African press review 19 February 2014

South Sudan's military accuse rebel v-p's forces of having foreign backers. An NGO claims cluster bombs are being used. SA police search illegal mining Mr Bigs. Does the Democratic Alliance know how to speak to the people? And starvation looms in Zimbabwe after WFP budget cuts.


The Juba Post has nothing to say about the status of the ceasefire between the country's warring politicians but does report that the South Sudanese army, which is loyal to the Juba administration, has accused external forces of providing support to armed groups allied to former vice-president Riek Machar.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

Government troops claim they found military parachutes and weapons after capturing Gadiang; a rebel stronghold in Jonglei state. 

A statement from the head of military operations in Jonglei said the parachutes proved that weapons had been dropped to the rebels, without providng further detail on the origin of the foreign supplies.

The Juba Post also reports that South Sudanese rebels claim to have recaptured much of the strategic oil-rich town of Malakal on Tuesday morning, adding that the state capital would be under their control in a matter of hours.

The same sources claim that Ugandan warplanes from Juba launched air attacks against the rebels around Malakal, capital of the Upper Nile state.

The South Sudanese and Ugandan governments have been asked to launch an investigation into allegations that banned cluster bombs have been used in the conflict.

In a report issued by Human Rights Watch last weekend, the New York-based advocacy group said there was “serious and credible evidence” to suggest cluster bombs had been used. It urged states party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to consult with the South Sudanese and Ugandan governments to establish the facts surrounding the allegations.

Slideshow Mandela

A team from the UN Mine Action Service found remnants of the weapons, including intact unexploded sub-munitions or “bomblets”, earlier this month, along a section of road near the town of Bor.

The commander of the Ugandan forces in South Sudan, Brigadier Muhanga Kayanja, told Human Rights Watch that his forces had used helicopters to provide aerial support to ground troops but denied the use of any bombs.

The Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay reports that South African police have promised to hunt down the kingpins behind widespread illegal mining. This on the day that 22 men trapped in a disused gold mine were due in court.

The Hawks’s Major General Shadrack Sibiya said the arrested miners had given the police information that could crack the gangs they work for.

Police said the suspects were all aged between 20 and 40 years old, all foreign nationals and most did not have immigration papers.

As the rescue operation enters its fourth day, emergency workers are still searching for at least five other men believed to be hiding underground and fearing arrest.

BusinessDay's editorial says the opposition Democratic Alliance’s 10-point economic plan is a step in the right direction  but the party will need to come up with a more succinct phrase or idea if it wants to attract the electorate’s attention.

The financial daily picks on expressions like "enabling environment for growth" or "investing in knowledge" and "managing public money better," accepting that economic policies are not foot-stamping, crowd-cheering material and there has to be substance behind the slogans. But policies need to be simple enough to be explained in 30 seconds.

The Democratic Alliance’s problem, says BusinessDay, is that the party has too many ideas. There is no clear single thread running through its economic policy document. There is no central theme to rally around. So it has been forced into a compromised 10-point plan. By the time it gets to explaining point three, it’s going to find everyone has already got off the bus.

In Harare NewsDay reports that hundreds of thousands of people in drought-prone areas are at risk of starvation after the World Food Programme cut on its drought assistance funding to Zimbabwe.

World Food Programme country director Sory Ouane told NewsDay yesterday that the humanitarian organisation had initially targeted 1,8 million people for assistance but had since been forced to reduce the number of beneficiaries to one million after failing to secure enough funding for the programme.

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