News Briefs 23 September 2022

Southern Africa Focus


Authorities must release opposition MPs unjustly held for 100 days

The continued arbitrary detention of opposition leader and Member of Parliament Job Sikhala and MP Godfrey Sithole is revealing of the politicized justice system in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International said today, 100 days since their incarceration.

“The ongoing arbitrary detention of Sikhala and Sithole is unjust and abusive. It has caused unspeakable emotional distress to them and their families,” said Lucia Masuka, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwean authorities cannot continue to incarcerate Sikhala and Sithole on trumped up charges. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Sikhala and Sithole were arrested on 14 June 2022 after attending the funeral of political activist, Moreblessing Ali, who was missing for three weeks before being found murdered and her body mutilated on 11 June 2022.

Zimbabwean authorities have accused the MPs of encouraging their supporters to cause violence in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, during Ali’s memorial. They are facing charges of inciting violence and were denied bail when they appeared in the magistrates court. Several appeals for bail have since been rejected.

Amnesty International 21 September 2022

Mnangagwa flees from protesting Zimbabweans in New York

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday reportedly fled from angry Zimbabweans, who were waiting for him at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, it has emerged.

The Zanu-PF leader managed to pull the stance amid a human shield of an estimated 225 aides deployed following an accurate prediction of protests.

Mnangagwa is currently in New York for the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting where he is expected to address other Heads of States.

Zimbabweans had planned an embarrassing demonstration against the “neo-dictator” upon his arrival, but the canny former guerilla war fighter used a different exit from the one he was supposed to use where the protestors were waiting inside the Blue Lot Terminal 4.

Opposition People’s Patriotic Party (PPP) leader, Zvaringeni Samuel Chasi, told Zimbabwean nationals based in New York were determined to accost the president and were planning to go to Mnangagwa’s residency.

Bulawayo24 21 September 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo

‘In defiance of international law’ – DR Congo President Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda of aggression

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday accused Rwanda of direct aggression, renewing charges as he addressed the United Nations.

“Despite my goodwill and the Congolese people’s outstretched hand for peace, some of our neighbours find no way to thank us other than supporting armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Tshisekedi said in a speech to the General Assembly.

“This is currently the case with Rwanda which, in defiance of international law and the UN Charter… once more committed aggression in March with direct incursions by its armed forces into the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.

Tshisekedi said that Rwanda has provided “massive support both in war materiel and troops” to M23, which has been increasingly active in eastern border areas and which he brands a “terrorist group”.

News24 23 September 2022

Emmanuel Macron meets Paul Kagame and Felix Tshisekedi over DRC war

French President Emmanuel Macron has met with the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeing progress in easing tensions that have flared in recent months.

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Macron on Wednesday invited Rwandan President Paul Kagame to lunch with his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, who a day earlier had accused Kigali of backing rebel attacks in his country.

The three leaders together “noted their concerns about the resurgence of violence in the east of the DRC,” the French presidency said in a statement.

France said that Kagame and Tshisekedi agreed on the need for the pullout of M23 rebels from the strategic town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border.

The East African 22 September 2022


King Mswati accused of delaying Eswatini national dialogue

It’s been almost a year since Swazi King Mswati III met President Cyril Ramaphosa in Eswatini and agreed to launch a national dialogue to address the kingdom’s growing political crisis.

Several regional summits and fact-finding missions later, amid growing tensions in the country, no dialogue has begun. And last month the Southern African Development Community (SADC) decided to convene yet another summit and send yet another fact-finding mission to the country, adding further to the delay.

Eswatini’s political opposition, under the umbrella of The Multistakeholders Forum (MSF) has mildly rebuked SADC leaders for “reinventing the wheel” by agreeing to the new summit and fact-finding mission. It has accused Mswati of dragging his feet and has warned SADC leaders not to be hoodwinked by the king into believing the crisis in Eswatini is a security rather than a democracy issue. They insist that the growing insecurity in the country is the result of Mswati denying democracy.

Daily Maverick 4 September 2022

eSwatini opposition parties call for boycott of King Mswati’s annual Reed dance following allegations of paedophilia

The United Democratic Front in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) has called on parents of Swati girls to pull their children out of the King’s annual Reed dance, labelling it a paedophile festival.

The opposition group, also known as Lubambano, said over the years the Reed dance had lost its meaning, with reports of the king’s friends using the festival to choose young women to sleep with and salivate over.

The Reed dance was meant to promote chastity among young women, while promoting solidarity among the women.

The king also had the privilege of also identifying a potential wife at the reed dance. Culture dictates that the girls would be half naked, clothed in their cultural attire during the ceremony, which ends with a dance in front of the king.

A spokesperson for the United Front for Democracy, Vusi Shongwe, said the reed dance had lost its cultural meaning because of the human rights abuses that continue in Swaziland.

IOL 31 August 2022

East Africa and the Horn


Countries step up to try and avert famine in Horn of Africa

Countries on Wednesday pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid for the Horn of Africa as they sounded the alarm on a drought in the region and looming famines in Somalia and other countries.

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years and experts say the region is on track for a fifth consecutive failed rainy season.

The United Nations has warned that parts of Somalia will be hit by famine in coming months. The projection is more severe than in 2011, when famine killed more than a quarter of a million Somalis, around half of whom were children.

“Now it is time for action,” Somalia’s special drought envoy Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame said at an event in New York during the annual high-level meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. He urged world leaders to be generous.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the people in the Horn of Africa were “staring into the abyss of humanitarian catastrophe.”

SABC News 23 September 2022

US military says killed 27 al-Shabab fighters in central Somalia

The United States military has said it killed 27 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia’s central Hiran region, where the country’s army and allied forces have launched an offensive against the group in the last month.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it carried out an air strike against al-Shabab fighters who were attacking Somali military forces near the town of Buulobarde on September 18.

AFRICOM said no civilians were injured in what was “the largest combined Somali and [African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, ATMIS] offensive operation in five years”.

The US has been carrying out air strikes in Somalia against al-Shabab, an armed group linked to al-Qaeda, for years.

Aljazeera 21 September 2022

Central African Republic

Central African Republic President calls for protecting the environment

The current session of the UN General Assembly provides a “solemn opportunity” to consider common challenges that are of serious concern to the future of humanity, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic (CAR) told the global gathering on Tuesday.

“More than ever, the question of security, peace, the environment, and health are entering a phase which is critical. However, the warning signs are being ignored in favor of economic, geopolitical and geostrategic interests,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

The General Assembly theme this year is A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.

Honour your commitments

For Mr. Touadéra, protection of the environment is among the interlocking challenges that countries must overcome.

“It is time for the biggest polluters to honour their commitments, in particular the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as international solidarity for climate justice with respect to the most vulnerable populations,” he stated.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how global public health “is an imperative for all nations, without exception”.

UN News 20 September 2022


Sudan committed to achieve national reconciliation, General Assembly hears

On the recent political developments in Sudan, he reiterated his commitment to peaceful transition to establish real democracy that includes fair, free and transparent elections at the end of the transition period, in order to establish a civilian regime that represents all Sudanese people.

The Sudanese President went on to share that starting in July, his country’s military was asked to withdraw from negotiations meant to solve the ongoing political crisis after last year’s coup, allowing revolutionary political forces to form a civilian government. This would be a government which would be independent and implement the rest of the remaining requests in the transition period.

He restated Sudan’s commitment to cooperate with UNITAMS in line with the UN Charter and its mandate set forth by the Security Council and in line with the list of requests presented by Sudan to the UN to promote the transition. He added that cooperation will continue with UNISFA.

President Al-Burhan stated: “In order to promote national understanding we have provided all the necessary support to the AU-IGAD-UNITAMS Trilateral Mechanism, this mechanism has done a lot of work, but has yet to achieve what was required of it. This has made debates on national consensus more complicated.”

UN News 22 September 2022

Sudan accused of trying to ‘bury the truth’ with mass graves for protesters

The families of those missing after three years of political unrest in Sudan are to meet government officials to discuss how to bury more than 3,000 unclaimed bodies in the country’s mortuaries.

Last week, the government announced plans to dig mass graves as Sudan’s senior public prosecutor said mortuaries were overcrowded, many remains were decaying and they needed to be cleared.

But the move angered families and campaigners who said it would “bury the truth”, eliminating any remaining evidence about the pro-democracy protesters presumed to have been killed by paramilitaries during and after the 2018 uprising and 2019 coup that ousted former president Omar al-Bashir.

On Thursday, government officials will sit down with UN officers, families of the missing and activists to discuss the matter.

The Guardian 7 September 2022

South Sudan

UN boss seeks ‘urgent report’ after S Sudan sex abuse allegations

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, has requested an “urgent report” detailing the actions taken by UN staff to ensure accountability after an investigation by The New Humanitarian and Al Jazeera revealed that sexual abuse allegations against aid workers at a UN-run camp in South Sudan have largely gone unchecked over the years.

The Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal opened its doors in late 2013 to offer refuge to people fleeing South Sudan’s ruinous civil war. Accounts of sexual abuse committed by aid workers first emerged in 2015, but the scale of the problem has since grown despite a UN-led task force charged with tackling it, according to aid workers, camp residents and victims interviewed by The New Humanitarian and Al Jazeera. Reporters also analysed several UN and NGO documents.

“The Secretary-General is appalled by these allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse which causes irreparable harm to victims and their families,” Guterres’s spokesperson said in a statement to The New Humanitarian and Al Jazeera after the publication of the report on Thursday.

Aljazeera 22 September 2022

Vice-President highlights commitments and challenges to peace

Warring parties in South Sudan are committed to implementing a peace deal that has improved security in the country, Vice-President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol Agany told the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

The Revitalized Peace Agreement, signed by the Government and opposition groups four years ago, ended years of conflict in the world’s youngest nation, independent since July 2011.

“Owing to relative peace, the internally displaced and the refugees have been voluntarily returning home, although more formal reintegration remains a challenge due to limited resources,” said Mr. Abdelbagi.

Roadmap and challenges

Furthermore, the parties have agreed on a roadmap to complete the remaining tasks under the agreement, which will pave the way for elections when the transitional period ends in 2025.

The Vice-President added that the command structure of the National Unified Forces has also been established, describing the development as “a major leap” towards their transformation and regularization.

However, implementation of the peace deal is facing several challenges, “and sanctions imposed by international partners on individuals and entities are disservice to this course,” he said. 22 September 2022

North Africa and the Sahara

Western Sahara

Spain supports ‘mutually acceptable’ solution for Western Sahara -Sanchez

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday that Spain supports a “mutually acceptable political solution” regarding Western Sahara.

“We fully support the work of the UN Secretary Special Envoy, work that we deem to be absolutely crucial,” Sanchez said during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“Spain will also continue to support the Sahrawi population in the refugee camps as it always has done, as the main international donor of humanitarian assistance in this context.”

Earlier this year, Spain angered its main gas supplier Algeria by supporting a Moroccan plan to offer autonomy to Western Sahara. Morocco considers the whole territory its own, but an Algeria-backed independence movement demands a sovereign state.

Reuters 23 September 2022

Kenya revokes its support for Western Sahara independence, pleases Morocco

Hours after his swear-in ceremony, William Ruto, Kenya’s new president, upended the country’s decades-long policy of siding with the African Union on Western Sahara’s independence by revoking Nairobi’s support on Wednesday.

With a new man in Kenya’s presidential chair, things are moving up for Morocco and its ultimate goal, namely, garnering support for its claims to Western Sahara while simultaneously disenfranchising its enemy, the Polisario Front. Rabat has gained a major foothold in one of the largest economies in the East African Community, extricating a statement from its State House that revoked the republic’s support for the Polisario-run Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) that has been partially recognised in the international arena by 41 UN countries.

Now with Kenya withdrawing its support, the number dropped to 40. The major paradigm shift took place in the wake of Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita delivering a congratulatory message from King Mohammed VI to Mr Ruto. In a somewhat brazen way, the announcement was made a day after the leader of Polisario and SADR Brahim Ghali attended Mr Ruto’s inauguration at Kasarani and whose presence, not the Moroccan Foreign Minister’s, was recognised by the new president before he gave his speech to a gathering.

TVP World 15 September 2022