News Briefs – 29 April 2022
Southern Africa Focus
UNICEF – Nearly 50 Percent of Zimbabwean Youth Not in School
The United Nations Children’s Fund and Zimbabwe have released a report saying nearly half the country’s youth are not in school due to poverty exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report says the percentage has more than doubled in the last three years.
Still, the UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe, Tajudeen Oyewale, has praised the government for adapting well to the COVID-19 pandemic, and getting tens of thousands of children into remote learning programs during the lockdowns.
The new UNICEF report, however, found that nearly half the country’s youth are not in school due to chronic poverty aggravated by the pandemic.
AllAfrica 27 April 2022
Come back home, but we have no jobs: Mangwana
INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana on Tuesday said Zimbabweans facing hardships in neighbouring South Africa were free to come back home where they will be supported by the government.
Addressing a media briefing on International Multilateralism for Diplomacy and Peace in Bulawayo, Mangwana, however, said although government would never abandon its citizens, jobs were scarce.
“So again, in terms of their needs, it depends on their needs. We can’t say they will come and get job priorities because already people here are looking for jobs. However, if they face any hardships or they have any needs, the government will support them as much as it can through the social service part,” Mangwana said.
NewsDay 28 April 2022
Pro-Democracy MPs Remain in Jail As Eswatini Burns
In a show of power, the state is making an example of the two members of Parliament whose only sin was to call for democratic reforms to the monarchy.
On 25 July 2021, at the height of the unrest that claimed the lives of or crippled many, the Royal Eswatini Police took Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza of Hosea and Mthandeni Dube of Ngwempisi into custody. Nine months later they remain behind bars, having been denied bail many times.
There is also Mduduzi “Gaw’zela” Simelane of Siphofaneni, who fled to neighbouring South Africa after the police had issued a warrant for his arrest.
King Mswati III’s government in eSwatini is desperate to convict the members of Parliament (MPs) on charges of terrorism, sedition and two counts of murder. Mabuza faces an additional “violation of Covid-19 regulations” charge.
AllAfrica 26 April 2022
King Mswati pulls crisis-ridden Eswatini off the agenda of SADC meeting
Swazi king Mswati pulled his country off the agenda of a regional meeting in South Africa on Sunday, 3 April, which was held partly to address the growing crisis in Eswatini and a national dialogue that has been proposed to address it.
The king’s last-minute move has raised concerns that he may be determined to conduct the proposed national dialogue on his own terms — despite his agreement with President Cyril Ramaphosa in November last year to accept the involvement of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) in setting the terms of the political dialogue.
The SADC’s security organ troika was scheduled to meet on Monday, April 4, with Ramaphosa in the chair, to discuss both the Swazi national dialogue as well as SADC’s military intervention in northern Mozambique against an Islamist insurgency.
Daily Maverick 3 April 2022
Democratic Republic of Congo
DR Congo and rebels wrap up first round of peace talks
The Kinshasa government has concluded the first round of peace talks in Nairobi with representatives of several armed groups operating in the country’s violence-torn east, the Congolese presidency said Thursday.
The mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is struggling to contain dozens of rebel groups in the east of the nation, many of which are a legacy of two regional wars a quarter of a century ago.
Last week, the Kenyan presidency announced that Nairobi would host talks between the Kinshasa government and rebel groups. In a message sent to journalists Thursday, the Congolese presidency said: “After 5 days of intense work, the peace consultations… ended this Wednesday, April 27, at least for the first stage of this process.”
“Nearly 30 delegates representing the armed groups of Ituri, North and South Kivu took part in these exchanges” with emissaries of President Felix Tshisekedi, the message said, adding that more meetings would follow in the coming weeks.
Daily Monitor 28 April 2022
Death toll soars under year of DR Congo’s ‘state of siege’
The Democratic Republic of Congo imposed a “state of siege” a year ago to try to restore order in two violence-wracked provinces, but the civilian death toll has nearly doubled and lawmakers are voicing growing anger.
Between April 2020 and May 2021, 1,374 people were killed, said analyst Reagan Miviri from the respected Kivu Security Tracker (KST) that monitors the bloodshed.
The attacks are blamed mainly on the notorious rebel groups Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO), which terrorise North-Kivu and Ituri.
From May 2021 to April 2022, at least 2,563 civilians have been killed in the two provinces, says KST.
The Citizen 29 April 2022
East Africa and the Horn
Somali President, Prime Minister Quarrel Over Election Security
Somalia’s election process faced new delays Wednesday as the president and prime minister clashed publicly over election security procedures ahead of a planned parliamentary leadership vote in the capital.
Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble issued a statement authorizing African Union forces to take control of security at the fortified airport compound where the vote was to take place.
“I have authorized ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) peacekeepers to immediately take over the security of the air force hangar as we complete the election of the parliamentary leadership and prepare for presidential elections next month,” he said.
Just two hours later, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed fired back, saying the national security election committee, which is chaired by General Abdi Hassan Hijar, Somalia’s police commander, will oversee venue security.
AllAfrica 27 April 2022
Parliament elects new speaker after security standoff
Somali lawmakers have elected a new parliamentary speaker after a tense standoff between African Union peacekeepers and police, underscoring bitter divisions within the country’s security forces exacerbated by delayed elections.
On Wednesday, police loyal to President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, usually known by his nickname Farmaajo, turned away lawmakers attempting to enter the airport hangar where the vote was taking place, telling them it had been postponed.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, who has been locked in a power struggle with Mohamed for many months, had instructed peacekeepers to secure the venue to allow parliamentarians access, leading to confrontations at the gates witnessed by Reuters.
Aljazeera 28 April 2022
Central African Republic
Central African Republic war crimes trial postponed after lawyer no-show
The inaugural trial of a court established to prosecute war crimes in Central African Republic’s drawn-out conflict was postponed on its first day on Tuesday when lawyers for defendants boycotted proceedings.
The trial is related to the massacre of 46 civilians in the northern villages of Koundjili and Lemouna in May 2019, killings prosecutors say were carried out by the 3R rebel group. Three members of the group have been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The defendants’ lawyers failed to show on Tuesday, the exact reason for which was unclear. Joseph Bindoumi, president of the Central African League for Human Rights, told Reuters it was over a dispute about the treatment of the defenders.
Reuters 19 April 2022
UN condemns recent attacks on humanitarians in Central African Republic
Denise Brown, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the CAR, was deeply shocked and dismayed by the attacks, which occurred on 7 and 9 April. Six aid workers and a health district worker were injured, one seriously.
The attacks forced one humanitarian organization to suspend its mobile clinics and activities to improve access to clean water for some 11,000 people in remote areas in Basse-Kotto prefecture.
“Every time humanitarians come under attack; the lives of thousands of vulnerable people are at risk. Aid workers who assist people under extremely difficult conditions must not be attacked,” said Ms. Brown.
The CAR has a population of around five million people, more than half of whom depend on humanitarian assistance.
UN News 20 April 2022
Sudan: Hundreds of Protesters Detained, Mistreated
Sudan’s security forces have unlawfully detained hundreds of protesters since December 2021 and forcibly disappeared scores as part of its broader clampdown on opposition to the October 25 military coup, Human Rights Watch said today.
Security forces have beaten and otherwise ill-treated detained protesters, including stripping child detainees naked and threatening sexual violence against women. Sudanese authorities should release all those unlawfully detained, including those forcibly disappeared, while Sudan’s international partners should impose targeted individual sanctions on those responsible for the repression.
“The ruthless and brutal targeting of protesters is an attempt to instill fear, and has largely evaded international scrutiny,” said Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “For months, security forces have abused and illegally detained hundreds of people, including children, who express their opposition to military rule.”
Human Rights Watch 20 April 2022
Darfur: Why are Sudan’s Janjaweed on the attack again?
A major city in Sudan’s Darfur region has been under fierce attack – days after thousands of people arrived there seeking safety after their own town was set ablaze by horse-riding Arab militias known as Janjaweed. “For the first time in Geneina’s history, the hospital has been completely evacuated. All health institutions in the city are closed,” the country’s Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors says on Twitter.
Even during the height of the Darfur conflict that started in 2003 – a war that has left about 300,000 people dead and more than two million homeless – Geneina’s hospital in West Darfur kept operating. An aid worker in Geneina told the BBC that he and his colleagues were staying at a safe house and gunfire could be heard across the city.
Many families who already live in camps in the south of the city after fleeing from the Janjaweed in the past are panicking and leaving their makeshift accommodation. The recent violence began 80km (50 miles) east of Geneina in Kreinik on Friday and more than 200 have been killed in clashes.
BBC 27 April 2022
Peace in South Sudan hinges on forging a unified military force: but it’s proving hard
Implementation of the 2018 peace agreement in South Sudan lags significantly behind its mandated schedule. One of the reasons for this slow progress is establishing a unified military command structure. This was to be done within the first eight months of signing the pact.
The 2018 peace deal was established to bring an end to South Sudan’s five-year civil war. Under it, a unity government was created by President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. A fallout between the two leaders in 2013 sparked the country’s descent into war. Under the terms of the agreement, Machar was sworn in as first vice president.
The peace deal’s transitional period started with the establishment of the unity government and was to last 36 months. The government was formed in February 2020 after the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) – aligned to Machar – and other opposition groups joined it.
The peace agreement also mandated a unified command of the country’s armed forces. Kiir and Machar recently agreed to a 60-40 split of leadership positions – in favour of the president – in national security institutions.
The Conversation 26 April 2022
Kiir Persuading Rebel Leader Paul Malong to Abandon Rebellion
South Sudan President Salva Kiir in talks with former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan as part of efforts to persuade him to abandon rebellion, a source disclosed on Wednesday. President Kiir fell out with Malong in 2017, after the latter was accused of plotting to overthrow the South Sudanese leader, allegations he vehemently denied.
Malong leads South Sudan United Front (SSUF), a Kenya-based rebel movement.
SSUF is currently a member of South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA), a coalition of holdout opposition groups in talks with the South Sudanese government though the Community of Sant’Egidio based in Rome, Italy.
According to sources, Kiir and Malong are in constant talks through family members, adding both expressed willingness to reconcile with each other.
The Tower Post 28 April 2022
North Africa and the Sahara
The History of Western Sahara Is a History of Betrayal
In a letter addressed to the Moroccan king in March this year—and a subsequent state visit—the Spanish government has made clear that it will not respect its historic obligation to support the self-determination of the Sahrawi people.
When we speak about Western Sahara, we speak about the final frontier of decolonisation in Africa, a situation for which Spain holds direct responsibility; the rich North African territory was held under its rule for more than 200 years.
We speak also about one of the most entrenched conflicts in the history of the African continent, one fought over a land with a small population but a wealth of natural resources and some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. Western Sahara is the “perfect territory to conquer,” a French diplomat remarked in Hijos de las nubes: la última colonia (Children of the Clouds: the last colony), a documentary about the conflict in the territory produced by Javier Bardem.
The Real News Network 28 April 2022
Algeria ‘will not cut off’ energy supply to Spain over Western Sahara row
Spain has said it “does not want to fuel futile differences” with Algeria after Madrid changed its position regarding the Western Sahara and backed Morocco’s proposal to grant it autonomy under its sovereignty. The assurance comes amid fears the row could impact energy supplies from Algeria.
Spain’s foreign minister José Manuel Albares on Tuesday said the “sovereign decision was taken within the framework of international law”.
It also comes as Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Saturday vowed his country will not cut off energy supplies to Spain despite the diplomatic row over Western Sahara.
“We assure our Spanish friends, the Spanish people, that Algeria will never abandon its commitment to supply Spain with gas under any circumstances,” Tebboune said in an interview aired on state television late on Saturday.
Africa News 28 April 2022