Weekly News Briefs 06 August 2020:


Source: Business Day 04 August 2020.

Zimbabwean Lives Matter movement grows with support from big names

Protests against economic turmoil, arrests and human-rights abuses in Zimbabwe have moved online with a hashtag that’s plays on the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The #ZimbabweanLivesMatter tag started after security forces blocked a street demonstration last week.

It draws on the success of the global movement highlighting racial injustice that gained prominence after the death in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis, at the hands of the police.

The online campaign resulted in more than 700,000 tweets on Tuesday, including from sports personalities and celebrities in and outside the country.

Business Day 04 August 2020

Zimbabwean President, Deputy Clash as Economy Tension Grows

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused his deputy of plotting against him in a heated exchange, highlighting a rift between the nation’s two most powerful men as the economy implodes.

At a meeting of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s politburo last week, Mnangagwa shouted at Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, according to two people familiar with the situation. They asked not to be identified because the quarrel hasn’t been publicly disclosed.

The president accused his deputy of instigating a plan to use an opposition protest on July 31 over the deteriorating economic situation to embarrass the national leader, the people said. Some party members would have been encouraged to demonstrate alongside the opposition, but focus their criticism on Mnangagwa to weaken his standing within the ruling party, the people said.

Bloomberg 06 August 2020

US puts sanctions on ally of Zimbabwe president

The US has imposed sanctions on a close business ally of Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa who was until this year the partner of global commodity trader Trafigura in the African nation.

Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his Sakunda group were blacklisted on Wednesday by the US Treasury, which said that the businessman used “opaque business dealings and his ongoing relationship with President Mnangagwa” to improperly amass wealth in the shortages-plagued country.

Both the opposition and figures within Mr Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party have accused Mr Tagwirei of “state capture”, or systematic looting of public resources, while ordinary Zimbabweans are suffering from the collapse of the local currency and triple-digit inflation.

Mr Tagwirei has become popularly known as “Queen Bee” over the allegations of state capture, which Sakunda has denied.

Financial Times 05 August 2020


eSwatini teachers oppose hasty school reopening

For the better part of June and July, the eSwatini government has ignored protests by parents and teachers and reopened schools, despite poor levels of readiness in many institutions.

A few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic, and after parents expressed concern about their children being exposed, the eSwatini government closed schools. Parents and teachers welcomed the decision, hoping the situation would be resolved soon. The country only had a handful of confirmed cases and no deaths. As of this writing, 2856 people have tested positive, and 49 have died.

On 6 July 2020, the ministry of education and training ignored the protests of parents and teachers and reopened schools. The form five class (equal to South Africa’s grade 12) were first to go back to prepare for external exams in October and November. No specialists were involved in sanitising schools. Teachers had to do the work themselves. So, a week earlier, they returned, not to teach but to scrub floors.

The country’s biggest organisation of teachers, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), opposed both the reopening of schools and teachers’ new role as occupational health personnel. In a statement on July 3, SNAT said: “We fervently maintain that unless and until all high schools are sufficiently prepared for the reopening of schools, these remain closed. … If the serious steps that the government has been taking this week were taken 30 days ago, our level of preparedness would be indisputable by now.”

New Frame 06 August 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC armed groups killed 1,300 in first half of 2020, says UN

More than 1,300 people were killed in the first six months of the year by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), three times more than in the same period in 2019, according to the United Nations.

A report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) on Wednesday said fighters of all armed groups were responsible for the summary executions or arbitrary killings of at least 1,315 people, including 165 children, between January and June 2020.

That was more than three times the 416 such deaths recorded in the first half of last year.

The UNJHRO attributed the jump to the “deterioration” in the human rights situation in provinces where conflict is rife, particularly Ituri, South Kivu, Tanganyika and North Kivu.

Aljazeera 05 August 2020

SADC seeks lasting peace for DRC

President Mnangagwa, who chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, yesterday led the regional bloc in coming up with a peace deal that is expected to bring stability to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The President chaired a virtual Troika Summit that included the Force Intervention Brigade Troops contributing countries (FIB-TCC) and the DRC. The meeting was attended by six SADC Heads of State and Government.

Those who attended the virtual meeting are President Mnangagwa, as the current chairperson, outgoing chairperson Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the incoming chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Tanzanian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Professor Palamagamba John Mwaluko Kabudi and Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera attended the meeting as the Force Intervention Brigade Troop contributing countries, while DRC President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi, attended as the leader of the affected country.

The Herald 06 August 2020

Central Africa Republic

Humanitarian Fund allocation in the Central African Republic

The Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic (CAR), Ms. Denise Brown, has allocated US$ 9 million from the Humanitarian Fund (HF) to support sectoral and multisectoral response to the urgent underfunded needs of the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in favor of the most vulnerable groups and internal displaced persons (IDP) on sites and with host families. This emergency funding will also serve at providing a helicopter through the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) to ensure in-country medical evacuations for humanitarian personnel. It will also ensure the delivery of essential cargo in hard-to-reach areas, support coordination through the funding of cluster co-facilitators’ positions, and multisectoral need assessments for the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

Thanks to this funding, 31 emergency projects will be implemented in the priority sectors of emergency shelter and non-food items, camp coordination and camp management, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, food security, nutrition, logistics, protection and coordination. As for the precedent CAR HF allocation, the reserve modality was chosen to foster a prioritization process that promoted a rapid selection of projects, allowing efficient and timely disbursement of the funds.

Relief Web 04 August 2020

Violence in Central African Republic also causing a mental health crisis

Fears are growing that the Central African Republic could experience an upsurge of violence as it prepares for presidential elections later this year.

Last week, a UN peacekeeper was killed in the northwest of the country, in an attack allegedly carried out by an armed group that was part of a February 2019 peace agreement signed by the CAR government and 14 militias.

In 2013, a Muslim rebel group called Seleka took over the government of the country, giving rise to the pro-Christian anti-Balaka militia movement. Eventually, Seleka was driven out, but tit-for-tat violence between nominally Muslim and Christian groups continues to this day, and the central government has trouble exercising power outside of the capital Bangui.

Crux 24 July 2020


Al-Shabaab attack kills at least 8 soldiers

At least eight Somali government soldiers were killed and several wounded on Wednesday when al-Shabaab terrorists attacked a military base in the southwestern Bay province.

Somali government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Oronjo told Anadolu Agency over the phone that al-Shabaab terrorists attacked a Somali national army base in Daynuney.

When a company of soldiers came under attack by al-Shabaab terrorists on Wednesday, a commander was among those killed, Oronjo said.

After the attack, a military vehicle carrying reinforcements was targeted in a roadside blast, wounding several soldiers, he added.

Ali Ibrahim, a military official, told Anadolu Agency that more than six al-Shabaab fighters were also killed during fierce fighting with the Somali army.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via the internet.

Anadolu Agency 05 August 2020

Bids open for Somalia’s first-ever oil block licensing round

Somalia has announced that it is opening licensing rounds for seven offshore oil blocks. This comes days after the Federal Government of Somalia approved the board members of the newly established Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA), which will serve to be the regulatory body of Somalia’s oil and gas industry.

Somalia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Abdirashid M. Ahmed stated that the establishment of a regulator leadership is the first critical step of the implementation of Somalia’s petroleum law which was passed earlier this year and signed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo”.

The Petroleum Law asserts that the regulatory body serves to design a financial and managerial system that fosters international competition and investment into Somalia’s oil and gas industry. While also ensuring the citizens of Somalia, and the Federal Member States see their fair share of oil and gas revenue based on the revenue-sharing agreement.

Modern Diplomacy 06 August 2020


Sudan welcomes Pompeo comments on ending terror listing

Sudan’s government has welcomed remarks from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week that he would like to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, local media reported.

Pompeo has repeatedly indicated that the State Department hopes to remove the designation, which severely impedes investment to Sudan, but disputes have arisen on a compensation package over the 1998 bombings of two US embassies.

The US top diplomat told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that legislation on a settlement should come before Congress “in the very, very near term”.

According to an English-language report by official news agency SUNA, the Sudanese transitional government on Saturday welcomed Pompeo’s statement and “promised to do its level best to meet the requirements that would help the (American) administration” take “positive action”.

The East African 06 August 2020

Heavy Rains and Floods Destroy Houses, Dam, Kill 5 in Sudan

Women and children slept in the open amid heavy rainfall after flooding inundated hundreds of homes in Sudan’s Blue Nile province and left five people dead across the country, authorities said Sunday.

Bout, a town of 100,000 people, has been severely hit by heavy rains and floods over the past week with at least 1,200 houses destroyed, the Sudanese Red Crescent said. More than 120 houses in the nearby town of Wed Abuk were also destroyed. 

Footage circulated online showed floodwaters cutting off roads and sweeping away houses and people’s belongings. Swaths of agricultural land in the area were also flooded.

Most in the region are internally displaced people who live off agriculture and are vulnerable to the annual flooding, according to resident Musab Sharif. 

Hundreds of families were left sleeping in the open amid rain that lasted until late Saturday, he said.

Voice of America 02 August 2020

South Sudan

US Ambassador to South Sudan Ties Development Aid to Peace Deal

U.S. development aid to South Sudan depends on whether the country’s formerly warring parties implement reforms outlined in the country’s 2018 peace deal, says the U.S. ambassador to Juba. 

In an interview Tuesday with VOA’s South Sudan in Focus, Tom Hushek said the transitional unity government formed earlier this year has not carried out several parts of the signed agreement.

“For instance, security sector reform, public financial management reform, transitional justice mechanism, work on a new permanent constitution and planning for the elections process — these are all reform efforts that are in the peace agreement and this is really the heart of the peace agreement,” said Hushek.

He said the U.S. is prepared to help rebuild the African country from the damage of its civil war — if political leaders start to make the reforms a reality. 

Voice of America 15 July 2020

‘These Were Innocent Children,’ Archbishop Says of South Sudan Murders

The Catholic archbishop of Juba condemned “in the strongest terms possible” the murder of three young girls, killed while watching television in their Juba home.

The girls—ages 9, 7 and 4—were the children of Edward Jami Andrea, a lecturer at the Upper Nile University in the capital. The children were alone in the house Aug. 1 while their mother was at the market.

“I don’t know whether it was revenge or ritual killings, but these were innocent children who someone just decided to take their lives,” Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Mulla told Catholic News Service from Torit, where he is on a pastoral visit. “I am very shocked and saddened by the deaths.”

In a statement, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio called the murders “really heart-breaking.”

“What kind of monstrous cowards can sneak up on defenseless children and slaughter them in their home?” he asked, saying he joined all of South Sudan in condemning the murders.

Catholic New York 05 August 2020

Western Sahara

Ireland supports UN-led process and the right to self-determination in Western Sahara

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Simon Coveney, reaffirmed his country’s support to the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and to UN-led process of decolonisation in this last colony in Africa.

In his written answer last 14 July 2020 to a question by Irish member of Parliament, Deputy Patrick Costello, who asked “if Ireland will use its membership of the United Nations Security Council to push for resolution in respect of Western Sahara”, Irish Minister affirmed that Ireland “position on the situation in Western Sahara remains one of support to the UN-led process and the Secretary-General’s efforts to reach a definitive political settlement on this issue. We support the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, but we do not have a view on the outcome of that decision – be it independence, integration, autonomy, or some other solution – so long as it is decided in a genuine exercise of self-determination.”

He further indicated that this stand “will remain our position when we take up our seat on the Security Council, and we will be ready to support all efforts to advance the UN-led process and reach a lasting settlement.”

With regards to the stalled efforts of the UN, the Irish Minister expressed Ireland’s desire “to see the appointment, as soon as possible, of a new UN Special Envoy, to take forward that process and build on the momentum which had been developing under the previous Special Envoy, Horst Köhler, before his departure last year.”

Sahara Press Service 21 July 2020

UNPO General Assembly: “Self-Determination Critical to Sustainable Development”

On 3 August 2020, the XV General Assembly of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization adopted a resolution on the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16. The resolution highlights positive instances within the past six years where self-determination issues have been freely put to a vote. In this context, the text urges the international community to recognize that such forward-thinking actions present the best opportunity for the full realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including in particular SDG Goal 16 to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies and to support more such efforts in the future.

The UNPO promotes the importance of self-determination as a fundamental human right. Often misunderstood, the right to self-determination is at the heart of true implementation of  all other human rights, as well as the creation of an effective international world order capable of responding to issues of global concern. When we look at the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16, which requires all member states of the United Nations “to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”, UNPO sees the promotion of the right to self-determination as a fundamental step without which SDG16 cannot be achieved.

In this framework, the UNPO is pleased that a handful of peoples around the world have been able to freely and peacefully hold a referendum on their political status, such as the case of Scotland, New Caledonia and Bougainville, a former UNPO member. In other circumstances, however, agreements on the self-determination of unrepresented nations and peoples or attempts to have a vote on such self-determination have been consistently frustrated. Even worse, in some cases, legitimate, nonviolent self-determination movements have been criminalized.

UNPO 04 August 2020