STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR CYRIL RAMAPHOSA
16 FEBRUARY 2018
Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise,
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP,
Former President Thabo Mbeki,
Former Deputy President FW de Klerk,
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and all esteemed members of the judiciary,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Premiers and Speakers of Provincial Legislatures,
Chairperson of SALGA and all Executive Mayors present,
The Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions,
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders,
Leaders of faith based organisations,
Former Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala,
Former Speaker Mr Max Sisulu,
Veterans of the struggle for liberation,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Fellow South Africans,
It is a great honour and privilege to deliver this State of the Nation Address.
This Address should have been delivered last week, but was delayed so that we could properly manage issues of political transition.
I wish to thank Honourable Members and the people of South Africa for their patience and forbearance.
I also wish to extend a word of gratitude to former President Jacob Zuma for the manner in which he approached this difficult and sensitive process.
I wish to thank him for his service to the nation during his two terms as President of the Republic, during which the country made significant progress in several areas of development.
Fellow South Africans,
In just over 150 days from now, the peoples of the world will unite in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
It is a day on which we, as South Africans, will remember the life of one of the most remarkable leaders this country and this continent – and indeed, the world – has known.
We will recount Madiba’s long walk to freedom, his wisdom, his unfailing humility, his abiding compassion and his essential integrity.
We have dedicated this year to his memory and we will devote our every action, every effort, every utterance to the realisation of his vision of a democratic, just and equitable society.
Guided by his example, we will use this year to reinforce our commitment to ethical behaviour and ethical leadership.
In celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela we are not merely honouring the past, we are building the future.
We are continuing the long walk he began, to build a society in which all may be free, in which all may be equal before the law and in which all may share in the wealth of our land and have a better life.
We are building a country where a person’s prospects are determined by their own initiative and hard work, and not by the colour of their skin, place of birth, gender, language or income of their parents.
This year, we also celebrate the centenary of another giant of our struggle, Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu.
Through her remarkable life and outstanding contribution, she defined what it means to be a freedom fighter, a leader and a diligent and disciplined servant of the people.
Through her leadership, she embodied the fundamental link between national liberation and gender emancipation.
As we mark her centenary, we reaffirm that no liberation can be complete and no nation can be free until its women are free.
We honour this son and this daughter of the African soil in a year of change, in a year of renewal, in a year of hope.
We honour them not only in word, but, more importantly, in direct action towards the achievement of their shared vision of a better society.
We should honour Madiba by putting behind us the era of discord, disunity and disillusionment.
We should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders.
We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.
It is a new dawn that is inspired by our collective memory of Nelson Mandela and the changes that are unfolding.
As we rid our minds of all negativity, we should reaffirm our belief that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
For though we are a diverse people, we are one nation.
There are 57 million of us, each with different histories, languages, cultures, experiences, views and interests.
Yet we are bound together by a common destiny.
For this, we owe much to our forebearers – people like Pixley ka Seme, Charlotte Maxeke and Chief Albert Luthuli – who understood the necessity of the unity and harmony of all the people of this great land.
We are a nation at one.
We are one people, committed to work together to find jobs for our youth; to build factories and roads, houses and clinics; to prepare our children for a world of change and progress; to build cities and towns where families may be safe, productive and content.
We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people.
While there are many issues on which we may differ, on these fundamental matters, we are at one.
We know that there is still a lot that divides us.
We remain a highly unequal society, in which poverty and prosperity are still defined by race and gender.
We have been given the responsibility to build a new nation, to confront the injustices of the past and the inequalities of the present.
We are called upon to do so under difficult conditions.
The state we are in as a nation is that while poverty declined significantly following the democratic breakthrough of 1994, we have seen reverses in recent years.
Poverty levels rose in 2015, unemployment has gone up and inequality has persisted.
For several years our economy has not grown at the pace needed to create enough jobs or lift our people out of poverty.
Public finances have been constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development.
Despite these challenging conditions, we have managed – working together – to achieve progress in improving the lives of our people.
Even under conditions of weak growth, our economy has created jobs, but not at the pace required to absorb new entrants into the labour market.
This means that as we pursue higher levels of economic growth and investment, we need to take additional measures to reduce poverty and meet the needs of the unemployed.
Since the start of the current Parliament, our public employment programmes have created more than 3.2 million work opportunities.
In the context of widespread unemployment, they continue to provide much needed income, work experience and training.
We have taken measures to reduce the cost of living, especially for the poor.
Government’s free basic services programme currently supports more than 3.5 million indigent households.
More than 17 million social grants are paid each month, benefiting nearly a third of the population.
We know, however, that if we are to break the cycle of poverty, we need to educate the children of the poor.
We have insisted that this should start in early childhood.
Today we have nearly a million children in early childhood development facilities.
We are seeing improvements in the outcomes of our basic education system.
The matric pass rate increased from 60.6 percent in 2009 to 75.1 percent last year.
There are currently almost a million students enrolled in higher education, up from just over 500,000 in 1994.
As we enter a new era, we are determined to build on these achievements, confront the challenges we face and accelerate progress in building a more prosperous and equitable society.
We have seen a moderate recovery in our economy and a broader, sustained recovery in the global economy.
Commodity prices have improved, the stock market has risen, the rand has strengthened and there are early indications that investor confidence is on the rise.
We have taken decisive measures to address concerns about political instability and are committed to ensure policy certainty and consistency.
There is a greater sense of optimism among our people.
Our people are hopeful about the future.
Business confidence among South African companies has improved and foreign investors are looking anew at opportunities in our country.
Some financial institutions have identified South Africa as one of the hot emerging markets for 2018.
Our task, as South Africans, is to seize this moment of hope and renewal, and to work together to ensure that it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our people.
This year, we will be initiating measures to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.
We will do this by getting social partners in our country to collaborate in building a social compact on which we will create drivers of economic recovery.
We have to build further on the collaboration with business and labour to restore confidence and prevent an investment downgrade.
Tough decisions have to be made to close our fiscal gap, stabilise our debt and restore our state-owned enterprises to health.
At the centre of our national agenda in 2018 is the creation of jobs, especially for the youth.
We are going to embark on a number of measures to address the unemployment challenge.
One of the initiatives will be to convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation.
The summit will look at what we need to do to ensure our economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped, and that our economic infrastructure is expanded.
We will expect this summit to come up with practical solutions and initiatives that will be implemented immediately.
We will make a major push this year to encourage significant new investment in our economy.
To this end, we will organise an Investment Conference in the next three months, targeting both domestic and international investors, to market the compelling investment opportunities to be found in our country.
We are going to address the decline over many years of our manufacturing capacity, which has deeply affected employment and exports.
We will seek to re-industrialise on a scale and at a pace that draws millions of job seekers into the economy.
We are going to promote greater investment in key manufacturing sectors through the strategic use of incentives and other measures.
To further stimulate manufacturing, we will forge ahead with the localisation programme, through which products like textile, clothing, furniture, rail rolling stock and water meters are designated for local procurement.
We have already spent more than R57 billion on locally-produced goods that may have been imported from other countries.
Special economic zones remain important instruments we will use to attract strategic foreign and domestic direct investment and build targeted industrial capabilities and establish new industrial hubs.
The process of industrialisation must be underpinned by transformation.
Through measures like preferential procurement and the black industrialists programme, we are developing a new generation of black and women producers that are able to build enterprises of significant scale and capability.
We will improve our capacity to support black professionals, deal decisively with companies that resist transformation, use competition policy to open markets up to new black entrants, and invest in the development of businesses in townships and rural areas.
Radical economic transformation requires that we fundamentally improve the position of black women and communities in the economy, ensuring that they are owners, managers, producers and financiers.
Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment.
It is therefore a matter of great urgency that we draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity.
Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda.
They are already forming a greater proportion of the labour force on our infrastructure projects and are the primary beneficiaries of programmes such as the installation of solar water heaters and the war on leaks.
We continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through programmes such as the Employment Tax Incentive.
Working in partnership with business, organised labour and community representatives, we are creating opportunities for young people to be exposed to the world of work through internships, apprenticeships, mentorship and entrepreneurship.
Next month, we will launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.
Together with our partners in business, we have agreed to create a million such internships in the next three years.
If we are to respond effectively to the needs of youth, it is essential that young people articulate their views and are able to engage with government at the highest level.
I will therefore be establishing a Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests.
Infrastructure investment is key to our efforts to grow the economy, create jobs, empower small businesses and provide services to our people.
We have invested heavily in new roads, power stations, schools and other infrastructure.
As some of our projects are taking time to get off the ground and to enhance our efforts, I will assemble a team to speed up implementation of new projects, particularly water projects, health facilities and road maintenance.
We have learnt some valuable lessons from our experience in building all the new infrastructure, which will inform our way ahead.
We will focus on improvements in our budget and monitoring systems, improve the integration of projects and build a broad compact on infrastructure with business and organised labour.
Mining is another area that has massive unrealised potential for growth and job creation is mining.
We need to see mining as a sunrise industry.
With the revival in commodity prices, we are determined to work with mining companies, unions and communities to grow the sector, attract new investment, create jobs and set the industry on a new path of transformation and sustainability.
This year, we will intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.
By working together, in a genuine partnership, underscored by trust and a shared vision, I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a Charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy.
Processing of the MPRDA Amendment Bill through both houses of parliament is at an advanced stage, with an indication by Parliament that the Bill will reasonably be finalised during the first quarter of 2018.
The Bill, once enacted into law, will entrench existing regulatory certainty, provide for security of tenure and advance the socio-economic interests of all South Africans.
We are extremely concerned about the rise in mining fatalities last year.
We call on mining companies to work together with all stakeholders to ensure that mine accidents are dramatically reduced.
One mining fatality is one too many.
Fellow South Africans,
Ultimately, the growth of our economy will be sustained by small businesses, as is the case in many countries.
It is our shared responsibility to grow this vital sector of the economy.
We will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs.
Government will honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural enterprises.
We will continue to invest in small business incubation.
We encourage business to do the same.
The establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5 billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play.
Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups.
We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses.
We are also working to expand economic opportunities for people with disabilities.
Among other things, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency – SEFA – has launched a scheme to develop and fund entrepreneurs with disabilities called the Amavulandlela Funding Scheme.
Agriculture presents one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow our economy and create jobs.
Agriculture made the largest contribution, by a significant margin, to the improved growth of our economy in the second and third quarters of 2017.
This year, we will take decisive action to realise the enormous economic potential of agriculture.
We will accelerate our land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation.
We will pursue a comprehensive approach that makes effective use of all the mechanisms at our disposal.
Guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party, this approach will include the expropriation of land without compensation.
We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.
Government will undertake a process of consultation to determine the modalities of the implementation of this resolution.
We make a special call to financial institutions to be our partners in mobilising resources to accelerate the land redistribution programme as increased investment will be needed in this sector.
Tourism is another area which provides our country with incredible opportunities to, quite literally, shine.
Tourism currently sustains 700,000 direct jobs and is performing better than most other growth sectors.
There is no reason why it can’t double in size.
We have the most beautiful country in the world and the most hospitable people.
This year, we will enhance support for destination marketing in key tourism markets and take further measures to reduce regulatory barriers and develop emerging tourism businesses.
We call on all South Africans to open their homes and their hearts to the world.
Our prosperity as a nation depends on our ability to take full advantage rapid technological change.
This means that we urgently need to develop our capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation.
We will soon establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which will include the private sector and civil society, to ensure that our country is in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in information and communication technology.
The drive towards the digital industrial revolution will be underpinned by the availability of efficient networks.
We will finalise our engagements with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces the cost to consumers.
South Africa has acceded to the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement, which brings together SADC, COMESA and the East African Community.
The free trade area will combine markets of 26 countries with a population of nearly 625 million.
It will open market access opportunities for South African export products, contribute to job creation and the growth of South Africa’s industrial sector.
Negotiations towards the Continental Free Trade Agreement are progressing at a brisk pace, and it is expected that the framework agreement could be concluded soon.
South Africa will this year take over the chair of the BRICS group of countries, and will give priority to the promotion of value-added trade and intra-BRICS investment into productive sectors.
Fellow South Africans,
On the 1st of May this year, we will introduce the first national minimum wage in South Africa.
This historic achievement – a realisation of one of the demands of the Freedom Charter – is expected to increase the earnings of more than six million working South Africans and improve the living conditions of households across the country.
The introduction of a national minimum wage was made possible by the determination of all social partners to reduce wage inequality while maintaining economic growth and employment creation.
It stands as another example of what is possible when South Africans engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve differences and confront challenges.
To ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy – and to ensure that we are better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances – I will be appointing a Presidential Economic Advisory Council.
It will draw on the expertise and capabilities that reside in labour, business, civil society and academia.
The country remains gripped by one of the most devastating droughts in a century, which has severely impacted our economy, social services and agricultural production.
The drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a national state of disaster.
This gives national government the authority to manage and coordinate our response nationally with support from all provinces.
This will ensure that we also heighten integrated measures to support the provinces that are hardest hit.
We are looking at activating the necessary extraordinary measures permitted under the legislation.
I commend the people of Cape Town and the rest of the Western Cape for diligently observing water saving measures.
We call on everyone in the country to use water sparingly as we are a water-scarce country that relies on this vital resource to realise our development aspirations.
On 16 December last year, former President Jacob Zuma announced that government would be phasing in fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working class South Africans over a five-year period.
Starting this year, free higher education and training will be available to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R350,000.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training will lead the implementation of this policy, while the Minister of Finance will clarify all aspects of the financing of the scheme during his Budget Speech next week.
In addition to promoting social justice, an investment of this scale in higher education is expected to contribute to greater economic growth, reduce poverty, reduce inequality, enhance earnings and increase the competitiveness of our economy.
Government will continue to invest in expanding access to quality basic education and improving the outcomes of our public schools.
The Funza Lushaka Bursary programme plans to award 39,500 bursaries for Initial Teacher Education over the next three years.
In an historic first, from the beginning of this year, all public schools have begun offering an African language.
Also significant is the implementation of the first National Senior Certificate examination on South African Sign Language, which will be offered to deaf learners at the end of 2018.
The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative programme continues to deliver modern facilities to schools in rural and underprivileged urban areas across the country, with at least 187 schools being complete to date.
The programme will complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year.
Social grants remain a vital lifeline for millions of our people living in poverty.
We will urgently take decisive steps to comply with the all directions of the Constitutional Court.
I want to personally allay fears of any disruption to the efficient delivery of this critical service, and will take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court.
We will finalise work on a permanent public sector-led hybrid model, which will allow a set of public and private sector service providers to offer beneficiaries maximum choice, access and convenience.
This year, we will take the next critical steps to eliminate HIV from our midst.
By scaling up our testing and treating campaign, we will initiate an additional two million people on antiretroviral treatment by December 2020.
We will also need to confront lifestyles diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
In the next three months we will launch a huge cancer campaign similar to the HIV counselling and testing campaign.
This will also involve the private sector as we need to mobilise all resources to fight this disease.
The time has now arrived to finally implement universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance.
The NHI Bill is now ready to be processed through government and will be submitted to Parliament in the next few weeks.
Certain NHI projects targeting the most vulnerable people in society will commence in April this year.
In improving the quality of life of all South Africans, we must intensify our efforts to tackle crime and build safer communities.
During the course of this year, the Community Policing Strategy will be implemented, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and to secure their full involvement in the fight against crime.
The introduction of a Youth Crime Prevention Strategy will empower and support young people to be self-sufficient and become involved in crime fighting initiatives.
A key focus this year will be the distribution of resources to police station level.
This will include personnel and other resources, to restore capacity and experience at the level at which crime is most effectively combated.
In recognising the critical role that NGOs and community-based organisation play in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems, we will convene a Social Sector Summit during the course of this year.
Among other things, this Summit should seek to improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face.
Fellow South Africans,
Growth, development and transformation depend on a strong and capable state.
It is critical that the structure and size of the state is optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources.
We will therefore initiate a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments.
Many of our state owned enterprises are experiencing severe financial, operation and governance challenges, which has impacted on the performance of the economy and placed pressure on the fiscus.
We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state owned enterprises.
The recent action we have taken at Eskom to strengthen governance, root out corruption and restore its financial position is just the beginning.
Government will take further measures to ensure that all state owned companies fulfil their economic and developmental mandates.
We will need to confront the reality that the challenges at some of our SOEs are structural – that they do not have a sufficient revenue stream to fund their operational costs.
These SOEs cannot borrow their way out of their financial difficulties, and we will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding model of SOEs and other measures.
We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions.
We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the Auditor-General to strengthen external audit processes.
As we address challenges in specific companies, work will continue on the broad architecture of the state owned enterprises sector to achieve better coordination, oversight and sustainability.
This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.
The criminal justice institutions have been taking initiatives that will enable us to deal effectively with corruption.
The commission of inquiry into state capture headed by the Deputy Chief Justice, Judge Raymond Zondo, is expected to commence its work shortly.
The Commission is critical to ensuring that the extent and nature of state capture is established, that confidence in public institutions is restored and that those responsible for any wrongdoing are identified.
The Commission should not displace the regular work of the country’s law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption.
Amasela aba imali ka Rhilumente mawabanjwe.
We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity.
We must remember that every time someone receives a bribe there is someone who is prepared to pay it.
We will make sure that we deal with both in an effective manner.
We urge professional bodies and regulatory authorities to take action against members who are found to have acted improperly and unethically.
This requires that we strengthen law enforcement institutions and that we shield them from external interference or manipulation.
We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered.
We will also take steps to stabilise and strengthen vital institutions like the South African Revenue Service.
We must understand that tax morality is dependent on an implicit contract between taxpayers and government that state spending provides value for money and is free from corruption.
At the request of the Minister of Finance, I will shortly appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance of SARS, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the Service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue targets.
Our state employs one million public servants.
The majority of them serve our people with diligence and commitment.
We applaud them for the excellent work they do.
However, we know the challenges that our people face when they interact with the state.
In too many cases, they often get poor service or no service at all.
We want our public servants to adhere to the principle of Batho Pele, of putting our people first.
We are determined that everyone in public service should undertake their responsibilities with efficiency, diligence and integrity.
We want to instil a new discipline, to do things correctly, to do them completely and to do them timeously.
We call on all public servants to become agents for change.
During the course of the next few months, I will visit every national department to engage with the senior leadership to ensure that the work of government is effectively aligned.
I will also find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that the state, in its entirety, responds to the pressing needs of our people.
Fellow South Africans,
Our country has entered a period of change.
While change can produce uncertainty, even anxiety, it also offers great opportunities for renewal and revitalisation, and for progress.
Together we are going to make history.
We have done it before and we will do it again – bonded by our common love for our country, resolute in our determination to overcome the challenges that lie ahead and convinced that by working together we will build the fair and just and decent society to which Nelson Mandela dedicated his life.
As I conclude, allow me to recall the words of the late great Bra Hugh Masekela.
In his song, ‘Thuma Mina’, he anticipated a day of renewal, of new beginnings.
“I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around
When they triumph over poverty
I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS
I wanna lend a hand
I wanna be there for the alcoholic
I wanna be there for the drug addict
I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse
I wanna lend a hand
We are at a moment in the history of our nation when the people, through their determination, have started to turn the country around.
We can envisage the triumph over poverty, we can see the end of the battle against AIDS.
Now is the time to lend a hand.
Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’.
Now is the time for all of us to work together, in honour of Nelson Mandela, to build a new, better South Africa for all.
I thank you.
18 February, 2018
17 February, 2018
by M. K. Mahlakeng
“That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up quarrels of Nations is shocking as it is true” Thomas Paine
From 20 November to 2 December 2017, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) deployed a 260-strong battalion regional force to address security concerns following the 5 September 2017 killing of Lieutenant General and Lesotho army chief Khoantle Motsomotso, Colonel Bulane Sechele and Brigadier Tefo Hashatsi. The SADC force comprised military, police, intelligence and civilian components from seven SADC countries; Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The underlying purpose of the force was to provide protection to the Prime Minister Tom Thabane-led coalition government while it implemented SADC’s previous recommendations to arrest military officers accused of alleged gross violations of human rights. Political and security concerns by the regional body over Lesotho are not recent. The regional body’s concerns over Lesotho’s political and security stability and/or instability emerged following the killing of Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao.
In response to Mahao’s killing, SADC established a commission of inquiry under the leadership of retired Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi. The purpose of a commission of inquiry is to employ independent individuals, during conciliation, to clearly and adequately investigate the facts of a particular dispute and to submit a report stating the facts and proposing terms. Furthermore, this commission must make recommendations and/or official suggestions about the best thing to do. However, in spite of forming a commission of inquiry to clearly and adequately investigate facts, more so in light of the killing of three high ranking Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers, SADC decided to send a battalion. This initiative may further exacerbate the already fragile political and security environment in Lesotho.
The deployment consumed R87 million (M87 million) of the SADC budget, funds that could have been used to address climatic and socioeconomic hardships in the region Furthermore, such a deployment, as opposed to an inquiry, is perceived to be a tool to suppress citizens and political opinion rather than investigating and addressing the political and security issues in Lesotho. Such a perception emanates from the 1998 SADC intervention in Lesotho, commonly known as “Operation Boleas”, which instead of clearly, adequately and humanely addressing the political and security situation in Lesotho, it acted in favour of a supposedly “sitting government”, suppressing citizens and political opinion and killing 134 Basotho.
These actions are not new to the region, where SADC will deliberately act as an armed force for ruling elites and/or turn a blind eye to the oppression of citizens. For instance, if Swaziland and Zimbabwe, highly dictatorial and undemocratic regimes, were allowed to chair and presumably provide leadership for SADC simply by virtue of them being member states, then yes it is highly possible that SADC can deliberately ignore gross violations of human rights in the region. It is in this instance that no SADC decisions can ever be fully democratic if its leadership is left in the hands of authoritarian leaders. It therefore becomes difficult, if not impossible, to commend SADC’s political decisions and actions in the region.
The escalation of tensions and disputes in Lesotho, Zimbabwe and many other SADC member states, to a point where lives are being lost are, are privy to SADC, given their Defence Intelligence Standing Committee. SADC’s inadequacy in numerous member state’s political, economic and security issues is equivalent to ignorance and/or support of such issues at the behest of sitting governments. Much of SADC’s actions in the region have never been made with adequate political and financial will. SADC has ignored the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) conflict which has prolonged and affected not only the political and socioeconomic stability of the region but the entire continent. It has further failed to address President Joseph Kabila’s overstaying his mandate, which has in many ways exacerbated the political and socioeconomic upheavals in the DRC.
SADC has also continued to support King Mswati III’s despotic monarch rule which has for decades prohibited political autonomy and democratic principles. And this has been done at the expense of constant calls for representative democracy. Surprising how regional democracy can be achieved and conveyed in the region given that the same country [Swaziland], in August 2016, that endorses authoritarianism in contrast to popular support was made to chair an organisation [SADC] that endorses democracy. Moreover, same party rule – maintained through intimidation and oppression, is widespread and prevalent in the region. Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe serve as examples of this.
17 November, 2017
by Leon Hartwell
Regardless of statements by Zimbabwe’s military leaders, a coup d'etat has taken place. Some Zimbabweans are already openly celebrating the removal or President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country since 1980. How did this military coup come about? What can we expect in the coming months?
The Role of Securocrats
For those who have been close observers of the situation in Zimbabwe, this military coup did not come as a complete surprise. The king maker role of the so-called “securocrats” has been fundamental to Zimbabwe’s political establishment for decades. In fact, there is an old joke in Zimbabwe: “Why do they call it ‘general elections’? Because the generals determine the outcome of elections.”
Since the beginning, Mugabe carved out an important role for the security sector to maintain order and to keep his regime intact. From 1982 to 1987, he used the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crack down on opposition in Matabeleland. It is said that Emmerson Mnangagwa, a crucial figure behind the current coup, was also a key player during that period when almost 20,000 Ndebele were massacred. For a period after that, the military was sent back to the barracks. However, by 2008, Mnangagwa reactivated the military to help secure Mugabe’s victory during the controversial run-off election.
The Timing of the Coup
Many of the securocrats who fought for Zimbabwe’s independence and who kept Mugabe in power, are the same people who have now turned against him. A key factor in the timing of the coup has been the ascendency of Mugabe’s wife, Grace within the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
Since Grace entered public life, Zimbabweans have viewed her as a sexually promiscuous, uneducated former typist whose only interest is luxury shopping. By 2014, Grace went into high gear to beautify her image. The state-owned, ZANU-PF-controlled media, constructed an image of a person with a good heart (through her support for young orphans), a sophisticated businesswoman, an intellectual (the University of Zimbabwe controversially awarded her a PhD within two months of enrolment), and a shrewd politician.
By the end of 2014, Grace became ZANU-PF’s head of the Women’s League and she helped to push out Vice President Joice Mujuru, who at the time stood a good chance of becoming Mugabe’s successor. It was a warning to other potential successors.
More than anything else, Grace’s rise to the top in Zimbabwe threatened the interests of Zimbabwe’s establishment, which includes the security sector. She wanted to establish a dynasty and to replace prominent securocrats with Generation 40 (G40), a relatively younger crop of Zimbabweans who showed loyalty towards her.
The removal of Grace was therefore a matter of urgency. In Zimbabwe, power is money, and the being shunned has major financial implications. The coup has nothing to do with genuinely restoring the constitutional order or anything noble, it is an attempt to protect the establishment’s political and financial interests.
Besides, this coup came at a time when Grace’s public image took yet another nose dive, which means there will not be a huge outcry if she is removed from the political scene. In August, Grace viciously assaulted a model in a luxury apartment rented by her sons in South Africa. The incident reinforced Grace’s bad reputation for public outbursts and it sparked greater scrutiny over the First Family’s opulent lifestyles.
Grace’s problem is that she was punch drunk on victory, but little did she realise that she was overplaying her hand. Her most drastic move to date was her open intentions to get rid of Vice President Mnangagwa, arguably one of the most important securocrats in Zimbabwe. Whether her preferred method was poisoning him through thallium, or by convincing her husband to sack him remains unclear. Nonetheless, after Mnangagwa was unceremoniously fired, the security sector had to act rapidly. If Mnangagwa truly believes that he was poisoned by Grace’s minions, the coup was also a matter of life and death as well as revenge. Over the years, Mugabe has thrown too many struggle ‘comrades’ under the bus and this was, “the last straw” as one Zimbabwean described it to me.
The timing of this coup was also perfect, given the state of Mugabe’s health and his extensive traveling. He is 93 years old, and he has increasingly been caught stumbling and sleeping in front of cameras. In 2017 alone, Uncle Bob spent an enormous amount of time (almost 57 percent of his time by mid-May), outside of Zimbabwe, sometimes for medical reasons. This gave the securocrats plenty of time to plot their coup, and if need be, an excuse to say that Mugabe is not medically fit to be President.
A third factor that precipitated the coup, is that the Zimbabwean economy is once again “in the intensive care unit” as some would say. At the end of October, economist Steve Hank noted that the country’s annual inflation rate stood at 348 percent. It is possible that the coup makers calculated that most Zimbabweans will not lose much sleep over the removal of Uncle Bob. In fact, some individuals from Harare to Beijing, might even welcome it.
Looking Into the Crystal Ball
The top four priorities for the coup makers will be maintaining order, controlling the message, cloaking the military takeover in civilian clothes, and rolling out measures to improve the economy. All these issues are ultimately intertwined.
With regards to maintaining order, already, police officers have been rounded up throughout Zimbabwe and Mugabe has reportedly been placed under house arrest. It is unlikely that there will be heavy infighting within the security sector given the broad support for General Constantino Chiwenga (commander of Zimbabwe’s Defence Forces), Air Marshal Perence Shiri, Lieutenant-General Valerio Sibanda (Commander of the National Army) and Mnangagwa.
War veterans have also been brought in to provide legitimacy to the coup. Their role should not be underestimated. For years, Zimbabwean propaganda has praised them as the liberators of the country. The War Veterans, then under the leadership of the late Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, were also the ones who were instrumental in the country’s land grab.
Current chairman of the War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, has thus far praised the military coup leaders for setting Zimbabwe on a path to restore “genuine democracy” after it was captured by rogue elements. It is probable that Mutsvangwa will also play an important role in terms of presenting a friendly face on behalf of the ‘new’ regime. He is a prominent businessman, politician, and diplomat. He was instrumental in developing Mugabe’s Look East Policy where Zimbabwe began to focus increasingly on China to replace Western businesses after the country was hit by sanctions. At the same time, Mutsvangwa has served as a diplomat in the Western world, and he has a positive reputation among Western diplomats.
As for messaging, the coup makers moved rapidly to take over the state-owned media in order to control the message. Their main focus has been, and will continue to be, to legitimise the military coup. This will involve justification of the coup by for example saying that this has been done in the name of national interest and ultimately for the greater good.
At the same time, the coup makers will satanize Grace Mugabe and other G40 members like Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukwuere and Ignatius Chombo. They will parade their wealth and all their dirty laundry in front of the television cameras so as to demonstrate that these individuals were looting Zimbabwe at the expense of the average Zimbabwean. The lines between “us” and “them” and “good” and “evil” will become more pronounced in the coming days.
Another big part of the gaining popular support for the coup will be to make economic development a key priority. For a start, coup makers will have to dampen the country’s hyperinflation. They will also do their best to court Zimbabwean, South African and Western businesses. One can expect them to stress the importance of private property rights in order to bring some form of predictability back into the economy.
The coup makers will also have to call on some favours from China. Despite his Look East Policy, Chinese companies have reportedly had a difficult relationship with Mugabe after they were recently accused by him of siphoning off $15 billion in diamond revenue. Less than a week ago, G40 attempted to finger Mnangagwa for looting the revenues, but in truth, they were all in it together. Chinese companies will therefore have to cough up some diamond revenues in exchange for guarantees that their interests in Zimbabwe will not be harmed. It is likely that this was a central issue that Chiwenga ironed out with the Chinese during his recent visit to the country shortly before the coup. China could also provide Zimbabwe with some protection within the United Nations Security Council if need be, especially if issues such as sanctions of military intervention are raised.
Legitimising the Military Coup and Scenarios
Despite the evidence, the military has claimed that what has transpired in Zimbabwe is not a coup. This is a crucial issue, given that both the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) generally react negatively towards coups d'état. Their reactions to past coups in the region have ranged from membership suspension to military intervention. The latter move is unlikely at present, but there will definitely be a lot of pressure by SADC and the AU to return the levers of power to civilian hands.
Military coups can be flued, but broadly speaking, there are three scenarios to remove Mugabe and to install a civilian government (even if the latter will merely be window dressing). One, coup leaders could force Uncle Bob to resign in exchange for security guarantees for him and his family. They could strategically demand that Mnangagwa be reinstated as Vice President before his resignation. Legally speaking, that would make it easier for the Crocodile, as Mnangagwa is nicknamed, to become President.
In a second scenario, should Mugabe fail to cooperate, coup makers, with the help of their friends in ZANU-PF, could also argue that Mugabe has become “incapacitated” over the past few weeks, which is when Grace became the de facto President. This means that Mnangagwa’s dismissal as Vice President was unconstitutional, and instead of being fired, he should have legally become President of the country. As a result, he will simply be ‘reinstated’ in his ‘rightful’ position.
A third scenario would be to call for an extraordinary ZANU-PF conference. Mugabe can then be officially removed as president of the party (and subsequently also the country) and ‘democratically’ replaced by Mnangagwa or a compromise candidate. This by no means entails that succession will be easy, as succession rules are very murky. But, with G40 out of the way and the military in control, there is a greater chance that ZANU-PF will unite behind one candidate.
Finally, coup leaders could form some sort of a Government of National Unity (GNU) akin to the one birthed by the Global Political Agreement after the violent 2008 elections. This would make the military coup more attractive to Zimbabwe as a whole at it would give the illusion of inclusivity and hope. In this effort, they will attempt to construct another GNU by bringing in representatives, not only from ZANU-PF, but also from opposition parties. One can expect that the military will engage a wide-ranging group of players, including Joice Mujuru, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, and Welshman Ncube. They will also likely promise free and fair elections within a reasonable time period.
Some opposition figures might respond favourably to the coup makers for two reasons: Firstly, after a long absence from government, they will be tempted to be part of it given that it would provide them with access to some form of power and resources. Secondly, they might hope that the military coup represents the possibility to effect change. However, they should not be blinded as to how this military coup came into being. This is the same security sector that helped to keep Mugabe in power for nearly four decades, the very man who is about to be vilified. In the absence of serious institutional changes, the risk is that they will again be disposed as soon as the next general election is announced, and we know why they call it general elections.
What If the Crocodile Comes Out on Top?
As seen, in several of the scenarios, Mnangagwa stands a good chance to replace Mugabe as President. I remember meeting him at a function at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013 at the Rainbow Towers in Harare. It was during the country’s Constitution making process and I was keen to gage his perspective on the matter. After exchanging a few pleasantries, I asked him about his background in law. I said to him, “They say you are well versed in legalese”, to which he icily responded, “I am a military man.”
Mnangagwa has been a key player within the security establishment from the very beginning. He also has strong links with the political and security establishment in SADC as well as China. But it is his political unpopularity that should raise the most serious red flags. As a candidate, he has proven to be unpopular in past elections. It means that should he be fielded as ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate at some point in the future, he will most likely resort to familiar methods that have served him well in the past - threats, violence and extreme electoral manipulation - in order to stay on top.
In the coming weeks though, the military coup leaders will attempt to soften Mnangagwa’s image. They will present him, not as a “military man” as he put it to me, but as a victim and a humble politician ready to serve the nation. His background and experience in law will certainly come in handy to perform legal gymnastics to legitimise this coup.
Those who already rejoice over the removal of Mugabe in the hope that something better is on the horizon will most likely be disappointed. What has happened represents merely a readjustment of the old older rather than a new beginning.
Leon Hartwell was the Senior Policy Adviser for Political and Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Harare from 2012-2013. He is currently a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University focusing on conflict resolution and mediation.
13 November, 2017
by Philippe Burger
(Professor of Economics, University of the Free State, South Africa)
South Africa has a triple challenge of high unemployment, high poverty and high inequality. The latest official unemployment rate falls just shy of 28%, while the so-called broad unemployment rate exceeds 36%. In addition to people actively searching for a job, the broad unemployment rate also includes those who want a job but because of job scarcity stopped looking for one (they are also called discouraged work-seekers). Whereas in other countries typically six out of ten working-age individuals work, in South Africa it is just a bit more than four out ten. That increases the dependency ratio in South Africa of non-working individuals (of all ages) to working individuals significantly.
In 2009, during the global financial crisis, 796 000 workers lost their jobs. Broad unemployment increased by 918 000 people during this period. After the crisis subsided employment started to increase, but at a very slow pace. From the end of 2008 to the end of 2016 the number of employed workers increased by 1.3 million. But unemployed people seeking jobs increased by 1.7 million, while discouraged work-seekers increased by 1.1 million. Thus, using the broad definition of unemployment, the number of unemployed people increased by 2.8 million. This is more than double the increase in employed workers. Clearly South Africa does not create enough jobs. Furthermore, unemployment and non-participation in the labour market are the largest contributors to poverty and inequality in the South Africa. Thus, reducing unemployment will go far to deal with reducing poverty and inequality.
Empirical evidence shows us that higher economic growth translates into higher employment growth. However, historically the growth in employment resulting from economic growth in South Africa has not been very strong (economists call this a low employment intensity of economic growth). Over the period 1982 to 2017 for every 1% that the economy grew employment grew on average by only between 0.23% and 0.3%. In many countries this is closer to 0.5%.
South Africa also suffers from stagnating, low growth. Whereas the economy grew in excess of 5% in the mid-2000s, by 2016 growth fell to 0.5%. This is less than the population growth rate of 1.61% in 2017, indicating that per capita income is actually falling. Unlike earlier recessions, such as the recession in the late 1990s that followed the Asian crisis, and the so-called Great Recession of 2008/9 that followed the global financial crisis, the recessionary conditions characterising South Africa currently seems mostly of its own making.
Policy uncertainty and a seeming longstanding unwillingness of the government to address a number of deep structural problems characterising the South African economy has contributed to a loss of confidence among both investors and consumers, and hence to the fall in economic growth. To reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality requires that economic growth be inclusive. However, it is often forgotten that for growth to be inclusive, there first needs to be growth.
At the conclusion of its most recent visit to South Africa in November 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights the need for the South African government to address issues causing the loss of confidence. The IMF also opines that to restore confidence, an announcement on much-needed reforms that increase competition and reduce input costs to businesses and households should be made sooner rather than later.
Confidence is further weakened by fears that rampant corruption and so-called state capture is undermining the democratic structures of the country. Indeed, the need to roll back corruption and state capture is increasingly seen as a prerequisite to restoring investor confidence. Only then will economic growth stand a chance of returning to levels last seen in the mid-2000s; only then can the triple challenge of high unemployment, high poverty and high inequality be addressed.
Standard growth theory tells us that economic growth depends in the first instance on a country’s levels of physical and human capital. South Africa lacks fixed (physical) capital investment. And its poor school performance means that it fails dismally in the creation of human capital.
The lack of fixed investment is not a new phenomenon. From 1992 to 2007 the total public and private capital stock of the country, expressed as a ratio of total income earned in the country, fell from almost 353% to just more than 256% in 2007. It then rebounded to reach 275% in 2015 (mostly as a result of the construction of the Medupi and Kusile power stations). To restore these capital stock levels requires much higher levels of fixed investment than is currently characterising the economy. In addition, given that the drop in the country’s capital-to-income ratio resulted from a drop in both public and private capital, investment is needed in both the public and the private sectors.
To restore private investment requires the roll back of corruption and the implementation of policy reforms that address the economy’s deep structural problems. Public investment in the form of infrastructure development is also necessary. However, the state of finances of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises and the growing public debt-to-GDP ratio of the national government put a limit on government’s ability to expand infrastructure investment. To cut debt and increase public sector investment will require a cutback in government’s current expenditure, of which government’s salary bill constitutes a large proportion (larger than is usual in South Africa’s emerging market peer-group countries). Given the limit on government’s borrowing capacity, policy should also consider supporting private investment in what traditionally was considered the realm of public investment. Examples include renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
The structural reform policies that the government needs to implement, must also include policies that ensure inclusivity – otherwise economic growth will not be inclusive. Key inclusive policies that also support growth include tenure rights reform on communal land, policy to significantly improve South Africa’s dismal education system, and policy to support investment.
More than 30% of South Africans still live on communal land, mostly located in the former apartheid homelands. Most of this land is still controlled by traditional leaders, with individuals living on the land lacking proper tenure rights to the land. Tenure reform must ensure that communities gain control of communal land and that individuals farming plots of land have tenure security that they can leverage to access commercial and development finance. To reduce input costs and improve market access, the government must also facilitate the development of proper supply chains within which small-scale farmers can be embedded.
|Farmers in South Africa (by Solidarity Center)|
In the longer run inclusion in both urban and rural areas will depend on education. According to StatsSA almost half of the unemployed did not complete high school, with a further 11% having completed only primary school or less. This contrasts with just more than a third of the employed not having completed high school and a further 13% completing only primary or less. Only 7.8% of the unemployed hold a tertiary qualification. This contrasts with 20.3% of employed workers holding a tertiary degree. The mismatch between the qualifications of the employed and the unemployed shows that lower levels of education coincides with a higher probability to be unemployed. In addition, research by Hanushek and Woessmann clearly shows that countries whose children score better in mathematics and science are also countries that grow much faster. And note that it is not only rich countries that grow fast. To the contrary, many emerging market countries appear on the list of fast growers.
Even though education will contribute to faster economic growth, given the time it takes to educate people, education remains a long-term policy (though with a short-term urgency to implement it). To spur growth in the short- to medium term requires higher levels of fixed investment. Ensuring policy certainty, business-friendly economic policy and a willingness to see the business sector as a true partner in developing the economy, will spur the business sector to invest. The government should then encourage a recursive investment policy, i.e. a policy that not only encourages investment, but also the reinvestment of the returns made on investment. Irrespective of whether such investment takes place in labour- or capital-intensive industries, employment will increase. We know this from the all too brief growth spurt of the mid-2000s when, even though South Africa has a low employment intensity, economic growth of between 3% and 5.5% reduced the unemployment rate from about 29% to 21% between 2003 and 2008.
11 November, 2017
by Mlandvo Ndwandwe
A country once called the breadbasket of Southern Africa has constantly failed under the autocratic leadership of President Robert Mugabe. His disdain for his own people was demonstrated when President Mugabe sacked his popular long-serving Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa was seen as a leading contender to succeed President Mugabe and his removal appeared to clear the way for the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, to take over. Mnangagwa’s dismissal follows a familiar pattern. The former Vice President Dr. Joyce Mujuru was dismissed as a result of false accusations of not being loyal to Robert Mugabe and wanting to overthrow him. Similar charges were levelled at Mnangagwa.
Hailed as the military mastermind of the 1970 war against settler-colonialist forces of the Ian Smith regime, Mnangwana, gained tremendous popularity within the ranks of ZANLA, the former military wing of the Zimbabwe African National Union, ZANU. We’re not talking about a peace-time hero here but a war veteran who spent more than 10 years in prison for fighting against colonialism and a freedom fighter that proved his endurance during difficult times by passing important examinations for his junior law degree whilst incarcerated. As a result, Mnangagwa’s popularity and subsequent dismissal raises questions as to Zimbabwe’s future stability.
Why was Mnangwana fired just now?
Mnangwana is one of the few public servants who has served as a minister since the first administration in 1980, as a Minister of State Security, to the Ministry of Defence, Rural Housing and Social Amenities, Speaker of Parliament and again Minister of Justice before being appointed Vice President three years back by President Mugabe. Being loyal, committed and performing from 1980 surely we cannot accept the lame excuse given by the Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo, “It had become evident that his conduct in the discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities,” who announced the dismissal. Mnangwana is an extremely experienced bureaucrat who cannot be recalled from office without concrete evidence or at least a formal investigation. The question is, why is the Vice President displaying undesirable conduct 37 years in the same government he helped to build?
The context is important in dispelling the official narrative that the loyal Vice-President was incompetent and therefore needs to be dismissed. On 12th August 2017, Emmerson Mnangwna was reportedly poisoned during the Zanu-PF rally in Gwanda which is in the southern part of Zimbabwe. On his return to his office on the 19th August, rumors were spread that he was planning to take power ‘unconstitutionally’. These rumours were allegedy spread by top ranking members of the ruling party including Mrs Grace Mugabe. The level of infighting within ZANU-PF is intimately related to post-Mugabe succession politics. As the spokesperson of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) asserted, Zanu-PF is, "simply a group of cannibals who feast on each other's political blood."
What does this mean to the political future of Zimbabwe?
Democratic structures are grossly undermined and political insurrection is inevitable. We see an institutionalization of the Mugabe dynasty in the same pattern as we have witnessed dynastic succession in same as we saw it entrenched in North Korea and Gabon. Speculation is rife that Mnangagwa’s removal is part of the elaborate plan to get the First Lady to succeed her ailing husband. Zimbabwe is at the brink of total political collapse and the destruction to come will reduce the country to a kleptocratic dictatorship maintained only by state repression. The future of the country looks increasingly abysmal and socio-economic recovery is unlikely to be achieved.
What should Zimbabweans do?
The masses of the people should start participating in the country’s politics, especially during local and national elections. The people of Zimbabwe are their own saviors and should take their voting powers seriously. To avoid what happened in the 2008 rigged national elections they should fully participate in the electoral processes – and not boycott them. This includes campaigning for a democratic dispensation, fixing their accountability structures and casting and counting of votes. Sacrifices are unavoidable, the regime will victimize some citizens but they cannot stop the collective will of the people as we witnessed during the Arab Spring. Zimbabweans should take control of their destiny or suffer the consequences of complacence in a kleptocratic dictatorship.
The international community were wrong-footed with Mnangagwa’s ouster. Western countries, in particular, supported Mnangagwa on account of his proposed business-friendly policies. The international community should speak with one collective voice and exert pressure on Harare to ensure that any future poll is free and fair – so that the voice of ordinary Zimbabweans are heard.
19 October, 2017
by Moitshepi MoAfrika Lipholo
(Student Leader, University of the Free State, South Africa)
In 2015, South Africa was subjected to significant student driven protest actions in the higher education sector. This was based in the form of various social movements beginning with the #Rhodes Must Fall campaign at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The actions of a postgraduate student at the UCT pouring human waste over the campus statue of the colonialist Cecil John Rhodes gave birth to the #Rhodes Must Fall movement. The demand for eradication of colonialist and Apartheid symbols such as buildings, statues, artworks, and names in the higher education spaces linked to the apartheid past, can be regard as the first phase for the students’ revolt. This first phase was pregnant with the call for free education under the hash tag Fees must Fall.
A new phase of the student movement started at Wits University after the leaked information that the Johannesburg university was about to increase its fees by 10. 5%. On 14 October 2015 South Africa was trending with #FeesMustFall. The students used social media as the tool to mobilize other students to protest against the increase of fees. On the same day students also started to shut down campuses across the country. On this day too, the former Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande was hosting the Summit on Transformation in Higher Education in Durban with different stakeholders. The students boycotted the summit. This was a sign of problems ahead regarding the affordability of fees in higher education for poor deserving students. At the end of October that year, students closed almost all campus around the country. They also managed to bring the country to a standstill and forced a freeze on fees increase. The call for free education was the fight against the commodification of education in South Africa. The notion that the only way to access higher quality education is by paying a premium for it was very wrong and dangerous. This was the perception of students fighting for free education.
The government of President Jacob Zuma started to realise that what they now were confronted with in the student movement was much more serious than they initially assumed. The call for free decolonized quality education was marked by the eruption of violent protests around university campuses. The main reason violence was adopted by students in their protests was because of the decision by government to militarize the university campuses. Students saw the entry of police on campuses as part of the government strategy to stop the call of free education by the students. University campuses were transformed into ‘police stations’ because of the high number of police officers and private security guards around campuses. Others started to blame the ANC government for using the same strategies as the Apartheid government under PW Botha, by using state security as the solution to bring stability. For the rest of 2016, universities adopted the strategy to fight with fire. The student protestors took fire to lecture rooms, cars, computer laboratories, statues, university paintings, administration buildings, residences, and the offices of vice-chancellors. The justification behind their actions was that the only language the government understood was violence and burning.
Throughout the South African history, intellectuals and academics have often played a key role in struggle for the modernisation of societies, national liberation and social justice. But the question was why they now failed to play a role in this call for free education? Is South Africa facing the pitfall of the intellectuals or had they forgotten that they still have to play part in solving this social inequality? The students continued to question why do the poor have to pay for higher education in the country that is blessed with natural resources? The corruption and maladministration in the government was some of the reasons why the government failed to provide for free education.
Free education in South Africa is a constitutional right. So, when students protest they indeed fight for a noble cause. South African politicians routinely sell dreams and make promises of free education to the electorate. The call for free education by the students was a way to remind the ruling government what they promised the poor and the students. When President Zuma was re-elected for his second term as the president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Manguang, he mobilized support under the message of ‘delivering free higher education.’ Even the historic documents of the ANC indicate that the ANC supported free education. The most celebrated ANC historic document ‘The Freedom Charter’ is the testimony that the ANC had been promising the people of South Africa free higher education. The Freedom Charter was adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955. In this document under the heading ‘The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened’, the fourth line highlights that “Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.”
At the close of the 2016 academic year, government officials, heads of universities, leaders from the private sector, and civil society met once again to find ways for providing free high quality education. An agreement was concluded to fully fund poor students and to provide aid to the missing middle class students. These are students who are not rich enough to pay their fees and on the other hand not poor enough to qualify for state funding. In 2017 President Zuma established a commission to find ways to provide for free education. The commission submitted the report in the middle of 2017, but even now the president has not made the report public. As the nation is waiting for the response from the president, October 2017 witnessed different universities announcing that they will increase fees by 8 percent. The University of Stellenbosch was the first to make the announcement of an 8 percent increase followed by the Central University of Technology in the Free State with the same percent. The country can expect that all universities around the country will follow the same pattern of 8 percent.
The nation has to wait to see if the students will submit or challenge this decision of increase fees by 8 percent. The question that is dominating the conversation around South Africa is what the students will do to put pressure on the president to make the report public. Only time will tell, whether the country will go back to the phase of students closing campus around the country or whether the president will give them what they what - free education.
09 October, 2017
by Michaela Elsbeth Martin
The emergence of a democratic South Africa in 1994 marked the beginning of a transition period from the brutal Apartheid-government to a newly democratised state. The first president of the new South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela, played an instrumental role in unifying the country and establishing democratic values with human rights at the forefront of his administration. Former President Nelson Mandela thus succeeded in creating responsive and accountable state institutions. The ANC at the time had a type of leadership calibre that spoke directly to the democratic project the country desperately needed. The leadership that followed consequently built on the established democratic values projected in 1994 with a more pragmatic approach to economic, social and political development in South Africa and Africa as a whole.
Under the leadership of former President Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s economic growth was at 4.2 percent per annum, and South Africa also contributed to the rejuvenation of Africa’s most pivotal institutions such as the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) in 2002. This reformation was coupled with additional institutions such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), Africa’s Peer Review Mechanism, and the formation of the bloc of developing countries BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). These institutions helped ensure the complete integration of South Africa into the international system and global economy. South Africa, under President Mbeki’s tenure displayed an image of strong leadership at a local, regional and international level. It can be argued that South Africa’s leadership style between 1994 and 2007 led to a large degree of democratic consolidation within the state, and an integration of the state and its institutions into regional and international bodies.
However, the calibre of the political elites that emerged in the post-Polokwane Conference in 2007, proved to be lacking in capacity and integrity. The Zuma administration’s capacity to lead state institutions and serve ordinary citizens has not been strong. In response to this decline, and the perception that radical economic policies are only benefiting party elites, the rhetoric of revolution has been growing louder. Ordinary citizens, especially the youth and women are economically marginalised. Moreover, there exist general feelings among government structures that if you are not with us, you are against us, and if you are against us, there is very little you can do to influence the country’s policy.
|President Jacob Zuma|
More problematically, consultation with the population means consultation with the African National Congress (ANC) branches and structures. Ordinary citizens outside these structures have limited spaces to make known their grievances. In essence then, the people are taken to be the members of the ANC and conversely the ANC is regarded as the people. It is this kind of high-handed hegemonic project and the persona of President Zuma that is having a serious impact on the South African state. The leadership crisis is coupled with intense factional battles fuelled by the desire to benefit from state coffers and this has led to the repurposing of state institutions to benefit power elite in the government. Moreover, President Zuma is hell-bent on staying in power, with his faction preparing itself to destroy the ANC and the national government to do so. The political and economic implications of the mismanagement of state resources and the lack of state capacity have left the South African state in a dire position. The economy has been seriously affected by the leadership crisis, with South Africa operating in junk status and an economic crisis; ordinary citizens are barely surviving with the unemployment rate at 27 percent.
With the upcoming ANC electoral Conference in December 2017, there has been much debate on who will be the next president of South Africa. The hope amongst the much of the general public, the opposition and the ANC, is that the challenges that beset the country will abate with the departure of the current President and that the constitutional fabric of post-apartheid democracy will be restored. The top six, referring to the ANC’s most senior leaders are known, appear to be evenly split. One faction consists of President Zuma, ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, and Baleka Mbete, who is both the National Assembly speaker and party chairwoman. In opposition to the Zuma faction are the 'reformers' consisting of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, and ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize.
It is imperative to note that without a serious change in leadership in the ANC the party might lose complete power of South Africa in the 2019 General Elections. The popularity of the ANC under the Zuma presidency has already declined significantly and has been criticised for being out of touch with its constituents and is associated with poor local administration.
16 September, 2017
by M. K. Mahlakeng
On 5 September 2017, Lesotho experienced yet another killing of the Lesotho Defence Force’s (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo. This is the second killing of Lesotho’s army commander in just two years. Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao, who was appointed as LDF commander to replace the then LDF commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli, was shot dead by LDF members who had come to arrest him for allegedly being leading a mutiny to oust the army command.
|The late Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo|
Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was gunned down in his office at the Ratjomose barracks by Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Brigadier Bulane Sechele. The duo who were implicated in Lt-Gen Mahao’s killing had come to confront Lt-Gen Motšomotšo on issues pertaining to the investigation of the January 2014 bombing of the homes of PM Tom Thabane’s wife MaIsiah Thabane and that of the then Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) commissioner (ComPol) Khothatso Tšooana; the May 2014 shooting of Lisebo Tang and Tšepo Jane by former LDF commander Lt-Gen Kamoli’s bodyguards in which the respective Lisebo and Tšepo were sitting in a car that was parked near Lt-Gen Kamoli’s residence; and, the June 2015 killing of Lt-Gen Mahao. All of which were part of the SADC mandate.
The concern by both Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele over Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s facilitation and cooperation with the LMPS in investigating these unique but yet related issues was that they felt exposed to conviction if these matters were investigated further. Moreover, they felt that the commander was, in contrast to protecting army personnel implicated in these events, selling them out. Hence he [Motšomotšo] came to be branded a “sell-out” among several military personnel. Given his close relationship with the duo [Hashatsi and Sechele] and former army commader [Kamoli], Motšomotšo was expected to ignore the SADC mandate and recommendations implicating them [Hashatsi and Sechele] and/or other military personnel in these incidences.
According to the Public Relations Officer who was with Lt-Gen Motšomotšo at the time of his confrontation with Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele, the duo enjoyed frequent access to Lt-Gen Motšomotšo and always had their firearms with them given their status as senior and/or high-ranking officers. During their encounter with Motšomotšo, Hashatsi and Sechele aggressively questioned the former as to why he was cooperating with Prime Minister Thabane and the LMPS, in particular regarding the SADC mandate to investigate numerous members of the LDF involved in atrocities under Lt-Gen Kamoli’s tenure. It is alleged that in his response, Motšomotšo stated that the investigation into these acts is in fulfilment of a mandate by SADC and any aspect relating to the SADC’s mandate is not exempt from investigation.
For many within and outside the military forces, this statement would mean two possible realities. Firstly, Motšomotšo would proceed with the SADC’s recommendations (in an attempt to signal a sense of legitimacy from his part as the new army commander), but eventually create a cover-up to save his colleagues. And/or secondly, he [Motšomotšo] would see the investigation processes through to their finality, to a point where all members of the LDF implicated cases of murder, attempted murder and treason were suspended and/or convicted. This would also be an attempt to signal a sense of legitimacy from his part as the new army commander. However, for Hashatsi and Sechele, the latter possibly appeared to be rising. Following this confrontation with the army commander, Sechele then took out his firearm and fatally shot Motšomotšo. Subsequent to this, Motšomotšo’s bodyguards shot both Sechele and Hashatsi, with the former dying on the spot and the latter succumbing to his wounds and dying later that day in hospital. What was later found at the scene of the shooting was a hand grenade on Sechele and Hashatsi respectively.
Following the killing of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo, Major General Lineo Poopa was then appointed as acting LDF commander by virtue of his ranking as second in command to Motšomotšo’s. However, given the intense divisions within the military, his role, popularity and either success and/or demise will be highly tested. Moreover, given his part in the LDF command that killed Lt-Gen Mahao, Maj-Gen Poopa and the LDF’s future raises further concerns.
02 July, 2017
by Michaela Elsbeth Martin
As South Africa’s political and economic environment continues to deteriorate, the phenomenon of State Capture remains at the heart of its institutional decay. This came after an explosive cache of emails form inside the Gupta Empire (South Africa’s alleged captors), revealed how the family obtained several businesses from the government. The series of emails additionally revealed the extent of the Gupta family’s control over state owned companies and their CEOs, as well as their board members. This evidence could not have come at a more appropriate time. President Jacob Zuma’s political clock is quickly running out, amid mounting confirmation of state capture and growing opposition within the African National Congress (ANC).
The correspondence within the Gupta-compound provided insight into the critical role of the President’s son, Duduzane Zuma, in presidential matters. Mr D Zuma remains a close Gupta associate, even after reports last year circulated that he cut ties with the family. Moreover, President Zuma continuously defends his association with the controversial family, as well as his son’s business partnership with them. It is believed that Mr D Zuma has made billions through this strategic partnership.
The cache of emails reflected the following about the Gupta family’s influence within the South African government. Firstly, it became known that the résumé of Mr Mosebenzi Zwane’s, Minister of Mineral Resources, was emailed to the Gupta’s just a month before his appointment. The emails revealed that Mr Zwane had close ties with the family prior to his appointment in July 2015. Just three months after his appointment, the minister was on a working trip in Zurich where he helped to facilitate the sale of the Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga to a company owned by the Guptas and Mr D Zuma. Since Mr Zwane’s appointment as Mineral Resource Minister, South Africa’s Mining Industry has been at its lowest, which is directly attributable to draconian labour legislation, corruption, political demagoguing, and the reluctance of organisations to adhere to the law.
Secondly, the leaked emails revealed that former Minister of Communications, now Minister of Public Services, Faith Muthambi, in 2014, directly forwarded a presidential proclamation to Tony Gupta detailing her powers before it was signed by President Zuma. The regulations listed in the email gave the communications minister wide-ranging power over the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, including the power to make policies, and issue policy direction and oversee applications pertaining to network licences, radio frequency plans and commercial broadcasting licences. Ms Muthambi was appointed Public Service and Administration Minister in the cabinet reshuffle in March this year. As Communications Minister, she was accused of allowing the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), to be plundered and run into the ground.
The emails additionally shed light on President Zuma’s decision to replace former Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene with Des van Rooyen in the autumn of 2015. Email correspondences show that Mr Van Rooyen repeatedly gave false testimony when he asserted to have paid for a private trip to Dubai, just shortly after his appointment to the cabinet in December 2015. However, the leaked emails revealed that the trip was financed and sponsored by the Gupta’s, and booked just a day before his departure on December 2015. Mr Van Rooyen however vehemently denied that this trip was planned in a short period of time, and asserted that it was planned long before his appointment as member of cabinet. Relatedly, on arrival as Finance Minister, Mr Van Rooyen was accompanied by advisers, Mohamed Bobar and Ian Whitley, who is said to be also affiliated to the Guptas. It is on this basis that it is claimed that Mr Van Rooyen’s appointment as Minister of Finance was influenced and instigated by the Captors of the South African state.
The leaked Gupta emails demonstrate how entrenched the family has become in the South African government. They reveal that President Zuma is not only incapable of leading the country, but also that he continues to place his own needs before those of the nations. This point is not an empty rhetoric as it speaks to the point that the Gupta family had bought President Zuma a R330-million retirement home in the upmarket suburb of Emirates Hills in 2015, in the same year that the President’s son bought an apartment valued at R18-million in the Burj Khalifa. Analysts concur that this approach of give and take between the two families in particular, emanates from the Gupta’s primary goal of gaining access, control and influence over South African state institutions and mechanisms.
From the above it is apparent that the once celebrated African nation, commended for its courage of fighting vigorously against an oppressed system, has now backslid into another classical example of an African state characterised by corruption, political, economic and institutional decay.
27 June, 2017
by M. K. Mahlakeng
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and former Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, has returned to power. This is following 3 June 2017 elections which came at the background of a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his seven-party coalition government. This no-confidence vote led to the dissolution of the ninth Parliament in Lesotho on 6 March 2017. Dissolving parliament was one of two options PM Mosisili had at the face of the success of the motion. Contrary to this, the PM would have had to resign as PM and allow for his party deputy to lead the Democratic Congress (DC) - a leading partner in the 2015 coalition government- in Parliament and subsequently becoming the PM. However, opting for the dissolution of parliament meant that an election date must be announced. As such, elections should be held within a period of three months of the dissolution.
The outcome of the results saw Thabane leading the race despite failing to gain an outright majority thus forcing him to form a coalition government with other political parties (i.e. Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress for Lesotho (RCL)). This sees the formation of the third coalition government in Lesotho in just five years (i.e. 2012, 2015 and 2017 respectively). Following the 26 May 2012 elections, Lesotho witnessed its first ever coalition government. This pact comprised of three political parties i.e. the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
This coalition government collapsed only two years in office as a result of poor leadership, and tensions and misunderstandings that occurred between coalition partners (especially between the ABC and LCD). This collapse of government led to the 28 February 2015 general snap elections which resulted in a second coalition government comprising of seven parties, i.e. the Democratic Congress (DC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independent Party (NIP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD). Following the 3 June election in 2017, Thabane’s ABC combined its 48 seats with the AD’s 9, BNP’s 5 and RCL’s 1, thus enabling them to pass the 61-seat threshold required to form government in the 120-seat National Assembly (NA).
However, in just two days before Thabane’s inauguration, his estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane, was shot dead on Wednesday 14 June at about 6:40 pm as she was about to enter her premises. Thabane and Lipolelo had been living separately since 2009. Subsequent to this was a divorce filed by Thabane in 2012. However, Lipolelo, through legal measures, never stopped pushing for her privileges as first lady.
In mid-January 2015, the High Court of Lesotho rule that “Lipolelo Thabane is the country’s official first lady and should be immediately afforded all benefits she is entitled to including a Chauffer driven government vehicle and a bodyguard”. This judgement appeared to be a major setback for the PM’s partner and current wife MaIsaiah Thabane, formerly known as Liabiloe Ramoholi whom Thabane customarily married as it effectively did not recognise her as the rightful wife of Thabane and first lady.
Nonetheless, the inauguration of PM-elect Thabane went ahead as scheduled on 16 June despite security claims, uncertainties and tempers flaring over the killing of Lipolelo. It is however still not clear on the actual cause of the assassination of Lipolelo Thabane. Nonetheless this hasn’t deterred people from either connecting the killing to PM-elect Thabane and his current wife who are seen to have had a lot to lose in the existence of his former wife post inauguration; or, to the outgoing government who it is perceived to cause instability in the country following their defeat in elections.
It must be noted however that, the PM, the Tranformation Resource Centre (TRC), Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), and other development partners have been silent on the killing of Lipolelo Thabane. This is contrary to their firm role in high profile assassinations, human rights violations and other security breaches in Lesotho. And the subsequent continuation of the inauguration further exacerbates these claims and uncertainties.