#IGAD in Mogadishu; new Zimbabwe protest ban; SA illegal mine solutions

By AT editor - 13 September 2016 at 2:08 pm
#IGAD in Mogadishu; new Zimbabwe protest ban; SA illegal mine solutions

Under tight security, Somalia welcomes IGAD summit leaders 

Streets and markets in Mogadishu were closed Tuesday, as regional heads of state arrived at the Peace Hotel for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit in the Somali capital.

Security forces remained vigilant as Somalia, for the first time since IGAD began meeting in 1986, welcomed the summit participants of the seven-member organization representing countries of the Horn and East Africa. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the opportunity to serve as IGAD summit host is a turning point in Somalia’s history.

“Hosting such a high profile summit is a clear indication of recognition from the region and the international community to the progress the country has been making towards building a new Somalia, after more than two decades of anarchy,” Mohamud said in a statement. “I thank the people of Somalia for their commitment to ensure our country regains its reputation in the international arena.”

Mohamud said IGAD leaders will discuss the ongoing crisis in South Sudan, as well as the October presidential and Lower House elections in Somalia. The outgoing Mohamud’s four-year term expired on September 10.

Last week, IGAD hosted a forum on terrorism in South Sudan as regional nations – notably, Kenya – develop plans to curb violent extremism. The talks follow an August IGAD report detailing the transnational reach of Al Shabaab, which is now active in at least five IGAD countries plus Tanzania.

South African accident renews focus on illegal mining solutions

Last week’s mining accident at an abandoned gold mine in Langlaagte has focused attention on South Africa’s illegal mining problem and sparked a renewed effort to shut down illegal mining activity.

Residents of a Johannesburg suburb near the mine say they filed criminal charges last month against Central Rand Gold for failing to seal the Langlaagte mine shafts, and have long demanded action to prevent illegal mining and dumping at the site, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reports.

One person has died in the most recent accident, while at least a dozen illegal miners were able to escape. The Langlaagte site is one of thousands around South Africa that attract an estimated 14,000 illegal miners, according to the Chamber of Mines of South Africa.

The majority of these miners, known as zama zama, are migrants – in some cases, supporting up to 10 dependents in South Africa’s troubled economy. Authorities estimate that 6 billion rand (USD $418 million) is lost to illegal mining each year, much of it to organized crime syndicates who are controlling illegal mining operations with no concern for worker or environmental safety.

South Africa is exploring a solution that would legalize artisanal mining to create safe, small-scale alternatives in appropriate mining locations. A pilot study produced by the International Council on Mining & Metals, with partners that include the World Bank, explores how large mining companies can better identify small-scale or illegal mining challenges, and engage and collaborate with artisanal miners.

Zimbabwe announces new ban on Harare protests

Police in Zimbabwe announced Tuesday a new ban on protests in central Harare. The move comes less than a week after High Court Judge Priscilla Chigumba declared the ban unconstitutional, but left a seven-day window before that ruling would take effect. The new ban begins on Friday and remains in effect through October 15, thereby derailing the plans that opponents of President Robert Mugabe had for widespread legal protests this Saturday.

The new ban comes after Mugabe opposition groups announced those plans to demonstrate in support of reforms ahead of the 2018 elections. Group leaders told AFP and other media outlets that they plan to defy the ban and will again appeal to Zimbabwe’s courts to protect their rights.

Longtime leader Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have seen increasingly visible protests as the Zimbabwe economy again collapses, under a government opponents have viewed as illegitimate since the 2013 elections were fraught with allegations of fraud.  Zanu PF also stands accused of blocking food during one of Zimbabwe’s worst droughts on record, according to a report released last week by Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission chairman Elasto Mugwadi.

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