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.

07 February, 2016

Infrastructure for Peace (I4P): Re-learning the Lessons of the Past

by Willem Ellis

The median temperature in South Africa (SA) has been rising and I am not referring only to the heat wave that had been beleaguering the sub-continent for the past months. 2016 promises a steady rise in the political temperature with a possible forecast of a perfect political storm. Elements like crucial local government elections; ongoing service delivery protests; a crumbling economy; racial tension; a president beset with ethical problems and a restive civil society guarantees that thunder and lightning will be unavoidable!

Twenty-two years after SA’s transformation to democracy it can be argued that the country is still in a phase of state- and peace-building, with its reconciliation process incomplete. This despite the fact that the SA transition was hailed as a “miracle” and the country had been exporting its conflict resolution skills to countries as far afield as Sudan, Ireland and Nepal. Regular resurgence of xenophobic violence, the ongoing race issue and general lack of trust among groups are examples of wrinkles still to be ironed out. Most South Africans are only now realising that the country’s social fabric is rapidly fraying and that peace- and nation building is not only something that happens in other countries!

March against Xenophobia, Johannesburg (Photo by Dyltong)

SA is (in)famous for setting up ad hoc structures to address problems and the current situation is no different. Already there is talk about kick-starting dialogue, organising conferences on race, inequality and the simmering conflict potential within the country. What is to be done? The answer might lie in a fairly recent “trend” in peacebuilding called Infrastructures for Peace (I4P) – the creation of peace- and nation-building initiatives rooted in local dynamics (cultural, historical, structural) and described as the “local turn” by Richmond (2013). Without subtracting from the role played by civil society in such I4P’s, the formalisation of such infrastructures by the state and external actors deserves special attention.

Van Tongeren (2011) states that the idea of peace infrastructure is to develop mechanisms for cooperation among stakeholders, including the government, by promoting co-operative problem-solving and institutionalising response mechanisms to (violent) conflict. Nishanka (2014) posits that organisational elements of such infrastructure can be established at all stages of peace and dialogue processes - during peace-building as well, at all levels of society and with varying degrees of inclusion. Participating parties can be assisted through capacity building, processes of mediation or public participation can be facilitated and agreements’ monitored. I4P’s seem to share the following key characteristics:
1) a domestic foundation;
2) establishment during any stage of peace or dialogue processes;
3) their presence at all levels and peace-building tracks;
4) varying terms of inclusion; and
5) various objectives and functions to be attained and performed through/by those participating. (Nishanka, 2014).

Is this what SA is looking for? If so, we do not have only have to look forward, but also back and relearn the lessons of the past…quickly! SA has flirted with I4P as recently as 1994 on a national basis and 2003 on a provincial basis. Although not as comprehensive as the Accra Declaration of 10 September 2013, envisaging national I4P for all members of ECOWAS, with Ghana taking the lead, some institutional memory of previous efforts remain.

The creation of the National Peace Accord (NPA) in SA in 1991 has received some credit for contributing to a peaceful transition and had a far reaching impact through the establishment of understanding amongst different sections of the SA population – facilitating dialogue, building tolerance and addressing issues of conflict through mediation and problem-solving approaches. The directs and tangible impact of the NPA was seen in the National Peace Secretariat (NPS) with a national secretariat, 1 regional peace committees and 200 local peace committees established country-wide. More than 15 000 peace monitors were trained, international observers hosted and uncounted smaller and larger scale mediation interventions performed. Although not problem free, the NPA did kick-start SA’s first dalliance with I4P – only to be deactivated after the 1994 transition.

In an initiative totally unique in SA, the Free State Centre for Citizenship Education and Conflict Resolution (CCECR) was set up in the Free State province from 1998 – 2003. It was the result of initiatives by ex-NPS members, provincial politicians and international donors. CCECR worked on issues of conflict resolution and human rights as a statutory body of the Free State legislature for five years, doing sterling service – unique for a province in South Africa! Since it closure in 2003, no such initiatives have followed.

Does SA need some form of I4P? I think it definitely does! Does it have to reinvent the wheel in setting it up? Definitely not – just re-learn the lessons from the past.


* Willem Ellis, is based at the Centre for Africa Studies and Department of Political Studies and Governance, University of the Free State, South Africa

06 February, 2016

The Phumaphi Commission Report to Lesotho: South African or SADC Agenda? Personal or Regional Politics?

by M. K. Mahlakeng

There has been ambiguity in the word ‘recommendations’, and it seems the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also been caught-up in this inexactness. This follows a statement made by SADC during its double troika summit in Gaborone comprising of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. SADC issued a 14-day ultimatum prescribed by the regional body to Lesotho to “implement the Phumaphi Commission Report or face suspension from the regional body”. The Commission was expected to probe the killing of former Lesotho Army Commander Maaparankoe Mahao among other issues.

The tone and manner of this statement, in essence, seems to signify that recommendations are binding on member states and that failure to implement such recommendations will ultimately lead to the suspension of a specific member state. Two main issues of concern were the reasons surrounding the delay by government to implement the findings of the report, and these include the court case against SADC by Lieutenant-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, and the security measures that needed to be taken before making the report public.

Lt-Col Hashatsi’s court case, which sites Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Justice Phumaphi, the SADC Commission of Inquiry and Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe as its respondents, is two-fold. Firstly it aims to nullify the findings of the Commission on the grounds that the commissioners, in particular Justice Phumaphi, was being biased against him noting that he [Hashatsi] is a suspect in the killing of Mahao. Lt-Col Hashatsi was among several people interviewed during the probe. The LDF officer said, in his court application, that “the commissioners’ line of questioning made him appear a suspect in Lt-Gen Mahao’s killing, which he said violated his constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court”. And because of the alleged bias, Lt-Col Hashatsi wanted the respondents to give reasons why the inquiry should not be declared illegal. Secondly, Lt-Col Hashatsi is challenging the legitimacy of the commission for allegedly violating its terms of reference by hearing evidence in South Africa when it had been established by Lesotho laws. However, the SADC reiterated that “any court decision taken against the Commission of Inquiry is of no legal effect and will not bind SADC and its institutions.”

SADC Headquarters

The second issue, concerned a delay due to government’s desire to be given time to go through the report and, if need be, edit out from the report any parts that threatened the country’s peace and security, before making it public. And also paramount to the delay was government's respect for the courts, arguing never to receive the report until the finalization of Lt-Col Hashatsi’s court case.

South African President and an outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Jacob Zuma, on 19 January 2016 during the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s Morning Live programme stated that “SADC would unilaterally release the report to the public and push for a complete suspension of Lesotho from the regional body”.

Zuma’s support for Lesotho’s suspension from the regional bloc, and what is viewed as ‘anti-Lesotho remarks’, was met with no surprise. It has been argued that the untimely end of the Thabane-administration and the subsequent sacking of the controversial Guptas, alleged friends of Zuma, in Lesotho serve as ample explanation for Zuma’s harsh stance on Lesotho’s internal politics.

Former Prime Minister Tom Thabane and also alleged close friend of Zuma, appointed the Guptas to be his special advisers, claiming that “these people [the Guptas] are good friends of the ANC and we have good relations with the ANC...I was introduced to them by the ANC president Jacob Zuma and other ANC officials”. However, at the end of the two-and-a-half-years Thabane-led government, the Guptas were fired as special advisers to the Prime Minister’s office and their diplomatic passports revoked.

In reaction to President Zuma’s statements, PM Mosisili claimed that his [Zuma] statement is contradictory. In substantiating his viewpoint, The PM made a comparative scenario of Lesotho’s situation with SADC vis-à-vis that of South Africa with the International Criminal Court (ICC). He reiterated that “this is the same thing that today they [South Africa] are claiming immunity by saying that ICC should hold their horses in this regard (holding SA accountable over the Bashir case), and yet you [Mr Zuma] maintain that it is wrong when we say a regional bloc should hold their horses since we still have a case in court…it is surprising that a bloc [SADC] that believes in democracy and the rule of law can say that courts’ decisions are not binding”.

One ought to ask, are recommendations binding or prescriptive? And, what can force the suspension of a member state from a regional organisation? Firstly, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a recommendation is “an official suggestion about the best thing to do”. They merely act as tools that serve member states to refer to and draw from as desired (with liberty to accept or reject). And secondly, nations get suspended from SADC because of unconstitutional governance (i.e. lack of adherence to the rule of law, negligence on peace and security etc.). However, Lesotho’s position to respect the rule of law by waiting for the case that is currently in court and take necessary steps in tabling the report has left it at the gallows.

It is undoubtedly evident through policy initiatives that South Africa (SA) and SADC are highly committed to regional integration, constitutionalism and stability through peacekeeping diplomatic missions. And these all come down to democracy and the rule of law. However, ignorance by both [SA and SADC] over the proceedings of the courts of Lesotho has marked a fundamental shift of policy against a member state.

And this equally raises the question of their role in the call for the democratization of Swaziland – they have turned a blind-eye to the ban on political parties which has been in place for more than four decades, the prohibition of political protests and the plight of many Swazi dissidents exiled in South Africa and Mozambique. The same applies to their stance regarding politically motivated murder, election rigging and economic pillaging in Zimbabwe.

31 January, 2016

Japanese media and the lack of coverage of African news

by Irina Novikova

International media seem to have little interest in events in Africa. Even such major media corporations as the BBC and the New York Times allocate no more than 9 percent of its international news to news from Africa(*1). But, among media outside Africa, the Japanese media seem to particularly fail in producing extensive reports on the region with only 2-3 percent of its international affairs being devoted to Africa.

The poor accessibility to remote areas of conflict, as well as the safety concerns of journalists certainly play a role. However, it might also be useful to look at the number of overseas bureaus in the region. For example, it appears that the Yomiuri Newspaper – a Japanese newspaper with the largest circulation, has only two news bureaus in Africa – one in Johannesburg, South Africa and one in Cairo, Egypt(*2). However, the bureau in Cairo focuses more on the Middle East than on Africa itself. That means that there are at most only two agencies to cover the whole continent: a continent, which is in fact the second-largest in the world. At the same time, there are nine Yomiuri bureaus in Europe alone. It reveals that there is a certain imbalance in how Japanese media cover different parts of the world. Moreover, it suggests that Japanese media in particular perceive African countries as not worthy of detailed reporting.

Consequently, many potentially significant events in Africa fail to reach the Japanese public. Therefore, it is interesting to analyze the content of the Yomiuri Newspaper articles and see, if African events are covered, what is being covered? The following table shows the total number of characters devoted to African news in the Yomiuri Newspaper over the year 2015 (1 January to 31 December). The list represents the top ten of the most covered countries and the total number of characters devoted to them.

Ten most-reported African countries in the Yomiuri Newspaper, 2015

Nigeria and Kenya received the most attention, with 49 and 24 articles respectively reporting on a complicated security situation in both countries. That is hardly surprising, considering the number and intensity of attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamic militia in Nigeria, and Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate from Somalia which mainly carries out its attacks in Kenya.

However, a closer look at the content of articles reveals that the coverage of conflict and terrorism in Africa cannot be called extensive or detailed. Out of 49 articles primarily devoted to Nigeria, around 29 are short columns within 200 characters, which simply state the place, perpetrators and number of victims. They do not offer a broader analysis of the situation. Moreover, follow-up stories after initial reports on attacks are rare. For example, only 3 Yomiuri articles with a total of 1,923 characters focused on the deadly Al-Shabaab attack on a Garissa University campus in Kenya, which took the lives of 148 people. This number looks especially insignificant next to 26,467 characters (or 18 articles) written by Yomiuri about the November attacks in Paris just in the first two days. Although these are two different cases, the comparison definitely emphasizes the lack of attention to African affairs.

Overall, six countries in the list are related to conflicts: Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, and Algeria. The focus on a security issue is clearly demonstrated in the following chart of most covered topics in the newspaper. Conflict-related articles make up around 39 percent of the whole coverage. Such attention can be explained by the intensifying insurgency of Islamic militia around the world and its direct consequences in Europe and Japan (e.g. the beheading of two Japanese nationals by the Islamic State in October 2014).


Some other topics that gained substantial coverage were “society” and “politics”. News about presidential elections in Nigeria and Burkina Faso, Obama’s visit to Africa, and visits to Japan by African diplomats, all fall under the category of “politics”. It makes up 14 percent of the total coverage. Articles discussing human rights improvements and other public affairs are categorized as “society” and constitute 17 percent of the news. Although this might suggest that Japanese media show a certain level of interest in African society, in reality 47 percent of such articles (or 16 out of 34) are news related to both, Japan and Africa. They might as well be labeled as Japanese news. For example, one article focuses on how Japanese style-management can improve the working environment in African companies, while other articles focus on a great contribution by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the development of living standards. In other words, a connection to Japan seems to be a significant factor in whether society-related news would receive attention of Japanese media.

The same can be said about African news in general, as 23 percent of all articles published in 2015 by Yomiuri were written in the context of a connection to Japan or Japanese people or organizations, as can be seen from the following chart:


This brief analysis of a Japanese newspaper reveals a few interesting aspects of how Japanese media deal with Africa. First, within the little coverage devoted to the continent, conflict-related news attracts the most attention. However, “the most attention” should not be confused with “much attention”, as even the worst atrocities by Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab are not nearly as covered as attacks on Western soil and consequently are deprived of a chance to compete for the reader’s empathy. Certainly, given the context of the emergence of IS, the security concern is not specific for Japan and is rather an international issue. At the same time, when it comes to other issues with global impact such as Ebola or the refugee crisis, it seems that unless the issues threaten to cross the Japanese border, the Japanese media will look the other way.

*1 V. Hawkins. NHK and the missing continent (accessed: 21.01.2016)
*2 World bureaus network of the Yomiuri Newspaper (accessed: 21.01.2016)

11 January, 2016

Zambia`s Economic Crisis and the Political landscape leading to the 11 August 2016 Elections

by Maximilian Mainza

The economic woes of the world's second largest economy and Africa's largest bilateral trading partner – China – are causing alarm throughout the globe, with Africa not spared the turmoil. The plunging stock markets and the devaluation of the Yuan has increased concerns by most African countries, regarding the effects on the demand for oil, gold, copper and other resources, as the devaluation is depressing global commodity prices.

More than 25 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's exports go to China. Countries that have China as the major export destination, predominantly resource rich countries such as Zambia, Angola and South Africa, have endured the brunt of the economic shock. Other countries that receive colossal FDI inflows from China such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have also been seriously affected by the shock. More than half of the world’s worst performing currencies for 2015 are from Africa.

Zambia is one of the countries heavily dependent on resources exports, which include copper and cobalt, with China the major export destination. Because of its reliance on copper exports, (70 percent of export earnings are from copper), coupled with a weak Chinese economic growth and low commodity prices, the Zambian currency, the kwacha, has depreciated by more than 40 percent in 2015. The depreciation has prompted the government to continuously intervene in the foreign exchange market, resulting in declining foreign reserves and a widening current account deficit. The weaker kwacha has made imports expensive for the import dependent Zambia, while the dwindling copper and other precious metals' prices have made the balance of payment situation worse for Zambia. Inflation has risen to 21.1 percent as of December 2015, the highest in 10 years, which averaged 9.46 percent between 2005 and 2015.

A copper mine in Solwezi, Zambia

In addition, a pocked-sized manufacturing and energy sector in association with poor economic diversification and a continued widening current account deficit has posed a challenge for the Zambian governments efforts to contain the economic shock. Copper mines have been hit the most by the economic shock and the power shortages resulting in reduced production and closures for some, and laying off workers. More than 5,000 jobs have been lost in the mining sector in 2015, most notably at Mopani copper mines and Luanshya mines. Government is reviewing the mining tax regime in an effort to reduce the effects on the mines.

To contain the economic shock, the Zambian government has to make tough decisions on monetary and fiscal policy aimed at containing inflation, and stabilizing the exchange rate, such as increasing domestic revenue (through tax hikes), and reducing external debt. Such policies may have political implications, as they will directly affect the general public. For example, the government raised the electricity tariffs in November 2015 only for the President, Edgar Lungu to reverse them in January 2016 due to public pressure about the increased cost of living.

History indicates that economic crises can have adverse effects on the political landscape of a country. The obvious consequence would be a decline in political support of incumbents, in some cases, brings forth increased political opposition and social protests and unrest. The challenge then is the decisions by the leaders and the security forces about the use of force in response, as this can have effects on the intensity of protests as well as the security forces' integrity or on their future careers if the opposition was to win elections.

In Zambia the economic shock has increased the political opposition and social protests. The police have been used to halt the opposition using the Public Order Act by using force to disrupt opposition gatherings so that they fail to organize their parties and mobilise supporters. Students’ protests have been met with strong force by the police. Even the rioting miners who were laid off or put on forced leave were not spared from police brutality. Police officers that were believed to have been soft on the opposition were retired on grounds of national interests.

It is not clear whether the strong use of force by the police will lead to more unrest. But it is obvious that police integrity has been lost, and more violent attacks are expected months leading to the 11 August 2016 general elections. The major opposition seem to be gaining support in areas where they were not popular, especially the Copperbelt region, where miners lost jobs due to the reductions in copper production as a result of a 30 percent reduction in power supply to the mines and the reduced demand for copper by China. The increased rate of riots by miners and students especially, shows the lack of confidence in president Edgar Lungu, since the riots at Luanshya mine for instance, happened at the time when President Lungu was visiting the province to address the problems with the mines.

On 5 January 2016, President Edgar Lungu signed the Amended Constitution, whose major political highlight in the electoral system and process is the presidential running mate clause and the 50+1 clause (the winning presidential candidate must receive more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast). The previous election winners since 2001 have never garnered more than 50 percent of the votes. As such, the 11 August 2016 general elections will be difficult to predict, especially with the effect of a presidential running mate likely to also determine the direction of votes and given the existing economic crises. However, it’s vital to point out that the major opposition have a huge chance to win given how narrowly (1 percent) the ruling PF candidate, President Lungu won against UPND`s Hakainde Hichilema in the January 2015 presidential by-elections.

07 December, 2015

Mozambique’s former President Chissano to the Academic Community: Natural Resources Should Not Overshadow Agriculture

by Carla Bringas

Mozambique's former President, Joaquim Chissano, spoke on 30 November to a mostly academic audience at the Institute for Transport and Communication in Maputo, commemorating the 40 years of independence of that country. The former President took note of the discovery of reserves of gas and coal in northern Mozambique, but urged Mozambicans to not overlook the agriculture sector. He said “agriculture is at the core of Mozambique’s development, around 70% of the Mozambican population make a living out of agriculture”. He stressed the need to build stronger synergies with other actors including academia. Given that most of the audience were students, professors or researchers, he emphasized the need to build effective educational institutes and technical schools with a focus on local realities. He criticized senior technicians in the agriculture sector and ineffective approaches in providing solutions to local problems, stating that “it is inconceivable that an agronomist in Maputo is afraid to work the land and would want to wash his hands as soon as he touches the soil, it is almost as if a veterinarian is afraid of an ox”.


Chissano also recalled the achievements of the agriculture sector during the first years after independence. He remarked that achievements were disrupted by the sixteen years of civil war. In his view, there were many pre-war achievements in education, health and agriculture that were disrupted by the “destabilization war”. The former President referred to RENAMO as the group of Mozambicans who sought destabilization. After the peace agreement, he said, Mozambicans guided by FRELIMO rebuilt the country but everything was centralized in the South and Maputo at the expense of the resources found on the northern part of the country (mainly Niassa and Nampula). RENAMO took advantage of that structure to provoke a destabilization war.

Another important topic mentioned in this seminar was the nationalization of the land by the ruling party FRELIMO. He stressed that the act was justified as it aimed to eliminate injustice and discrimination practiced by the Portuguese colonial domination: “the nationalization of the land was important because it was a way to provide 'value' to natural resources and the nationalization of education and health aimed to eliminate discrimination”, said Chissano.

He finalized by stressing the importance of examining the past in order to provide solutions to present challenges. It is important to remember, he said, the aspirations and dreams of Mozambican women and men who were embedded in uncertainty until the declaration of independence. He called for a more proactive participation of the academia in developing an improved long-term country plan.

* The seminar was organized by the Working Group on the Commemoration of 40 years of Independence on November 30th, 2015 at the Institute of Transport and Communications (ISU-TC) in Maputo – Mozambique. The full text of Chissano’s speech can be found here.

18 November, 2015

If it bleeds it leads? Distant Media Coverage of the Peace Process in Angola

by Virgil Hawkins

'If it bleeds, it leads'. This is an oft-used axiom used to describe what is broadly seen as a tendency by the news media to attempt to attract and and maintain an audience by focusing disproportionately on sensational news of violence, at the expense of less dramatic but equally important news. The consumers of the news, and, more importantly, the respresentatives of the news media themselves, instinctively refer to this as a given. But is it really so simple? In the context of armed conflict, can we simply assume that media interest in a particular conflict quickly fades away as the ink dries on a freshly signed peace deal?

While the notion seems to be a given, very few researchers have actually produced any evidence to back this up. Some studies of media coverage of domestic crime (like one by Kenneth Dowler in 2004) have come to the conclusion that “it really depends on who is bleeding”. Surely, this can also apply to the levels of media coverage of armed conflict, where there is a gaping chasm between the haves and have-nots. Interestingly, in a previous study by the author looking at the levels of coverage by the New York Times of three conflicts (Liberia, Israel-Lebanon and Sri Lanka) before and after and conclusive peace deals or ceasefires, it was found that in each case, coverage in the post-violence phase dropped to roughly one-third of that during the violence phase. This reflects a large drop no doubt, but perhaps not to the degree that one may have expected.

The conflict in Angola also makes for an interesting case, and, as the conflict ended sharply with the 2002 military defeat of the rebel group (UNITA) and the killing of its leader, Jonas Savimbi, the difference between violence and post-violence phases is clear-cut. Looking at the coverage by the New York Times of the conflict in the period beginning one year before the peace deal, and ending one year after, some interesting trends appear.

Firstly, the levels of coverage of Angola, in war or in peace, are, to put it mildly, small. Two weeks worth of post-violence coverage of the Israel-Lebanon conflict by the same newspaper is easily enough to surpass the two-years worth of coverage of Angola. But of the little of the coverage that is there, a large portion is indeed in the post-violence phase. If we split the coverage into violence and post-violence phases on the day of the peace deal, there are 12,690 words of coverage of the violence phase and 8,424 words of coverage of the post-violence phase – not such a huge drop. The violence phase includes, the final defeat of the rebels, as well as an attack by rebels on a train resulting in over 250 deaths in 2001. It remains the world's deadliest rail-related terrorist attack, yet attracted scant coverage. The post-violence phase coverage included a visit to the country by then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the issue of corruption.

But the distinction between the two phases is not so clear, considering that much coverage after the killing of Savimbi (40 days before the peace deal) is about the peace deal and its immediate implications, not about the violence itself. So let's make a third phase – a transition phase – covering these 40 days. The results can be found in the graph below.

Coverage of Angola in the New York Times (April 2001- April 2003)

Depending on one's interpretation, it could be concluded that coverage of the post-violence phase actually exceeded that of the violence phase. That is, not only was post-conflict Angola not forgotten by the media, but peace attracted more attention than did the violence. 'Bleeding' did not result in 'leading'. Breaking up articles into categories based on the primary focus of each article (seen in the graph below) leads us to a similar conclusion. Actual violence only accounted for 12 percent of the total coverage throughout the two-year period.

Prime topics of coverage on Angola (New York Times, April 2001- April 2003)

But why was this the case? Well, to be fair, Angola did not 'lead' in either war or peace. It only made the front page of the New York Times twice in the period studied. But looking at patterns in the overall levels of coverage, and having spoken to some of the journalists that were in Angola at the time, some answers do emerge. Firstly, access played a major role. The fighting itself, and government regulation, made access to the conflict zones extremely limited, not only for the media but also for humanitarian organizations. Peace opened up much of the country for coverage. Secondly, there was competition for coverage with other events in the region – perhaps most notably presidential elections in Zimbabwe in early 2002. Thirdly, the media was likely catering to economic interests in the US, as business opportunities began to present themselves in post-conflict Angola. Finally, given that conflict had gone on for some many years in Angola, and that coverage seemed to have little to offer beyond stories of violence and suffering, the achievement of peace became the sensational novelty story for the media.

(This blog entry summarizes the results of an academic article published in Southern African Peace and Security Studies. The full study can be viewed here.)

16 September, 2015

New Journal Issue Released (Southern African Peace and Security Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1)

The SACCPS is proud to announce the release of volume 4, number 1 (2015) of Southern Africa Peace and Security Studies. The journal can be accessed freely online, with the journal as a whole, or individual articles available for downloading.


This issue contains four academic articles. The article written by ACCORD's Priyal Singh and Senzo Ngubane is entitled 'Democratic consolidation in search of peace: A tempered assessment of the Mozambican post-war experience'. In the second article, Leon Hartwell compares two southern African leaders in his article 'The democrat and the dictator: Comapring Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe'. Maximilian Mainza's article looks at elections in Zambia, in 'The Patriotic Front under a competitive political environment: Implications for political stability in Zambia'. Finally, Virgil Hawkins presents a study on the media in 'If it bleeds, it leads? Distant media coverage of the peace process in Angola'.

We expect to release volume 4 number 2 by January 2016, and will be accepting submissions for volume 5 number 1 up until 1 April 2016. We publish academic articles, policy briefs (practitioners are welcome), and book reviews on any topics related to peace and security in the southern African region (interpreted broadly). Please see the journal homepage for details on preparing a submission.

24 August, 2015

What Went Wrong in Just Two-and-a-Half Years? A Regime in Question

by M. K. Mahlakeng

The SADC Commission of Inquiry to Lesotho, under Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s request, has widened its terms of references to look at the role of former Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s two-and-a-half year coalition regime in the security and constitutional ills of Lesotho. On 3 July following the death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, 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 which has deteriorated in the past two years.

SABC Report on the Inquiry

In his communiqué to Mr Ramaphosa dated 9th July 2015, Prime Minister Mosisili has requested that the commission make important additions to its terms of references. Firstly, the Commission is requested to investigate the 30 August LDF operation and/or “alleged coup” in which Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko lost his life and subsequently led to Thabane to fleeing Lesotho to South Africa. Secondly, the Prime Minister has asked the Commission to investigate the relationship between Thabane and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) which led to the appointment and dismissal of four Commissioners of Police in Thabane’s two-and-a-half years in office.

In conjunction to this, the Prime Minister requested that Thabane’s relationship with former Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana, which may have influenced Thabane to award the LMPS “hefty,albeit unbudgeted, salary increase” without Cabinet approval and to the exclusion of the other two security agencies (i.e. Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) and LDF), be investigated. This conduct is seen to be suspicious of character and has prompted the now go-slow strike in the LCS which started in December 2014 in which LCS staffers have demanded that the government increase their salaries and restructure the institution’s ranks to be level with their counterparts in the country’s security agencies.

It is evident that this go-slow has presented several challenges (administrative paralysis) to the judiciary and police departments whereby staffers have refused to take inmates to and from court hearings and have denied them visitations from legal representatives and family members. Similarly, new inmates are refused admission into facilities causing police stations nationwide to fill to capacity in an attempt to accommodate these inmates. And lastly, according to the Prime Minister, the 12th June 2014 indefinite suspension of Commissioner Napo Sefali of the LCS by Thabane similarly merits investigation.

In addition to its terms of references, the Commissions will probe numerous constitutional and security incidents in Lesotho such as: the 27 January 2014 bombings of several homes (i.e. of Thabane’s partner Liabiloe Ramoholi, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and former Police Commissioner Tšooana); the legality and manner of the August 2014 removal of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF and his May 2015 reappointment thereof. However, his reappointment has since been defended by the Prime Minister arguing that this was merely an attempt among several other attempts to rectify the wrongs of his predecessors’ administration; the 25 June 2015 death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao; the killing of member of opposition parties; the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) investigation into the alleged mutiny plot which encompasses the alleged kidnap of former LDF members; the impact of various changes in the top leadership of the courts such as the January 2015 appointment of the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Kananelo Mosito by Thabane which is considered to possibly impact on the courts’ ability and legitimacy to handle certain criminal and civil cases.

The Commission has recognised the Lesotho Government’s requests as important factors to be added into the Commissions’ terms of references in order to find a lasting solution. Since the 2012 general elections which saw Lesotho’s first coalition government, Lesotho’s security and constitutional status has been under coverage by media outlets for the wrong reasons. Given that words such as “instability”, “coup” etc., have been rhetoric in the last two years, it is not a far-off possibility that these security and constitutional issues may be attributed to the conduct of Thabane’s two-and-a-half years’ regime.

23 July, 2015

Lesotho: A Fight Against a Mutiny Attempt

by M. K. Mahlakeng

Since May 2015, following the reinstatement of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as the commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), there have been rumours of a plot to overthrow the army leadership. And subsequently, there has been an ongoing operation to probe a suspected mutiny in the army in line with the LDF Act of 1996. According to Major Bulane Sechele (Operation Commander), “the LDF conducted a special operation after it uncovered a mutiny plot by some of its members”.

As a result, a number of events unfolded. These includes the detaining of 56 soldiers implicated in this plot; the fleeing of the tripartite (ABC, BNP, and RCL) opposition party leaders to South Africa; and, the demotion and later killing of the former LDF commander Maaparankoe Mahao. All of which are implicated in this plot. First, from the 14th May 2015, the army has been making arrests of soldiers allegedly involved in the mutiny within the LDF. Fifty-six soldiers have been detained at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison for allegedly being part of a plot to overthrow the army leadership.


Second, 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) have fled Lesotho to South Africa on the 11th, 13th and 26th May respectively. On the one hand, this was amidst claims over security concerns that they had been alerted of a plot to kill them by the LDF. On the other hand, it has been argued that they have fled Lesotho because of their alleged role in the mutiny. However, both these claims respectively have not yet been accompanied by tangible proof.

Third, on the 29th August 2014, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao was appointed as Lieutenant General and LDF Commander. This was following the sacking of Tlali Kamoli as LDF commander due to claims of an August attempted coup against former Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s coalition administration.

On the 21st May 2015, two and a half months after the defeat of the then PM Thabane’s coalition by the current coalition led by PM Pakalitha Mosisili in the 28th February 2015 general snap elections, Mahao was removed as head of the LDF and demoted from Lt General to Brigadier. Mahao’s appointment as LDF commander was argued by government as illegal due to the failure to follow due process hence the demotion from Lt General to Brigadier and removal as LDF commander. Government then declared Lt Gen. Kamoli as a rightful LDF commander.

Subsequently, during the same operation by the army to probe a suspected mutiny, Brigadier Mahao was shot dead on the 25th June 2015 during a shootout. The Military and the Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi through their statements respectively have indicated that “the former commander was resisting arrest and there was an exchange of gunfire which subsequently led to his killing”.

These events ultimately led to a SADC Extraordinary Summit of the Double Troika in Pretoria. On the 3rd of July, SADC held an Extraordinary Summit of the Double Troika following concerns over the security situation in Lesotho and the killing of Mahao. The Summit endorsed PM Mosisili’s proposal that a Commission of Inquiry be established to look into these security issues. This proposed Inquiry will be three folded. Firstly, The Inquiry is expected to look into the circumstances surrounding Mahao’s murder. Secondly, the Inquiry is also expected to look into the events that led to the alleged 30 August attempted coup against former PM Thabane’s coalition government. And lastly, The Court Martial to try LDF suspects for alleged mutiny would be suspended during the Inquiry period.

16 July, 2015

South Africa’s Dim Economic Prospects

by Hussein Solomon

The opening sentence in the editorial in this morning’s Sunday Times could scarcely be bleaker, “Our economy is trapped in stagflation, characterised by low growth, high inflation and, to add salt to those painful truths, rising unemployment”. Worse, when one looks at the trends – there is no shining light at the end of the tunnel.


South Africa’s business confidence index has declined to 84.6 index points – its lowest level in 16 years. The lack of business confidence is seen in corporate South Africa choosing not to invest its billions in the country as well as the emigration of high net worth individuals. To put matters into perspective, 8000 dollar millionaires have left South Africa since 2000. These individuals also tend to have the scarce skill sets that the country so desperately needs if we truly wish to grow the economy. Manufacturing production has fallen for the second consecutive quarter and the economy, according to some economists, risks recession and further credit-rating downgrades.

Yet, things did not have to be this way. South Africa’s economic wounds are self-inflicted. In recent travels to Ethiopia I have watched that country grow with young people leading the drive in business innovation. In Kenya the entrepreneurial spirit of young people is amazing with the number of tech start-ups staggering. Sadly, when I ask my final year BA students what they intend to do – it is generally to work for government. This at a time – when the incompetence of our bloated civil service has become legendary even on the African continent. What 21 years of African National Congress (ANC) rule has successfully accomplished was to kill the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africans whilst at the same time creating dependency on the state through social grants and the like. This, despite the fact that it is just not economically sustainable. Given rising debt, it seems that government is considering raising personal income tax yet again. Give the small percentage of tax payers employed in the formal sector this is hardly an effective strategy. Moreover, it will only further undermine growth as consumption decreases as well as increase the emigration of further skill sets.

It is not rocket science to get South Africa to grow. We need to radically restructure our education system so skills sets produced align with our economic needs. We need to instil into our young people a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial skills. Government needs to look upon business as an ally for development and not an enemy. We need to ensure that our labour market is flexible. We need to eliminate the red tape to facilitate business start-ups. We need to guarantee a stable electricity supply without which growth is impossible. We need to end corruption which has increasingly become institutionalized. And, yes we need to make hard choices - taking on the trade unions. At the end of the day – we should be more concerned with the millions unemployed and get them working as opposed to further entrenching the labour aristocracies which our trade unions have been transformed into.

Yet, as I write this I know two things. First, the Zuma government lacks the vision and the political will to implement any of these reforms. A case in point is the moribund National Development Plan adopted by the ANC and not implemented. Second, time is running out. Our economic challenges will escalate in the short-term. The recent 30 percent plunge of the Chinese stock-market holds grave challenges to our domestic economy given our dependence on the Chinese market for the export of our raw materials. The fact that the US Federal Reserve is contemplating an increase in interest rates will also negatively impact on us as foreign investors look for better returns on Wall Street as opposed to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Unless, we as a country can begin making painful decisions in the short-term, we will all suffer in the long-term.

07 July, 2015

Remembrance of Mueda’s Martyrs and National Unity in Mozambique

by Carla Bringas

June is not only the beginning of the cool season in Mozambique but it is also a month that brings up strong memories over the country’s struggle for independence. On 16 June, President Nyusi spoke at the commemoration ceremony for the Mueda’s martyrs in Cabo Delgado in front of a crowd of hundreds that gathered at the scene of the killings. As every year, a theatre play version of the massacre is also performed in remembrance of the Mueda’s martyrs.

In his speech, Nyusi called for “national unity” among Mozambicans in order to consolidate a patriotic spirit that would foster pacific coexistence, solidarity, tolerance and inclusivity. “The remembrance of this important historical event must inspire Mozambicans to work together towards peace and progress”, stated Nyusi. He referred to it as “the Mueda Massacre”, an event that catalyzed the collective will for independence and freedom and involved the sacrifice and massacre of Mozambican martyrs.

A mural commemorating Mozambique's independence

In Mozambican history, the Mueda Massacre is a turning point in the war for independence. However, there is a disagreement between Portuguese and Mozambican archives on the number of causalities. While Portuguese’s archives show 14 deaths, Mozambican records show the death of around 600 protesters killed by Portuguese troops. The source about Mueda case, on the Mozambican side, was the testimony by Joaquim Alberto Chipande, published first in Mozambique Revolution and later in Eduardo Mondlane’s book, Struggle for Mozambique. The testimony of Chipande (who became one of the most powerful military chiefs of Frelimo (Mozambique Liberation Front) is probably the most important source used by international journals and academic researchers. The story can be summarized as follows:

"On 16th June 1960, a large crowd of Maconde people gathered in Mueda, the district capital of the Maconde area, to hear a MANU (Mozambique African National Union) delegation which had come to ask for independence. MANU was a Dar Es-Salaam-based ethno-nationalist association; in spite of its name – Mozambique African– it was in fact a Maconde African Union. The District Commissioner in Mueda, Garcia Soares, had invited the Cabo Delgado Governor, Teixeira da Silva, to answer this independence claim. The MANU leaders were Faustino Vanomba and Kibirite Diwane. But Teixeira da Silva only spoke about social and economic progress, and arrested F. Vanomba and K. Diwane. The crowd began to throw stones at the Portuguese people present. The army, which was hidden nearby, came and fired shots at the crowd, causing about –arguably- 600 deaths. After the massacre, the administration prohibited the cotton cooperative movement and MANU built itself on the planalto but later abandoned its ethno-nationalist tendency to join FRELIMO." From Cahen, M. (2000). The Mueda Case and Maconde Political Ethnicity. In: Africana Studia (Porto), No 2, Nov 1999, pp. 29-46.

The event is used by many historians to underline the brutality of the Portuguese colonial regime and led many people to conclude that independence could not be achieved relatively peacefully as was happening in some of the colonies of other European colonizers. By the end of the 1960s, three nationalist movements existed, each with its own geographic, ethnic and/or class base: The MANU, based in Mombasa, Kenya and composed of the Makonde ethnic group from Cabo Delgado province; the African Union of Independent Mozambique (UNAMI), based in Blantyre, Malawi and composed of people from Tete province; and the Union National Democratic of Mozambique (UDENAMO), formed by migrant workers and students from central and southern Mozambique. These movements sprang up after the Mueda massacre and unified efforts among these groups started in order to resist the Portuguese.

The event that was crucial to the consolidation of the three groups was Tanganyika’s independence, achieved in December 1961. At the urging of Julius Nyerere and other figures from Africa liberation movements, representatives of the three groups met in Dar es Salaam in June 1962 and formed FRELIMO, electing Eduardo Mondlane (who was living in the US at the time and was not associated with MANU, UNAMI or UDEAMO) as their president. Because of the wide ethnic and ideological diversity within the new organization, there was a great deal of debate over a number of issues such as the utilization of female cadres, the accommodation of traditional authorities (seen by some as collaborators with the Portuguese) and the acceptance of traditional practices, not to mention the broader issue of whether or not to purse socialism as a means of producing a more just and equitable society. These debates assisted the formulation of FRELIMO’s ideology and eventually moved the organization beyond mere liberation rhetoric towards a vision of a free and independent Mozambique. FRELIMO’s first insurgencies occurred in September 1964 in Cabo Delgado and Niassa, the two northern provinces of Mozambique bordering Tanganyika, and they soon had control of these remote areas and proclaimed them liberated zones. Two years after the killings, FRELIMO was created and in 1964 launched its independence war. Mozambique finally became independent from Portugal on 25 June 1975.

Mueda, the birthplace of Nyusi, remains a stronghold of the FRELIMO party, which has ruled the mineral resource-rich country for the past 40 years. Currently, the country is dealing with the strong opposition party RENAMO (Mozambique National Resistance) and many fear that current peace is somewhat superficial. RENAMO has not only rejected the 2014 elections but also is seeking to take power in six northern and central provinces and aims to set up autonomous “provincial municipalities”, which is illustrated in a bill presented to the parliament earlier this year.

03 June, 2015

South Africa’s 2016 Local Government Elections

by Hussein Solomon

Despite being a year away, it is clear that campaigning for South Africa’s local government elections has begun in earnest. The results of the national elections has forced the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to confront the unpleasant reality that it is increasingly becoming a rural party – being largely shunned by middle class voters of all races. There is a very real danger, then, that large metropolitan areas such as Johannesburg in Gauteng Province and Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape might well go the route of Cape Town and vote for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). It is no coincidence that the DA chose to have their electoral conference in the Nelson Mandela Bay area nor is it coincidental that the first black leader of the DA – Mmusi Maimane – comes from Gauteng.

Mmusi Mainane (Photo: Democratic Alliance)

It is clear as to why middle class voters are abandoning the ANC in droves. Crime and unemployment is on the rise – so is personal income tax and there is every likelihood that interest rates will continue their rise as well given the increased fuel prices and the increased electricity tariffs which would also mean an increase in inflation. Moreover, whilst the government has a plan to kick start economic growth – the National Development Plan – it has not implemented it for fear of upsetting the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) with whom it shares a close relationship. This adoption of grandiose polices without implementation meanwhile has seen investors – both local and foreign – not investing in the country. Not surprisingly, South Africa’s investment status has been downgraded by international ratings agencies. Also adding to the ire of middle class voters is the growing incompetence of the state as seen in problems around service delivery whilst the size of the public service has effectively tripled since 1994. The bloated public service together with endemic corruption which has permeated all levels of government has turned ire to growing disenchantment with the ruling party. Given the small tax base in the country, the middle class is acutely aware that corruption is their hard-earned tax money being appropriated for personal aggrandizement.

At the same time, there is another – inter-generational - dimension coming into play in next year’s local government elections. Whilst the ANC can still appeal to an older generation on the basis of it having delivered the country from apartheid, this has scant appeal to a younger generation where apartheid is a historical fact and not a lived experience. Increasingly, it is the youth who have borne the brunt of the ANC’s mis-steps in economic policy. This is evident in the fact that more than half of the youth in the country are unemployed. Moreover, the ruling party lacks rapport with the youth given the fact that its own ANC Youth League remains in disarray. The popular disgruntlement of South Africa’s youth with the ruling party is seen in the recent election at the University of Fort Hare – the intellectual home of the ANC – which witnessed black youth there voting for the DA.

The ANC is clearly aware of the enormity of the challenge posed – both popular alienation and the inroads the opposition has been making within their own constituency. At the same time, they seem powerless to change course. Whilst the ANC is aware that corruption is increasingly costing it votes and whilst the party has set up an ethics committee, it has largely disregarded the findings of its own ethics committee. Taking action, for instance, against the popular Northern Cape ANC strongman John Block would cost it votes amongst his supporters. Not taking action against him is also costing it votes, however, amongst ordinary South Africans. More importantly, it must be difficult to take action against local councilors or regional players when President Zuma himself is so flawed.

Similarly, whilst elements within the ANC understand the need for a greater role for the private sector in, say, electricity provision, given the repeated failures of state utilities like ESKOM to keep the lights on, it realizes that its South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU allies will baulk at the privatization of state utilities irrespective how incompetent they are or the fact that the country is shedding jobs and economic growth as a result of load-shedding.

Without therefore being able to change direction, the ANC’s strategy seems to be one of parachuting popular party members who would elicit loyalty from a particular constituency. A case in point is Nelson Mandela Bay where Danny Jordaan has been made the ANC’s mayoral candidate. Such a strategy is decidedly short-term however – changing personalities whilst the festering conditions for resentment remain. In the process, the popular appeal of such leaders will erode as citizens increasingly realize that their circumstances remain as desperate as ever.