MORGAN TSVANGIRAI LEGACY SEMINAR POLICY BRIEF – JULY 2018

The Morgan Tsvangirai Legacy workshop held on 10 July 2018 sought to provide an insightful overview of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s political life as well as his contribution towards democratisation in Zimbabwe. A number of perceptive and important concerns relating to the impact of Tsvangirai’s legacy on contemporary Zimbabwean politics were raised by both the speakers and participants at the workshop.

Read PDF here: PB MT Legacy final – Illustrated

Mnangagwa’s government caught between a rock and a hard place as Chamisa threatens to disrupt elections

Source: https://www.myzimbabwe.co.zw/news/28414-mnangagwas-government-caught-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place-as-chamisa-threatens-to-disrupt-elections.html

 

Mnangagwa’s government caught between a rock and a hard place as Chamisa threatens to disrupt elections

Government is caught between a rock and a hard place on whether to use force in quashing escalating anti-Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) protests or stick to its desire to project itself as a reformed administration, analysts said.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration came to power via a de-facto coup in November last year, it immediately set out to win the hearts of the international community which had isolated the country in protest over then president Robert Mugabe’s angry mob policies.

Mnangagwa has particularly sought to project himself as a liberal by inviting foreign investors to come to Zimbabwe to do business with no strings attached under the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.

The opposition has thus been unleashing supporters into the streets, protesting an irregular playing field and Zec’s alleged bias.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who is due to meet officials from Zec today has threatened to disrupt the polls if he is not allowed access to the ballot paper printing, storage and its distribution.

Chamisa is set to start a one week vigil at the Zec offices in Harare until voting day — a development which could provoke escalation of tensions.

Analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said pressure from the opposition has left the ruling party in a catch-22 situation, not so sure if it should continue with its soft approach to the MDC Alliance or go into its default mode of using heavy-handed methods to quash the protests.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said even if Mnangagwa wanted to retreat to the Zanu PF default mode of violence, he “entrapped” himself by marketing himself as a liberal of some sort.

“If he was not genuine when he sold a transformative image of himself, now he is in a catch 22 situation because he set in motion a gear that is not irreversible especially when he chose to invite radical foreign observers such as the European Union and the United States who will cast an eagle eye on the nitty gritties of the electoral process,” Masunungure said.

He suggested that while Mnangagwa might have hoped to regulate the observers in the long-run, “they seem to have outgrown his capacity to influence them because they were allowed in unusually huge numbers”.

That Mnangagwa is now viewed by many as a born again Christian has made it difficult even for him to relate with some radical elements within the ruling Zanu PF party who might not necessarily have met their Damascene moment, Masunungure said.

“He is keen on translating his rhetoric into practice and there is nothing he will do that will undermine the born again Christian tag that he has allowed himself to carry so he is compelled by circumstances to act in a certain way even when it doesn’t suit his power retention strategy,” he said.

Another analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, opined that the liberal image that Mnangagwa is projecting whose hallmark includes focusing on the economy, allowing opposition to access all areas including previously no-go-areas and inviting western election observers, was not genuine.

“He did all these to gain acceptance from within and outside and present himself as a departure from Mugabe but the long and short of it is that he is doing all this to retain power at all costs and if rigging fails he will go for violence and the bullet,” Saungweme said adding that “you cannot expect a man who rolled tankers seven months ago to remove a 94-year-old to allow a 40-year-old to wrest power from him”.

– NewsDay

Tensions Rise Ahead of Zimbabwe’s Elections

Crisis Group Q&A

27 July 2018

By Piers Pigou, Senior Consultant, Southern Africa

On 30 July Zimbabwe will hold elections. For the first time since independence Robert
Mugabe is not a candidate. His successor presents himself as a reformer – but many
doubt the polls will be clean. The opposition warns that Zimbabweans will not tolerate
another stolen election.

Read PDF here:Zimbabwe Elections Q&A 27 July 2018

Ramaphosa takes steps to recapture South Africa’s foreign policy ‘glory days’

While it may yet be far too soon to tell what implications this “new dawn” under President Cyril Ramaphosa would have on foreign policy, the initial signs are certainly ones that signal much promise. 

The “glory days” of South African foreign policy were synonymous with the Thabo Mbeki administration. Under Mbeki’s tutelage South Africa’s International standing was second to none, South Africa was a relatively new, small African middle-income country making significant strides in the international political arena. To describe South Africa’s foreign policy successes, commentators and observers alike coined the phrase which suggested that “South Africa was punching above its weight”.

Mbeki managed to craft and articulate a grand vision for not only South Africa in the international community but for the African continent at large. This vision was encapsulated by the so-called African Renaissance, the aim of this vision was to ultimately position South Africa and Africa as formidable actors and interlocutors among their international peers. Renowned foreign policy scholar Professor Adekeye Adebajo observed that Mbeki “encouraged South Africans to embrace an African identity and sought to promote the continent’s political, economic and social renewal. He also sought to integrate Africa into the global economy”. For South Africa, this also cascaded down to the “African Agenda” which would see the African continent being the apex priority of South African policy.

To date the lion’s share of South Africa’s foreign policy spending is dedicated to its diplomatic engagements on the African continent. A study conducted by the South African Institute of International Affairs concluded that a total of 30% of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation’s budget spend is allocated to operations on the Africa continent. This illustrates that the South African foreign policy commitment to Africa is matched by an allocation of resources. The African Renaissance vision was also followed by policy interventions which sought to prioritise the development of the African continent by ensuring that Africa became the primary driver of its own developmental priorities. These priorities included poverty reduction, the consolidation of democratic governance, the attainment of peace, security and political stability and the creation of economic opportunities for the continent’s burgeoning youth population.

Such policy interventions would be overseen by policy frameworks such as New Partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) and the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to name but a few. To see this vision come to fruition, Mbeki would forge strategic alliances with some of his continental peers. These included Abdoulaye Wade, former president of Senegal, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, former president of Algeria, Olusegon Obesanjo, former president of Nigeria and Benjamin Mkapa, former president of Tanzania, among others.

The emergence of this alliance gave rise to a constellation of what would be known in diplomatic circles as “anchor states” in driving this new post-colonial revival of the continent, described as the African Renaissance. During this period, South Africa also gained a prestigious non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), further re-enforcing the notion of the country “punching above its weight”.

What also gave credence to Mbeki’s leadership role on the continent and international stature was South Africa’s domestic political landscape. The South African economy experienced unprecedented levels of economic growth, and the governing party consolidated an overwhelming electoral majority, which saw Mbeki and his governing party garner nearly two-thirds of electoral support. This is notwithstanding the notable and well documented blunders made by the Mbeki administration. This is important to highlight as it underscores the all-important domestic foreign policy nexus, ie how domestic politics inexorably influence foreign policy.

In 2009 Jacob Zuma took over the reins as president of South Africa, this turn in political leadership produced mixed consequences for South African Foreign policy. however, with the benefit of hindsight we can conclude that South Africa lost a significant degree of the international stature it had painstakingly built up during the Mbeki years. The temptation for many observers and analysts alike has been to proffer simplistic explanations of the decline in South Africa’s international standing under Jacob Zuma’s administration and in the process, also ignore key foreign policy achievements accruing to the Zuma administration.

The Zuma administration ably maintained the focus of the African continent as an apex foreign policy priority, maintaining key continental engagements such as contributions to peace keeping operations and continued mediation in the pursuit of peace, security and stability on the continent. Under Zuma’s stewardship, South Africa also saw its accession to the Brazil Russia India China South Africa forum (BRICS), thus opening the country up to trade and other opportunities in alternative markets. South Africa also signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with the world’s second biggest economy in the form of the People’s Republic of China, which elevated South Africa-China relations to the highest level, an opportunity that China extends to a select few.

The decline of South Africa’s foreign policy fortunes during this period stemmed primarily from domestic factors. There can be no doubt that domestically, Zuma’s administration could be described as nothing short of calamitous, as his administration meandered from one scandal to the next. International credit ratings downgrades, declining economic growth, rising unemployment and public financial malfeasance on an unprecedented scale in democratic South Africa became synonymous with the Zuma administration. This ultimately resulted in well-conceived foreign policy priorities being placed on the back burner as South Africa’s focus became subsumed by the domestic political agenda. That this would carry significant foreign policy consequences would be unavoidable; during this period South Africa was perceived as having withdrawn from the role of being the credible and engaged continental leader and international partner that it once was.

Perhaps the single most considerable development which significantly dented South Africa’s international standing was its mishandling of the visit of president Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to South Africa, under the auspices of an African Union engagement. As was known, al-Bashir had been indicted by the International Criminal Court with an arrest warrant against his name. South Africa’s status as a signatory of the Rome Statute placed an obligation to have al-Bashir arrested and sent to The Hague to answer to charges of war crimes and human rights violations among other things. Ultimately, South Africa did not act on its Rome Statute obligation and al-Bashir left the country under a cloud of confusion, litigation and a cacophony of criticism levelled against the Zuma administration.

This saga ultimately culminated in South Africa announcing its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. In turn this move courted significant international backlash, tarnishing South Africa’s international image and sent shock waves through the international community.

The recent elevation of Cyril Ramaphosa to the South African Presidency, following his ascension to the presidency of the ANC (African National Congress) in a tightly contested political battle, brought about a sense of new vigour in South Africa’s political life. This injection of optimism became known as the “new dawn” and was accompanied by a promise of a restorative domestic political agenda. While it may yet be far too soon to tell what implications this new dawn would have on foreign policy, the initial signs are certainly ones that signal much promise. Flanked by his newly appointed chief diplomat in Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, President Ramaphosa has begun to craft a restorative international agenda for South Africa which hitherto has been well received by his international peers. Moreover, the messages emanating from Pretoria have engendered a new confidence in the country’s foreign policy machinery.

In her maiden budget vote speech Minister Sisulu reasserted South Africa’s foreign policy priorities, chief among them being the prioritisation of the African continent “as we consolidated our political relations on the Continent by expanding our diplomatic footprint, through 47 Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates General; South Africa has also rapidly advance her economic relations in Africa… South Africa has grown her bilateral trade portfolio with countries on the continent from R11.4-billion in 1994 to the current R429-billion”.

Sisulu underscored the continued serious nature of South Africa’s foreign policy’s approach to engaging with Africa, the commitment of resources and increased trade activity. Moreover, she signalled the intent to confront some of the long-standing internal departmental challenges to ensure a well-oiled foreign policy machine, equipped to meet the country’s international obligations.

On 5 July President Ramaphosa hosted his maiden incoming state visit when he welcomed the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo. Much like Ramaphosa, President Akufo-Addo is known for championing a restorative political agenda. Akufo-Addo has been at pains to articulate the pursuit of a new continental agenda akin to Mbeki’s African Renaissance. He’s gone to great lengths to call for an African continent that is independent of donor charity as a means to finance its development.

Akufo-Addo has also centered a commercial foreign policy agenda geared towards attracting Foreign Direct Investment and stimulating a continental industrial base that will domesticate industrial value chains. It seems like Ramaphosa has found an ally in Akufo-Addo as Ramaphosa has also set out a similar developmental agenda. At the beginning of his term Ramaphosa announced his bid to attract $100-billion dollars (R1.2-trillion) in Foreign Direct Investment and thus far has managed to secure R857-million of that target on a visit to the United Kingdom and $10-billion from a recent state visit to Saudi Arabia.

That Ramaphosa would first host his Ghanaian counterpart is rather telling, it could very well signal the emergence of a new constellation of anchor states on the continent, which will champion this new African industrialisation agenda also encapsulated in the Blueprint Agenda 2063.

While one would be cautious to definitively conclude that a new dawn is upon us where foreign policy is concerned, one could comfortably say that the steps taken by Ramaphosa thus far certainly bode well for the possibility of a revitalised foreign policy agenda for South Africa. DM

Sambulo Mathebula is an International Relations Practitioner in the Public Sector. He holds a Master’s degree in Political Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has been an international relations practitioner for over 10 years, working across various sectors and organisations such as the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Southern African Liaison Office (NGO) the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and SA Human Rights Commission.

Source: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-07-19-ramaphosa-takes-steps-to-recapture-south-africas-foreign-policy-glory-days/

News Briefs 20 July 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Kabila Says Election On Track but Stays Mum On Own Future

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila said in a speech on Thursday that a presidential election in December would go ahead as planned, but he declined to say whether he would defy term limits to stand for re-election.

Kabila is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term in the election but has refused publicly to rule out a run. Some of his allies have in recent weeks advanced a legal argument they say would justify his candidacy.

If Kabila does step down, it would mark Congo’s first democratic transition since independence from Belgium in 1960, after decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and catastrophic civil wars.

The deadline for candidates to declare they will run is in just under three weeks. But in an address before a joint session of parliament, Kabila avoided saying whether he would stand.

EWN

Eight killed in rebel attack on DR Congo army base

Eight people were killed on Monday during an attack attributed to Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to sources.

The attack targeted an army position in Kabasewa, 60km east of Beni in North Kivu province.

“We deplore the death of three soldiers, while three others are wounded,” said Captain Mak Hazukay, spokesman for the army in the region, adding that two rebels were also killed.

He said the attackers “looted the health centre pharmacy”, took cattle, and made the villagers carry their stolen goods.

Noella Muliwavyo, a civil society leader in Beni, told AFP that “three civilians were also killed, including a nurse” during the raid on the pharmacy, bringing the death toll to eight.

TimesLive

Somalia

International community strengthens support for Somalia’s plans for stability and development

Somalia will benefit from renewed international support, both politically and financially, as the country implements key reforms to overcome years of conflict and secure a better future for the Somali people.

Today, international stakeholders gathered in Brussels for the Somalia Partnership Forum, organised by the European Union together with the Federal Government of Somalia and Sweden. Over 60 delegations took part and agreed on joint commitments in key areas for inclusive politics, peace and security and economic recovery in Somalia.

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “The European Union is leading the international partnership to strengthen Somalia’s political, economic and security reform agenda. Today, I announced that the EU will provide additional €200 million to support Somalia’s overall stabilisation to create a better future for its people. I also signed the EU’s contribution of €114.2 million for the African Union Mission to Somalia until the end of this year. The stability and development of the country is also critical for the stability of the broader region and for Europe.”

The President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said: “The Federal Government of Somalia is fully committed to implement the Political Roadmap 2020, Transition plan for security, economic reform and reach out to the whole of Somalia for reconciliation and dialogue. The Somalia Partnership Forum is key for strengthened partnerships with our regional and international partners. We want to work according to the theme of the forum – forward together.”

EU Commission

Cancel Somalia’s debt to help stop the humanitarian crisis, says World Vision

Somalia’s public debt should be cancelled to help bring the humanitarian crisis in the country to an end, World Vision has said.

Speaking this week, as the Somalia Partnership Forum was held in Brussels, World Vision said that the country’s £5.1 billion of debt should be wiped out, to enable it to move beyond the current situation.

On Monday, the director of advocacy and external engagement for World Vision in Somalia, Geeta Bandi-Phillips, said: “Somalia can’t even afford infrastructure to help its own people, let alone afford its debt”; so the UK Government should push for international creditors to cancel it.

“If the debt was cancelled,” she said, “then Somalia would be able to access development funds from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, which means they will be able to build infrastructure to help their own people, from hospitals to schools.

“The international-development and humanitarian sector won’t benefit if the debt is cancelled: only Somalia will benefit, and its people. If this happens, Somalia will slowly come out of the humanitarian situation, and so eventually countries can withdraw.”

Church Times

Central African Republic

UN: 1 dead, at least 20 injured in Central African Republic

The United Nations says at least one civilian was killed and more than 20 others were injured along with three U.N. peacekeepers during an exchange of fire in the Central African Republic between U.N. troops and fighters from the mainly Christian anti-Balaka militia.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the peacekeepers were responding to an anti-Balaka attack on Pombolo village in south-eastern Mbomou prefecture Tuesday.

He said the U.N. mission in Central African Republic reported that “the assailants fled into nearby bushes” and villagers sought protection outside the U.N. base where the injured received first aid.

Haq said militia casualties are being verified.

National Post

Rebel Leader Killed in CAR Communal Violence

At least three people have been killed following an alleged livestock theft in the crisis-torn Central African Republic (CAR).

A local rebel leader is among those killed following the clash in the Ngakobo village, 60 kilometres from the southern Bambari towards the border with the equally-troubled Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported the incident pitted rival communities in the area, which is among regions torn along ethnic lines.

“This incident created mistrust between the different communities,” a UN spokesperson said.

AllAfrica

Sudan

Sudan blocks world media from covering al-Sisi visit

Sudanese authorities have banned the international media from covering the visit of Egypt’s president to Sudan set to start on Thursday.

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi is due to arrive for a two-day visit to Khartoum today to meet his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir.

Correspondents working for international media got a message from the Sudanese Information Ministry ordering them not to cover the visit, explaining that the move is parallel to Egyptian authorities’ treatment during Bashir’s visit this March.

“As we adopt the similar treatment conducted by Egyptian authorities during the visit of President Bashir to Cairo, we announce that coverage of the visit of Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi is only allowed for state and local media outlets,” the message said.

AA

As Sudan currency continues descent, inflation hits 64 percent in June

Sudan’s inflation rose to 63.87 percent year-on-year in June, from 60.93 percent in May, the state statistics agency said on Thursday, as the dollar-starved country grapples with an economic crisis.

Sudan has been reeling from an acute shortage of foreign currency and an increasingly expensive black market for dollars that has sapped its ability to import and made prices soar, kindling unrest earlier this year in some parts of the country.

The import-dependent country’s price rises have been the third fastest in the world in recent months, behind only war-torn South Sudan and hyperinflation-stricken Venezuela, according to IMF data from April.

The statistics agency said June inflation was driven by rising food and beverage prices.

The severe downturn comes despite the United States lifting 20-year old sanctions last year, a move that was expected to be a boon for the long isolated economy.

Reuters

 

 

South Sudan

South Sudan’s President Kiir Says Ready to Accept Peace Deal

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said he is ready to accept a peace deal to end a civil war and set up an inclusive new government.

The deal being negotiated in Sudan would give the country five vice presidents and also covers security and power sharing.

“The people of South Sudan are looking for peace and if that arrangement can bring about peace to the people of South Sudan, I am ready to take it,” said Kiir late on Wednesday at a swearing-in ceremony for his foreign minister.

“People talk about exclusivity nobody is to be left out of the government. I accept it” he said.

EWN

UN Security Council imposes arms embargo on South Sudan

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan as a measure to prevent the flow of weapons to armed groups in the war-hit nation.

The members who backed the imposition of the ban believe such a move would help protect civilians, while others raised concerns that the policy would hinder the ongoing peace process in the nation, the Sudan Tribune reported.

The remaining six countries which abstained from agreeing to the resolution include Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Under the resolution, UN member states are obliged to prevent the entry of arms and related equipment of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and other spare parts, in South Sudan.

Engineering News

Western Sahara

Creation of African mechanism for Western Sahara, important step in resolving conflict

The “historic” decision adopted unanimously by the leaders of the African Union (AU) on the creation of an African mechanism for the issue of Western Sahara is an “anticipatory initiative” likely to revitalize AU’s key role, as a fully-committed partner for the United Nations (UN),  and an “important step” considering the Moroccan position aimed at undermining the African efforts for the settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara, said Thursday the Polisario Front in a letter sent to the United Nations and the Security Council.

In a letter sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guteres and Sweden’s permanent representative to UN Olof Skoog, in his capacity as president of the Security Council for this month, “the Polisario Front expressed the Sahrawi authorities’ position on the new mechanism created by the African Union for Western Sahara in accordance with its decision adopted in the 31st ordinary session of the Conference of AU Heads of State and Government, held recently in Nouakchott,” said a communiqué of the Polisario Front.

The letter emphasized that the Sahrawi authorities welcomed “the historic decision” adopted unanimously by AU’s leaders on the creation of an African mechanism for Western Sahara, pointing out that it reflects AU’s concern over the unjustified delay in the decolonization process of Western Sahara, member State of the African Union.”

Sahara Press Service

EU foreign ministers to include Western Sahara under agricultural agreement with Morocco

European Union (EU) foreign ministers have approved a resolution to include the disputed Western Sahara region under an agricultural agreement signed with Morocco, the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported.

“The decision aims to strengthen the legal basis for products exported from the Western Sahara region to the European Union, with commercial preferences and supporting the region’s development” MAP quoted an unnamed European source as saying.

“The decision will also enable the EU to continue to boost its partnership with Morocco and lead the way on the fishing agreement between the two partners in the coming months” the source added.

Middle East Monitor

Swaziland

Swaziland holds its first-ever pride parade

In a historic and festive celebration, Swaziland held its first-ever LGBT pride parade over the weekend.

Hundreds of people marched down the streets of the capital Mbabane waving rainbow flags and holding signs that read, “Turn hate into love” — a scene almost unimaginable not so long ago.

The small southern African country, recently renamed the Kingdom of eSwatini by its king, is Africa’s last absolute monarchy and has a bleak record on LGBT rights. The country of 1.4 million also has the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rates and suffers from severe poverty.

Saturday’s parade was organized by the Rock of Hope, a local nonprofit, and supported by international LGBT advocacy organizations.

CNN

Swaziland or eSwatini? King’s new name faces legal challenge

A human rights activist in Swaziland is challenging King Mswati III’s decision to change the tiny southern African nation’s name to the Kingdom of eSwatini.

Africa’s last absolute monarch announced the new name in April at celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence from Britain.

However, activist Thulani Maseko argued in a High Court submission that the decision undermined the constitution and was a waste of money, especially in a country with the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rate. He asked that the court set aside the decision as the product of the whim of the UK-educated monarch taken without any public consultation, court papers showed on Friday.

Reuters

Zimbabwe

C’wealth assigns Zim poll observer team

The Commonwealth has assigned a team to observe Zimbabwe’s forthcoming elections.

In May, President Mnangagwa wrote to Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland expressing interest, in principle, in re-joining the association, and requesting the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections.

Zimbabwe pulled out of the organisation made up primarily of countries that were once part of the British Empire in 2003 following disagreements over land reform and the country’s electoral processes.

However, ever since being sworn into office, President Mnangagwa has gone on a re-engagement onslaught, thawing relations with the West and declaring that the country is now open for business.

In a statement yesterday, the Commonweath announced that former Ghanaian president John Dramani Mahama will lead a 24-member team to observe the July 30 elections.

Herald

Zim on right trajectory: US envoy

Reforms being undertaken by President Mnangagwa’s Government have put the country on a path to prosperity, newly-accredited United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols said yesterday.

This comes as Austria’s new envoy Mr Johann Brieger said credible elections were on the cards in Zimbabwe, as the democratic space had been opened up by the new administration.

The envoys made the remarks after presenting their credentials to President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare yesterday.

Also to present his credentials was Mr Eric Saizonou, who becomes Benin’s first Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

Herald

 

 

Africa in General

Somalia, Tunisia join Comesa

The membership COMESA has risen to 21 following the admission of Tunisia and Somalia at the 20th Summit of the Heads of State and Government that had concluded today in Lusaka, Zambia.

Tunisia was admitted as the 20th member while Somalia followed as 21st member of COMESA after having fulfilled the COMESA terms and conditions of accession to the COMESA Treaty.

Tunisia first applied for observer status in COMESA in 2005 but the matter was not concluded. In February 2016, the country formally wrote to the Secretary General making enquiries on joining.

Somalia was formerly a full member of the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), the predecessor to COMESA. However, it failed to make the transition due to lack of government following a long civil war. Tunisia first applied for observer status in COMESA in 2005 but the matter was not concluded.

Daily Monitor

US allows hundreds of Somalis to stay until at least March 2020

Nearly 500 Somalis who escaped terrorism and drought will be allowed to remain in the US until at least March 2020, the US homeland security department announced on Thursday.

Concerns had been raised that the administration would cancel the temporary protected status (TPS) program for Somalis because of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and the decision to end TPS status for more than 428,250 others. But the DHS granted them permission to stay temporarily, owing to the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions” in Somalia.

This decision is a relief for TPS holders such as Yasir, who fled Somalia after being kidnapped and tortured by the al-Qaida-affiliated extremist group al-Shabaab. “I’m scared of going back to Somalia and being killed by al-Shabaab,” Yasir told the Guardian.

The Guardian

Party names ex-warlord Bemba candidate for DRC presidential poll

The former vice president of DR Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was acquitted last month of war crimes, was on Friday named by his party as a candidate in presidential polls planned for December.

“We unanimously decided to renew Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo as national president of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo for a five-year term and to name him as our candidate for the presidential election of December 23, 2018,” said the party’s Jean Jacques Mamba.

Earlier this week, the DRC said Bemba could apply for a diplomatic passport to return home after he was acquitted of war crimes in The Hague.

The DRC is in the grip of a crisis over the future of President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled the country since 2001 and has remained in office, despite a two-term constitutional limit that expired in December 2016.

IOL

Ramaphosa set to meet Moseneke-led Lesotho mediation team

The SADC mediation facilitation team on Lesotho, led by former deputy chief justice of South Africa Dikgang Moseneke, is set to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday, the Presidency said.

“The SADC (Southern African Development Community) Double Troika held on 24 April 2018 in Luanda, Republic of Angola, agreed that President Ramaphosa should continue to facilitate the political national dialogue and reform processes in the Kingdom of Lesotho since the President was appointed by the SADC Heads of State and Government as a SADC Facilitator, following the country’s security and political challenges in September 2014,” the Presidency said in a statement.

“His [Ramaphosa] facilitation produced a report with key recommendations (constitutional, security sector, judiciary, and public service and media reforms) which the government and people of Lesotho have committed themselves to undertake as they attempt to resolve their political and security challenges.”

IOL

 

HAPPY MANDELA DAY!

 “The purpose of freedom is to create it for others.”
Nelson Mandela

As an organization that strives to build international consensus to help resolve conflicts especially in Africa, SALO will continue to be guided and inspired by the life, dreams and words of Nelson Mandela.

Only boys allowed: Seven faces of Zimbabwe’s political patriarchy BY RUMBIDZAI DUBE JULY 11, 2018

At less than 15%, women make up a tiny fraction of candidates in the upcoming elections. Here’s how society keeps it that way.

Zimbabwe's patriarchy takes many forms. Credit: Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe’s patriarchy takes many forms. Credit: Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s last set of elections in 2013, UN Women issued a glowing statement celebrating the progress made on female political representation. Overnight, the country had jumped up the global rankings for women in parliament, going from 17% to an impressive 35%.

In Zimbabwe itself, however, women’s rights activists were more restrained. Among other things, they noted that of the 86 female MPs now in the National Assembly, only 26 had been directly elected. Very few women had actually been put forward for direct contest and won. The remaining 60 had been appointed in accordance with the constitution’s mandatory quotas.

Once in parliament, these 60 female MPs became known derogatorily as the “Bacossi MPs”, a reference to the 2008 Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention (Baccossi) subsidies programme on basic goods that were derided as being substandard. The selection of these MPs by their parties rather than election by the people led them to be perceived as lacking a legitimate mandate. They were assumed to be incompetent and incapable of winning contests based on merit.

The reality behind the 2013 election’s lustre of progress was therefore always more questionable than it seemed. And now, with elections looming again, Zimbabwe’s women seem to be in an even weaker political position. According to the Women in Politics Support Unit, female nominees make up less than 15% of the candidates that will be standing for the National Assembly on 30 July 2018.

Others have noted the conspicuous absence of women in high level politics and the ongoing resilience of Zimbabwean patriarchy. But it is also worth examining some of the many ways – some more direct or subtle than others – in which this patriarchy manifests and is daily reinforced.

1) Pitting women against each other

For decades, Zimbabwe’s main political parties have pitted female politicians against one another. In 1995, the ruling ZANU-PF allegedly elevated Vivian Mwashita to go up against Margaret Dongo, a vocal human rights defender and critic of corruption within the party. In 2014, ZANU-PF used then first lady Grace Mugabe to lead a smear campaign against then vice-president Joice Mujuru,  accusing her of trying to kill President Robert Mugabe and of promiscuity with top ranking officials in the party. Just this May, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is alleged to have overseen irregularities in a primary election that saw its favoured candidate Joana Mamombe push out Jessie Majome. Majome was reportedly told she was “old and should retire to the countryside to herd donkeys”.

It is telling that Zimbabwe’s parties feel the need to employ women to attack other women. It is also revealing that there is a tendency for elites to create zero-sum games between female candidates rather than simply supporting multiple qualified nominees.

2) Attacking women on their character and personal lives

In the political sphere, women face all kinds of attacks on their character and personal lives that is not the case with men. Fadzayi Mahere, a young lawyer running to be an independent MP in Mt Pleasant Constituency, for example, has been harassed and insulted for being single. Former MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga was labelled a “bra-burning feminist” and effectively accused of murdering her husband, an experience that contributed to her suffering from depression. Earlier this year, the opposition figure Thokozani Khupe was called a prostitute and physically attacked after questioning the legitimacy of the MDC’s political transition following the death of leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Although male politicians are also criticised, the special kinds of extreme and personal attacks that are reserved for women reveal the sexism that is deeply entrenched in Zimbabwean society.

3) Dismissive stereotyping

As is the case in much of the world, Zimbabwe’s female politicians are denigrated for displaying the same qualities that may be admired in men. Rather than being treated in the same way as their male counterparts, women are dismissively stereotyped in ways that seek to control their actions. Assertive women, for example, are aggressive (ane hukasha). Quiet women are docile (imbodza). Women who are considered good-looking are sluts (ihure iri); those who are not are slobs (imbuya dzekupi idzi).

4) Creating standards that don’t exist for men

Zimbabwe does not have parliamentary term limits, yet with Jessie Majome reaching the end of her second term as Harare West’s MP, many people are claiming it is time for her to step down lest she overstay her welcome. While there is some merit to the argument that a turnover could bring new and progressive ideas, this argument is not being made in reference to any of the male politicians who have served much longer than she has – among them MDC leader Nelson Chamisa (an MP since 2003) and ZANU-PF Obert Mpofu (an MP since 1987). Majome’s cases serves as a classic example of standards being created for women that do not exist for men.

5) Talking the talk of gender issues, but not walking the walk

Zimbabwe’s politicians all try to mobilise women’s vote during elections. They know that they would lose without it since women make up 52% of registered voters. Yet, once in parliament, male MPs have consistently dismissed the efforts of their female colleagues to raise and discuss women’s issues. Typically, male politicians who utilise the rhetoric of gender equality in election periods drop it along with any genuine attempts to take action once voted in. This may create the veneer of progress, but the reality below the surface remains the same.

6) Assuming women’s causes are frivolous while men’s are serious

In Zimbabwean politics, men’s intelligence and political competence is usually assumed, while women’s has to be proved. The media plays into this narrative by often painting female MPs who speak out on women’s issues as shrill feminists obsessed with furthering frivolous agendas such as access to and affordability of sanitary wear and the criminalisation of new acts of violence against women such as revenge porn. Men, by contrast, are portrayed as being astute and engaged on issues of “public importance” such as economic recovery.

7) Allowing sexist remarks

Men in Zimbabwe are able to make openly sexist comments with relative impunity. Former president Robert Mugabe declared in the past that women will never be equal to men, while opposition leader Nelson Chamisa recently claimed, in what he would later dismiss as a joke, that he would give his 18-year-old sister to President Emmerson Mnangagwa if the latter won the elections. These misogynistic statements were condemned in some quarters, and Chamisa eventually apologised with some reluctance. For the most part, however, it is deemed acceptable for men to make openly sexist remarks that condone harmful traditional practices such as polygamy, early marriage and wife pledging, and devalue women without censure.

Confronting the barriers

In the shared political space that comes with power, prestige and hyper-visibility, Zimbabwe’s patriarchy remains deeply entrenched and bolstered by male politicians and the media. As the last five years have shown, simply having more women in parliament is neither the end goal nor sufficient to reach it.

Female politicians – and women’s issues more broadly – face all manner of barriers in getting heard. Some are very clear and direct, others more subtle, but they all contribute to the ongoing suppression of women in Zimbabwe. All these barriers need to be recognised and understood to be confronted. It will take committed, capable and engaged politicians to help create equality of outcomes in Zimbabwe through gender sensitive policies and laws.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI LEGACY SEMINAR – 10 July 2018

The evident love and grief of millions of Zimbabweans across political divide for their former Prime Minister, after his passing on 14 February 2018, has affirmed his standing as a towering figure in Zimbabwe’s history. Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist and leader of democratic movements, led courageously in the darkest days for those movements and lived to see the end of President Mugabe’s rule. After the military ousted Mugabe, Tsvangirai was treated with respect by the new Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the state supported his funeral.

This seminar reflected on Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, his passing, legacy and developments since his death.

CHAIR:

Mr Thulasizwe Simelane, Senior Political Journalist, eNCA

SPEAKERS:

Prof Brian Raftopoulos,
Director of Research and Advocacy: Solidarity Peace Trust, SALO Board member

Dr Nkululeko Sibanda,
Presidential Spokesperson, MDC Alliance

Hon Priscila Misihairabwi Mushonga,
Member of Parliament, MDC

Brian Kagoro,
Zimbabweån activist and constitutional law expert

Ms Venitia Govender,
South African Solidarity Activist and SALO Founder Member