News Briefs 20 May 2022

Southern Africa Focus


Zim lifts lending ban as currency and stock exchange nosedive

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Tuesday lifted the the lending freeze imposed just over a week ago, saying its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) completed investigations.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the lending ban on May 9, in a move he said was motivated by the need to defend the local currency from manipulators and market indiscipline.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the move to suspended lending was driven by the need to “prick the bubble” that was building up in the foreign exchange market as well as on the equities market.

News24 19 May 2022

Zimbabwe Healthcare Bleeds Amid Mass Nurse Exodus

Virginia Mutsamwira says she treats four times the number of patients she should ideally handle at a township clinic in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

“It’s tiring — the nurse-patient ratio is really bad,” she says, throwing herself onto a brown sofa at her house in Cold Comfort township after a 12-hour shift.

“It’s frustrating, because you can’t offer quality care.”

The 52-year-old senior nurse is skilled, experienced and educated. Yet her monthly salary of some $200 (192 euros) barely covers her basics.

To make ends meet for her family of eight, she runs a small grocery shop out of her home, where she also rears chickens and rabbits for sale.

EWN 16 May 2022


Boycott, disrupt Eswatini’s ‘backward’ Tinkhundla elections process – Communist Party of Swaziland

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) called on “consistent mobilisation of the youth for total democracy”, against the backdrop of the assault of a student union leader by the military and police on Tuesday.

In a statement, the CPS said: “The youth must not be hoodwinked into participating in the backward Tinkhundla elections. These elections, no matter how many so-called ‘radicals’ partake, are meant to legitimise the ruling absolute monarchy and deepen the autocracy.”

Tinkhundla is an electoral system that serves as a form of governance, based on traditional, administrative subdivisions.

Eswatini has 55 Tinkhundlas in the country’s four districts. There are 14 in Hhohho District, 11 in Lubombo District, 16 in Manzini District, and 14 in Shishelweni District.

News24 18 May 2022

University of eSwatini student protesters fight back at police, soldiers

The unrest at the University of eSwatini continued following the demonstrations about democracy, change of government and student allowances.

Students are accused of damaging and burning property believed to belong to members of the police and soldiers who were part of the attack launched against them by King Mswati’s army and police at the university of eSwatini on Tuesday.

Retaliation by students also led to the alleged shooting of a police officer who has since been hospitalised.

Pudemo, head of international relations, Siboniso Mkhabela said “There was retaliation by the pro-democracy forces whereby a police officer was shot in revenge, we don’t know if he is still alive but he has been admitted to hospital and also a big house of a soldier was burnt to ashes yesterday. The youth is angry and vengeful and we are anticipating more incidents during the course of the week.”

IOL 18 May 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

Uganda to withdraw soldiers fighting ADF in DR Congo this month

Uganda will pull troops from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo in two weeks, the military has said, after a joint operation against Islamist insurgents since late last year.

Last December, President Yoweri Museveni’s government sent hundreds of soldiers into east Congo in December to join the Congolese military in an assault on the bases of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

“Operation Shujaa will officially cease in about 2 weeks according to our original agreement,” tweeted Uganda’s land forces commander Muhoozi Kainerugaba on Tuesday, using the code name Shujaa which is Swahili for “hero”.

“It was supposed to last for 6 months. Unless I get further instructions from our Commander-in-Chief or CDF (chief of defence forces), I will withdraw all our troops from DRC in 2 weeks,” added Kainerugaba, who is also Museveni’s son.

Aljazeera 17 May 2022

Regional bloc forms military force to tackle DRC instability

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officially joined the East African Community (EAC) as the regional bloc’s seventh partner state on March 29.

Less than a month later, the EAC voted to establish a regional military force to address the pervasive problem of armed groups that have plagued eastern DRC for decades.

The EAC voted to “accelerate the establishment [and urgent deployment] of a regional force to help contain and, where necessary, fight the negative forces,” it said in an April 21 statement.

The leaders agreed that all armed groups in the DRC must disarm and “participate unconditionally in the political process to resolve their grievances. That failure to do so, all Congolese armed groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region.”

More than 100 armed groups operate in the dense forests of eastern DRC along the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Defence Web 19 May 2022

East Africa and the Horn


Hassan Mohamud: The second coming of Somalia’s new president

This Sunday, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud made history as the first person to be elected president twice in Somalia’s nascent democracy after a landslide victory against the incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aka Farmaajo.

In a contest of more than 36 candidates, both men made it to the third round of what was arguably the most competitive election in the country’s history. Eventually, 66-year-old Mohamud won and will now pilot the affairs of the Horn of Africa nation for the next four years.

In his first coming, Mohamud served from 2012 to 2017 as head of the Federal Government of Somalia, the first government created after the end of a long period of turbulence that started in 1991.

The longstanding civil society activist and educationist had only fully joined politics in 2011 when he founded the Union for Peace and Development Party.

Aljazeera 18 May 2022

Somalia welcomes US redeployment to fight Al-Shabaab

Somalia’s newly-elected president on Tuesday thanked his US counterpart Joe Biden for ordering the redeployment of American troops to the Horn of Africa nation to combat the Al-Shabaab militant group.

The move reverses an order from Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who in late 2020 pulled nearly all US forces from Somalia as he sought to wind down US military engagements abroad during his final weeks in office.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who won a long-overdue election on Sunday to become Somalia’s president, thanked Biden for sending US troops back to conduct operations against the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in his country.

“The #US has always been a reliable partner in our quest to stability and fight against terrorism,” the president’s office posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

Daily Monitor 18 May 2022

Central African Republic

Analysis: The curious case of Russia in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) has intermittently been the backdrop for somebody else’s war.

Despite having a population of only 4.8 million people, it is approximately the same size as France, Denmark and the Netherlands combined.

That vast open space has been used as a venue for battles by different parties; former coloniser France, strongmen from Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army and a United States Special Forces unit.

The latest visitors are Russia, its army and the private military outfit Wagner, who, unlike some of those who came before them, have mostly been welcomed by the locals.

“A number of citizens here consider Wagner’s presence a good thing, especially since their operatives and our army pushed back an assault on our capital, Bangui in January 2021,” reports freelance journalist Fiacre Salabe from the city.

Aljazeera 20 May 2022


Sudan’s ruling junta frees detained anti-coup figures: Party

Sudanese authorities released on Friday two anti-coup figures from the Communist Party a day after their arrest, the party said.

The military’s October takeover in Sudan has sparked nationwide demonstrations which sparked a crackdown that has killed at least 95 protesters and wounded hundreds, medics say.

Hundreds have also been arrested after rallies calling for civilian rule in the northeast African nation.

On Thursday during protests mainly in the capital Khartoum, authorities arrested the Communist Party’s political secretary Mohammed Mukhtar al-Khatib and another member.

They were detained after meeting rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nour who has refused to sign a landmark 2020 peace deal with the Sudanese government, the party said.

Alarabiy News 20 May 2022

Umma party rejects partnership with Sudan’s military leaders

The National Umma Party (NUP) said opposed to a political partnership between the civilian and armed forces in Sudan, reads a statement released after a meeting with the tripartite mechanism facilitating an intra-Sudanese dialogue.

The large political party, which is a member of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), is a cardinal pillar of this political coalition. The military leaders sought to bring them to their side together with some Darfur armed groups and other political factions allied with the former regime.

“The Party stressed that the relationship between the civil and military forces should be within the framework of participation and not a partnership in government,” reads a statement issued by the NUP Secretary-General al-Wathiq al-Berair on May 17.

Sudan Tribune 19 May 2022

South Sudan

 UN must renew arms embargo amid persistent impunity and ongoing sexual violence

The United Nations Security Council must renew its arms embargo on the territory of South Sudan amid the state’s failure to ensure accountability for conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and to protect survivors, witnesses and judicial actors, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

“Amnesty International has documented over a dozen cases of conflict-related sexual violence from recent years, including women who were raped at gunpoint. The UN Security Council must therefore renew its arms embargo on the territory of South Sudan” Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

The report, “If you don’t cooperate, I’ll gun you down”: conflict-related sexual violence and impunity in South Sudan, reveals how CRSV is ongoing in the country, and how guns can be used to facilitate sexual violence. It also reveals how two sections of an action plan that was drafted to address CRSV in the country, adopted by the government in January 2021, are yet to be fully implemented. 

On 28 May 2021, the UN Security Council renewed its arms embargo on the territory of South Sudan, which it first imposed in 2018, and identified the implementation of the 2021 action plan as one of five benchmarks against which renewal of the arms embargo would be reviewed in May 2022.

Amnesty International 18 May 2022

Peacekeeping in South Sudan: it’s a race against time for the UN

A notable consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the near-complete breakdown of what was already a deeply fraught relationship among the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Unsurprisingly, the war has also drawn diplomatic focus and media attention away from a depressingly long list of other crises facing the world body.

Efforts to overcome divisions and find common ground among key Council members on conflicts in places such as Syria and Mali have effectively ground to halt, giving way instead to a further sharpening of power rivalry and competition.

Considering these developments, the Council’s decision on 15 March 2022 to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stands out as a major achievement.

The Conversation 11 May 2022

North Africa and the Sahara

Western Sahara

Do international positions ease or complicate the Saharan issue?

Officially, there is no sign of an international coalition against the Polisario Front being formed like the alliance established by the Americans to fight Daesh. However, it is very clear that the recent statement by Morocco’s foreign minister linking terrorism with separatist movements — “Those who finance, shelter, support and weaponise separatism, are actually contributing to the expansion of terrorism and undermine regional peace and security” — proves that the idea has taken root, at least in the minds of Moroccan officials.

For Algerians, this is enough to double their concerns. They have expressed their anger, not least because Morocco turned the international conference on fighting Daesh that it hosted last week into an “event dedicated to the issue of Western Sahara” as the foreign ministry said on Thursday. It became what has been described as “a malicious attempt to revive a formula that was dead even when it was presented in 2007.” That formula is, of course, the Moroccan proposal for autonomy in the Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty. Are Algerian fears justified or exaggerated?

It is obvious that the proposal, which their neighbours thought to be dead and buried, is gaining more supporters daily, even in countries that were staunch supporters of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for the Western Sahara, especially since the US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in late 2020 in a trade-off for Morocco’s normalisation of relations with Israel.

Middle East Monitor 19 May 2022

The fight goes on over Western Sahara’s status

Located on the northwest coast of Africa and bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, Western Sahara – with just 500,000 people – has been the subject of a 47-year territorial dispute between the Polisario Front and Morocco.

Endowed with phosphate and fishing waters, the region became a Spanish colony after the Berlin Conference in 1885. After the Spanish withdrawal in 1975, Morocco, under the rule of King Hassan II, annexed (or reclaimed, according to Rabat’s perspective) the territory. Since then, for strategic, economic and political reasons, Western Sahara has become a vital issue for the Moroccan regime. It may be compared to what the One-China principle means for Beijing to a certain extent.

From Algeria, the exiled Polisario Front declared the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic within the 252,000 square kilometers of Western Saharan territory in 1976. Their ensuing war with Morocco was interrupted in 1991, when Rabat agreed to a cease-fire brokered by the United Nations. Tensions, however, have remained as the parties never agreed on a political solution.

GIS Reports Online 16 May 2022