28 March, 2020

Reflecting on the Corona Virus in South Africa: Time for Critical Introspection

by Hussein Solomon
I write this as South Africa enters the first day of a 21-day lockdown period. With South Africa surpassing more than 1000 infections and recording its first deaths from the COVID-19 virus now is a time for critical introspection. The crisis has laid bare the challenges we ignored or papered over for much too long – specifically as it relates to governance.
For much too long, our porous borders drew too little attention. Yes, Pretoria knew that millions of migrants streamed across these non-existent frontiers and we ignored it. We knew organized crime syndicates trafficked people, drugs and other contraband across these frontiers and we ignored it. As I watched spell-bound as my government, like many other governments cancelled flights from landing and cruise ships from disembarking in the light of the global pandemic, I hope we as South Africans, could once again exert control over our almost 10,000 kilometers of land borders.
For much too long, we knew that our health system was faltering. Despite these failings we have sought to bring about grandiose plans like a National Health Insurance system knowing full well that we were building castles on quick sand. The economic costs were unsustainable and the idea of an inept state controlling such a complex process was apparent to all except the state apparatchiks with their misinformed ideological zeal. Health professionals, meanwhile, were voting with their feet and sought emigration, rather than confront the looming calamity. The shortage of masks to nurses in hospitals as a result of COVID-19 has made these failures all too apparent. This, being perhaps the most visible manifestation of the crisis in this early stage of infections. As the country emerges from this crisis, however, we need to seriously re-examine our health system, how we prioritize our available funds and overcome the various inefficiencies.
Hospital 69/365
For too long, South Africa ignored the crisis emanating from our dysfunctional, inefficient and dangerous public transport system. On this first day of the national lockdown, health care workers had difficulty traveling to work. Mini-bus taxi drivers, meanwhile, flouted government regulations on how many passengers they could transport in a single vehicle.
This flouting of laws has indeed become a national characteristic of South Africans. Whilst complaining about rampant criminality, ordinary South Africans are criminal in their negligence of or deliberately violating the laws of the land – from routine traffic violations to students engaging in violence on the country’s universities to striking workers destroying property. On the first day of the lockdown, several South Africans ignored government warnings to stay home. Such behaviour is not only selfish but constitutes a danger to all South Africans. This is particularly salient in light of the many South Africans who have compromised immunity systems as a result of being HIV positive and/or having tuberculosis. Commentators have noted how countries with law-abiding populations tend to substantially slow down the spread of the virus. This selfish behaviour and more general lawlessness on the part of all South Africans has to end.
Whilst government has deployed police and the defence force, it is increasingly obvious that these forces are spread too thin. Given the need for public order and the inability of South Africans to practice self-discipline, what the country needs is a gendarmerie on the French model to assist the police.
One hopes that the current pandemic allows South Africans to engage in some critical self-reflections.

18 March, 2020

Public health crises and the news media in perspective

by Virgil Hawkins

The novel corona virus (Covid-19), continues to threaten the health and lives of large numbers of people throughout the world. It has also wrought havoc on social and economic activity, most notably in high-income countries in Asia and the West. It has also captured the attention of the world’s media, displacing all manner of domestic and world news in its wake.

But at a global level, the levels of attention are not necessarily proportionate with the level of the threat to human life. At the time of writing, Covid-19 has infected roughly 180,000 people and killed around 7,000 people worldwide. To put this into perspective, each year, malaria infects more than 200 million, and kills more than 400,000 people worldwide, with more than 90% of these deaths being in Africa. Tuberculosis infects 10 million annually, and kills roughly 1.5 million of those people. And diarrhea, caused by contaminated food and water, kills more than all those who die of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined. All of these diseases, like Covid-19, have a global reach (with the exception of malaria), although they are most heavily concentrated in the Global South.

These are millions of lives lost each year that are largely preventable, and yet these deaths, and the threat that such diseases continue to pose to humanity, are routinely ignored by the news media. A search of the New York Times website found that, for the entire year of 2019, there were just 6 articles about tuberculosis (containing the word in the article title) and 4 articles about malaria (two of which were about an anti-malaria drug at the 2019 Beijing Expo). From the perspective of the news media, the deaths caused by these diseases, whether preventable or not, have been ‘normalized’, and are ‘acceptable’ to the point that they are neither newsworthy nor noteworthy.

The obvious conclusion here is that the levels of media and public attention to such diseases are not determined by the loss of, or threat to, human life per se, but are largely dependent upon the question of whose lives it is that are being lost or threatened. Just as can be seen in the massive gaps in terms of the haves and have-nots in terms of media coverage of armed conflict (and of coverage of the world in general, for that matter), the geographic location, nationality, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the victims are major determining factors. Covid-19 impacts high-income Western countries where malaria, tuberculosis and diarrhea-related diseases do not.
Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacillus)
Similarly, the 2014-2016 outbreak of Ebola disease virus in West Africa, which became the worst in history, did not begin to grab worldwide headlines until the disease began to be seen as a threat to people in high-income countries. Those living in these countries could perhaps be forgiven for not noticing that we are just now overcoming the second-worst outbreak of Ebola in history, one that has been ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2018. It has hardly been making headlines in the Western media.

But levels of news attention depend not only on location and identity of the victim, but also on novelty – the characteristic of something being ‘new’. Malaria, tuberculosis and diarrhea-related disease kill large numbers of people, but it is a constant stream of threat and tragedy. Covid-19 (like MERS or SARS before it), on the other hand, is a rare occurrence, with outbreaks appearing (at least at current trends) several years apart. New developments, threats and deaths that we have not yet normalized, are considered particularly newsworthy. This applies even in high-income countries. As is already being pointed out by many, annually occurring seasonal influenza kills tens of thousands of people in the US alone each year – far more than Covid-19 has so far, and yet the media is calm and relatively low-key in its response. Although the threat is grave, it is something that has been normalized by society and the media.

By the same logic, however, the media could be expected to have been responsive to the outbreak of Ebola in the DRC. It is, after all, a major disease that is extremely infectious and deadly, and that only occurs occasionally. The same can be said for the world’s worst measles outbreak, also occurring in the DRC, which, unlike malaria or tuberculosis, is also a new development. The number of people measles has infected and killed in the most recent outbreak there is also comparable to Covid-19. Both Ebola and measles have an additional novel characteristic in the sense that the ongoing armed conflict in the DRC has compounded the problem, hindering efforts to stop both diseases. And yet it has struggled to attract any small measure of media attention. Clearly, who the victims are is more important than the novelty factor.

But there still remains one final factor that is related to novelty – the fear of the unknown. Ebola and the measles occur as occasional outbreaks, but they have happened before and much about them is already known. Covid-19 is a new strain of corona virus, and as such, its impacts are yet, to a degree, unknown. Scientists are still trying to attempt to understand just how infectious and how deadly it is. Fear of the unknown regarding the virus, and the panic it creates, serves public appetite for constant updates and information, and simultaneously, the interests of the commercial media.

Interestingly, these patterns in the media are not only seen in the countries greatly impacted by the public health threats, but throughout the world as a whole. The media in Southern Africa, for example, which has been largely spared from Covid-19 so far, is also devoting a considerable amount of its attention to the spread of the virus. Global news flows – the determination of newsworthiness and the spread of information worldwide – are largely determined in the countries in which economic and political power resides.

This is not to downplay the suffering (actual and potential) caused by Covid-19. The disease does indeed pose a major ongoing threat to people throughout the world, and Africa will undoubtedly struggle to contain the spread and its consequences if the number of cases begins to rise substantively. But by the same token, if preventing the loss of human life – regardless of its location, nationality, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status – is the prime goal in stopping Covid-19, then it is perhaps time to remember that other major public health crises also desperately await our attention.

28 February, 2020

Exploring South Africa’s Governance Challenges

by Sanet Madonsela

On 14 February 2018, former African National Congress (ANC) leader and master tactician, Jacob Zuma, resigned as the fourth democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa. This decision stemmed from internal pressure from his political party to step down and hand over the reins. Zuma’s tenure was marked by economic decline, corruption scandals, and numerous accusations of misconduct which resulted in him becoming the posterchild for corruption. At the time of his resignation the country experienced a reduction in its export and commodity prices, the unemployment rate was 26.7 per cent, the country’s economy was weak and its’ image tainted. Many believed that his resignation marked the end of the country’s relationship with corruption and mismanagement.

Nonetheless, Zuma’s resignation held further implications for the country. It resulted in former trade union leader and Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, taking over as the country’s acting President. Ramaphosa’s entry into office sparked a wave of optimism and hope for an economic revival which many referred to as Ramaphoria. It is important to note that he had a steep curve ahead of him. Ramaphosa was faced with addressing the country’s internal challenges, attracting foreign investment, rebuilding the country, and mending the divisions within the ruling party. During his first state of the Nation Address, he promised the South African people a new dawn. He stressed job creation which resulted in him hosting job summits, investment conferences and accelerated infrastructure projects, but very little was achieved. Twelve months later the country was still faced with a stagnant economy and high unemployment rates. Some hoped that this would change after the May 2019 national elections which cemented Ramaphosa’s position as President – now with a popular but weak mandate.

The 2019 national election highlighted the growing disillusion with the country’s political system, as it was the weakest electoral showing since the start of democracy in 1994. This may be due to the distrust that citizens have in government and the country’s political parties. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 57% of the country’s general population believes that government serves the interest of a selected few, while only 30% believe that government serves the needs of the entire population. This mistrust may eventually result in a crisis of governance.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses inaugural Drakensberg Inclusive Growth Forum
Government has been warned that the country may be facing a probable collapse due to its inability to pay service providers, manage appointments, carry out disciplinary action and prevent corruption. In addition to that, poor governance, maladministration, a lack of investment, stagnating economic growth and reckless spending has resulted in government’s debt-to-GDP ratio reaching 69.1%. The country’s economy managed to grow by a mere 0.2% for 2019 before being brought to its knees by Eskom’s – the national utility - power outages during the last quarter of 2019. The country suffered two consecutive quarterly economic declines in 2019, which meant that it ended the year off in a technical recession. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the French International banking group BNP have all cut the country’s growth forecast for 2020. This and other reasons have resulted in South African companies planning to cut over 10,000 jobs during the first three months of 2020. This may aggravate the already devastating unemployment rate of now 29.1%.

In addition to that, the country’s cities and rural towns are on the brink of collapse as many of the country’s capitals are either in a state of disarray or under administration, and companies are moving out of rural towns that display poor management. Moreover, the government has been accused of not rendering basic services to their citizens. This has resulted in service delivery protests reported on by media outlets. South Africa has been displaying more serious governance challenges such as an increase in criminal and political violence, weakened state institutions, disintegrated roads, failing power plants, an erosion of investor confidence, a collapsing health system, gender based violence and an ever declining GDP. It is worth noting that these are characteristics of failing and failed states. While South Africa may not currently count as one, it is definitely flirting with the idea. South Africa needs to engage in serious introspection if it seeks to rectify its challenges.

The country is in need of inspirational leadership and action. It needs leadership that will prosecute those accused of weakening and destroying government departments and state-owned enterprises. Government needs to enforce expenditure cuts, address structural challenges, focus on institutional strengthening and continuity, and invest in infrastructure as this may stimulate the economy, restore domestic and foreign investors’ confidence and ultimately create jobs. This shift towards better or good governance is needed to achieve better social and economic outcomes such as poverty alleviation and sustainable development. It should be noted that continuous governance failures have the ability to diminish a governments’ legitimacy and this is certainly not something the country should aim towards.

Calamity beckons, as South Africa’s political leadership dithers.

14 March, 2019

Is Zimbabwe Poised for Another GNU?

by Darlington Tshuma

Although not necessarily a new trend in political practice, Governments of National Unity (GNUs) seem to have gained popularity in the recent past, consequently becoming a preferred method of resolving electoral and political disputes in Africa. African diplomats, regional bodies and in some instances international actors like the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) have been instrumental in establishing or encouraging the formation of GNUs or similar mechanisms in countries like Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa and Zanzibar to mention a few. However; the efficacy of these arrangements have not been a subject of serious academic an policy debate hence very little theoretical and empirical evidence seem to suggest that GNUs can be effective mechanisms for resolving national disputes.

An Insight, An Idea with Emmerson Mnangagwa

Early in February 2019, the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa invited political parties that participated in the in July Harmonised Election to a ‘national dialogue’ at his state residence to discuss ‘a Framework for Post-Election Dialogue by Political Parties’. The invitation was snubbed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa who argued that the purported dialogue was meant to give a veneer of legitimacy to Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF party he accuses of ‘illegitimacy’ arising from a ‘stolen election’. Some 19 or so opposition parties responded positively to the President’s invitation. MDC is Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party since the turn of the millennium and the leadership’s decision not to attend the dialogue is significant for anyone with an interest in Zimbabwean politics. The MDC argued that dialogue is not a monologue and ZANU-PF cannot simply preside over an election it stole. The MDC leadership tabled terms and conditions which ZANU-PF should first meet before any talks can resume. Among them was the release of its members charged with dubious ‘crimes’ during the January fuel protests and the importance of a neutral mediator to oversee and facilitate dialogue. While chances of a GNU seem unlikely in the short to medium term, it is important to examine the efficacy of a GNU in resolving Zimbabwe’s multiple crises. In this regard, I pose two different but complimentary questions. First; can a GNU transform Zimbabwe’s crisis? Second; if we agree that dialogue is important what form and shape should it take?

I attempt to unpack these important questions in two parts. First; I provide a context of GNUs and the various circumstances that le[a]d to their formation. This is important because it enables us to critically engage the efficacy of GNUs by asking important questions relating to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Second, I argue that while national dialogue is important, it must not coalesce around the idea of a GNU. I support this position by arguing that a GNU will not be a panacea to the Zimbabwean crisis and those calling for it probably misunderstand the nature of the crisis or simply want a quick fix to a complex problem. In advancing this point, I am in no way denying the magnitude of the crisis in Zimbabwe. In fact the crisis has reached a stage where national dialogue is not only urgent but desirable too. But what are the issues the dialogue must tackle?

With the exception of South Africa’s interim government that ushered a new democracy in 1994, most GNUs on the continent have emerged following electoral disputes between leaders of opposing political parties. This was the case in Kenya involving a disputed election between Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in 2007 and in 2008; Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara. From a pragmatic perspective, GNUs are temporary ‘compromise governments’ formed between opposing parties following a dispute usually an electoral dispute. From a conflict transformation angle; GNUs are power-sharing mechanisms created to end hostilities between disputants and also to pave way for unity and stability in the hope of achieving positive peace. However, the reality is that they achieve none of this. In this regard, the experience of both Zimbabwe and Kenya is poignant.

However, this is not to suggest that GNUs are of no consequence. There are positives that the GNU in Zimbabwe brought and to dismiss these gains would be dishonest. For example, it stopped the mass killing of opposition supporters although incidents of sporadic political violence, land grabbing and intimidation of opposition supporters continued even during the GNU. It also stabilised the economy and arrested a run-away inflation. However, political tensions carried over from the pre-2008 period continued to threaten and have a negative impact on the economy. Accusations of deliberate sabotage were constantly raised by political leaders. Counter accusations somewhat gave the impression that political leaders are not signing from the same hymn while policy inconsistencies kept potential investors on their feet. This among other factors threatened full economic recovery. The GNU was also criticized for failing to resolve power imbalances. For example, there are claims that power was not evenly distributed; with ZANU-PF retaining all important security portfolios and the MDC getting less important and influential ministries. This arrangement frustrated security sector reforms that were key to GNU. The most cited criticism of the GNU is that it retained an election loser as state president. This gave Mugabe the leeway to make unilateral decisions, sometimes without consulting his principal in complete violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Having highlighted contentious issues involving GNUs, I now turn to one of the questions posed earlier; can a GNU transform Zimbabwe’s crisis? The answer is not so much! To create a context for my argument, I draw on few but key lessons from history. While Zimbabwe’s crisis is multifaceted, there is no denying that the crisis is first and foremost political. The nature of the crisis in Zimbabwe makes political reform a priority and as such any arrangement that fails to address this important aspect is tantamount to rearranging decks in a sinking ship. In both Kenya and Zimbabwe, GNU negotiations failed to adequately address the power and leadership questions (political question). In a classic case of ‘change without change’, the negotiations in both Zimbabwe and Kenya retained election losers as presidents. There is no reason to believe another GNU in Zimbabwe would have altered this trend. Related to that is the criticism that GNUs have a tendency to reconcile political elites while leaving the masses divided. The point here is that Zimbabwe does not need a GNU but a complete overhaul and restructuring of a system that breeds violence, intolerance, corruption and mismanagement. Chances that a GNU can undo these vices are close to none. There is also no evidence that the GNU in Zimbabwe (2009-2013) tackled common people’s problems like corruption and governance malpractice. Instead the GNU morphed into a power contestation where focus was on sharing political spoils and not the political and social transformation of a state structure that had bred the crisis in the first place.

By way of conclusion, I share some reasons why a GNU today would be a hard sell even to the most sympathetic and moderate interlocutors. First, the circumstances that led to the GNU in 2008 are at variance with the situation obtaining in the country today. First, the June 2008 election in which Mugabe controversially declared himself winner contravened regional and international best practice on elections and governance. Tsvangirai’s pull out solidified this claim. However, in the July election pitting Mnangagwa against Chamisa, not only did the latter participate but various international and regional election observer teams applauded both parties for holding what they deemed to have been a ‘peaceful election campaign in decades’. This was of course in comparison to past election campaigns enveloped in fear and uncertainty. In addition, Mnangagwa accredited election observer teams from over 40 countries including some previously banned by Mugabe. The motivations behind are a discussion for another day. Most importantly, the international goodwill that carried Mnangagwa through the elections saw him receive less condemnation for the post-election violence that claimed six lives and injured dozens.

Last, the political climate leading to the election in July was relatively stable. Opposition parties were for the first time ‘allowed’ to campaign in known ZANU-PF strongholds. In the June 2008 runoff, not only where MDC leaders persecuted but their followers and supporters killed, raped and abducted in broad daylight. The human rights abuses attracted international condemnation forcing Mugabe to negotiate with the opposition to save both his reputation and that of his party. In contrast; SADC and AU’s deafening silence over human rights abuses in January as well as the post-election violence (PVE) in August may have convinced Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF that it is possible to get away with murder and human rights abuses.

Darlington Tshuma is a PhD Candidate in the Peacebuilding Programme at Durban University of Technology, South Africa. He is a graduate of the Durban Transformational Leadership Programme and a Canon Collins scholar. He writes in his own capacity.

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


16 FEBRUARY 2018

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.

17 November, 2017

Zimbabwe’s Military Coup in Perspective

by Leon Hartwell

Regardless of statements by Zimbabwe’s military leaders, a coup d'etat has taken place. Some Zimbabweans are already openly celebrating the removal or President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1980. How did this military coup come about? What can we expect in the coming months?

The Role of Securocrats

For those who have been close observers of the situation in Zimbabwe, this military coup did not come as a complete surprise. The king maker role of the so-called “securocrats” has been fundamental to Zimbabwe’s political establishment for decades. In fact, there is an old joke in Zimbabwe: “Why do they call it ‘general elections’? Because the generals determine the outcome of elections.”

Since the beginning, Mugabe carved out an important role for the security sector to maintain order and to keep his regime intact. From 1982 to 1987, he used the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crack down on opposition in Matabeleland. It is said that Emmerson Mnangagwa, a crucial figure behind the current coup, was also a key player during that period when almost 20,000 Ndebele were massacred. For a period after that, the military was sent back to the barracks. However, by 2008, Mnangagwa reactivated the military to help secure Mugabe’s victory during the controversial run-off election.

The Timing of the Coup
Many of the securocrats who fought for Zimbabwe’s independence and who kept Mugabe in power, are the same people who have now turned against him. A key factor in the timing of the coup has been the ascendency of Mugabe’s wife, Grace within the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

Since Grace entered public life, Zimbabweans have viewed her as a sexually promiscuous, uneducated former typist whose only interest is luxury shopping. By 2014, Grace went into high gear to beautify her image. The state-owned, ZANU-PF-controlled media, constructed an image of a person with a good heart (through her support for young orphans), a sophisticated businesswoman, an intellectual (the University of Zimbabwe controversially awarded her a PhD within two months of enrolment), and a shrewd politician.

By the end of 2014, Grace became ZANU-PF’s head of the Women’s League and she helped to push out Vice President Joice Mujuru, who at the time stood a good chance of becoming Mugabe’s successor. It was a warning to other potential successors.

More than anything else, Grace’s rise to the top in Zimbabwe threatened the interests of Zimbabwe’s establishment, which includes the security sector. She wanted to establish a dynasty and to replace prominent securocrats with Generation 40 (G40), a relatively younger crop of Zimbabweans who showed loyalty towards her.

The removal of Grace was therefore a matter of urgency. In Zimbabwe, power is money, and the being shunned has major financial implications. The coup has nothing to do with genuinely restoring the constitutional order or anything noble, it is an attempt to protect the establishment’s political and financial interests.

Besides, this coup came at a time when Grace’s public image took yet another nose dive, which means there will not be a huge outcry if she is removed from the political scene. In August, Grace viciously assaulted a model in a luxury apartment rented by her sons in South Africa. The incident reinforced Grace’s bad reputation for public outbursts and it sparked greater scrutiny over the First Family’s opulent lifestyles.

Grace’s problem is that she was punch drunk on victory, but little did she realise that she was overplaying her hand. Her most drastic move to date was her open intentions to get rid of Vice President Mnangagwa, arguably one of the most important securocrats in Zimbabwe. Whether her preferred method was poisoning him through thallium, or by convincing her husband to sack him remains unclear. Nonetheless, after Mnangagwa was unceremoniously fired, the security sector had to act rapidly. If Mnangagwa truly believes that he was poisoned by Grace’s minions, the coup was also a matter of life and death as well as revenge. Over the years, Mugabe has thrown too many struggle ‘comrades’ under the bus and this was, “the last straw” as one Zimbabwean described it to me.

The timing of this coup was also perfect, given the state of Mugabe’s health and his extensive traveling. He is 93 years old, and he has increasingly been caught stumbling and sleeping in front of cameras. In 2017 alone, Uncle Bob spent an enormous amount of time (almost 57 percent of his time by mid-May), outside of Zimbabwe, sometimes for medical reasons. This gave the securocrats plenty of time to plot their coup, and if need be, an excuse to say that Mugabe is not medically fit to be President.

A third factor that precipitated the coup, is that the Zimbabwean economy is once again “in the intensive care unit” as some would say. At the end of October, economist Steve Hank noted that the country’s annual inflation rate stood at 348 percent. It is possible that the coup makers calculated that most Zimbabweans will not lose much sleep over the removal of Uncle Bob. In fact, some individuals from Harare to Beijing, might even welcome it.

Looking Into the Crystal Ball
The top four priorities for the coup makers will be maintaining order, controlling the message, cloaking the military takeover in civilian clothes, and rolling out measures to improve the economy. All these issues are ultimately intertwined.

With regards to maintaining order, already, police officers have been rounded up throughout Zimbabwe and Mugabe has reportedly been placed under house arrest. It is unlikely that there will be heavy infighting within the security sector given the broad support for General Constantino Chiwenga (commander of Zimbabwe’s Defence Forces), Air Marshal Perence Shiri, Lieutenant-General Valerio Sibanda (Commander of the National Army) and Mnangagwa.

War veterans have also been brought in to provide legitimacy to the coup. Their role should not be underestimated. For years, Zimbabwean propaganda has praised them as the liberators of the country. The War Veterans, then under the leadership of the late Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, were also the ones who were instrumental in the country’s land grab.

Current chairman of the War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, has thus far praised the military coup leaders for setting Zimbabwe on a path to restore “genuine democracy” after it was captured by rogue elements. It is probable that Mutsvangwa will also play an important role in terms of presenting a friendly face on behalf of the ‘new’ regime. He is a prominent businessman, politician, and diplomat. He was instrumental in developing Mugabe’s Look East Policy where Zimbabwe began to focus increasingly on China to replace Western businesses after the country was hit by sanctions. At the same time, Mutsvangwa has served as a diplomat in the Western world, and he has a positive reputation among Western diplomats.

As for messaging, the coup makers moved rapidly to take over the state-owned media in order to control the message. Their main focus has been, and will continue to be, to legitimise the military coup. This will involve justification of the coup by for example saying that this has been done in the name of national interest and ultimately for the greater good.

At the same time, the coup makers will satanize Grace Mugabe and other G40 members like Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukwuere and Ignatius Chombo. They will parade their wealth and all their dirty laundry in front of the television cameras so as to demonstrate that these individuals were looting Zimbabwe at the expense of the average Zimbabwean. The lines between “us” and “them” and “good” and “evil” will become more pronounced in the coming days.

Another big part of the gaining popular support for the coup will be to make economic development a key priority. For a start, coup makers will have to dampen the country’s hyperinflation. They will also do their best to court Zimbabwean, South African and Western businesses. One can expect them to stress the importance of private property rights in order to bring some form of predictability back into the economy.

The coup makers will also have to call on some favours from China. Despite his Look East Policy, Chinese companies have reportedly had a difficult relationship with Mugabe after they were recently accused by him of siphoning off $15 billion in diamond revenue. Less than a week ago, G40 attempted to finger Mnangagwa for looting the revenues, but in truth, they were all in it together. Chinese companies will therefore have to cough up some diamond revenues in exchange for guarantees that their interests in Zimbabwe will not be harmed. It is likely that this was a central issue that Chiwenga ironed out with the Chinese during his recent visit to the country shortly before the coup. China could also provide Zimbabwe with some protection within the United Nations Security Council if need be, especially if issues such as sanctions of military intervention are raised.

Legitimising the Military Coup and Scenarios
Despite the evidence, the military has claimed that what has transpired in Zimbabwe is not a coup. This is a crucial issue, given that both the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) generally react negatively towards coups d'état. Their reactions to past coups in the region have ranged from membership suspension to military intervention. The latter move is unlikely at present, but there will definitely be a lot of pressure by SADC and the AU to return the levers of power to civilian hands.

Military coups can be flued, but broadly speaking, there are three scenarios to remove Mugabe and to install a civilian government (even if the latter will merely be window dressing). One, coup leaders could force Uncle Bob to resign in exchange for security guarantees for him and his family. They could strategically demand that Mnangagwa be reinstated as Vice President before his resignation. Legally speaking, that would make it easier for the Crocodile, as Mnangagwa is nicknamed, to become President.

In a second scenario, should Mugabe fail to cooperate, coup makers, with the help of their friends in ZANU-PF, could also argue that Mugabe has become “incapacitated” over the past few weeks, which is when Grace became the de facto President. This means that Mnangagwa’s dismissal as Vice President was unconstitutional, and instead of being fired, he should have legally become President of the country. As a result, he will simply be ‘reinstated’ in his ‘rightful’ position.

A third scenario would be to call for an extraordinary ZANU-PF conference. Mugabe can then be officially removed as president of the party (and subsequently also the country) and ‘democratically’ replaced by Mnangagwa or a compromise candidate. This by no means entails that succession will be easy, as succession rules are very murky. But, with G40 out of the way and the military in control, there is a greater chance that ZANU-PF will unite behind one candidate.

Finally, coup leaders could form some sort of a Government of National Unity (GNU) akin to the one birthed by the Global Political Agreement after the violent 2008 elections. This would make the military coup more attractive to Zimbabwe as a whole at it would give the illusion of inclusivity and hope. In this effort, they will attempt to construct another GNU by bringing in representatives, not only from ZANU-PF, but also from opposition parties. One can expect that the military will engage a wide-ranging group of players, including Joice Mujuru, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, and Welshman Ncube. They will also likely promise free and fair elections within a reasonable time period.

Some opposition figures might respond favourably to the coup makers for two reasons: Firstly, after a long absence from government, they will be tempted to be part of it given that it would provide them with access to some form of power and resources. Secondly, they might hope that the military coup represents the possibility to effect change. However, they should not be blinded as to how this military coup came into being. This is the same security sector that helped to keep Mugabe in power for nearly four decades, the very man who is about to be vilified. In the absence of serious institutional changes, the risk is that they will again be disposed as soon as the next general election is announced, and we know why they call it general elections.

What If the Crocodile Comes Out on Top?
As seen, in several of the scenarios, Mnangagwa stands a good chance to replace Mugabe as President. I remember meeting him at a function at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013 at the Rainbow Towers in Harare. It was during the country’s Constitution making process and I was keen to gage his perspective on the matter. After exchanging a few pleasantries, I asked him about his background in law. I said to him, “They say you are well versed in legalese”, to which he icily responded, “I am a military man.”

Mnangagwa has been a key player within the security establishment from the very beginning. He also has strong links with the political and security establishment in SADC as well as China. But it is his political unpopularity that should raise the most serious red flags. As a candidate, he has proven to be unpopular in past elections. It means that should he be fielded as ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate at some point in the future, he will most likely resort to familiar methods that have served him well in the past - threats, violence and extreme electoral manipulation - in order to stay on top.

In the coming weeks though, the military coup leaders will attempt to soften Mnangagwa’s image. They will present him, not as a “military man” as he put it to me, but as a victim and a humble politician ready to serve the nation. His background and experience in law will certainly come in handy to perform legal gymnastics to legitimise this coup.

Those who already rejoice over the removal of Mugabe in the hope that something better is on the horizon will most likely be disappointed. What has happened represents merely a readjustment of the old older rather than a new beginning.

Leon Hartwell was the Senior Policy Adviser for Political and Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Harare from 2012-2013.  He is currently a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University focusing on conflict resolution and mediation.