News Briefs 17 June 2022

Southern Africa Focus


In Zimbabwe, reporter’s conviction sparks fears of renewed abuse

For the first time in more than a year, Jeffrey Moyo, reporter for The New York Times in Zimbabwe, is breathing rather easy.

Last May, he was arrested and imprisoned for 21 days on accusations of obtaining fake press credentials for two New York Times journalists who entered his home country last year on a reporting trip. Since then, he has frequently shuttled between Harare, the capital where he lives, and a court in Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city, some 500km (310 miles) south.

“I am happy that I have not been cast into prison,” Moyo told Al Jazeera on Wednesday, a day after being convicted on charges of breaching the country’s immigration laws.

But the prospect of ending up in jail still hovers over the 37-year-old journalist who was awarded a two-year suspended prison term, which can be imposed if he is convicted of a similar crime in the next five years. He was ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about $450).

Aljazeera 16 June 2022

Govt’s plan to end Zimbabweans’ permits faces challenge

South Africa’s decision to end special permits that allow 178 000 Zimbabweans to live and work in the country is to be challenged in court by the Helen Suzman Foundation.

The civil rights group said it has initiated legal action in a statement on Wednesday. The Zimbabwe Exemption Permits were granted to Zimbabweans who moved to the country before 2009.

Permit holders “will be put to a desperate choice: to remain in South Africa as undocumented migrants with all the vulnerability that attaches to such status or return to a Zimbabwe that, to all intents and purposes, is unchanged from the country they fled,” the foundation said.

“There are thousands of children who have been born in South Africa to ZEP holders during this time who have never even visited their parents’ country of origin.”

News24 15 June 2022


Allegations of foreign-influenced regime change pressure clouds Eswatini dialogue process

SADC should distinguish between this sideshow and the people of Eswatini’s long struggle for democracy and human rights.

Recent allegations that Eswatini’s July 2021 ‘winter revolution’ involved foreign-funded protest action aimed at regime change have put the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the country’s pro-democracy movements in a bind. They have also emboldened King Mswati III’s position on the format of the delayed national dialogue — a process he committed to in November 2021 after SADC’s intervention. 

A year after student leader Thabani Nkomonye’s death, which sparked the most recent violent wave of popular protest and civil unrest, Eswatini is drifting further away from solving the crisis through dialogue. Opposition party members and civil society continue to demonstrate, and the security forces continue to carry out illegal detentions and torture against protest leaders. 

Daily Maverick 14 June 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

Kenya calls for immediate deployment of regional force to eastern Congo

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday called for the immediate deployment of a new regional military force to try to stop rebel violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC), which Congo joined this year, agreed in April to set up a joint force but had not specified when it might be deployed. read more

“The East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO (UN peacekeeping force),” Kenyatta said in a statement.

His call comes against the backdrop of a major offensive in eastern Congo by the M23 rebel group, which on Monday seized a strategic town on the Ugandan border.

Reuters 16 June 2022

Anti-Rwanda tensions boil over in eastern DR Congo city of Goma

An anti-Rwanda rally in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma boiled over into looting Wednesday, as bare-chested men ransacked shops and searched cars they suspected of transporting Rwandans.

Several thousand people took to the streets to protest Rwanda in the morning a day after the Congolese government reiterated claims that Kigali backs the M23 rebel group.

The demonstrators, some stripped to the waist, rushed the border with Rwanda, chanting slogans against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Riot police fired teargas to disperse the crowd, according to an AFP reporter, who said that at least one protester had been injured.

Later in the day, protesters pillaged Rwandan-owned shops in a commercial district in Goma. Some also stopped and searched vehicles for Rwandans—many of whom made a bid to escape across the border during the chaos.

“We are calling on the government to give us uniforms and weapons so that we can fight” the Rwandan army, a demonstrator who gave his name as Eric told AFP, to the applause of other demonstrators.

France24 15 June 2022

East Africa and Horn


Somali president nominates Barre as prime minister after delayed elections

Somalia’s president nominated on Wednesday Hamza Abdi Barre, a former chairman of the Jubbaland state election commission, as prime minister.

“I ask the parliament to approve him as soon as possible. I ask the prime minister to fulfill the work before him like tackling insecurity, drought, climate change and good relations with all countries,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on state television.

Last month Mohamud won the presidency for the second time, having previously served from 2012 to 2017, after a long-delayed election that took place against a backdrop of the worst drought in 40 years and a bloody Islamist insurgency.

“I thank God for making Somalia hold a fair election after a period of such uncertainty,” said Barre, a lawmaker elected in December last year for the city of Kismayo, where he co-founded a university.

“I assure you I will work day and night, and I will put together the best cabinet,” Barre said.

SABC News 16 June 2022

Kenya, Somalia in fresh diplomatic row

Kenya has expressed “regret” over the presence of a flag from Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland at a diplomatic briefing in Nairobi, which sparked a strong protest from Somalia.

Hours after Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya walked out of a diplomatic meeting in Nairobi because of the presence of a Somaliland envoy, Kenya’s foreign ministry regretted the “inappropriate presence” of a Somaliland flag, but made no mention of an envoy from the region, which declared independence in 1991.

“The ministry wishes to reaffirm its recognition of the sovereignty of a single federal government of Somalia and the integrity of the federal state of Somalia,” the Kenyan diplomatic statement added.

“Any inconvenience or embarrassment caused by this matter is deeply regretted,” the statement said.

This diplomatic faux pas comes just days after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Mogadishu for the inauguration of Somalia’s newly elected president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, marking an easing of relations between the two countries, which were stormy under the previous president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo.

Africa News 15 June 2022

Central African Republic

Cameroon, Central African Republic Agree to Demarcate Border

Cameroon and the Central African Republic have agreed to demarcate several hundred kilometers of their shared border. The countries have competing claims to villages and towns along the porous, undefined border. The two sides also vowed joint efforts to stop violence along the border, where Central African rebels have been hiding and launching raids for supplies.

Defense ministers and police chiefs from Cameroon and the Central African Republic agreed Wednesday to demarcate their shared border through a joint commission.

The C.A.R.’s minister of territorial administration, decentralization and local development, Bruno Yapande, led his country’s delegation to the three-day talks in Yaounde.

Yapande said both sides want to demarcate and develop the border to improve security and living conditions for civilians.

Voice of America 16 June 2022

Central African Republic Refugees Leaving Cameroon on Promises of Peace

Central African Republic refugees in Cameroon have started returning home after fleeing political and sectarian violence there since 2014. There are around 300,000 C.A.R. refugees in Cameroon, most of them women and children. Hundreds have agreed to return home after Bangui promised peace has returned to their towns and villages.

Cameroonian officials handed out food and blankets at a camp in Gado Badzere Wednesday to about 300 Central African refugees who agreed to return home.

Gado Badzere hosts more than 30,000 C.A.R. refugees out of 300,000 who fled conflict.

Thirty-five-year-old farmer Robert Bissa is one of the refugees who is returning this week to the Central African Republic.

Voice of America 2 June 2022


One-third of Sudan’s population faces hunger crisis: UN

More than 30 percent of Sudan’s people are currently facing a food crisis because of the compounding effects of climate shocks, political turmoil, and rising global food prices.

A joint report by the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization said 15 million people face acute food insecurity across all of the East African country’s 18 provinces.

Acute food insecurity is defined as occurring “when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger”.

“The combined effects of conflict, climate shocks, economic and political crises, rising costs and poor harvests are pushing millions of people deeper into hunger and poverty,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s representative in Sudan.

Living conditions rapidly deteriorated across cash-strapped Sudan since an October military coup sent an already fragile economy into free-fall, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine compounding the economic pain.

Aljazeera 16 June 2022

Tribal clashes kill at least 145 in Sudan

Violence in Sudan resulted in at least 145 dead and over 180 wounded this month according to the United Nations. The tribal clashes occurred in West Darfur and South Kordofan provinces and were described as the deadliest in recent years.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, the violence erupted last week between two tribes, one Arab the other African, over a land dispute. The clashes took place in the wake of October’s military coup that marked an end to the country’s short-lived transition to democracy.

According to OCHA, the fighting subsided following the deployment of troops to the area. Authorities also declared a nightly curfew last week, but tensions remain high. The violence puts into question the U.N. Security Council decision last year to dismantle the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s mandate in the region.

Africa News 15 June 2022

South Sudan

WFP suspends part of its food aid in South Sudan as funds dry up

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended part of its food aid in South Sudan due to a funding shortage – heightening the risk of starvation for 1.7 million people.

The move to suspend aid will affect almost a third of the 6.2 million people in South Sudan the WFP had planned to assist this year. It comes as global food prices soar amid the Russia-Ukraine war, leaving humanitarian agencies working in Africa to work with funding shortfalls.

Climate change is also exacerbating the situation, with South Sudan facing severe flooding, localised drought as well as man-made conflict that has left more than 60 percent of the population grappling with severe hunger.

“South Sudan is facing its hungriest year since independence,” the WFP’s acting country director in South Sudan, Adeyinka Badejo-Sanogo, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday. “We are already in a crisis, but we are trying to avert the situation from becoming more explosive.”

Aljazeera 14 June 2022

South Sudan official urges dialogue to resolve Sudan’s crisis

A South Sudanese official has said the country’s leadership prefers the use of dialogue to resolve the political crisis in Sudan.

“As far as I know, the issue of Abyei is at the top level of the leadership. It is not at the level of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. It is not the level of the Abyei chief Administrator, not even at the level of the traditional leadership between the two countries. It is an issue above these levels”, a highly placed source at the presidency told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

The official, who preferred anonymity, commended the effort of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) in collaboration with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and local authorities in coordinating security and political activities to ensure stability in the area.

“It looks like President Salva [Kiir] has adopted a new strategy. He prefers not to intervene in the dispute, leaving it to his security adviser Tut Gatluak and the vice president of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Gen Mohammed Hamdan Daglo to handle the situation with the support of the United Nations interim force for Abyei. This was why the May agreement between the Misseriya and Ngok has several flaws but if implemented, it will pave way for future discussion on the final status of Abyei,” he explained.

Sudan Tribune 16 June 2022

North Africa and the Sahara

Western Sahara

Algeria suspends trade ties with Spain over Western Sahara row

Algeria has suspended foreign trade in products and services with Spain amid an escalating dispute over the status of Western Sahara.

Thursday’s announcement came a day after the North African nation suspended a 20-year-old friendship treaty with Spain that committed the two sides to cooperation in controlling migration flows. Algeria has also banned imports from Spain.

The European Union urged Algeria to reverse its decision, pressing for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

Spain was the former colonial power in Western Sahara until the region was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Since then, Algeria and neighbouring Morocco have had tense ties over the fate of Western Sahara, at one point fighting a desert war.

Algeria has long backed the Polisario movement that is seeking independence for the region, claimed by Algeria’s neighbour and rival Morocco.

Aljazeera 9 June 2022

Will Spain face a gas crisis as Western Sahara conflict flares up?

Madrid’s U-turn on its formerly neutral stance on the conflict has enraged Algeria. Trade relations have been frozen unilaterally and a cut in gas supplies to Europe could be in the pipeline.

Perhaps it was by accident, but the coincidence was nevertheless striking. On the very same day Algeria suspended its friendship treaty with Spain on June 8, some 113 African refugees landed on the shores of the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca. The number of refugees, who had set sail from Algeria, was the biggest registered in a single day on the island this year.

Immediately, the government in Spain started wondering whether Algeria was now also resorting to illegal migration as a political weapon to sort out its differences with the EU member state. A similar tactic was applied by Algeria’s neighbor Morocco last year in May, when the North African state opened its borders to allow about 6,000 refugees to swim to the Spanish exclave of Ceuta.

DW 16 June 2022