Sun, Aug

Accurate statistics are needed for the SA farm murder debate

The extent of violent crime in the farming community is hard to define without better data.

Recently thousands of farmers, supporters and sympathisers took to South Africa’s streets in an emotional but peaceful protest against the violent attacks on and murders of those involved in farming.

The protest action referred to as Black Monday originated from a call on social media by a friend of murdered Western Cape farmer Joubert Conradie for people to wear black on Monday 30 October 2017 in support of farm-attack victims.

While the initiative had substantial support, much of the public debate was dominated by accusations that it was racist in nature. This was due to the display of the old South African flag by a small number of protesters. The phenomenon of fake news also raised its ugly head, apparently aimed at polarising public opinion further and distracting attention away from the impact of violent crime on those involved in farming.

Violent crime is exceptionally high in South Africa and those who suffer the brunt of it typically live in poor and underdeveloped areas – evident in the extraordinarily high numbers of murders in places such as Nyanga, Inanda, Umlazi, Delft and Khayelitsha.

We have also seen increases in the most serious and reliable violent crime categories of murder and aggravated robbery in the past five years. Since 2012 the number of murders has increased by 22% and the number of armed robberies by 40%. All provinces have experienced a rise in armed robberies with the rural provinces of Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and the Free State recording some of the biggest increases. It is therefore not surprising that those involved in farming, commercial and otherwise will be negatively affected.

Those living in rural areas, particularly in isolated areas, are particularly vulnerable to armed attacks where help may take long to arrive. In cities, criminals involved in home and business robberies generally leave the crime scene quickly as police and private security responses can be fast. In rural areas perpetrators are able to stay on the property for longer, and are then more likely and able to subject their victims to extreme forms of torture and brutality.

Commercial farmers are well organised and have formed various agricultural unions, and so are better able to publicly draw attention to the way violent crime affects their sector. Because farmers are a relatively small minority in terms of numbers and are often seen to represent a particular sector of society, some people feel they’re drawing attention to their plight only and are unconcerned with what is happening in the larger society.

The lack of government statistics on farm attacks and murders makes it hard to clearly define the extent of the problem. This can largely be blamed on the decision by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to cease publishing statistics on this phenomenon in 2006/7. Then in 2014, the SAPS made a submission to the SA Human Rights Commission hearings on safety in farming communities on farm attacks. Earlier this year, in reply to a question in Parliament, they also released the statistics for 2016/17 which revealed that for some undisclosed reason, while they have the data, they’re not releasing it regularly.

Due to the lack of information from the SAPS, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TAU SA) established their own capability to monitor farm attacks and murders. AfriForum also developed a capacity for this purpose. While they claim to use the same definition of a farm attack, there are discrepancies in the numbers of attacks and murders, as seen below:









































2017 (until end Oct)





 (Note: SAPS use financial years and TAU SA calendar years)

The issue is further obscured by attempts to place a ratio on the risk that commercial farmers face compared to the national average. However Kate Wilkinson, in her analysis in Africa Check on 8 May 2017, points out some of the difficulties related to accurately calculating a ratio for farm murders, and for the murder of farmers in particular. This article was published in response to an article by this author in Africa Check in 2013, where a ratio for the murder of farmers was suggested as 120.3 per 100 000.  This was arrived at by using the official statistics for farmers involved in commercial agriculture as found by the Statistics SA survey of 2007.

Nevertheless, it is conceded that a ratio for ‘farmer murders’ (as opposed to farm murders more generally) is also problematic since we really don’t know how many of the murdered farmers qualify as ‘commercial farmers’ according to the criteria applied by Stats SA. Further research is under way.

South Africa faces a serious threat with the crimes of murder and robbery. No one is immune from these types of crime and we must find a way to stand together to address this problem. Different strategies may be needed to address the various types of murder.

Society will only be safer if all groups support the development of effective strategies that reduce any type of murder. The response to the recent Black Monday gatherings revealed how far we still have to go to bridge differences. But until we do, the only people to benefit will be those involved in violent crime. 

South Africa’s ‘short-term pain’ or ‘long-term gain’ future

Much depends on the outcome of the ANC’s elective conference – what is the best scenario for the country?

South Africa is at a crossroads. The political choices to be made during the African National Congress’s (ANC) leadership elections on 17 December will determine the country’s economic and developmental future for years to come.

This is essentially a choice between short-term pain (a Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma or #NDZ win) and subsequent long-term gain (the introduction of competitive politics during the 2019 elections), versus short-term gain and long-term pain (a Cyril Ramaphosa or #CR17 win) and the probable continued dominance of the ANC in government. Single-party dominance is seldom a long-term asset, and by 2019 the ANC will have been in power for 25 years.

If #CR17 and his reformist faction win decisively in December, it will probably mean an ANC victory in 2019, as the party will be able to attract disillusioned ANC supporters currently not voting. In Fate of the Nation I estimate that the ANC could obtain a comfortable majority of around 59% of support in this scenario.  South Africa would revert to its average historical growth rate of around 3.4% of GDP over time, although annual rates would fluctuate. 

In his ANC election manifesto published in Business Day in November, #CR17 has committed to a 2018 growth target of 3%. This is only possible if South Africa can avoid the downgrade of our long-term local currency debt ratings by Moody’s in February 2018. That downgrade is virtually assured if Jacob Zuma remains president into 2018 and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba presents the 2018/19 budget. Once South Africa is downgraded, growth will remain constrained for years.

The only way to avoid a downgrade is for the newly elected ANC leadership to recall Zuma in early January, and for the National Assembly to elect a new South African president (#CR17 in this instance) who will appoint a new cabinet, including an experienced and trusted replacement finance minister. 

The more likely muddling-along scenario – which I’ve named after the national soccer team Bafana Bafana – is of a compromise outcome, where #CR17 narrowly beats #NDZ to the top spot in the ANC’s elections. We know the conference won’t immediately proceed with the elections of the other members of the top six (or top nine if the ANC constitution is amended the previous day). This is a scenario where, after the announcement of #CR17 as president, #NDZ is nominated for election as deputy president of the ANC from the floor, and elected as such. The national executive committee (NEC) emerges as a mixed team of Reformers and Traditionalists, and #CR17 will take time to consolidate his grip on power.

The outcome is the bumbling-along, talk-left walk-right governing party and increasingly dysfunctional alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) we’ve seen for years.

Even this divided party would be an improvement on the current chaos within the ANC and in government. Instead of a cabinet comprising people of questionable ethics, proven incompetence and friendship with the Guptas, the Bafana Bafana future is one of some improvements in the coherence of government policy and implementation. This outcome though would be constrained by the need to include prominent figures from the #NDZ camp in cabinet, many of whom are ethically compromised or corrupt. 

South Africa would still be downgraded by Moody’s due to its inability to rapidly agree and implement the obvious measures required to unlock growth. Zuma and his cabinet would probably be recalled in about mid- to late-2018, but too late to improve our short- to medium-term economic prospects. In this scenario, I expect the ANC to get around 53% at the polls in 2019 but to lose Gauteng to a DA-led alliance.

An unlikely, but not impossible, scenario is that of a Nation Divided – where #NDZ and her traditionalist faction within the ANC triumph in the December 2017 elections. Should that victory not be found to be tainted by substantial corruption and subsequently overturned in court, it would result in the elevation to national power of a socially conservative ANC faction, not unlike the current administration. This grouping includes a profoundly corrupt clique who have excelled at patronage and abuse of state resources for private gain.

Under #NDZ, government is likely to emphasise redistribution as the path to growth (unproven elsewhere), and will pursue fiscally expansive policies such as free tertiary education, a higher minimum wage, expansion of social grants, more efforts at land redistribution without compensation and possibly even an adjustment to the mandate of the Reserve Bank. South Africa grows slower in this scenario than any other, partly due to increased debt and because it takes longer for the country to emerge from its ratings agencies downgrade with these policies in play.

The ANC is likely to split early in 2018 in the Nation Divided scenario. The first steps in this direction may already have started with the establishment of a new party, African Democratic Change, by Makhosi Khoza at the end of November – although it is more likely that she’d join a new party formed after a split than lead it. This new party would comprise the rump of the Gauteng ANC and other members of the reformist faction within the ANC defeated during the December 2017 elections.

Critical here is what #CR17 decides to do. It seems unlikely that he’d be prepared to serve under #NDZ.  Would he retire to his farm(s), return to the private sector or lead the split in the ANC? The latter would split the ANC down the middle and open a new and exciting chapter in South Africa’s future.

Even a smaller split, not led by #CR17 but by a smaller faction such as the ANC in Gauteng, would be different for two reasons. First, the new ANC splinter party could probably enter into a governing alliance with the DA in Gauteng after the 2019 elections. Once the ANC loses South Africa’s economic heartland its future is dim. Second, given the damage done to the ANC under Zuma, even a relatively small split within the ANC would pull it below the 50% majority at national level in 2019 and it would require the support of other parties to create a governing coalition.

Looking at the state of votes just days ahead of the elective conference, it is clear that a #NDZ win is only possible through the manipulation or purchase of branch delegates. Even then a Nation Divided outcome could, ironically, be good for South Africa in the longer term if it leads to a realignment of national politics in 2019.

Change is in the air, and may come sooner than we expect – but only if we are prepared for the associated pain.

Natural gas won’t solve Mozambique’s development challenges

Without basic service delivery and better budget management, gas reserves won’t help Mozambique’s poorest.

The discovery that Mozambique holds one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world has generated great optimism about the country’s future. But the recent sovereign debt crisis has cast serious doubt on the ability of the country to effectively manage the associated profits and better promote human development.

Without a concerted effort to ensure transparent management of gas revenues and channel that windfall into investment in basic human development, the country will continue to face barriers to inclusive growth.

A recent report from the African Futures Project (AFP) used the International Futures (IFs) forecasting system – housed at the Frederick S Pardee Center for International Futures – to assess Mozambique’s long-term development prospects and help frame uncertainty around the future of natural gas, economic growth and human development.

This research finds that even with the significant boost to economic growth from natural gas production, Mozambique will have essentially the same number of people living in extreme poverty in 2040 as it has today. This is largely due to rapid population growth, and continued lack of access to basic services experienced in the country.

Mozambique has averaged 7% GDP growth per annum over the past 20 years, but it still has some of the lowest levels of human development in the world. Of the 186 countries ranked by the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index, Mozambique ranks 183rd.

More than 65% of the population lives in extreme poverty and most of the country lacks access to basic infrastructure, health and education. Only 5% of the population has completed a secondary education, life expectancy is 5.5 years lower than the regional average and 22 million Mozambicans have no access to improved sanitation facilities.

IFs forecasts that Mozambique will improve access to education, health and infrastructure services over the next 23 years. But the country’s growing population, which is forecast to nearly double by 2040, will make it increasingly difficult to extend basic healthcare and education to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable. This challenge is best illustrated by looking at the forecast for extreme poverty in the country out to 2040.

Figure 1 below shows that the percentage of people in Mozambique living in extreme poverty will fall from around 65% in 2016 to about 35% by 2040. However, the absolute number of people surviving on less than US$1.90 per day will be roughly the same in 2040 as today.

Figure 1: Change in the percentage and absolute number of people living in poverty

Source: IFs v. 7.28 initialised from World Bank data

This trend is mirrored in other areas of service delivery, where the absolute number of Mozambicans in need of basic services is forecast to increase across various dimensions of human development. Table 1 shows the number of people (in millions) in need of basic services in Mozambique in 2016 and 2040 and highlights the increase in a number of key categories.

Table 1: Increase in number of people (millions) in need of basic services





 Primary and secondary aged children




 Population with piped water




 Population without improved sanitation




 Population without electricity




Source: IFs v. 7.28 initialised from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organisation (WHO)/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Bank data

Further adding to this challenge, the discovery of over US$1 billion in undisclosed government debt in the spring of 2016 triggered a suspension of aid from a number of donors and has called into question the government of Mozambique’s ability to effectively manage and distribute government revenue.

Although Mozambique faces stark challenges, there are opportunities to improve the future of the country. As part of this research, the AFP used IFs to explore alternative future scenarios for Mozambique that represent a successful five-year policy push in different areas of development.

Our research shows that concerted efforts to improve family planning and care, extend health and nutrition services and advance education outcomes over the next five years would help ensure that more of Mozambique’s young population have the opportunity to live full and productive lives. Meanwhile, boosting agricultural production and improving government transparency and effectiveness could help ensure that human development outcomes are paired with inclusive growth.

Further, if Mozambique can effectively manage gas extraction and ensure windfalls are used to advance human development and inclusive growth, 4 million fewer people could be living in extreme poverty by 2040. But if gas production is delayed, government budget management continues to deteriorate and the country fails to invest in human development outcomes, 11 million more people could be living in extreme poverty by 2040.

In other words, unless there is a significant improvement in budget management and basic service delivery, Mozambique’s vast gas reserves will do little to improve human development for the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.

South Africa’s squandered chance to show real leadership

Instead of threatening to leave the International Criminal Court, SA should be fighting for global justice.

Last year South Africa announced its decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). But the country’s efforts were stalled when the Pretoria high court ruled in February this year that President Jacob Zuma’s administration had acted unlawfully, forcing the country to revoke its notice of withdrawal.

For the court, South Africa’s decision was particularly problematic as it went against efforts to advance international justice; and, tellingly, the executive tried to bypass Parliament in doing so. The executive had also tried to bind South Africa – and future generations – to a toxic international nuclear power treaty with Russia. This move was blocked by the Cape Town high court in May. Again, Zuma’s executive had unlawfully attempted to bypass Parliament.

Yet the executive is back at it.

Last week, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha flew all the way to New York to announce that South Africa would try, again, to withdraw from the ICC. For a government so intent on leaving the court, it is curious that the minister saw it necessary to expend public funds to deliver the message in person. Why not simply send a diplomatic note?

More damaging were the optics and the timing. On the one hand, Masutha straight-facedly sought to suggest that South Africa had to withdraw so it could better pursue its role as peacemaker in Africa. On the other, Zuma’s government was perceived as cosying up to the likes of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and other African strongmen. 

Masutha’s speech was a depressing one to the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) – not only because of its message, but also because it comes at a time when South Africa’s standing in the world’s eyes is near Zuma-bottom. People sat in frustration and quiet (in)dignity while he told them he’d soon submit to Parliament South Africa’s intention to withdraw. He would also introduce a bill to scrap South Africa’s Implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC Act 27 of 2002 (a piece of legislation heralded by our courts as world-leading, and considered by the world to be so). The ultimate motivation for this, said Masutha, was that South Africa was upset with the ICC’s decision against it on 6 July 2017 for failing to arrest Al-Bashir; and the court’s failure, in particular, to recognise the immunities that Al-Bashir was said to be entitled to as head of state.

The tragedy of lost leadership was apparently lost on Masutha.

The issue of immunities for heads of state is one that deserves serious attention, and the ICC and the United Nations Security Council have done themselves no favours by not confronting it clearly and promptly.  But instead of using this as the basis for withdrawal, South Africa could lead the legal and political details of those debates.

As the Institute for Security Studies’ (ISS) Ottilia Anna Maunganidze notes: ‘These discussions are critical for the future of international criminal justice. South Africa has great potential here instead of acting like a petulant spoiler.’ South Africa could set the tone by working to improve the ICC from within, and could help set the ICC’s agenda.

This is Masutha’s opportunity to act like a leader. Had he been more like Nelson Mandela, and Zuma less like Al-Bashir, we might have considered ourselves poised to lead in the following ways.

First, South Africa would accept the ICC’s 6 July decision as the last word (for now) on the topic of immunities. Then, South Africa could have engaged with other States Parties to reform the Security Council process of referring matters to the ICC. The fear of politicised and opportunistic referrals by the Security Council, and the financial burden placed on the court that results from them, should be carefully considered by the ICC to ensure it isn’t doing anyone’s business but its own. In Africa alone, 33 countries are parties to the Rome Statute; if coordinated, their joint effort would represent the most powerful bloc within the treaty system.

Second, South Africa could help the ICC dispel a sense that its prosecutor is overly selective in the cases her office is willing to entertain, avoiding cases (think Palestine) where powerful proxy states like the US would prefer the court to look the other way. South Africa could lead the pack of states that genuinely want a court liberated of its political shackles and that puts its resources where its mouth is: towards prosecuting suspected war criminals without favour.

Third, South Africa could help solve the issue of immunities and constructively debate the problem of heads of state charged by the ICC. Here, South Africa and others would direct efforts at the UN Security Council by insisting that where the council intends to remove immunities from state officials when sending cases to the court, it should do so unambiguously.

The council could also be encouraged to improve its consultation process with African states and the African Union (AU) on ICC matters. South Africa is ideally suited to contribute to this process of reform and to serve as a bridgehead. This would also provide a worthy entry point to UN Security Council reform more generally.

Unless it is improved to build impartiality and neutrality in its work, the Security Council will continue to contribute to a view that its referrals are sinister political ploys rather than efforts at achieving universal accountability for mass atrocities.

Now is the time to get serious about Africa’s and South Africa’s commitment to international criminal justice, reform of the ICC, the Security Council’s relationship with the court, and how to resolve the real tensions between the AU and the ICC. For its part, the ICC should be consistent and seriously work to revitalise commitment to international criminal justice.

By re-engaging constructively with the ICC, South Africa would display a recommitment to values so sorely lost or threatened under Zuma’s government: accountability, the rule of law, shared values, and principle.

Creating conditions conducive to stability in Guinea-Bissau

The organisation of elections cannot be considered a lasting solution to the country’s crisis.

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The conclusions of this weekend’s 52nd Ordinary Summit of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will be decisive in resolving the political deadlock in Guinea-Bissau.

Despite the three-month time limit given to Guinea-Bissau authorities at the Monrovia Summit in June 2017 to implement the Conakry Agreement, the country’s political stalemate remains. This was concluded after an ECOWAS mission conducted on 1 and 2 December in Bissau, after consultations with the political actors.

The main deadlock to the agreement’s implementation is the appointment of Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embaló over Augusto Olivais, which wasn’t in line with the agreement. In an interview with Radio France International in November this year, ECOWAS mediator – Guinea’s President Alpha Condé – said a consensual decision on a prime minister had been reached out of the possible candidates submitted by president José Mário Vaz.

The maintenance of Sissoco’s government, despite the expiry of the constitutional deadline for the adoption of his governance programme by MPs and the numerous pleas of the international community calling for the implementation of the Conakry Agreement, has aggravated political tensions.

As the deadlock persists and the deadline for the 2018 legislative elections looms, those responsible for the political crisis must be held accountable. Consultations must resume to find a solution that will allow reforms to be implemented. The organisation of elections cannot be considered a lasting solution to this crisis which should be analysed in the context of the country’s recurrent political instability. The mandate of the National Assembly ends in May 2018, and legislative elections are to be organised in the same year.

In theory, these legislative elections could clarify the political game by leading to the emergence of a parliamentary majority and the formation of a legitimate government. This would also prevent the National People’s Assembly’s mandate from expiring and Vaz from standing as the only actor with democratic legitimacy. His mandate ends in 2019.

In reality, holding an election without the political crisis being resolved, is likely to further divide an already polarised political class and create conditions conducive to results being contested.

The Collective of Democratic Opposition Parties of Guinea-Bissau, composed of 18 political parties, which has been demanding the implementation of the Conakry Agreement for months, says no election should be organised by the Sissoco government, which it considers illegitimate. This position is reinforced by the role played by the Ministry of Territorial Administration in the electoral process, through the Technical Office for support to the Electoral Process (GTAPE). This entity is responsible for voter registration and the establishment of the electoral register, hence the mistrust by the opposition.

Moreover, the stalemate in the National Assembly risks undermining the normal functioning of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). The NEC depends on the National Assembly for the management of its budget, as well as the appointment of its president and the members of its executive secretariat.

Even in a best-case scenario, where parliamentary elections are held despite the institutional crisis and then lead to a clarification of the political game, the risk of a relapse into crisis remains high. This is because the major weaknesses and shortcomings of the institutional architecture are yet to be resolved.

The crisis has had a devastating impact on state institutions because of the inadequacy and vagueness of some of the constitutional provisions governing the semi-presidential system in Guinea-Bissau. This further highlights the need to implement reforms that have been scheduled for several years, including a revision of the constitution and the electoral framework.

There is broad consensus on the need to clarify important parts of the constitution, including the organisation and functioning of political power. There are also many political and civil society actors who advocate revisions to the electoral laws as required by the NEC report drafted after the 2014 general elections.

To find a solution to the deadlock, an additional round of consultations is needed, following the inclusive talks of 2016. This must be done in the spirit that guided the Conakry process. It must be inclusive and consensual, placing emphasis on the importance of implementing the major reforms that the country needs.

In these consultations, ECOWAS – supported by the other international actors of the five groupings involved in the peace process in Guinea-Bissau (the African Union, United Nations, European Union and Community of Portuguese Language Countries) – should adopt a more directive and firm stance. The continuation of the crisis, despite the efforts of national and international actors, clearly shows certain key players’ lack of interest in stabilising the country.

The authorities have not been able to find a consensual solution, despite the three months granted by ECOWAS and threats of individual sanctions. There is little hope for goodwill, and for political actors’ ability to go beyond self-interest. ECOWAS’s failure to respond after the deadline for implementation of the agreement expired is also unlikely to encourage actors to honour their commitments.

ECOWAS’s 52nd Ordinary Summit on 16 December is an opportunity for the regional organisation’s leadership to consolidate its position. Its credibility is at stake.  

A follow-up consultation – which should not elevate the president over other stakeholders, as he is a protagonist in the crisis – should lead to the establishment of a government that includes a substantial number of competent technocrats and individuals who are as apolitical as possible within the current context.

Finally, this process should define, on a consensual basis, an electoral calendar that allows for the adoption of specific priority reforms before the legislative elections. The coupling of legislative and presidential elections in 2019, which would allow more time for the necessary reforms, should also be considered.

Ultimately, such a process should be guided not only by the urgent need to end the current political crisis, but also by the desire to create the economic, social and political conditions that will provide lasting structural responses to the chronic instability that has characterised Guinea-Bissau since its independence.

Can South Sudan’s peace agreement be revitalised?

IGAD’s initiative is encouraging, but it’s unlikely to overcome obstacles that have bedevilled previous efforts.

With the civil war in South Sudan concluding its fourth year, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is maximising its efforts to revitalise the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) through the establishment of a High Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF). IGAD says this is the only viable way to build peace and stability in the country. But it faces multiple challenges.

The ARCSS was signed by four parties on 17 August 2015 through IGAD-led mediation and the support of the Norway-United Kingdom-United States Troika. The signatories were the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army in Government (SPLM/A-IG), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), former detainees, and a coalition of other political parties.

But this agreement only temporarily halted the catastrophic civil war that erupted in mid-December 2013 between the SPLM/A-IG and SPLM/A-IO. According to the ARCSS, a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) was established on a power-sharing basis that gave the SPLM/A-IG presidential power, and gave the vice presidency to the SPLM/A-IO. But this agreement collapsed in July 2016 when fighting resumed between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the SPLM/A-IO chief and TGoNU vice president Riek Machar Teny. Machar went into exile and Kiir replaced him with General Taban Deng Gai, a move that divided the SPLM/A-IO into two armed factions.

After the violation of the ceasefire agreement and collapse of the ARCSS, IGAD and its partners – including the Troika – took no effective measures against the perpetrators. As the fighting goes on, South Sudanese civilians continue to suffer human rights abuses, sexual and gender violence and denial of access to humanitarian aid. These violations are committed reportedly by both the government and the opposition forces.

The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State on 12 June 2017 decided to revitalise the ARCSS and directed its Council of Ministers to discuss with relevant parties how to restore a sustainable ceasefire, fully implement the ARCSS, and develop a revised and realistic timeline for elections.

An official working on the revitalisation plan told the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) that the process has three phases: pre-forum consultations, the establishment of an HLRF and the implementation of the agreements made by the HLRF. The first phase comprises discussions with various parties to identify those who should be included in the HLRF and mapping the complex interests of the different parties. IGAD has finalised the pre-forum consultation and is moving forward to establish the forum in the near future, the source says.

While IGAD’s revitalisation initiative is encouraging, the question remains how this initiative will differ from previous efforts in overcoming the inevitable obstacles. First, the varied actors in the process will challenge the revitalisation of the peace agreement. Since the collapse of the ARCSS, rebel forces have grown in the country. Like the parties to the ARCSS, these rebel forces are Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) factions who should be included in the process – any agreement without them will fail. As IGAD wants to apply inclusivity in the process, the challenge is on managing the actors’ many differing interests and views.

Second, the University of Juba’s Dr Jacob D Chol tells the ISS that the different parties involved in the conflict conceptualise the IGAD initiative differently. He notes that the SPLM/A-IG says the revitalisation is the same as what the government is trying to implement; SPLM/A-IO’s Taban Deng in the TGoNU argues that the revitalisation is pushing for the implementation of the ARCSS; and the SPLM/A-IO – led by Machar – disputes the process as rebooting and renegotiating a new peace deal that incorporates all the newly emerged rebel outfits.

From IGAD’s perspective, the revitalisation is about restarting the ARCSS – with some amendments to accommodate the interests of estranged groups, and a revision of the schedule for a realistic implementation process.

The third challenge is that no party to the ARCSS has fully embraced the initiative yet. IGAD announced recently that all parties unconditionally supported it and affirmed their readiness to engage in the process. But none seems to appreciate the initiative as the common and best forum for creating and building peace and stability in the country. They instead appear to be redefining and translating it based on their own needs and interests. Furthermore, the government doesn’t seem that keen on IGAD bringing on board the HLRF with such a multiplicity of actors.

Lastly, there is distrust and a lack of confidence among the ARCSS parties regarding IGAD’s mediating role. The government says it is being used by the Troika powers to impose their interests on the country. On the other hand, Machar’s SPLM/A-IO accuses IGAD of supporting only the government – and sees the HLRF as an initiative aimed at supporting Kiir’s National Dialogue project. That’s why Machar has expressed his frustrations with the peace process, saying IGAD is ‘no longer qualified’ to play the mediation role. He has further called on the African Union and the international community to support a resumption of new peace deal.

Overall, these obstacles to the peace initiative in South Sudan are not surprising. Since the conflict erupted, different initiatives such as ceasefire agreements, the reunification of the SPLM/A, the deployment of a regional protection force, and the establishment of a hybrid court were proposed and at times agreed on. But none have come about. This failure lies in the military and political leadership of the conflicting parties who, as splinter factions from the SPLM/A, have similar patterns of behaviour – as they all fought together against the government of Sudan.

The SPLM/A leaders lack vision for the statehood. So far they have been characterised by high-risk violent behaviour leading to conflicts being triggered in the country, more fighting, and the undermining of many peace efforts.

So considering all these challenges, what can be expected from the revitalisation process?

Nothing much. It will perhaps bring about a temporary cessation of hostilities that may also create another opportunity for rethinking better approaches, but it will not go beyond that to solve the problem.

As Chol argues, the solution to South Sudan’s problems lies in excellent political leadership that can address the demands of all the people. It is hard to expect this from any of the SPLM/A factions including the government – as long as they refuse to refrain from violent behaviour, and are reluctant to learn from their own mistakes.

When ‘democracy’ becomes ‘regime change’

Solidarity among Africa’s former liberation movements bolsters an undemocratic ethos.
15 DEC 2017

This week Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa and of its ruling African National Congress (ANC), was extremely preoccupied preparing for the party’s national conference which would elect his successor as party leader. So the party’s chairperson Baleka Mbete represented him at the biennial summit meeting of the FLM in Zimbabwe.

The FLM? Yes, it’s not a familiar acronym. But according to a statement released by the ANC’s sub-committee on international relations last week, it stands for the ‘Former Liberation Movement’ – or perhaps that should be ‘Former Liberation Movements’ (plural).

The committee rather enigmatically referred to former liberation movements ‘regardless of whether they are in power or not’. The FLM has, at least so far, comprised the ANC, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Mozambique’s Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), Angola’s Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), Namibia’s South West African People's Organisation (Swapo) and Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) – or, in English, Party of the Revolution. All are still very much in power.

What is the purpose of the FLM? Clearly one of its main aims is for the former liberation movements to help keep each other in power, not least by constantly reminding their respective electorates of how grateful they should be for liberation. The FLM probably also acts as a kind of historical society, evoking nostalgia for the glorious days of the liberation struggles.

According to Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, a member of the sub-committee and South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, the FLM also aims to hone ‘the values which made us what we are’ – including selflessness, humility, leadership and commitment and also avoiding corruption ‘and other ills of government’. So it’s supposed to be a sort of watchdog of governments.

Letsatsi-Duba was referring specifically to an FLM proposal to create a joint political school in Tanzania where those political virtues would be taught. She noted that the FLM had signed an agreement in Namibia two weeks before, to finally get this school up and running, with support from China.

However this school takes on a rather different connotation when one discovers that the motivation for its establishment was to counter ‘ideological bankruptcy’ among party members.

This ideological bankruptcy turns out to be in fact a growing tendency of the born-free generation to vote for parties other than the former liberation movements. This is apparent from a report – provocatively titled ‘War with the West’ – which was written after a workshop of secretaries-general of the FLM at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, last year.

The report is more frank about the proposed joint political school, calling it instead a ‘Joint Regional School of Ideology’. It presents the school as part of a recommended series of ‘tough disciplinary measures, along with strong ideological grounding, targeting the youth, new members and errant members and leaders, under the auspices of Political Party Ideological Schools and National Youth Service Programmes’.

Such measures to bring ideological deviants sternly back into line have a rather disturbingly Stalinist or Maoist air about them.

Fundamentally, they also raise serious doubts about the commitment to democracy of the former liberation movements. The ‘War with the West’ report, as its title suggests, concocts an elaborate conspiracy theory of ‘regime change’, describing how former colonial powers and the United States are supposedly plotting ‘colour revolutions’ to overthrow the former liberation movement governments by hard and soft power, to seize the natural wealth of their countries.

Local NGOs, opposition parties and the media are all collaborators in this grand conspiracy. Even climate change can become a tool for regime change, the report warns, because it allows international donor agencies into Southern African countries to provide humanitarian aid. This enables them ‘to spread pernicious opposition politics which promotes regime change’.

The secretaries-general exhort the FLM to be vigilant against this conspiracy, and recommend a raft of measures to counter it. These include ‘Early Warning Centres’ stationed at each party headquarters to provide ‘regular, timely and continuous sharing of intelligence on regime change machinations as well as mobilisation, campaigning and election management methodologies’.

This document illustrates the great potential danger of FLM solidarity, that it perpetuates and reinforces the sense of entitlement that these liberation movements-cum-parties all seem to have: the belief that they are destined to govern forever. On that basic premise, any democratic opposition or criticism is easy to dismiss as manifesting a sinister ‘regime change’ agenda. The document, for example, condemns ‘the incessant contestation of election results’ as one of the ills which the FLM must combat.

No member of the FLM exhibits this sense of entitlement more than Zanu-PF. The ‘coup’ which last month toppled Robert Mugabe and replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa may in the end help Zimbabwe by restoring some economic sanity to government. But we should not forget that, at least according to army chief General Constantino Chiwenga, the ‘coup’ was carried out not in the first place to restore good governance – let alone democracy – but to ensure that Zanu-PF and the government remained in the hands of veterans of the liberation movement.

How seriously has this ethos taken root elsewhere in the FLM, especially in South Africa, that supposed beacon of democracy? It’s disturbing that when he was South Africa’s state security minister David Mahlobo exhibited the same sort of paranoia about a regime change ‘colour revolution’ being plotted against the ANC government by foreign governments and internal opposition forces.

As he enters his last few days as ANC president, Zuma is running out of legitimate options to stay out of jail for corruption. He has just lost two court cases in quick succession, raising the prospects of corruption charges being reinstituted against him for allegedly accepting bribes from an arms dealer, and of a no-holds-barred judicial commission of inquiry being launched into the capture of the state by his business cronies, the Gupta brothers.

During the next few days his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma may fail to get the nod at the ANC’s elective conference to succeed him as party president, and therefore probably also national president in 2019. This would deprive him of a loyalist to protect him after he leaves office.

It is because his plight is becoming so dire that reported plans by security officials to draft regulations to implement a state of emergency are being interpreted in such a sinister light.

Maybe the security officials are just being good bureaucrats, preparing well in advance for any future eventualities.

But having signed up to the paranoid view of the world presented in ‘War with the West’ and elsewhere, the ANC government should not be surprised if others view its actions through the same paranoid lens – fearing that Zuma is planning to suspend democratic and judicial processes to save his skin.

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