Southern Africa Focus
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that Tokyo would help Mozambique counter Islamist insurgents in the restive north.
Mozambique’s gas-rich northernmost province, Cabo Delgado, is struggling with an insurgency waged by militants linked to the Islamic State group.
“Japan will financially support the fight against terrorism,” Kishida told a press conference in the capital, Maputo, the final leg of an African tour.
“Security is crucial for the operation of Japanese companies in northern Mozambique.”
Mozambique has set high hopes on vast natural gas deposits – the largest found south of the Sahara – that were discovered in the Muslim-majority northern province in 2010.
News24 4 May 2023
A popular opposition politician in Zimbabwe was convicted of obstruction of justice in a high-profile trial this week, a move that bars him from contesting upcoming elections.
In a case that critics said was politically motivated, Job Sikhala was found guilty by a Harare court almost a year after he was first arrested, and after spending more than 300 days behind bars pending the verdict.
“The state has proved its case beyond any reasonable doubt,” magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa told the court on Wednesday. “The accused has no defence at all and is hereby found guilty and convicted of the offence.”
Later in the day, Sikhala was handed a six-month suspended sentence and a $600 fine, or another six months behind bars if he fails to pay. He will however remain in jail pending other cases against him.
Mail& Guardian 4 May 2023
A coalition of over 80 Zimbabwean organisations has blasted the government for hosting King Mswati III at the weekend.
The Eswatini leader was in Zimbabwe on a state visit.
But the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition says he’s a human rights violator who has terrorised the people of Eswatini.
eNCA 2 May 2023
On May 3rd, 2023, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation  with the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Eswatini has shown resilience to multiple economic shocks. Real GDP contracted by a comparatively modest 1.6 percent in 2020 but surged by 7.9 percent in 2021 as manufacturing rebounded on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and strengthened external demand. Real GDP growth declined in 2022 due in part to base effects but also as construction projects slowed in response to government cash constraints, and sugar cultivation and processing were affected by excessive rainfall, high fertilizer and pesticide costs, and arson. Inflation rose in the wake of surging international food and fuel prices but appears to have peaked in 2022.
The Mirage 5 May 2023
Eswatini, like many other developing countries, is facing macroeconomic and debt pressures that often deplete budgetary resources and pull public officials away from service delivery, to crisis response.
Against this backdrop, Commonwealth Meridian, a new debt management software, has brought much-needed relief to Eswatini’s public debt management efforts.
The new software, which replaced the Commonwealth Secretariat Debt Recording and Management System (CS-DRMS), has been producing impactful results since its launch in 2019.
Meridian is currently being used by 28 countries. An additional 14 countries have requested the Commonwealth Secretariat to help them migrate their debt records to the new system. Among those countries is Eswatini.
The Commonwealth 4 May 2023
Democratic Republic of Congo
The East Africa Community (EAC) has completed the deployment of its regional force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to oversee the withdrawal of the rebel group, M23, from the eastern part of the country.
The last contingent was of South Sudanese soldiers who joined troops from Kenya, Burundi and Uganda.
Formed in 2012 as a splinter group of the armed militia National Congress for the Defence of the People, the M23 briefly occupied the city of Goma the same year. It was quickly routed by forces operating as part of the UN peacekeeping mission, Monusco.
The M23 re-emerged in 2022, prompting the east African region to send in troops.
While eastern DRC contains over 100 armed groups, the M23 has drawn the region’s attention. This is not only because the conflict could spill across borders, but also because the M23 is widely seen as backed by Rwanda (a claim Rwanda denies). Thus, a rise in tension could reignite fighting between Rwanda and DRC, and draw in the broader region.
Defenceweb 4 May 2023
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s parliament should reject a draft law that authorities could use to discriminate against Congolese citizens on the basis of their parents’ national origin, Human Rights Watch said today.
The law would exclude from presidential office and senior institutional positions any Congolese with one parent of non-Congolese origin. Consideration of this bill during an election year heightens concerns that the authorities would use the law to prevent specific people from running for office, in violation of international legal protections on democratic participation and nondiscrimination. The legislation, known as the Tshiani or “Congolity” bill was first introduced in 2021 but was withdrawn after widespread objections. It is now placed on the agenda of the current ordinary session of the National Assembly, the Congolese’s parliament lower chamber, which may debate it during the three-month ordinary session that began in mid-March 2023.
“Congo’s authorities could easily use the proposed Tshiani law to unlawfully prevent Congolese citizens from running for political office,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Besides being discriminatory, passage of this law could herald new repression and violence.”
Human Rights Watch 2 May 2023
East Africa and the Horn
The Somali government has launched its first national population and housing census in decades, which is expected to take two years.
“We will be counting those who live in the Somali territory and the houses they live in,” Dr. Abdi Ali Ige, head of the Somali Population and Housing Census, told VOA’s Somali Service Tuesday.
Ige, who will be overseeing the project, said the data collectors will be following a standard methodology used internationally to conduct the count.
“We are using combination of de facto and de jure methodology. That means we are counting population we find on the day of the counting,” he said. “[For] the nomadic population and the homeless, we are using de jure methodology. That means we are asking people where they usually live — it’s combination of two methodologies because Somalis have different population strata.”
Voice of America 2 May 2023
Somalia’s army said it has killed 67 al-Shabab militants and seized large amounts of explosives in an operation in the north-central Mudug region.
Brigadier General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi told reporters Tuesday the military was acting on intelligence about movements of the al-Shabab group.
Bihi said the operation in the Harardhere district of central Mudug region took place at around 1 a.m. when 120 jerrycans containing improvised explosive devices were offloaded from a boat and carried in a vehicle that was guided by 69 militants. Bihi said Somalia’s National Army fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicle and destroyed it. He said only two militants were captured alive.
VOA could not independently verify the army’s casualty figures.
Somalia’s army has been conducting joint offensives with local militias against the Islamist militants since last July as part of an all-out war against the group.
Voice of America 2 May 2023
Central African Republic
Around 6,000 people, most of them women, have fled the fighting in Sudan to neighboring Central African Republic over the last two weeks, the UN refugee agency told AFP Sunday.
“The number is made up of 70 percent women, 15 percent girls, 10 percent men and 400 repatriated,” said the UNHCR in a tweet Saturday, the authenticity of which was confirmed Sunday by one of the agency’s Central Africa representatives.
Millions of Sudanese have been trapped in their homes during heavy fighting between the forces of army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
The war has so far killed at least 528 people, with at least 4,599 wounded, according to official figures that are widely considered to be an underestimate.
Al-Arabiya 1 May 2023
Thousands of Sudanese are crossing borders into countries already severely stressed by drought, conflicts and food insecurity, say UN officials.
The UN is in a race against time to get food supplies to Sudanese refugees crossing the border into Chad before the rainy season begins, as neighbouring countries struggle to cope with the numbers of people fleeing the civil war.
More than 110,000 people are now estimated to have crossed into other countries as patchy ceasefires fail to stop deadly clashes between Sudanese army troops and a paramilitary rival that have killed hundreds and forced more than 330,000 from their homes.
But, in a region suffering acutely from hunger and already hosting sizeable refugee populations with vastly decreased funds, aid workers are warning there are serious questions over what awaits the new arrivals once they cross the border.
The Guardian 5 May 2023
Air strikes and gunfire rocked the Sudanese capital on Friday as fighting showed no signs of abating, despite the threat of renewed US sanctions and warnings of a “protracted” conflict.
Hundreds have died in nearly three weeks of fighting between forces of Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the regular army, and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Battles persisted a day after US President Joe Biden threatened to impose sanctions on those responsible for “threatening the peace, security, and stability of Sudan” and “undermining Sudan’s democratic transition”.
The impoverished northeast African country had already suffered under decades of sanctions during the rule of former autocrat Omar al-Bashir, ousted in 2019 following mass protests.
“The violence taking place in Sudan is a tragedy – and it is a betrayal of the Sudanese people’s clear demand for civilian government and a transition to democracy. It must end,” Biden said.
News24 5 May 2023
Seven South Sudanese delegates who attended a peace conference in the southeast of the country were killed, a Norwegian humanitarian organisation said Thursday.
“We strongly condemn the attack on civilians and humanitarian aid workers,” the head of Norwegian Church Aid, Dagfinn Hoybraten, said in a statement.
“The attack demonstrates how demanding and complex it is to work in a country where the security situation is changing all the time,” he added.
The seven were killed on Saturday in Imehejek in Eastern Equatoria state after attending a peace conference and being offered a ride in NCA cars.
Three NCA employees, also from South Sudan, escaped unharmed, NCA said.
Punch Newspapers 4 May 2023
Warring generals in Sudan have agreed “in principle” to a seven-day ceasefire, the government of neighbouring South Sudan said Tuesday, after regional envoys denounced repeated violations of previous truces.
Diplomatic efforts have intensified to end more than two weeks of war in Africa’s third-largest country as warnings multiply about a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis.
More than 430,000 people have already been forced to flee their homes, the United Nations said.
Hundreds of others have been killed and thousands wounded.
Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), “have agreed in principle for a seven-day truce from May 4th to 11th,” the South Sudanese foreign ministry in Juba said in a statement.
EWN 3 May 2023
North Africa and the Sahara
Hach Ahmed Bericalla, first secretary of the MSP, appeals to the “sense of responsibility” of the Algerian leaders to avoid a new phase of war between the Polisario Front and Morocco.
Western Sahara needs a definitive agreement between the opposing sides over the territory, led by Morocco and the Polisario Front, the latter supported by Algeria. An understanding between the rival parties is necessary in order to put an end to more than 40 years of clashes in the area over the sovereignty of the region.
Along these lines, Hach Ahmed Bericalla, first secretary of the Movement Saharawi for Peace (MSP), appeals to Algeria’s “sense of responsibility” to promote a rapprochement and facilitate negotiations that will lead to a definitive settlement of the frozen situation, as he explained in an interview with the media outlet Hespress.
Since the departure of Spain at the end of the colonial era, there has been a dispute between Morocco, which claims the territory of Western Sahara as its own, and the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, which calls for a referendum on independence for the Sahrawi population.
Atalayar 25 April 2023