CW 22/2022: New perspectives, old conflicts
Press Review 25 May 2022 to 3 June 2022

Tsitsi Dangarembga on trial in Zimbabwe

Since Tuesday, Zimbabwean writer and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga has been on trial in her home country. She is accused of publicly inciting violence during a demonstration in the capital Harare in 2020 and of violating Corona requirements. The hearings will take place at the Anti-Corruption Court, which reports directly to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. If convicted, the 62-year-old faces several years in prison. International observers see the trial as an attempt by the government to wear down the opposition. Dangarembga has been an activist for feminist causes and political change in Zimbabwe for many years, calling for government reforms. For her commitment as well as her literary work, she was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in Germany in October 2021. As part of the event “Tales of Freedom – Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe”, the award winner was also in conversation with the German Africa Foundation and described her experiences of the current situation in Zimbabwe. The German Africa Foundation also urges for a fair and constitutional trial and joins the demand of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

State of emergency lifted in Sudan

The state of emergency in Sudan has been lifted, the Sovereign Council announced on Sunday. The state of emergency had been in force since the military coup on 25 October last year. Military ruler and Chairman of the Sovereignty Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has now suspended the state of emergency by a “decree lifting the nationwide state of emergency”. In this context, 125 people detained under the state of emergency law have been released, with more to follow. The decision was preceded by months of mass protests against the coup, most of which were violently suppressed. According to estimates around 100 people were killed and around 4,300 wounded. The coup ended the transition to democracy launched in 2019 after the ouster of long-time autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir, which had envisaged a power-sharing arrangement between the military and civil society. The military junta set elections for July 2023, citing a constitutional document negotiated during the transition period. International condemnation and punitive measures, including cuts in aid from Western governments, were the result. Also Germany, suspended all bilateral relations until a will to return to a civil order in Sudan is discernible. The steps taken by the Sudanese leadership should now demonstrate this will and pave the way for a constructive dialogue between the Sudanese factions, which should bring stability and security in the transitional period. The UN, AU and the regional IGAD soon agreed to act as mediators, although the UN has so far been rejected as a mediator by the Sudanese opposition. These direct talks between a military delegation led by the country’s deputy commander and civilian or political representatives are now due to start next week. However, some opposition groups want to stay away from the negotiations because of their scepticism about the military’s sincerity.

Tensions between Rwanda and DR Congo

Diplomatic tensions between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda continued this week. The background to this is that both governments accuse the other of supporting rebel groups. After the Congolese military and UN peacekeepers defeated the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in 2013, fighting flared up again this March, including the M23’s brief capture of a military base As a result, the M23 was disinvited from peace talks between the Congolese government and representatives of various armed groups that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, in April (press review, week 17/2022). The DRC accuses Rwanda, which is one of the Compact with Africa countries, of supporting the M23. Rwanda denies this and speaks of an internal Congolese conflict. Tensions between the two countries increased over the weekend when the Congolese army arrested two Rwandan soldiers who, according to the army, had crossed the border without permission and were therefore taken into custody. According to the Rwandan government, however, the soldiers were abducted by the rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) while on patrol inside Rwanda, which is why it accused the DRC of collaborating with this group. Furthermore, Rwanda accused the Congolese army of carrying out cross-border shelling in the fight against the M23, resulting in several wounded civilians on the Rwandan side. African Union President Macky Sall on Sunday expressed concern over the tension and called on the two countries to engage in dialogue and resolve the crisis peacefully. He also tasked Angola’s President João Lourenço to mediate between the two countries. After talks with Lourenço, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi announced on Wednesday that the two Rwandan soldiers taken into custody would be released. Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame have also agreed to meet in Angola at a later date to resolve tensions.

In other news

Wydad Casablanca secured the African Champions League title with a 2-0 victory over Al-Ahly Cairo on Monday evening. The Moroccan team, which played the final at its home stadium Mohammed V, won the trophy for the third time. The choice of the non-neutral venue caused much debate in the run-up to and after the final.
In basketball, the Tunisian team US Monastir won the final of the African Basketball League (BAL) on Saturday against the Angolan team of Pedro de Luanda with 83:72. After finishing second last year, the team fromTunisia managed to jump to the top of African basketball this year in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

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