News Briefs 18 March 2022

Southern Africa Focus:


Women need to see themselves in politics. It’s the only way change will come to Zimbabwe

It is fair to say there has been reasonable progress for women in political leadership and decision-making in the past three decades. Yet, 27 years after the Beijing declaration at the world conference on women, adopted by 189 countries and seen as the key moment for radical change in gender equality, too much remains the same.

Since 2015, women in almost every country have had the right to vote, at least in theory. The world has seen impressive female leaders including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mia Mottley, Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern. A few countries, such as Finland, even have cabinets dominated by women. These achievements have in large part happened because of measures invoked since the Beijing conference.

However, there has been very slow progress in other areas. In Zimbabwe, women remain under-represented in party politics, in parliament and in cabinet.

The Guardian 15 March 2022

US government sued in Gauteng High Court over Zimbabwe sanctions

The Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement is asking the court to declare US sanctions illegal and unconstitutional.

In a potentially ground-breaking international case, a group called the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement (ZASM) on Friday filed papers in the Gauteng High Court asking it to declare US sanctions against Zimbabwe unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

If successful, the case could see the beginnings of normalised financial relations with South Africa’s northern neighbour. South African and international banks are reluctant to deal with Zimbabwe, even in cases where this is not explicitly prohibited, for fear of incurring heavy penalties from the US.

Among those cited as respondents are the US President, President of the US Senate, Speaker of the House, Treasury Secretary and several US and South African banking groups. The US banks cited in the case are Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Also cited are South African banks Absa, Standard Bank and FirstRand.

Moneyweb 14 March 2022


Lack of democratic reform in Eswatini likely to fuel greater unrest – activists

Following a turbulent year in Eswatini that was marred by violence and unrest, Maverick Citizen editor Mark Heywood is joined in a webinar by two human rights activists from the troubled kingdom.

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is a “ticking time bomb”, according to Hlobi Dlamini, a gender and women’s rights advocate from that country. Reflecting on the state of Eswatini in the wake of a June 2021 uprising in pursuit of democracy and human rights, Dlamini said it is only a matter of time before there is another explosion of unrest.  

“Even though the people may not be visibly on the streets, the anger, the hatred, the trauma, everything suggests that when the day comes for action, the amount of energy that has been now stored and censored is probably going to make more damage than before,” she said. 

Daily Maverick 11 March 2022

Eswatini Air adds first aircraft, an E145

Eswatini Air – the new regional airline brand of state-owned Royal Eswatini National Airways (RENAC) – plans to debut by the end of 2Q22 on Southern African regional routes using two EMB-145EPs, according to Commercial Director Xavier Masule.

He told ch-aviation the airline was hoping to obtain its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Eswatini Civil Aviation Authority (ESWACAA) by the end of this month.

As reported previously, RENAC last year purchased two 50-seater E145s previously operated by HOP! (France) (A5, Paris Orly). Masule disclosed they are 3DC-EAA (msn 145043) delivered to the Kingdom recently; and F-WTAF (msn 145152) currently in Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, South Africa for small refurbishments, whereafter it will reposition to Eswatini in a few weeks.

Eswatini Air will operate as a regional airline, connecting from Manzini King Mswati III Int’l to four regional destinations initially: Johannesburg, Durban King Shaka, and Cape Town in South Africa; and Harare Int’l in Zimbabwe. He said the exact frequencies had not yet been finalised.

Ch-Aviation 16 March 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC rebels moving inland after joint border crackdown

DR Congo’s most notorious armed group is moving inland from the border with Uganda after Ugandan and Congolese troops attacked its strongholds there, experts say.

Billed by the so-called Islamic State as its local affiliate, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been accused of killing thousands of civilians in DR Congo’s troubled east.

After the ADF carried out a wave of bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala last year, Ugandan forces last November crossed the border in a joint crackdown with the hard-pressed Congolese army.

The operation has combined with a “state of siege” imposed last May in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, giving special powers to army and police officers.

But the big effort has so far failed to stem ADF attacks — and some observers say the group has merely been displaced.

eNCA 17 March 2022

US sanctions Alain Goetz over illicit DR Congo gold trade

The US government on Thursday took action against Belgian businessman Alain Goetz and his African Gold Refinery (AGR) for smuggling millions of dollars’ worth of precious metal from conflict areas.

The illicit trade brings gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo into Uganda and Rwanda, and is a key source of cash for groups that “threaten the peace, security and stability of the DRC,” the US Treasury said in a statement.

“Conflict gold provides the largest source of revenue to armed groups in eastern DRC where they control mines and exploit miners,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“Alain Goetz and his network have contributed to armed conflict by receiving DRC gold without questioning its origin,” Nelson said in a statement.

Daily Monitor 18 March 2022

East Africa and the Horn


Somalia delays election process again as deadline lapses

Somalia has again pushed back the deadline for completing lower house elections, delaying until March 31 a process that is already more than a year overdue and has resulted in political sanctions.

The electoral committee announced the latest postponement on Tuesday evening, further delaying the vote for a new president and prolonging a political crisis in a country also facing drought and an Islamist insurgency. After countless delays and missed deadlines, the lower house elections were due to be completed on March 15.

But only three of Somalia’s five states had selected their representatives by deadline, according to election officials.Some 39 of 275 seats remained unfilled in Hirshabelle, Jubaland and Puntland states. The Federal Election Implementation Team (FEIT) said these vacancies would be filled by the end of the month and the “official final results” of the lower and upper house ballots announced on March 31.

All elected representatives would be sworn into office in Mogadishu on April 14, the election committee said in its latest revised timetable.

France24 16 March 2022

Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia Meets Qatar’s Ambassador

HE Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid met with HE Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Somalia Hassan Hamza Hashem.

During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral cooperation relations between the two countries.

HE Gulaid expressed thanks and gratitude to the State of Qatar for responding and providing urgent relief assistance to those affected by the drought crisis that hit large parts of Somali lands.

African Business 18 March 2022

Central Africa Republic

Chad surrenders Central African ex-militia head to ICC

Chadian authorities have handed over a former Central African Republic militia leader accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court

On Monday, the Hague-based court said in a statement that Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, who is suspected of crimes committed in 2013 and 2014 “in Bangui and other locations in the Central African Republic,” was now in its custody.

In 2013, the CAR spiralled into conflict when President Francois Bozize was overthrown by a rebel coalition called the Seleka, drawn largely from the Muslim minority.

The coup triggered a sectarian bloodbath between the Seleka and “Anti-balaka” forces, who were mainly Christian or animist.

Mokom was the leader of an “Anti-balaka” group.

Aljazeera 15 March 2022

CAR to Hold Long Overdue Reconciliation Talks Next Week

Long-promised national reconciliation talks will take place next week in the perennially restive Central African Republic between the government and unarmed opposition groups and civil society, a presidential decree said Tuesday.

The CAR was plunged into bloodshed along sectarian lines in 2013 when the then president, Francois Bozize, was toppled by a predominantly Muslim militia.

Military intervention by France, the country’s former colonial ruler, helped stabilise the situation, enabling the deployment of the MINUSCA UN peacekeeping force.

“The Republican Dialogue will be convened from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 March 2022 in Bangui,” said the decree, signed by President Faustin Archange Touadera.

EWN 16 March 2022


17 dead after armed group attack in Sudan’s Jabal Moon

At least 17 people have been killed and four villages burned down this week in the gold-rich Jabal Moon mountain area of Sudan, after attacks by what is believed to be the government-linked militia known locally as the Janjaweed, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

Among those killed on Monday were three workers with Darfur-based Human Rights Monitors who had been on a mission assessing the human rights situation in the area after similar incidents in the past.

The area, near the western border with Chad, is inhabited mostly by agrarian non-Arab communities who have, for years, witnessed repeated attacks by predominantly Arab armed groups. All these groups are believed to be affiliated with the Janjaweed, a name that persists when people speak of the group that is now the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The group of fierce Arab fighters rose to prominence in 2003 during the Darfur War, mobilised by former strongman President Omar al-Bashir to fight non-Arab rebels.

Aljazeera 17 March 2022

In Sudan, thousands protest economic woes, military rule

Sudanese riot police fired teargas at thousands who took to the streets on Thursday in the capital, Khartoum, to protest deteriorating economic conditions following last year’s military coup.

The cash-stripped country has been facing a dire economic situation since the October military takeover. Videos posted on the social media show protesters marching under clouds of tear gas towards the Republican Palace, the seat of the military government.

On Wednesday, the state-owned news agency SUNA reported that the inflation rate reached nearly 260% in February, quoting the country’s census agency. Earlier this month, the country’s Central Bank floated the Sudanese pound — a move expected to result in a swift increase in prices.

Associated Press 17 March 2022

South Sudan

South Sudan secures $120 million loan from World Bank to develop infrastructure and food resilience in areas most damaged by decades of civil war and fighting in the east African country

South Sudan said on Thursday it had secured $120 million from the World Bank through its development arm, the International Development Association, for infrastructure development.

Agak Achuil Lual, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the funds would also be used to strengthen community institutions, and enhance food resilience in the east African country.

“The funds will help improve basic services delivery, particularly for the country’s most vulnerable populations, and foster social cohesion which is vital for the development of the country,” Lual said in a statement issued in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

The official said the project will be implemented under the five-year strategic plan of enhancing community resilience and local government project phase II (ECRP-II), noting that the project will also benefit 920 000 people in 12 of the country’s 79 counties.

IOL 17 March 2022

UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan extended

The United Nations Security Council voted on Tuesday to extend for a year the peace keeping mission in South Sudan. The United Nations Security Council extended on Tuesday the peace security mission in South Sudan.

The resolution sets the end of the mission’s mandate on March 15th, 2023. The current level of deployment should remain unchanged and up to 17,000 blue helmets and 2,100 police officers can be mobilized.

The resolution which was voted by 13 members of the Security council states 3 primary goals to the peacekeeping mission: prevent a return to civil war in South Sudan, to build durable peace, and support inclusive and accountable governance as well as free, fair, and peaceful elections. The operation is one of the most expensive for the U.N., with an annual budget surpassing $1 billion.

Africa News 16 March 2022

North Africa and the Sahara

Western Sahara

Don’t Forget the Diplomatic Logjam over Western Sahara

The situation in Western Sahara has “significantly deteriorated,” according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ latest report to the UN Security Council, leading to renewed hostilities between Morocco and the Polisario Front. The inability, or rather the unwillingness, of the major stakeholders at the UN to find a solution to Western Sahara comes off as though the international community now condones the disregard of international laws by expansionist states.

Diplomacy today, or lack thereof, means that only the powerful get what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. The failure to vigorously call out Morocco for its misdeeds can only end up creating a pattern that encourages bad behavior from powerful expansionist states.

Diplomatic interventions are only successful when they go beyond performative actions and are combined with enforcement mechanisms. The absence of such mechanisms has contributed to the loss of momentum and trust and a reversal to armed conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

International Policy Digest 17 March 2022

Morocco accused of bombing a school in occupied Western Sahara

Morocco has been accused of bombing a school in Western Sahara as part of its escalating bombardment of the Sahrawi people.

Air strikes hit a number of civilian targets earlier this month, with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warning that the situation in Western Sahara has “significantly deteriorated.”

Last week the town of Aguenit was attacked for the second time this month, partly destroying the local school while civilian infrastructure including water wells were damaged. Israel and Turkey have also supplied drones, with air strikes hitting civilians as well as military targets.

Earlier this year at least 23 shepherds died after being struck by Moroccan missiles. Last November a 15-year-old boy was among the 15 people killed during drone strikes across Western Sahara.

Morning Star 17 March 2022