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SADC leaders meet to consider action on Mozambique insurgency2 minutes read

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe who is the current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation said the Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique is under threat from some acts of extremism and terrorism.

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President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) attends opening session of the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020. This year the summit convened with the theme of 'Silencing the Guns by 2020', which includes economic, social and security issues in Africa. Minasse Wondimu Hailu / Anadolu Agency

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ Troika of three leaders, plus Mozambique,  met Wednesday  in Harare, Zimbabwe to discuss the security situation in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique.

At the day-long meeting in Harare, leaders of Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique said they had discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and the security situation in southern Africa, including Lesotho, where Prime Minister Thomas Thabane resigned this week after months of pressure over his alleged role in the murder of his former wife.

But much of the talk centered on Mozambique, where an Islamist insurgency has raged in Cabo Delgado province since 2017.

A statement issued by the host Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said, “the purpose of the Extraordinary Troika Summit plus Mozambique is to consider the urgent security situation in Mozambique following its formal request to the regional body.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe who  is the current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation said the Cabo Delgado Province is under threat from some acts of extremism and terrorism, and could spread to neighboring countries if not properly addressed.

According to the United Nations, at least 28 attacks have been recorded in the province since the beginning of 2020 with 400 people killed and about 100,000 people displaced since the beginning of the insurgency in 2017.

Various groups including those with Islamic fundamentalism, especially a group known as Ahlu Sunna Wa-Jama have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks which the Mozambican government is now describing as terrorism.

To combat the instability in the northern part of the country, Mozambique – as one of the 16 SADC Member States — has made a formal request to the regional body to help fight the insurgency, which could impact other countries in southern Africa if left unattended.

The Cabo Delgado Province, which is situated in the northernmost part of Mozambique shares its border with the United Republic of Tanzania.

The SADC Troika of the Organ is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region, and is coordinated at the level of Summit, consisting of a Chairperson, Incoming Chairperson and Outgoing Chairperson, and reports to the SADC Summit.

President Mnangagwa as current Chair of the Organ is joined in the meeting by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana (Incoming Chairperson) and Zambian President Edgar Lungu (Outgoing Chairperson). Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique also attended the meeting.

 various measures were discussed and taken by SADC to contain the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado Province, some of which include helping Mozambique with military and intelligence information to fight the insurgency and also deploy a SADC standby force  since such acts of terrorism are transboundary.

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Politics

Court orders rearrest of Lesotho ex-first lady in murder trial

Maesaiah Thabane is suspected of orchestrating the shooting of Lipolelo Thabane, who was gunned down outside her home in the capital Maseru.

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Former Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane (L) and his wife Maesaiah Thabane sit at the Magistrate Court in Maseru, Lesotho, on February 24, 2020. AFP

Lesotho’s Court of Appeal has ordered the rearrest of former first lady Maesaiah Thabane after revoking her bail on murder charges over the killing of her husband’s estranged wife in 2017.

The 42-year-old was charged in February after police quizzed her on the brutal murder of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife two days before his inauguration.

She spent one night in jail, after which Lesotho’s High Court freed her on a 1,000 maloti ($57) bail, according to AFP.

“The decision… is set aside and the bail petition is remitted back to the High Court to be determined by a different judge,” Court of Appeal president Kananelo Mosito ruled on Friday.

Police said Maesaiah Thabane would be arrested and handed over to correctional service officials later on Friday.

“As soon as we get the written judgement… we will arrest her,” deputy police commissioner Paseka Mokete told AFP.

Maesaiah Thabane is suspected of orchestrating the shooting of Lipolelo Thabane, who was gunned down outside her home in the capital Maseru.

Police have also charged her for the attempted murder of Lipolelo Thabane’s friend Thato Sibolla, who was wounded at the scene.

Lipolelo and Thomas Thabane, now 81, had been embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings when the 48-year-old was killed.

The former prime minister agreed to step down in January after police linked his mobile number to communication records from the crime scene.

He officially resigned this month, bowing to pressure from his rivals who accused him of hampering investigations into Lipolelo’s death.

Thabane has denied any involvement in the murder.

His wife initially went into hiding after police first called her in to testify in January.

She has not yet been allowed to respond to the charges.

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Politics

Niger passes new wire-tapping law to fight terrorism despite opposition

The opposition decried “the will of those in power to deprive Nigeriens… of all privacy in their communications.”

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Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou

Niger’s parliament has adopted a new legislation authorising wiretapping as a means of curbing “terrorism and transnational criminality”, brushing off an opposition protest walkout.

The new law permits “research of information” which notably may “threaten state security” or “prevent the fight against terrorism and organised transnational crime” in a country large swathes of which are in thrall to jihadist conflict, an AFP report said Friday.

Opposition parties are concerned that the country’s constitution holds that “secrecy of correspondence and of communications is inviolable”.

Under the new law, “obtained proofs can be used in investigations and criminal prosecutions initiated by judicial authorities, “with communications intercepted by “competent technical services” who will target “any person against whom there are serious reasons” to proceed.

Barkai Issouf, minister overseeing relations with institutions, insisted that “this law is not a threat to liberty. It is indispensable and emanates form the government’s wish to secure our people”.

Justice Minister Marou Amadou played down the move, saying: “You feared being listened in on? Well, you were before and you still are — only now it will be organised.”

In a statement, the opposition decried “the will of those in power to deprive Nigeriens… of all privacy in their communications.”

It added “this law will allow surveillance of all Nigeriens, as well as all those who live in Niger under the false pretexts” of maintaining security and fighting terrorism.

Niger has endured repeated unrest in its west near its borders with Mali and Burkina Faso from rival jihadi groups as well as in its southeast from Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa, a breakaway group from Boko Haram.

There have been several recent incursions including a massacre in which 20 people were massacred earlier this month.

In the same immense and unstable region of Tillaberi, which covers 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) and runs into the three-border area of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, three attacks on the army since December left 174 soldiers dead, according to an official report.

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East Africa Politics News

Court sets Tanzanian opposition leader free despite being guilty for sedition

In a written order setting out conditions for Kabwe’s discharge, Magistrate Huruma Shaidi said Kabwe should commit no seditious offence for a period of one year, and if he did, he would be liable to be sentenced for the offence.

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Zitto Kabwe, local lawmaker and head of ACT Wazalendo party.

A Tanzanian opposition leader found guilty of sedition and incitement on accusations that he falsely said some 100 people were killed in clashes between herders and police in his home region in 2018 was on Friday set free by a Dar es Salaam court.

Zitto Kabwe, a local lawmaker and head of ACT Wazalendo party was set free on condition that he refrain from saying or writing anything that would be considered sedition to the government.

Kabwe, who is member of parliament for Kigoma urban constituency, in western Tanzania, was charged in November 2018 with three counts related to incitement after saying that 100 people were killed in clashes between herders and police in the region, a Reuters report said.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the time, the head of police in Kigoma said just two herdsmen and two officers had died during an operation to stop pastoralists keeping livestock illegally on a government-owned ranch.

Huruma Shaidi, principal magistrate of Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s court in Dar es Salaam, said he found Kabwe guilty on all three counts.

In a written order setting out conditions for Kabwe’s discharge, Shaidi said Kabwe should commit no seditious offence for a period of one year, and if he did, he would be liable to be sentenced for the offence.

Kabwe’s defence lawyers said they were going to appeal the verdict.

“Zitto Kabwe is a politician and we are in the elections period, we are going to appeal this ruling to clear him,” Jebra Kambole, Kabwe’s lead counsel, told reporters outside the court.

Kabwe split away from the main opposition CHADEMA movement in 2015 and is now his party’s only lawmaker.

The East African country has been one of the continent’s most stable, but opposition leaders and rights groups have accused the government of cracking down on dissent – an accusation it dismisses.

Tanzania is expected to hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections in October.

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