09 December, 2013

Madiba: My "Terrorist", My Liberator

by Leon Hartwell

People have many stories about the late former President Nelson Mandela. This is my contribution: I am an Afrikaner who grew up during the Apartheid era, a time period marked by deep racism. I was raised in Roodepoort, a conservative White neighbourhood very close to Kliptown (where the Freedom Charter was adopted) before my family and I moved to Pretoria, the administrate capital of South Africa.

The Apartheid system taught Afrikaners how to hate. In the White South Africa in which I grew up, Nelson Mandela’s name was synonymous with “terrorist”. He was one of the top leaders of the “Swart” (Black) and the “rooi gevaar” (red/communist danger). The public media effectively created a hobgoblin motivated to drive all Whites into the sea.

In fact, the African National Congress (ANC) was constructed as the greatest threat to the existence of the Afrikaner nation. It was depicted as a communist movement whose chief aim was to overthrow the state, the ultimate institution tasked to provide law and order. To many Whites, the existence of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, justified the use of state violence, sometimes even pre-emptively.

Television in South Africa, controlled by the state broadcaster, the Suid-Afrikaanse Uitsaaikorporasie (SAUK), was officially launched in 1976. During Apartheid, it regularly broadcast footage of Blacks rebelling against the Apartheid system. SAUK never told the story of the true nature of their rebellion nor the truth about the pain and suffering that these people underwent. Rather, images depicted Blacks as savages: they were dirty; they lived in primitive tin houses in townships; and they were throwing stones at policemen (i.e. ‘our’ representatives of security in what we were told was a dangerous state). This made it almost unthinkable that South Africa could ever be a nation consisting of different racial and ethnic groups.

For many years, Mandela’s aspirations of equality, democracy and liberty fell on deaf ears in the Afrikaner community. Even Whites who were against Apartheid found it easier to turn a blind eye on Apartheid atrocities rather than to challenge the system. There were of course Whites that stood up to Apartheid, including a distant relative of mine, the heroic Afrikaner lawyer, Bram Fischer.

Police in Alexandra Township, 1985 (UN Photo)

I did not have a single non-White classmate throughout Primary and Secondary school. My understanding of Blacks was limited to my interaction with our gardener, Speelman, and our maid, Regina, who took care of my sisters and I. In the 1980s, I frequently accompanied my policeman father to Soweto when he inspected police stations. We drove through the township in a Casspir (landmine protected infantry mobile vehicle) witnessing large scale protests against the Apartheid regime often followed by police brutality. I was deeply saddened to see the subhuman manner in which Blacks were treated by the authorities as well as the living conditions that they had to endure.

The “dominees” (ministers) at the churches that we attended (the Gereformeerde Kerk and Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk) saw no contradiction between the “equality” and “love thy neighbour” that they preached, and the inhumanity of the Apartheid system. Sometimes they deliberately suffered from biblical amnesia, selectively interpreting Christianity in accordance with Apartheid gospel.

When former President F.W. de Klerk announced at the opening of Parliament in 1990 that the ANC would be unbanned and Mandela released from prison, shockwaves radiated in the Afrikaner community. De Klerk’s speech also signalled the beginning of the transition, which for many Whites meant a journey into the unknown. Closer towards the first democratic elections, I remember Die Huisgenoot, the most popular Afrikaans magazine, carried a few articles urging readers to stock up on fuel, water, tinned food, biltong and dried fruit.

Ironically, footage of a silver haired, friendly looking Mandela walking free from Victor Verster prison near Cape Town in 1990 was in stark contrast to the terrorist image forged by the Apartheid state. Mandela’s City Hall speech, which began “all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all”, signalled the beginning of a new era.

Throughout the negotiation process there were many of spoilers. As the negotiation process unfolded, particularly the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), a small group of radical Whites wanted to destabilise the democratisation process. It was a tense time in South Africa’s history and conflict could have easily escalated once more, thereby stalling or derailing the peace process. Nonetheless, it became clear that the democratisation process was irreversible. Madela continued to map out an attractive future and called for calm. In the all-White 1992 Referendum, voters were asked to vote for or against the reform and negotiation process to establish a new Constitution. The majority of Whites voted overwhelmingly “yes”.

The assassination of Chris Hani, secretary-general of the South African Communist Party, by a White racist in 1993, was another tense moment in the history of the country’s transition. The country could have descended into civil war. Throughout this intense period, Mandela showed tremendous leadership in calling on “all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy ...[freedom and democracy].”

Apartheid was designed to divide racial and ethnic groups, but Mandela succeeded in creating processes and institutions to fashion Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s idea of a “Rainbow Nation” in which differences are celebrated. During his Presidential inaugural address in 1994, Mandela stated, “Out of the experience of and extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.” On that day, I felt particularly proud of my new President and it became more and more comfortable referring to him simply as Madiba.

What I admire most about Madiba is that he linked his freedom to that of his jailor and vice versa. In Long Walk to Freedom he wrote, “I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” This lesson is often forgotten by individuals like President Robert Mugabe, who continue to deliberately confuse the idea of independence with that of freedom. Madiba reminds us, “for to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Another characteristic that I deeply respect about Madiba was that he never ceased to engage his enemies. Any successful transition requires that enemies become partners. Yet, to change one’s relationship from enemies to partners is extremely difficult. Madiba opened dialogue with his gaolers which must have been extremely difficult for him. Yet, he knew that it would have been impossible to build sustainable peace in South Africa without getting hardliners and the security sector on board. These efforts eventually produced Madiba’s greatest legacy: the creation of a new democratic dispensation guided by one of the best constitutions in the world.

Shortly after the first democratic elections, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was on the horizon. Many Whites were scared of the TRC. In fact, some of my dad’s colleagues in the police force ended up in Denmar, a psychiatric institute in Pretoria, while several committed suicide. Many of the real victims of Apartheid did not have access to facilities like Denmar to deal with their past. Depression among some members of the security sector and Whites in general was largely caused by a combination of guilt (as they came to terms with being part of a vile system) and feelings of hopelessness as a result of losing power. The public mood in South Africa was very tense.  Perpetrators had to share the stage with victims. 

Madiba continued to support the TRC despite major resistance from the National Party and some ANC members. Those who judge the TRC as the only mechanism intended to promote justice and reconciliation view the model as a failure. Although the TRC was unable to once and for all reconcile the nation and deal with injustices committed during the Apartheid era, it was an initial attempt to promote transitional justice. It is significant in that it brought close to 21,000 victims and perpetrators to the table to, as Tutu said, “look the beast in the eye so that the past wouldn't hold us hostage anymore”. No one can ever again deny that Apartheid did not happen.

Address to the United Nations, 1990 (UN Photo)

Madiba was unrelentingly selfless in his efforts to challenge an unjust system. He put his own life and that of his family at great risk for his believes and principles. Today, I would like to honor Madiba, my “terrorist”, my liberator, for inspiring millions around the world. I want to acknowledge his tremendous role and leadership in bringing liberty, equality, and democracy to South Africa. He is the father of the Rainbow Nation. I hope that Madiba’s ideas will continue to guide South Africa for many years to come. He not only leaves behind great historical accomplishments, but a multitude of ideas embodied in one of the best constitutions in the world. If we do not uphold and promote freedom, equality, non-racism, non-sexism, social justice and respect for the rule of law, we will fail to truly honor his legacy.

Madiba knew that South Africa still had many challenges ahead before the country would normalise. He concluded his Long Walk to Freedom by stating; “with freedom comes responsibilities ...”. Leaders and citizens of South Africa, take notice of those words. Amandla, awethu, South Africa!

Leon Hartwell is an independent political analyst

06 December, 2013

Six Steps Towards Sustainable Peace in the Eastern DRC

by Hussein Solomon

The current rebellion in the eastern Democratic Republic is over. Rwandan supported M-23 rebels have been routed as a result of the combined and coordinated action of the special United Nations Intervention Brigade - consisting of South African, Tanzanian and Malawian forces – and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, better known by its French acronym – FARDC.

The UN-force together with those of FARDC demonstrated several truisms. First, in situations like the eastern DRC, robust peace enforcement is better than peacekeeping – pity that lesson was not learned previously as in Darfur. Second, the existing African Union peace and security structure is all but dead, despite the rhetoric. In reality – Islamists in Mali could only be ousted with robust French intervention; the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would cease to be functional without support from Washington and Brussels. The M-23 rebels would have continued to rape and pillage if the United Nations and Washington did not throw its weight being FARDC. In each of these cases, the much-vaunted regional security response mechanisms failed to materialize.

Civilians fleeing fighting, late 2012. Photo: Oxfam International.

From the perspective of sustainable peace, the military routing is, in the Galtung-ian sense, merely the creation of negative peace. For positive, and therefore, sustainable peace to arise much more needs to be done. Firstly, Congolese or Banyamulenge Tutsis from whom the M-23 rebels have sprung must be politically accommodated and socially integrated into the eastern DRC. Second, despite the tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali, a variety of confidence-building measures needs to occur on the common Congolese-Rwandan border. Ultimately, a regional security complex exists throughout the Great Lakes Region – where sources of national insecurity intrude into neighbouring states. Third, pressure needs to be placed on the Kinshasa government of Joseph Kabila to adhere to proper civil-military relations. It was, after all, not only M-23 rebels who were guilty of abusing hapless Congolese civilians but also FARDC troops who engaged in rape, theft and physical violence directed against the civilian population of the eastern DRC. Fourth, greater emphasis and more resources need to be placed on the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) of former combatants. It ought to be remembered that the M-23 movement was borne out of the failed reintegration of former rebels of the National Congress of the Defence of the People into the army. This emphasis on DDR programmes must not merely focus on greater resources but the effective monitoring of these resources on account of pervasive corruption. Demobilised soldiers were promised US $150 per month but this often would not reach them, prompting these to take up arms once more. Fifth, other international agencies like the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the private sector needs to get involved in the socio-economic development of the eastern DRC. This is, after all, a region rich with natural resources and abundant fertile land. These resources need to be developed rapidly if conflict is not to return. Sixth, the United Nations Intervention Brigade needs to continue the excellent work in the eastern DRC – focusing on neutralising the twenty remaining armed groups in this region.

It is only by adopting such a comprehensive approach that peace can be sustained in this turbulent region. Traumatised Congolese civilians residing here deserve peace. It is now time for Kinshasa, SADC, the AU and the broader international community to deliver.

26 November, 2013

Mozambique: Understanding the Clashes Between the Government and Renamo

by Constancio Nguja

Mozambican rebel group RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance), once backed by the white-minority governments of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and South Africa, fought a 17-year civil war against FRELIMO (the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique), until the signing of the Rome General Peace Accords in 1992. More than twenty years later, in October 2013, RENAMO has said that the peace agreement has ended, following an incident in which its base was attacked by government forces.

What is officially behind the disagreement?
Four presidential and legislative elections have been held in the country (in 1994, 1999, 2003 and 2009) since the end of the conflict and subsequent introduction of the 1990 multi-party constitution and market-based economy, and free elections. All of these elections were won by FRELIMO. Tensions have been rising between RENAMO and the FRELIMO government, with the former accusing the latter of not honoring the peace agreement they signed in 1992. RENAMO sees the existing electoral law as a vehicle for the government to rig elections and has demaned that it be abolished.

What is actually behind the disagreement?
Announcements of the discovery of large amounts of natural gas deposits, made by the government and international companies engaged in prospecting in the Cabo Delgado Province (bordering Tanzania) have been emerging since 2010. Estimates suggest reserves of natural gas in excess of over 100 trillion cubic feet. These announcements have given rise to many expectations, and it would appear that political parties are jostling to rule as this ‘gas fever’ takes hold, in what can be called the start of a ‘resource curse’ period. RENAMO may be feeling left out of this game of discovery, exploration and distribution of the gains from gas. Sadly, there are many examples of resource-rich countries in which resource wealth does not result in improved economic conditions or higher standards of living for the population as a whole.

Gas pipeline in Mozambique

What can be done to tackle the dispute?
The first positive thing is that both parts (RENAMO and the FRELIMO Government) have agreed that they do not want to fight a new civil war. That is a good starting point. The second thing to do is to ensure that both parties see each other as political adversaries, not enemies. The third thing to do is to clearly identify both the common and the divergent interests both hold. To overcome problems associated with the interests that are divergent, it would be wise to engage other actors such as the academia, civil society organizations, religious groups and the international group (if needed). The fourth step is to prioritize objectives for resolving the conflict. The fifth step to give is to settle a roadmap to transform objectives into policies. The sixth step is to identify a third party to monitor and assess the future implementing of the roadmap for conflict resolution. The seventh step would be beginning the implementation of the roadmap.

Last, but not least, it is important to consider the mindset in which these steps should take place. The stakeholders must take into account that they will not talk about problems, but solutions (problem solving approach). They must also be conscious of the people and lives that are at stake, putting these above self-interests. They must negotiate in good faith. It is also important that the parties recall the negative impacts of other examples of the resource curse, such as Nigeria, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The SADC region appears to be entering a phase of relative political stability – recent elections which somewhat stabilized Zimbabwe, hope that upcoming elections will stabilize Madagascar, and finally, the recent development in DRC. Let us hope that the parties in Mozambique keep up this momentum.

Constancio Nguja is Junior Researcher and Political Analyst at the Center for Mozambican and International Studies (CEMO).

19 November, 2013

Fear Is the Ultimate Refuge of the Scoundrel

by Hussein Solomon

The posters are up on lamp posts. The newspaper advertisements are published. Politicians across the political spectrum have rediscovered that citizens actually do exist and they are accountable to an increasingly sceptical public. Yes, the campaigns for the 2014 poll in South Africa have intensified.

The poll is expected to me the most fiercely contested election in the country’s twenty year democracy. Established political parties like the Democratic Alliance has already started making inroads in the ruling African National Congress’ (ANC) support base. Newer parties like Agang and the Economic Freedom Fighters, too, intend to make their presence felt in the political arena. What the different streams of the political opposition have in common is to point to the voters that despite constituting the government for the past two decades, the ruling ANC has scarcely been governing. Crime rates are stubbornly high, corruption is endemic, the ANC is increasingly becoming more authoritarian and the economy is a mess. On the latter point, consider this simple truism: the interest rate on the national debt is the fastest growing item in South Africa’s national budget!

Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo: GovernmentZA)

Feeling beleaguered and encumbered with a president who is a national and international embarrassment, the ruling party has turned to fear mongering. What else could explain ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s outburst at an electoral campaign stop that if the ANC is not voted back into power, the Boers (read: the Afrikaners and the former apartheid state) will return to power? Far from uniting this so-called `Rainbow Nation’, the ANC in desperation has turned to the politics of division. Far from providing leadership and providing their vision of a democratic and economically robust South Africa, the ANC has turned to the past – the struggle against apartheid as their beacon. Far from providing hope to impoverished South Africans, the ANC has turned to raising fears of the highly improbable return to the apartheid past.

Fear is surely the last refuge of a political party which has nothing left to offer the country and its citizens.

14 October, 2013

Armoured Vehicles for Sale

by Virgil Hawkins

The SACCPS was recently contacted (via Facebook message) by an armoured vehicle manufacturer. The corporation offered us (at “very competitive” prices) a large selection of armoured vehicles from which to choose, ranging from fortified sedans with bulletproof glass, to the more heavy-duty military and tactical vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers complete with turrets for machine guns and rocket launchers.

According to their message, the manufacturer has supplied thousands of such vehicles to governments and their armed forces, as well as to security consultants and contractors, among other entities. They offered to arrange a visit to their office and armouring facility to see first hand their product line, capabilities and services.

Some of the products on offer

We can only assume that this was a rather clumsy attempt at targeted advertising. The word 'Security' from the Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security (SACCPS) must have been picked up in their searches for potential clients – those who are involved in a direct way in the hands-on 'security' sector, the one that requires actual offensive and defensive capabilities.

Admittedly, the corporation was not offering to sell us guns or explosives, and the majority of the vehicles on offer could be considered to be primarily defensive in nature – their ability to resist small arms fire and explosions and move at speed away from dangerous situations being their greatest sales point. It should also be noted that such vehicles are also used by peacekeeping forces to deter and prevent violence and the threat thereof.

By the same token, one can easily imagine other, less positive, potential uses for their military and tactical vehicles – particularly those equipped with turrets to attach machine guns and rocket launchers. Such vehicles have, in many instances, served national security forces and private military companies, for example, in the violent suppression of peaceful protest, and other forms of human rights violations.

Unfortunately for the armoured vehicle manufacturer, we are in fact a network of researchers and practitioners collaborating, primarily through analysis and the use of the spoken and written word, to promote peace. As such, we will not be placing any orders for their products, or 'liking' them on Facebook. But being directly contacted by such a corporation was a reminder of just how close and active the arms industry is.

12 October, 2013

The SADC Holds a Peaceful Solution to the Malawi-Tanzania Boundary Dispute

by Ackson M. Kanduza

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has at least two approaches to re-enforce assertions of Malawi and Tanzania that there will be no war between them in resolving injustice of a boundary established by the Anglo-German Treaty of July 1890. The first of these approaches is that contained in a document from research of Professor Jon Martin Trondalen and SADC published in 2011. The document advocates promoting peace in the SADC region through cooperation in managing transboundary water resources. That model applies to management of other resources, besides water. It should be acknowledged that this is a contentious point in the light of the fact that the northern part of Lake Malawi is entirely in Malawi. This is despite Tanzania’s long history of rejecting this fact by sustaining the name Lake Nyasa. SADC began to develop the second approach in 1995, and became a formal policy for integration and building peace in 2006 and developing regional integration. This is the Corridor Development strategy. This approach facilitates cooperation among neighbouring states in developing and utilising resources along territorial boundaries. While Tanzania does not own any part of Lake Malawi according to the Anglo-Germany Treaty of 1890, Tanzania is a riparian state that deserves to benefit from the resources of Lake Malawi. Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, argued strongly at the end of August 2012 that on grounds and traditions of equity, Tanzanians living east of the shoreline boundary of the two countries deserved to benefit from resources and future developments on Lake Malawi. The livelihoods of Tanzanians along Lake Malawi are intricately connected to the Lake. In recognition of this, and with all what SADC and pan-Africanism have achieved in post-colonial Africa, the Malawian President, Joyce Banda, echoed the assertion of her Tanzanian counterpart that no single bullet would be fired in making peace and promoting equitable use of resources in the northern part of Lake Malawi. This seeming rapprochement would be easy to understand from a brief historical account of the sources of divergent and conflicting views on the boundary between Malawi and Tanzania.

Photo by Oil in Uganda

The boundary dispute between Malawi and Tanzania resurfaced in July 2012 after a lull since 1968. In October 1969 the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, settled the dispute in a reply to President Julius Nyerere. Using documented evidence from The British National Archives, Wilson informed Nyerere that the Anglo-Germany Treaty of 1st July 1890 determined the boundary between Germany East Africa (Tanzania since April 1964) and the British Central African Protectorate (Malawi since July 1964).The mandate given to Britain by the League of Nations following the defeat of Germany at the end of the First World War consolidated the legal boundary and pragmatic experiences because, as a single colonial power in Malawi and Tanzania, it was easy for Britain to administer the shoreline on the eastern side of Lake Malawi as the boundary. Yet, Britain blundered in 1953 when creating the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland by putting a boundary between the Nyasaland Protectorate and Tanganyika on the Lake Malawi Thlaweg as shown in the map above. The error was corrected in 1959; the eastern shoreline was affirmed again as the boundary between colonial Malawi and colonial Tanzania. The protocol establishing the Organisation for African Union (that became African Union in 2004) in May 1963, declared that boundaries African countries inherited at the end of colonial rule would be accepted and respected by all independent African countries. When Julius Nyerere understood and accepted these historical changes, he informed the Tanzanian Parliament that not a single drop of water in Lake Malawi (officially Lake Nyasa in Tanzania) belonged to Tanzania.

These historical developments constitute the basis of the assertion of President Kikwete that only consideration of equitable use of boundary resources gives Tanzania moral claims to resources in Lake Malawi. The justification through equity includes oil that is anticipated to be found by the British firm, Surestream. Kikwete was a voice of thousands, if not millions, of ordinary Tanzanians who have depended on Lake Malawi for a long time. Yet, Tanzania can neither defend the current socio-economic interests nor secure future ambitions of ordinary Tanzanians along the lake. What is required is good leadership in Malawi, Tanzania and beyond. SADC has an opportunity to show collective leadership through implementation of values of cooperation on transboundary resources. There is no doubt that private-public partnerships and key players such as China and the European Union will not miss opportunities of globalisation. SADC has the experience and means to build peace that will benefit ordinary Malawians and Tanzanians.

Ackson M. Kanduza is a professor at Zambian Open University, Lusaka, Zambia. Email makanduza@yahoo.com

09 October, 2013

South Africa and Global Terrorism

by Hussein Solomon

Whilst Kenya reels in the aftermath of the Al Shabab terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall which left almost 70 people there, thousands of miles away South Africa is in an introspective mood and well should it be. After all, one of the alleged masterminds of the Nairobi terror attack was British-born Samantha Lewthwaite who spent time in South Africa between 2008 and 2011.

Her fraudulently acquired South African passport was found in a raid on her residence in Mombasa, Kenya. She was dubbed as the “White Widow” by the local media since she is the widow of Jermaine Lindsay - one of the London 7 July 2005 bombers. It should be noted that Lewthwaite occupies a pivotal role within both Al Qaeda and Somalia’s Al Shabab terror groups. Whilst South African authorities focused much of their attention on Lewthwaite herself, more disturbing according to British media reports is that whilst she lived in Johannesburg, she set up a terror network which spanned the United Kingdom, South Africa and Pakistan. Far from merely focusing on the individual who has since left the country, South Africa’s security forces should be spending more time on the network itself. Is it operational? Who are its members? What are its targets? What kind of training are members of the network exposed to? How are they funded?

Also of concern is the complete lack of focus on the part of the South African Department of Home Affairs. Statements issued from the Department state that with South Africa’s new identity card system, it is much harder to forge South African identity documents. This, I believe, misses the point. Her South African identity document and passport were not forgeries but legitimate documents fraudulently acquired. As long as corruption exists within the department, irrespective of the number of security features on the new identity card system, a loophole exists for undesirables to obtain such documents.

Neither is this an isolated case. In October 1999, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, part of the Al Qaeda cell that attacked the US embassies in East Africa was arrested in Cape Town. Like Lewthwaite he lived in South Africa undetected until his presence was picked up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since at least the 1990s various undesirables from Hamas and Hezbollah to the Taliban have made South Africa their home.

Such a situation is intolerable in the fight against global terrorism. Whilst on South African soil many of these solicit funds and plan their attacks against foreign targets. If South Africa is to be perceived as a credible partner against the scourge of terrorism, it will need to do more to keep these undesirables from securing refuge from international justice in this country.

05 October, 2013

SOS : Ré-ré-réintégration des rebelles en RDC

by Philippe Tunamsifu Shirambere

L’intégration des rebelles est un processus qui permet d’incorporer les rebelles au sein des forces gouvernementales comme la résultante d’un accord de paix entre les belligérants. Toutefois, parler de « ré-ré-réintégration » paraît être un concept étrange, mais si vous ne l’avez pas encore trouvé, prière m’en accorder la paternité.

En effet, la ré-ré-réintégration est un processus qui permet d’intégrer, de réintégrer, de ré-réintégrer et de ré-ré-réintégrer les combattants des groupes armés au sein des forces gouvernementales à la suite d’une succession des rebellions. Ce processus est la résultante des accords de paix qui n’ont pas été soit appliqués de bonne foi, soit appliqués en partie, soit appliqués mais que suite à un agenda caché, certains signataires ont décidé de reprendre les armes pour se rebeller contre le régime dont ils étaient membres.

Photo: ENOUGH Project
Depuis la vague de mouvements rebelles en 1996, la ré-ré-réintégration est une réalité effective en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) où les rebelles, soit anciens militaires ou nouvelles recrues, ont été intégrés au sein des Forces Armées de la RDC (FADRC) quatre fois. De ce fait, il n’est pas étonnant de constater que certains combattants ont été intégrés pour la première fois immédiatement après la chute du régime du Président Mobutu et l’avènement au pouvoir du Président autoproclamé Laurent Désiré Kabila en Mai 1997 ; en 2003 à la suite de l’Accord Global et inclusif pour la transition en RDC ; en 2009 à la suite l’Acte d’Engagement et de l’Accord de Goma.

Au moment où nous présentons cette réflexion, des pourparlers ont lieu à Kampala/Ouganda entre la délégation du gouvernement de la RDC et celle du groupe rebelle du Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23), sous la médiation ougandaise. Il sied de préciser que les combattants du M23 sont en majorité constitués d’anciens rebelles qui ont été intégrés d’abord en 1997 ; certains avaient repris les armes en août 1998, et d’autres en 1999. A la suite de l’Accord Global et inclusif, les forces combattantes du RCD, du MLC, du RCD/ML, du RCD/N, et des Mai-Mai avaient été réintégrés au sein des FARDC en 2003. En 2004, les anciens combattants du RDC qui avaient été intégrés en 1997 et réintégrés en 2003 s’étaient rebellés en formant le CNDP. L’Accord de Goma du 23 Mars 2009 permit leur ré-réintégration au sein des FARDC. En avril 2012, une mutinerie avait été lancée à l’Est de la RDC par une bonne partie d’ex-CNDP suite à la tentative d’arrêter le Général Bosco Ntaganda qui faisait l’objet d’un mandat d’arrêt international délivré par la CPI.

A ce stade, il est certain qu’un accord sera conclu entre le Gouvernement de la RDC et le M23. Logiquement, une disposition permettra aux rebelles du M23, dont certains avaient été ré-réintégrés au sein des FARDC, soient une fois de plus ré-ré-réintégrés. La question dont le régime actuel se préoccupe le moins est l’intégration des ex-FAZ qui avaient fui le pays après la chute de Mobutu en 1997.

De ces différentes intégrations au sein des FARDC, il est à noter qu’avant la signature des accords, les groupes rebelles procèdent à la nomination de leurs combattants aux grades supérieurs comme gratification de leur participation à la lutte que le Gouvernement congolais n’avait d’autre choix que de reconnaître. En plus, l’intégration des anciens combattants du RCD et du CNDP avaient été accompagnée des fonds d’installations qui leur permettaient d’avoir un logement décent et même avec des moyens de transport. Ce qui parait étrange, est que l’intégration est devenue un moyen facile de naturalisation aucune sans formalité.

Le SOS que nous lançons, fait un état des lieux des différentes intégrations et le risque qui pourrait surgir à la suite de la ré-ré-réintégration des combattants du M23 aux modèles des précédentes pratiques.

D’abord, les militaires congolais restés fidèles au sein des FARDC s’insurgent contre ceux qui argumentent qu’ils ont été incapables de faire échec aux groupes rebelles oubliant qu’ils obéissaient aux ordres de la hiérarchie militaire en RDC les instruisant de faire des replis stratégiques alors qu’ils souhaitaient neutraliser les groupes rebelles.
Ensuite, les différentes intégrations créaient des frustrations que les militaires congolais ne savaient pas exprimer. En guise d’exemple, ces intégrations ont connu certaines inégalités en ce sens que non seulement la rébellion permet aux rebelles d’accéder aux grades supérieurs sans aucune formalité mais aussi à un statut social de loin différent à celui des militaires congolais resté fidèles au sein des FARDC.

Les veuves des militaires des FARDC tombés sur les champs de bataille, les militaires blessés, les infirmes ne reçoivent pas un traitement approprié proportionnel à leur sacrifice suprême pour la défense de la patrie. En conséquence, les veuves et orphelins des militaires, les militaires blessés et les infirmes sont devenus de mendiants alors que les auteurs des actes de leurs souffrances ont été élevés aux grades supérieurs et occupent des postes importants dans les institutions publiques et dans les services de sécurité. Ceci devrait interpeller le Gouvernement congolais qui a initié un programme de recrutement au sein des FARDC qui n’a pas répondu aux attentes souhaitées.
Enfin, aux regards de ces frustrations, les militaires congolais restés fidèles au sein des FARDC qui ont vu leurs compagnons d’armes mourir sur les champs de bataille risqueront de dire NON, car réintégration des rebelles sur réintégration ne vaut. En toute conséquence, si des mesures appropriées ne sont pas prises, une mutinerie générale pourrait se déclencher de nulle part en signe de mécontentement dont les effets ne seront pas redressés.

Georges Orwell disait que « Celui qui maîtrise le passé maîtrise le futur. Celui qui maîtrise le présent maîtrise le passé ».

15 September, 2013

'Comrade' Khama Endorses Comrade Mugabe: Solidarity Triumphs over Reason

by George A. Mhango

The recent endorsement of ZANU-PF victory by Botswana’s Ian Khama during the 33rd SADC heads of state and government summit last month is enough food for thought for analysts of southern African political and security governance. To put this discussion in perspective, it is also important to point out that the context within which Botswana was hoodwinked to finally make this decision has already become subject of debate amongst many analysts. But suffice to say that the decision alone is landmark and has both regional and extra-regional implications. At least for me it means two things.

President Ian Khama speaks (Photo: GovernmentZA)

First is that SADC has successfully managed to corner the only outspoken and non-conformist member state, bringing back the prodigal son to the fold. This should be good news for the elder statesman, Robert Mugabe, who is also ‘Chairperson apparent’ of SADC, now that the ‘menacing boy’ has successfully been silenced and can join the sing-along of the sub-regional body’s old fables crafted in solidarity politics of the liberation rhetoric. I can imagine SADC leaders finally sighing a great relief ‘…at last we have him among us…’

But the second (and most worrying for me) is that we have lost an important voice in the region with regard to upholding of democratic morals. It goes without saying that for almost a decade, Botswana has been characterized by a strong culture of confronting undemocratic, platitudinous and rhetorical stances taken by SADC. This stance was undoubtedly healthy and it was important that the sub-region needed to move forward on the basis of principle and not personality or comradeship.

There is enough reason to worry about the future of a SADC without a voice of reason – a critical mind that gives the comrades food for thought on crucial matters touching the sub-regions development. I am not convinced that the region will be able to move along the path of democratic integrity without a ‘sanitizer within’. And given this path-breaking stance, it becomes difficult to take Botswana with the seriousness that we have always accorded it. Nevertheless, these are the dynamics of our regional politics. Maybe this is the right place to say that solidarity politics is turning out to be an important framework for analyzing sub-regional politics in southern Africa. Granted that comradeship is resurfacing, but I am not sure for how long this will be the case. Otherwise, my conviction is that meaningful democratic breakthrough in the region hinges on the assuagement of these liberation ideological imperatives which are a threat to the voices of our remnant democrats.

14 September, 2013

SACCPS Seminar on Peacebuilding (Lusaka, Zambia)

From 20 to 22 September, 2013, the Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security (SACCPS) will hold its third international seminar, this year on the subject of peacebuilding in the southern African region.

The seminar will welcome speakers from throughout and beyond the region, as well as practitioners and diplomats based in Zambia. The seminar will aim to both further conceptualize the issue of peacebuilding, and examine how it is being applied in the context of the southern African region. Presentations will include case studies, such as situations in Angola, the DRC and Zimbabwe, as well as thematic issues, such as the role of women in peacebuilding, transitional justice, and democratization.

The program for the seminar (which will be held at the Chrismar Hotel in Lusaka), can be found here.

The seminar hopes to build on the success of the 2012 SACCPS seminar, held on the subject of peacekeeping and peace enforcement in southern Africa. Work presented at the seminar will be reflected on this blog, on the SACCPS website, and eventually in the journal, Southern African Peace and Security Studies.

For further information on attending the conference, please contact info@saccps.org.

05 September, 2013

Who is Isabel dos Santos?

by Rui Faro Saraiva

In a recent controversial article by Forbes magazine, Isabel dos Santos, businesswoman and daughter of the Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, was described as a billionaire who may have abused her public powers for her own illicit enrichment.

“For the past year FORBES has been tracing Isabel dos Santos' path to riches, reviewing a score of documents and speaking with dozens of people on the ground. As best as we can trace, every major Angolan investment held by Dos Santos stems either from taking a chunk of a company that wants to do business in the country or from a stroke of the president’s pen that cut her into the action. Her story is a rare window into the same, tragic kleptocratic narrative that grips resource-rich countries around the world.”

Isabel dos Santos, promptly denied Forbes’ allegations of unlawful enrichment and accused one of the co-authors of the article, Rafael Marques, of political activism. He is a renowned human rights activist and also the head of the Angolan anti-corruption NGO, MAKA Angola.

Additionally, some other important African personalities came to Dos Santos' defense. Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, said, “Isabel is an example for all African women, and not only that, she is an example for all Africans”. This statement was delivered at the meeting of the 'BRICS Business Council' held in Johannesburg 19-20 August, gathering businessmen and investors from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, where measures and specific initiatives to boost ties, negotiation, trade, industrialization and investment among BRICS countries and Africa were discussed. Isabel dos Santos was present in the BRICS Business Council as a representative of Unitel, the Angolan mobile phone Company, and Banco BIC, Angola’s biggest private bank.

Isabel dos Santos also seems to be a key figure in the relations between China and Angola. She was recently interviewed by the China Daily, where she underlined that the industrial Chinese investors that want to create new factories and mines in Angola are the key players in the next developments of the deep relations between the two countries. Indeed, if we compare with the 1980’s, the current commercial trade between China and Angola is one thousand times bigger, as noted by Gao Kexiang, the Chinese ambassador in Luanda.

Isabel dos Santos may be Africa’s richest woman and one of the most important key players in the intricate Angolan power web. “Who is Isabel dos Santos?” seems to be a question with an easy answer. But the Forbes magazine may be triggering different questions.

Angola seems destined to be one of the most relevant and influential actors in Africa, particularly in the Southern African region. However, its political stability, economic growth and social development may face considerable challenges as a result of widespread corruption and embezzlement. Additionally, José Eduardo dos Santos, remains the planet’s third-longest-serving non-royal head of state, while “70% of Angolans live on less than $2 a day, and 10% of the country’s population is scrambling for food due to drought and bureaucratic neglect”.

So where’s the money going? This seems the most crucial question and its answer may have wide political, economic and social implications in Angola.

29 August, 2013

Dangerous Heaven: Do Refugees Have a Future in SA?

by Hitomi Kosaka

“Do white people have a future in South Africa?” Such was the question posed by John Simpson in a BBC News article on May 29, 2013. However, the question is not necessarily one that can be posed only to white South Africans.

As a foreigner myself, I have been conducting interviews in South Africa with those of foreign origins who have been affected by xenophobic attacks for a project on xenophobia led by Prof. Hussein Solomon of the University of the Free State. The interviews made me face the quagmire that refugees are placed in.

“If I had the money, I would go back to Somalia today”. These were the words of a Somali refugee in his 50s, looking me straight in the eyes. He was first attacked on his way home in 2008. He was injured so badly that he was in a comma for a few days. He was attacked again in 2012. Those attacks caused his current health issues which made him decide to go back to Somalia, despite the conflict, instability and uncertainty back there.

The majority of the informants keep, or used to keep, shops that are made of shipping containers. They usually sell items at a cheaper price than other local shops, and they also live in the containers.

Another Somali refugee in his 30s told me that several people set his shop on fire. Once he and his friend came out of the shop, people broke in and looted everything.

Whether or not those attacks are “xenophobic” or more of an issue of theft or other unrelated crime, it is clear that some refugees are facing difficult situations, or even death, on a daily basis, even though they fled their countries of origin seeking a life in a safer environment.

There is clearly much room for improvement in South Africa’s refugee reception, not only in terms of mere physical reception but also actual integration. Right now, there is no integration program in South Africa like those conducted by other major refugee-receiving countries. Even the tracking of refugees is not sufficient. One of the informants who works for the municipality in Bloemfontein told me that once refugees arrive at the international airports, they are basically free to go anywhere they want, whereas in Australia, for instance, refugees participate in an integration program where they learn about life and rules in Australia in order for them to become not only economically independently but also to be able to adapt to the host society.

Another issue is that there is no institution or organization which is dealing with the issues they have face since the attacks.

An Ethiopian informant in Paarl tried calling the Human Rights Council. “I called them on Friday, they told me to call on Monday. I called them on Monday, but they said they were busy so call on Wednesday”. He told me that he lost his shop in Johannesburg after it was looted.

A Congolese informant, who seemed to be well integrated in the community, said the issues in the community must be solved within the community, by drawing from a French proverb “Il faut laver son linge sale en famille” (Don't wash your dirty linen in public).

However, a few Somali shop keepers in Paarl told me that they went to the local committee within the township and asked them for help after the major xenophobic attacks in May 2008. According to them, the committee, which is made up of leaders from the community, asked them pay the committee so that it could stop the xenophobic attacks. One of the informants paid 100R/shop. One week after, however, the committee asked them to pay again to keep the situation in control.

Besides this, the lack of understanding of the concept of refugees is another major issue.

“They come illegally and run illegal business”. This sentiment was expressed very emotionally by a local business man of Indian decent. He said his grandfather had come to South Africa as a legal immigrant, with emphasis on legal, although South Africa is in fact legally bound by the Refugee Convention to protect refugees.

The issue of xenophobia is very complex. Yet, it is clear that refugees saw no future in South Africa.

“I don’t want to stay here, but what can I do?” On our way back from the township, one Somali informant who accompanied me told me that UNHCR had already sent some refugee families to other countries. He asked me about Japan. I gave him the most positive answer that I have even given anyone regarding Japan’s reception of refugees: “It’s tough, but you probably wouldn’t get shot or die from an intentional fire”.

The other Somali informant, whose brother was shot and died in a shop, was sitting right next to me in the car, looking out the window in silence.

26 August, 2013

Malawi Congress Party’s Resurrection? Exit John Tembo (Spent Force), Enter Dr. Lazarus Chakwera (Voice of Reason)

by Harvey C.C. Banda

The election of Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President during the party’s convention held on Saturday, 10th August 2013 in the Capital City, Lilongwe, is good news for the party ahead of the tripartite elections scheduled for May 2014. Dr. Chakwera replaced long-time President, John Zenus Ungapake Tembo. The latter was, so to speak, a spent force in as far as party leadership is concerned, having failed to lead the party to victory during the 2004 and 2009 general elections. Chakwera out-smarted the other ten presidential candidates in a strongly-contested election. This article looks at MCP’s potential in the coming elections with the injection of Dr. Chakwera, who is politically-inexperienced, but a force to reckon with as far as leadership skills are concerned. It is worth noting that Rev. Dr. Chakwera is the former President of the Assemblies of God in Malawi. The article argues that the election of Chakwera marks the political resurrection of MCP having been politically dead for almost two decades. MCP has been in opposition since 1994.

Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera (Photo: Maravi Post)

John Tembo was at the helm of the party for more than a decade largely through political maneuvering and not that he is a people’s favourite. In fact, within the party, there has been a lot of resistance against his leadership. Since 2009 or so, MCP Members of Parliament (MPs) have been calling for the ‘new blood’ (younger generation of politicians) to take over party leadership, with a view to taking the party to victory during the general elections. He has for a long time rejected such calls, claiming that those agitating for such change should ‘wait for their turn’. As a result of such dictatorial tendencies, MCP experienced a lot of defections of its members to other political parties, namely the United Democratic Front (UDF) then under former President Bakili Muluzi and currently led by his son, Atupele Muluzi, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The latter was formed in 2005 and led till 2012 by former President Bingu Wa Mutharika.

Consequently, the party which was mighty and formidable at the beginning of multi-party politics in 1994 was, actually, torn asunder because of these defections. It became practically dead, a perpetual opposition party, with little hope of ever taking over the government once again. Yet this is the party with the most structures in every corner of Malawi, including on the Likoma and Chizumulu Islands, compared to other shallow-rooted political parties. It is also a party solidly built on the popular four cornerstones, as espoused by its founder, late Dr. Kamuzu Banda: unity, loyalty, obedience, and discipline. Dr. Chakwera joins such a party at an opportune time with only eight months before the elections. The campaign period has not yet officially begun. In fact, one could argue that it would have been healthier if the convention were held some time back.

In his acceptance speech, Chakwera started with a prayer: “let us pray by singing the Malawi National Anthem as you know it is, in fact, a prayer”, exposing the reverend in him in the process. He showed that he is a visionary and practically-oriented leader, something which MCP has lacked during John Tembo’s reign. He kept on referring to the sound policies, for example, on agriculture, left behind by Dr. Banda – a sure foundation on which not only the MCP, but also the Government of Malawi must build.

It would be proper for one to argue that MCP’s leadership transformation will send shivers to the other political parties in Malawi, especially those that are seemingly not well rooted in as far as leadership is concerned. In such parties, the leadership has merely been imposed by its founders. Examples here are the UDF led by Atupele Muluzi, son of Bakili Muluzi, its founder, and the DPP led by Peter Mutharika, younger brother of late President Bingu Wa Mutharika.

In my view, Chakwera’s election to the highest position in the MCP should be food for thought for MCP itself and other political parties in Malawi. They need to realize that in a democratic dispensation, all you can do is to attempt to resist change, but when time is ripe you cannot prevent change from taking its course! John Tembo went to this convention with the intention to run for the third time. Delegates had to make a bold decision: “the constitution of the party (MCP) must be respected; no third term!” they agreed. As a result, his name was dropped right there, before elections began leaving eleven other contestants to battle it out. I personally find this embarrassing. I do not know about others.

John Tembo’s tragedy could have been avoided if we are to learn from history. During ancient Greece, Peisistratus met the people’s wrath and resistance despite himself being a benevolent tyrant: People preferred democracy over tyranny. If this lesson is too remote from the present, why couldn’t John Tembo learn from former President Bakili Muluzi’s foiled third term bid in Malawi in 2003?

21 August, 2013

Implications of Zimbabwe's Flawed Elections

by Leon Hartwell

As a South African I am troubled by President Jacob Zuma’s appeal to Zimbabweans to “accept the outcome of the elections”. Why should our northern brothers and sisters accept elections that were not credible? Zuma’s statement is misleading as the real “outcome” of the elections is not the results. Rather it is the betrayal of an ideal for which our liberation heroes in the region fought. Zuma’s initial endorsement of the process disregards the long-term damage that this election will do to an important neighbour who has not yet successfully transitioned from independence to freedom.

Presidents Zuma and Mugabe in Harare (Photo: Government ZA)

President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF lay claim to the title of Zimbabwe’s “liberators” yet they continue to purposely confuse independence with freedom. Independence is simply self-rule; freedom is when a person’s liberty is promoted and protected by adherence to a host of rights. One of those fundamental rights is the right to vote under free and fair conditions.

Madiba linked his freedom to the idea of democracy. During the Rivonia Trial in 1964, Madiba stated, "I have fought against White domination, and I have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Government exists not simply to rule, but to promote and provide a better life for its citizens. Consequently, the right to vote is essential as it acts as a cyclical safeguard to remove a government that fails to perform.

This year, Zimbabweans were once again deprived of truly exercising their right to vote under free and fair conditions. To be clear, the issue is not that ZANU-PF emerged as the winner of the elections. Rather, the electoral process leading up to ZANU-PF’s victory has not been credible, which will have implications for Zimbabwe. What makes matters worse is that the past three years - both politically and economically – have been some of the best years Zimbabwe has had in almost a decade and a half. A lot of the progress that was made could easily be reversed.

The Global Political Agreement (GPA), which came into being after Zimbabwe’s violent elections in 2008, gave birth to the Government of National Unity (GNU). The GPA was intended to "create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe situation." In essence, it aimed to create a situation of sustainable peace and promote reforms in a host of areas that would make the government of Zimbabwe more accountable and democratic.

The GPA also forced political parties into a series of engagement and negotiation processes which helped to build trust. After several failed attempts by political parties since 1999 to change the highest law of the land, the GNU wrote and enacted a new Constitution earlier this year. Before the elections, actors across the political divide described the process leading up to the creation of the new Constitution as a form of “national healing”. Whether the same sentiments now prevail is doubtful.

The new Constitution could also easily be amended given ZANU-PF’s two-thirds majority in Parliament and the party’s history of tampering with the highest law of the land. Since 1987, ZANU-PF amended the Lancaster House Constitution, each time making it less democratic and accountable. In 1996, ZANU-PF changed the first section of the Bill of Rights to a preamble, thereby diluting fundamental rights. Within hours of the elections, in his capacity as Minister of Justice and ZANU-PF’s Deputy Secretary of Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa reportedly told the media that “the new Constitution may need cleaning up”. It is thus not unforeseeable that the Constitution will be amended.

Even if the Constitution remains unchanged for the time being, there is a risk that important aspects of it will not be implemented. The new Constitution was negotiated with the intent that certain reforms have to be undertaken, thereby changing the relationship between the state and her citizens. More than 90 percent of Zimbabweans, who voted in the Referendum in March 2013, endorsed the Constitution, which means the government has a duty to implement and respect it. Key institutions – like the media, the security sector, and the judiciary – were misused in the run up to the elections. Consequently, how likely is it that the reforms related to these institutions will be implemented? Why would the rule of law and the new Constitution be observed on a daily basis if so many laws were broken in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the elections?

Economic implications of the flawed election could also be severe, and in the worst case scenario, have a negative impact on the political situation. The importance of the GNU was that it helped to stimulate Zimbabwe’s economy. After years of economic depression and inflation of 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion (i.e. 65 followed by 107 zeros) percent by December 2008, the Zimbabwean economy grew by more than 9% per annum in 2010 to 2011 before it slowed down to 5% in 2012.

Zimbabwe experienced economic growth, not only due to dollarization of the economy, but also because businesses had more confidence to invest in a country which they thought was moving in the right direction. Both local and foreign businesses will be particularly wary to invest in the Zimbabwean economy because the political and economic environment for the time being remains unpredictable.

During the peak of the crisis years (1998 to 2008), Zimbabweans preferred to acquire foreign assets and keep their money in foreign bank accounts because controversial money printing caused the Zimbabwean dollar to collapse overnight; people feared expropriation and did not have confidence that the economy will bounce back. A 2008 study by Léonce Ndikumana and James Boyce found that Zimbabwe’s external assets were 5.1 times higher than the country’s entire debt stocks, demonstrating a huge lack of trust in the Zimbabwean economy. Today, Zimbabweans remain wary of ZANU-PF’s policy as set out in its 2013 election manifesto to re-introduce the Zimbabwean dollar. Furthermore, according to ZANU-PF’s election manifesto, there could be major problems for the 1,138 “foreign-owned companies” that have been targeted for indigenization.

Zimbabwe’s external debt, which is said to be $10,7 billion, is unsustainable and requires careful management as well as possible debt forgiveness. It will be interesting to see how creditors will react to Zimbabwe’s flawed electoral process. If Zimbabwe is unable to deal with the debt situation and fails to channel more money (including diamond revenue) into the country’s treasury, then attempts to get lines of credit from non-transparent sources could increase, leaving the country in a more vulnerable position.

Zuma’s statement urging Zimbabweans to simply accept the results of the elections pays little attention to the seriousness of the situation at hand. Many Zimbabweans feel cheated because the credibility of the process that produced ZANU-PF’s victory was deeply flawed, thereby also betraying the essence of democracy. The implication is the return and increase of mistrust and suspicion, and possibly also the reversal of many political and economic achievements by the GNU. For the time being, the country’s transition from independence to freedom remains unresolved.

*Leon Hartwell is an independent political analyst

Zimbabwe's Election Was Not Credible

by Leon Hartwell

Shortly after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced the disputed election results, President Jacob Zuma was quick off the mark to applaud President Robert Mugabe and endorse the elections. He sent his “profound congratulations to His Excellency President Robert G Mugabe on his re-election as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe following the successful harmonised elections held on 31 July 2013.” He further urged “all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people.”

A peaceful election day by itself is not enough to declare it free and fair. One of the basic premises of assessing the credibility of an election is look at the electoral process as a whole. There were many irregularities with Zimbabwe’s electoral process.

To put things into perspective, during South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, under the leadership of Madiba, the ANC garnered only 62% of the vote compared to ZANU-PF's supposed 68% win in Parliament during Zimbabwe’s latest election.

The period leading up to Zimbabwe’s elections already paved the way for a dubious process. In October 2012, Mugabe assigned nine important Acts under the office of the President. These Acts include the Commission of Inquiry Act, Emergency Powers Act, Interception of Communication Act, Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, and the Zimbabwe National Security Council Act. Mugabe’s excuse was that “those functions have not been assigned to some other minister”, yet each act allowed Mugabe to gradually usurp more power and exploit it to ZANU-PF’s advantage.

Mugabe - Flickr - Al Jazeera English
Still in power: President Robert Mugabe

On the 13th of June 2013, Mugabe used his Presidential powers (thereby bypassing Parliament) to amend the Electoral Act and unilaterally set the election date for six weeks later. This is despite the fact that many outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) were unfulfilled. Although it was unrealistic that the entire GPA would be implemented, the purpose of the agreement was to promote sustainable peace and development. Thus, it required that some of the most important issues agreed upon by the Government of National Unity (GNU) be dealt with before Zimbabwe headed for another election.

Zimbabwe had a special vote on the 14th and 15th of July intended for civil servants and the security sector. Due to major delays and irregularities on the special voting day, some observer missions and civil society organisations described it as “chaotic”. Even before the process commenced there was a lack of transparency about the process. ZEC announced that 87,000 applicants were approved to participate in the process. The full list of those approved for the process was not made public, which rightfully provoked suspicion among civil society and some political parties that some of the special voters were not eligible to vote. On the eve of the actual election, it was also unclear how to remove names of special voters from the voters’ roll to avoid double voting.

Before the harmonized elections, several potential voters in urban areas complained that they struggled to register as voters. This is significant given that the MDC-T appeals to urban voters. Some Zimbabweans that have voted in previous elections also claim that they were surprised to find out that they have been de-registered to vote without their knowledge.

Once the proclamation was made on the election date, the state-owned media went into full throttle in rolling out overwhelmingly pro-ZANU-PF and anti-MDC propaganda. State media provided ZANU-PF with mostly positive coverage and whenever any of the MDC formations were mentioned it was generally in a negative context. Compared to any other party, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF received the bulk of coverage on press briefings and campaign rallies. According to the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, most hate speech throughout the election period in Zimbabwe can be attributed to the state-owned media, and it is often attributed to ZANU-PF members, including the President.

Vote-buying by ZANU-PF also became rife in the run-up to the elections. For example, almost two weeks before the elections, Grace Mugabe, the First Lady, allegedly handed out 22 tons of foodstuff in Mashonaland Central. In a country where, according to the Zimbabwe Statistical Office, an average person lives on $1.16 per day, the politics of the belly remains a potent tool to influence the vote.

During the period leading up to the elections ZEC outsourced the registration of voters, as well as updating, inspection and custody of the voters’ roll to Registrar General (RG). Voter registration, as argued, has been flawed but it is worth mentioning that the RG’s office has numerous court orders against him that relates to the failure to perform this function and allow for inspection of the voters’ roll. Furthermore, the final voters’ roll was not made public in advance of the elections. This is despite the fact that it should be provided to the public in electronic or hard copy within a reasonable time. Currently, the MDC-T is reportedly claiming that there are 870,000 duplicate names on the voters roll, representing almost one sixth of the total voters on the voters’ roll.

On polling day there were reports that youths, some of whom seemingly did not look 18 (the official voting age), were bussed into MDC-T strongholds where they presented fake voter registration certificates enabling them to vote. One such youth group was caught on film in Harare – they presumably travelled from the Honde Valley which is located at the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, situated approximately 300 kilometres from the capital.

Several polling stations were set up at the last minute and their locations were not published in advance. As a result, party agents and election observers could not be deployed in time to properly monitor the electoral process. These polling stations were often in tents with no electricity, making it impossible to count votes under decent light.

According to ZEC own statistics, 3,480,047 Zimbabweans cast their votes during the harmonized elections. Almost 305,000 voters were turned away (mostly in areas considered to be MDC-T strongholds) and, despite the country’s high literacy rates, another 206,000 received “assistance” from election officials. This is serious as it represents more than 15% of votes cast.

There were also reports of stuffed ballot boxes, the extent of which remains ambiguous. ZEC nonetheless announced some results, which were very suspicious. In the 1980s, during Gukurahundi, almost 20,000 Ndebele were massacred by Mugabe in Matebeleland. Yet, according to ZEC, voters in Matebeleland overwhelmingly voted for Mugabe and ZANU-PF, which would be the equivalent of Apartheid victims voting for Hendrik Verwoerd and the National Party.

Another important questionable aspect of the elections is to the credibility of the judicial system, especially those that will be used for disputing the process if need be. The Constitutional Court and the Electoral Court dealt with most cases related to the elections. The former consists of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and seven judges from the Supreme Court, while the latter is composed of the Chief Justice and several judges from the High Court.

Mugabe unilaterally appointed numerous judges shortly before the election in anticipation that some electoral issues will be legally challenged. He made all the appointments without consulting his then partners in the GNU and the Judicial Service Committee. For example, almost before the ink was dry after signing the new Constitution at the end of May 2013, Mugabe appointed two Supreme Court judges (and by implication judges serving on the Constitutional Court). Again on the 14th of July, two weeks before the actual election, Mugabe appointed six new High Court judges while one judge was elevated to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. Given the circumstances in which these courts were stacked in favour of ZANU-PF, one cannot expect them to deliver a fair judgement.

As argued, the electoral process as whole remains deeply flawed. Many of the above issues are in conflict with SADC’s own guidelines on elections. Zuma’s rush to wish Mugabe “profound congratulations” is thus hard to come to terms with.

*Leon Hartwell is an independent political analyst

18 August, 2013

The Failing African State in Context

by Hussein Solomon

In recent years, far from seeing viewed as the “hopeless continent”, Africa is being characterized as “hopeful” by publications such as The Economist. There seems to be some empirical evidence to support such an optimistic view. After all, half a dozen African economies have been growing at more than 6 percent per year for the past six years and two out of every three African countries hold elections. However such optimism is seriously misplaced. Whilst economic growth is taking place, such growth is occurring from a low base – reflected in the fact that Africa accounts for a dismal 2.5 percent of world output at purchasing power-parity despite accounting for a sixth of the world’s population. Moreover such economic growth is hardly sustainable given the income disparities on the continent – a sure recipe for further socio-political unrest. Consider here the following statistics from the African Development Bank:
- 60 percent of Africans are engaged in low-paid, unpredictable and informal jobs
- Half of Africa’s population of one billion subsists on less than US 1.25 – the international poverty threshold
- Only half of Africa’s youth is economically active

Afro-optimism in the air

On the political front, whilst more elections have been taking place on the continent, these have not necessarily led to liberal democracy. This is reflected in the fact that only 11 African countries have been classified as “Free” by Freedom House, whilst 23 have been classified as “Partly Free” and 22 “Not Free”. In attempting to explain the discrepancy between holding elections whilst perpetuating authoritarian rule, Fareed Zakaria coined the phrase “illiberal democracy”. He defined this as “... the troubling phenomenon of elected governments systematically abusing individual rights and depriving people of liberty”. This has been aptly demonstrated in Zimbabwe’s recent fraudulent elections which saw the ruling party extend its hold on power.

This volatile mix of economic disparities and the democratic deficit has provided the ideal recipe for sustained conflict within African polities laying the seeds of state failure or state collapse. Indeed, in the latest Failed State Index, the top five positions are all occupied by African states: Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Chad. Moreover, no fewer than 32 African states are represented in the top fifty of the Failed State Index. Worryingly, these include Africa’s biggest and most influential states such as Nigeria at number 16, Kenya at number 17, Ethiopia at 19 and Egypt at 34.

The African State has lurched from crisis to crisis since achieving independence. Post-colonial Africa has experienced 85 coups d’état and this figure passes 100 if one takes into consideration the various bloody failed attempts at regime change by the men in military. Since 1945 there have been 95 conflicts on the continent with over 45 being civil wars. To compound matters further, Africa has hosted some of the longest running conflicts in recent times. Consider here the fratricidal conflicts in Chad and Sudan lasting four decades and more or the almost three-decade long civil war in Angola. Of course, certain regions seem to be more conflict-prone than others. The sixteen West African states, for instance, have experienced 82 forms of political conflict including 44 military coups. (See this article by Ademola Araoye)

These critical reflections on the character of the African state is crucial in understanding the situation in the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s recent stolen elections (once again) with the both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) accepting the fraudulent capture of power once again by ZANU-PF. Both these structures are state-based and the dynamics at the state-level impact on the sub-regional and regional levels. How can President Eduardo dos Santos in Angola possibly criticize Robert Mugabe refusing to relinquish his hold on the reins of power when Dos Santos himself has been in power longer than that of Mugabe? How can President Jacob Zuma not congratulate Mugabe given South Africa’s own growing democratic deficit?

16 August, 2013

Of Malawi's Presidency Meddling with Traditional Authority Structures: Past, Present and Future

by Harvey C.C. Banda

In Malawi it is a norm for the seating president to be seen meddling with traditional authority structures, especially in the run-up to the general elections. The presidents usually install or promote traditional leaders in the name of appreciating the latter’s support towards development initiatives by the government of the day. In actual sense, these presidents engage in such a (mal) practice as a campaign gimmick with a view to garnering support from the constituents. This has actually been the trend since the introduction of democratic governance (multi-party politics) in Malawi in 1994. This article succinctly argues that the continuation of such a practice despite heightened criticism from the opposition parties, the civil society, and the general public, is a manifestation that ruling parties generally lack development issues with which to engage the populace during political campaign rallies.

Looking at the mess created so far, it is practically difficult to tell which traditional ruler is senior over the other since in some cases very junior ‘chiefs’ have wrongly and undeservedly been elevated to senior positions. All this is done in the name of blatant appeasement. This is cheap propaganda, to say the least. The Office of the President can surely do better than this.

It all started during the one party regime when Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda elevated Lundu as paramount of the Chewa people to consolidate his rule after the Cabinet Crisis in 1964. This continued during the Bakili Muluzi regime, that is, 1994 to 2004. During this period, the first multi-party President, Bakili Muluzi, gradually gained mass support during his first term of office (1994-1999) largely because Malawians were fed up with the one party regime under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), then led devotedly and passionately by the late Dr. Banda, and not necessarily because Muluzi was a political and economic heavyweight, himself. He also narrowly won support, especially among the people of southern Malawi, his home region, because of his insistence on income generation at household level: starting small-scale businesses. This was, so to say, the genesis of street vendors (mavenda), some of whom graduated into political praise singers and ululators (under the United Democratic Front youth wing). Muluzi, however, misinterpreted the support he came to enjoy. Eventually, his authority could hardly be questioned, especially during his second term of office (1999-2004). No wonder, he attempted to cling to power through his third term bid in 2003. This was a flop.

With time he started ruling by decrees and most of his decisions made at political rallies lacked thoughtfulness and were, simply put, blunders. He was fond of saying ‘whether you like or not” (mufune olo musafune) “I have elevated chief so and so to this position and my decision is final”. He, therefore, came under intense criticism so that one expected the next president to change the political approach of governing the country.

However, when late Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika took over, alas, nothing significantly changed. He continued with the (mal) practice of elevating traditional rulers as a ‘thank you’ for their support. The man was a renowned economist, locally dubbed economic engineer, but politically he was a novice! Hence he continued from where his predecessor (Bakili Muluzi) stopped: populist politics were the order of the day.

It is worth noting that within a few years Bingu Wa Mutharika won so many accolades, both locally and abroad, for the role he had played in transforming Malawi’s economy through food security, among others. Following this, he became both ‘untouchable’ and unstoppable. During his second term of office (2009-2012) he even went to the extent of forsaking Malawi’s donors through his concept of a zero deficit budget. This was, in fact, mere economic rhetoric if one was to go by the general suffering and pauperization of the grassroots as a result of its impact! Despite this, he was locally decorated by all sorts of names: Mose wa lero (New Moses of the Bible); Chitsulo chanjanji (a man who was as hard as the railway steel), etc. This reminds one of Benito Mussolini and fascism in Italy.

Following his sudden demise on 5th April 2012 (from cardiac arrest), came the current President, Mrs Joyce Banda, who is said to be heading boma la amayi (the lady’s Government). It is intriguing to note that in July 2013, ahead of the tripartite general elections of May 2014 in Malawi, elevating traditional leaders is top on President Mrs Joyce Banda’s agenda as she goes about visiting her development initiatives across the country. One would have expected that her initiatives such as the Mudzi (Village) Transformation Trust and the famed one-village-one-cow project (reminiscent of the one-village-one-product concept) should have been the real foci of her development song!

Joyce Banda Department for International Development photo
More of the same from President Joyce Banda?

Looking at the trend so far, the future looks bleak: elevating traditional leaders has actually become the order of the day; a norm and not a malpractice. One wonders whether in the next ten years there will be any junior chiefs left: all of them will have become paramount chiefs! Yet, in a normal setting, you need the traditional authority in form of a pyramid: a few senior chiefs with more ordinary rulers (village headmen and their immediate seniors) at the base. Although ‘history repeats itself’ and while history is supposed to be lesson-giving, in Malawian politics this is seemingly not the case! Whither Malawi?

02 August, 2013

The Farce that is the Zimbabwean Elections

by Hussein Solomon

The elections in Zimbabwe are formally over and whilst we have to wait for the official results of the election, the ruling ZANU-PF is already claiming a landslide victory against Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). On the positive side and unlike the 2008 elections which was marred by an orgy of violence, there was little violence during this 2013 election. In addition, the election was also marked by high voter turn-out. Indeed most of the 6,4 million registered voters started queuing to cast their ballot well before sunrise and long after sunset. What was striking about the electoral contest between ZANU-PF and the MDC were the issues at stake. Whilst the MDC focused on jobs and kick-starting the moribund economy, Robert Mugabe focused much of his campaign on attacking homosexuals.

Robert Mugabe: Still the president? (Photo: Jeremy Lock)

On the basis of the relatively peaceful nature of the election, the African Union (AU) observer mission declared the elections to be “peaceful, orderly and free and fair”. However Solomon Zwane, chairperson of the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network has rightly stated that, “It is not sufficient for elections to be peaceful for elections to be credible”. There are several reasons to question the credibility of these elections. First, the level playing field in terms of the SADC roadmap did not materialize and this resulted in a bias state media and partisan security forces. Second, the voters’ roll which was to be released to all political parties before the poll could take place was never made available to them. Third, a video has surfaced showing ZANU-PF youth members being bussed in from rural areas to vote in urban city areas. Fourth, the names of thousands of voters were missing from the electoral roll whilst more than two million dead people appeared on the lists. Fifth, there was a campaign to stop voters from casting ballots, especially in those areas where the MDC had a strong constituency. These areas, for instance, had a sudden shortage of ballot papers or polling booths will close early or not open at all. According to Solomon Zwane more than a million voters were disenfranchised this way.

It is incredible that the AU can remain so sanguine about these polls under these circumstances. More importantly, it would be interesting to see what the reaction is from SADC since ZANU-PF had violated the roadmap from the beginning. What is clear is that ZANU-PF is preparing itself for a negative reaction from long-suffering Zimbabweans. As I pen this article, thousands of riot police have appeared to protect the headquarters of ZANU-PF.

27 July, 2013

Of Activism and Emancipatory Citizenship in Malawi

by George A. Mhango

Barely two years after Malawi experienced gruesome killings of civilians during a national protest on 20th July 2011, it is important to reflect on what has become of the demands that were pressed on the government by the citizens. In the first place, it was clear that the motive behind the nationwide protests was to get the attention of government regarding the deepening inequalities perpetrated by poor governance and deteriorating terms of trade. Malawians were tired of an authoritarian regime that sacrificed the lives of its people for selfish gains.

The July 20 protests of 2011 (Photo: Travis Lupick)

For a brief background, between 2009 and 2012, Malawi experienced significant deterioration in its economy which led to shortage of foreign exchange, fuel, essential health care and basic food stuffs. Given this context, the role of civil society activism became instrumental in building an environment where citizens would exercise their agency in order to get the ear of their government. Hence it was no surprise that waves of protests manifested countrywide, the climax of which was the July 20 protests that claimed lives of 20 citizens. Of course the protesters had a very solid base which was reflected in the ‘20 point’ petition that they presented to the Mutharika-led government in July 2011. The petition simply demanded serous governance reforms some of which had an implication on the country’s legal framework, especially the manner in which the executive arm of government wielded power and resources.

Just a week ago, civil society organizations (CSOs) organized a memorial ceremony for those that lost their lives during these protests. What was striking to note, however, was that the enthusiasm that was shown by the civil society in 2011 seemed missing in the reflections and speeches coming from the CSO leaders. One wonders whether this symbolized a sense of satisfaction with the much called for reforms by the government – it is becoming clear that Malawians have been deserted by the civil society which has graduated from activism to praise singing for the government. Forgotten is the fact that the ‘20 point’ petition that was advanced on behalf of Malawians remains unanswered by the government. It is ironical how the same activists that once fought for the plight of the masses are being palm-oiled by the government, consequently closing a very important political space for citizenship. Or is it time for radical citizenship to mobilize from the grassroots?

One thing that the civil society should realize is that Malawians have yet to recover from the post-2009 economic burdens most of which were self-created by the government. This makes their demands still valid. But it is unfortunate that most activists are using the civil society as a channel for achieving political ambitions at the expense of the citizens. Oh civil society, when will you stand for the rights of innocent Malawians?