News Briefs 24 October 2020


New eSwatini Gender-Based Violence Report Reveals Shocking Stats

A report produced jointly by the International Commission of Jurists and Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse says that one in three girls in eSwatini will experience some form of sexual violence before they are 18 years old, while 48% of Swazi women will experience some form of sexual violence over their lifetime, with intimate partners such as husbands and boyfriends, most likely to be the perpetrators. The report is part of a guide to journalists and other media workers in eSwatini on how to report gender-based violence.

AllAfrica 06 October 2020

Govt Terminates Kiss Joint Venture

Bombshell! Thousands of jobs are expected to be lost following a decision by government, specifically the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, to terminate its contract with the infamous KISS Joint Venture for the construction of the multi-billion Emalangeni International Convention Centre (ICC).

The KISS Joint Venture’s main players are three construction giants; namely, Kukhanya, Inyatsi and Stefanutti Stocks.  

They were awarded the principal contract of Tender No. 210 of 2014/2015.

The main reason for the termination is failure by KISS to renew its performance security within 28 days after its expiry, something that constitutes a violation of the contract.

KISS has now been given a 14-day ultimatum to vacate the ICC construction site in Ezulwini. The ICC is being constructed alongside a five-star hotel, which is also a project being undertaken by the joint venture and the entire project is known as ICC&FISH.

Times of Swaziland 24 October 2020


The trial and torture of Zimbabwe’s Joanah Mamombe continues

On 13 May 2020, a group of young people held a peaceful demonstration in Harare demanding accountability on Covid-19 resources received by the government of Zimbabwe from different countries, organisations and local stakeholders.

On their way from the protest march, three women — Cecilia Chimbiri, Joanah Mamombe and Netsai Marova — members of Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party, the MDC Alliance, were arrested at a Zimbabwe Republic Police roadblock.

They managed to notify some of their comrades about the arrest and police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, confirmed to two newspapers, the state-owned Herald and Newsday, a privately owned newspaper, their arrest for organising and participating in an illegal protest.

Daily Maverick 22 October 2020

Lift sanctions unconditionally, says Zimbabwe’s president in his State of the Nation Address

Delivering his State of the Nation Address at State House during the official opening of the third session of Zimbabwe’s ninth Parliament, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged the international community to lift sanctions immediately, saying they were hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.

The European Union and the US imposed sanctions on some senior Zimbabwean officials, including Mnangagwa and his inner circle, in 2002 for gross human rights violations and vote-rigging.

“We call upon those that imposed sanctions on us to lift them unconditionally,” said the Zimbabwean leader. He added that despite the restrictive measures imposed on Harare, his government had made significant strides in improving the country’s economy, which took a downturn following Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reforms embarked on in 2000. The Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe has said that more than 4,000 productive white commercial farmers were booted off their properties at the height of the land seizures, which Mnangagwa said are “irreversible.”

Daily Maverick 22 October 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands flee armed group attacks in eastern DR Congo

Armed fighters freed more than 1,300 prisoners from a jail in Beni in east Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a coordinated attack that took place in the early hours of Tuesday.

Only about 100 remained following the simultaneous assault on the Kangbayi central prison and on the military camp that provides security to it, said the town’s mayor Modeste Bakwanamaha, who blamed a rebel group operating in the area for the attack.

He said that 20 of the escaped prisoners had already returned.

“Unfortunately, the attackers, who came in large numbers, managed to break the door with electrical equipment,” Bakwanamaha told Reuters news agency by phone.

Aljazeera 20 October 2020

Thousands flee armed group attacks in eastern DR Congo

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is rushing support to tens of thousands of people who have been recently displaced in the aftermath of brutal attacks and fighting by the armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

More than 50,000 people have fled in the aftermath of a recent upsurge in fighting in North Kivu. The displaced include an overwhelming number of children – including many who are unaccompanied by either a parent or guardian.

Brutal attacks blamed on the armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed at least 13 people at a site hosting forcibly displaced people in Mbau village, Beni Territory, on September 21. In fear for their lives, many others fled from the nearby fields where they were working, leaving everything behind. The following day, the same armed group reportedly looted and burnt down a health clinic at Musuku village. A health practitioner and several other civilians have not been seen since September 22.

UNHCR 09 October 2020


Plan to withdraw US soldiers’ sparks anxiety in Somalia

Plans by the United States to withdraw its troops from Somalia has caused anxiety among partners involved in the war against terror in the country, with appeals for Washington to reconsider its decision.

There were reports that President Donald Trump had asked his top security advisers to draw up a plan for the withdrawal of US troops from Somalia in order to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise to bring US soldiers home from places like Afghanistan, Syria, and Germany.

While the plan to withdraw from Somalia is not yet concrete, it could leave the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) less effective, given that the US troops have been providing essential aerial surveillance on Al Shabaab activities and helping in air bombardment using drones.

Somali Affairs 19 October 2020

Feared Shabab Exploit Somali Banking and Invest in Real Estate, U.N. Says

The Shabab, the Somalia-based militant group that is Al Qaeda’s most powerful ally in Africa, is not only collecting millions of dollars in tariffs and payoffs but moving the money through local banks and even investing it in real estate and businesses, according to a new United Nations Security Council report.

The report describes how the Shabab, known for suicide attacks and a severe interpretation of Islam that bans music and other pleasures, have diversified their funding streams. Although financial dealings with the Shabab are prohibited under Security Council sanctions, the report said the group had found ways to expand from strictly cash transactions into utilizing bank accounts and electronic mobile services to save, transfer and invest money.

A Security Council panel of experts that monitors Somalia produced the report, which has not yet been made public. The New York Times obtained an advance copy.

New York Times 11 October 2020

Central African Republic

‘Warlords still walk free in Central African Republic’

Amnesty International says despite a few investigations, trials these past few years, warlords still walk free.

Many perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been brought to justice two years after country inaugurated a Special Criminal Court (SCC), Amnesty International said in a report on Thursday.

Various armed groups and individuals have enjoyed impunity for crimes under international law, including unlawful killings and sexual violence in the war-torn country for several decades, according to the Amnesty.

“Civilians have borne the brunt of successive waves of violence and armed conflict since 2002 in CAR. Thousands have been killed, raped, and over half a million people are still displaced.

“Impunity is an affront for the victims and a blank check for perpetrators of crimes. The inauguration of the SCC provided a glimmer of hope for victims, but progress is slow.

Anadolu Agency 22 October 2020

UN: Central African Republic on way to successful elections

The U.N. envoy for Central African Republic said Monday the country “is very definitely on its way to holding successful elections” in late December but the political situation is still tense.

Mankeur Ndiaye told the U.N. Security Council that some regions remain “fragile,” and several candidates have raised doubts about last year’s peace agreement between the government and 14 armed groups.

Ndiaye said the Dec. 27 presidential and legislative elections are taking place at “a crucial moment,” saying Central Africans have “a unique opportunity to leverage what has been achieved democratically and pursue stabilization of the country.”

Washington Post 20 October 2020


ICC Prosecutor Says Held Talks with Sudan Over Access

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Tuesday she discussed with Sudanese officials’ access for investigators to probe alleged atrocities in Darfur region under ousted President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir, who was toppled in April 2019, has been wanted by the ICC for nearly a decade on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur.

“A memorandum of understanding on the modalities of cooperation, technical visits, and immediate access in Sudan by our investigators, amongst other action points, were discussed,” Bensouda said.

“We look forward to making timely progress on all of these items,” she told a news conference in Khartoum.

EWN 20 October 2020

Sudan and Israel agree US-brokered deal on normalising relations

Israel and Sudan have agreed to work towards normalising relations in a deal brokered by the US that would make Sudan the third Arab country to set aside hostilities with Israel in the past two months.

Donald Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call on Friday with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his Sudanese counterpart, Abdalla Hamdok, and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council.

“The leaders agreed to the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations,” a joint statement by the three countries said.

However, it was not immediately clear whether Sudan’s transitional government has the authority to strike such a deal. The country remains without a parliament and elections are due in 2022.

The Guardian 23 October 2020

South Sudan

UN envoy calls for int’l support for Sudan-South Sudan rapprochement

The UN secretary-general’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, on Thursday called for more international support for Sudan-South Sudan rapprochement.

The relationship between Sudan and South Sudan continues to strengthen, providing an opportunity for international peace efforts, Onanga-Anyanga told the Security Council in a briefing.

At the beginning of September, Sudan and South Sudan agreed to review all their 2012 cooperation agreements with immediate effect. South Sudan dispatched a high-level mission to Khartoum on Sept. 6 to initiate bilateral discussions, including on the disputed territory of Abyei, he said.

While neither party disclosed the outcomes, there was an understanding that further talks on Abyei would take place alternately in the two countries, he said.

Xinhua 22 October 2020

Minister for Africa commits £8m to mitigate famine in South Sudan

The UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, travelled to South Sudan this week (20 to 22 October) where he committed £8 million to help the victims of flooding, reduce extreme hunger and help mitigate the ongoing risk of famine in the country. He was joined by the UK’s Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer.

This support will help the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide food assistance, nutrition support, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene support. This will help some of the most vulnerable in areas where nearly a million people have been affected by flooding and conflict, leaving them on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.

The announcement was made during a visit to Pibor and Bor to see first-hand how UK aid is providing vital assistance to people facing flooding, conflict and severe hunger.

Relief Web 23 October 2020

Western Sahara

Morocco and Western Sahara: Human rights component critical to UN Mission

Effective human rights monitoring must be a central component of any future UN peacekeeping presence in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria, Amnesty International said today in a detailed statement.

On 28 October, the UN Security Council is due to vote on the renewal of the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) which has thus far not included a human rights component. MINURSO was established in 1991 to monitor a ceasefire agreement between Moroccan armed forces and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi pro-independence movement which administers Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.

“Over the past 40 years of the territorial dispute, serious human rights violations and abuses have been repeatedly committed by both the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front. We are calling on the UN Security Council to strengthen the peacekeeping presence in the area by adding a human rights component to its mandate,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty International 22 October 2020

Uganda calls for achieving just, peaceful, lasting solution to Western Sahara question

The Republic of Uganda has stressed the continued urgency of achieving a just peaceful and lasting solution to the question of Western Sahara that provides ultimately for the inalienable rights of the Sahrawi people to self-determination in conformity with relevant General Assembly resolutions.

In a statement By H.E. Philip Odida, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations at The General Debate of the 4th Committee of the 75th Session of the General Assembly, Uganda called on the Special Political Committee to uphold the responsibility of the United Nations towards the decolonization of all the Non-Self-governing Territories including Western Sahara.

Uganda expressed its support for UN led processes and, in this regard, it called upon the Secretary General to appoint a successor Personal Envoy for Western Sahara and to re-launch the fledging peace process as soon as possible.

Sahara Press Service 23 October 2020