News Briefs 16 October 2021

Southern Africa:


Zimbabwe main opposition leader’s convoy attacked: party

A convoy carrying Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader was attacked by suspected ruling party supporters on Monday, his party said.

Nelson Chamisa “did not get injured although his close protection officers and security details were injured” and hospitalised, Fadzayi Mahere, spokeswoman for the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-Alliance), told AFP.

The party said around 200 villagers, suspected to have been mobilised by the ruling Zanu-PF, barricaded roads and hurled rocks at their cars in the southern Masvingo region. “This political violence is cause for extreme concern and a clear act of desperation by a bankrupt, illegitimate regime that has failed,” it added in a statement.

The party said Chamisa was on his way to meet community leaders in the Masvingo area when the convoy was attacked.

News24 11 October 2021

Zimbabwe banks warn employees as they fret over forex directives

Zimbabwean bankers are fretting over compliance with government directives to root out “illegal foreign currency dealings, with the country’s biggest bank, CBZ, cautioning its employees against facilitating such deals as well as instructing them to report all suspicious accounts and transactions.

This follows a meeting of the central bank and business leaders, including representatives for banks, on Monday. Sources who attended Monday’s meeting said the governor blamed the banks for not reporting suspicious transactions.

Said a finance manager at a foreign-owned finance institution: “We are under pressure as an industry to do something. The governor and other government officials are already exerting pressure on the industry to play a role in shielding the local currency and to protect the official foreign exchange market and that’s why banks have started to issue these cautions to employees.”

News24 14 October 2021


Eswatini police shoot protester dead during clashes

Police shot a man dead during clashes with a group of commuter bus operators protesting for political reform in the small kingdom of Eswatini on Wednesday, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

It was latest protest in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, formerly known as Swaziland, where school students have been boycotting classes and staging low-key demonstrations for the past month, prompting the deployment of soldiers and police.

The clashes on Wednesday occurred in the small town of Malkerns, 20 kilometres west of the country’s largest city Manzini, the police said.

Police commissioner general William Tsintsibala Dlamini said: “Officers came with guns and tried to reason with them, but they retaliated by throwing stones at them and that is when one of them was shot dead,” he told reporters.

News24 14 October 2021

Amnesty International Sa Condemns Army Deployment to eSwatini Schools

Amnesty International South Africa on Thursday criticised authorities in eSwatini for allowing schools in the country to be overran by the army following pro-democracy protests lead by high school pupils.

Education has come to a standstill after the Swaziland National Association of Teachers in eSwatini confirmed the deployment of soldiers and police to about 80 schools.

The children are calling for the release of some activists, including two members of Parliament, who were arrested during the unrest, which rocked the country in June.

The association’s executive director Shenilla Mohamed said: “Soldiers are not trained deal with public order policing and this is where we see a total violation of rights that takes place. Soldiers are trained to kill. The deployment of them in eSwatini is not a good sign and it is not something as Amnesty International we support.”

EWN 14 October 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

‘The evil ran very deep’ – DR Congo making headway on corruption, says finance inspector

he Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the reputation for being one of the world’s most graft-prone countries, ranking 170th out of 180 nations in Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index.

But the DRC’s recently appointed chief inspector of finance, Jules Alingete Key, says the situation is changing.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been netted in an anti-corruption drive sparked by an overhaul of his team and a recruitment drive, he told AFP in an interview.

President Felix Tshisekedi, who made the fight against corruption a keystone of his 2019 election campaign, appointed Alingete, 58, head of the General Financial Inspectorate (IGF) in July last year.

Alingete said: “The evil ran very deep and very high. We opted to take a tough line… and our methods have had tangible results,” he added.

News24 14 October 2021

New Ebola case in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo today announced that a new case of Ebola has been detected in the health zone of Butsili in North Kivu Province, where a previous outbreak was declared over 3 May 2021.

The Goma branch of the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) confirmed Ebola in samples taken from a young child who died after suffering from Ebola-like symptoms on 6 October.

Butsili is close to Beni, a town which was one of the epicentres of the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and about 50 km from Butembo city which experienced a new Ebola outbreak earlier this year. It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak, but it is too soon to say whether this case is related to the previous outbreaks. The city of Beni is a commercial hub with links to the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda.

“WHO is supporting health authorities to investigate the new Ebola case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “North Kivu has been battered by Ebola outbreaks during the past few years, but this has built up local expertise and community awareness, paving the way for a fast-moving response.”

World Health Organisation 8 October 2021

East Africa and the Horn of Africa


Murdered spy’s saga casts shadow over vote in war-torn Somalia

The killing of a senior Somali spy, who according to Western officials had knowledge of a secretive regional security accord and the formation of a new elite military unit, has cast a shadow over the war-torn nation’s long-delayed elections.

The plebiscite was originally scheduled for February, but was delayed by a dispute over voting modalities, and subsequent plans to hold it on Sunday were derailed by administrative glitches. A new date has yet to be set and there are fears that militant groups Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State could fill a power vacuum should the political process collapse.

Al-Shabaab, which wants to impose its version of Islamic law, has waged an insurgency in Somalia since 2006 that’s spilled over into neighbouring countries and threatened regional stability. The African Union has deployed almost 20 000 troops to try and shore up the government and maintain stability, and a failure to hold credible elections will make their task substantially more difficult.

Money Web 11 October 2021

ICJ draws the line in Kenya and Somalia’s troubled waters

Despite unease on both sides, each country could gain from the ruling if they were willing to restore relations.

The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision on 12 October regarding the maritime boundary between Kenya and Somalia is unlikely to please either party. After seven years of growing resentment over the issue, the ICJ ruled that there was no de facto maritime boundary, effectively rejecting most of Kenya’s claims.

To placate both parties, the court drew a new boundary that kept most of the disputed area under Kenyan jurisdiction but still awarded a sizeable chunk to Somalia.

The dispute was triggered mainly by the desire for ownership over ocean zones where lucrative oil blocks can be created to auction off for exploration. Both countries referred to the zones in terms of territory and sovereignty. This inflamed the debate and made resolution difficult as both felt threatened by the prospect of the other gaining at their expense.

Defence Web 14 October 2021

Central African Republic

Central African Republic war crimes suspect ‘beat’ prisoners, ICC prosecutor says

A former Central African Republic “Seleka” faction commander took part in beatings and mistreatment of prisoners suspected of supporting ousted President Francois Bozize, an International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Mahamat Said Abdel Kain was detained in January and transferred to The Hague where he faces accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2013.

Judges will decide within 60 days of the end of the hearings on Wednesday whether or not to confirm some or all of 14 charges against Said, including persecution and torture, and move the case closer to trial.

Prosecutors said Said ran two detention centres at the time of the suspected offences. “We say the evidence overwhelmingly shows that Mr Said was in the room where it happened. He encouraged it, he facilitated it – but he also took part in beatings and mistreatment,” prosecutor Karim Khan told the judges.

Defence Web 13 October 2021

Bambari: A mirror of the crisis in the Central African Republic

Civilians who have been repeatedly forced to flee attacks; health facilities that are regularly targeted; war orphans surviving in the streets and women who are forced to deliver babies in extreme conditions.

The town of Bambari has been hugely marked by the effect of violence that has long plagued the Central African Republic (CAR).

Renewed fighting swept over CAR after a December 2020 presidential election once again brought the country to a breaking point. Clashes between non-state armed groups and government forces backed by foreign troops restarted, leading to the highest level of displacement since 2014. Violence against civilians is widespread, and access for humanitarian organisations has shrunk in many areas, exacerbating the already extreme vulnerability of hundreds of thousands of people.

In the summer of 2021, photojournalist Lys Arango visited the country to document the suffering of ordinary people caught up in the conflict. She accompanied teams from the medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) in Bambari, CAR’s fourth largest city and one of the areas hit hardest by the latest wave of violence.

Aljazeera 5 October 2021


Sudan security service slaps travel ban on top civilian politicians -sources

Sudan’s security service has slapped a travel ban on members of a task force overseeing the country’s transition to democracy, government sources said, as tensions between civilian and military leaders threaten to boil over weeks after a failed coup.

The political crisis erupted on Sept. 21, when Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said rogue troops still loyal to Omar al-Bashir had sought to derail by force the revolution that removed the ousted president from power in 2019. read more

Two senior civilian government sources said on Wednesday that the General Intelligence Service’s (GIS) travel ban affected 11 civilian officials, most members of the Committee tasked with dismantling Bashir’s financial and political legacy.

In a statement later on Wednesday the GIS denied reports that it banned officials from travel and said that was not within its powers.

Reuters 13 October 2021

UNITAMS Delegation Calls for Dialogue to Break Eastern Sudan Track Impasse

The closure of ports and highways in Red Sea state continued for the 27th day. A delegation from the UN Integrated Mission to Support the Transition in Sudan (UNITAMS) arrived on Wednesday in Port Sudan to hold meetings with the Governor of Red Sea state, Abdallah Shangarai, and the protestors.

Stephanie Corrie, representative of UNITAMS, stressed, during her meeting with the protesters in front of the seaports, the existence of a political and development problem, and called for dialogue between all parties in eastern Sudan, and dialogue with the central government in Khartoum to solve all problems.

Corrie and her accompanying delegation met with the Governor of Red Sea state, Abdallah Shangarai. The representative of the mission explained that the current visit to the Red Sea state extends for three days to listen to the different points of view on eastern issues and proposals for solutions.

Dabanga 14 October 2021

South Sudan

South Sudan President Fires Head of State Oil Company

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir fired the managing director of the nation’s state oil company.

Bol Ring Mourwel, who was appointed head of Nile Petroleum Corp. in September 2020, was removed with immediate effect, according to a decree broadcast on state television on Thursday. No reasons were given for the decision and no replacement was announced.

South Sudan, which has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest oil reserves, in July opened its first oil licensing round for five blocks. The East African nation estimates 90% of its oil and gas reserves are unexplored.

South Sudan’s oil output, its main source of revenue, has dropped because of a civil war and as production from existing wells peaks. It’s currently pumping about 156,000 barrels per day, compared with 350,000 barrels a day about a decade ago.

Blomberg 15 October 2021

Rising community violence exposes South Sudan’s fragile peace deal

Security arrangements under the 2018 peace agreement are already strained as efforts to unify the armed forces falter.

A surge in community violence in adds to insecurity in the country as a whole and hinders the delivery of humanitarian aid to vulnerable citizens. Localised conflicts also make it harder to implement the peace agreement signed by warring parties in 2018. The deal aims to end hostilities, protect civilians and access to aid, and enable power sharing, state building and security sector reform.

More than 1 197 incidents of community-level violence were recorded in 2020, a significant increase from 487 in 2019. Conflicts were especially rife in the states of Warrap, Lakes, Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile and the Greater Equatoria region. Between 1 June and 31 August this year, over 70 800 people were displaced from Western Equatoria, Warrap and Upper Nile.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Nicholas Haysom, voiced his concern on 15 September about the increase in localised violence.

Defence Web 12 October 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

Western Sahara independence leader vows to continue fight for liberation of his people

Western Saharan independence leader Brahim Ghali has vowed to continue his fight until the international community acts to fulfil its promise of self-determination for his people.

He was speaking at the Dajla refugee camp in Tindouf province, south-west Algeria, in a rare public appearance on Tuesday as hundreds gathered to mark the 46th anniversary of Sahrawi unity.

Mr Ghali hit out at the United Nations for failing to hold a referendum that was agreed as part of a ceasefire signed between Morocco and the Polisario Front in 1975.

“There will be neither peace, nor stability, nor a just and lasting solution to the Moroccan-Sahrawi conflict unless the UN Security Council assumes its responsibilities in responding frankly and firmly to the aggressive and expansionist practices of the Moroccan occupying power,” he told crowds.

Morning Star 13 October 2021

Western Sahara conflict risks spilling over into the Sahel: how it can be resolved

By: Jacob Mundy and Hugh Lovatt

The United Nations recently appointed a new envoy for Western Sahara – Staffan de Mistura. This is a welcome step towards resolving the long-running conflict between the pro-independence Polisario movement, which represents the people of Western Sahara, and Morocco, which has occupied the territory since 1975.

The appointment comes as the UN Security Council prepares to renew the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. But the UN must do more than simply facilitate talks between Morocco and Polisario on the basis of an ambiguous call for a “political solution”. This approach has failed to deliver an agreement, and it will fail again.

It is time for a new diplomatic initiative to develop a realistic means of fulfilling Sahrawi self-determination in line with international legal norms. The aim should be to develop a UN plan for free association between Western Sahara and Morocco. The arrangement would provide for true power-sharing, taking as its starting point the Sahrawi people’s inherent sovereignty over their own land, while providing greater protections for their rights.

The Conversation 13 October 2021