19 October, 2017

A Call for Free Education by South African Students

by Moitshepi MoAfrika Lipholo
(Student Leader, University of the Free State, South Africa)

In 2015, South Africa was subjected to significant student driven protest actions in the higher education sector. This was based in the form of various social movements beginning with the #Rhodes Must Fall campaign at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The actions of a postgraduate student at the UCT pouring human waste over the campus statue of the colonialist Cecil John Rhodes gave birth to the #Rhodes Must Fall movement. The demand for eradication of colonialist and Apartheid symbols such as buildings, statues, artworks, and names in the higher education spaces linked to the apartheid past, can be regard as the first phase for the students’ revolt. This first phase was pregnant with the call for free education under the hash tag Fees must Fall.

A new phase of the student movement started at Wits University after the leaked information that the Johannesburg university was about to increase its fees by 10. 5%. On 14 October 2015 South Africa was trending with #FeesMustFall. The students used social media as the tool to mobilize other students to protest against the increase of fees. On the same day students also started to shut down campuses across the country. On this day too, the former Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande was hosting the Summit on Transformation in Higher Education in Durban with different stakeholders. The students boycotted the summit. This was a sign of problems ahead regarding the affordability of fees in higher education for poor deserving students. At the end of October that year, students closed almost all campus around the country. They also managed to bring the country to a standstill and forced a freeze on fees increase. The call for free education was the fight against the commodification of education in South Africa. The notion that the only way to access higher quality education is by paying a premium for it was very wrong and dangerous. This was the perception of students fighting for free education.

The government of President Jacob Zuma started to realise that what they now were confronted with in the student movement was much more serious than they initially assumed. The call for free decolonized quality education was marked by the eruption of violent protests around university campuses. The main reason violence was adopted by students in their protests was because of the decision by government to militarize the university campuses. Students saw the entry of police on campuses as part of the government strategy to stop the call of free education by the students. University campuses were transformed into ‘police stations’ because of the high number of police officers and private security guards around campuses. Others started to blame the ANC government for using the same strategies as the Apartheid government under PW Botha, by using state security as the solution to bring stability. For the rest of 2016, universities adopted the strategy to fight with fire. The student protestors took fire to lecture rooms, cars, computer laboratories, statues, university paintings, administration buildings, residences, and the offices of vice-chancellors. The justification behind their actions was that the only language the government understood was violence and burning.

Throughout the South African history, intellectuals and academics have often played a key role in struggle for the modernisation of societies, national liberation and social justice. But the question was why they now failed to play a role in this call for free education? Is South Africa facing the pitfall of the intellectuals or had they forgotten that they still have to play part in solving this social inequality? The students continued to question why do the poor have to pay for higher education in the country that is blessed with natural resources? The corruption and maladministration in the government was some of the reasons why the government failed to provide for free education.

Free education in South Africa is a constitutional right. So, when students protest they indeed fight for a noble cause. South African politicians routinely sell dreams and make promises of free education to the electorate. The call for free education by the students was a way to remind the ruling government what they promised the poor and the students. When President Zuma was re-elected for his second term as the president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Manguang, he mobilized support under the message of ‘delivering free higher education.’ Even the historic documents of the ANC indicate that the ANC supported free education. The most celebrated ANC historic document ‘The Freedom Charter’ is the testimony that the ANC had been promising the people of South Africa free higher education. The Freedom Charter was adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955. In this document under the heading ‘The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened’, the fourth line highlights that “Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.”

At the close of the 2016 academic year, government officials, heads of universities, leaders from the private sector, and civil society met once again to find ways for providing free high quality education. An agreement was concluded to fully fund poor students and to provide aid to the missing middle class students. These are students who are not rich enough to pay their fees and on the other hand not poor enough to qualify for state funding. In 2017 President Zuma established a commission to find ways to provide for free education. The commission submitted the report in the middle of 2017, but even now the president has not made the report public. As the nation is waiting for the response from the president, October 2017 witnessed different universities announcing that they will increase fees by 8 percent. The University of Stellenbosch was the first to make the announcement of an 8 percent increase followed by the Central University of Technology in the Free State with the same percent. The country can expect that all universities around the country will follow the same pattern of 8 percent.

The nation has to wait to see if the students will submit or challenge this decision of increase fees by 8 percent. The question that is dominating the conversation around South Africa is what the students will do to put pressure on the president to make the report public. Only time will tell, whether the country will go back to the phase of students closing campus around the country or whether the president will give them what they what - free education.

09 October, 2017

South Africa’s Leadership Crisis: A Dire Need for Political Reform

by Michaela Elsbeth Martin

The emergence of a democratic South Africa in 1994 marked the beginning of a transition period from the brutal Apartheid-government to a newly democratised state. The first president of the new South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela, played an instrumental role in unifying the country and establishing democratic values with human rights at the forefront of his administration. Former President Nelson Mandela thus succeeded in creating responsive and accountable state institutions. The ANC at the time had a type of leadership calibre that spoke directly to the democratic project the country desperately needed. The leadership that followed consequently built on the established democratic values projected in 1994 with a more pragmatic approach to economic, social and political development in South Africa and Africa as a whole.

Under the leadership of former President Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s economic growth was at 4.2 percent per annum, and South Africa also contributed to the rejuvenation of Africa’s most pivotal institutions such as the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) in 2002. This reformation was coupled with additional institutions such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Africa’s Peer Review Mechanism, and the formation of the bloc of developing countries BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). These institutions helped ensure the complete integration of South Africa into the international system and global economy. South Africa, under President Mbeki’s tenure displayed an image of strong leadership at a local, regional and international level. It can be argued that South Africa’s leadership style between 1994 and 2007 led to a large degree of democratic consolidation within the state, and an integration of the state and its institutions into regional and international bodies.

However, the calibre of the political elites that emerged in the post-Polokwane Conference in 2007, proved to be lacking in capacity and integrity. The Zuma administration’s capacity to lead state institutions and serve ordinary citizens has not been strong. In response to this decline, and the perception that radical economic policies are only benefiting party elites, the rhetoric of revolution has been growing louder. Ordinary citizens, especially the youth and women are economically marginalised. Moreover, there exist general feelings among government structures that if you are not with us, you are against us, and if you are against us, there is very little you can do to influence the country’s policy.

President Jacob Zuma

More problematically, consultation with the population means consultation with the African National Congress (ANC) branches and structures. Ordinary citizens outside these structures have limited spaces to make known their grievances. In essence then, the people are taken to be the members of the ANC and conversely the ANC is regarded as the people. It is this kind of high-handed hegemonic project and the persona of President Zuma that is having a serious impact on the South African state. The leadership crisis is coupled with intense factional battles fuelled by the desire to benefit from state coffers and this has led to the repurposing of state institutions to benefit power elite in the government. Moreover, President Zuma is hell-bent on staying in power, with his faction preparing itself to destroy the ANC and the national government to do so. The political and economic implications of the mismanagement of state resources and the lack of state capacity have left the South African state in a dire position. The economy has been seriously affected by the leadership crisis, with South Africa operating in junk status and an economic crisis; ordinary citizens are barely surviving with the unemployment rate at 27 percent.

With the upcoming ANC electoral Conference in December 2017, there has been much debate on who will be the next president of South Africa. The hope amongst the much of the general public, the opposition and the ANC, is that the challenges that beset the country will abate with the departure of the current President and that the constitutional fabric of post-apartheid democracy will be restored. The top six, referring to the ANC’s most senior leaders are known, appear to be evenly split. One faction consists of President Zuma, ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, and Baleka Mbete, who is both the National Assembly speaker and party chairwoman. In opposition to the Zuma faction are the 'reformers' consisting of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, and ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize.

It is imperative to note that without a serious change in leadership in the ANC the party might lose complete power of South Africa in the 2019 General Elections. The popularity of the ANC under the Zuma presidency has already declined significantly and has been criticised for being out of touch with its constituents and is associated with poor local administration.

16 September, 2017

The Lesotho Defence Force in Turmoil

by M. K. Mahlakeng

On 5 September 2017, Lesotho experienced yet another killing of the Lesotho Defence Force’s (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo. This is the second killing of Lesotho’s army commander in just two years. Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, who was appointed as LDF commander to replace the then LDF commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli, was shot dead by LDF members who had come to arrest him for allegedly being leading a mutiny to oust the army command.

Lesotho Defence Force Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Motsomotso Medical Readiness Excercise 14-1
The late Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo

Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was gunned down in his office at the Ratjomose barracks by Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Brigadier Bulane Sechele. The duo who were implicated in Lt-Gen Mahao’s killing had come to confront Lt-Gen Motšomotšo on issues pertaining to the investigation of the January 2014 bombing of the homes of PM Tom Thabane’s wife MaIsiah Thabane and that of the then Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) commissioner (ComPol) Khothatso Tšooana; the May 2014 shooting of Lisebo Tang and Tšepo Jane by former LDF commander Lt-Gen Kamoli’s bodyguards in which the respective Lisebo and Tšepo were sitting in a car that was parked near Lt-Gen Kamoli’s residence; and, the June 2015 killing of Lt-Gen Mahao. All of which were part of the SADC mandate.

The concern by both Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele over Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s facilitation and cooperation with the LMPS in investigating these unique but yet related issues was that they felt exposed to conviction if these matters were investigated further. Moreover, they felt that the commander was, in contrast to protecting army personnel implicated in these events, selling them out. Hence he [Motšomotšo] came to be branded a “sell-out” among several military personnel. Given his close relationship with the duo [Hashatsi and Sechele] and former army commader [Kamoli], Motšomotšo was expected to ignore the SADC mandate and recommendations implicating them [Hashatsi and Sechele] and/or other military personnel in these incidences.

According to the Public Relations Officer who was with Lt-Gen Motšomotšo at the time of his confrontation with Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele, the duo enjoyed frequent access to Lt-Gen Motšomotšo and always had their firearms with them given their status as senior and/or high-ranking officers. During their encounter with Motšomotšo, Hashatsi and Sechele aggressively questioned the former as to why he was cooperating with Prime Minister Thabane and the LMPS, in particular regarding the SADC mandate to investigate numerous members of the LDF involved in atrocities under Lt-Gen Kamoli’s tenure. It is alleged that in his response, Motšomotšo stated that the investigation into these acts is in fulfilment of a mandate by SADC and any aspect relating to the SADC’s mandate is not exempt from investigation.

For many within and outside the military forces, this statement would mean two possible realities. Firstly, Motšomotšo would proceed with the SADC’s recommendations (in an attempt to signal a sense of legitimacy from his part as the new army commander), but eventually create a cover-up to save his colleagues. And/or secondly, he [Motšomotšo] would see the investigation processes through to their finality, to a point where all members of the LDF implicated cases of murder, attempted murder and treason were suspended and/or convicted. This would also be an attempt to signal a sense of legitimacy from his part as the new army commander. However, for Hashatsi and Sechele, the latter possibly appeared to be rising. Following this confrontation with the army commander, Sechele then took out his firearm and fatally shot Motšomotšo. Subsequent to this, Motšomotšo’s bodyguards shot both Sechele and Hashatsi, with the former dying on the spot and the latter succumbing to his wounds and dying later that day in hospital. What was later found at the scene of the shooting was a hand grenade on Sechele and Hashatsi respectively.

Following the killing of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo, Major General Lineo Poopa was then appointed as acting LDF commander by virtue of his ranking as second in command to Motšomotšo’s. However, given the intense divisions within the military, his role, popularity and either success and/or demise will be highly tested. Moreover, given his part in the LDF command that killed Lt-Gen Mahao, Maj-Gen Poopa and the LDF’s future raises further concerns.

02 July, 2017

South Africa’s “Rot” Runs Deep

by Michaela Elsbeth Martin

As South Africa’s political and economic environment continues to deteriorate, the phenomenon of State Capture remains at the heart of its institutional decay. This came after an explosive cache of emails form inside the Gupta Empire (South Africa’s alleged captors), revealed how the family obtained several businesses from the government. The series of emails additionally revealed the extent of the Gupta family’s control over state owned companies and their CEOs, as well as their board members. This evidence could not have come at a more appropriate time. President Jacob Zuma’s political clock is quickly running out, amid mounting confirmation of state capture and growing opposition within the African National Congress (ANC).

The correspondence within the Gupta-compound provided insight into the critical role of the President’s son, Duduzane Zuma, in presidential matters. Mr D Zuma remains a close Gupta associate, even after reports last year circulated that he cut ties with the family. Moreover, President Zuma continuously defends his association with the controversial family, as well as his son’s business partnership with them. It is believed that Mr D Zuma has made billions through this strategic partnership.

Atul Gupta protest banner - Cape Town Zuma must fall

The cache of emails reflected the following about the Gupta family’s influence within the South African government. Firstly, it became known that the résumé of Mr Mosebenzi Zwane’s, Minister of Mineral Resources, was emailed to the Gupta’s just a month before his appointment. The emails revealed that Mr Zwane had close ties with the family prior to his appointment in July 2015. Just three months after his appointment, the minister was on a working trip in Zurich where he helped to facilitate the sale of the Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga to a company owned by the Guptas and Mr D Zuma. Since Mr Zwane’s appointment as Mineral Resource Minister, South Africa’s Mining Industry has been at its lowest, which is directly attributable to draconian labour legislation, corruption, political demagoguing, and the reluctance of organisations to adhere to the law.

Secondly, the leaked emails revealed that former Minister of Communications, now Minister of Public Services, Faith Muthambi, in 2014, directly forwarded a presidential proclamation to Tony Gupta detailing her powers before it was signed by President Zuma. The regulations listed in the email gave the communications minister wide-ranging power over the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, including the power to make policies, and issue policy direction and oversee applications pertaining to network licences, radio frequency plans and commercial broadcasting licences. Ms Muthambi was appointed Public Service and Administration Minister in the cabinet reshuffle in March this year. As Communications Minister, she was accused of allowing the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), to be plundered and run into the ground.

The emails additionally shed light on President Zuma’s decision to replace former Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene with Des van Rooyen in the autumn of 2015. Email correspondences show that Mr Van Rooyen repeatedly gave false testimony when he asserted to have paid for a private trip to Dubai, just shortly after his appointment to the cabinet in December 2015. However, the leaked emails revealed that the trip was financed and sponsored by the Gupta’s, and booked just a day before his departure on December 2015. Mr Van Rooyen however vehemently denied that this trip was planned in a short period of time, and asserted that it was planned long before his appointment as member of cabinet. Relatedly, on arrival as Finance Minister, Mr Van Rooyen was accompanied by advisers, Mohamed Bobar and Ian Whitley, who is said to be also affiliated to the Guptas. It is on this basis that it is claimed that Mr Van Rooyen’s appointment as Minister of Finance was influenced and instigated by the Captors of the South African state.

The leaked Gupta emails demonstrate how entrenched the family has become in the South African government. They reveal that President Zuma is not only incapable of leading the country, but also that he continues to place his own needs before those of the nations. This point is not an empty rhetoric as it speaks to the point that the Gupta family had bought President Zuma a R330-million retirement home in the upmarket suburb of Emirates Hills in 2015, in the same year that the President’s son bought an apartment valued at R18-million in the Burj Khalifa. Analysts concur that this approach of give and take between the two families in particular, emanates from the Gupta’s primary goal of gaining access, control and influence over South African state institutions and mechanisms.

From the above it is apparent that the once celebrated African nation, commended for its courage of fighting vigorously against an oppressed system, has now backslid into another classical example of an African state characterised by corruption, political, economic and institutional decay.

27 June, 2017

Thabane Back in Power in Lesotho: Hope or Despair for the Kingdom?

by M. K. Mahlakeng

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and former Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, has returned to power. This is following 3 June 2017 elections which came at the background of a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his seven-party coalition government. This no-confidence vote led to the dissolution of the ninth Parliament in Lesotho on 6 March 2017. Dissolving parliament was one of two options PM Mosisili had at the face of the success of the motion. Contrary to this, the PM would have had to resign as PM and allow for his party deputy to lead the Democratic Congress (DC) - a leading partner in the 2015 coalition government- in Parliament and subsequently becoming the PM. However, opting for the dissolution of parliament meant that an election date must be announced. As such, elections should be held within a period of three months of the dissolution.

The outcome of the results saw Thabane leading the race despite failing to gain an outright majority thus forcing him to form a coalition government with other political parties (i.e. Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL)). This sees the formation of the third coalition government in Lesotho in just five years (i.e. 2012, 2015 and 2017 respectively). Following the 26 May 2012 elections, Lesotho witnessed its first ever coalition government. This pact comprised of three political parties i.e. the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).

Chinese Lesotho project Lesotho Parliament II

This coalition government collapsed only two years in office as a result of poor leadership, and tensions and misunderstandings that occurred between coalition partners (especially between the ABC and LCD). This collapse of government led to the 28 February 2015 general snap elections which resulted in a second coalition government comprising of seven parties, i.e. the Democratic Congress (DC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD). Following the 3 June election in 2017, Thabane’s ABC combined its 48 seats with the AD’s 9, BNP’s 5 and RCL’s 1, thus enabling them to pass the 61-seat threshold required to form government in the 120-seat National Assembly (NA).

However, in just two days before Thabane’s inauguration, his estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane, was shot dead on Wednesday 14 June at about 6:40 pm as she was about to enter her premises. Thabane and Lipolelo had been living separately since 2009. Subsequent to this was a divorce filed by Thabane in 2012. However, Lipolelo, through legal measures, never stopped pushing for her privileges as first lady.

In mid-January 2015, the High Court of Lesotho rule that “Lipolelo Thabane is the country’s official first lady and should be immediately afforded all benefits she is entitled to including a Chauffer driven government vehicle and a bodyguard”. This judgement appeared to be a major setback for the PM’s partner and current wife MaIsaiah Thabane, formerly known as Liabiloe Ramoholi whom Thabane customarily married as it effectively did not recognise her as the rightful wife of Thabane and first lady.

Nonetheless, the inauguration of PM-elect Thabane went ahead as scheduled on 16 June despite security claims, uncertainties and tempers flaring over the killing of Lipolelo. It is however still not clear on the actual cause of the assassination of Lipolelo Thabane. Nonetheless this hasn’t deterred people from either connecting the killing to PM-elect Thabane and his current wife who are seen to have had a lot to lose in the existence of his former wife post inauguration; or, to the outgoing government who it is perceived to cause instability in the country following their defeat in elections.

It must be noted however that, the PM, the Tranformation Resource Centre (TRC), Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), and other development partners have been silent on the killing of Lipolelo Thabane. This is contrary to their firm role in high profile assassinations, human rights violations and other security breaches in Lesotho. And the subsequent continuation of the inauguration further exacerbates these claims and uncertainties.

26 April, 2017

Lesotho’s Upcoming Elections: The Collapse of a Second Coalition Government

by M. K. Mahlakeng

The dissolution of the ninth Parliament in Lesotho on 6 March 2017 as a result of a successful vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister (PM) Pakalitha Mosisili, has put an untimely end to the seven party coalition government. As such, Lesotho is expected to hold its general elections on 3 of June 2017. The no-confidence vote against the PM meant two realities. Firstly, the PM, who is the leader of the Democratic Congress (DC) - a leading partner in the coalition government, would have to resign as PM and allow for his party deputy to lead the DC in Parliament and subsequently becoming the PM. And secondly, the passing of this motion meant that the PM acting according to section 83(1) and (4)(b) would have to advise the King as Head of State to prorogue and/or dissolve parliament. And if the option in this case become the dissolution of parliament, then an election date must be announced. As such, elections should be held within a period of three months of the dissolution. Therefore, the PM opted for the latter which is to advise the King to dissolve parliament and announce an election date.

According to section 83(1), “the King may at any time prorogue or dissolve Parliament”. Moreover, section 83(4)(b) states that “in the exercise of his powers to dissolve or prorogue parliament, the King shall act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister: provided that if the National Assembly passes a resolution of no confidence in the Governement of Lesotho and the Prime Minister does not within three days thereafter either resign or advice a dissolution the King may, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, dissolve parliament”.

King Letsie III and the Queen of Lesotho. Photo: IAEA Imagebank (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This relationship between the PM (i.e. Head of Government) and the King (i.e. Head of State) and the role afforded to the King relates much to the system of governance used in Lesotho. In contrast to the Presidential system of government where the Head of State is also Head of Government, Lesotho uses a Parliamentary system of government. Given the existence of a Monarch, Lesotho is a parliamentary constitutional monarch and in this instance, in due respect of history and culture the Monarch simply plays a ceremonial role. A role meant to symbolize a unified nation. The Monarch’s existence in Lesotho’s sociopolitical environment means that he plays the role of being head of state and plays no part in the political affairs of the country.

This sees the collapse of a second coalition government in Lesotho, with each coalition government barely completing its expected term of governance. The 2012 Thabane-led three party coalition government collapse in 2014. This pact comprised of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). This coalition government collapsed only 2 years in office as a result of poor leadership, tensions and misunderstandings that occurred “between coalition partners” (especially between the ABC and LCD).

This collapse therefore led to the 28th February 2015 general snap elections which resulted in a second coalition government comprising of 7 parties i.e. the Democratic Congress (DC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD). However, in contrast to the causes of the collapse of the Thabane-led government (i.e. a fall-out between coalition partners), the prolonged “power struggle within parties” (i.e. particularly in two major coalition partners – the DC and LCD) was a major factor. These power struggles led to the formation of factions within these parties and subsequently causing splinter groups to emerge thus affecting the stability and size of government to rule legitimately as a majority government.

Now with an election date of 3 June confirmed, there is a further indication of a possible coalition government. This is made evident of electoral pacts already being formed signifying the possibility that one party alone cannot win government power. And the cause of this has been the rapid emergence of splinter parties which have successfully broken down major parties and further broadened electoral choice. These election pacts are witnessed on the one hand between the ABC, Alliance of Democrats (AD), BNP and Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL), and on the other hand between the DC, LCD and the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD). Although signs of a successive coalition are imminent, however, to clearly determine which coalition government with which party as a partner will largely depend on a successful election campaign to make a party in either pact an important partner worth working with.

14 April, 2017

Zambia: On the Brink of Dictatorship

by Hussein Solomon

Under the strong-man leadership of President Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), Zambia is increasingly displaying authoritarian tendencies whilst the economy is in free fall under the weight of corruption and gross incompetence. One indicator of this latter point according to Transparency International is the fact that 60 percent of the population are illiterate and poor whilst corruption is so endemic in society that 78 percent of the populace has admitted to paying bribes.

Amongst the first to suffer under Lungu’s growing authoritarianism was the media. In August 2016, for instance, the so-called Independent Broadcasting Authority suspended the broadcasting licenses of Muvi TV, Komboni Radio and Itzehi Itzehi Radio ostensibly because they posed a threat to national peace and stability. What all these media houses had in common was the fact that they spoke truth to power. The former Editor-in-Chief of the independent The Post newspaper (which has been rebranded as The Mast), Dr Fred M’membe, was personally threatened with death by President Lungu whilst the PF filed more than 50 lawsuits against Dr. M’membe.

This authoritarianism is best seen in the political sphere, where the leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), Hakainda Hichilema has been routinely harassed by the authorities. “HH” as he is popularly known has been a thorn in the side of the ruling party for some time. In the August 2016 elections he was narrowly defeated by President Lungu in an election which was described as fraudulent by many. Since then the UPND was targeted as a major threat to the PF’s political control. Permission for party campaigning and rallies on the part of the UPND is therefore routinely denied. Last October, for instance, HH and his vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested for unlawful assembly. This past week, HH’s home was raided by police who indiscriminately fired teargas into the house causing his wife and daughter who suffer from asthma to faint. Then HH was arrested for treason on the flimsy basis that he obstructed the convoy of President Lungu. It should be noted that treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of death.

UPND rally, 2016. Photo: Likezz (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In all this, the international community has been silent. The regional body, the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) silence has been deafening. If one is to prevent another Zimbabwe in this blighted region, the international community has to act now. The easiest lever to affect change may well rest in the economic realm. The parlous state of the Zambian economy has resulted in a shortfall of US $1.3 billion in the 2017 Zambian budget. Zambian Finance Minister Felix Mutati intends to borrow this amount from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the form of an Extended Credit Facility. The IMF should refuse to assist Lungu and his regime until they begin exercising democratic governance.

09 April, 2017

South Africa under Cardiac Arrest

by Michaela Elsbeth Martin

On the evening of 29 March 2017, the South African state took an unexpected turn for the worse. It has been a whirlwind few days in South Africa, with a cabinet reshuffle resulting in what has been described as a complete state capture by opposition parties. The reshuffle of President Zuma’s cabinet included the dismissal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy, Mcebi Jonas. This move is set to have far-reaching political consequences as President Zuma and his allies have their hands firmly on the wheel of the National Treasury, with the appointment of former Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, in place of Gordhan. The reshuffle comes three days after President Zuma informed the ANC top five that he wanted to get rid of the Minister and Deputy Finance Minister due to an alleged Intelligence Report claiming that the leadership of the Treasury Department wanted to overthrow the Zuma government.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in February 2017 (Photo: GCIS)

The dismissal of Gordhan has been a long anticipated move since 2016, in which the South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head, Shaun Abrahams laid criminal charges against, and announced to prosecute the country’s Finance Minister. The Finance Minister was accused‚ in his previous capacity as head of South African Revenue Services (SARS), of fraudulently approving an early retirement for then Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay and re-hiring him as a consultant. Additionally, Minister Gordhan was attacked by the Gupta Family (South Africa’s alleged captors) after he submitted an explosive affidavit at the Pretoria High Court that details a list of allegedly suspicious transactions which led to four major banks closing the family’s accounts in April last year. The National Treasury’s investigations in South African Airways (SAA), Eskom, Denel and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as well as the Nuclear Procurement Programme, have become a threat to President’s Zuma’s patronage networks, thus the intense efforts that has eventually led to the recent axing of the Finance Minister. It becomes therefore increasingly evident that President Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle is driven by the ambition to appoint a Zuma-aligned Finance Minister.

The cabinet reshuffle is therefore politically driven and widely regarded as flimsy. This is an attack on the institution of the Treasury and as such has triggered multiple downgrades. While there are some fiscal attacks, what increasingly worrisome is the Treasury’s potential role in procurement, preventing corruption and oversight of state-owned enterprises, including nuclear and banking.
The Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe asserted that the cabinet reshuffle plans were not done in consultation with the ANC, but were drawn up “somewhere else” and then handed over to them for their consideration. Further, Mr Mnatashe noted that the matters concerning the Finance Minister and His Deputy were discussed on Monday last week and some changes were effected to initial proposals made by President Zuma, but the rest of the reshuffle was shocking news even to the ANC's top leadership. The reshuffle of the cabinet has intensified the factionalism within the ANC. This point is reiterated by Deputy Minister of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa, in which he described the phenomenon as a government that wages war with itself. On the one end of the spectrum exists a large rural-based faction of patronage politicians surrounding President Jacob Zuma. The other faction includes with no doubt, the National Treasury, represented by the beleaguered former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, ANC stalwarts, the media, nongovernmental organisations and business leaders.

The cabinet reshuffle has similarly exacerbated the economic climate of the country. Just 90 hours after President Zuma axed Mr Gordhan as finance minister, Standard and Poor (S&P), announced that South Africa’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating would be downgraded to sub-investment grade or junk status. The downgrade to junk status came as result of divisions in the ANC-led government that have led to changes in the executive leadership, including the finance minister, that have put policy continuity at risk. Standard and Poor has asserted that South Africa’s political risks will remain evaluated this year and that policy shifts are likely, which could undermine fiscal and economic growth outcomes more than the company currently project. The decision pertaining to the cabinet reshuffle thus created a dire loss of institutional knowledge and raises legitimate and alarming concerns regarding issues of fiscal discipline, the protection of state institutions and the scope of state capture.

The question therefore arises of the criminalisation of the South African state, in which the President has unconstrained and unlimited political power, and where the state is used as a criminal enterprise where those in power abuse state power to loot state resources. This is power is shown by Jacob Zuma’s ability to implement and enforce decisions regarding the future of South Africa without the consultation of the ANC and the society at large. The recent developments in South Africa additionally highlight the notion of state capture in which the South African state has been captured by corrupt government officials. Despite an admirable constitution and vibrant civil society, it appears that South Africa may well be following the path of neighbouring Zimbabwe, where a predatory state enriches the elite, while investors flee, unemployment rises and government institutions collapses.

06 February, 2017

Lesotho Splinter Parties: Cause and Effect

by M. K. Mahlakeng

Since the emergence of political parties, there has always been a challenge of “splinter parties”. Splinter parties are “small organisations, typically, a political party, that have broken away from a larger political party”. And the reason, as it has been for many years, for parties to split and subsequently lead to the formation of a totally new party has always been ideological.

However, this typical thinking has proved to limit the understanding of the political cycle and politicians that entertain it. Two other reasons have emerged as contemporary causes of splinter parties. Firstly, it has become a common notion that disputes between a party leader and one of his subordinates or possible successors would result in the emergence of factions within the party thus leading to either of them abandoning the party to form a new political organisation. In numerous instance, party leaders, fearing that they might be ousted out of power by their subordinates or possible successor, tend to make it impossible for the latter to survive within the party solely to force him out of the party. As a result, leaving the subordinate and/or successor to leave with his supporters and eventually forming a new party.

Secondly, the decision of many politicians to split from the mother body and form a new political organisation can also be closely linked to the greed of politicians. Politicians have often been seen to pursue the formation of a new party as a result of acquiring a seat in parliament solely because this translates to a monthly cheque as opposed to pursuing perceived party policies. However, these two reasons are not to say ideological differences are not central to the divisions within political parties, but, they have rather become secondary.

The problem that comes with splinter parties is two-fold. Firstly, these new parties tend to experience and identity and/or ideological crisis. This is often reflected by their manifestos, party regalia etc. Secondly, splinter groups increase the number of already existing parties in a specific country. Although perceived by many to be a sign of a healthy democratic practice, however, they cause more instability than they attempt to prevent. This leads to the division of electorate votes thus failing to establish a party as a dominant party. Hence, eventually the emergence of “coalition systems of governance” or “power-sharing governments”.

Chinese Lesotho project Lesotho Parliament II
The Lesotho Parliament. By OER Africa  [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The case of Lesotho, among other cases, provides the best example in which all these conditions hold. That is, it is confronted by the challenge of splinter parties as a result of factions within a party as a result of political contestation and/or greed. For instance, in less than two months between end of November 2016 and early January 2017, three splinter parties were born. First, Alliance of Democrats (AD) led by former Democratic Congress (DC) Deputy Leader Mr Monyane Moleleki is a break-away party from the DC.

Second, Movement for Economic Change (MEC) led by former Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary-general Mr Selibe Mochoboroane is a break-away party from the LCD. And third, True Reconciliation Unity (TRU) former All Basotho Convention (ABC) Deputy Leader Mr. Tlali Khasu is a break-away party from the ABC. In addition, these splinter parties suffer from an identity and/or ideological crisis. Furthermore, splinter parties have divided the electorates’ votes thus shifting Lesotho’s political landscape from a dominant-party system of governance to a coalition system of governance.

This challenge of splinter parties in Lesotho is not a new phenomenon and can be traced as far back as 1997 when the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) (which led Lesotho to multiparty democratic rule in 1993 to 1998) split and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) was formed and led Lesotho from 1998 to 2012. And it didn’t end there. The LCD split four times in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2017 and led to the formation of the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), All Basotho Convention (ABC), Democratic Congress (DC) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) respectively. Furthermore the ABC (which led Lesotho from 2012 to 2015 in a coalition government with the Basotho National Party (BNP) and LCD) and DC (currently leading Lesotho since 2015 in a coalition government with LCD, Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), BCP, National Independent Party (NIP), LPC and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD)) faced splinter parties respectively. The former split and saw the formation of TRU and the latter saw the formation of AD.

The emergence of these splinter parties in Lesotho has caused a division of votes as far as every party is concerned ultimately giving rise to power-sharing systems of governance. Subsequently, they are largely responsible for the leadership and stability crisis experienced today in Lesotho.

31 October, 2016

Do African Lives Matter for African Leaders?

by Hussein Solomon

Africans have grown accustomed to the West ignoring their suffering. This is hardly a new phenomenon. Consider the fact that Belgian King Leopold II’s atrocities was historically ignored in Europe at the time and barely gets a footnote in recent European books on its African colonies. To be clear, 15 million Congolese were murdered and numerous others were mutilated by this ‘civilized’ European king as he sought to extract rubber from this blighted country. More recently, more than 6 million Congolese have been killed since the 2nd August 1998. Once again, there is scarcely a mention on the front pages of The Washington Post or the New York Times.

At one level, perhaps, this is understandable. According to psychologists one is supposed to have greater empathy for one’s in-group as opposed to the proverbial other. What is particularly galling for Africans, however, is when their own leaders display such callous disregard for their lives. Worse, still, is the hypocrisy accompanying the callousness on the part of Africa’s leadership. Consider for instance the events surrounding the 7 January 2015. This was the date of the brutal terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices which resulted in 17 people being killed on the streets of Paris. The world rallied with the French and a mass march of 1,6 million people took to the streets of Paris. This march also included 40 world leaders, including several African leaders who mourned the lives of the innocent savagely cut short. This is as it should be.
At the same time, of the Paris killings, however, there was another atrocity taking place. In the dusty town of Baga, northern Nigeria, Boko Haram militants slaughtered 2000 innocent people. There was no similar Paris march. No African leader took to the streets to commemorate the lives of those lost. Even the Nigerian President at the time, Goodluck Jonathan, did not immediately respond to the tragedy which took place on his own territory where his own citizens lost their life in such a cold-blooded way. This prompts the question: Do African lives matter to African leaders?

I asked this question several times following the decision by my own government – South Africa - to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The South African decision may well be related to domestic politics. According to Anton du Plessis of the Institute for Security Studies, the Zuma administration is attempting to protect itself from an imminent Constitutional Court hearing in relation to the 2015 visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when Pretoria refused to arrest him as it was obligated to do under the Rome Statute. Instead Bashir and his entourage were whisked out of the country by the South African authorities.
Peacekeepers in Darfur (Aekkaphob / Shutterstock.com)

To be clear, the arrest warrant for Bashir was based on the charge that he oversaw the war in Darfur which resulted in the deaths of between 200,000 and 400,000 people and the displacement of a further 2.5 million people in Darfur out of a population of 6.2 million. The so-called leaders of Africa denounced the ICC decision ostensibly because heads of state should have immunity of prosecution. The counter-argument is simply this: as Head of State should the buck not stop with him? Do not forget that Bashir was not merely Commander-in-Chief by virtue of him being President of Sudan. He was a military man who staged a coup in 1989 to come to power. The second charge levelled against the ICC was that it was unfairly targeting Africa. Let us be frank: many of the ICC investigations were initiated by African countries themselves since they did not have the resources to conduct an investigation and engage in a trial themselves. Do not forget, too, that the ICC is a court of last resort. The attack on the ICC is simultaneously taking place at a time when Africa’s own domestic and regional judicial mechanisms have come under threat from Africa’s self-serving leaders who desire to escape accountability at all costs whilst they simultaneously steal from and brutalize their citizens.

Perhaps the most powerful response to these objections put forward would simply be this: Do African lives matter to African leaders? Their deep concern for Bashir is akin to sympathizing with the aggressor as opposed to the victims. After all who speaks for the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims who needlessly lost their lives in Darfur?

14 October, 2016

Lesotho: 50 Years of Independence?

by M. K. Mahlakeng

“Sir George Grey restore to me all the land that was in my possession before the arrival of the Afrikaners..”
King Moshoeshoe I - 31 July 1858

On the 4 October 2016, Lesotho celebrated its 50th year of independence (the Golden Jubilee) from the Great Britain (4 October 1966 – 4 October 2016). But one serious noteworthy question remains. Is Lesotho really independent? Independence refers to sovereignty, self-government and the state or quality of being independent. It is conceivable to argue that Lesotho attained self-rule and sovereignty from the Great Britain, however, “the state or quality of being independent” (i.e. socially, economically and otherwise) is a highly contended issue. It is generally perceived that Lesotho is not truly independent and that its “total independence” is central to regaining the “lost territory”, which is the Free State.

The Free State, as seen from the University of the Free State, QwaQwa Campus

50 years later, the Free State which was lost by the Basotho nation to the Afrikaaner following a series of fights has still not returned to Lesotho. The Afrikaner, leaving the Cape Colony as a result of the conflict with the British, showed up on the western borders of the then Basutoland (today Lesotho), and claimed land rights. This eventually led to a series of fights in 1858 between the Afrikaner and Basotho in the “Free State – Basotho War”, thus leading to Moshoeshoe I to lose a great portion of the western lowlands.

50 years later Lesotho is still heavily dependent on foreign aid (posing a great deal of challenge in addressing socioeconomic issues), and imports 95% of its goods from South Africa. Its geographic location, being an enclave landlocked country entirely surrounded by South Africa, seems to be a negative aspect to its political and economic development which has left Lesotho in a position of being dependent on South Africa for economic survival. Moreover, it has left Lesotho with the inability of negotiating sustainable deals.

Furthermore, 50 years later Lesotho, with a population of about 2.1 million, has not been able to fully address political and socioeconomic upheavals confronting the country simply due to the lack of resources. However, there is a solution to this. And this solution falls back to the issue of the Free State region. The total retrocession and restitution of the Free State to Lesotho. The retrocession and restitution of the Free State to Lesotho would mean a number of things for the enclave landlocked country. Firstly, it would mean a considerable increase in arable land, which currently stands at 10% of the total of this mountainous country.

Secondly, this additional land comes with a number of these resources essential in addressing Lesotho’s political and socioeconomic upheavals such as, among others, HIV prevalence, lack of employment and poverty, which has led to serious health issues such as chronic malnutrition of children under the age of 5. These resources include gold in Allanridge, Welkom and Virginia; coal in Sasolburg; and, diamonds in Jagasfontein and Theunissen. Furthermore, The Free State falls under what is commonly referred to as “The Maize Triangle” possessing the best maize. This maize triangle stretches from Lichtenburg (North West Province), Hobhouse (Free State Province) to Ermelo (Mpumalanga Province) thus forming a triangle.

Furthermore, the same region (i.e. the High Veld in the Free State) is recognized, among four other parts of the World (i.e. the Prairies in Canada, the Pampas in Argentina, the Steppes in Ukraine, and the Downs in Australia), as possessing rich soil able to sustain agricultural life. Despite trade routes, Lesotho remains dependent on South Africa simply because it lacks resources (found in the Free State) essential for the development of a competitive economy and a prosperous social and political life.

The failure by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and King Letsie III, during their respective speeches commemorating 50 years of Lesotho’s independence, to not acknowledge the positive outcomes that would come with the return of the Free State to Lesotho and the fact that Lesotho is not independent until retrocession and restitution of the Free State to Lesotho is final, is detrimental to the knowledge and history of Lesotho and its nation respectively.

26 September, 2016

South African Universities in Turmoil

by Hussein Solomon

The university sector is in deep trouble across South Africa. Confronted with a declining subsidy in real terms from the state over several years, universities have looked to make up the shortfall by increasing student fees. Given the stagnant nature of the South African economy with economic growth in a downward trajectory, the ability of students or their parents to pay higher fees was always questionable. Student groups then mobilized nationally last year demanding that there should be no fee increase. As university buildings were set alight and lecture halls vandalized and students and staff intimidated by the more violent student protestors, government vacillated. University management too dithered attempting to reach compromise with students who increasingly viewed compromise not so much as an olive branch but as a sign of weakness.

Demonstrations at the University of Cape Town (Photo: Tony Carr)

When students marched on the Union Buildings, the seat of the presidency, last year, government panicked. Government promised a zero percent fee increase and set up a commission to investigate the possibility of free tertiary education. In retrospect the establishment of such a commission was simply an exercise in kicking the can down the road. Given South Africa’s small tax base, given the slowing economy, given the other competing social demands, free education is simply not possible.

Last week, the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Blade Nzimande, announced a capped fee increase of 8 percent for students whose household income exceeds R600,000 per annum. In practice, this mean there was to be no increase in fees for students emanating from poorer households. Despite this students mobilized once more, now demanding that they pay no fees whatsoever. Once again other students and staff were intimidated for wanting to resume their academic activities. Once again violence accompanied protest action across South African campuses.

The chaos engulfing South Africa’s universities however is symptomatic of a much larger set of problems. First, there is an economy in the doldrums. A situation which is to be exacerbated should rating agencies downgrade our investment status as is expected in December this year. In this context, different sectors of society are violently mobilizing demonstrating their unhappiness. It is no coincidence that students are boycotting classes and shutting down universities at the same time when workers are on strike and variously townships are on fire, protesting poor service delivery. Second, the Zuma government does not seem to understand the gravity of the crisis nor does it have the necessary political will or skill sets to respond to the crisis. Those senior civil servants in the Treasury who do understand the extent of the crisis and who do have the necessary technical skill sets to at least contain the crisis are being prevented from doing what they know is in the country’s national interest by a corrupt political elite led by President Zuma dedicated to plundering state coffers. The looting of state resources also robs the government of any morality in dealing with students demands from a position of integrity. How does one say to students that there is no money to meet their demands for free higher education when billions are lost each year as a result of corruption?

Third, there is the issue of the dysfunctional nature of the educational system which practically guarantees failure. Many students emanate from dysfunctional schools not being really taught the skill sets necessary to prepare them either for the world of work or for university. Fearing a confrontation with the powerful South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), government turns a blind eye to corruption, absentee teachers and poor quality teaching generally. Students graduate from high schools and enter universities and find that they do not have the necessary skill sets to make a success of their university studies. Thus, despite valiant efforts on the part of universities with extra tutorials and other interventions, the drop-out and failure rates are extremely high. At the end of the day no matter what interventions universities embark upon, one cannot undo the damage of 12 years of dysfunctional teaching within the first year or two of university education. The dysfunctional nature of the education system is also reflected in the fact that often even those students who do graduate often do not find jobs. The reason for this is that there is a tremendous mismatch between the skill sets graduates have and the needs of the South African economy. Consider the tens of thousands of students who each year enters the humanities and the dismally small number who find their way into the sciences. So graduates leave universities with heightened expectations of a good professional job. Instead they find themselves unemployed or doing menial work for which no degree is required.

We are all failing our youth. To fix this, we need a growing economy in the first instance. We need government and university administrators to come together engaging in a radical overhaul of the entire education system from primary and secondary school to the higher education sector. They need to develop a vision of the South African economy which emphasises high growth and high employment and they need to do this in conjunction with the business sector to ensure that skill sets taught is what is needed for the economy of tomorrow.

30 August, 2016

The End of the Road for the Mugabe Regime?

by Hussein Solomon

2016 might well be the year which marks the end of Mugabe’s authoritarian regime. The portents do not look good for the world’s oldest president, Robert Mugabe, who at 92 has misruled his country for 36 years. A number of factors have come together to form a perfect storm around his tottering government. First, the Zimbabwean economy is fast running out of cash. In past economic crises Mugabe and his cronies were bailed out by the International Monetary Fund and the Chinese. Given the ongoing mismanagement of the economy and institutionalized corruption, there are no international actors who are likely to assist him this time. One indicator of this economic meltdown was that on 26 July the daily volume on Harare’s stock exchange plummeted to US $105, from US $1 million at its peak.

President Robert Mugabe (Photo: GCIS)

Without money, the ruling ZANU-PF’s patronage networks are crumbling with normally loyal allies turning against the leadership. Earlier this year a group of influential war veterans attacked Mugabe’s “dictatorial tendencies”. The cash crunch has also resulted in the government’s inability to pay the salaries of its bloated civil servants. Elements in the security services are already threatening to join protestors should their full salaries not be made timeously. In an effort to maintain their control given the threat from the security services, ZANU-PF said it will deploy its youth wing to crush any protests. However, following last week’s protests, ZANU-PF’s Youth League could only muster 500 of its members and were compelled to shelve their plans to crush political dissenters.

The ongoing drought has also added further impetus to the economic crisis. Four million Zimbabweans currently have insufficient food. This too has strategic significance. Over the past two decades, ZANU-PF has lost the support of its urban cities with the rural areas becoming the stronghold of the ruling party. Given the lack of assistance from the government in responding to the drought, there are indications that dissatisfaction against Mugabe’s rule is also spreading to the countryside.

The urban opposition meanwhile is more united than ever. At the end of August leaders of 18 opposition parties, including a former prime minister, vice president and finance minister, met to forge a coalition against Mugabe’s ZANU-PF. These are further supported by civil society groupings such as Tajamuka and #ThisFlag. Last week’s demonstrations were among some of the biggest in the country with security forces being overwhelmed by protestors and being forced to retreat. The fact that the peaceful protests were given the green light by Zimbabwe’s High Court to go ahead and that despite this the police brutally attempted to crush the protestors demanding urgent electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 poll particularly riled demonstrators. The mood amongst demonstrators was uncompromising, “Beat us all you want, but we shall not yield”, they defiantly roared on the streets of Harare.

To compound matters for Mugabe, his own party is deeply divided. One faction is led by his wife Grace who sees herself as Mugabe’s natural successor and is supported by Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere. Another faction is led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who commands the support of the security services.

As Zimbabwe burns, as UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon expresses his concern, the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country does not attract the attention of either the African Union or the Southern African Development Community.

11 August, 2016

Lesotho: Dilemmas of a Coalition System of Governance

by M. K. Mahlakeng

Since 2012, Lesotho has been characterized by coalition systems of governance. Post 26 May 2012 elections, Lesotho witnessed its first ever coalition government. This pact comprised of 3 political parties i.e. the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). This coalition government collapsed after only 2 years in office as a result of poor leadership, and tensions and misunderstandings that occurred between coalition partners (especially between the ABC and LCD). This collapse of government led to the 28 February general snap elections which resulted in a second coalition government comprising of 7 parties, i.e. the Democratic Congress (DC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD).

Coalition governments are political pacts formed in times of crisis in which it becomes evident that a certain action cannot be achieved and/or avoided by working separately. Moreover, coalition governments are a result of splinter parties and/or groups that affect the possibility of one party claiming total majority in elections subsequently forming a government on its own.

Inauguration of PM Mosisili, 2015 (Photo: DoC)

Coalition governments have their own strengths and challenging weaknesses. What is advantageous for coalition governments is that, having to share mandate leads to broader representation and greater scrutiny of policy-making. However, disadvantageous to this form of governance is the conflict that may occur due to conflicting ideologies leading to policy standstills thus affecting the stability and functioning of government. One complex and detrimental issue in coalition governments is dependency which subsequently creates a “one size fits all” way of life, meaning “your problems and worries become my problems and worries”. This disadvantageous dilemma is true for Lesotho as it was evident in the collapse of the 2012 coalition government, and has resurfaced to challenge the current coalition government.

The major partner in the current political pact (i.e. the DC), is faced with issues threatening the stability of the party itself and of the government as a whole. The issue that is currently accumulating pressure on the stability of the party and government is central to the leadership of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his grip to power. Despite his grip to power resulting in infightings in his party, however, the PM has shown little signs of relinquishing power, a common notion across the African continent. Undoubtedly, his display of arrogance emanates from him being more than a decade in power. Mosisili has been a PM for 14 years (as the then leader of LCD before its split in early 2012 leading to the formation of the DC) from May 1998 to June 2012 before his defeat to the ABC-led coalition government. It is however important to note that, what has also added to his long stay in power is the ineffectiveness of his deputies (starting in the LCD and now in the DC), at the face of endorsement by a majority of party members, to stand out and outright contest the position of leadership.

His grip on power has resulted in vicious factions within the party mainly characterised by succession quarrels. On the one hand, one grouping has made calls for him to step down opting for his deputy in the DC, Monyane Moleleki, to be his successor. While on the other hand, another group is standing firmly behind him. This infighting, although not intensely evident at the moment, places immense pressure on the stability of the DC, but more importantly, on the stability of the governing coalition. Having led two governments to-date, it is easy to argue that he can become a key source of advice to the administration of his party and of government even after his resignation.

One thing is certain. With his continued arrogance, he will face a motion of no-confidence in his party resulting into a political marginalization of him and his loyalists thus affecting, among others, patronage. What is left to be seen however, is whether he will attempt to split once again from the DC, one usual stunt in Lesotho and one of his common traits perhaps inherited from the former PM Ntsu Mokhehle. For instance, in 1997 Ntsu Mokhehle, founder and leader of the BCP since 1952, initiated a split from the BCP, facing pressure from within his party (this split resulted into the political turmoil that witnessed a fumbled South African-led intervention in 1998 commonly known as “Operation Boleas”), thus leading to the formation of the LCD. Mosisili later took the leadership role of the LCD and similarly split from the LCD in 2012 to form the DC also facing pressure from within the LCD. This clearly overrides the illusion that individuals are loyal to their parties to a point of accepting defeat. However, if a split should be the case, then the current governing coalition won’t see the light of day.

08 August, 2016

Local Elections…National Repercussions: A Brief Look at the 2016 South African Local Government Elections

by Willem Ellis

Like all other cities in South Africa (SA), my city Bloemfontein has been festooned with local government election banners and posters for the last few weeks. The faces of the leaders of political parties beaming down at us from lampposts with slogans promising us to trust them with transforming society; giving power to members of all communities; fighting for our rights; bringing economic freedom in our lifetime and one party that merely said…trust us!

The local government election circus of 2016 has come and (almost) gone and now the time for analysis has arrived. Commentators, academics, experts and fellow citizens will analyse the results to death – leaving no bone unpicked or statistic untouched. I know my students will ambush me for an opinion in our next class…so here is my penny’s worth of opinion. For me the election results are mostly about three parties and two issues.

Photo: HelenOnline

For the African National Congress (ANC) the election results must have been like a bucket of cold water in the face! For the 1st time since 1994 the party’s general support has waned below 60% of the national electorate (±54%). Its apparent loss (depending on ongoing coalition talks between all parties that has won seats) of the previously held Metropolitan Councils (metros) of Nelson Mandela Bay (centered around the city of Port Elizabeth in the ANC heartland of the Eastern Cape province); Tshwane (centered around the city of Pretoria, the administrative capital of SA) and Johannesburg (the economic hub of SA) is a staggering result for the ANC and an apparent loss of faith in the ruling party by the urban electorate. Yes, it might seems that the swing away from the ANC could have been influenced by voters staying away rather than voting for other parties in a form of protest (also against the scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma), inclement weather or a ineffective election campaign marred by violence…but the votes have been counted and it seems the fat lady has sung!

The Democratic Alliance (DA) could be seen as major winners looking at its big gains in areas that had previously been dominated by the ANC. Not only has it retained its dominance of local councils in the Western Cape (including the metro of Cape Town) and Midvaal in Gauteng, but it has really put the cat amongst the pigeons with its support in (and possible future governance of) the metros mentioned above. Even though the ANC still dominates the local government scene, the DA has grown its support in most councils across the country. Its message centered on its clean record of governance in the Western Cape seems to have found fertile ground across the country. The challenge will now be about proving their political and governance mettle in new untested and possibly hostile local municipal and metropolitan areas. The jury on whether the DA has been able to really grow its support among the black electorate exponentially is still out, but it seems that especially among the urban black electorate its message is finding sympathetic ears.

And then the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)! The new kid on the block as far as local government elections are concerned have not been able to capture a single municipality but its strong showing in all of the hotly contested metro’s mentioned above has given it the really enviable role of kingmakers when it comes to the formation of coalition governments. As this is being written, frantic coalition talks are ongoing all over SA and the EFF holds the key to most of them! Before and during the elections, the EFF has gone on record saying that they will not enter into coalitions with the ANC – but we all know the 14 days municipalities are given to form their councils after the declaration of final results can prove to be a very long time in politics!

The two issues that really interest me are the forming of the local coalition governments and the reaction of the ANC to the results of the elections. South Africa does not really have experience of coalition politics and it seems that parties with vastly differing ideological backgrounds and agendas (the DA and EFF comes to mind) are considering forming coalitions…an experiment that could be doomed for failure! Even though it is being said that local government is about service rendering and not ideology, getting rid of socialist, capitalist, nationalist or whatever baggage is never that easy! Local government in SA is in a precarious state and our citizens deserve clean, effective and accountable government and service rendering – not bickering politicians!

That leaves us with the ANC reaction to it all…will there be introspection and realignment as promised or will we see instability within the party with President Zuma using the opportunity to purge political opponents - especially in the Gauteng metros, a province where voices have been going up against him recently? Were the elections also a bit of a referendum on the state of national governance? Will the ANC allow itself to be governed by others or will we see instability being fomented in “new” opposition-controlled municipalities and metros?

The 2019 national elections are closer than we think and with everything to play for, the gloves will come off soon…very soon.

So now the banners and posters come down and our lives return to normal…if ever there will be a normal in South African politics again!

01 August, 2016

Mozambique: Echoes of War?

by Hussein Solomon

The conflict between Mozambique’s FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) and RENAMO (National Mozambican Resistance) ended two decades ago. Its legacy, however, continue to haunt the country with more than 100,000 dead and more than a million refugees. That war ended in 1992 with the signing of a peace agreement which allowed the RENAMO leader, Afonso Dhlakama, to participate in the first multi-party elections in 1994.

The possibility of civil war, however, has resurfaced in recent years. Part of the reason for this simmering conflict lay in the sense of marginalization that RENAMO and its constituency feels. Whilst Mozambique is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, much of the economic development is occurring in the south as opposed to the central and northern regions in which RENAMO is active. To exacerbate matters this regional split also reinforces other cleavages – specifically that of ethnicity. Whilst Shangaans largely reside in the south, ethnic Ndau inhabit the central and northern regions of the country. The recent discoveries of energy resources is also set to exacerbate the competition for a larger slice of the economic pie whilst the growing corruption within the ruling FRELIMO party in power since 1975 is also set to cause further antagonism against the party and its resultant patronage networks.

Afonso Dhlakama (Photo: Adrien Barbier)

There is also a sense of political marginalization acutely felt by Dhlakama who is being slowly pushed off the national stage by a younger generation of politicians – both FRELIMO and RENAMO. Dhlakama is an old-style African politician with a strong belief in the “Big Man” syndrome. He refuses to tolerate any challenge to his leadership. When RENAMO member Devisso Mango proved popular as mayoral candidate for Baira, Dhlakama tried to stop his election. Mango, exploited his popularity with a younger electorate, and then won as an independent under the banner of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique. Small wonder, then, that one of Dhlakama’s demands from FRELIMO is that he gets to appoint provincial governors in the central and northern regions.

All the blame is not to be laid at Dhlakama’s door, however. FRELIMO in power for more than 40 years is displaying ever greater arrogance, showing scant respect for the political opposition (not just RENAMO) or broader civil society. Far from attempting to affect a political compromise, for instance, greater autonomy of provinces, FRELIMO is attempting to consolidate power further. Unfortunately, for FRELIMO, its tough political stance does not match its military’s capabilities. FRELIMO’s aversion to political compromise is taking place at a time when the Mozambican armed forces is very weak. Under these circumstances, political tensions are mounting and spilling over into armed conflict.

On 12 and 25 September 2015, Dhlakama’s convoy was shot at twice. On 20 January 2016, RENAMO’s Secretary-General Manuel Bissopo was injured and his bodyguard killed in a drive-by shooting. After the two assassination attempts on his life, Dhlakama’s statements have become increasingly bellicose. For its part FRELIMO points out that Dhlakama’s speeches of capturing control over the six central and northern provinces – Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa – threatens the territorial integrity and security of the state. FRELIMO also blames RENAMO gunmen for killing two people including a traditional chief in Sofala earlier this year as part of a concerted attempt to remove authorities loyal to Maputo in these provinces. With FRELIMO’s deployment of more soldiers into the central and northern provinces and clashes erupting between the belligerents, thousands of luckless residents have fled into neighouring Malawi.

Despite these ominous signs of impending conflict, there is little action from the regional body – the Southern African Development Community (SADC). But then again, should we be surprised? There was no action taken by SADC in Zimbabwe despite the economic and political meltdown in that country. Neither is there action on the part of SADC in Swaziland where a profligate King Mswati III continues to behave like a medieval feudal monarch whilst driving his country into economic ruin.

30 July, 2016

How Unstable is Lesotho? A Two-Year Old Myth or an Enduring Reality?

by M. K. Mahlakeng

Barely two years ago, the rumour that Lesotho is confronted with instability become a part of civil life in Lesotho. On the one hand, this rumour was heavily supported. It was backed up by several events, giving it the credibility to be true. Firstly, on 29 August 2014, the then Prime Minister Tom Thabane fled the country claiming that there had been an attempted coup d’état by the army. Numerous incidences were mentioned as evidence of this plot to overthrow his government. This includes the barricade of police stations, including the police headquarters, and the takeover of the radio and TV stations by the army, resulting in a total black out in broadcast.

Secondly, from the 11, 13 and 26 May 2015, tripartite opposition (All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL) leaders (former PM Thomas Thabane, Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo) fled Lesotho to South Africa on claims that their lives were in danger. Lastly, on 25 June 2015, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao was shot dead by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members who had come to arrest him for allegedly leading a mutiny to oust the army command.

SADC facilitator Cyril Ramaphosa in Lesotho (Photo GCIS)

On the other hand, this rumour was equally challenged. It was argued that many claims and allegations received attention and support despite the lack of substantiated evidence. And on an analytical level, a number of these events are easily disputable due to lack of provision of evidence. Firstly, a lot of interpretations can be attached to a raid of police stations and a take-over of communication services, however, these actions had similar but doubtful characteristics of a coup d’état.

Looking back at the events that led to the “attempted coup”, it was discovered that the PM has on recent occasions used the police force as his personal agency to threaten and intimidate members of society (this includes members of the opposition and the military). It was later discovered that the PM intended to use the police to distribute arms and ammunition to his ABC-allied youth movement to destabilise an intended peaceful march by members of the opposition on 1 September 2014 proposing for the re-opening of parliament. Hence a pre-emptive disarmament and barricade of police stations to stem this flow of weapons. The takeover of the communication services as argued by the army was a mere attempt to avoid rumours of a coup leaving citizens and investors in confusion and shock. Hypothetically, if it was indeed a coup, why wasn’t it successful because the radio and TV stations, police stations, including the police headquarters were under the control of the army, moreover, the State house was unoccupied due to the fleeing of the PM?

Nonetheless, despite the confusion between what is fact and what is rumour, on 3 July 2015, SADC held an Extraordinary Summit of the Double Troika and later established an Independent Commission of Inquiry chaired by Botswana High Court Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi to look into the security and constitutional status of Lesotho. On the 20th January 2016, the Double Troika Summit handed over the report of the Commission of Inquiry to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, and tasked the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to provide feedback to the Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and to publish the Report within 14 days (by 1 February 2016).

The Double Troika Summit also tasked the Kingdom of Lesotho to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of the constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms and submit a progress report to the Summit in August 2016. Among the report’s recommendations, the commission of inquiry has recommended that army commander Tlali Kennedy Kamoli be fired, whose actions are seen as being central to the crisis in Lesotho, as part of efforts to restore stability in the troubled kingdom and to secure a safe return and stay of Thabane in Lesotho. As a result, opposition leaders are also likely to remain in exile as they have vowed not to return as long as Kamoli remains at the helm of the LDF. The Phumaphi report also disputed the existence of any such mutiny and recommends an amnesty on the soldiers arrested by Kamoli.

However, the commission and its report has raised more questions than answers. This is due to uncertainties regarding the expected outcome of the report. First, won’t the removal of Kamoli affect and/or sow divisions within the army? Second, does the removal of Kamoli equally imply the removal of high ranking officials within the military? Third, who will be his successor? Fourth, will the regional body determine and decide on this too? And lastly, is there tangible proof to support the report’s dispute that there was no existence of a mutiny?

The commission and its report has also divided society, mainly based on its motive and intentions. Since its inception, SADC has been unable to hold certain leaders to account for their undemocratic actions. And although it might appear to be solving conflicts in the region, however, it tends to neglect underlying causes in favour of quick-fix solutions. There are a number of countries in the region that need SADC interventions. These include Zimbabwe and Mozambique to name but a few. The neighbouring South Africa has also reached a peak of instability. This is evident from the wave of violent service delivery protests (literally everyday), the killing of foreigners in 2008 and 2015, to the influx killing of politicians ahead of the 2016 municipal elections. One is left to question what form of “instability” instigates a commission of inquiry by the regional body? One thing is certain, the commission and its report’s recommendation are likely to stoke more turmoil.

29 March, 2016

Political Stability and FDI in SADC: A Love-Hate Relationship

by Yani Karavasilev

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is undoubtedly one of the most important factors for economic advancement in developed and developing economies alike. So what determines the levels of FDI flows into a country or region? Natural resource availability is one key factor that previous studies have identified, but so is political stability, with the assumption being that investors look for a stable environment in which their investments can be protected and nurtured. In this sense, the importance of regional blocs such as SADC in enhancing FDI flows to the region cannot be understated, especially in view of the assumption that in addition to expanding the size of the market, regionalism can promote political stability by restricting membership to countries with democratic political systems, as well as provide carrot-or-stick type of incentives for member countries to implement good policies.

The following are some of the key results of an academic study attempting to identify the relationship between political stability and FDI in SADC. The full details of the study can be accessed in an article in the Southern African Peace and Security Studies that was recently published.

To test the effects of political stability within SADC, a sample was assembled containing data for all 15 SADC members for the period 1996 through 2014 and the impact of political stability on FDI inflows per capita was investigated, while taking into account other important factors (control variables) such as GDP growth proxying for FDI returns, price levels proxying for investment-related costs, natural resource dependence, inflation etc., selected based on preliminary tests so as not to affect the reliability and validity of the statistical analysis. Political stability was measured using the ‘Political Stability and Lack of Violence’ indicator provided by the World Bank. It is one of the six Worldwide Governance Indicators which capture key dimensions of governance.

The results revealed that there is a U-shaped relationship between FDI and political stability. The lowest point of that U-curve lies at about a value of -1.0 of the PS indicator (the minimum and maximum are about -2.5 and +2.5). Above this level, and especially above 0.0, there is a relatively large, robust and positive causal relationship between political stability and FDI inflows in SADC members. The coefficient increases as the lags increase, showing that the political stability in a country is crucial two to three years before the actual investment happens, which is understandable considering the long-term nature of and the bureaucracy surrounding FDI projects. Using a different cutoff of -1.0 yields even more staggering results – for every one unit of improvement in political stability, there is an FDI inflows within a country.

The results confirm the findings of previous studies and cannot be said to constitute any exciting news. What is surprising, however, is that for the observations below the abovementioned -1.0 cutoff point, these implications do not hold. These observations were seen in the case of the DRC, Angola, and in certain limited periods (mostly around the time of land reform) in the case of Zimbabwe.

Why is the DRC different?

A careful look at the geography of FDI there suggests that there might be no relation between political stability and FDI in the DRC to begin with. The DRC is the largest country in SADC, and its largely underdeveloped infrastructure obstructs quick coordination among its already largely economically, linguistically and ethnically different parts. This line of thought would render the analysis of the DRC as a single politico-economic entity counterintuitive to say the least. What could be described as the economic powerhouse of the country is in essence a relatively small region bordering Zambia, situated in the Katanga Province which itself is home to a mere 6-7% of the population but could be said to account for upwards of 70% of the DRC’s total exports (primarily copper and cobalt). Approximately the same amount of the FDI flowing into the country should be expected to be concentrated in the region. The region has been largely unaffected in a direct way by the conflict in the country, which has taken a heavy toll on the North and South Kivu provinces.

To support the claim that political stability is not the most relevant factor in investment decisions in the mining sector in the south, a backward interpretation of the Fraser Institute survey was considered. According to this survey, the DRC’s political environment was picked out as a major negative factor influencing FDI - over 50% of investors surveyed the said it was a deterrent to investing in the country’s mining sector. While this is certainly true, one does have to look from the opposite angle and recognize that for almost 50% of investors the policy environment is not a major issue. At least not in comparison with other factors, such as corruption and infrastructure problems, which were both found to be a deterrent to 100% of investors (compared to only 50% for Zambia, for instance). Furthermore, whereas political stability turned out to be a major concern for approximately 80% of investors, only half of them (40%) reported they would not pursue any investment in the DRC. The reverse reading of the survey results is very much in line with the explanation outlined in the previous paragraph.

Why is Angola different?

The case of Angola is the only one where an unambiguously negative relationship between PS and FDI be observed (Figure 3). Angola is the only other severely natural-resource dependent country in SADC alongside the DRC, and specifically, it is oil-dependent, being the only OPEC member within SADC. The overwhelming part of FDI in Angola goes into the oil sector, which accounts for more than 90% of the country’s exports. The number of oil extraction wells more than doubled between 1993 and 2003. In light of the fact that FDI in the oil sector depends mainly on the discovery of reserves and on global demand for oil, it is not surprising to see huge fluctuations in FDI flows, including outflows due to falling demand in recent years despite constantly improving political stability. The most relevant part of Angola’s dependence on oil, however, is the geography of its oil extraction industry, very much in parallel with the DRC’s mining sector. As much as 98% of Angola’s oil is pumped from fields offshore, in the Atlantic Ocean, so there is almost no direct contact between the oil industry and the onshore political and social development. Since any potentiality of political violence is virtually non-existent, it follows logically that there should be no relationship between the political stability indicator and the FDI inflows.

Are Angola and the DRC really part of SADC?
Natural resource dependence and the lack of relationship between FDI and political in Angola and the DRC are not the only characteristics that differentiate them from the rest of the SADC members. The two countries, together with the Seychelles, are the only ones which do not participate in the SADC Free Trade Area established in August 2008 (SADC, 2012). As a result, they are not as deeply integrated into the community, with tariffs, regulations and visas limiting their participation in cross-border value chains, FDI and joint-venture projects. To illustrate, FDI outflows from South Africa to other SADC members were examined. South Africa is an FDI powerhouse not only in the region but in Africa as a whole, and a lot of FDI in SADC members originates from South Africa. The DRC and Angola are the only countries which did not experience an increase of FDI from South Africa since 2000. In fact, DRC does not even report any FDI originating from that country. Curiously, apart from South Africa, no other African country reports FDI in either the DRC or Angola. On the other hand, apart from some negligibly minimal investments in neighboring Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, Angola and the DRC do not invest in SADC members. The overwhelming part of FDI in the DRC originates from Belgium and China, and in the case of Angola, the main contributors are France, Norway, Portugal, the USA, China and Brazil. Considering this, one would wonder whether the DRC and Angola are economically part of SADC, or for that matter the African community at all.