News Briefs 30 October 2021:

Southern Africa:

Zimbabwe sanctions should go as they only worsen crisis, UN expert says

Sanctions against Zimbabwean politicians and institutions should be scrapped because they worsen pre-existing social and economic woes in the troubled southern African nation, a UN expert said on Thursday.

At Harare’s invitation, UN Rapporteur Alena Douhan, concluded a 10-day visit to Zimbabwe to investigate the impact of sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union over rights abuses allegations.

The sanctions were first imposed two decades ago, targeting political leaders, government officials and selected state-controlled companies.

The restrictions, which include travel bans, are regularly reviewed.

In a statement, Douhan said, “over the last 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions have had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health.”

News24 28 October 2021

Zimbabwe: What can MDC Alliance do if Zanu PF’s violent tactics continue?

Zimbabwe’s ruling party appears to be resorting to violence to block the main opposition party, MDC Alliance, which is headed by Nelson Chamisa, from campaigning and mobilising supporters in its stronghold, the rural areas. If the ruling Zanu PF fears an incursion into its heartland, how might the MDC Alliance respond?

On 19 October, MDC Alliance said there was an assassination attempt on Chamisa as he was entering the city of Mutare.

This comes barely a week after violent protesters in Masvingo Province blocked and damaged vehicles that were part of Chamisa’s convoy.

MDC Alliance claims that these attacks were coordinated and sponsored by Zanu PF members as well as law enforcement agencies.

African Arguments 28 October 2021


Eswatini opposition shoots down plans for King Mswati to chair dialogue

Political parties in Eswatini have rejected plans for a multisectoral stakeholders’ forum to be held at the palace of King Mswati III, or for the regent to chair the gathering.

Instead, they want an independent person to facilitate the event and for it to be hosted at a neutral venue — or they will not attend.

According to a joint media statement, the parties said that if the king genuinely wants dialogue, he should task his cabinet or team of experts to help facilitate it. They said they believed that since the king was the commander of security forces who are accused of killing dozens of Swazis, he was not fit to preside over the much talked about dialogue. 

“The traditional structures have failed to moderate or to call the king to order since the political crisis ensued. Instead, they have been helplessly watching national peace and social fibre torn apart in recent months. It will therefore be futile to resort to these weak structures to manage national dialogue under the chairmanship of the king,” read the statement.

Sowetan 28 October 2021

Eswatini police tear-gassed us in bus and beat us, says teacher

One of dozens of teachers who were tear-gassed while trying to deliver a petition to the government of Eswatini has alleged they were “brutalised” by the Royal Eswatini Police.

A teacher was on a bus hired by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (Snat) and destined for Mbabane last week to join thousands of people wanting to deliver a petition to fast-track cost of living adjustment negotiations with the government.

Mbeketeli Fakudze told TimesLIVE that on arrival at Nkoyoyo on October 20, their busses were stopped by police at a roadblock a few kilometres away from King Mswati III’s palace.

“A few metres before we arrived at the roadblock, some of our members had to alight  since there were those who were standing while under Covid-19 regulations we should all be seated. We were still to know why our buses were being stopped,” he said on Monday night.

Sowetan 27 October 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

Congo army kills 27 rebels, loses four soldiers

The Congolese army said on Thursday that it had lost four soldiers and killed 27 militiamen in two days of fighting in several villages in the northeast of the country.

The fighting took place on Tuesday and Thursday in two villages in Djugu territory in Ituri province after militiamen from the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) group burned down more than 20 houses in four neighbouring areas and attacked an army position.

The military “found and saw 27 bodies of CODECO militiamen, and three AK 47 type weapons were recovered. Unfortunately, we lost four soldiers,” Democratic Republic of Congo army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Ngongo said in a statement.

“We are continuing to search because we have caused enormous losses and damage in the camp of these militiamen.”

News24 28 October 2021

DR Congo’s Former Child Soldiers Face Tough Return to Civilian Life

Some of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s former child soldiers have become traders, hairdressers, and tailors, but many have struggled to recover a normal life.

Dreams of becoming a farmer or teacher run up against tough conditions in a society deeply afflicted by unemployment and poverty.

Clement Kahindo, a supervisor at a temporary shelter in Goma, capital of North Kivu province, goes through the list of problems.

His facility is managed by a non-governmental organisation called Cajed, which works for underprivileged young people and currently accommodates around 40 children aged 10 to 17 recently extracted from armed groups.

“They are taught how to behave properly, to read and write. They do drawing, basket-making, gardening, the washing up,” he told AFP.

EWN 28 October 2021

East African and the Horn


Somalia: Renewed clashes dim hopes of a credible election

Several days of fighting between government troops and militia have heightened political uncertainty over the long-overdue national polls. In addition, there is still no agreement on the electoral procedure.

After weeks of heated disputes between the outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and his Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble over the disappearance of a female spy, the two men finally agreed to move on. According to a deal signed by Farmajo and Roble, “speeding up elections is a top priority.”

Somalia currently has no legitimate national authority. The mandates of the federal institutions expired in February and cannot constitutionally be extended. But there has been a political understanding that the incumbents remain in office pending an electoral process to establish a new parliament and government.

DW 28 October 2021

UN ‘Alarmed’ As Somalia Fighting Displaces 100,000

The UN warned Tuesday of severe humanitarian problems in central Somalia after 100,000 people were displaced by fighting between pro-government forces and Sufi militants.

Fighters loyal to Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) occupied the strategic town of Guricel earlier this month, before being driven out last week by national forces and paramilitaries in operations that killed at least a dozen people, including civilians.

“We are concerned, even alarmed, by the ongoing fighting in Guricel which is now continuing for the past few days,” the UN Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, told a press briefing.

“First and foremost, we are concerned by its humanitarian consequences, which have been severe. Reports are still initial but they signal nearly 20,000 families displaced, representing some 100,000 people.”

He also warned of “very troubling reports of damage to hospitals and civil society facilities as a consequence of the fighting,” adding that such attacks amounted to a violation of international humanitarian law.

Channels Television 26 October 2021

Central African Republic

Voluntary Repatriation of Refugees to Central African Republic from DR Congo Restarts

The U.N. refugee agency reports it has restarted a voluntary repatriation operation for thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic who were living in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Over the past two years, the U.N. refugee agency has helped more than 5,000 refugees return from Congo to the Central African Republic. The voluntary operation, which has been interrupted on two occasions, resumed on Friday.

The program was first halted in March 2020 when both countries closed their borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The second interruption occurred last December when violence surrounding the C.A.R. presidential elections sent an estimated 92,000 refugees fleeing into the DRC.

UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo says a first group of 250 refugees left Mole camp to Zongo city in the north-western DRC last Friday.

Voice of America 27 October 2021

UN Experts Urge CAR to Drop Russia’s Wagner Group

UN experts Wednesday urged the Central African Republic to cut ties with Russia’s Wagner group, accusing the private security force of violent harassment, intimidation, and sexual abuse.

Wagner personnel working closely with the CAR army and police force have harassed peacekeepers, journalists, aid workers, and minorities, they said in a joint statement.

“We call on the CAR government to end all relationships with private military and security personnel, particularly the Wagner group,” they said.

UN experts do not speak for the global body but are mandated to report their findings to it.

The Defense Post 27 October 2021


Sudan army sacks six envoys as coup condemnation grows

Sudan’s ruling military has sacked six ambassadors and security forces have tightened their crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, even as international pressure against this week’s coup grows.

The decision, announced late on Wednesday on state media, included Sudan’s ambassadors to the US, the European Union, China, Qatar, France and the head of the country’s mission to the Swiss city of Geneva, apparently over their rejection of the military takeover.

It came as demands are mounting for the army to walk back Monday’s coup that derailed Sudan’s fragile transition toward democracy following the removal of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 in a popular uprising.

On Wednesday, the African Union announced its decision to suspend Sudan from the bloc’s activities until the restoration of the country’s civilian-led transitional government, while the Word Bank froze aid and the United States paused $700 million in emergency assistance.

News24 28 October 2021

Sudan’s Hamdok affirms commitment to democratic transition -source

Sudan’s Abdalla Hamdok says he remains committed to a civilian democratic transition after being ousted as prime minister and placed under house arrest in a military coup, a source close to him said on Wednesday.

Hamdok also affirmed his commitment to the goals of the revolution that led to the overthrow of former president Omar al Bashir in 2019 and warned against the use of violence against protesters, the source said.

On Tuesday Hamdok was allowed to return home under heavy security.

TimesLive 28 October 2021

South Sudan

South Sudan says oil flow not affected by protests in neighboring Sudan

South Sudan on Thursday said oil flow to neighboring Sudan is not being disrupted by ongoing protests following the military takeover in Khartoum.

“The oil flow is not affected, the oil is flowing,” Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister of Information and broadcasting said in Juba on Thursday.

The oil-dependent South Sudan relies on Sudan’s oil infrastructure to export its crude through Port Sudan.

In September, oil exports were briefly disrupted after civilians held protests in Eastern Sudan over having been excluded from the October 2020 peace deal signed in Juba between the Sudan transitional government with various opposition groups.

The protestors blocked access to Port Sudan that in turn briefly halted oil flow from South Sudan.

CGTN Africa 29 October 2021

Beyond the war in South Sudan, youth look at a future driven by technology

The image the world has of South Sudan is one of war, but the youth of the world’s youngest country are determined to create a different reality.

In the capital Juba and other towns, a growing number of young people are overcoming the effects of years of conflict that cost their parents and grandparents their future. They have chosen media they are comfortable in: technology and innovation.

Tech hubs and online initiatives have sprung up to tackle the everyday problems young people and their families face. They are targeting a range of issues from the environmental crisis, providing alternative modes of fuel delivery to their villages, mitigating fake news and misinformation, to opening up the digital world to girls by teaching them vital skills.

The East Africa 27 October 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

Getting Diplomacy Back on Track in Western Sahara

After two years of diplomatic deadlock, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a new envoy for Western Sahara, a territory disputed between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front, which represents the ethnic Sahrawi population of the territory. The recent designation of seasoned Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura marks a much-delayed and critical step forward in a standoff that, if left untreated, risks spreading instability elsewhere in the region.

The temperature has been rising of late in this often-overlooked conflict. In November 2020, fighting flared up between Morocco and the Polisario Front. A month later, President Donald Trump threw fuel on the fire and jeopardized the traditional U.S. role as a neutral broker between the parties by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the territory in exchange for Morocco normalizing its relations with Israel. Since then, Rabat and the Polisario have hardened their respective positions. De Mistura should seize the momentum behind his appointment to offer fresh ideas and a series of confidence-building measures to guide the two sides back to the negotiating table.

World Politics Review 28 October 2021

Algeria rejects participation, any talks on Western Sahara

Algeria announced on Wednesday its refusal to participate in any future negotiations on the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Special envoy to the foreign ministry, Ammar Ballani, said Morocco’s invitation to Algeria to a roundtable on the Western Sahara issue was “outdated,” in comments he made to the state-run Algeria Press Service.

This came in response to an invite by Moroccan diplomat to the UN, Omar Hilale, to meet at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit which was hosted by Serbia this year.

“Algeria’s involvement in the so-called round tables is no longer on the agenda,” clarified Ballani, as he claimed Morocco was trying to portray Algiers as being a party in the Western Sahara conflict.

“The (UN) Security Council resolutions explicitly specify which parties are involved, and that is Morocco and the Polisario Front. Algeria, like Mauritania… are two neighbouring countries observing,” the situation, he added.

Libyan Express 14 October 2021