News Briefs – 5 June 2021

Southern Africa Focus


Zimbabweans Protest COVID-19 Vaccine Shortages

Hundreds of Zimbabweans protested Wednesday about a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as the country awaits more doses from China.  The government wants to inoculate at least 60% of Zimbabwe’s more than 14 million people by the end of the year but has struggled to get the necessary supplies. 

Claudina Maneni brought her 60-year-old mother to get her second vaccine dose Wednesday at Wilkins Hospital, Zimbabwe’s main COVID-19 vaccination center. 

She was among people who arrived at 4 a.m. but waited in vain for hours. 

The crowd demanded to see authorities and began to protest but dispersed upon hearing police were on their way. 

Maneni says she wonders why Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, has not imported more vaccines to avert shortages.

Voice of America 2 June 2021

Zimbabwe prices spiral after businesses told to stop pricing in dollars

Prices of goods in Zimbabwe are spiralling again, threatening to halt a decline in consumer inflation, after authorities last week forced businesses to stop quoting prices in US dollars in a bid to encourage more use of the faltering local currency.

Despite the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar in 2019, most businesses have been charging in US dollars, with customers having an option to pay using local money at rates higher than the official exchange rate.

After losing their pensions and savings during a decade of hyperinflation to 2009, Zimbabweans prefer using the greenback to their own currency.

The government issued regulations on Friday making it mandatory to quote prices in the local currency, with payment in dollars offered as an option using the official rate.

TimesLive 2 June 2021


eSwatini student’s death sparks protests over alleged police brutality

Dozens of students marched to eSwatini’s Parliament on Wednesday to demand justice for a young man believed to have been killed by the police.

Thabani Nkomonye’s body was found on a field in Nhlambeni, about 10km outside Manzini on 14 May.

The police allege he died in a car crash on 8 May, but eSwatini youth believe he is the latest victim of police brutality in the country.

They have taken to the street and tweeted with the hashtag #JusticeForThabani.

“We are not only demanding the end of police brutality; we are going one step further and demanding a multiparty democracy in which the police are accountable to the people and not only to the king. The king is a god in Swaziland,” said Colani Khulekani Maseko, the president of the Swaziland National Students’ Union.

News24 2 June 2021

eSwatini Imports E6.8bn Items from SA in 4 Months

Eswatini continues to rely heavily on imports from its major trading partner, South Africa.

This has been attested to by recent statistics issued by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which reflect that the republic’s exports into the kingdom between January and April 2021, stood at E6.8 billion in total.

Some of the items on top of the SARS list of exports, which were absorbed into the Eswatini economy include, but not limited to, machinery (E843.2 million), vegetables (E557 million), vehicles aircraft and vessels (E481.9 million) and chemicals (E 673.3 million) among others.


Other imports from one of Africa’s largest economies are live animals, prepared foodstuffs, mineral products, textiles, photographic and medical equipment and footwear among others.

Swazi Observer 2 June 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo

Life starts to return to DR Congo’s evacuated volcano city

Streets in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma returned to life on Tuesday, five days after residents fled following warnings that the nearby Nyiragongo volcano could erupt again.

In the city centre, the streets were clogged with traffic, including hefty four-wheel-drive vehicles driven by NGOs, while the number of pedestrians seemed close to normal and some shops had reopened, an AFP journalist said.

In front of the city’s main hospital, traffic deftly drove around large cracks that had emerged after the volcano first erupted last month.

Nyiragongo suddenly erupted on 22 May, spewing out two rivers of lava before stopping the following day.

News24 1 June 2021

DR Congo Eruption ‘False Alarm’ as Humanitarian Crisis Mounts

DR Congo’s government mistakenly announced Saturday that another volcano had erupted, later admitting it was a false alarm, with the scare coming a week after Mount Nyiragongo roared back into life, causing devastation and sparking a mass exodus.

The blunder comes as the government is increasingly being criticized for a looming humanitarian crisis, with about 400,000 residents having evacuated the eastern city of Goma after a week of rolling aftershocks.

More suffering briefly seemed imminent when the government said that Murara volcano, considered to be a crater of Mount Nyamuragira just 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Goma, had erupted Saturday morning.

Voice of America 29 May 2021

East Africa and the Horn

Chad, Central African Republic call for investigation of border incident

Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) have called on the United Nations and African Union to investigate an incident at a border post in which at least six Chadian soldiers and three Russians on a military mission to assist CAR were killed.

A delegation from CAR met with Chad’s interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby on Tuesday in response to the incident, which has threatened to sour diplomatic relations.

“The two parties have recognised the gravity of the situation and stress the urgency of clarifying the circumstances in which this attack was carried out,” their foreign ministers said in a joint statement late on Tuesday.

Chad’s defence ministry on Sunday said that Central African troops had attacked a Chadian military post, killed one soldier, and kidnapped and executed five others – actions it said amounted to a war crime.

TimesLive 2 June 2021

Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters delivered to Central African Republic

A Russian Air Force Antonov An-124 transport aircraft has delivered Mi-8MT and Mi-24V helicopters to the Central African Republic.

According to Centrafriquenews, the helicopters arrived aboard the An-124 on 21 May. Flight tracking data indicates An-124 registration RA-82035 flew in the helicopters from Russia.

The Mi-24V was wearing tail number 01 ‘yellow’, which matches photos of the helicopter taken nearly ten years ago. Photos indicate the aircraft was stored in a hangar for some time, making it likely that it was transported to Russia for maintenance/overhaul.

Defence Web 26 May 2021


Sudan protesters mark second anniversary of army sit-in crackdown

Thousands of Sudanese have rallied in Khartoum on the second anniversary of a bloody crackdown by security forces on a large pro-democracy sit-in in the capital, demanding justice for dozens of people killed.

The June 3, 2019 crackdown on the protest camp outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, and others elsewhere in the country, came weeks after the military overthrew longtime President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests against his nearly 30-year rule.

Protest organisers, who had initially gathered to resist al-Bashir’s rule but stayed after his removal to demand a transition to civilian, say security forces killed at least 128 people during the violence. Many saw the incident as a turning point in the relationship between the military generals, who have denied ordering the killing, and the protest movement.

Aljazeera 3 June 2021

Visiting ICC prosecutor asks Sudan to hand over Bashir ally accused of Darfur genocide

The International Criminal Court has asked Sudan to hand over one of the key people accused of war crimes and genocide in Darfur and an ally of ousted President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the visiting chief ICC prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The accused, Ahmed Haroun, asked in May to be sent to The Hague, the court’s headquarters, complaining that he would not receive a fair trial in Sudan.

Chief ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told a news conference that Bashir, in prison in Khartoum, was still wanted by the ICC and that the court was willing to negotiate with the Sudanese government on where his trial should be held.

Bashir had for years resisted ICC warrants against him and four allies, including Haroun, over the conflict in Sudan’s western region that killed an estimated 300,000 people and drove 2.5 million from their homes.

Sowetan 3 June 2021

South Sudan

UN vows support for roadmap toward elections in South Sudan

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Thursday pledged support for the ongoing constitutional making process paving the way for democratic elections slated to be held in 2023.

Nicholas Haysom, the special representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMISS, said the UN Security Council has to advance a three-year strategic vision aimed at preventing a return to civil war and ensuring free, fair, and peaceful polls when renewing their mandate.

“Our priority is to provide technical assistance to build the capacity of local institutions, reform the security and justice sectors, and to progress important elements of the broader peace deal such as constitutional making and ultimately free, and fair elections,” Haysom told journalists in Juba.

The UNSC has recently asked for a needs assessment to look at security, procedural and logistical requirements to enable elections to be held. Haysom revealed that the making of the permanent constitution of South Sudan will reflect a series of promises between the parties to the peace agreement and the people.

CGTN Africa 4 June 2021

More than 230 killed in two weeks in South Sudan gun violence

More than 230 people have died as a result of gun violence in South Sudan in the past two weeks, raising new concerns for disarmament in the country.

The latest incident occurred on Tuesday where seven people were killed in Pigi County of Jonglei State, in cattle rustling attack. The attackers escaped, according to authorities.

Since late April, there have been various incidents of violence with each recording deaths. Based on official figures, at least 234 people had been killed by Tuesday.


On May 26, at least 150 people were killed following a 10-day bloody attack in the Pibor Administrative Area, according to local authorities there. The attackers torched more than 600 houses and displaced thousands of residents.

The East African 3 June 2021

North Africa

Western Sahara

Western Sahara independence chief leaves Spain for Algeria

The leader of a movement seeking independence from Morocco who is at the center of a diplomatic row flew out of Spain to Algeria, arriving in the middle of the night before being taken to an Algerian military hospital Wednesday.

Brahim Ghali was released from a hospital in northern Spain following more than six weeks of treatment after contracting COVID-19, according to a statement sent to The Associated Press by the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is based in refugee camps in western Algeria.

Morocco has denounced Spain, a strategic partner, for allowing Ghali to secretly enter the country. Morocco considers Ghali, 71, to be a terrorist. Amid the dispute, thousands of migrants crossed the border from Morocco into Spain as Moroccan authorities appeared to relax border controls last month.

Associated Press 2 June 2021

Morocco draws diplomatic red line over Western Sahara sovereignty

Throughout the crisis triggered by Spain admitting Polisario leader Ibrahim Ghali for medical treatment on its soil, Morocco has seemed to draw a red line regarding its sovereignty over the Western Sahara, in a way that would pre-empt any future moves against its territorial integrity.

Accordingly, it sent a clear message that Rabat will not separate its sovereignty over the Western Sahara from its economic or security interests with any regional or international party.

The recent escalation with Spain also showed that Morocco possesses many cards that should make others think twice before any provocative moves. The most important of these is the strategic role Morocco plays with Europe in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration, in addition to its important economic ties with the EU.

The Arab Weekly 3 June 2021

International Affairs Focus


Palestine and the UN’s ‘responsibility to protect’ doctrine

The recent escalation of the conflict in Palestine has emphasised the multiple paradoxes in the decades-long political stalemate in the Middle East, which is unique in the amount and extent of suffering heaped on its peoples. Notable also are the paradoxical levels of external complicity and indifference.

Influential foreign actors assist the perpetrators of atrocities but pay little attention to the mounting numbers of victims, except when they turn up as refugees at their doorstep. They do not care when Palestinians and Syrians are thrown out of their homes or bombed into oblivion, packed into a no-man’s land. But they rise up in unison when the perpetrators are threatened.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the circumstances surrounding the obscene legal travesty of the double dispossession the Palestinians of Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Already driven out of their homes as Israel came into existence in 1948 and prevented from ever reclaiming their original homes, they are about to be turned into refugees again on the pretext that the homes they have lived in for decades legally belong to Jewish settlers, according to the rigged Israeli judiciary system.

Aljazeera 1 June 2021

Durban port workers refuse to offload cargo from Israeli ship in solidarity with Palestine

The South African Trade and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) has announced that its members will refuse to offload cargo from the Israeli Zim Shinghai docked in Durban harbour on Thursday in a show of sympathy for the Palestinian victims of recent airstrikes and to blame the Israeli government for the resurgence of conflict.

Satawu’s deputy general secretary, Anele Kiet, said their members confirmed they would snub Israeli carriers and related work, and, in addition, there would be lunch time pickets in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

“We received a request from the SA BDS Coalition that as part of showing solidarity with Palestine, Satawu members who work in the Durban port need to boycott the shipment. Indeed, we have contacted our members at the Durban port, who have confirmed they will not be offloading the shipment. We will be picketing every day at lunchtime and engaging in demonstrations,” said Kiet.

IOL 20 May 2021


Demonstrations, defiance as Myanmar marks 4 months since coup

Pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets in towns around Myanmar on Tuesday to denounce the country’s military, marking four months since it ousted an elected government and unleashed a wave of nationwide anger.

Despite a bloody crackdown by security forces, Myanmar’s military is still struggling to impose order amid protests and strikes and fighting on multiple fronts in border regions as civilians take up arms against the junta.

Protests took place in the south in Luang Lone, several areas of the Sagaing division including Kale and Monywa, and the commercial hub Yangon, according to images carried by mainstream and social media.

“This is not over yet. We still have our turn,” read a sign carried by one protester.

Reuters 1 June 2021

Detained Australian, deposed Myanmar leader Suu Kyi, to face court ‘unrepresented’

The top lawyer for Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, voiced concern on Friday that she had no legal representative listed in the case against her brought by the military junta for breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Khing Maung Zaw said the Supreme Court had announced cases to be heard on June 23 against Suu Kyi and four others, including her Australian economic adviser, Sean Turnell, but had listed all of them as representing themselves.

“We have concerns that they won’t have any legal representatives and there won’t be any transparency with hearing,” Khin Maung Zaw told Reuters.

“Normally, they should contact the defendants and need to give the opportunity to the defendants to contact their lawyers before they announce the case.”

The Sydney Morning Herald 4 June 2021