29 March, 2016

Political Stability and FDI in SADC: A Love-Hate Relationship

by Yani Karavasilev

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is undoubtedly one of the most important factors for economic advancement in developed and developing economies alike. So what determines the levels of FDI flows into a country or region? Natural resource availability is one key factor that previous studies have identified, but so is political stability, with the assumption being that investors look for a stable environment in which their investments can be protected and nurtured. In this sense, the importance of regional blocs such as SADC in enhancing FDI flows to the region cannot be understated, especially in view of the assumption that in addition to expanding the size of the market, regionalism can promote political stability by restricting membership to countries with democratic political systems, as well as provide carrot-or-stick type of incentives for member countries to implement good policies.

The following are some of the key results of an academic study attempting to identify the relationship between political stability and FDI in SADC. The full details of the study can be accessed in an article in the Southern African Peace and Security Studies that was recently published.

To test the effects of political stability within SADC, a sample was assembled containing data for all 15 SADC members for the period 1996 through 2014 and the impact of political stability on FDI inflows per capita was investigated, while taking into account other important factors (control variables) such as GDP growth proxying for FDI returns, price levels proxying for investment-related costs, natural resource dependence, inflation etc., selected based on preliminary tests so as not to affect the reliability and validity of the statistical analysis. Political stability was measured using the ‘Political Stability and Lack of Violence’ indicator provided by the World Bank. It is one of the six Worldwide Governance Indicators which capture key dimensions of governance.

The results revealed that there is a U-shaped relationship between FDI and political stability. The lowest point of that U-curve lies at about a value of -1.0 of the PS indicator (the minimum and maximum are about -2.5 and +2.5). Above this level, and especially above 0.0, there is a relatively large, robust and positive causal relationship between political stability and FDI inflows in SADC members. The coefficient increases as the lags increase, showing that the political stability in a country is crucial two to three years before the actual investment happens, which is understandable considering the long-term nature of and the bureaucracy surrounding FDI projects. Using a different cutoff of -1.0 yields even more staggering results – for every one unit of improvement in political stability, there is an FDI inflows within a country.

The results confirm the findings of previous studies and cannot be said to constitute any exciting news. What is surprising, however, is that for the observations below the abovementioned -1.0 cutoff point, these implications do not hold. These observations were seen in the case of the DRC, Angola, and in certain limited periods (mostly around the time of land reform) in the case of Zimbabwe.

Why is the DRC different?

A careful look at the geography of FDI there suggests that there might be no relation between political stability and FDI in the DRC to begin with. The DRC is the largest country in SADC, and its largely underdeveloped infrastructure obstructs quick coordination among its already largely economically, linguistically and ethnically different parts. This line of thought would render the analysis of the DRC as a single politico-economic entity counterintuitive to say the least. What could be described as the economic powerhouse of the country is in essence a relatively small region bordering Zambia, situated in the Katanga Province which itself is home to a mere 6-7% of the population but could be said to account for upwards of 70% of the DRC’s total exports (primarily copper and cobalt). Approximately the same amount of the FDI flowing into the country should be expected to be concentrated in the region. The region has been largely unaffected in a direct way by the conflict in the country, which has taken a heavy toll on the North and South Kivu provinces.

To support the claim that political stability is not the most relevant factor in investment decisions in the mining sector in the south, a backward interpretation of the Fraser Institute survey was considered. According to this survey, the DRC’s political environment was picked out as a major negative factor influencing FDI - over 50% of investors surveyed the said it was a deterrent to investing in the country’s mining sector. While this is certainly true, one does have to look from the opposite angle and recognize that for almost 50% of investors the policy environment is not a major issue. At least not in comparison with other factors, such as corruption and infrastructure problems, which were both found to be a deterrent to 100% of investors (compared to only 50% for Zambia, for instance). Furthermore, whereas political stability turned out to be a major concern for approximately 80% of investors, only half of them (40%) reported they would not pursue any investment in the DRC. The reverse reading of the survey results is very much in line with the explanation outlined in the previous paragraph.

Why is Angola different?

The case of Angola is the only one where an unambiguously negative relationship between PS and FDI be observed (Figure 3). Angola is the only other severely natural-resource dependent country in SADC alongside the DRC, and specifically, it is oil-dependent, being the only OPEC member within SADC. The overwhelming part of FDI in Angola goes into the oil sector, which accounts for more than 90% of the country’s exports. The number of oil extraction wells more than doubled between 1993 and 2003. In light of the fact that FDI in the oil sector depends mainly on the discovery of reserves and on global demand for oil, it is not surprising to see huge fluctuations in FDI flows, including outflows due to falling demand in recent years despite constantly improving political stability. The most relevant part of Angola’s dependence on oil, however, is the geography of its oil extraction industry, very much in parallel with the DRC’s mining sector. As much as 98% of Angola’s oil is pumped from fields offshore, in the Atlantic Ocean, so there is almost no direct contact between the oil industry and the onshore political and social development. Since any potentiality of political violence is virtually non-existent, it follows logically that there should be no relationship between the political stability indicator and the FDI inflows.

Are Angola and the DRC really part of SADC?
Natural resource dependence and the lack of relationship between FDI and political in Angola and the DRC are not the only characteristics that differentiate them from the rest of the SADC members. The two countries, together with the Seychelles, are the only ones which do not participate in the SADC Free Trade Area established in August 2008 (SADC, 2012). As a result, they are not as deeply integrated into the community, with tariffs, regulations and visas limiting their participation in cross-border value chains, FDI and joint-venture projects. To illustrate, FDI outflows from South Africa to other SADC members were examined. South Africa is an FDI powerhouse not only in the region but in Africa as a whole, and a lot of FDI in SADC members originates from South Africa. The DRC and Angola are the only countries which did not experience an increase of FDI from South Africa since 2000. In fact, DRC does not even report any FDI originating from that country. Curiously, apart from South Africa, no other African country reports FDI in either the DRC or Angola. On the other hand, apart from some negligibly minimal investments in neighboring Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, Angola and the DRC do not invest in SADC members. The overwhelming part of FDI in the DRC originates from Belgium and China, and in the case of Angola, the main contributors are France, Norway, Portugal, the USA, China and Brazil. Considering this, one would wonder whether the DRC and Angola are economically part of SADC, or for that matter the African community at all.

07 February, 2016

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

by Willem Ellis

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

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

March against Xenophobia, Johannesburg (Photo by Dyltong)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06 February, 2016

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

by M. K. Mahlakeng

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

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

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

SADC Headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 January, 2016

Japanese media and the lack of coverage of African news

by Irina Novikova

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 January, 2016

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

by Maximilian Mainza

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

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

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

A copper mine in Solwezi, Zambia

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

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

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

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

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

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

07 December, 2015

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

by Carla Bringas

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

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

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

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

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

18 November, 2015

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

by Virgil Hawkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 September, 2015

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

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

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

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

24 August, 2015

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

by M. K. Mahlakeng

The SADC Commission of Inquiry to Lesotho, under Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s request, has widened its terms of references to look at the role of former Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s two-and-a-half year coalition regime in the security and constitutional ills of Lesotho. On 3 July following the death of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, SADC held an Extraordinary Summit of the Double Troika and later established an Independent Commission of Inquiry chaired by Botswana High Court Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi to look into the security and constitutional status of Lesotho which has deteriorated in the past two years.

SABC Report on the Inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

23 July, 2015

Lesotho: A Fight Against a Mutiny Attempt

by M. K. Mahlakeng

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 July, 2015

South Africa’s Dim Economic Prospects

by Hussein Solomon

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

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

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

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

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

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

07 July, 2015

Remembrance of Mueda’s Martyrs and National Unity in Mozambique

by Carla Bringas

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

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

A mural commemorating Mozambique's independence

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

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

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

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

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

03 June, 2015

South Africa’s 2016 Local Government Elections

by Hussein Solomon

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

Mmusi Mainane (Photo: Democratic Alliance)

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

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

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

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

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

01 June, 2015

Kamuzu Banda’s Legacy: Eighteen Years after His Demise

by Harvey C.C. Banda

14 May was a very popular day during the one party regime in Malawi. It was a day when Malawians from all walks of life, whether they liked or not, commemorated the birthday of the then His Excellency the Life President Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda (may his soul rest in peace). This year, like most years during the multi-party dispensation, this day passed largely unnoticed. In fact, 14th May is no longer a public holiday in Malawi. 2015 marks eighteen years since his passing in 1997. In this article I reflect in passing on the legacy of Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda in the history of Malawi. I argue that although Kamuzu Banda, like any other human being, had his own weaknesses and strengths, politically he left behind a resounding and lasting legacy.

During the years before the transition to multi-party politics in 1994, 14 May was as important in Malawi as other key public holidays like 6 July, the day Malawians celebrate the attainment of independence (in 1964) and 3 March (Martyrs Day), when Malawians remember the sacrifice that Malawians made in fighting against the oppressive colonial rule. Most of these holidays have lost touch over the years. On 3 March in the past, for example, people had to stay away from their daily business. This was a must and anything to the contrary drew the wrath of the state machinery: the price for such an act was one year detention with releas the following March. Members of the Malawi Youth League (MYL), a wing under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), had their intelligence ‘ears’ everywhere in the country and regularly pounced on offenders.

One of the controversies not yet settled among historians about Kamuzu Banda surrounds his year of birth. This is an issue which, to an extent, is associated more with myths than reality. So many contradictory years have been advanced on the birth of one man: Kamuzu. The following are some of the years in question: 1896; 1898; 1902; and 1906. In my view, this is not surprising for two main reasons: first, the question of literacy levels then among parents as mission-led education was just being introduced in different parts of the country from the 1880s onwards. As a result of this, some parents in the rural areas were still illiterate and could not remember and record the years of birth of their children. Second, the early life of Kamuzu is clouded in mystery, for example, his early schooling and how he travelled to South Africa en route to the United States of America to further his education. In this connection, his year of birth is part and parcel of this deadening mystery.

The following account illustrates the mystery in question. According to K.K. Virmani, in his book Dr Banda: In the Making of Malawi (1992), Dr Banda was born of Chewa parents in Kasungu district in 1902. However, Rev. Msokera Phiri, who claimed to be Dr Banda’s uncle, maintained that he was born in 1898. When the young Banda came of age, he went to Livingstonia Mission for his junior primary school education. Here it was Rev. Phiri, then in the employ of the mission, who looked after the young Banda. History indicates that Phiri left Livingstonia Mission for Hartley in Zimbabwe; leaving Banda behind. Aged thirteen, Banda wanted to join the teacher training course at Livingstonia, but was suspected of cheating during the entrance examinations and was, thereafter, expelled. However, the story goes, Banda was not cheating, but he was actually leaning towards another student in front of him, trying to see clearly the blackboard because of sight problems. Following his expulsion, young Banda joined his uncle in Zimbabwe. However, at Hartley both did not stay long before moving to South Africa in 1917. After briefly working in the mines, Banda joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Johannesburg in 1922. It was this church which provided financial assistance for his further education in America from 1925 onwards.

Kamuzu Banda
Fast forward, Dr Banda returned to Malawi (then Nyasaland) in 1958 and after several conflicts with the British colonial masters led Malawi to independence on 6 July 1964. It is indicated that the use of detention without trial by the colonial regimes had prevented the emergence of different political ‘fronts’. Practically, though, it provided a style of governance which was soon emulated by the rulers of the newly-independent states. In fact, this seemed to have been the pattern in most African countries: the nationalist leaders fought against oppression, but immediately after attaining independence, they used the very approaches to suppress, unfortunately this time around, genuine opposition!

Independent Malawi was soon associated with a poor human rights record: purging of political opponents, for example, through detention without trial; repression and stifling of any independent political activity; exiling of political opponents; and official discrimination of religious minorities, a good example of which are the Jehova’s witnesses (the latter’s offence was their utter refusal to join the MCP). In order to do all these, the MCP was remodelled and took on board bodies such as the paramilitary Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) and the Malawi Youth League. These two were eventually armed with powers of arrest. It is fascinating to note that officially the MYP was aimed at imparting agricultural skills to a cross-section of Malawians. In practice, the truth was actually the opposite and this was merely a front. In some cases, the MYL was seemingly more powerful than the Malawi Police forces in as far as the treatment of offenders and suspects is concerned.

As if this was not enough, Dr. Banda’s regime strongly promoted nepotism and tribalism. In this connection, although Malawi was described as an ethnically homogenous country, it had been riven by deep ethnic and regional tensions. President Banda seemed to favour the Chewa from the Central Region against the Tumbuka of the Northern Region, on the one hand, and the Yao and the Lhomwe of the Southern Region, on the other hand. It is unfortunate that the signs and symptoms of such regionalism and nepotism are still visible in democratic Malawi up to the present day.

On a positive note, however, Dr. Banda ushered in what may be described as genuine and lasting development. He embarked on massive infrastructural development throughout the country. This resulted in the construction of roads, schools, hospitals and market centres. These structures are still solid and in use up to date. The University of Malawi, with several constituent colleges, attest to this. The only drawback is that, like many other aspects, such development initiatives were regionally-based, with the Northern Region lagging behind among the three regions. Sadly, again, this trend has continued up to date. Realising that Malawi had an agrarian economy, relying mainly on tobacco, he encouraged the cultivation of cash crops in addition to maize, the staple food crop. He also made deliberate efforts to provide a market for the farm produce: the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC). Through this structure, farmers took farming as an occupation because of the assurance of the steady market for their produce. However, one persistent outcry amongst farmers were persistent low buying prices by ADMARC; a sign of exploitation, indeed.

Furthermore, Malawians were generally hard working, industrious and disciplined people. This can be attributed to the four cornerstones (locally dubbed ngodya zinayi) on which MCP was built: unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline. This was reinforced by songs which had been coined to that effect. These songs were a common feature during public celebrations through such traditional dances as Chimtali, Chiwoda, Gule wamkulu, Mganda and Malipenga. All these were virtually thrown to the dogs at the onset of democratic governance in 1994.

In a nutshell, Malawi under Br Hastings Kamuzu Banda was both ‘a totalitarian state’ and ‘a personal despotism’ in which the state apparatus was answerable to one man: His Excellency the Life President Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. However, if one reflects on the negative and positive aspects of Dr Banda’s legacy, the positive aspects, in my view, far outweigh the negative ones. However, this depends on one’s view point and the focal point at hand. It should, therefore, not be surprising to see other people reaching a totally different and contrary conclusion. I am persuaded to arrive at this conclusion by comparing Dr Banda’s legacy with the legacies of the successive democratically-elected governments in Malawi since 1994. To a large extent democratic Malawi is relatively in socio-economic and political shambles!

13 May, 2015

‘Xenophobia’ and Being a ‘Proud’ Citizen in Post-Apartheid South Africa

by Sayaka Kono

Again, massive ‘xenophobic’ attacks threatened foreign nationals in South Africa. The saddest thing is the fact that both the victims and the assailants are the ones who suffer from poverty. South Africa is economically highly developed compared to its neighbour countries. That is the very pull factor for the migrants, but at the same time, this development has become possible because of the economic oppression of the majority. At first, it was the oppression of the South Africans who were excluded from the South African state and the Africans in the neighbor countries. After 1994, however, the structure of the oppression was continued. The matter is not the colour anymore, but the oppressed are still oppressed except for a few.

I stayed in one of the poor areas in a township for oral history research. The area I normally stay is full of shacks and mud houses. Many of the residents are unemployed. HIV/AIDS affects a lot of households. I could see that people were not satisfied with the current government. Interestingly, however, I found that many people were so proud of talking about their own country, even though they felt they had not been treated properly by the ANC government. The common reason they mentioned is South Africa’s development. I heard many people showed a pity to the migrants from other African countries, saying that their countries are poor or ‘uncivilized’. That is why, they said, the migrants had to come to South Africa. The similar perceptions can often be seen not only among the poor South Africans but also among other stratus, even the emerging African middle class who gain benefit from the new government.

The aftermath of attacks in Botshabelo, 2012

Being proud of one’s own country is not a bad thing, but it can be a dangerous thing as well, since it might let people be blind to where they are in the world. And I believe that this is exactly what is happening to many of the people who have grown up in South Africa. During the apartheid era, people were isolated from information. Media was monitored by the government. Education was also controlled by the government. Thus people were forcefully kept ‘ignorant’ by the apartheid government. A similar situation continued in the poorer areas even after 1994. Education is corrupted, and the access to information is very limited there. The little change is that all the people know that ‘ANC ended the apartheid and we have freedom’. The structure of the oppression has not changed yet as I mentioned above. However, since they still live in a very narrow world which is arbitrary limited, many people easily believe that the migrants from the neighbor countries come to South Africa because South Africa is ‘nice and rich’, without seriously thinking about how these migrants perceive their life there.

Allow me to use the example of the Zimbabweans I met in South Africa. Some of them are educational elites at university. Others are street venders and factory workers. Very few among them told me that they were comfortable living in South Africa. Although many of them want to stay in South Africa for economic or political reasons, they miss their country. Mealie meal which is not GMO, kitchen gardens which you can hardly see in South Africa, daily conversation which is not always materialistic. They could list up so many things they miss in their country. From this list, I had the impression that the major difference they mentioned are caused by the neoliberal culture in the post-apartheid era. I became more confident with this impression of mine when I visited Harare. Most of the people with small informal business on the streets had experienced staying in South Africa, or have close relatives there. Although they admit political and economic hardship in Zimbabwe, they prefer to stay in their country at the time of my interviews, not only because of their family and friends but also the difference of the sense of value, life style and so on.

A kitchen garden in Harare

Here I am not saying which country is better, but pointing out that there are different values which many Zimbabweans cherish, and many South Africans do not know. Furthermore, these differences might be what South Africa has lost by their adoption of neoliberalism. This might be what the ‘proud’ South African poor do not understand. They would not understand what the migrants sacrifice to come to South Africa. They are left behind in the competition, but they are not even allowed to realize what they have lost.

My point is the feeling of despair which has been strengthened through their ‘ignorance’. They are suffering from poverty. But they know their country is developed and ‘rich’, and they are proud of it. They can even see their ex-fellow comrades owing huge houses and driving very expensive cars. The ANC says that this is a free country and that apartheid is over. Many migrants from ‘poor’ countries are working here and there. So they should also be able to get benefit from it. They should also be able to improve their lives, but the reality expressed by many is, “South Africa should be the best country, and I am a citizen of that best country. But why are we struggling to get a job?”

I would not apply this perception to all the South African people. Nonetheless, I cannot help but be left with the impression that many South Africans are locked up in a very small world bound hand and feet by the complex apartheid legacy. There are various grass-roots movements protesting the structure of the oppression. The South African government, however, does not have time to waste. Yes, it has been only twenty years since the abolishment of the apartheid laws. Yet, people’s dissatisfaction is growing faster than the country is changing. The explosion of the hopelessness and anger expressed through the attacks towards foreign nationals will not stop until the fundamental issues are seriously acknowledged and addressed.

08 May, 2015

Where From? Where To? Malawian Migrants in the Wake of the April 2015 Xenophobic Attacks

by Harvey C.C. Banda

Much has been written on the plight of immigrants from various African countries resident in South Africa following the eruption of xenophobic attacks in April 2015. These attacks started in Durban or Kwazulu-Natal area, especially following the so-called xenophobic sentiments expressed by King Goodwill Zwelithini. Barely a few days after such sentiments a horde of South Africans rushed out, attacking foreigners and looting their shops demanding that they “go back home”. This was sensationally described in the print media in South Africa as “looting for our king!”

In this article, firstly, I critique the response of both the host country, in this case, South Africa, and the sending country, that is, Malawi, following these attacks. I argue that the response by the South African government was rather slow, lukewarm and, above all, characterised by denialism about the existence of xenophobia. The same response was notable after the 2008 xenophobic attacks. On the part of the Malawi government, I am of the view that much as it came in promptly, it would have been much better to transform from reactive to proactive approaches in as far as the socio-economic plight of Malawians is concerned. The Malawi government sounded to be very caring in responding to the needs of Malawian migrants who fell victim to these attacks. But looking at the bigger picture, the question would be: Why not impart the promised skills to Malawians for use in their day to day lives in order to prevent the mass exodus of unskilled and semi-skilled Malawians in the first place?

Secondly, I examine the dilemma facing Malawian migrants displaced from South Africa by these attacks: should they go back to South Africa? If yes, such a move would be tantamount to risking their lives in case of fresh xenophobic waves. Or should they forget about South Africa and settle down in Malawi? But, practically, what will they be doing by way of earning a living? If it were that easy, would they have emigrated to the xenophobic, dangerous and, therefore, life-threatening South Africa in the first place?

Xenophobia has emerged as a deep-rooted social phenomenon in South Africa, especially after the collapse of Apartheid in 1994. Many South Africans seemed to have developed hatred against foreigners, blaming them for a host of ills in society: that they are bringers of diseases, especially HIV/AIDS; take way jobs and contribute to systemic low wages since they grab anything that comes their way; to such extreme claims that they snatch women from them. However, with time it has become apparent that this hatred carries a racial tag. These xenophobic attacks are particularly directed at foreigners of African origin, that is, fellow blacks from African countries. In addition, fellow South Africans from the north of the country, for example, the Shangaan and the Pedi, have also fell victim in the process simply because the Zulu largely rely on ‘street language tests’ and whoever fails to prove proficiency in isiZulu is deemed to be ‘a foreigner’.

Malawians returning from South Africa (18 April 2015)

Consequently, there is currently a hot debate among scholars and observers whether to characterise these attacks as xenophobia, afro-phobia or negro-phobia. According to Christina Steenkamp in a research paper titled Xenophobia in South Africa: What Does It Say About Trust? (2009), xenophobia refers to the irrational fear of the unknown or, specifically, as the fear or hatred of those with a different nationality. It relies heavily on the circulation of myths and stereotypes about foreigners. Hence the belief among South Africans that foreigners are a source of problems in their midst. Loren Landau in Exorcising the Demons Within: Xenophobia, Violence and Statecraft in Contemporary South Africa (2011) soberly notes that there is no single word referring to ‘foreigner’ in South Africa, rather a cross-section of such words as makwerekwere, magrigamba, amagoduka, amaVerkom, cockroach and mapoti.

In the wake of xenophobic attacks in April this year, the official South African government response was sluggish to say the least. It took long for the government to denounce the inhumane attacks on foreigners. The government was busy refuting that whatever was happening was xenophobia and that maintaining that South Africans are not xenophobic. How can you describe that as xenophobia? We have foreigners from around the globe; why are these attacks only directed at African nationals? These were some of the questions usually posed. In my view, whether this was xenophobia or afro-phobia is immaterial, what is crucial is prompt government response to save innocent lives and property. The government kept on assuring the public that the situation was under control and that there was no need, as yet, to involve the army. When the latter came in, unfortunately, thousands of foreigners had already been displaced from their homes.

It has been noted that the same was the response after the outbreak of violence in 2008. In fact, the official response was to deny that xenophobia was involved and, furthermore, that it existed at all! Thambo Mbeki is quoted as having argued that those who claimed that South Africans were xenophobic were themselves guilty of xenophobia. Clearly this is a classic element of denialism on the part of the government.

The Malawi government deserves appreciation for the way it assisted Malawian migrants stranded in South Africa as a result of the April xenophobic attacks. It hired buses which were at the disposal of all those who felt threatened and were willing to return home. In short, repatriation was at the discretion of those affected. In addition, the Malawi government promised to ensure that the repatriates settled down in Malawi and found something to do in order to earn a living. There were plans to introduce artisanal skills, for instance, tailoring and carpentry, for the direct benefit of these repatriates. This is a good and commendable initiative, indeed. However, if only this were to be the everyday approach of government in assisting the unskilled Malawians, we would not have been grappling with this problem of emigrants to South Africa!

The mixed reaction of Malawian migrants to the violent attacks in April shows clearly why labour migration from Malawi to neighbouring countries is a century-old phenomenon. Asked on the life after xenophobia in South Africa, migrants gave two contrasting responses. For some this was the end of the migration journey, arguing they were never going to come back to this ‘xenophobic country’. While for others, surprisingly, by going home they were simply taking a break and waiting for the violence to die down. “If I am to stay permanently at home, what will I be doing? There are no opportunities there”, some responded. In fact, it was reported that barely a few weeks after repatriation, a few Malawians were caught on a bus in Lilongwe amongst fresh emigrants, heading back to South Africa. This shows how deep-rooted the migration phenomenon is and the tough task that both the Malawi and South African governments have in permanently tackling this migration problem.

At this juncture, I am compelled to agree with the migration experts who are of the view that there is need for ‘migration governance’ in order to solve the migration challenges between sending and receiving countries, for example, in southern Africa. In this case, there is need for concerted efforts between the concerned governments regarding cooperation and coordination in migration issues. As for the Malawian migrants recently repatriated in the aftermath of the attacks in question, going by the sluggish and ambivalent response by the South African government, they are better off finding something to do back home: I am afraid to say the xenophobia monster had been bruised, but is not yet dead and buried. It is not good to take a risk in such a situation!