23 July, 2015

Lesotho: A Fight Against a Mutiny Attempt

by M. K. Mahlakeng

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

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

Second, tripartite opposition (All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL) leaders (former PM Thomas Thabane, Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo) have fled Lesotho to South Africa on the 11th, 13th and 26th May respectively. On the one hand, this was amidst claims over security concerns that they had been alerted of a plot to kill them by the LDF. On the other hand, it has been argued that they have fled Lesotho because of their alleged role in the mutiny. However, both these claims respectively have not yet been accompanied by tangible proof.

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

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

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

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

16 July, 2015

South Africa’s Dim Economic Prospects

by Hussein Solomon

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

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

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

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

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

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

07 July, 2015

Remembrance of Mueda’s Martyrs and National Unity in Mozambique

by Carla Bringas

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

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

A mural commemorating Mozambique's independence

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

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

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

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

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