The SADC Wrap: Mnangagwa’s charm offensive, DRC anti-Kabila protests leave five dead, foreign ships flagged in Tanzania
From across southern Africa, KRISTEN VAN SCHIE brings you a weekly round-up of news making regional waves.
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa spent last week on a whistle-stop tour around the region, wooing his counterparts and dropping all the right sound bites near all the right international media outlets.
In Namibia, he called on Zimbabweans abroad to return home.
In Mozambique, he promised to make doing business easier.
And in Zambia, he praised the country that was his home-in-exile during the war for independence.
He also gave his first international interviews since coming to power in the coup of late 2017, declaring Zimbabwe “open for business” and warming to the old foes of his predecessor Robert Mugabe: The West.
“We must be as attractive to capital to come to Zimbabwe as any other destination in the world — or even better,” he told Bloomberg.
“We want fair, free, credible elections” in the next few months, he told the Financial Times.
And, reports NewsDay, at a gathering of government and business back home in Harare: “We are going to re-engage in a very serious manner with international partners... We are trying to normalise relations with the European Union, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.”
Not coincidentally, Mnangagwa will be the first Zimbabwean president to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.
Roll on, Davos.
At least five people were reported dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday following anti-government protests against President Joseph Kabila’s seemingly never-ending reign.
This is the second major protest against Kabila in three weeks, the last being on New Year’s Eve as a negotiated deadline for him to step down expired. Then, up to 12 people were killed.
AFP reports that “security forces fired live rounds and tear gas in Kinshasa” at protesters on Sunday: “In all, the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco said at least five people were killed in Kinshasa and 33 others injured nationwide, while 69 people were arrested.”
Earlier, the government had shut down the internet and barricaded roads in anticipation of the march, called for by the Catholic church.
Again, AFP: “The authorities have banned all demonstrations, and at around midnight (23:00 GMT on Saturday), the internet, email and social media messaging networks were cut in the capital.”
Kabila came to power in 2001 and, while his term expired in 2016, his government has repeatedly stalled a national vote to replace him, citing logistical and security issues.
Tanzania is investigating hundreds of foreign ships registered there after two vessels flying the country’s flag were seized in just the last month carrying criminal cargo.
According to Reuters, Dutch authorities last month intercepted “a Tanzania-flagged merchant vessel carrying 1.6 tonnes of cocaine”. Then, earlier in January, another ship was intercepted in Greek waters – this time carrying explosives, allegedly en route to Libya. The ship was Chinese, but it too was registered in Tanzania, according to the Daily News.
Last week, President John Magafuli placed a temporary ban on foreign ships registering in his country.
“We cannot allow the name of our country to be tarnished by individuals pursuing their selfish interests,” he said, reports AFP. DM
Photo: Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) pose for pictures with his Mozambique counterpart Filipe Nyusi (R) during a welcome ceremony upon his arrival to the Presidential Palace in Maputo, Mozambique, 17 January 2017. Photo: EPA-EFE/ANTONIO SILVA