SADC TO HEAD AFRICA PEACEKEEPING AND SECURITY FORCE

AFRICA: MILITARY/SARDC/5/20/28 SABANews 1

BLANTYRE – With the global security situation ever declining, the AFRICAN UNION looks set to ensure its borders become more secure – while maintaining stability within member countries.

Africa Standby Force ready to engage (Pic. Agencies)

AFRICA now has in place a formidable tool to deal with conflicts within the 54 member nations and globally, with each of its FIVE regional groupings take turns to head the AFRICA Standby Force, ASF.

The ASF came into being under the AU protocol on the creation of the Peace and Security Council of the continent, which the leaders signed in JULY 2002 before it entered into force in DECEMBER 2003.

In recognition of the roles of regional communities in promoting peace and security, the final concept for the grouping provides for the FIVE regional standby brigades.

The command of the ASF rotates among the North AFRICA Regional Standby Brigade, NASBRIG; the East AFRICA Standby Brigade, EASBRIG; the Force Multinationale de L’AFRIQUE Centrale, FOMAC; the SADC Standby Brigade, SADCBRIG; and the ECOWAS Standby Brigade, ECOBRIG.

The AU Peace and Security Council document defines SIX ASF deployment scenarios, while the AFRICAN leaders have agreed on force levels of about 15-THOUSAND soldiers for the whole continent.

The SOUTHERN AFRICAN RESEARCH AND DOCMENTATION CENTRE, SARDC, says the SADC Region has started trainings in MALAWI for its own Standby Brigade to take over the command of the ASF after ECOWAS.

It says the Exercise UMODZI, MALAWIAN chi-CHEWA for solidarity, partnership, and oneness, aims to prepare military, police and civilian personnel for the task ahead – as from JANUARY next year.

The ASF is a global, continental, and multidisciplinary peacekeeping force with military, police as well as civilian contingents under the direction of the AU, to be deployed in times of crisis in AFRICA.

It has its Force Headquarters in ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, with DOUALA, CAMEROON, serving as the site of the AU Continental Logistics Base.

The arrangement aims to ensure the military, police, and civilian contingents deployed respond swiftly to a crisis without any disturbances from heavy political and instrumental burdens.

The ASF became fully operational in 2016 and is based on standby arrangements among the FIVE sub-regions: North AFRICA, East AFRICA, Central AFRICA, West AFRICA and Southern AFRICA, each of which leads the force every SIX months./Sabanews/cam

FORMER COLONIAL BENEFICIARIES STILL HOLDING ONTO LAND

NAMIBIA: LIBERATION/NBC/5/10/18 SABANews 1

WINDHOEK – Beneficiaries of the SOUTH AFRICAN apartheid system in NAMIBIA are still holding on to vast tracts of land at the expense of the majority population.

Records show about FOUR-THOUSAND, mostly white, commercial farmers own as much as 70 percent of all the arable land in the country – as a result of colonial settlement policies.

Landlessness still rife years after independence (Pic. DW)

The State, commercial farmers, and black farming groups have been trying to implement a peaceful and orderly land reform through government buyouts also with financial support from GERMAN, the former colonial power.

However, the government has only manage to acquire just SEVEN farms in the last 28 years since independence, amid growing desperation for settlements and resettlement by majority poor.

The Land Reform Ministry says the authorities bought all the SEVEN properties, measuring 27-THOUSAND hectares, at a cost of 16-POINT-SIX-MILLION NAMIBIA dollars (ONE-MILLION-134-THOUSAND-510 US dollars) in 2005.

Permanent Secretary PETER AMUTENYA says the Land Reform Ministry has never acquired any more land ever since then.

He says the State had initially identified 26 farms for takeover up until 2005, but only managed to get the SEVEN properties situated in the OMAHEKE, KHOMAS, and OTJOZONDJUPA regions.

Mr AMUTENYA says the absence of land expropriation criteria, inflation of prices by commercial farmers, and legal gaps in the 1995 Agricultural Land Reform Act have been stalling the national resettlement process.

However, the government successfully tables a new law last year and the Lands Ministry is explaining the revised expropriation policy at the ongoing National Land Conference.

The gathering comes amid serious imbalances in the ownership and occupation of land in NAMIBIA, where blacks with access to bank loans occupy 16 percent of it while the State owns a mere FOUR percent on which it has been trying to squeeze the majority.

The NAMIBIA Statistics Agency has carried out an audit that reveals 250 farms are in the hands of foreigners.

Meanwhile, delegates to the SECOND National Land Conference underway in the capital, WINDHOEK, have also identified access to land as a fundamental challenge to housing in urban areas.

They say it is expensive to acquire land, service the property, and develop the necessary infrastructure – since private companies driven by profit carry out the servicing.

The delegates have called on the authorities to reverse the situation in the best interest of the masses, especially by revising the model of Public Private Partnership.

A member of the SHACK DWELLERS’ FEDERATION says the Conference should adopt a policy aimed to increase community-based land delivery processes for low and ultra-low income earners.

EDITH MBANGA says the worsening state of access to shelter and security of tenure will result in severe overcrowding, homelessness, as well as environmental health problems.

She blames such conditions on the lack of critical infrastructure, the affordability gaps, and the inefficient control of development.

The NAMIBIAN woman says the situation is forcing the urban poor and a large segment of low and moderate-income groups to rely on informal shelter, causing increased unplanned settlements in cities./Sabanews/cam

GOVERNMENT PLEDGES CONTINUED RECEPTION OF REFUGEES

ZAMBIA: REFUGEES/ZNBC/5/10/18 SABANews 1

LUSAKA – ZAMBIA has assured the UNITED NATIONS High Commission for Refugees it remains committed to fulfil its international obligation to refugees and persons of concern.

Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement in Western Province (Pic. UNHCR)

Home Affairs Minister STEPHEN KAMPYONGO says the government will continue to give asylum to people who flee their country for different reasons in line with provisions of the law.

ZNBC News quotes him as saying his country will not turn away anyone with sufficient reasons to get in, but the State will not help persons evading the law in their countries of origin.

Minister KAMPYONGO has made the remarks in a meeting with the High Commissioner for Refugees, FILIPPO GRANDI, on the side-lines of the 69TH Session of the UN Executive Committee in GENEVA, SWITZERLAND.

High Commissioner GRANDI has in turn, commended the ZAMBIAN Government for hosting asylum seekers in the SADC country, which among nations doing very well in hosting refugees from different places.

A 2014 report by the world body says ZAMBIA has hosted refugees from the region since the 1960s.

It says as of mid-2014, some 54-THOUSAND exiles and other people of concern like asylum seekers, stateless and internally displaced people resided mostly in the TWO refugee camps of MEHEBA and MAYUKWAYUKWA.

The majority are from ANGOLA, more than 22-THOUSAND; DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, more than 18-THOUSAND; and RWANDA, about FOUR-THOUSAND, according to the World Bank Group study of 2015.

The UN High Commission for Refugees says many ANGOLAN refugees have stayed for more than 40 years, with some having been born and brought up in ZAMBIA as SECOND or THIRD generation refugees.

The world body says the authorities have repatriated more than 16-THOUSAND ANGOLAN refugees and former exiles to ANGOLA, which is now considered to be safe following the end of UNITA banditry in the SADC country.

Meanwhile, ZAMBIA has pledged to locally integrate 10-THOUSAND former ANGOLAN refugees and FOUR-THOUSAND former RWANDAN refugees.

To facilitate the process, the State has allocated settlement areas, with FIRST ANGOLANS granted permanent residency permits in 2012 – giving them access to the same rights as ZAMBIAN nationals.

The UNITED NATIONS says refugees in both MAYUKWAYUKWA and MEHEBA have limited livelihood chances and are broadly economically marginalised, making it difficult to meet survival needs and leading many to rely on donor aid./Sabanews/cam