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Nelson Chamisa to lead Zimbabwe’s main opposition

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is likely to elect Chamisa unopposed.

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Nelson Chamisa to lead Zimbabwe's main opposition
Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance is expected to be elected as party's first president since the death of the former party leader. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Zimbabwe’s main opposition this weekend is expected to elect Nelson Chamisa as its next president in its first congress since the death of its revered founder, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is likely to elect Chamisa unopposed, boosting a party plagued by infighting since Tsvangirai’s death and a presidential election defeat.

Tsvangirai appointed Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as party co-vice presidents before succumbing to colon cancer in February 2018.

Chamisa, 41, then took the party helm, becoming its champion in the first presidential elections since Robert Mugabe was ousted.

He lost the historic ballot to incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, an outcome that he says was rigged.

“We are going to get a new leader, Nelson Chamisa,” party spokesman Jacob Mafume told AFP, a prediction that analysts agree seems sure.

“I think Nelson Chamisa will be elected to continue as the MDC president,” said Gideon Chitanga of Johannesburg-based think tank, Political Economy Southern Africa. 

After the blow of July’s election loss, Chamisa may have the political winds behind him as the new MDC chief.

Zimbabwe’s economy, which the 76-year-old Mnangagwa has vowed to revive, is once more an explosive issue, with shortages of fuel, a cash crunch and rising inflation.

But whether the youthful Chamisa can appeal to a broader audience as this crisis unfolds is unclear.

“His popularity cannot be disputed — he is popular broadly within the MDC,” Chitanga said.

“But I’m not sure he has worked on his other traits as a leader of such a huge movement to a point where he inspires confidence to different sections of society.”

Opposition and division

Some 10,000 delegates and guests are expected to attend the conference, taking place in the central city of Gweru.

Formed in 1999, following a conference of labour, church and civic society and students groups with trade unionist Tsvangirai as founding leader, the MDC is the largest opposition party the country has known since independence in 1980. 

It is the only party to have posed a sizeable challenge to ZANU-PF’s grip on power, often in the face of violence.

In the 2008 elections, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections but failed to garner enough votes to be declared winner.

He withdrew from the runoff, citing attacks on his supporters by ZANU-PF militants and state agents that left around 200 people dead and thousands of people displaced.

Despite its prominence, the party has a long history of division.

It first split over whether to contest in senate elections in 2006, again in 2013 in the aftermath of general elections and most recently in internecine feuding over Tsvangirai’s succession.

Earlier this month, the high court, petitioned by a party district official, declared that Chamisa’s appointment as party vice-president by Tsvangira had been illegal.

The MDC says the ruling is a ZANU-PF machination ahead of the congress, and has lodged an appeal.

“Our opponents have been using all kinds of tricks to derail this great event but we are saying it is the party membership which decides the party position,” said Mafume. 

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East Africa News & Stories

DR Congo military kills 16 militiamen in northeastern region

A spokesperson for the military said militia positions were targeted in Walendu Pitsi sector, killing 16 militiamen and capturing one

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DR Congo military kills 16 militiamen in northeast region
Soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

The military in DR Congo said on Tuesday that sixteen militiamen have been killed in the northeastern part of the country, an area where ethnic violence has left at least 160 dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee in the past two weeks.

A spokesperson for the military said militia positions were targeted in Walendu Pitsi sector, killing 16 militiamen and capturing one.

“At the moment, operations are concentrated around the Kpadruma locality where there is violent fighting,” Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi, a provincial army spokesman, told reporters.

He said;

“The soldiers of the armed forces of the DRC have chased attackers from several localities which they were occupying and sowing insecurity.” 

He also added that four AK47 rifles were recovered.

Lieutenant Tshikudi did not reveal the name of the group that was targeted, but there have been repeated outbreaks of violence between different ethnic groups in that area.

Between 10 and 12 June, there was a flare-up in violence in the Djugu region in DRC’s volatile Ituri Province which led to the deaths of at least 160 people, local authorities said. Earlier death tolls put the figure at somewhere between 50 and around 70.

The UN refugee agency has voiced deep concerns over the developments, which it said had seen “multiple attacks” involving the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups since early June.

The agency has said the recent wave of violence in the area has forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes, with “large-scale displacement” reported in three of Ituri’s five administrative territories, with people fleeing unrest in Djugu territory especially.

The region which is known to be rich in gold, has experienced extreme violence before, with deaths numbering tens of thousands due to clashes between the Hema and Lendu form the periods of 1999 to 2003.

The DRC counts an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced people. Ituri and North Kivu province, just to the south, are battling with a major epidemic of Ebola that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since August last year. Both provinces are in the eastern part of the DRC, where the country shares its border with Uganda.

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Zuma’s lawyer says he will attend ‘prejudiced’ graft inquiry

Jacob Zuma, who was forced out of office last year over corruption allegations, has denied any wrong doings

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Jacob Zuma will attend ‘prejudiced’ graft inquiry -lawyer
Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks with his lawyers at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. (Photo by Themba Hadebe / POOL / AFP)

South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, will attend a judicial inquiry into government graft during his tenure even though he believes it is prejudiced against him, his lawyer said.

Zuma’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha, on Tuesday, said:

“He is going to the commission as invited from July 15-19.”

However, “our client remains of the view that the commission is prejudiced against him and lacks the requisite impartiality,” Mantsha wrote separately in a letter to the inquiry seen by reporters.

It wasn’t specified in the letter if Zuma would testify or answer questions. It described last week’s invitation from the commission for Zuma to attend – in which it said he had been implicated in graft by at least nine witnesses – as part of a “disinformation campaign”.

The primary brief of the inquiry is to investigate corruption allegations, notably at state firms Eskom and South African Airways, which are in serious debt after years of mismanagement.

It is reviewing accusations that three prominent businessmen – brothers Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta — unduly influenced Zuma during his presidency about political appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Jacob Zuma, who was forced out of office last year over corruption allegations, has denied any wrongdoings.

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East Africa News & Stories

Kagame calls out the West’s ‘human rights superiority complex’

Kagame said compared to what it was 25 years ago, Rwanda is now a different country

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Kagame criticises West's 'human rights superiority complex'
Photo credit: AFP

In an interview with French TV broadcaster, France24, Rwandan president, Paul Kagame has termed criticisms of his country’s human rights record as “rubbish” and “ridiculous”.

Kagame said compared to what it was 25 years ago, Rwanda is now a different country.

He challenged the host of the program to look at what he called Europe’s failing human rights record, particularly the way migrants have been treated.

“[Europe] is violating people’s rights, with this problem of people being bundled and sent back to sink in the Mediterranean and so many being mistreated in your own country”, he said.

He further added that criticisms from the West were tinged with a superiority complex:

“You really need to stop this superiority complex nonsense about human rights.

“You think you are the only ones who respect human rights, all others are about violating human rights. No, we’ve fought for human rights and freedoms for our people much better [than] you people who keep talking about this nonsense.”

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