News Briefs 24 March 2023

Southern Africa Focus


Mozambique secures $35m cyclone parametric reinsurance placement

The Mozambique government has secured USD 35 million of parametric cyclone insurance via the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGD), supported by Africa Specialty Risks, The World Bank, and PULA.

The inaugural, Mozambique cyclone parametric reinsurance program is designed to provide the country’s economy with resilience against the effects of cyclones through a payout to the state insurer when pre-determined triggers are met.

Africa Specialty Risks, which launched its parametric underwriting division in 2021, served as the lead reinsurer, while the windspeed and rainfall coverage was structured by PULA in collaboration with The World Bank.

Mozambique is reportedly Africa’s second most disaster prone country, and tropical storms and cyclones in the region have increased in frequency and intensity as a result of warmer ocean temperatures driven by climate change.

Reinsurance News 22 March 2023

Finns see for themselves in Mozambique

A Finnish delegation was in Mozambique earlier this month (March) to keep up with European Union (EU) interests and developments in the east African country, involved in a low-intensity war with Islamist terrorists in its north.

The delegation was led by Under-Secretary of State for Development Policy, Middle East and Africa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland Pasi Hellman. Also part of it were Finnish ambassadors to Mozambique as well as Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya. Adding heft to the delegation were counsellors and senior Finnish Foreign Affairs Ministry staff.

The purpose of the visit, according to EUTM MOZ (European Union Training Mission in Mozambique), was “mutual interest and ongoing and future co-operation”.

EUTM MOZ Command briefed the delegation on its mission and contribution to capability building of the Mozambican armed forces’ units, selected to compose future quick reaction forces (QRFs).

Defenceweb 22 March 2023


Zimbabwe Elections | Chamisa says supporters intimated

Things are heating up in Zimbabwe as the general elections draw near. The main opposition leader is accusing Zanu PF of harassing and threatening his supporters.

However, the governing party denies this, saying it is spreading a message of peace. Citizens Coalition for Change leader, Nelson Chamisa, has urged members not to be intimidated as the elections approach. He is touring the provinces, meeting party members in preparation for the polls.

“This is our defining moment as I have already indicated, don’t allow yourselves to be intimidated or harassed. I have received numerous complaints from the countryside where people are frog-marched into supporting Zanu PF,” says Chamisa.

eNCA 22 March 2023

Zimbabwe’s new 300 MW coal-fired plant starts feeding into grid

Zimbabwe’s new 300 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power generating unit started feeding electricity into the national grid late on Monday, the state power utility said, as it moves to ease extended outages that have impacted businesses and households.

The southern African country is expanding its 920 MW Hwange thermal power station by adding two 300 MW units at a cost of $1.4 billion, with 85% of the funding coming from China.

The first of the two units built by Chinas Sinohydro was successfully synchronised into the national grid late Monday, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) said.

“Power will be progressively fed into the grid until it reaches 300 MW,” ZPC said in a statement.

Reuters 21 March 2023


Eswatini Church warns seething violence could erupt into civil war

The lawyer and human rights activist Thulani Maseko was gunned down in cold blood in his home close to Mbabane, the capital city of Eswatini, on 21 January. Authorities promised to investigate the assassination, but over one month on, no answers have been provided and calls for justice are swelling across southern Africa.

As the country’s highest-ranking Catholic cleric explains, Maseko’s murder spotlights seething violence in Eswatini, a dangerous atmosphere described by Maseko himself as a low-key civil war.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Bishop José Luis Ponce de Leon of Manzini expresses his fears for the unrest and unease that are erupting in the country, reiterating the need for dialogue and awareness so that this does not become “the new normal.”

Vatican News 23 February 2023

SA and Eswatini plan to build more dams in Komati River Basin

The governments of South Africa and Eswatini are planning to build more dams in the Komati River Basin for irrigation purposes.

The Eswatini government, that made the announcement, said between 2 and 9 March the two governments would “engage” the public in their review of the Komati River Basin Treaty.

The treaty, signed in 1992, is the blueprint for both countries’ use and development of the Komati River Basin. It is being run through line ministries responsible for water in both countries which form the Komati Basin Water Authority (Kobwa).

Through the treaty, the basin forms Maguga Dam in Eswatini, which provides 20MW of hydroelectricity. The dam, which is also used for irrigation, is the biggest public works project ever in Eswatini.

On the South African side, the basin forms the Driekoppies Dam, which is used for irrigation projects in Mpumalanga.

News24 1 March 2023

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo President Tshisekedi brings in former VP Bemba in reshuffle ahead of election

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has appointed the country’s former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was detained for over 10 years for war crimes, as the country’s defence minister in a sweeping government reshuffle.

His appointment was part of an overhaul of the 57 members of government, which the president’s spokesperson said was “urgent and necessary”, in an announcement on Congo’s national television late on Thursday. No further details were given.

The reshuffle, which was more extensive than observers had predicted, came ahead of an expected presidential election on Dec. 20, in which Tshisekedi is likely to seek a second term.

Reuters 24 March 2023

East DR Congo attack toll rises to over 30

The toll of attacks on villages by militiamen on Saturday in Ituri, in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), rose from 15 to more than 30 dead, including many women and children, we learned Monday from local sources.

The CODECO ( Cooperative for the Development of Congo ) community militia, which claims to protect the Lendu tribe against the Hema tribe, is accused of carrying out the attacks early Saturday morning against five villages in the territory of Mahagi, killing inhabitants, stealing cattle, looting and burning houses.

Arnold Lokwa, head of the “chiefdom” of Panduru, in which the targeted villages are located, said on Sunday that the bodies of 15 victims had been found, “mostly women, children and old people”.

“Now we have 31 dead (…) and the search continues,” Lokwa told AFP on Monday. The toll could still increase, he added, denouncing “a targeted massacre”.

“We have already collected 39 bodies,” said a humanitarian source. “The majority of the victims are women” and at least three young children are among the dead, the source said. According to her, the 39 victims were found in three villages, access to the other two being still impossible on Monday for security reasons.

Africa News 21 March 2023

East Africa and the Horn


Somalia drought could lead to 135 deaths a day – UN study

The record drought sweeping the Horn of Africa may lead to 135 deaths a day in Somalia between January and June this year, the health ministry, WHO and UNICEF said in a study released Monday.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that nearly 100 000 people in the fragile country were facing catastrophic levels of hunger due to the worst drought to hit the region in four decades.

Monday’s study used a statistical model to estimate that up to 135 Somalis could lose their lives to drought-related causes every day during the first six months of this year, with the total deaths projected to be between 18 100 and 34 200.

It also said that the extreme weather conditions may have led to 43 000 “excess deaths” last year compared to a 2017 drought, with children under the age of five accounting for half the victims.

News24 21 March 2023

African Union urges nearly $90 million for its Somali force

The African Union appealed for nearly $90 million Wednesday for its peacekeeping force in Somalia, which is providing support to its military forces battling al-Shabab extremists.

Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, the AU commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, told two reporters that the more than 19,600-strong AU force won’t be able to function properly and help the Somalis unless that funding gap is filled.

A year ago, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, known as ATMIS, to support the Somalis until their forces take full responsibility for the country’s security at the end of 2024.

If the AU force doesn’t have the funds to operate effectively in the coming 21 months before the handover, Adeoye said, “it may mean that al-Shabab will eventually take over the responsibilities of a state in Somalia.”

AP 23 March 2023

Central African Republic

Nearly 200 demonstrators in Bangui in support of China and Russia

Nearly 200 people march in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, in support of China and Russia, four days after nine Chinese were killed at a mining site in the centre of the country.

The march started in the morning and ended midday at the foot of a monument which pays homage to the country’s armed forces and its Russian allies.

The demonstrators held up Russian flags and banners proclaiming “Support China” and “Russia is Wagner, we love Russia and we love Wagner”, and laid a wreath of flowers in front of the Chinese embassy.

“Since the Republic is not a vague land where barbaric acts must be perpetuated, we pray to the Head of State, Father of the Nation and Supreme Head of Armies, to take its constitutional responsibility to defend Central Africans and foreign partners in the service of the win-win partnership in Central Africa,” expressed Bienvenu Toka, deputy spokesman of the Republican Front in Central Africa.

Africa News 23 March 2023

Central African States Wants to Dump Colonial Currency

The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) has taken a decision to stop using the Franc CFA (FCFA). They were expected to announce some currency changes, but instead opted for a complete change of the name.

CEMAC also want a complete closure of the operating account (compte d’opération) at the Banque de France in order to allow the body to hold all of its foreign exchange reserves as opposed to the 50% it currently holds, and the withdrawal of French representatives from the decision-making and control bodies of the BEAC (regional Central Bank).

CEMAC is currently considering joining West Africa, which is in the process of producing a regional currency called the ECO. Experts however consider the process delicate but judging by the recent Euro/Dollar crisis, which drastically affected the FCFA, they consider the move necessary.

AllAfrica 24 March 2023


Political faction condemns moves to form new govt without consensus

An influential Sudanese political faction condemned Monday (Mar.20) the plan by the country’s military and the main pro-democracy forces to establish a transitional government despite lack of consensus.

The timeline unveiled Sunday (Mar. 19) plans that a new civilian-led government will be formed next month

“We at the Democratic Block did not sign the framework agreement, we are not accepting it, we reject it,” Ali Askoury, the chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Social Justice said to reporter.

“We do not accept the lawyers draft, we have our point of view on the dates that we weren’t consulted on. It is not accepted by us. I think any group forming an authority without an agreement with the other political powers will lead the country into darkness.

The faction known as the Democratic Block, includes Sudan’s finance minister, Jibreel Ibrahim, and the Governor of Darfur, Minni Minnawi, among numerous other smaller political figures and parties.

Africa News 21 March 2023

As Sudan’s rival forces vie for power, who pays the price?

On March 11, army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader Mohamad Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagalo met in Khartoum’s military headquarters, seemingly ending their rift which has simmered since Sudan’s former strongman president, Omar al-Bashir, was toppled in April 2019.

The two-armed bodies have been vying for supremacy as the army tries to establish its authority over all the country’s military forces and the RSF works to maintain its independence.

However, analysts warn that their respective quest to consolidate power puts them at odds in the long term and could lead to a wider conflict that destabilises the country and sabotages popular aspirations for democracy – despite an announcement on Sunday that Sudan’s political factions have agreed to form a new transitional government on April 11.

That announcement came on the back of negotiations between political parties and the military, and the transitional government agreement will see a representative from both the army and the RSF sit alongside civilians to draft a new constitution.

Aljazeera 21 March 2023

South Sudan

South Sudan: Humanitarians call for justice after latest deadly attack

Humanitarians have strongly condemned the latest deadly assault on aid workers in South Sudan, urging the Government to step up security and bring those responsible to justice.

The appeal comes after a convoy of more than 100 trucks transporting food and other assistance was ambushed on Friday in Jonglei state.

Two contracted drivers were shot, one fatally, and another person died in a related road accident. A humanitarian worker was injured and is currently receiving treatment.

Escalating incidents

The attacked marked the latest in a series of escalating incidents targeting convoys and aid workers in the country, the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said on Monday.

More than 20 violent incidents were reported in January alone – more than double the number in January 2022.

UN News 20 March 2023

Violence against civilians ticks up despite fall in attacks overall

Violence against civilians in South Sudan rose by two per cent during 2022, according to the latest annual report on Violence Affecting Civilians from the UN peacekeeping mission there, UNMISS.

Overall levels of documented violent incidents rose by 27 per cent, from 714 recorded acts of violence in 2021, to 982 last year.

2022 was marked by three distinct surges of violence, the UNMISS report said: between April and May, in southern Unity State; between July and September, in Warrap State; and between August and December, in the Greater Upper Nile region.

Call to act against impunity: Haysom

“UNMISS calls on the Government of South Sudan to demonstrate political will and step up efforts against impunity, investigate human rights violations and abuses and hold perpetrators accountable, particularly as deadly violence remains an issue of grave concern in parts of the country,” says Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative and Head of UNMISS.

the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan issued a hard-hitting report last month covering 2022, identifying widespread attacks against civilians, systematic sexual violence against women and girls, the ongoing presence of children in fighting forces, and State-sponsored extrajudicial killings.

UN News 17 March 2023

North Africa and the Sahara

Western Sahara

Algerian president says Morocco ties reach ‘point of no return’

The North African neighbours have been locked in a bitter rivalry for decades over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Algeria’s relations with Morocco have reached “the point of no return”, according to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the latest evidence of the continued poor relationship between the two countries, which broke off relations in 2021.

Speaking to Al Jazeera in an interview on Tuesday, Tebboune said that while he regretted the deteriorating relations between Algeria and its neighbour, he blamed Morocco for the current state of affairs.

“We have practically reached the point of no return,” said Tebboune, who became president in 2019 after the resignation of longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika. “Our position is a response [to Morocco’s actions], we were never the ones who started [the problem].”

Aljazeera 22 March 2023

US again endorses Morocco’s Western Sahara proposal as “serious, credible and realistic”

Antony Blinken received Nasser Bourita in Washington demonstrating the close ties between the US and the Moroccan kingdom.

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, received Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Washington, and both diplomatic representatives of the American giant and the Moroccan kingdom demonstrated the solidity of the bond existing between the two nations. The aim of the meeting was to further strengthen the Moroccan-US relationship and to discuss and analyse matters of common interest, especially in the Middle East and Africa.

Antony Blinken stressed Morocco’s important role in guaranteeing stability and defending security in North Africa and in conflict areas of Africa hit by instability and terrorism, such as the Sahel. The US Secretary of State highlighted ‘the long, historic and strong partnership between the United States and Morocco’, stressing that the Kingdom ‘is an important force for stability, peace, progress and moderation’.

Atalayar 21 March 2023