s Only Female Presidential Candidate Says Time for Women to Lead

Somalia’s top leaders, all men, have struggled for years to tame the Horn of Africa nation’s insecurity and corruption. Lawmaker Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam says it’s time for a woman’s touch and on Tuesday announced her candidacy for president. But getting enough support from Somalia’s lawmakers, the vast majority of them men, will be a challenge.

Fawzia says she will bring a new lease on life to the country, if elected, by prioritizing security, economic empowerment and education.  Her male counterparts, she says, have failed to do so. 

“We have been waiting for men for so long to sort out the problems of Somalia but till today we see there are no solutions so I have decided to stand for president and I have no doubt I will do a much better job than men,” Fawzia said. “Islam does not stop women from going to politics or becoming head of state or in higher positions. If you go to Bangladesh, for the last 50 years almost there are women leaders replacing each other and it is the most conservative country in the Muslim world. The most populous country is Indonesia, there was a lady who was in charge, in Pakistan, we have so many other Muslim women [in charge] including Tanzania and Singapore,” she added.

Voice of America 14 July 2021

Somalia’s divided army reflects its divided politics

The Somali National Army (SNA) shocked observers both inside and out the country as it split in two. Amid protests in the capital Mogadishu against the extension of the president’s term, gunfire erupted between hundreds of mutinous uniformed soldiers and those loyal to the government.

After years of investment, the army had started to look better trained, better equipped and more cohesive with its new command structure. Yet seemingly in one fell swoop, it fell apart and divided along clan lines.

The trigger for these tensions was the political dispute around elections. A vote had been due in early-February but it stalled due to disagreements on the process between the federal government and the member states of Puntland and Jubbaland. Still facing a deadlock in mid-April, Somalia’s lower house of parliament voted to extend its own mandate and that of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (aka Farmaajo) for two years. The MPs argued that this would give the country sufficient time to organise elections with universal suffrage.

African Arguments 23 June 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

UN urges Morocco, Polisario to accept candidate for W Sahara post

The UN chief on Friday urged Morocco and the Polisario Front to accept his next candidate for the post of UN special envoy for the disputed region of Western Sahara, after they rejected all the previous candidates.

The Polisario Front has for decades fought Morocco for the independence of Western Sahara, a desert region that was a Spanish colony until 1975.
“It is absolutely essential to have an envoy to relaunch the political dialogue on Western Sahara,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a joint press conference in Madrid with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“The difficulty is that we already put forward 13 names and until now we haven’t got the parties’ agreement, which is very important … because the envoy has to work with them to launch the political dialogue.”

Aljazeera 02 July 2021

UN reports severe human rights abuses in Western Sahara

A United Nations human rights body criticized Morocco on Thursday for alleged human rights abuses in Western Sahara.

The UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said that those who document human rights in Morocco and the disputed North African territory are subject to state repression.

“Not only do human rights defenders working on issues related to human rights in Morocco and Western Sahara continue to be wrongfully criminalised for their legitimate activities, they receive disproportionately long prison sentences,” said Mary Lawlor in a press release. “And whilst imprisoned, they are subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture.”

The United Nations considers Western Sahara a non-self-governing territory. Morocco secured control over most of the territory following the end of Spanish colonial rule in 1975. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic also claims the territory, and is led by the Polisario Front. The self-proclaimed state only controls part of Western Sahara. Morocco’s neighbor Algeria is supportive of the Polisario Front, and there is a large Sahrawi refugee population in the country.

Al-monitor 02 July 2021

International Affairs Focus

Palestine

Palestine runs dry: ‘Our water they steal and sell to us’

As Palestinians suffer through severe water shortages in the searing summer, illegal Israeli settlers nearby enjoy unlimited quantities not only for drinking but to fill swimming pools, irrigate crops, and wash their vehicles.

Black-and-white water tanks are ubiquitous on the roofs of Palestinian homes across West Bank cities and towns, to be filled when their water taps literally run dry for weeks at a time.

In contrast, such tanks are rarely seen in the neighbouring settlements because water is available around the clock and is never shut off because of “shortages”.

The Israeli authorities refuse to grant the necessary licenses to the Palestinian water authorities to operate freely in the areas classified as C and under complete Israeli security and administrative control, whether drilling additional wells or installing booster pumps.

Aljazeera 15 July 2021

China provides US$ 1 Million for Food Assistance to Palestine Refugees in Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) received a contribution of US$ 1 million from the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) towards supporting food assistance in Gaza. This generous contribution will provide much needed assistance to the Agency’s 2021 UNRWA Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In Gaza, around 70per cent of the population are vulnerable refugees, who are highly reliant on UNRWA provision of a critical humanitarian lifeline.

The continued blockade, the persisting challenges of COVID-19 and the latest round of escalation of hostilities in May have further undermined food security of the majority of the Palestine refugee households, eroded their coping mechanisms and aggravated their living conditions. This timely contribution allow UNRWA to provide emergency food sufficient for one quarter to approximately 50,000 food-insecure Palestine refugees.

UNRWA Acting Director of External Relations, Ms. Tamara Alrifai, expressed her sincere appreciation to the Government of China for its support to the Agency: “Ensuring adequate funding for this key emergency intervention is a priority in all discussions between UNRWA and UN member-states. We are extremely grateful for this renewed generous contribution from China. This support is the confirmation of China’s commitment to the vital and life-saving food assistance provided by the Agency to over one million Palestine refugees in Gaza.”

Relief Web 12 July 2021

Myanmar

75 children killed, 1,000 detained since Myanmar coup: UN experts

Dozens of children have been killed and hundreds arbitrarily detained in Myanmar since a coup more than five months ago, UN rights experts said, as the political turmoil in the country continues amid a health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN child rights committee reported on Friday that it had received “credible information” that 75 children had been killed and approximately 1,000 arrested in Myanmar since February 1.

“Children in Myanmar are under siege and facing catastrophic loss of life because of the military coup,” committee chair Mikiko Otani said in a statement.

Myanmar’s residents have taken part in mass protests but have been met with a brutal military response since the coup which deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aljazeera 17 July 2021

Myanmar crisis risks damaging entire generation of children, UN Child Rights Committee warns

Children’s rights in Myanmar are facing an onslaught that risks leaving an entire generation damaged, the UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) has warned.

Since the military coup, 75 children have been killed, about 1,000 arbitrarily detained and countless more deprived of essential medical care and education, according to credible information obtained by the Committee.

“Children in Myanmar are under siege and facing catastrophic loss of life because of the military coup,” Mikiko Otani, Chair of the CRC, said. The Committee monitors the compliance by States parties to the Child Rights Convention. Myanmar acceded to the Convention in 1991.

The Committee strongly condemned the killing of children by the junta and police. Some victims were killed in their own homes, including a six-year-old girl in the city of Mandalay, who was shot in the stomach by police and died in her father’s arms.

Relief Web 12 July 2021