News Briefs 17 September 2021

Southern Africa Focus


Defaulter Zimbabwe courts investors with $200m bond sale

Zimbabwe will seek to raise $200 million in a debut domestic U.S. dollar bond sale on its stock exchange in Victoria Falls that trades exclusively in foreign currency, according to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.

“We may have it in small tranches, rather than a single big issuance,” Ncube said Wednesday in an interview from New York, where he is on a roadshow to attract investment into the southern African nation. “We might put it in $30 million tranches of about six issuances.”

Zimbabwe is targeting a yield of 6% to 9% on the bonds, he said on Bloomberg Television. Yield-hungry investors in frontier markets are interested in the offering, the minister said.

Moneyweb 16 September 2021

Zimbabwe turns to Mozambique, Zambia to ease 12-hour power cuts

Zimbabwe asked Mozambique and Zambia to supply it with more electricity as it tries to fill a power shortfall that’s led to outages of 12 hours a day.

“We are in discussions with Mozambique for the recently commissioned power plants to give us an additional 180 megawatts,” Energy Minister Soda Zhemu told lawmakers Wednesday, according to a transcript on parliament’s website. “We are also at final stage of discussion with Zambia to get an additional 100 megawatts.”

The current electricity cuts were because of rehabilitation work at the Kariba South hydropower plant, constraints at its coal-fired Hwange plant and limited power imports, according to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.

Moneyweb 16 September 2021


Eswatini cop says ‘not in my name’

Sergeant Cebile Shongwe has resigned from the Eswatini police service saying she was tired of serving a government that continues to oppress and kill innocent civilians.

The resignation of the policewoman, who was based at Malkerns police station, comes amid calls among civil society organisations and political parties that King Mswati III must be charged by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

At the end of June protests against Africa’s last absolute monarch, turned violent. Some buildings connected to the king were torched by protesters, and police reportedly assaulted and arrested political opponents. The protest manifested after three pro-democracy MPs advocated in parliament that the country should be ruled by a democratic government.

Mail& Guardian 22 August 2021

In Dialogue with Eswatini, Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomes legislative progress and asks about child Health

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today considered the combined second to fourth periodic reports of Eswatini on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with Committee Experts welcoming legislative progress, and asking about child health related issues, such as age determination and nutrition, also raising the issue of corporal punishment.

Presenting the report, Themba Nhlanganiso Masuku, Deputy Prime Minister of  Eswatini and head of the delegation, noted that children made up almost half the country’s population, adding that their education, social protection and health was a priority for the Government.  However, challenges to the welfare of Eswatini’s children included the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which had closed schools for over a year, as well as global warming and climate change.  Rainfall was becoming unpredictable and unreliable, affecting subsistence agriculture, which negatively affected food security and child nutrition.

In the dialogue, Committee experts focused on issues related to the legislative progress that Eswatini had already made through amending its current laws and relevant regulations. The Committee asked the delegation to elaborate on issues related to the health system in the country, especially in the light of mental health, children with disabilities, and Eswatini’s process for issuing birth certificates. The Committee Experts also enquired on how different financial aid was distributed timely and efficiently in Eswatini. They also asked about the situation of Swazi prisons and refugee camps.

Africa News 16 September 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC police beat reporter in crackdown against opposition protests

Police have beaten a journalist and fired tear gas to disperse a small crowd in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) capital, Kinshasa, during an opposition protest against alleged election meddling.

Some 20 protesters gathered on Wednesday in response to a call by opposition leader Martin Fayulu.

Police beat and temporarily detained Patient Ligodi, a journalist working for Radio France International (RFI), while he was interviewing Fayulu.

“They threw me to the ground and started to hit me,” Ligodi said in a video shared on social media.

Aljazeera 15 September 2021

DR Congo president seeks review of mining contracts with China

Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has called for a review of mining contracts signed with China in 2008 by his predecessor, saying he wanted to get fairer deals.

A statement after a cabinet meeting on Friday said Tshisekedi called for the “technical and financial details of Sino-Congolese contracts” at the next meeting.

“DR Congo is sorely lacking in infrastructure, and this hampers its development,” the statement said.

Former President Joseph Kabila, who held power from 2001 to 2019, negotiated a highly contentious minerals-for-infrastructure contract with the Chinese in 2008 valued at $9bn.

Aljazeera 11 September 2021

Central and the Horn of Africa

Somalia’s president suspends PM’s power to hire and fire officials

Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has suspended the prime minister’s power to hire and fire officials, he said in a statement on Thursday, escalating a destabilising row in the Horn of Africa nation.

The dispute between Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble, nominally over a murder investigation, has generated months of tension in a country riven by militant attacks and clan rivalries.

“The prime minister violated the constitution,” the president said in the statement, saying the suspension would last until the conclusion of elections later this year.

Roble said he would not abide by the president’s order and accused him of twisting the constitutional provisions he cited to justify his interference with the powers of the prime minister’s office.

Reuters 16 September 2021

Somali regional leaders urge end to power struggle

Somalia’s regional leaders on Friday appealed to the president and prime minister to end their damaging feud, warning of the risk of political instability in the Horn of Africa nation.

The row escalated sharply on Thursday when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is popularly known as Farmajo, suspended the executive powers of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble — a move swiftly rejected by the premier as “unlawful”.

The two men have been at odds over top security appointments in a dispute that threatens to imperil repeatedly delayed elections and distract from efforts to confront a long-running Islamist insurgency.

Leaders of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states called on the protagonists to stop “exchanging statements,” resolve their differences through mediation and respect the interim constitution.

eNCA 17 September 2021

Central African Republic

UN sends Gabon peacekeepers home from Central African Republic, following abuse allegations

The United Nations announced on Wednesday that all Gabonese military units deployed to the peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, are to be sent home immediately, following credible reports alleging that unidentified ‘blue helmets’ had abused five girls.

MINUSCA said that an immediate response team had been dispatched to the location where the abuse allegedly occurred in central CAR, to assess the situation, establish prevention measures and raise awareness among communities on how to report sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Mission has referred the victims to humanitarian partners for medical, psychosocial and protection assistance, in line with the UN’s policies on support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, the UN Spokesperson told correspondents at the regular daily press briefing in New York.

UN News 15 September 2021

Central African Republic: Important Step for Justice

The Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic, in an important step for justice, has brought charges against Capt. Eugène Ngaïkosset, known within the country as “The Butcher of Paoua,” Human Rights Watch said.

His arrest was confirmed on September 4, 2021. On September 10 the SCC announced that it had charged Ngaïkosset with crimes against humanity but did not specify details of the charges. Ngaïkosset is a former captain in the presidential guard who led a unit that is implicated in numerous crimes, including the killing of at least dozens of civilians and the burning of thousands of homes in the country’s northwest and northeast between 2005 and 2007. He is also alleged to have committed crimes as a leader of the anti-balaka movement, including in the capital, Bangui, in 2015. It is not known if the charges against him relate to any or all of these events.

“The little accountability for the types of crimes for which Ngaïkosset is charged underscores how impunity has long driven violence in the Central African Republic,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Many people across the country, including victims of the crimes and their family members, will follow Ngaïkosset’s case very closely. Fair, effective proceedings could mark a turning point for justice.”

Human Rights Watch 14 September 2021


UN mission responding to evolving needs in Sudan transition process

Despite setbacks and challenges, Sudan continues its transition towards democracy, the head of the UN special political mission in the country told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Volker Perthes, head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), briefed on the authorities’ efforts to address violence in the volatile Darfur region and the east, the ongoing economic crisis, and other issues.

Measures have included the launch of an initiative to shape consensus around key objectives such as military and security sector reform, the economy, justice and peace.

“There is also growing momentum to move forward on the preparations for constitution-making and elections,” said Mr. Perthes. “The Government has produced a draft law on the constitution-making process, which will now be subject to public consultations.” 

UN News 14 September 2021

Sudan inflation slows to 387.56% in August

Inflation in Sudan decreased for the first time under its two-year-old transitional government, as the currency shows signs of stabilizing following a year of tough economic reforms.

Inflation slowed sharply from 422.78% in July to 387.56% in August, ending a trend of steep monthly increases that have brought inflation to a level not seen in decades.

Sudan is in the midst of a deep economic crisis, with low reserves often creating shortages of fuel, bread, and essential medicines.

To attract foreign assistance and investment, the government underwent IMF-monitored economic reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies and devaluation of the currency in February.

Reuters 14 September 2021

South Sudan

South Sudan church leaders frustrated by lack of progress in nuns’ murders

One month after two Catholic sisters were executed on a road in South Sudan, their killers remain unidentified, and church leaders are losing patience with an apparent lack of progress in resolving the murder.

In a Sept. 15 pastoral message, the country’s bishops stated that they “condemn unreservedly” the Aug. 16 killing of Sacred Heart Sisters Mary Daniel Abud and Regina Roba, who died with several others during an attack on their chartered bus on the road between Juba and Nimule.

While government leaders quickly condemned the killings, they suggested responsibility lay with a rebel group with which they’ve been at war since 2013. Survivors of the attack, however, reported the killers wore military uniforms and spoke Dinka and Arabic, suggesting that they were government soldiers.

On Aug. 17, President Salva Kiir said the attack demonstrated the lack of commitment to peace among those who did not sign a 2018 peace agreement, and thus the government would “reconsider its position” toward ongoing talks, with the holdout groups mediated by the Community of Sant’Egidio.

The Catholic Sun 16 September 2021

New South Sudan Parliament can ‘infuse urgency’ into peace process

South Sudan has made history with the appointment of two women to senior leadership positions within its Transitional National Legislature, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council on Wednesday, as he encouraged parties to build on these gains in efforts to overcome significant political and security headwinds.

Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said 30 August saw the inauguration of the reconstituted Parliament, with members sworn in on 2 August – including the first female Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and female Deputy Speaker of the Council of States.

SRSG Haysom to #UNSC: Increase in sub-national violence, as seen in Greater Tonj, Tambura and elsewhere is of real concern; situation is aggravated by the proliferation of small arms, and, outside Juba, the under-resourced state governance and security structures. 15 September 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

Western Sahara: Morocco Has No Choice but to Organize Referendum On Self-Determination of Sahrawi People

The Polisario Front representative in Europe and the European Union, Oubi Bouchraya Bachir, said that the Moroccan occupation has no choice today but to organize the referendum on self-determination of the Sahrawi people in accordance with international law.

In a statement to Radio Algeria International channel, in response to the speech made by King Mohamed VI on the occasion of the anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the people, Bouchraya said that the King of Morocco has no choice to break the deadlock and settle the conflict than to comply with the only agreement signed in 1991 with the Sahrawi side under the auspices of the United Nations and to organize a referendum on self-determination of Sahrawi people.

“The king’s speech did not bring anything new. He has only repeated the same untruths trying, as always, to blame his regional and international crises on neighboring countries in Africa and Europe,” added Bouchraya.

AllAfrica 22 August 2021

International Affairs

UN: World leaders should address rights crises

World leaders gathering at the United Nations General Assembly in New York should support actions to address the world’s major human rights crises, Human Rights Watch said today. They should warn abusive governments, including the most powerful, that they will be held accountable for grave violations.

The General Assembly’s annual General Debate begins on September 21, 2021. Dozens of national leaders and foreign ministers will be attending in person, in contrast to 2020, when most leaders participated by video because of Covid-19.

“World leaders taking the stage at the UN General Assembly should be speaking openly and directly about the human rights crises in the world, in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, China, and elsewhere, and global threats like Covid-19 and climate change,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “They should be clear that there can be no business as usual with serious rights abusers and support UN action that will impose real costs.”

Leaders should address the world’s inadequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic. High-income and upper-middle-income countries have now administered almost 100 Covid-19 vaccines for every 100 people. But due to supply shortages low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, according to the World Health Organization. The European Union, backed by Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and a few other high-income countries, have stalled a proposal by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization to expand access to vaccines, exacerbating the global inequality fueling the pandemic.

Relief Web 17 September 2021

WHO calls on world leaders at the UN General Assembly to focus on vaccine equity, pandemic preparedness, and getting the SDGs back on track

WHO is urging leaders attending the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to guarantee equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and other life-saving tools; ensure the world is better prepared to respond to future pandemics; and renew efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed the lives of nearly 5 million people around the globe, and the virus continues to circulate actively in all regions of the world.

Vaccines are the most critical tool to end the pandemic and save lives and livelihoods. More than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 73% of all doses have been administered in just 10 countries. High-income countries have administered 61 times more doses per inhabitant than low-income countries. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and evolving, and the longer the social and economic disruption will continue.

WHO’s targets are to vaccinate at least 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year. These targets are achievable if countries and manufacturers make a genuine commitment to vaccine equity.

Relief Web 17 September 2021

Climate to dominate U.N. General Assembly next week

The United Nations General Assembly spotlights climate change next week, with many countries hoping the world’s major economies offer details on how they’ll deliver the policies and finance needed to cut planet-warming pollution.

The annual U.N. meeting comes less than six weeks before leaders head to Glasgow, Scotland, to highlight the actions they’re taking to limit global warming. Developing countries are also likely to seek assurances that summit will proceed fairly given the challenges posed by COVID-19.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a gathering Monday with a few dozen heads of state to address how nations can enhance their climate goals ahead of Glasgow.

“It’s a sign from the secretary-general and others that we need to do everything we can,” said Pete Ogden, vice president for energy, climate and environment at the United Nations Foundation, a charitable organization that supports U.N. activities.

President Biden will also be pressing for stronger action during a virtual meeting today with leaders from the Major Economies Forum, a group he revived earlier this year to support candid dialogue among the world’s top climate polluters.

E&E News 17 September 2021