News Briefs 20 September 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

Five killed in offensive on Rwandan warlord – DRC army

A total of five people were killed in the offensive that eliminated a Rwandan Hutu rebel leader in Democratic Republic of Congo who was wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, the Congolese army said on Thursday.

Sylvestre Mudacumura, commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was killed in DRC’s North Kivu province on Tuesday night as was his “secretary general”, the military said.

“The final assessment: five killed, including Mudacumura and his secretary general, four captured and four weapons recovered,” Colonel Sylvain Ekenge, a deputy military spokesman, told AFP.

“The body of the secretary general and the captured are coming to Goma very soon,” he added.


Congo arrests former health minister for alleged misuse of Ebola funds

Police in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have arrested the former health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, for allegedly mismanaging $4.3 million in Ebola response money. The 14 September arrest came on the same day that an unprecedented high-level delegation of U.S. government health officials met with the DRC’s president and other leaders in Kinshasa to discuss the 13-month-old Ebola outbreak, which is the second largest in history.

There’s no obvious link between the two events, but worries have steadily increased over the past few weeks that shortfalls in funding could hamper the country’s efforts to end the outbreak, which has killed two-thirds of the 3100 people who have developed the disease.

Science Magazine

About 5,000 Sufi fighters join army

In central Somalia, about 5,000 Sufi fighters are signing up to join the national army.

In a surprise move two months ago, the group decided to have its fighters integrated.

So far, they are the only local group to go up against al-Shabab fighters and win.

Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam and has been widely practised in Somalia before the advent of Salafism in the country following the civil war that broke out in 1991.


The AU Chairperson strongly condemns the attack against Burundian troops in Somalia

Following the last weekend attack against the Burundian troops in AISOM Somalia, The African Union Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat has expressed his shock and condemned strongly the horrible attack perpetrated against the Burundian troops serving in AMISOM.

It should be noted however that the Al-Qaeda affiliated militants, Al Shabaab, claimed the attack and said that the attack has claimed fourteen lives of the Burundian troops serving in AMISOM instead of twelve confirmed.

“The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the attack perpetrated against a contingent from Burundi of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in the Hirshabelle region on 14 September 2019 that led to a number of casualties.”

Region Week

Central African Republic

Militiamen death toll rises to 38 in Central African Republic rival fighting

The death toll of militiamen killed in rival group fighting in the Central African Republic at the weekend has risen to 38, according to an internal United Nations report seen by AFP on Monday.

The UN Mission in Central Africa (Minusca) initially put the death toll at 23.

The two-armed groups had signed a peace deal in February.

Fierce clashes between militias in recent months have raised concerns about whether the peace accord aimed at ending years of violence in CAR will hold.


ICC pretrial hearing starts in Central African Republic case

Prosecutors urged International Criminal Court judges Thursday to put on trial two alleged leaders of a predominantly Christian militia involved in a bitter conflict with Muslim forces in Central African Republic, saying they armed and incited members to attack Muslim civilians in an attempt to regain power.

Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom are suspected of involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, persecution, torture and the use of child soldiers when they were senior leaders in the anti-Balaka militia. They have not entered pleas.

Prosecutor Kweku Vanderpuye told a three-judge panel at the global court that the crimes followed atrocities by Muslim forces known as the Seleka as they seized power in Central African Republic in 2013, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee into exile.

Washington Post


In new Sudan, Women Want More Freedom, Bigger Political Role

On her daily walks from home to her job at a primary school in the city of Port Sudan, Khalda Saber would urge people to join the protests against the three-decade rule of Sudan’s autocratic President Omar al-Bashir.

At school, she rallied fellow teachers to join the pro-democracy uprising.

“I was telling them that there is nothing to lose, compared with what we have already lost. I was telling them that we have to take to the streets, demonstrate and express our rejection to what’s happening,” she said.

One January morning, two months after the protests erupted, plainclothes security forces snatched Saber off a bus and took her to the feared security and intelligence agency’s local office.

Voice of America

Sudan Drops Death Sentences against Eight Rebels

Sudan’s 11-member Sovereignty Council issued a host of decisions among which was reversing death sentences of eight Sudan Liberation Movement rebels headed by Abdel Wahid.

This came as thousands of dissatisfied Sudanese took to the street at the justice ministry building in Khartoum in demand of former regime figures being held responsible for crimes they committed since they rose to power after a military junta in 1989.

Sudanese authorities are holding several key Islamist regime leaders at Khartoum’s Central Prison in without pressing charges, including former Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, National Congress Party Vice President Ahmed Haroun, and leader Awad al-Jaz.

Asharq Al-Awsat

South Sudan

Foreign Investors Fuelled Violence and Corruption in South Sudan, Report Finds

Acabal of ruling elites and warlords in South Sudan have been propped up by a complex and global web of corruption that includes would-be American arms dealers, British business tycoons, and Chinese oil giants, according to a new report released on Thursday.

The report, released by the Sentry, an investigative arm of the nonprofit group Enough Project, pulls back the veil on how powerful elites and warlords in one of the world’s poorest nations have stayed in power and amassed vast personal wealth off the state’s public funds and resources while international banks, corporations, and foreign investors stood to profit.

“Nearly every instance of confirmed or alleged corruption or financial crime in South Sudan examined by The Sentry has involved links to an international corporation, a multinational bank, a foreign government or high-end real estate abroad,” the report says.

Foreign Policy

Sudan, South Sudan Leaders Agree to Reopen Borders

The leaders of South Sudan and Sudan have agreed to reopen border areas between their countries in a bid to boost trade and the free movement of people.

The agreement between new Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, reached late Thursday, is significant because several border areas remain closed, including Heglig in South Sudan’s former Unity State, Kafiakinji in Raja in South Sudan, and El-Khurasana in Sudan’s Western Kordofan state.

South Sudan’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Deng Dau Deng, said he and Sudan’s foreign minister, Asma Mohamed Abdalla, touched on the disputed, oil-producing region of Abyei during their talks. 

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Morocco and Western Sahara: a decades-long war of attrition

t’s been more than 40 years since Morocco claimed sovereignty over Western Sahara, setting off a conflict that seems no closer to resolution.

In 1975 Spain abandoned its colonies in North Africa, with the exception of the territories of Ceuta and Melilla. Morocco stepped in to claim sovereignty over Western Sahara, a territory nearly its size on its southern border. In doing so, it invoked ancestral cultural and political ties.

The Polisario, a politico-military organisation first created to fight off Spain, opposed Morocco’s claim. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) was proclaimed in 1976 by the Polisario to embody its independence project. While the SADR is not an internationally recognised state, it continues to symbolically represent the Sahrawis’ self-determination endeavour.

The Conversation


Eswatini’s Landmark Ruling On Marital Power

Democracy Works Foundation celebrates a landmark ruling made by the High Court of eSwatini which enables women to be granted the full right to be a legal person; and are enabled to buy or sell property or land, sign contracts or conduct legal proceedings without the consent of their husbands.

The case challenged the inconsistency of Section 24 and 25 of the Marriage Act, 1964 with Sections 18, 20 and 28 of the Constitution of eSwatini, Act No.1 of 2005, which granted marital power to men while perpetually subduing married women to minority status.

The Marriage Act had upheld inequality between men and women, racially discriminatory and void for vagueness with its reference to “Africans” as it read: Marital power is defined as the right of the husband to rule over and defend the person of his wife, and administer her goods in such a way as to dispose of them of his own will, or at any rate to prevent his wife dealing with them except with his knowledge and consent.



Zimbabwe union leader found alive after reported abduction

A doctor and labour activist in Zimbabwe whose reported abduction led to widespread protests by medical staff has been found, disoriented and in pain but alive.

Peter Magombeyi, the acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), disappeared at about 10pm (2100 BST) local time on Saturday. The union leader sent a short message to colleagues saying he believed he was being kidnapped before all communications ceased.

Magombeyi, who is leading a nationwide doctors’ strike to force President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to raise wages for medical staff, had previously received warnings, which he believed came from security services, to stop his activism.

The Guardian

Zimbabwe court tells cops to allow doctors’ march

A court in Zimbabwe ruled on Thursday that police should not interfere with a march planned by striking doctors to protest against the disappearance of the leader of their union, after law enforcement agents blocked two previous demonstrations.

The doctors had sought to march to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s offices and parliament to present petitions after Peter Magombeyi, the leader of the Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association, went missing.

The group challenged the police actions and High Court Judge Clement Phiri ruled that the doctors could go ahead with Thursday’s march after lawyers for the police conceded that the actions by law enforcement agents were unlawful.


Articles for this Week

Teenager assaulted in xenophobic attack at Salt River High school

A Grade 10 pupil at Salt River High School was attacked in an alleged bullying incident at the school following months of threats from her peers.

Donette Ngonefi said the tension began at the beginning of the year when she was elected class monitor. Fellow pupils were allegedly against her appointment because she was a foreigner.

Donette from the DRC said she had trouble performing her duties as class monitor because she was constantly verbally abused.

The abuse was then reported to the principal who allegedly showed “a lack of compassion” because she had notified the principal of the verbal abuse before it escalated to an assault last week.

In a video of the attack, Donette is seen sitting while some the pupils scream and shout at her. The incident escalates as multiple students begin assaulting her.

US trade war with China will bruise SA

South Africans need to be forewarned that if the US continues its trade war with China, our economy will not be spared the traumatic effects of a global recession.

If the US proceeds with its threat to impose tariffs on an additional $300billion (R4 trillion) worth of Chinese goods, it could lead to a global recession in as little as nine months – that is, according to the chief economist at Morgan Stanley, Chetan Ahya.

Not even the dire warnings of former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, and US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell – that the US trade war is a “grave mistake” – have deterred President Donald Trump from his present course.

Trump’s financial miscalculations have a long history if we consider his mistakes regarding his casino empire, which resulted in white elephants that left him with massive debt.


Africa in General

UN to assess Zimbabwe human rights as Harare calls for probe into abductions

The human rights situation in Zimbabwe is to be assessed this week by the UN Special Rapporteur Clement Voule, who is the first independent human rights expert to visit the country.

The 10-day visit comes as Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr SB Moyo calls for an investigation into the growing number of politically-motivated abductions.

Voule will assess, among other issues, the continuing abduction of human rights activists and union leaders and the implementation of protection and freedom of association and peaceful assembly.


Watchdog Report Claims Profiteers Have Looted Billions From South Sudan

A large array of international players, including corporate giants in the United States and China, have profited from South Sudan’s long civil war, according to a report by a Washington-based watchdog group.

The Sentry, which reports on links between corruption and mass atrocities in Africa, charged in its report released Thursday  in London that several business owners and corporate entities engaged in widespread, government-sanctioned corruption, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese during the civil war.

“Dar Petroleum, a multinational oil consortium led by the China National Petroleum Corporation, is not just a passive beneficiary of the horrific status quo. The company actively participated in the destruction of South Sudan,” George Clooney, an actor and co-founder of The Sentry, said at the group’s news conference in London.

Voice of America

UN: Most Child, Maternal Deaths Occur in Sub-Saharan Africa

New U.N. data shows sub-Saharan Africa lags behind all other regions in the world in reducing child and maternal mortality. Estimates by the World Health Organization and U.N. children’s fund UNICEF reveal conflict, fragile health systems, and poverty are some of the factors accounting for millions of preventable child and maternal deaths.

Presenting their report Thursday in Geneva, he two U.N. agencies said since 2000, child deaths have dropped by nearly one-half and that maternal deaths are down by more than one-third, mostly due to better access to affordable, quality health services. 

The new estimates, however, show 6.2 million children under the age of 15 died last year and nearly 300,000 women died of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. The agencies report a pregnant woman or newborn dies every 11 seconds somewhere in the world, mostly of preventable causes.

Voice of America

Tunisia’s toppled ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has died

Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, an autocrat who led his country for 23 years before being toppled by bloody protests that unleashed a wave of revolt across the Arab world, died Thursday at age 83, according to his lawyer.

Ben Ali, was lived in exile in Saudi Arabia, died in Jeddah and his body is to be transferred to Mecca, awaiting the family’s decision on a burial, lawyer Mounir Ben Salha told the Associated Press.

Ben Ali was being treated for prostate cancer and had been hospitalised last week.

His ouster as Tunisia’s president in 2011 unleashed what became known as the Arab Spring, a movement that saw many autocratic leaders swept from power.