15 August, 2018

Lesotho’s rule of law and judicial independence under threat: attempts to politicise the Judiciary

Lesotho is a sovereign democratic kingdom. This denotes that the country, through constitutional provisions, acknowledges, encourages and protects civilian rule, and human rights and freedoms. Moreover, it further encourages and commits itself to the principles of separation of powers. The principle and/or doctrine of separation of powers is of importance within the constitutional framework of a democratic state, and it entails a strict separation of the functions, duties and responsibilities of three main branches of government (i.e. legislative, executive and the judiciary), in which state functions are allocated to distinctive institutions with a defined means of ‘competence’ and ‘jurisdiction’. This is evident in the nature and organisational structure of government. As such, the country’s constitution subsequently encourages and enhances ‘judicial independence’ in an effort to ensure ‘judicial review’.

The notion of judicial review enables the judicial branch, particularly the courts, to supervise the legislative and executive branches when they appear to exceed their authority; provide for effective checks and balances in the separation of powers; protect human rights and freedoms; and, invalidate laws and decisions that are incompatible with a higher authority. Both judicial review and judicial independence, which are made possible by the strict separation of powers and an adherence to constitutional provisions, emphasise the importance of the politics-law divide, and the need to maintain such a divide.

However in recent years, Lesotho has witnessed persistent breach of ‘separation of powers’, with either political branch of government (i.e. legislative and/or executive) attempting to politicise the judicial branch of government by dominating and dictating its operational work. The increasing blatant and brazen attacks of Lesotho government on courts, particularly the office of the Chief Justice, serves as an example of this. This growing attempt by government to influence judicial administration and decision-making is more and more becoming a norm subsequently undermining the principle of separation of powers, rule of law and threatening the safety of judicial officers.

And any attempt to challenge and address this phenomenon is failing due to the fact that the Lesotho Law Society, which in most part is expected to defend and protect the independence of the Judiciary, is gradually becoming the surrogate of any government of the day. As a result, this subsequently threatens the rule of law vis-à-vis judicial independence. Therefore, any successful domination of judicial administration and decision-making by the executive will ultimately question short, medium and long-term adequacy and legitimacy of judicial proceedings, rulings and/or verdicts etc. Moreover, this will be detrimental to the country’s judicial review processes. The Law Society and the Judiciary are the custodians of the constitution, and the assurance of constitutionalism (i.e. the practice of a limited government ensured by the existence of an effective constitution). And such an effective constitution can only exists when government institutions and political processes are effectively constrained by constitutional rules.

It goes without saying that in a democratic state, especially one which has obliged to conform to international human rights, judicial independence is of a national rather than any specific political party and/or organisations’ interests. In addition, the judiciary is entitled by law to run its own affairs in an effort to adequately promote and protect human rights among other aspects.

In both the 2012 the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), and the 2017 ABC, Alliance of Democrats (AD), BNP and Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL) coalition governments respectively with Tom Thabane as Prime Minister, the executive has been seen and accustomed to attempting to influence and dominate legal and judicial decision-makings. On more than one occasion, the Thabane-led administration has taken upon itself to directly decide on the appointments, tenure and decision-makings of the Judiciary and judges. And this has had negative implications on Lesotho’s judiciary and commitment to protecting human rights.

Firstly, on the 15th January 2015, PM Thabane unlawfully appointed Kings’ Council (KC) Kananelo Mosito as the new President of the Court of Appeal. A decision which was later nullified during the subsequent 2015 PM Pakalitha Mosisili-led coalition government due to Thabane’s administration being deemed a “caretaker government” which therefore made this appointment unlawful.
Following the dissolution of Lesotho’s parliament on the 5th December 2014, it was decided by the electoral agreement (i.e. the Maseru Facilitation Declaration) that that coalition government will only act in its capacity as a “transitional or caretaker government” pending the 28th February 2015 general snap elections to eventually determine a legitimate government. It therefore meant that, Thabane’s government in its status as a caretaker government, failed to abide by the powers and functions of a caretaker or transitional government by making prominent appointments during this period, and therefore breached the electoral code. This immensely threatened the possibility of holding elections and placed dire ramifications on the country’s judicial system.
The consequences for such an appointment included the resignation of four foreign Court of Appeal judges, that is, Justice Doughlas Scott, Justice Craig Howie, Justice Wilfred Thring and Justice Roger Cleaver, on the 30th January 2015, reducing the country’s apex court to only two South African judges, namely, Justice Winfred Louw and Justice Ian Farlam. However, the appointment of Mosito failed.

Nonetheless, domestically, regionally and internationally, this dealt Lesotho’s integrity a heavy blow. Moreover, Thabane’s actions and related outcomes of meddling with the judiciary formed part of other underlying political issues (i.e. poor leadership, and tensions and misunderstandings that occurred between coalition partners) that led to the 2015 collapse of his government which was only in office for 2 years. His government was replaced by another coalition government (i.e. the Democratic Congress (DC), LCD, Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) led by PM Pakalitha Mosisili. Similarly, this government collapsed at the backdrop of a no-confidence vote in Mosisili with only 2 years in office. And this led to the 3rd June 2017 elections which witnessed Thabane at the helm of government again.

SADC Double Troika Summit, 23 to 24 April 2018

And secondly, on the 27th April 2018, barely a year in his presidency, Thabane sought to recommend, through a ‘show cause’ letter, for the suspension of Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara (i.e. Chief Justice of Lesotho since 2014 and the first woman to hold this office in Lesotho’s judicial history) over allegations of misconduct ranging from corruption to failure to preside over cases and an alleged plot to assist the opposition in toppling the government among others. This decision witnessed the support of the Minister of Law Lebohang Hlaele who is coincidentally married to Thabane’s daughter, ‘Mabats’oeneng Hlaele. Moreover, this move saw the support and threats from some cabinet ministers, principal secretaries and public demonstrations by individuals referred to as “Hands off Mosito” campaigners – who demand an urgent swearing in of Mosito as President of the Court of Appeal.

However, these distinctive but yet interrelated incidents cannot be isolated. Two things are certain and evident. On the one hand, Thabane highly intends to appoint Mosito as President of the Court of Appeal, while enabling him influence and absolute control over judicial decision-making on the other hand. Two behavioural phenomenon are common with the domination of the executive over judicial admiration. Firstly, by controlling and/.or influencing judges and/or judiciary translates to influencing the judicial judgments, agenda and general decision-making. In many instances, this often leads to “totalitarian governance” which tends to result in unchallenged and persistent cross violation of human rights and freedoms. And secondly, governments, particularly the President in a presidential government and/or the Prime Minister in parliamentary government, tend to use this influence to ultimately change the structure, nature and provisions of the constitution to extend their tenure in government. Essentially both these behavioural phenomenon often threaten human rights and freedoms, and restrict citizen participation vis-à-vis regular electoral processes.

The intensity of attempts to politicize the Judiciary, and the subsequent detrimental threats to judicial independence and the rule of law in the country eventually led to the 7th May 2018 intervention by the “Southern African Chief Justice’ Forum (SACJF)” and the “International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)” in an effort to protect and maintain judicial independence as per the principles of separation of powers. The SACJF has made calls on the government to uphold the independence of the judiciary arguing that matters relating to judiciary vis-à-vis judicial office bearers need to be handled in accordance with the law (i.e. constitutional provisions, principles of natural justice and due process).

According to Justice Peter Shivute, SACJF chairperson and Namibian Chief Justice, “the matter needs to be handled in accordance with the law and in a way that preserves the independence, integrity and dignity of the courts and one that reinforces rather than undermines the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law”. In addition, the ICJ has become critical over the slow pace of judicial reforms in Lesotho which is seen to be detrimental to the administration of justice. ICJ’s African director, Mr Arnold Tsunga, “reforms are critical in addressing ongoing problems within the judiciary….the leadership must realise that reforming the judiciary is of national rather than of political party interests”.

In June 2018, various Commonwealth judicial bodies additionally gave support to Justice Majara in an attempt to nullifying the allegations and reasons by the government to have her ousted from office. Moreover, this move aims to protect Lesotho’s judicial independence, judicial officials, and preserve the credibility and legitimacy of the rule of law by restricting the restructuring of the judiciary which is seen to be politically motivated. These bodies include the Commonwealth Lawyer Association (CLA), the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA), and the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA). Their joint venture to maintain an apolitical judiciary in Lesotho is a result, mainly, of Lesotho being a former British colony, and a current active member of the Commonwealth.

In this instance, government and/or state institutions are required to uphold provisions of “Commonwealth principles” (known as “Latimer House Principles”) which, among other key issues, govern the relationship between the three branches of government. Furthermore, these principles are the cornerstones of commonwealth values. And these includes fair disciplinary proceedings which will ensure that: a judicial officer in question is fully informed of the charges against him or her; a judicial officer in question is represented at any hearing; and, that the judicial officer in question is judged by an independent and impartial tribunal.

These judicial bodies have issued a joint statement which is also in support of the stance and remarks made by the SACJF in particular. They jointly argued that “any measure on the part of the Executive which is capable of being seen as eroding the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is a matter of serious concern and will erode public confidence in the legal system as a whole”.

These interventions were intended to preserve the politics-law divide. It is evident that the threat posed by the executive to Lesotho’s judiciary independence is not only a domestic concern, but also a regional and international one. And these bodies, especially the African Judges and Jurists Forum (AJIF), have went as far as to actively participate in the ongoing political, security and judicial reforms in Lesotho.

31 July, 2018

Understanding Lesotho’s political-security discourse and its historical and contemporary relevance

One important notion regarding Lesotho’s persistent political and security instability evolves around the politicisation of the security sector and/or the vulnerability of the security sector to political influence. It is true that the security sector (i.e. the LDF and the LMPS) in Lesotho is politicised, as a result it often interferes in political affairs at which it tends to become involved directly and/indirectly in high-level political battles, with one of these institutions and/or sectors respectively supporting either the government and/or the opposition.
The security sector is actively and openly involved and/or used in high-level political disputes. That is, to either intimidate, torture and/or kill politicians, and suppress political activism. However, this can be attributed to the historical relationship between politics and the military, but more significantly and to a large extent, to events following post-colonialization. Post-colonial Lesotho (1965-present), especially between 1965 and 1993, is a period within which the deep-rooted political-military linkages, and subsequent politicisation of the security sector were established.

Lesotho’s socio-political discourse and nature is unique in two ways. Firstly, Lesotho is an ‘enclave’ landlocked state. The only state in Africa with such a unique and uncomfortable geographic landscape. This means that it is entirely surrounded by a country (i.e. South Africa), thus making its problems and survival in the global political economy more delicate and serious than other states because its mere socioeconomic and political survival depends upon its encircling neighbour. And secondly, leading to and subsequent to this geographic situation, Lesotho was largely characterised by armed conflict (i.e. the Lifaqane/ Difaqane / Mfecane Wars (1818-1835); and, the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) etc.). Thus making it highly depended on militaristic capabilities.

Maseru from Parliament Hill

In an attempt to understand Lesotho’s contemporary political and security landscape vis-à-vis political and security instability, it is important to understand the abovementioned, but particularly, the postcolonial political and security nature of Lesotho. This will significantly help stakeholders and policy-makers (i.e. civil society, governments, NGOs and IGOs etc.) in their attempts to provide lasting short, medium and long-term solutions to the prevailing political and security instability in the country.

The current social, economic, political, peace and security situation in Lesotho is a result of the events, situations and environment of Lesotho following independence from Britain in 1966. A comprehension of these events and the environment during the post-colonial era will also address misinformation and misunderstanding (i.e. which have resulted in failed solutions) by those participating in the peacebuilding processes. The nature and politics of post-colonial Lesotho is largely the basis of the current political agenda vis-à-vis political culture.

However, the politicisation of the military in Lesotho is not a new phenomenon. This political–military relationship can be traced back and/or attributed to a number of socio-political events which can be categorised into two (2) notable eras, namely the “autocratic rule” (1965-1986), and “military rule” (1986-1993). In these periods, force (i.e. notably that of the security branch) was used more or less to access, maintain and/or exercise government power vis-à-vis “maintaining the political and social status quo”. What is later experienced in the current “democratic civilian rule” [1993-present] is a result and consequence of these two eras.

The first decades of the 20th century led to the emergence of structurally organised anti-colonial and/or nationalist movements in resistance to colonial rule globally. This was also the case in Lesotho (i.e. the then Basutoland – a protectorate of Britain), with political pressure resulting in Britain to concede in granting Lesotho independence (i.e. equality and native self-driven social, economic and political governance and control). However, given the British desire to maintain its control over Lesotho’s socio-political and economic affairs and its favour of “chieftainship” (i.e. social, political and economic entitlement) over “commoners”, power rested with those who were monarchical.

As a result, under British-Catholic influence and with support by the chiefs, the Basutoland National Party (BNP) (later renamed the Basotho National Party – largely dominated and driven by local chiefs) was formed in 1958/9. Its sole purpose was to counter the Basutoland Congress Party’s (later renamed Basotho Congress Party) radical socialist rhetoric and its advancement of the interest of commoners at the expense of chiefs, which threatened the protection and security of Britain’s social, political and economic interests. What was instrumental about British colonial rule, like any other colonised territory in Africa and the World, was its domination over and exclusive control of domestic affairs (i.e. social, judicial, security, political and economic).
Following Lesotho’s independence from the British’s 100 year rule (1866-1966), the socio-political landscape was marked by “intensive politically motivated military and/or police brutality”.

In April 1965 ahead of independence which was scheduled for the 4th October 1966, Lesotho held its first democratic elections. The elections were contested by the BNP led by Chief Jonathan Leabua, the BCP led by Ntsu Mokhehle and the Marema-Tlou Party (MTP – later referred to the Marema-Tlou Freedom Party (MFP) – which also opposed the ideological inclinations of the BCP).
The BNP narrowly defeated the BCP in the elections, winning 31 parliamentary seats to the BCP’s 25 and the MFP’s four out of a total of 60. The BNP, with Leabua as Prime Minister, led Lesotho to Independence. However, these election results were characterised by protests from the opposition BCP and MFP who now wanted independence postponed alleging that the BNP had rigged the process with implicit collaboration of the British colonial administration. This was followed by violent conflicts with many lives lost. In maintaining the Leabua-British 60s rule, the need for the establishment of a security branch became crucial. Thus making the use of force (i.e. in the form of a police unit or paramilitary) order of the day. And the motives were explicitly political. This led to the establishment a “Police Mobile Unit” or ”Paramilitary police”.

The subsequent elections of 1970 were won by Mokhehle’s BCP with 36 seats to BNP’s 23, while MFP only secured one seat. However, the elections were nullified and the country’s multi-party democracy was suspended. Chief Jonathan seized power and declared a state of emergency. This resulted in the arrest, torture and killing of political activists (i.e. particularly BCP members), and the exile of King Moshoeshoe II.

Between the periods (1970-1986), the Lesotho Paramilitary Force (LPF), also known as a “paramilitary youth league”, was established as a separate entity from the paramilitary police. The LPF was formally declared an “army” in August 1979. Leabua’s administration used and relied on this army to supress, intimidate, torture and/ or assassinate political activists and associated activism.

However, in January 1986, Leabua was ousted in a military coup by General Metsing Lekhanya. This resulted in a military regime (1986-1991) which similarly depended and used military force to acquire and maintain government power. Following the coup, the LPF was renamed to “The Royal Lesotho Defence Force (RLDF)” subsequently assuming the status of a defence force. The army was similarly used to suppress political activity, especially that of the BCP. Moreover, the success of the 1986 coup symbolised the army’s significant role in internal power politics. This administration and consequent era was symbolic, as far as the political-military relations are concerned, in that it effectively and legislatively (i.e. through the “1986 Order No.4”) put in place laws that allowed military presence in cabinet further prohibiting political activities.

The importance of military force in acquiring and/or accessing government power is further evidenced in the 1991 military coup by Colonel Elias Ramaema which ousted Lekhanya. Despite that this military administration (2nd May 1991 – 2nd April 1993) resulted in the transformation of Lesotho back to democratic civilian rule (1993-present), military force became a means in achieving internal political ends and/or outcomes.

Currently, the democratic civilian rule is similarly not immune to military dependence and/or allegations of military politicisation. A few realities are testament to this. On the one hand, the former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s (2015-2017) administration has been suspect and largely seen to be supported by the army under the LDF’s former commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli. And on the other hand, PM Thomas Thabane’s (2012-2015) administration was viewed to be supported by the late and former LDF commander Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao. In essence, the security sector has been perceived essential to Lesotho’s political elites in influencing the distribution of power and resources, evidently with numerous security personnel, civilian and official casualties occurring in the process.

The assassinations of the LDF’s commanders (i.e. Lieutenant-General Mahao and Motšomotšo in 2015 and 2017 respectively) and military personnel in less than two years is testimony to the extent and depth of the political-military relations. Furthermore, the killing of the second commander in 2017 (i.e. Motšomotšo) despite numerous peacebuilding initiatives by various stakeholders and policy-makers to stabilise the political and security situation in the country following the assassination of Mahao in 2015 also points to the misunderstanding and/or ignorance of the entrenched historical political-military relations, thus resulting in failed and/or poor solutions in their respective initiatives.

In conclusion, if the abovementioned political-military relations continue to be ignored and misunderstood, Lesotho’s political and security sector will continue to worsen and casualties will increase rapidly. Moreover, governmental policies such as the 1995 Lesotho Ministry of Defence policy; state-driven military training operations such as the 1998 Operation Maluti training operation, and the 2001 Indian Army Training Team (IATT) operation; regional and institutional–driven civilian workshops and seminars such as the 2000 Institute of Security Studies (ISS) civil-military relations dialogue; and, regional initiatives such as the 2014-2018 Southern African Development Community (SADC) preventive mission which, among other key issues, aim to stabilise the political landscape and transform the LDF into an apolitical and accountable defence force will constantly fail to achieve respective desired political and security outcomes.

18 February, 2018

State of the Nation Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

16 FEBRUARY 2018
PARLIAMENT

Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise,
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP,
Former President Thabo Mbeki,
Former Deputy President FW de Klerk,
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and all esteemed members of the judiciary,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Premiers and Speakers of Provincial Legislatures,
Chairperson of SALGA and all Executive Mayors present,
The Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions,
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders,
Leaders of faith based organisations,
Former Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala,
Former Speaker Mr Max Sisulu,
Invited Guests
Veterans of the struggle for liberation,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honourable members,
Fellow South Africans,

It is a great honour and privilege to deliver this State of the Nation Address.

This Address should have been delivered last week, but was delayed so that we could properly manage issues of political transition.

I wish to thank Honourable Members and the people of South Africa for their patience and forbearance.

I also wish to extend a word of gratitude to former President Jacob Zuma for the manner in which he approached this difficult and sensitive process.

I wish to thank him for his service to the nation during his two terms as President of the Republic, during which the country made significant progress in several areas of development.

Fellow South Africans,

In just over 150 days from now, the peoples of the world will unite in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

It is a day on which we, as South Africans, will remember the life of one of the most remarkable leaders this country and this continent – and indeed, the world – has known.

We will recount Madiba’s long walk to freedom, his wisdom, his unfailing humility, his abiding compassion and his essential integrity.

We have dedicated this year to his memory and we will devote our every action, every effort, every utterance to the realisation of his vision of a democratic, just and equitable society.

Guided by his example, we will use this year to reinforce our commitment to ethical behaviour and ethical leadership.

In celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela we are not merely honouring the past, we are building the future.

We are continuing the long walk he began, to build a society in which all may be free, in which all may be equal before the law and in which all may share in the wealth of our land and have a better life.

We are building a country where a person’s prospects are determined by their own initiative and hard work, and not by the colour of their skin, place of birth, gender, language or income of their parents.

This year, we also celebrate the centenary of another giant of our struggle, Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu.

Through her remarkable life and outstanding contribution, she defined what it means to be a freedom fighter, a leader and a diligent and disciplined servant of the people.

Through her leadership, she embodied the fundamental link between national liberation and gender emancipation.

As we mark her centenary, we reaffirm that no liberation can be complete and no nation can be free until its women are free.

We honour this son and this daughter of the African soil in a year of change, in a year of renewal, in a year of hope.

We honour them not only in word, but, more importantly, in direct action towards the achievement of their shared vision of a better society.

We should honour Madiba by putting behind us the era of discord, disunity and disillusionment.

We should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders.

We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.

It is a new dawn that is inspired by our collective memory of Nelson Mandela and the changes that are unfolding.

As we rid our minds of all negativity, we should reaffirm our belief that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.

For though we are a diverse people, we are one nation.

There are 57 million of us, each with different histories, languages, cultures, experiences, views and interests.

Yet we are bound together by a common destiny.

For this, we owe much to our forebearers – people like Pixley ka Seme, Charlotte Maxeke and Chief Albert Luthuli – who understood the necessity of the unity and harmony of all the people of this great land.

We are a nation at one.

We are one people, committed to work together to find jobs for our youth; to build factories and roads, houses and clinics; to prepare our children for a world of change and progress; to build cities and towns where families may be safe, productive and content.

We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people.

While there are many issues on which we may differ, on these fundamental matters, we are at one.

We know that there is still a lot that divides us.

We remain a highly unequal society, in which poverty and prosperity are still defined by race and gender.

We have been given the responsibility to build a new nation, to confront the injustices of the past and the inequalities of the present.

We are called upon to do so under difficult conditions.

The state we are in as a nation is that while poverty declined significantly following the democratic breakthrough of 1994, we have seen reverses in recent years.

Poverty levels rose in 2015, unemployment has gone up and inequality has persisted.

For several years our economy has not grown at the pace needed to create enough jobs or lift our people out of poverty.

Public finances have been constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development.

Despite these challenging conditions, we have managed – working together – to achieve progress in improving the lives of our people.

Even under conditions of weak growth, our economy has created jobs, but not at the pace required to absorb new entrants into the labour market.

This means that as we pursue higher levels of economic growth and investment, we need to take additional measures to reduce poverty and meet the needs of the unemployed.

Since the start of the current Parliament, our public employment programmes have created more than 3.2 million work opportunities.

In the context of widespread unemployment, they continue to provide much needed income, work experience and training.

We have taken measures to reduce the cost of living, especially for the poor.

Government’s free basic services programme currently supports more than 3.5 million indigent households.

More than 17 million social grants are paid each month, benefiting nearly a third of the population.

We know, however, that if we are to break the cycle of poverty, we need to educate the children of the poor.

We have insisted that this should start in early childhood.

Today we have nearly a million children in early childhood development facilities.

We are seeing improvements in the outcomes of our basic education system.

The matric pass rate increased from 60.6 percent in 2009 to 75.1 percent last year.

There are currently almost a million students enrolled in higher education, up from just over 500,000 in 1994.

As we enter a new era, we are determined to build on these achievements, confront the challenges we face and accelerate progress in building a more prosperous and equitable society.

We have seen a moderate recovery in our economy and a broader, sustained recovery in the global economy.

Commodity prices have improved, the stock market has risen, the rand has strengthened and there are early indications that investor confidence is on the rise.

We have taken decisive measures to address concerns about political instability and are committed to ensure policy certainty and consistency.

There is a greater sense of optimism among our people.

Our people are hopeful about the future.

Business confidence among South African companies has improved and foreign investors are looking anew at opportunities in our country.

Some financial institutions have identified South Africa as one of the hot emerging markets for 2018.

Our task, as South Africans, is to seize this moment of hope and renewal, and to work together to ensure that it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our people.

This year, we will be initiating measures to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.

We will do this by getting social partners in our country to collaborate in building a social compact on which we will create drivers of economic recovery.

We have to build further on the collaboration with business and labour to restore confidence and prevent an investment downgrade.

Tough decisions have to be made to close our fiscal gap, stabilise our debt and restore our state-owned enterprises to health.

At the centre of our national agenda in 2018 is the creation of jobs, especially for the youth.

We are going to embark on a number of measures to address the unemployment challenge.

One of the initiatives will be to convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation.

The summit will look at what we need to do to ensure our economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped, and that our economic infrastructure is expanded.

We will expect this summit to come up with practical solutions and initiatives that will be implemented immediately.

We will make a major push this year to encourage significant new investment in our economy.

To this end, we will organise an Investment Conference in the next three months, targeting both domestic and international investors, to market the compelling investment opportunities to be found in our country.

We are going to address the decline over many years of our manufacturing capacity, which has deeply affected employment and exports.

We will seek to re-industrialise on a scale and at a pace that draws millions of job seekers into the economy.

We are going to promote greater investment in key manufacturing sectors through the strategic use of incentives and other measures.

To further stimulate manufacturing, we will forge ahead with the localisation programme, through which products like textile, clothing, furniture, rail rolling stock and water meters are designated for local procurement.

We have already spent more than R57 billion on locally-produced goods that may have been imported from other countries.

Special economic zones remain important instruments we will use to attract strategic foreign and domestic direct investment and build targeted industrial capabilities and establish new industrial hubs.

The process of industrialisation must be underpinned by transformation.

Through measures like preferential procurement and the black industrialists programme, we are developing a new generation of black and women producers that are able to build enterprises of significant scale and capability.

We will improve our capacity to support black professionals, deal decisively with companies that resist transformation, use competition policy to open markets up to new black entrants, and invest in the development of businesses in townships and rural areas.

Radical economic transformation requires that we fundamentally improve the position of black women and communities in the economy, ensuring that they are owners, managers, producers and financiers.

Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment.

It is therefore a matter of great urgency that we draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity.

Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda.

They are already forming a greater proportion of the labour force on our infrastructure projects and are the primary beneficiaries of programmes such as the installation of solar water heaters and the war on leaks.

We continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through programmes such as the Employment Tax Incentive.

Working in partnership with business, organised labour and community representatives, we are creating opportunities for young people to be exposed to the world of work through internships, apprenticeships, mentorship and entrepreneurship.

Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.

Together with our partners in business, we have agreed to create a million such internships in the next three years.

If we are to respond effectively to the needs of youth, it is essential that young people articulate their views and are able to engage with government at the highest level.

I will therefore be establishing a Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests.

Infrastructure investment is key to our efforts to grow the economy, create jobs, empower small businesses and provide services to our people.

We have invested heavily in new roads, power stations, schools and other infrastructure.

As some of our projects are taking time to get off the ground and to enhance our efforts, I will assemble a team to speed up implementation of new projects, particularly water projects, health facilities and road maintenance.

We have learnt some valuable lessons from our experience in building all the new infrastructure, which will inform our way ahead.

We will focus on improvements in our budget and monitoring systems, improve the integration of projects and build a broad compact on infrastructure with business and organised labour.

Mining is another area that has massive unrealised potential for growth and job creation is mining.

We need to see mining as a sunrise industry.

With the revival in commodity prices, we are determined to work with mining companies, unions and communities to grow the sector, attract new investment, create jobs and set the industry on a new path of transformation and sustainability.

This year, we will intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.

By working together, in a genuine partnership, underscored by trust and a shared vision, I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a Charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy.

Processing of the MPRDA Amendment Bill through both houses of parliament is at an advanced stage, with an indication by Parliament that the Bill will reasonably be finalised during the first quarter of 2018.

The Bill, once enacted into law, will entrench existing regulatory certainty, provide for security of tenure and advance the socio-economic interests of all South Africans.

We are extremely concerned about the rise in mining fatalities last year.

We call on mining companies to work together with all stakeholders to ensure that mine accidents are dramatically reduced.

One mining fatality is one too many.

Fellow South Africans,

Ultimately, the growth of our economy will be sustained by small businesses, as is the case in many countries.

It is our shared responsibility to grow this vital sector of the economy.

We will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs.

Government will honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural enterprises.

We will continue to invest in small business incubation.

We encourage business to do the same.

The establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5 billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play.

Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups.

We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses.

We are also working to expand economic opportunities for people with disabilities.

Among other things, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency – SEFA – has launched a scheme to develop and fund entrepreneurs with disabilities called the Amavulandlela Funding Scheme.

Agriculture presents one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow our economy and create jobs.

Agriculture made the largest contribution, by a significant margin, to the improved growth of our economy in the second and third quarters of 2017.

This year, we will take decisive action to realise the enormous economic potential of agriculture.

We will accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation.

We will pursue a comprehensive approach that makes effective use of all the mechanisms at our disposal.

Guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party, this approach will include the expropriation of land without compensation.

We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.

Government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution.

We make a special call to financial institutions to be our partners in mobilising resources to accelerate the land redistribution programme as increased investment will be needed in this sector.

Tourism is another area which provides our country with incredible opportunities to, quite literally, shine.

Tourism currently sustains 700,000 direct jobs and is performing better than most other growth sectors.

There is no reason why it can’t double in size.

We have the most beautiful country in the world and the most hospitable people.

This year, we will enhance support for destination marketing in key tourism markets and take further measures to reduce regulatory barriers and develop emerging tourism businesses.

We call on all South Africans to open their homes and their hearts to the world.

Our prosperity as a nation depends on our ability to take full advantage rapid technological change.

This means that we urgently need to develop our capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

We will soon establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which will include the private sector and civil society, to ensure that our country is in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in information and communication technology.

The drive towards the digital industrial revolution will be underpinned by the availability of efficient networks.

We will finalise our engagements with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces the cost to consumers.

South Africa has acceded to the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement, which brings together SADC, COMESA and the East African Community.

The free trade area will combine markets of 26 countries with a population of nearly 625 million.

It will open market access opportunities for South African export products, contribute to job creation and the growth of South Africa’s industrial sector.

Negotiations towards the Continental Free Trade Agreement are progressing at a brisk pace, and it is expected that the framework agreement could be concluded soon.

South Africa will this year take over the chair of the BRICS group of countries, and will give priority to the promotion of value-added trade and intra-BRICS investment into productive sectors.

Fellow South Africans,

On the 1st of May this year, we will introduce the first national minimum wage in South Africa.

This historic achievement – a realisation of one of the demands of the Freedom Charter – is expected to increase the earnings of more than six million working South Africans and improve the living conditions of households across the country.

The introduction of a national minimum wage was made possible by the determination of all social partners to reduce wage inequality while maintaining economic growth and employment creation.

It stands as another example of what is possible when South Africans engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve differences and confront challenges.

To ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy – and to ensure that we are better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances – I will be appointing a Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

It will draw on the expertise and capabilities that reside in labour, business, civil society and academia.

The country remains gripped by one of the most devastating droughts in a century, which has severely impacted our economy, social services and agricultural production.

The drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a national state of disaster.
This gives national government the authority to manage and coordinate our response nationally with support from all provinces.

This will ensure that we also heighten integrated measures to support the provinces that are hardest hit.

We are looking at activating the necessary extraordinary measures permitted under the legislation.

I commend the people of Cape Town and the rest of the Western Cape for diligently observing water saving measures.

We call on everyone in the country to use water sparingly as we are a water-scarce country that relies on this vital resource to realise our development aspirations.

Honourable Members,

On 16 December last year, former President Jacob Zuma announced that government would be phasing in fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working class South Africans over a five-year period.

Starting this year, free higher education and training will be available to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350,000.

The Minister of Higher Education and Training will lead the implementation of this policy, while the Minister of Finance will clarify all aspects of the financing of the scheme during his Budget Speech next week.

In addition to promoting social justice, an investment of this scale in higher education is expected to contribute to greater economic growth, reduce poverty, reduce inequality, enhance earnings and increase the competitiveness of our economy.

Government will continue to invest in expanding access to quality basic education and improving the outcomes of our public schools.

The Funza Lushaka Bursary programme plans to award 39,500 bursaries for Initial Teacher Education over the next three years.

In an historic first, from the beginning of this year, all public schools have begun offering an African language.

Also significant is the implementation of the first National Senior Certificate examination on South African Sign Language, which will be offered to deaf learners at the end of 2018.

The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative programme continues to deliver modern facilities to schools in rural and underprivileged urban areas across the country, with at least 187 schools being complete to date.

The programme will complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year.

Social grants remain a vital lifeline for millions of our people living in poverty.

We will urgently take decisive steps to comply with the all directions of the Constitutional Court.

I want to personally allay fears of any disruption to the efficient delivery of this critical service, and will take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court.

We will finalise work on a permanent public sector-led hybrid model, which will allow a set of public and private sector service providers to offer beneficiaries maximum choice, access and convenience.

This year, we will take the next critical steps to eliminate HIV from our midst.

By scaling up our testing and treating campaign, we will initiate an additional two million people on antiretroviral treatment by December 2020.

We will also need to confront lifestyles diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

In the next three months we will launch a huge cancer campaign similar to the HIV counselling and testing campaign.

This will also involve the private sector as we need to mobilise all resources to fight this disease.

The time has now arrived to finally implement universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance.

The NHI Bill is now ready to be processed through government and will be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks.

Certain NHI projects targeting the most vulnerable people in society will commence in April this year.

In improving the quality of life of all South Africans, we must intensify our efforts to tackle crime and build safer communities.

During the course of this year, the Community Policing Strategy will be implemented, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and to secure their full involvement in the fight against crime.

The introduction of a Youth Crime Prevention Strategy will empower and support young people to be self-sufficient and become involved in crime fighting initiatives.

A key focus this year will be the distribution of resources to police station level.

This will include personnel and other resources, to restore capacity and experience at the level at which crime is most effectively combated.

In recognising the critical role that NGOs and community-based organisation play in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems, we will convene a Social Sector Summit during the course of this year.

Among other things, this Summit should seek to improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face.

Fellow South Africans,

Growth, development and transformation depend on a strong and capable state.

It is critical that the structure and size of the state is optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources.

We will therefore initiate a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments.

Many of our state owned enterprises are experiencing severe financial, operation and governance challenges, which has impacted on the performance of the economy and placed pressure on the fiscus.

We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state owned enterprises.

The recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore its financial position is just the beginning.

Government will take further measures to ensure that all state owned companies fulfil their economic and developmental mandates.

We will need to confront the reality that the challenges at some of our SOEs are structural – that they do not have a sufficient revenue stream to fund their operational costs.

These SOEs cannot borrow their way out of their financial difficulties, and we will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding model of SOEs and other measures.

We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions.

We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the Auditor-General to strengthen external audit processes.

As we address challenges in specific companies, work will continue on the broad architecture of the state owned enterprises sector to achieve better coordination, oversight and sustainability.

This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.

The criminal justice institutions have been taking initiatives that will enable us to deal effectively with corruption.

The commission of inquiry into state capture headed by the Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo, is expected to commence its work shortly.

The Commission is critical to ensuring that the extent and nature of state capture is established, that confidence in public institutions is restored and that those responsible for any wrongdoing are identified.

The Commission should not displace the regular work of the country’s law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption.

Amasela aba imali ka Rhilumente mawabanjwe.

We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity.

We must remember that every time someone receives a bribe there is someone who is prepared to pay it.

We will make sure that we deal with both in an effective manner.

We urge professional bodies and regulatory authorities to take action against members who are found to have acted improperly and unethically.

This requires that we strengthen law enforcement institutions and that we shield them from external interference or manipulation.

We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered.

We will also take steps to stabilise and strengthen vital institutions like the South African Revenue Service.

We must understand that tax morality is dependent on an implicit contract between taxpayers and government that state spending provides value for money and is free from corruption.

At the request of the Minister of Finance, I will shortly appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance of SARS, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the Service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue targets.

Our state employs one million public servants.

The majority of them serve our people with diligence and commitment.

We applaud them for the excellent work they do.

However, we know the challenges that our people face when they interact with the state.

In too many cases, they often get poor service or no service at all.

We want our public servants to adhere to the principle of Batho Pele, of putting our people first.

We are determined that everyone in public service should undertake their responsibilities with efficiency, diligence and integrity.

We want to instil a new discipline, to do things correctly, to do them completely and to do them timeously.

We call on all public servants to become agents for change.

During the course of the next few months, I will visit every national department to engage with the senior leadership to ensure that the work of government is effectively aligned.

I will also find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that the state, in its entirety, responds to the pressing needs of our people.

Fellow South Africans,

Our country has entered a period of change.

While change can produce uncertainty, even anxiety, it also offers great opportunities for renewal and revitalisation, and for progress.

Together we are going to make history.

We have done it before and we will do it again – bonded by our common love for our country, resolute in our determination to overcome the challenges that lie ahead and convinced that by working together we will build the fair and just and decent society to which Nelson Mandela dedicated his life.

As I conclude, allow me to recall the words of the late great Bra Hugh Masekela.

In his song, ‘Thuma Mina’, he anticipated a day of renewal, of new beginnings.

He sang:

“I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around
When they triumph over poverty
I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS
I wanna lend a hand
I wanna be there for the alcoholic
I wanna be there for the drug addict
I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse
I wanna lend a hand
Send me.”

We are at a moment in the history of our nation when the people, through their determination, have started to turn the country around.

We can envisage the triumph over poverty, we can see the end of the battle against AIDS.

Now is the time to lend a hand.

Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’.

Now is the time for all of us to work together, in honour of Nelson Mandela, to build a new, better South Africa for all.

I thank you.

17 February, 2018

Lesotho and the SADC intervention and Democracy in the Region

by M. K. Mahlakeng

“That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up quarrels of Nations is shocking as it is true” Thomas Paine
From 20 November to 2 December 2017, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) deployed a 260-strong battalion regional force to address security concerns following the 5 September 2017 killing of Lieutenant General and Lesotho army chief Khoantle Motsomotso, Colonel Bulane Sechele and Brigadier Tefo Hashatsi. The SADC force comprised military, police, intelligence and civilian components from seven SADC countries; Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The underlying purpose of the force was to provide protection to the Prime Minister Tom Thabane-led coalition government while it implemented SADC’s previous recommendations to arrest military officers accused of alleged gross violations of human rights. Political and security concerns by the regional body over Lesotho are not recent. The regional body’s concerns over Lesotho’s political and security stability and/or instability emerged following the killing of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao.

In response to Mahao’s killing, SADC established a commission of inquiry under the leadership of retired Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi. The purpose of a commission of inquiry is to employ independent individuals, during conciliation, to clearly and adequately investigate the facts of a particular dispute and to submit a report stating the facts and proposing terms. Furthermore, this commission must make recommendations and/or official suggestions about the best thing to do. However, in spite of forming a commission of inquiry to clearly and adequately investigate facts, more so in light of the killing of three high ranking Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers, SADC decided to send a battalion. This initiative may further exacerbate the already fragile political and security environment in Lesotho.

The deployment consumed R87 million (M87 million) of the SADC budget, funds that could have been used to address climatic and socioeconomic hardships in the region Furthermore, such a deployment, as opposed to an inquiry, is perceived to be a tool to suppress citizens and political opinion rather than investigating and addressing the political and security issues in Lesotho. Such a perception emanates from the 1998 SADC intervention in Lesotho, commonly known as “Operation Boleas”, which instead of clearly, adequately and humanely addressing the political and security situation in Lesotho, it acted in favour of a supposedly “sitting government”, suppressing citizens and political opinion and killing 134 Basotho.

These actions are not new to the region, where SADC will deliberately act as an armed force for ruling elites and/or turn a blind eye to the oppression of citizens. For instance, if Swaziland and Zimbabwe, highly dictatorial and undemocratic regimes, were allowed to chair and presumably provide leadership for SADC simply by virtue of them being member states, then yes it is highly possible that SADC can deliberately ignore gross violations of human rights in the region. It is in this instance that no SADC decisions can ever be fully democratic if its leadership is left in the hands of authoritarian leaders. It therefore becomes difficult, if not impossible, to commend SADC’s political decisions and actions in the region.

Southern African Development Community Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation meeting, 5 Aug 2016

The escalation of tensions and disputes in Lesotho, Zimbabwe and many other SADC member states, to a point where lives are being lost are, are privy to SADC, given their Defence Intelligence Standing Committee. SADC’s inadequacy in numerous member state’s political, economic and security issues is equivalent to ignorance and/or support of such issues at the behest of sitting governments. Much of SADC’s actions in the region have never been made with adequate political and financial will. SADC has ignored the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) conflict which has prolonged and affected not only the political and socioeconomic stability of the region but the entire continent. It has further failed to address President Joseph Kabila’s overstaying his mandate, which has in many ways exacerbated the political and socioeconomic upheavals in the DRC.

SADC has also continued to support King Mswati III’s despotic monarch rule which has for decades prohibited political autonomy and democratic principles. And this has been done at the expense of constant calls for representative democracy. Surprising how regional democracy can be achieved and conveyed in the region given that the same country [Swaziland], in August 2016, that endorses authoritarianism in contrast to popular support was made to chair an organisation [SADC] that endorses democracy. Moreover, same party rule – maintained through intimidation and oppression, is widespread and prevalent in the region. Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe serve as examples of this.