News Briefs 18 October 2019

Western Sahara

Western Sahara delegate urges halt on phosphate imports

A Western Sahara government official says New Zealand fertiliser companies are stockpiling phosphate amid threats of court action to stop future imports.

But the companies say their imports have not changed.

Kamal Fadel is the Australia and New Zealand representative for Polisario, the United Nations-recognised independence movement for Western Sahara, which is currently occupied by Morocco.

Western Sahara is a piece of desert land of a similar size to New Zealand. It was a Spanish colony but was taken over by Morocco in 1975, a move condemned by the UN.


Western Sahara refugees in NZ to urge Government to ban imported phosphate

Two New Zealand companies involved with phosphate are being criticised as making money off suffering people in poorer nations.

Refugees from Western Sahara are in New Zealand encouraging the Government to stop importing phosphate from disputed land.

Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco 45 years ago and has been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute.

But despite international pressure, some New Zealand companies continue to import phosphate.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Mark Wynne told 1 NEWS, “I think it’s fine, there’s a United Nations framework in place for purchasing product out of disputed territories and we comply 100 per cent with that.”



Before re-engagement, Zimbabwe needs to regain lost trust

The Zimbabwean government’s flagging international re-engagement roadshow continues this week as top officials attend the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington.

They are promoting the government’s agenda of economic reform that they hope will bring the desperately needed external finance potentially available from international financial institutions and global investors. But the initial enthusiasm, at home and abroad, for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ‘new dispensation’ and the potential of its economic reform programme have subsided in the wake of repeated political unrest and social protest.

Fiscal austerity and the rapid devaluation of the new currency have added pain to lives of citizens already living in a deepening economic crisis.

Mail& Guardian

Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa urges nation to deepen export culture

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday urged the nation to deepen the culture of producing for export to boost the country’s foreign currency earnings.

He also stressed the need for the country to increase diversified exports of value-added goods and services as opposed to the present reliance on exportation of primary products.

The president was speaking at ZimTrade’s annual exporters’ conference in the second city of Bulawayo.

“There is an urgent need for both the public and private sectors to synergize our efforts and collectively take appropriate steps to boost our country’s exports, which is the most sustainable way to stabilize and grow our economy,” he said.

All producers, including women, youths and small and medium enterprises need to fully participate in the country’s export drive, he said.


Govt’s PR offensive a futile exercise

Government’s decision to hire four international public relations firms in its bid to spruce up its battered image globally is pointless unless the Harare administration implements substantive political and economic reforms.

Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government engaged London-based BTP Advisers — which joins United States-based Mercury International Limited, Ballard Partners and Avenue Strategies Global LLC — in a quest to help Zimbabwe return to the community of nations after decades of isolation.

Since his ascendance to power through a military coup that toppled late former president Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power, Mnangagwa has preached the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra with the aim of attracting much-needed foreign investment into the country.

The Independent


Cops Accused of Using Social Media to Track Strikers

Civil servants, mainly teachers, are upset! They are not a happy bunch after learning of allegations that members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) were now using social media platforms to track those who were involved in the recent strike action over the cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA).

It has been gathered that some teachers were allegedly invited by the police to the Manzini Police Station, where they were ‘questioned’ about their involvement in the mayhem during the strike action.

The teachers informed their union leaders that the things which the officers asked them about was information they (teachers) had shared on social media.

It was gathered that teachers who went to the police station yesterday morning were accompanied by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President Mbongwa Dlamini and Sikelela Dlamini the Secretary General. According to the SNAT leadership, there were other civil servants who were also called by the police but could not make it yesterday for various reasons.

Times of Swaziland

Govt Wants Details of All SNAT Leaders

Every war has casualties and Regional education officers (REOs) seem to be in the line of fire.

This is in the ongoing raging war between civil servants and government, which resulted in the former engaging in an industrial action following an issuance of a certificate of unresolved dispute with the latter over the cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA).

Civil servants, who are represented by public sector associations (PSAs) in the joint negotiation forum (JNF), were seeking 7.85 per cent CoLA to cushion them against the inflation rate of the 2017/2018 financial year.

While seeking this percentage, government, which is represented by the government negotiation team (GNT), extended a zero per cent offer citing an economic slump and cash-flow-crisis.

Due to this, the civil servants took to the streets and abandoned their duty stations which resulted in government invoking the no-work, no-pay rule.

The three PSAs that engaged in the industrial action are: Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) and the Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP).

Times of Swaziland

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN joins search for missing DR Congo cargo plane

UN forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sent three aircraft to help search for a DRC government cargo plane with eight people on board missing since Thursday.

The plane, which had been supplying equipment for a visit to Goma by President Felix Tshisekedi, disappeared after taking off in bad weather from the eastern city.

The UN peacekeeping mission Monusco sent two planes and a helicopter on Saturday to try to locate the Antonov 72 plane which had a crew that included two Russians, according to Moscow’s embassy in Kinshasa.


Congo To Start Using J&J Ebola Vaccine In November

Health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo will introduce a Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine in November in the country’s eastern provinces, to counter the current outbreak, they said.

The J&J vaccine will complement another vaccine manufactured by Merck, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people. It requires two injections eight weeks apart, unlike the Merck vaccine, which requires a single shot.

A first batch of 500,000 doses of the J&J vaccine should arrive in Congo next week, the authorities said in a statement. The inoculation process will start in Goma in early November and then be extended to other provinces.


Central African Republic

Rwanda, CAR sign bilateral pacts

President Paul Kagame and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of Central Africa Republic (CAR) yesterday witnessed the signing of four pacts in Bangui.

The agreements are expected to increase partnership and cooperation between the two nations, particularly in areas of defence, mining and oil, investment promotion as well as a bilateral investment treaty.

President Kagame was in Bangui on a one day state visit to Central Africa Republic on the invitation of President Touadéra.

While in Bangui, Kagame was awarded the Grand Croix de la Reconnaissance as well as the key of the City of Bangui – symbolism for honorary resident.

The signing of the pacts, Kagame said, was an indication of a new chapter in bilateral ties between the two countries.

The New Times


Ongoing insecurity in Darfur, despite ‘remarkable developments’ in Sudan: UN peacekeeping chief

Despite major political developments at a national level, which have led to the establishment of a civilian-led government, the security situation in the Darfur region of Sudan remains unstable, UN peace chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Security Council on Thursday.

from a visit to the country, the Under-Secretary-General said that the effects of talks between armed groups and the Sudanese government have yet to be witnessed on the ground, and that with the shift of attention by the authorities towards security challenges in the capital, Khartoum, incidents of criminality in Darfur have increased.

Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been particularly affected, and there has been an increase in the number of farms destroyed, and land occupied during the period of military rule that followed the overthrow of former dictator, Omar al Bashir.

UN News

Sudan peace talks suspended

Sudan’s long-anticipated peace talks have been suspended after the leader of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Saif Saeed said talks with the transitional government would only continue after some outstanding issues were resolved.

On Thursday Saeed said the SRF would only return to the negotiating table when Khartoum resolves procedural issues and releases detainees, the East African reported.

Peace talks started on Monday in neighbouring South Sudan’s capital Juba with the aim of ending the country’s years-long civil wars.

“We called for postponement for 15 days to a month. They agreed in principle to this opinion…there will be a route for representatives of Darfur on their own,” said Saeed.


South Sudan

Tensions high as South Sudan faces unity government deadline

South Sudan’s fragile peace deal is faltering less than a month before the country’s president and armed opposition leader are meant to form a coalition government and begin the long recovery from a five-year civil war.

Some doubt it’s safe enough for opposition leader Riek Machar to return to the country by Nov. 12, when he would again serve as President Salva Kiir’s deputy, an arrangement that has collapsed in fighting more than once.

Machar won’t return unless security measures are in place, said the opposition’s deputy chairman, Henry Odwar.

“The city is militarized, mistrust is high and Riek Machar’s return in that environment without serious security arrangements in place could be dangerous,” said Lauren Blanchard, an analyst with the U.S. Congress who recently visited with a congressional delegation.


Peace process in jeopardy as tensions rise in South Sudan

South Sudan’s fragile peace deal is faltering less than a month before the country’s president and armed opposition leader are meant to form a coalition government and begin the long recovery from a five-year civil war.

Some doubt it’s safe enough for opposition leader Riek Machar to return to the country by Nov. 12, when he would again serve as President Salva Kiir’s deputy, an arrangement that has collapsed in fighting more than once.

Mr. Machar won’t return unless security measures are in place, including a 3,000-member force for his protection, said the opposition’s deputy chairman, Henry Odwar.

Christian Science Monitor


Kenya wins delay of its border dispute case with Somalia

The International Court of Justice has approved a request by Kenya to delay the public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.

In September, Kenya had asked for a delay by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team.

The court initially set September 9-13 date but pushed the public hearings to November 4-8 of this year.

Kenya’s Attorney General, however, appealed the decision arguing the period granted was insufficient. He asked for a year, saying September 2020 was ideal.

ICJ, after hearing objections from Somalia, pushed the case to June 8, 2020, and warned both countries that there will be no further delays.