From Zimbabwe to the DRC and Lesotho, KRISTEN VAN SCHIE brings you a weekly round-up of news making regional waves.
Zimbabwe last week partially reversed a controversial indigenisation law that limited foreign ownership in businesses to 49%.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa – who is back on the job after a stint heading a cybersecurity ministry just weeks before Robert Mugabe was ousted by the military – tabled the “new” Zimbabwe’s first budget to parliament on Thursday, presenting what he called an “investor-friendly” plan aimed at reigniting the country’s stalled economy, writes AFP.
Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill previously stipulated that businesses had to be at least 51% owned by locals. But it’s a rule Chinamasa said would now only apply to the diamond and platinum industries.
His plans also include a slew of cost-cutting measures, such trimming down thousands of jobs Mugabe had previously promised to the Grace-loyal youth of the ruling Zanu-PF.
Chinamasa’s budget comes as the party heads into a special congress this week that is largely expected to rubber-stamp new president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule.
Reports City Press: “While most analysts told City Press that the Zanu-PF congress was now a mere formality after Mugabe’s exit, a few said Mnangagwa would ‘consolidate’ his position as leader of the party through the appointment of loyalists to influential posts.”
Mnangagwa has already begun rewarding the military for helping him rise to the top job. The country’s air force commander was last Monday sworn in as lands minister, while the major-general who announced the military takeover on state TV is now foreign minister, writes Deutsche Welle.
As SADC formally deployed more than 200 troops to Lesotho, the country last week began trying several soldiers for various crimes in an effort to overhaul its troublesome military.
Speaking to Daily Maverick last week, Prime Minister Tom Thabane said the deployment was allowing the country to move ahead with the arrests for offences that have long not been prosecuted: “That’s the objective and the intention and nothing more than that.”
In one case, reports AP, five soldiers stand accused of attempted murder in the 2016 shooting of a newspaper editor, while on Friday the trial began of eight suspects in the September murder of army chief Khoantle Motsomotso.
A year after dozens were killed and hundreds more arrested in protests across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch last week said that over 200 ex-rebel fighters were recruited by the government to violently shut down the demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila’s rule.
Kabila’s term expired last year, but repeated delays to the country’s election and a weak front put up by the opposition have seen him maintain his grip on power.
“The right group’s allegations came as the country faces a new flare-up of violence after Kabila pushed back a much-delayed new vote until December 2018, with the opposition demanding that the veteran leader resign sooner,” reports AFP.
Human Rights Watch claims Kabila turned to the rebels – former fighters with the M23 group – as he did not trust his own security, reports Reuters: “They were ordered to use lethal force against protesters, the report said. For their service, M23 members received hundreds of dollars each. Recruiters also warned they would lose all protection if Kabila left power.” DM
Photo: Zimbabwe’s minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa presents the 2018 national budget in the House of Assembly, in Harare, Zimbabwe, 07 December 2017. The budget presentation comes two weeks after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn into office, replacing former president Robert Mugabe, who resigned on 21 November, after 37 years in office. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMEL