News Briefs 23 November 2018

Africa in General

‘Arresting Chamisa would be the biggest mistake,’ MDC warns Mnangagwa’s govt

Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youth leader has reportedly warned that the southern African country would be turned into a war zone if party president Nelson Chamisa is arrested.

Happymore Chidziva said this after acting officer commanding (crime) Harare, Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Runganga told the commission of inquiry into the August 1 shootings last week that they were now close to arresting Chamisa for inciting violence that led to the deadly military crackdown, which left six people dead.

On August 1, armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Harare, to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of the country’s first elections without former ruler Robert Mugabe.

Gunfire erupted and six people died, Associated Press reported.


DRC political situation ‘confused’ as country heads to polls, says opposition leader

Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Augustine Kikukama’s wife Kuku Itambo has described as “confused” the current political situation in the central African country, which is headed for elections on December 23.

In an interview with News24, Itambo, who deputises her husband in the M17 said although the party was encouraging people to vote in the upcoming elections, there was an element of uncertainty as it remained unclear what would happen to the country after the announcement of the results.

“The situation is quite confused. We don’t know what will happen after the proclamation of the results. We, as a party, are pushing people to vote because we believe it’s time for change. We have demonstrated that we are a peaceful party and we don’t want people to keep fighting. It’s not longer time to pick up guns and fight but to vote and make a difference in the country,” said Kuku.

The elections will end President Josepk Kabila’s rule. Kabila has been in power since January 2001.


DRC: Human rights concerns persist as electoral campaigns kick-off

The government maintains a blanket ban on protests other than those organized by politicians close to outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Opposition supporters, as well as people calling for improvements to security and services, have faced threats, intimidation, harassment, arrests and violent dispersal often resulting in deaths and injuries.

“The authorities’ determination to silence dissent couldn’t be more evident through their ceaseless silencing of any kind of criticism or public demand, whether it touches on the country’s dire security situation, social grievances or the ongoing electoral process,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

On 15 November, two students from the University of Kinshasa died from gunshot wounds after police illegally used lethal force on campus to disperse students peacefully protesting an ongoing lecturers’ strike. Those who fired the shots have been arrested and charged in court, but officers higher up in the chain of command are yet to be held to account for deploying armed police officers to the university campus.

Amnesty International

Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya: Top US diplomat to visit Horn of Africa

The United States Department of State disclosed on Wednesday that its top diplomat on African Affairs was scheduled to visit the Horn of Africa starting in late November.

Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs is expected to visit Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya as part of US efforts in promoting stronger trade and commercial ties, a statement read.

The last time a top diplomat undertook a similar visit was in April 2018 when then Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Donald Yamamoto visited Eritrea, Djibouti before rounding up his visit in Ethiopia. Yamamoto has recently been appointed US Ambassador to Somalia.

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor P. Nagy will travel to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, and Germany from November 27 to December 8, 2018.

Africa News


Democratic Republic of Congo

Human rights concerns persist as electoral campaigns kick-off

Election campaigning will take place in a hostile political environment that leaves little room for people to freely and safely exercise their human rights, Amnesty International said ahead of the 22 November start of political campaigns for the long-awaited elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The government maintains a blanket ban on protests other than those organized by politicians close to outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Opposition supporters, as well as people calling for improvements to security and services, have faced threats, intimidation, harassment, arrests and violent dispersal often resulting in deaths and injuries.

“The authorities’ determination to silence dissent couldn’t be more evident through their ceaseless silencing of any kind of criticism or public demand, whether it touches on the country’s dire security situation, social grievances or the ongoing electoral process,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Relief Web

US Calls for Credible Elections in DR Congo

The United States is calling for peaceful and credible elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where campaigns for next month’s polls begin Friday.

In a statement Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the December 23 elections give the DRC “a historic opportunity” to conduct a peaceful and democratic transfer of power.

She suggested a credible vote will also help Congo alleviate its humanitarian crisis, attract foreign investment, and stabilize central Africa.

The elections were originally due to take place in 2016, but were delayed as President Joseph Kabila refused to leave office at the end of his mandate.

Voice of America


Somalia’s zero-sum politics will see no winners

The announcement by Somalia’s Federal Member States in September that they’ve suspended co-operation with the Federal Government of Somalia has thrown the country into internal crisis. Amid numerous complaints, the member states are unhappy with resource and power allocation within Somalia’s federal structure. They also accuse President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s administration in Mogadishu of a lack of co-operation, and even outright interference in their local affairs.

While the dispute has played out differently in each of the member states, the ramifications have been most profound in Galmudug. Internal divisions in the Galmudug Interim Administration have been elevated by the dispute, with factions taking opposing sides in the debate.

The roots of Galmudug’s crisis are complex, but the current rift stems from mediations last year between the Galmudug Interim Administration and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ), held under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

In December 2017, a 14-point agreement was signed that integrated ASWJ into the Galmudug Interim Administration, uniting a state administration that had been divided since its formation in 2014-15. The integration of ASWJ proceeded in a positive manner, but it also created new divisions.

Daily Mavericks

U.N.: Islamic State Flooding Somalia with Foreign Fighters from Iraq, Syria

The United Nations, in a new report issued this month, cited a growing presence of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Somalia, a faction that has directly threatened to displace the al-Qaeda branch in East Africa, al-Shabaab.

Although “an influx of foreign fighters fleeing military pressure” in Iraq and Syria has fueled ISIS’s expansion in Somalia, al-Shabaab remains the most potent threat facing the African country, the U.N. determined.

Citing the issue of ISIS’s weekly Al Naba newsletter last Friday, the Long War Journal (LWJ), a component of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank, reported that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization in Somalia warned al-Shabaab of an “impending clash” between the two groups.


Central African Republic

Death toll in Central Africa clashes rises to 60 – UN

The death toll has risen to at least 60 from clashes last week between Christian and Muslim-dominated militias in a restive Central African Republic town, an internal UN report said Wednesday.

The bloodshed was sparked in the central town of Alindao on November 15 between Christian militiamen, known as anti-Balaka, and the Union for Peace in CAR (UPC) Muslim militia.

Other sources reported an even higher death toll on Wednesday but AFP could not confirm the information.

The number of the dead had previously been reported as 48, including two priests, in the latest surge of sectarian violence in the country.

Daily Monitor

UN warns of famine in violence-hit Central African Republic

Famine will hit the Central African Republic if nothing is done to reverse the humanitarian situation in the country, which is deteriorating at an “alarming rate”, the United Nations has warned.

The growing unrest in the country of 4.5m people is forcing many to flee their homes and abandon their fields, causing spiralling food insecurity, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, Najat Rochdi, told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.

If the situation remains the same and people do not return to their fields, “it means that in very few years, we’ll have a famine in the Central African Republic”, said Rochdi.

“We are not talking about 10 people. We are talking about hundreds of thousands” at risk, added Rochdi, pointing out that several regions have already reached level 4 in terms of food insecurity.



Sudan invites France to attend meeting of Libya neighbours in Khartoum

The Sudanese government has invited France to participate as an observer at a meeting for Libya’s neighbouring countries that would be held at the end of the month in Khartoum.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Ahmed on Tuesday met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris at the start of a tour that would take him to three other European nations.

In a press release on Wednesday, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Babiker al-Siddiq said the two sides expressed the desire to promote bilateral relations, pointing out that relations between the two countries have witnessed positive developments during the previous period.

He said that Ahmed has briefed his French counterpart on Sudan’s efforts to achieve peace in Libya, pointing to Khartoum’s initiative to host a meeting of Libya’s neighbouring countries on 29 November.

Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Council adopts conclusions

Sudan, which remains crucial for the peace and stability of the wider Horn of Africa. The Council reaffirms the EU’s readiness to engage in an evolving dialogue and cooperation with Khartoum, depending on progress shown by Sudan in committing to internal reforms, including human rights and good governance, facilitation of humanitarian assistance, sustainable peace and a constructive role in the region.

The Council urges the Sudanese authorities to fully respect the right to freedom of expression, press, access to information, association and peaceful assembly, in compliance with international human rights law. The Council underlines that the run-up to 2020 elections should be an opportunity for Sudan to demonstrate its commitment to reforms by allowing the full participation of all its citizens in an inclusive political process and without restrictions to individual rights.

In this regard, the Council expresses its deep concern with the shrinking space for the civil society and the persecutions against human rights defenders, students, political activists, journalists, and other media workers, as well as with the situation for women and girls.

EU Council

South Sudan

South Sudan’s Kiir, AUHIP’ Mbeki agree to join hands for peace in Sudan

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Kiir and the head of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki agreed to coordinate their efforts and to work together to achieve peace in Sudan.

Mbeki was in Juba on Wednesday to discuss with Kiir his initiative to facilitate the African Union-led mediation to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur.

Sources close to the meeting told Sudan Tribune that the two sides discussed the one-process-two tracks approach adopted by the AUHIP and how the efforts of President Kiir can lead to reaching a comprehensive peace in Sudan.

President Kiir briefed the former South African president about the ongoing efforts to reunite the two factions of the SPLM-North and the consultations with the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

The South Sudanese presidency issued a short statement about the meeting saying the “consultative meeting” discussed the peace talks between the Sudanese government and opposition groups that Kiir plans to host in Juba.

Sudan Tribune

S Sudan woos investors as peace deal revives oil industry

South Sudan said on Wednesday that the country’s latest peace deal had helped revive its war-battered oil sector, with an increase of 20 000 barrels per day in the past two months.

The country’s warring parties in September signed a new peace deal to end five years of civil war that has killed an estimated 380 000 people and crippled the oil industry, which funded about 98% of its budget.

Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth told hundreds of investors attending a three-day forum in Juba that the peace deal had revived activity in Unity State, raising production from 135 000 to 155 000 barrels per day.

“We are aggressively informing the whole world that the potentials are very high here,” Gatkuoth told South Sudan’s second Africa Oil and Power conference.


Western Sahara

Western Sahara conflict: Polisario Front to participate in Geneva talks

The Polisario Front will go to the coming negotiations with Morocco, scheduled in early December in Geneva. The Front will participate in those talks in “good faith and with good willingness to relaunch Western Sahara conflict settlement process and on the basis of the international law, Sahrawi officials said in Madrid, on the sidelines of the 43rd European Conference for Support and Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (EUCOCO 2018).

“We are going to Geneva … to relaunch the settlement process so to allow the Sahrawi people to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination,” Sahrawi minister delegate for Europe Mohamed Sidati said following the Conference Eucoco 2018.

UN special envoy for Western Sahara Horst Kohler has invited the two conflicting parties, Morocco and Polisario Front to a round table on 5 and 6 December in Geneva. Those direct talks are part of the relaunch of the UN process aiming to resolve the conflict in Western Sahara and the exercise by the Sahrawi people of their right to self-determination.

Sahara Press Service

Security Council extends mandate of UN peace mission in Western Sahara by six months

The United Nations Security Council, on Wednesday, extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), until 30 April next year.

Adopting resolution 2240 (2018), by a recorded vote of 12 in favour and 3 abstentions, the Security Council underscored the need for a “realistic, practicable and enduring political solution” to the question of Western Sahara.

In that context, the 15-member Council expressed “full support” for the Secretary-General’s plan to initiate renewed negotiations before the end of 2018 and urged all parties to resume dialogue, in good faith, towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, “which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara.”

Originally established in 1991, in accordance with settlement proposals accepted in 1988 by Morocco and the Frente Polisario movement, MINURSO was tasked with the monitoring of the ceasefire; overseeing the exchange of prisoners of war; repatriation of refugees; and the eventual organization of a free and fair referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco.

UN News


Campaign Growing for Arrest of Swaziland Prince Over Kidnapping and Rape Allegation

A campaign is gaining momentum in Swaziland/Eswatini to have a member of the Royal Family arrested on a rape charge.

One newspaper reported the prince whose name has been widely circulated on social media tried to bribe the victim to drop the allegation by offering her a scholarship to leave the kingdom and study abroad.

It reported the prince and a friend allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped a university student at a guest house on the outskirts of Manzini.

The Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland (18 November 2018) said police had been informed of the alleged rape in early September 2018 but had made no arrest. The alleged rapist is a prince in the Royal Family that has King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of the kingdom, at its head.



Private Sector Corrupt, but Public Sector Worse

The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, lost US$2.09 million due to fraud and corruption in various sectors of the government, the national police deputy commissioner said Monday at an event celebrating International Fraud Awareness week, the Swazi Observer reported.

“This is a substantial monetary loss comparative to the economic size of the country,” Mumcy Dlamini told an audience assembled at the Mountain Inn in the capital of Mbabane.

While an estimated 63 percent of Swazis live below the poverty line, making less than two dollars per day, the government agreed in March to buy Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini – who died in September at age 76 – a $380,000 retirement house.

In her speech, Dlamini attributed much of the losses to fraud in the “banking sector business,” such as illicit electronic fund transfers and false banking instructions. She cited examples of cloned or skimmed bank cards used to make ATM cash withdrawals.

Organized Crime and Corruption Project


Zimbabwe Unveils Budget Amid Currency Crunch, Inflation Rush

Zimbabwe will unveil its 2019 budget amid surging inflation, foreign-currency shortages, a sticky fiscal gap and the need to find cash to pay arrears to lenders so it can restart aid programs that could revive the economy.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, a University of Cambridge-trained economist appointed in September, has been trying to find ways to raise income for the southern African nation to repay billions of dollars in debt incurred in almost two decades of economic mismanagement under former President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Efforts so far have backfired, with a 2 percent tax Ncube placed on electronic transactions from Oct. 1 to raise $700 million leading to annual inflation accelerating the most in about a decade as businesses insisted on cash when there isn’t any.

“A year ago, Zimbabwe didn’t have a currency crisis but rather a production headache — the past two consecutive years, however, ignited a currency conundrum which the government can no longer afford to ignore,” Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Christopher Mugaga said by phone.


Zimbabwe petrol stations run dry due to currency shortages

Some filling stations in Zimbabwe’s capital have run out of gasoline as the country deals with currency shortages, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said.

“When the foreign currency is eventually released, it takes some time to arrange the transport logistics to deliver the fuel to affected stations,” he said in a statement handed to reporters on Wednesday in Harare.

“There are many competing demands on the available foreign currency.”

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is preparing to announce the 2019 budget tomorrow while juggling a ballooning fiscal deficit, foreign-exchange shortages that are fuelling inflation, and an inability to raise foreign loans because of $5.6bn of debt arrears.

Zimbabwe last month signed a gasoline-supply agreement with a unit of Trafigura Beheer and is in talks with Total Zimbabwe and others about securing more.