News Briefs 31 January 2020


Zimbabwe sets pay deal with government workers

Unions representing government workers in Zimbabwe said on Wednesday they had accepted an offer of higher pay as a provisional step in long-running negotiations.

Cecilia Alexander, chairperson of the Apex Council, an umbrella of unions representing civil servants, said the government would pay a cost-of-living adjustment with effect from January 1.

“The balance of the already paid January salary and the new salary offer will be paid over four months starting February,” she said.

“We wish to advise our members that as the National Joint Negotiating Council we have agreed to continue with negotiations,” she said.


Unsettled Mnangagwa reshuffles army chiefs

AN unsettled President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seeking to strengthen his grip on power and coup-proof his regime, has yet again changed commanders of the Presidential Guard (PG), the infantry battalion which, together with the Mechanised Brigade, played a critical role in the 2017 military coup that toppled former president Robert Mugabe.

The PG, responsible for providing protection to the president and securing Harare, is a specialised force trained to fight in built up areas. It consists of two battalions, the 1 PG Battalion commonly known as State House Battalion and the 2 PG Battalion situated in Dzivaresekwa.

Then under Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe — who was commander of the coup on the ground and seen as loyal to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga — the unit played the most important role in the military operation that catapulted Mnangagwa to power.

The Independent

Japan Ambassador Shocked Over State Of Zimbabwe Hospitals

Japan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Toshiyuki Iwado has expressed shock at the state of the country’s public hospitals due to lack of sufficient equipment, something that has led to a high number of patients turned away as the crisis persists.

Ambassador Iwado raised alarm over the state of the country’s public hospitals Wednesday while signing an exchange note with Zimbabwe for Harare Hospital equipment supply.

“Zimbabwe used to have a well-established health sector, through its well-organised hospitals like Harare Children’s Hospital. However, it goes without saying that in recent years those standards have become compromised,” Iwado said.

“There is a lack of necessary equipment. It has been reported that Harare Children’s Neonatal Unit does not have sufficient equipment to monitor and treat babies, with many being turned away without proper treatment.

New Zimbabwe

Democratic Republic of Congo

Dozens killed by suspected rebels in eastern DRC’s Beni region

At least 36 people have been killed in a suspected rebel attack in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Beni region, where hundreds have died in violence since November, a local official has said.

DRC troops have been carrying out a military operation on an armed group in the east of the country – long plagued by various armed groups – and fighters have responded with a series of massacres against the civilians.

“They were all hacked to death. This brings [the toll] to 36 bodies,” local Beni governor Donat Kibwana told the AFP news agency on Wednesday, updating casualties from Tuesday’s attack.

Officials had earlier reported 15 fatalities.


Has Felix Tshisekedi tackled DR Congo’s six biggest problems?

When Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo exactly a year ago, it was hailed as a landmark moment – the first peaceful transfer of power in the vast country’s almost six-decade history.

For years the country, which has enormous mineral deposits, including a vital ingredient in electric car batteries, had been bogged down by conflict and corruption.

As the flag bearer for the opposition UDPS, Mr Tshisekedi beat his predecessor Joseph Kabila’s favoured candidate in the December 2018 vote. But that result was disputed by another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, who said he was the rightful winner.


Central Africa Republic

50 killed amid clashes in Central African Republic

At least 50 people were killed amid violent clashes in a northeastern region of Central African Republic, a local official said on Tuesday.

Evariste Binguinidji, the official in Haute-Kotto region, told local dailies that armed clashes have continued between Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC) and the Movement of Central African Freedom Fighters for Justice (MLCJ) since this weekend in Birao region.

Binguinidji said at least 50 were killed due to violence and dozens were wounded.

Stating that UN peacekeeping forces were deployed to Birao following mediation efforts, Binguinidji said calm restored in the region and armed groups left the area.

Anadolu Agency

Accelerating economic recovery in the Central African Republic

A conference on “Strengthening capacity building in periods of economic recovery through South-South and triangular cooperation”, has been organized by the government of the Central African Republic, together with the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF), the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Chaired by the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Cooperation of the Central African Republic, Félix Moloua, the Conference included plenary sessions, sectoral meetings and technical training workshops focusing on youth entrepreneurship and quick-impact initiatives. The event, which mobilized 32 national and international representatives and experts, helped to strengthen the operational capacities of young people and women to implement economic regeneration projects. It also provided an opportunity to explore, along with international partners, trade- and industry-related cooperation models in the fields of agribusiness and of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

“Through its interventions to strengthen the skills necessary for productive employment, UNIDO helps to establish social cohesion and equity, allowing the development of stable societies and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Tidiane Boye, UNIDO Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.

Modern Diplomacy


Somalia should adopt new electoral law: International partners

The global community is calling on Somali authorities to step up efforts to enact a new electoral law crucial for the country’s elections due around late 2020 and early 2021.

The international partners including the African Union, EU and the UN among others called on the Parliament to finalize an implementable law without delay to avoid a risk of political instability.

“In order for elections to be held on time, it is essential that an implementable electoral law is adopted as a matter of priority, in keeping with the Mutual Accountability Framework agreed between partners and the Somali authorities in October 2019,” they said in a joint statement issued on Tuesday evening.

Somalia, with the help of partners, is making urgent preparations for universal suffrage elections, which will be the first of its kind after more than two decades since the outbreak of the civil war that followed the collapse of the Somali government in 1992.

CGTN Africa

Russia to build military base in Somalia – media

Russian officials are eyeing a port of Berbera as a location for their base on the coast of Somaliland, a self-declared state within Somalia on the Gulf of Aden, according to U.S. Defense Department officials. Both China and the United States, with military bases in Djibouti, share the same coastline as the potential Russian port.

 Russia has also expressed interest in building a naval logistics center in Eritrea, but it is unclear how far along those negotiations are, American officials said, according to NYT.

 About 1,500 miles south, down the eastern coast of Africa, Russian military transport planes landed last summer in Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique and, according to American officials, deployed about 160 personnel belonging to the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor.



UN warns world may pay ‘terrible price’ if it fails Sudan

A top UN official has warned that the international community would “pay a terrible price” if it fails to help rebuild Sudan’s dilapidated economy as the African country transitions to civilian rule.

“The story of Sudan in year 2020 is not the story of the previous government,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) administrator Achim Steiner told AFP in an interview during his visit to Sudan this week.

“It is the story in which waiting for too long to actually step in and support this (development) process may have a terrible price.”

More than a year after the start of a nationwide protest movement that led to the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al Bashir last April, Sudan faces a series of challenges driven by an economic crisis.

TRT World

Sudan rebels, unionists declare support for peace and unity

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) El Hilu faction and the Democratic Unionist Party of Origin announced the signing of a declaration of support for issues of peace and voluntary unity at the Juba peace talks at a press conference held on Wednesday.

The two parties declared their agreement on several items, the most important of which is affirming the commitment of the two parties to voluntary unity based on democracy, religious and cultural pluralism, social justice and respect for human rights, preventing the establishment of political parties on a religious basis, and giving all peoples their opportunity to develop their cultural and political experience.

The two parties emphasised that the cause of peace and its sustainability is the solution to real economic stability and democratic transformation and called for the repeal of all laws restricting freedoms and those that distinguish between citizens because of religion, race, gender, or culture, as well as formulating alternative laws that guarantee full equality between citizens without discrimination.

Dabanga Sudan

South Sudan

South Sudanese women’s role in peace unrecognised, says Oxfam

With less than a month until the country forms a transitional government, South Sudanese women are demanding more leadership roles at all levels of decision making. A new Oxfam report launched today highlights the under-recognized but crucial role South Sudanese women played in the country’s most recent national-level peace processes.

The report, titled “Our Search for Peace: Women in South Sudan’s National Peace Processes” and released by Oxfam together with Born to Lead and UN Women, demonstrates how, for years, South Sudanese women have worked hard to build peace in the country.

“Parties to the revitalised peace agreement must recognise our role and ensure that we are well-represented in the transitional unity government,” said Riya Yuyada, executive director of South Sudanese women’s organization Crown the Woman and chair of Born to Lead, a consortium of women’s rights activists.

Relief Web

South Sudan parties lock horns over number of states

South Sudan is staring at another failed attempt to form a transitional government on February 22 after all the opposition parties rejected calls for arbitration on the differences over number of states.

Both the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by Dr Riek Machar and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) led by Dr Lam Akol, have rejected suggestions by South African Deputy President David Mabuza to have the matter go for arbitration for 90 days, which would be long after the formation of the transitional government.

Mr Mabuza, after failing to have the parties agree to the number of states, has proposed to refer the matter for arbitration to Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), regional body that deals with peace, and the African Union.

The East African

Western Sahara

Morocco adds Western Sahara waters to its maritime borders

Morocco’s parliament passed measures that extend the country’s legal authority to include maritime space of Western Sahara.

Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Nasser Bourita told parliament the legislative initiative “updates the national legal system for maritime domains,” and that “this update would provide an accurate definition of maritime areas under the sovereignty of the kingdom of Morocco.”

The House of Representatives, the first chamber of the Moroccan parliament, voted unanimously January 22 in favour of the demarcation legislation and a second measure that provides for the creation of an economic zone within 200 nautical miles off the coast of Morocco.

The Arab Weekly

Ugandan Solidarity Movement condemns violation of international law by the Kingdom of Morocco in Western Sahara (statement)

The Ugandan Solidarity Movement with the Sahrawi people organized a press conference yesterday, Tuesday, in the capital, Kampala, attended by many written, visual and digital media, denouncing the violation of international law by the Kingdom of Morocco in Western Sahara, focusing on various aspects of the Sahrawi issue, the last colony in Africa.

At the end of the conference, the movement issued a statement denouncing the organization of the African sports activities in the occupied Western Sahara and made it clear that Morocco does not possess sovereignty over this region which it has been trying to annex by force since 1975 in a clear and blatant violation of all the requirements of international law, in blatant contrast to the Charter the African Union.

The statement also called on the African Football Federation to adopt the maps of the United Nations and the African Union when organizing any sporting activities to avoid Moroccan maneuvers related to the Western Sahara region, declaring its rejection of any form of exercise for political purposes.

Sahara Press Service