June 9 – 15, 2014

drcSoldiers from the DRC got into a firefight with their Rwandese counterparts near the border on Wednesday, allegedly sparked by the abduction of a DRC soldier. Five DRC soldiers died in the exchange, with the official version stating two of their platoons tried to cross over into Rwanda.

Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo called on the DRC to cease hostilities, warning that “Rwanda stands ready to act to protect its citizens”.
Both the UN and France have appealed to both sides to stop the madness.

Meanwhile, a group of Rwandese FDLR rebels fighting in South Kivu gave up their weapons last week, as part of a voluntary disarmament programme in the area. Al Jazeera’s Catherine Wambua-Soi has a great description of how that went down (“This time only 83 showed up – but none were really senior in their military ranks. Some of the fighters looked feeble. The weapons they handed over were old, rusty and some appeared obsolete…”) – but is it all just a ruse, she asks?
“Some wonder why the rebels are being given such a soft landing. It took four days for the Congolese army, Tanzania and South Africa to dislodge another rebel group. So why can’t they also engage militarily with the FDLR?”

mozambiqueFurther south, Mozambique is feeling the impact of its own sudden spark in hostilities following rebel group/opposition party Renamo calling off the ceasefire with government, leaving potential investors wary (that Financial Times piece is also a good introduction to Filipe Nyusi, the Frelimo man who will almost certainly become Mozambique’s president after the elections in October.) So far, the US, Portugal, the country’s Human Rights Commission, and civil society have called for an end to hostilities.
This is a good piece explaining the current Renamo-Frelimo deadlock.


Two would-be beauty queens were kicked out of the Miss Zimbabwe pageant last week for violating the contest rules. Their crime? The two 21-year-olds acted like two 21-year-olds and sneaked out of what I’m going to call Survivor: Beauty Camp!!! on a Saturday night.

SURVIVOR

“We are grooming a queen who is going to represent the country at higher and more important platforms so we want someone who is responsible,” explained Miss Zimbabwe Trust Secretary Terry Bharu. They’re just the latest Evictees. Three other girls were booted out the week before for “not meeting the requirements”.
“When a finalist fails to grasp the fundamentals, we are with no option but to let her go,” said Bharu, adding, “God, do I have to tell you one more time? It’s five steps forward, hip pop, Blue Steel, hair swish, pas de bourrée left, pas de bourrée right, développé, pirouette, and sashay back to the dressing room without getting a bikini wedgie. ELEMENTARY.”

Logo Miss ZimbabweThe tribe has also spoken in deciding that tickets will cost US$300 per person.
“Only those we feel will add value to the pageant will be considered to attend the function,” said a spokesperson.
Yes, Average Zimbabwean. That means exactly what you think it means.
Said one irate Average Zimbabwean: “Look at the salaries that civil servants are taking home; they might as well change the name to Miss Zim Wealthy.”
Swish. I like it.


botswana

An interesting case was heard in the Botswana High Court last week, where the government defended its policy of denying ARVs to foreign prisoners with HIV. The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/Aids argued that this “denied the prisoners’ rights to life, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and discrimination and equality”.
But the State lawyer allegedly said the government was under no legal obligation to provide ARV treatment to foreign inmates, and besides, it was the prisoners who’d denied themselves their own right to live: it was their fault for contracting HIV in the first place.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre has a good piece on what went down in court.
Judgement was reserved.


swaziland

More than R3 billion is missing from Swaziland’s coffers, based on a report by the country’s auditor-general Phestecia Nxumalo that compared what the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) said it deposited into the treasury in the 2012/13 financial year, and what was actually in them. For the second year in a row delivering her report, Nxumalo blamed fraudsters and lamented the fact that still nobody was held accountable.

Namibia‘s ruling party Swapo is suing opposition parties who tried to have the 2009 election results audited. That case bounced between different courts until 2012, when the Supreme Court dismissed the opposition parties’ appeal and ordered them to pay Swapo’s costs. A few years on, and Swapo is still waiting.

malawiNewly-elected president of Malawi Peter Mutharika is marrying his long time partner later this month, at an event price-tag of
US$95 000. The vice president Saulos Chilima, who is the actual real live Chairperson of the actual real live Wedding Committee, says all these many dollars will come from “well-wishers”, not taxpayers. Bride-to-be Gertrude Maseko is a former MP.

And the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project was launched last week.  When complete, it will deliver another 17 million cubic metres of water to South Africa each year, while Lesotho is supposed to be getting jobs and revenue out of the deal.

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