Southern Africa Focus:
The Zimbabwe embassy and its consulates urged their nationals in SA to be vigilant and law abiding. Good advice, but a better one would have been to have urged them to emulate the 600 Nigerian nationals in SA who responded positively to their compatriot who provided them a free ride back to Nigeria on the two airplanes he sent to SA.
Although the Nigerians who took advantage of this offer were miniscule, they demonstrated that it was better to depart from “xenophobic SA” when glorious Nigeria was available.
The Zimbabwean government should have simply provided free transport for its nationals back home rather than leave them to suffer from the torments and indignities they are subjected to here merely for being Zimbabweans in SA.
Sowetan Live 1 February 2022
Standard Chartered Plc said its investigating allegations of misconduct involving senior management in Zimbabwe more than three weeks after a media organization reported that the chief executive officer of the unit in that country had been suspended amid a corruption scandal.
In two separate reports in January NewZimbabwe.com said Ralph Watungwa had been suspended and tied him to alleged abuse of a foreign currency auction run by the central bank, as well as allegations of improperly authorized renovations at buildings owned by the bank. The news website cited people it didn’t identify.
“We are aware of recent press reports concerning serious allegations of apparent misconduct by senior management officials within the organization,” Lovemore Manatsa, chairman of Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe, said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
The reports and the absence of the CEO from work led the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union to ask what the status of the executive was while the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, John Mangudya, said he was waiting for the bank to advise him of what the situation was.
Moneyweb 3 February 2022
A student leader was arrested Monday in eSwatini for destroying photos of King Mswati III, prompting protests in two cities.
Colani Maseko, head of the national student union, is accused of removing pictures of the king from a university campus and destroying them, police said.
“Colani Maseko has been charged with sedition and malicious damage to property,” police spokeswoman Nosipho Mnguni told reporters.
Shortly after his arrest, small protests broke out in the commercial centre Manzini and the capital Mbabane. Riot police fired teargas to break them up, an AFP reporter witnessed.
The University of eSwatini closed all three of its campuses.
EWN 1 February 2022
esponding to the arbitrary detention and malicious charges of sedition and damage to property brought against Colani Maseko, the President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, and the brief arrest and subsequent release of activist Sibusiso Nkwanyane by police officers on 31 January, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, said:
“The arbitrary detention of Colani Maseko and Sibusiso Nkwanyane, who has since been released, by the security forces — under the guise of “questioning” and subsequent charges of sedition and malicious damage to property against Maseko — amounts to intimidation and harassment of those peacefully exercising their human rights by challenging the monarchy’s power. Clearly, the authorities are desperate to weaken the pro-democracy movement that is pushing for political reforms in Eswatini.
“Colani Maseko must be immediately and unconditionally released and all these politically motivated charges against him must be withdrawn. Otherwise, he must be promptly brought to court and guaranteed a fair trial.”
“The Eswatini authorities must urgently end their crackdown on political activists and human rights defenders. The views of these activists should be welcomed in the arena of public debate, not repressed. Authorities must allow people to freely exercise their human rights without any reprisals.”
Amnesty International 1 February 2022
Democratic Republic of Congo
Suspected militiamen have attacked a camp for internally displaced people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), killing dozens of people, according to local sources and a monitoring group.
The overnight assault took place in the DRC’s restive Ituri province, which has been placed under a state of siege since May 2021, an exceptional measure taken by the government to combat armed groups roaming the country’s mineral-rich east.
Local officials said on Wednesday that the militiamen killed at least 60 people at the displaced person’s camp.
“We currently have 60 people in the shelters for the displaced who were killed with machetes and other edged weapons,” Ndalo Budz, who is the head of the camp, said to local press.
Aljazeera 2 February 2022
A military court in Democratic Republic of Congo Saturday sentenced 51 people to death, several in absentia, in a mass trial over the 2017 murder of two UN experts in a troubled central region. Capital punishment is frequently pronounced in murder cases in DRC, but is routinely commuted to life imprisonment since the country declared a moratorium on executions in 2003.
Dozens of people have been on trial for more than four years over a killing that shook diplomats and the aid community, although key questions about the episode remain unanswered. Michael Sharp, an American, and Zaida Catalan, a Swedish-Chilean, disappeared as they probed violence in the Kasai region after being hired to do so by the United Nations.
They were investigating mass graves linked to a bloody conflict that had flared between the government and a local group. Their bodies were found in a village on March 28, 2017, 16 days after they went missing. Catalan had been beheaded.
France24 29 January 2022
East Africa and the Horn
Organisers of Somalia’s much-delayed elections say the polls have picked up the “right pace”, assuring citizens that they will meet the February 25 deadline to conclude voting.
Ahmed Safina, the Spokesperson of the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT), the top-most committee assigned to manage the elections in Somalia, said the polls team will, by Thursday, complete the election of the first 100 of 275 legislators in the Lower House.
“FEIT is going to complete the election of 100 legislators to the House of People on Thursday,” Safina announced.
He spoke in Mogadishu after four MPs were elected by delegates representing Somaliland in the Somali capital.
“We (all Somali election stakeholders) are pleased that delegates and teams representing the Northern regions (also referred as Somaliland) are the most dynamic of the constituencies,” he said.
The East African 3 February 2022
At least 10 people were killed and 15 were wounded when rival clan militias clashed in central Somalia, residents and community elders said Tuesday.
The battle broke out in the neighborhoods of the Balanbal district in the Galgaduud region. Both sides used rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns and assault rifles, witnesses and officials said.
What sparked the battle between the Ayr and Marehan clans remains unclear, but the two rival groups have had a history of repeated disputes about pasture rights, water wells and other clan disagreements.
“We call for the cessation of hostility. It is unfortunate that two brotherly clans fight over trivial matters, while their families are suffering from a severe drought,” said Mo’alim Sugaal Guuled, a respected religious scholar in the region.
The clashes come at a time when escalating drought in Somalia is creating a massive displacement crisis.
Voice of America 1 February 2022
Central African Republic
Maia looks down at her expanding belly, her eyes welling with tears.
Four months ago, an armed man grabbed and raped the 15-year-old, attacking her as she was harvesting cassava roots. In the remote northwest of the Central African Republic (CAR), sexual violence targeting women, adolescents and even younger girls is on the rise.
Brutal acts are committed by rebels, militiamen and security forces alike, according to the United Nations. In Paoua, about 500 kilometres (300 miles) northwest of the capital Bangui, more than a dozen rape victims turn up every day at a clinic run by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).
The distraught teenager struggles to put her feelings into words. “I was alone in the fields when an armed man wearing a turban grabbed me,” she says in a near-whisper. “I told him I was a virgin and begged him not to hurt me,” Maia says, unable to utter the word “rape”, even as she bears the unborn child of the man who assaulted her.
The Citizen 3 February 2022
Paoua in the Central African Republic’s northwest is famous for peanut farming. But production of the crop has been affected by the presence of armed groups in recent years.
“This year, with the insecurity, there have been too many threats and thefts. We had to sell the crop very quickly and at low prices”, said Célestine Inforo, a farmer.
Like most of the local population, the young woman depends on peanut farming for survival, but regular attacks by armed groups – including the 3Rs (Return, Reclaim, Rehabilitate), one of the most powerful – have prevented her from exporting the goods.
The groups have taken advantage of the security crisis in the countryside to harass farmers, and take control of the peanut trade.
“What is preventing us from developing further peanut farming in Paoua is insecurity”, Jean-Paul Ndopaye, manager of a peanut store said.
Africa News 7 January 2022
Sudanese security forces fired tear gas on Thursday to disperse thousands of demonstrators demanding justice for 79 people killed following last year’s military coup, an AFP correspondent said.
In the capital Khartoum, protesters used rocks to build makeshift barriers blocking roads, while across the Nile River in North Khartoum, crowds of over 2,000 people chanted slogans against the security forces.
In Omdurman, the capital’s twin city, some 5,000 people gathered outside the home of 27-year-old Mohammed Yussef, a protester who died after he was shot in the chest during rallies on Sunday.
More than three months after the 25 October takeover led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in the troubled northeast African country, defiant mass rallies demanding a restoration of the transition to civilian rule show few signs of abating.
EWN 3 February 2022
Security forces in Sudan have repeatedly attacked or otherwise used excessive unnecessary force, including lethal force, against peaceful demonstrators in Khartoum, Human Rights Watch said today. On January 17, 2022, alone, doctors’ groups recorded seven killings of protesters by live ammunition, three of which Human Rights Watch documented.
Following the October 25 military coup, numerous protests have taken place across Sudan, particularly in the capital, Khartoum. According to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, security forces have killed 79 people, including a woman and nine children. January 17 was the second deadliest day since the coup.
“For over three months, Sudan’s security forces have caused serious bodily, often lethal, harm to suppress the protests,” said Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “And yet, emboldened by years of impunity, and a meek international response to their coup, Sudan’s military leaders have been committing grave crimes against civilians without consequences.”
Human Rights Watch remotely interviewed eight witnesses to the January 17 events, including witnesses to three of the seven protester killings, and a doctor in Khartoum, and analyzed six videos and eight photographs from January 17 posted to Facebook. Human Rights Watch has not been able to investigate or assess independently the evidence surrounding the four additional reported killings, although the doctors’ groups have recorded the names and details of those killed.
AllAfrica 3 February 2022
Keen to proclaim South Sudan as on the cusp of becoming a peaceful country, international actors have claimed that there has been a marked reduction in political violence since the signing of a peace agreement in 2018 and the formation of a power-sharing government two years later.
But analysts, conflict monitoring groups, and local residents say the peace agreement has in fact caused a significant escalation in violence, as commanders and politicians compete for power in a transitional government based in the capital, Juba, by fighting wars in the peripheries – conflicts that international actors, including a billion-dollar UN mission in the country, and the United Nations Security Council, which has sanctioned South Sudan, often chalk down to communities fighting each other.
Additionally, political elites have used disarmament campaigns to disempower groups associated with their rivals, putatively under the guise of disarming civilians – a goal the international community supports – while changes to the way local government positions are rewarded has led to a crisis of political legitimacy in much of the country.
“The peace agreement has created a series of zero-sum struggles for power, in which local politicians are accountable only to the capital and not to the communities they are supposed to represent,” said Ferenc David Marko, a researcher with the Geneva-based NGO Small Arms Survey, which monitors conflict in the country. “Often, these communities become pawns in political games.”
The New Humanitarian 3 February 2022
A Proposal from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network
Since independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan has faced the challenge of respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the full panoply of human rights that come with the responsibility of being a sovereign state. It has consistently ranked towards the bottom of global human development indexes. The new state inherited a legacy of prolonged civil war and severe underdevelopment that continues to date. The armed conflict that broke out on December 15, 2013, reversed limited gains in infrastructure development and security and exacerbated the dire human rights and humanitarian situations across the country as people’s livelihoods were interrupted and huge sections of the population faced extreme food insecurity. Both government and armed opposition groups committed crimes under international law and other human rights violations and abuses with impunity, including unlawful killings, forced displacements, and sexual violence. The parties to the armed conflict also looted civilian properties, and destroyed villages and public infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.
A 2015 peace deal collapsed in July 2016 when parties to the peace agreement fought for four days in the capital, Juba, killing hundreds of civilians. In September 2018, warring parties signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), paving the way for a Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU). The formation of the new government has been fraught with delays and disagreements between parties over appointments. The presidency was formed in February 2020, the Cabinet was sworn in on 23 March 2020 and all state executives formed by January 2021. The Transitional National Legislature, composed of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States, was reconstituted in August 2021. These delays and gaps in governance and security have led to increased fighting at the state, local and community levels, yet often stirred up by national-level politics and supported by senior government and opposition political and/or military officials.
Human Rights Watch 3 February 2022
North Africa and the Sahara
The UN envoy for the disputed Western Sahara region visited refugee camps in Algeria on Saturday in a renewed bid to find a diplomatic solution to the territory.
The former Spanish colony was annexed by Morocco in 1975.
Polisario front independence activists expressed frustration at decades of diplomatic deadlock.
“We demand to the UN envoy, our independence. We will only stop the war if we get independence, even if we all end up as martyrs. We have nothing more to say because the UN has been lying to us for 47 years, so we want our independence”, demanded local nurse Aichatou Lahbib Tayab.
Refugee camp resident Hussin Mahmoud demands the implementation of UN’s resolutions.
“We ask the UN Secretary General and his special envoy to implement the resolutions signed by both sides. We are not asking for anything other than our right to independence”, he said.
On Friday, the UN’s Polisario Front representative said the only way forward would be to end the current conflict.
Africa News 16 January 2022
In November 2020, the Moroccan government sent its military to the Guerguerat area, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). The Guerguerat border post is at the very southern edge of Western Sahara along the road that goes to Mauritania.
The presence of Moroccan troops “in the buffer strip in the Guerguerat area” violated the 1991 ceasefire agreed upon by the Moroccan monarchy and the Polisario Front of the Sahrawi. That ceasefire deal was crafted with the assumption that the United Nations would hold a referendum in Western Sahara to decide on its fate; no such referendum has been held, and the region has existed in stasis for three decades now.
In mid-January 2022, the UN sent its personal envoy for Western Sahara Staffan de Mistura to Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania to begin a new dialogue “toward a constructive resumption of the political process on Western Sahara”. De Mistura was previously deputed to solve the crises of United States wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; none of his missions have ended well and have mostly been lost causes.
The UN has appointed five personal envoys for Western Sahara so far — including De Mistura — beginning with former US secretary of state James Baker III, who served from 1997 to 2004. De Mistura, meanwhile, succeeded former German president Horst Köhler, who resigned in 2019. Köhler’s main achievement was to bring the four main parties — Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria, and Mauritania — to a first roundtable discussion in Geneva in December 2018: this roundtable process resulted in a few gains, where all participants agreed on “cooperation and regional integration” but no further progress seems to have been made to resolve the issues in the region since then.
Mail& Guardian 26 January 2022