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Today is perhaps one of the less celebrated international days, namely the United Nations (UN) Day for South-South Cooperation – a notion of solidarity, where countries forego some aspects of national interest in the pursuit of a higher or common good.

South-South cooperation has a long history, generally traced back to the solidarity politics of the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the subsequent UN Conference on Trade and Development in 1964.

A fuzzy concept, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) describes South-South cooperation as ‘co-operation amongst countries and/or groupings in the global South aimed at addressing and developing a common stance on political, economic, social and human rights issues … in order to overcome the historical legacy of marginalization...’

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress readily points to the military support that Cuba provided first in 1975/6, and again in 1987/8, to halt apartheid South Africa’s incursions into Angola as a prime example of South-South solidarity in action.

Cuban support had raised the costs of South Africa’s military intervention into Angola, and played an important role in the subsequent independence for Namibia – which in turn contributed to change in South Africa. It was no surprise, therefore, that Raúl Castro was one of only six foreign leaders – of the 91 in attendance – to speak at the memorial ceremony of Nelson Mandela in 2013.

SA’s partnership with the DRC is often quoted as an example of South-South cooperation
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Under successive presidents – Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma – since 1994, South Africa has gone to exceptional lengths to repay that debt, pouring vast amounts of funding towards scholarships and support in Cuba. At a recent meeting of the International Relations Committee in Parliament, DIRCO reported yet another disbursement of R27 million (out of R110 million) for the ‘Cuban Economic Package Project’ – although providing little additional information.

In its description, the UN Office for South-South cooperation highlights non-interference, equality, non-conditionality and national sovereignty as principles of South-South cooperation.

Beyond the largesse provided to Cuba, South Africa’s development partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often quoted as an example of South-South cooperation. Over the last 20 years, the DRC has been the biggest recipient of South African foreign assistance.

According to a recent report from the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), South Africa contributed over US$1 billion in official development assistance cooperation activities in the DRC between 2001 and 2015, peaking at US$181 million in 2008. These are large amounts for a small, middle-income economy and made South Africa the third-largest provider of aid to the DRC.

South Africa argues that it better understands and appreciates the local political, economic and cultural context, and is thus able to more effectively conduct peace-making and governance reform in complex environments such as the DRC. The francophone modus operandi of the Congolese public system, however, does pose practical challenges to South Africa’s intervention – as does the unstable political situation and lack of capacity of the DRC civil service.

Is South-South cooperation more effective than North-South cooperation in fragile environments?
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While the supposedly horizontal relationship has brought numerous benefits to the DRC, it is unclear what South Africa gains from its large investments. However, in a similar way in which Cuba supported Angola in its proxy war with the United States, the country has strategic interests given the extent to which the DRC lies at the heart of instability in Central Africa and the Great Lakes Region. Large projects such as the Grand Inga hydroelectric scheme also hold immense potential benefit for South Africa; in this case for the provision of electricity. In this sense, South-South solidarity is no different to acting in one’s enlightened self-interest.

Is South-South cooperation more effective than North-South cooperation in fragile environments? The answer is inconclusive given the limited data available and lack of systemic outcome evaluations of South Africa’s efforts.

At the global level, the most practical manifestation of South-South solidarity and cooperation is likely seen in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) – an ideological alliance that sees itself as a counterweight to the G7 group of industrialised countries.

The BRICS grouping intends to reshape global power relationships away from a Western, neoliberal and free-market dominated framework. Informed by the requirement for individual rights, free trade, democracy and the like, the focus is shifted to national sovereignty; the importance of a strong, developmental state; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states, democratisation at a state’s own pace, etc.

For Africa, the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) is potentially very important. Africa’s infrastructure financing deficit is estimated to be at US$100 billion a year, and there is a perceived lack of ambition by developed countries to invest in Africa.

On the one hand, the lack of investment in energy, transport and water infrastructure presents a significant barrier to economic growth and development. On the other hand, there is a huge global savings glut estimated at US$17 trillion in 2012 that could be accessed to invest in Africa.

The NDB could therefore complement the existing multilateral development banks such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. The NDB differs in five important aspects.

South-South cooperation is an important framework, but more must be done to quantify impact
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The first is speed. Instead of the slow pace of the other banks, the NDB has already extended loans to four of its members (Russia being the exception) during the first six months of its operation, providing nearly US$1 billion worth of loans to fund infrastructure projects. This compares to the standard time of more than 18 months from application to the loan being awarded.

Second: capital and voting rights are currently shared equally among the five founding members. The NDB is likely to decide to open its membership to all members of the UN, but the BRICS countries will retain 55% shareholding.

Third: the NDB intends to provide greater leverage of domestic private capital within developing countries. This is particularly important in South Africa, where substantial financial resources in the private sector are not being meaningfully channelled towards infrastructure development.

Fourth: the NDB has started extending loans in domestic currencies (in the case of the loan extended to China), which will assist countries to mitigate exchange rate risks when borrowing, which typically occurs in US dollars.

Finally: the bank will rely on existing country systems rather than impose new systems that create overly bureaucratic processes. This will be done in order to speed up operations and secure greater involvement from domestic players, but – given the lack of capacity in some countries – may also be a huge risk.

Time will tell what the future of the BRICS grouping will be, but certainly the NDB will survive and has the potential to contribute significantly to Africa’s development.

In the meanwhile, some practical aspects of South-South cooperation – such as that between South Africa and the DRC – are substantial and will likely continue. A stable DRC is crucial for the Southern African Development Community and for the region, but other aspects – such as the current level of support provided to Cuba – are more questionable.

South-South cooperation has emerged as an important framework for economic, political and other cooperation, but since taxpayer monies are used in the process, much more work needs to be done to cohere data and quantify impact. Until then it remains vague and unclear what the benefits and drawbacks of solidarity funding actually amounts to.

Jakkie Cilliers, Head, African Futures and Innovation, Institute for Security Studies

we found this article at -https://www.issafrica.org/iss-today/celebrating-south-south-cooperation the image was also found on the same page




On Wednesday 6 July, thousands of Zimbabweans participated in a peaceful ‘stay-at-home’ protest against the ruling Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Without staff, many businesses were forced to close, including foreign banks and department stores.

Twitter was alive with protest hashtags #ZimShutDown2016, #ThisFlag, and Shona slogans #hatichada #hatichatya (‘we’ve had enough, we are not afraid’) and #Tajamuka (‘we strongly disagree’). Pictures of Harare’s empty streets circulated on social media and international news outlets. It was one of Zimbabwe’s most impressive anti-government mobilisations in recent times.

A week later, on Tuesday 12 July, protest organiser Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested and charged with ‘inciting public violence’ – but the charge was amended to ‘subverting constitutional government’ in court the next day. In a show of solidarity, more than 100 lawyers gathered in the packed courtroom to represent him while outside, crowds draped themselves in the nation’s flag as a symbol of his message. Mawarire was released to cheering crowds that evening and was soon back to promoting the non-violent campaign against a government seen to have failed millions of Zimbabweans.

Statistics suggest that 2016 could be Zimbabwe’s most active year of protests yet

These events unsettled the ruling party, and are an inspiring story of grassroots mobilisation in the context of a stifled and suppressed active civil society. But it remains unclear whether the movement has traction beyond the urban area, and how it intends to bring about real political change. Mawarire insists he does not aim to bring about regime change, while the ruling ZANU-PF is hard-lined in their response to protest. The party also retains paramount control in Zimbabwe’s rural areas, where almost two-thirds of the population live.

Furthermore, apart from two parliamentarians from the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T), who wore the national flag around their necks in session, there has been little indication to date that the opposition intends to endorse or associate with Mawarire and the movement as a political platform ahead of the 2018 elections.

Whether it’s due to fear of state reprisal or playing into exactly what President Robert Mugabe wants (any grounds to criminalise and implicate MDC) – or because there is hope that Mawarire will himself form a new party – the lack of support by the opposition could limit the medium- and long-term impact of the protests.

Trends in riots and protests in Zimbabwe, according to the Armed Conflict Location Event Data Project (ACLED) show that spontaneous riots and protests have been increasing; particularly since 2010.

Protests and riots in Zimbabwe, 1 January 1998 - 9 July 20161998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016050100150200YearNumber of riots and protests
  Riots and protests
1998 77
1999 55
2000 11
2001 14
2002 12
2003 15
2004 12
2005 54
2006 21
2007 41
2008 26
2009 65
2010 24
2011 30
2012 63
2013 47
2014 114
2015 151
2016 67

Source: ACLED Version 6 (1997-2015) and ACLED Real Time Data 9 July 2016

Historically, landmark protests in Zimbabwe have come in response to disputed elections, inflation and state-led violence. In 1998, mass protests against inflation led by the National Constitutional Assembly (the foundation of the MDC), attracted tens of thousands of participants. High activity was also seen in 2005 and 2009.

The activity in 2005 reflects the public response to Operation Murambatsvina, which saw over 700 000 people forcibly removed from informal settlements in the capital and protests related to the contested parliamentary elections. The spike in 2009 is largely attributable to the hyperinflation and near economic collapse at the time. This was also in the context of political bargaining within the ZANU-MDC power-sharing agreement framework.

Recent protest action highlights the dearth of leadership options for Zimbabweans

Since 2013 and the national elections that effectively returned Zimbabwe to one-party dominance, civil society’s ability to mobilise has been significantly curtailed. Nevertheless, 2014 and 2015 recorded the most protest events in Zimbabwe’s recent history. In 2016, heightened protest activity has been driven by cash shortages, long queues at ATMs, corruption allegations and an import ban.

In May, the MDC-T held major protests against ZANU-PF in Harare and Bulawayo, which gathered upwards of 10 000 participants. In response, ZANU-PF mobilised an estimated 200 000 people for its Million Man March. The above graph shows that at only halfway into 2016, the 67 protests and riots already surpass each of the annual totals since 1998 – suggesting that 2016 could be the most active year of protests yet.

Momentum for the #ThisFlag movement has grown significantly since Mawarire launched his widely viewed YouTube video in April. In June, he led a protest against the Reserve Bank’s introduction of new bond notes, which are to serve as a non-convertible but United States dollar-pegged local currency in an attempt to counter the currency crisis.

By 1 July, Beitbridge – the border point with South Africa that sees an estimated 15 000 people pass each day – was host to a number of road blockages and the burning of a warehouse. Shortly thereafter, a taxi driver protest in Harare turned violent and coincided with a number of smaller and more peaceful mobilisations by nurses, doctors and teachers, all demanding overdue salaries.

ZANU-PF’s response to public dissent and opposition is swift and repressive. The 1998 mass mobilisation was met with military deployment. Similarly, in July 2005, the protest in Harare’s informal settlements by labour strikers was forcibly squashed as part of Operation Murambatsvina. In 2007, Amnesty International condemned the violent arrests of the key organisers of the stay-away protest against inflation. In the last month, over 300 protestors were believed to be arrested, and many beaten.

The Zimbabwean economic crisis is exacerbated by the severe drought

In a country where mobile phone penetration is at 95% and Internet penetration at 50%, it is no surprise then that online protest is effective. As an alternative to state media, blogging websites such as Kubatana have been a platform for public discussion since the early 2000s. In the run-up to and during the 2008 elections, over 31 of its bloggers called for the end of Mugabe’s rule and shared their experiences in trying to withdraw much-needed cash from ATMs, along with victims’ accounts of police brutality.

On 6 July, in the middle of the stay-at-home protest, instant messaging service WhatsApp was mysteriously shut down – effectively preventing protestors from communicating and mobilising. With the president unable to pay the police and military on time, the state’s ability to physically control protest is limited, which may have led the government to act more creatively.

It is well known that behind the public dissatisfaction is a sad story of 36-year dominance by Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF; the suppression of opposition; and a near-permanent economic crisis. After years of negative growth, the economy experienced nascent recovery in 2010 to 2012. However, year-on-year GDP growth has fallen to around 1.8% in 2015 and there is a similarly dismal expectation for 2016, due to unsustainable expenditure shored up by budget deficit funding.

There is little certainty about the faces we’ll see in Zimbabwe’s 2018 presidential race

The economic crisis is exacerbated by the severe drought that has ravaged the region. According to the Zimbabwean government, one third of the population is in need of food aid.

Furthermore, the country is in serious debt. Over the past year, discussions between the Zimbabwean government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank have culminated in an agreement to pay back nearly US$2 billion in order to secure new short- to medium-term loans.

But, according to the IMF, any new loan will likely come with conditions to reduce the public sector payroll and reform the controversial land policy. This would have policy implications that are likely to exacerbate the public’s existing grievances, and catalyse new tensions between factions within the ruling party in the run-up to the presidential elections in 2018.

Mawarire’s movement highlights growing impatience with the never-ending economic insecurity. It also highlights the dearth of leadership options for Zimbabweans going forward. With the 92-year-old president’s questionable health; a fractured and weakened MDC; and growing tensions within ZANU-PF – particularly between the executive and the security sector – there is little certainty about the candidates and key messages we are likely to see in the 2018 race.

Yet there’s no doubt that Mugabe and ZANU-PF face unprecedented challenges ahead of 2018. The non-violent protest movement, including the social media activity to support it, is just one example of the new levels of civic engagement that appear to have outsmarted the current regime’s ability to counter dissent. Both in terms of the economic situation and protest movement, the next weeks and months will be crucial in determining the country’s trajectory.

Ciara Aucoin, Researcher, African Futures and Innovation, ISS Pretoria

In a bid to stem radicalisation in prisons, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced plans to construct a new prison that would house only extremist offenders. This proposal, however, raised more questions than inspiration for solutions.


Immediate concerns relate to how human rights and legal measures will be applied, and whether separating inmates in this way will indeed result in the intended outcomes. President Kenyatta’s plans follow a similar announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, which has been met with alarm by prison officials and warnings from British counter-terrorism experts. They argue that such an approach could likely allow extremist groups like the Islamic State to build a command structure in such a facility.



In contrast, the United States (US) is actively seeking to shut down its prison in Guantanamo Bay due to the ongoing ethical and legal controversy the prison has attracted over the years. ‘Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. [It] undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law,’ president Barack Obama argued while presenting his plans to the US Congress in February. 


Currently, Shimo la Tewa GK prison in Mombasa and Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi hold Kenya’s largest number of inmates associated with terror offences – this number is reportedly around 240. The former holds approximately 160 suspects accused of carrying out terrorist attacks, radicalisation and violent take-overs of mosques at the coast. These suspects are housed in a separate block. There have been few convictions of terrorist suspects, and it is reported that the Shimo La Tewa prison could be serving as a conduit for recruitment in other prisons across the country.



In announcing the new prison plans, President Kenyatta argued that such a prison would deter extremist offenders ‘from spreading their venom to vulnerable Kenyans.’ In July 2015, three prisoners had earlier petitioned the national assembly to separate inmates associated with terrorism offences given concerns that prisons were turning into fertile grounds for recruitment and radicalisation.


There is evidence suggesting that isolating prisoners in the name of counter-radicalisation is likely to be counter-productive. Instead of curbing recruitment and radicalisation, a facility like that could make it easier for terror groups to establish command and control structures as noted earlier, in addition to elevating such facilities to symbols of martyrdom and oppression to extremist sympathisers. In this way, it could further embolden, fuel and rally support and sympathy for terror groups – in addition to increasing the chances of Kenya being further targeted for its actions.

Another factor is Kenya’s budgetary constraints, which have resulted in overcrowded and understaffed prisons. How a new prison would be funded is therefore an important question. The current prison population is more than double the holding capacity of the system. The population stands at 54 579; against a capacity of 26 687 in 108 prisons across the country. The proposed prison also raises concern around gender considerations and how these will be catered for. Approximately 5.3% of the prison population is female, raising questions around housing female terror suspects and the protection of child suspects of terrorism offences in prison facilities.


Kenya ought to consider such plans not only in terms of its approach to counter-terrorism, but also through the lens of its correctional and rehabilitation policies. From both perspectives, these require evidence-based, long-term and sustainable responses. A comprehensive review of imprisonment policies is necessary in terms of international and national human rights obligations, and rehabilitation ‘good practices’.



Source: ISS Africa

On the afternoon of 1st Nov, we were having lunch in a Yemeni restaurant in Hargeisa, Somaliland when I heard the news about deadly attack in Mogadishu that morning. The Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu was stormed by Al-Shabab militants, killing 15 people including a Member of Parliament and Somali general who had led the military campaign that drove Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011.

When my colleague Abdi Zenebe from the University of Hargeisa received a call, it did not take me long to realise that the person on the other side was asking about me. It was my wife who had been terrified by the news and confused about whether I had travelled to Mogadishu or Hargeisa.

My UK mobile network would not work in Somaliland and I had not yet managed to obtain a local SIM card or perhaps, I had not prioritised it. I can empathise with the stress that is caused on families of individuals who work in conflict-affected or other humanitarian situations. For some, career choices in challenging situations are serendipitous whereas for others, these are professional adventures. It is probably a combination of both in my case.

This news came to us in the middle of our conversation about how Somaliland had maintained peace and stability since its declaration of independence from Somalia in 1991 while the Southern state continues to be violent.


UCL Institute of Education's new research project in partnership with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) at University of Hargeisa and University of York involves research into the role of education in promoting peace, political stability and development in the Somali region.

The project employs a multi-method approach to curriculum development, which combines a rigorous review of evidence, empirical study in the Somali region and multi-stakeholder consultation to inform the curriculum design process and pedagogy of an academic course on education and peace-building.


John Paul Lederach’s theory on peacebuilding draws significantly on political processes of the hybrid model of peacebuilding and participatory democracy in Somaliland. One of my personal research interests has also been to explore how Somaliland navigates through indigenous structures of governance to advance aspirational modernisation in Somaliland.

The political parties are constitutionally barred from adopting an explicit clan-based or religious ideology but in reality, the source of support for these parties essentially stems from their respective clans and sub-clans.

While Somaliland has successfully worked with its bicameral presidential system in which the Guurti, the upper House of Elders is represented by 82 senior members of various clans and the House of Representative of the same size, the current challenges are primarily concerned with the lack of basic services - including, education, health, water, food and the infrastructure.


What was extraordinary to see during the initial meetings in which I participated in Hargeisa was the enormity of self-pride and aspirations among the people from all walks of life for social and economic development in Somaliland.

The meeting with the university’s president and vice-president was so encouraging that they did not just highlight what had been achieved in the Somaliland’s only public university but also were very honest about the areas where improvement was needed.


When the senior management of an academic institution explicitly reveals their fundamental weaknesses at their first meeting with a foreign partner, it clearly indicates their desperation and genuine commitment to effect a real change in the institution.

This is very unlike some of the other developing countries where I have experienced rudimentary or unenthusiastically dormant academic entrepreneurship. The academic team in the IPCS, Hargeisa was incredibly passionate about their work and very proud of the fact that their graduates included the leaders of the major political parties as well as ministers of the current cabinet. I really hope that my first impression remains linear throughout the project, creating a real opportunity for mutual learning and academic innovations within the IPCS and beyond.

This made me think of what American anthropologist James Ferguson said about his frustration towards failed development in Africa. Ferguson (2006: 191-192) notes:


Today, anthropologists in Africa tend to be asked not "What can you do for us" (that time-honored question) but rather: “How can I get out of this place?” Not progress, then, but regress.


I would like to think, perhaps, the tip of the Horn of Africa is a different scenario all together. I felt that there was still a strong sense of hope as the people here were passionately talking about African philosophy and indigenous models of democratic practice.

Later that afternoon, we visited the Hargeisa Cultural Centre, a fascinating place that seemed to be playing a prominent role in reviving and reconstructing Somaliland identity and cultural traditions.

When we arrived at the centre, we were welcomed by Ibrahim who gave us a tour. Ibrahim was born two days before the military dictator Siad Barre’s army callously bombed Hargeisa in 1988. His eyes were filled with tears when he described how his mother had to painfully flee to Ethiopia with a newly born baby in her arms. Ibrahim’s father was so traumatised that he would still refuse to return to Hargeisa after these many years.

Designed in a traditional Somali style and constructed beautifully with local materials is the drama theatre in the cultural centre. Its walls are covered by Somali blankets and the spectators’ arena is nicely designed to face the stage that lies with some musical instruments in the corner.


On the wall behind the seats, it read 'culture is a basic right’.

There were also few hundreds of audiocassettes of classic Somali songs, which Ibrahim mentioned were being digitized for preservation.

On the way back from the theatre, we saw a dozen of children sitting on the stage of the open theatre while the two elders, sitting opposite of them were reciting the script for their forthcoming play. Abdi explained, ‘Somaliland is traditionally an oral society. Reciting poetry; telling stories and memorising proverbs with moral lessons is an integral part of this society.’ The cultural centre served both political and social purposes by preserving the traditional culture as well as cultivating national identity of Somaliland as a distinctive, stable and culturally prospering nation. A well-resourced library in the Centre housed a good amount of publications about Somaliland.

When we returned to Abdi’s car which was parked outside the Centre, I noticed that he had left his laptop openly on the front seat. I thought I could not leave my laptop visibly like that in my car in the UK. 

I asked myself, ‘Is Hargeisa safer than London?’

The security system seems to be surprisingly robust in Hargeisa where community policing reportedly provides approximately 60-70 percent of security related intelligence to national security. The state takes the matter of public security austerely as it is strictly linked with Somaliland’s commitment to deliver peace and stable democracy as well as its diplomatic ordeal to disassociate from the state failure in Somalia. Perhaps, the UK Independent Party Leader, Nigel Farage has a point in vocally supporting Somaliland for its membership in the Commonwealth to reward its success with peace in the last 25 years.

However, the art gallery in the Centre also revealed the painful side of Somaliland where we saw thought-provoking paintings by some young artists. These artistic representations incorporated the themes of politics, corruption and forced migration faced by Somali society.

As the entire Western Europe is engaged in a debate and challenges about ‘refugee crisis’, the excruciating misery of the loss of family members in the dreadful journeys to Europe and persecution of human smugglers were very powerfully depicted in these paintings. In one of the paintings by a young artist named Hanad, a Somalilander sets off for a new life in Europe but is kidnapped en route by the smuggler who demands ransom for her release. The mother, back home in Somaliland, who is portrayed as cooking meals for the family is devastated by the news and screams in agony.

In a different painting by the same artist, the cruelty of human smugglers in an overcrowded boat was so vividly portrayed. The scene displayed the horror of humanitarian disaster as well as deprivation, disparities and desperation that led to triviality of human lives. One can easily see the obvious but also feel agitated by what is driving these series of events.

With these incredible pieces of art, the cultural Centre represented an interesting blend of national pride and social challenges that characterized Somaliland. The involvement of youth in production of the atmosphere of the Centre and its social and cultural activities indicated an important aspect of learning and revival of Somali Culture. However, it is certainly a limited representation of Somaliland and not at all the entirety of what Hargeisa as a city constitutes.

My few days in Somaliland have thrown me into a paradoxical understanding of the aspiring self-declared republic that is surrounded by complex protracted crises but is successfully defending peace and stability for the last 25 years.

On the one hand, its clan-based social structure works as a source of stability and successful conflict management and most importantly, as an impenetrable shield against Al-Shabab’s influence.

On the other hand, the very system, quite understandably, seems to be suspicious about over excitement for foreign investment and westernised economic development. The anxiety of the loss of stability as well as social and cultural erosion that may follow the stimulated economic liberalisation faces the reality of persisted stagnation in providing basic services such as food, water, education, health and the infrastructure to Somalilanders.

For us, it is the question of education – what is the role of education in transforming Somali society? How can we create positive learning opportunities for Somali youth to effectively facilitate their participation in democracy, peacebuilding, and social transformation?

Dr Pherali is Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development at UCL Institute of Education. He teaches a course on Education, Conflict and Fragility and coordinates the Network for Research in Education, Conflict and Emergencies. Email: t.pherali(at)ioe.ac.uk 

The first registration weekend for South Africa’s 2016 local government elections, which took place in March, saw a number of disruptions due to protest action.


On 9 and 10 April, South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will host the final voter registration weekend before the elections are eventually held. The election date is yet to be announced; but in the run-up, it is important to find out what these disruptions and protests mean for the polls. A vast majority (78.6%) of the new registrations (544 552 people) were from young voters under the age of 30. This indicates a very positive response from young South Africans to the IEC’s call to register, reversing the set image of youngsters being the least to vote.



By the end of March 2016, a total of 25 535 726 voters were registered. More than half (55%) were female; and 23% are under 30. 52% of young South Africans between 20 and 29 years of age are registered to vote; a low figure compared to 87% of those over the age of 30. Yet only 48% of voters between 20 and 29 years of age voted in the last municipal elections (compared to 58% of registered voters overall).


Nonetheless, young people are displaying high and rising levels of activism, as highlighted by the turnout of young people during the #FeesMustFall campaign and other community protests. The reasons for increased activism include deteriorating socio-economic conditions; increased dissatisfaction with government services; growing mistrust in the ability and willingness of government to deliver on their promises; and a larger profile from opposing parties in communities and on campuses. This increased level of activism could also account for the upswing in youth voter registration, and may translate into a greater overall voter turnout.



The main concern ahead of the 2016 elections is that aggrieved individuals and groups could undermine the process as a way to express their grievances. This development was first observed during the 2014 national elections, when at least six voting stations were destroyed and IEC staff were threatened and attacked in Alexandra and Tzaneen.


The number of related incidents recorded during the first registration weekend indicates that this tendency is on the rise. IEC incident reports showed disruptions at 91 voting stations. Most of the incidents involved threats and intimidation against IEC staff or community protests. Around 40 voting stations experienced severe disruptions, forcing the voting stations to open late, close early, or not open at all.


The IEC incident reports list disruptions in eight provinces. Their only exception was the Free State, although the Institute for Security Studies’ public violence monitor recorded one incident in Maluti-a-Phofung based on media reports. Nearly one in three incidents recorded by in the IEC occurred in Limpopo province, while a quarter took place in the Eastern Cape, followed KwaZulu-Natal and North West.


The most widespread disruptions occurred in Malamulele and Makhado (particularly the area of Vuwani) in Limpopo; affecting 26 voting stations. The complex issues at play here relate to the decision to move certain areas that currently fall under Thulamela into a newly demarcated municipality. The new, yet unnamed, municipality was called for by other groups through extensive protest action – as they felt that the Thulamela municipality does not deliver services effectively to their areas. The area has experienced widespread protests and disruptions from opposing groups in the past year.



This comes despite attempts to intervene on the part of government from a range of political leaders, including the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana.


Although only 91 out of the 22 569 voting stations experienced disruptions during the first registration weekend, it represents an emerging trend. This confirms research published in 2007, which suggests that many among South Africa’s electorate believe that ‘voting helps and protest works’. Protests are a way to express dissatisfaction with an elected party without having to vote differently; or vote at all.


The disruptions may have been even more widespread had it not been for several government initiatives aimed at decreasing protest action during 2015, most notably in Gauteng. One such initiative, launched by the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, is the Ntirhisano community outreach programme, which aimed to respond quickly to service-delivery grievances in Gauteng. The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has also established rapid-response teams to deal with grievances in municipalities.


It remains to be seen whether the final voter registration push during this coming weekend will experience the same level of disruption. The IEC and the police need to invest in the better coordination of election security and should strengthen their dispute- and conflict-resolution capacity. In addition to enhanced voter registration training, democracy-building initiatives and government responsiveness and accountability need to be improved if disruptions are to be prevented in future.



Source: ISS Africa


On 10 and 11 May 2016, Ms. Burrage attended the Inter-African Committee (IAC) conference on FGM at the United Nations in Geneva, where she gave a paperMs. Burrage presented both her books at the IAC conference reception, hosted by HE Steffen Kongstad of the Norwegian Embassy; Ambassador Kongstad also arranged to give copies of those books to the guests who participated in the event.


More contents of the speech and original post can be found on H. Burrage's blog.

Recently, South Africa have been filled with allegations of state capture by the prominent Gupta family, as a result of their close relationship with South African President Jacob Zuma.


Despite calls from various African National Congress (ANC) members and others for the president to step down, his supporters in the powerful National Executive Committee (NEC) have seemingly allowed the president to remain relatively unscathed. While an internal investigation into the issue of ‘state capture’ by the Guptas will be undertaken by ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, Zuma has yet to be held accountable for his many scandals as president of South Africa.



A vast majority of the ANC’s voter base is located in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, with almost half of the political party’s votes coming from both provinces. Research conducted by Policy Analyst Jonathan Faull during the 2014 national government election highlighted that the 2016 local government could present a significant challenge for the ANC vote in some of the biggest metros, namely the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.


According to Faull, the ANC lost votes in all three metros in both the 2009 and 2014 provincial elections. Provincial votes in Johannesburg dropped from 62% in 2009 to 52% in 2014; in Tshwane from 59.95% in 2009 to 49% in 2014; and in Nelson Mandela Bay from 49.64% in 2009 to 48.81% in 2014. These losses represent only slight decreases in the ANC’s voter base across the three metros, which amounts to 11.25%, 5.25% and 5% loss respectively.

Faull illustrates however, that when the increase in population of all registered voters on the voters roll is taken into account, the number of votes lost by the ANC are stark: ‘20.31% down in Johannesburg, 24.71% down in Tshwane and 9.4% down in Nelson Mandela Bay’. In contrast however, the Democratic Alliance (DA) showed a notable increase over the same period in all three metros, with approximately 48.9% increase in Johannesburg, 35.72% increase in Tshwane and 35.73% increase in Nelson Mandela Bay. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also won four in 10 votes in Gauteng; a great achievement for a political party formed less than a year prior to the 2014 national election.


According to a survey conducted by FutureFact among 3,015 South Africans aged 18 years and older, support for the ANC seems to be wavering under Zuma’s leadership. The survey highlights that support for the ANC has declined from 83% in its 2009 survey, the year Zuma became president, to 67% in 2015.


In the lead up to the 2014 national elections, the Institute for Security Studies conducted a study aimed at understanding the voting behaviour of young South Africans (18-24 years old) with 2,010 young people across South Africa. The findings of the study illustrate an emerging generation that is more open to change, and therefore voting differently to their parents.



As one high-school student from Mpumalanga said, ‘I think voting is very important; and it is important … to vote for different parties and not to stick to one party, because it will take advantage.’ According to another high school student in Limpopo, ‘I feel that some people are stuck in the past and not all of us have experienced what our parents have experienced back then. There should be change. The party that is ruling now has been ruling for a long time. I think we need to see something different.’


The Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) first local election registration drive, held on the first weekend of March, saw young people under the age of 30 accounting for as much as 78.6% of new registrations. Among those aged 20 to 29 years old, as many as 5.4 million have registered to vote in this year’s local government election. This group of young people now face challenges of unemployment and access to quality higher education, and they are increasingly frustrated by issues of crime and corruption within government and local municipalities.


President Zuma’s resilience in maintaining power under the ANC, despite various scandals, has been illustrated time and time again. What is clear is that the ANC’s image has once again been tainted by corruption scandals surrounding Zuma, and the electorate’s frustrations are growing. It remains to be seen, however, whether this new generation of young voters could present a turning point in this year’s local government elections.



Source: ISS Africa

Terrorism, drought, HIV/AIDS and malaria may be among the distress to Africa, but none of these factors are the real critical threat; corruption is. Corruption is also Africa’s biggest hurdle on the path to a developed region.


Yet the moral and financial investment in fighting downstream consequences of corruption – including terror, drug trafficking and organised crime – is much greater than the investment in stopping graft. Too many developed countries tolerate the export and enabling of corruption by their corporate and individual citizens. Despite well-worn stereotypes, Africa does not compete in corruption’s premier league. But the effects of corruption are often more devastating in Africa, due to institutional weakness and the fragility of states and cities.

What separates thriving countries from failing ones is the strength and integrity of their institutions. Corruption devastates Africa as it undermines institutional capacity. This, in turn, destroys trust and the social contract that lies at the heart of sustainable peace, security and stability.


There is a well-established stereotype of African leaders using ideology and historical legacy to mask corruption and greed. But things are changing. In the post-ideological world a new generation of African leaders is taking a different approach to the failed models of their aging and out-of-touch predecessors. These leaders came to power on anti-corruption keys. They understand the need to partner with the private sector to promote investment and innovation; they know that increased transparency and accountability are prerequisites for this.


But there are two sides to this coin. As African leaders get their own house in order, developed nations should support them by ensuring the world’s poorest countries do not bear the injustices and excesses that can be a downside of global capitalism.


Africa’s many forms of corruption are matched by the multiple ways that Western companies are complicit in them. Dodgy arms deals and illicit financial flows could not succeed were it not for the legions of international lawyers, banks and accountants who bend the rules to give corrupt practices a veneer of legality. A myriad of technically legal actions add up to massive theft.


This is a conundrum which must be tackled this week by African leaders and business meeting in Rwanda at the World Economic Forum on Africa, and at the UK Anti-Corruption Summit in London. The summit is an opportunity to fix blind spots in the global anti-corruption architecture, and for governments to commit to responsible investing in fragile economies.

Africa loses more than US$50 billion annually to illicit financial outflows. A joint report by the African Development Bank and Global Financial Integrity found that up to 65% of this lost revenue disappears in commercial transactions by multinational companies.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention is a good place to start. It needs to be more rigorously monitored and enforced because its signatories are responsible for approximately two-thirds of world exports, and almost 90% of total foreign direct investment. The convention, adopted in 1997, requires each signatory to make foreign bribery a crime for which individuals and enterprises are responsible.


Yet according to Transparency International more than half of the 41 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention countries have violated their obligations by failing to investigate or prosecute any foreign bribery case during the last four years. Transparency International’s 2015 progress report shows that only four of 41 signatories are actively investigating and prosecuting companies that bribe foreign officials. Six countries have moderate enforcement, while another nine have limited enforcement. The remaining 20, accounting for 20% of world exports, do little or nothing to ensure their companies and individuals don’t export corruption. This is simply not good enough.


Ending corruption will require greater political will and ethical leadership than we have witnessed to date. But recent developments provide a glimmer of hope. Indeed, as Africa’s middle class expands, and demands for transparency and fairness grow stronger, Africa’s promising new leaders will have no choice but to take corruption seriously. Hopefully private sector and Western leaders will do the same.


Source: ISS Africa

South Africa was instrumental in establishing and supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC), so why did the government choose not to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he was in the country last June?


Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.


Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, a Senior Researcher in the office of the Executive Director, will discuss the recent Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling that South African authorities acted unlawfully by not arresting Bashir when he visited the country to attend the African Union summit.


The briefing will also cover the South African government’s evolving stance on the ICC and implications of the court decision for the country, the ICC and international justice.



Source: ISS Africa

10 April 1993: all South Africans know where they were when the news broke of Chris Hani’s assassination, just like 27 April 1994 – the day of the first democratic election – will forever be etched upon the nation’s memory.


Recently, the wound of the former was reopened as Hani’s murderer, Janusz Walus, made another legal bid for parole.


This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and of the adoption of the final Constitution. Yet today South Africa seems to be a country fractured and unable to reconcile.


A younger generation blames Mandela for ‘selling us out’ – and the Constitution has become the scapegoat for all that is wrong in society. That argument often ignores the complexities and historical context of the time; as well as the role those in power play (or fail to play) in implementing the Constitutional promise.

This week, as the country celebrates 22 years of freedom, South Africans seem slightly less optimistic and enthusiastic; trusting their leaders far less than in those halcyon days, and at times seeming rudderless. Deepening levels of inequality have exacerbated race and class divisions. 


Just this week, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) released a damning report on the status of youth in the country. It examined issues of crime, employment and health, among other things, for the period 2009 to 2014. Already the International Labour Organisation has found that South Africa has a youth unemployment rate of 52%: far higher than those of neighbouring countries. StatsSA found that in the 25- to 34-year-old age group, only one in three South Africans had a job. Much of this has to do with the failure of the post-apartheid education system. And so, the status quo is a rather bleak one. The reality is a nearly 25% unemployment rate and unsustainable levels of inequality.

As a country, South Africa clearly underestimated the apartheid legacy and the ability to create a ‘developmental state’; too little emphasis was placed on mobilising citizens’ energies for change and short-termism by the government compromised sustained transformation of society. There was an assumption that elected officials and public servants would be incorruptible, while the unintended consequences of policy choices were not adequately recognised and consensus was often ‘imposed’.


As the National Development Plan (NDP) also contends, without a new development trajectory, South Africans will remain unequal, poor and lacking the cohesion necessary to live together peacefully. For the nation remains stymied by difference. And violence, whether by state repression at Marikana, xenophobic attacks or from one citizen to the other (on university campuses or elsewhere) becomes a means of problem-solving. Of course, government has yet to provide more than lip service to the NDP itself.


In this country of great complexity and contradiction, freedom is linked not only to economic emancipation and opportunity – but also a sense of understanding and relating to ‘the other’ across the ingrained fault lines of race and class.

The meaning of 27 April 1994 was about creating something new, grasping the urgency of a new development trajectory and reaching across divides. That is the triple challenge of Freedom Day this year.



Source: ISS Africa

The attack on 13 March on the Ivorian resort town of Grand Bassam is the latest in a series of incidents in West Africa the past few months.


Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the incident which killed 18 people – including three assailants and three special forces soldiers – and injured dozens. 


The Ivorian government, long wary of the growing regional threat of violence linked to religious extremism, has responded by introducing a series of security measures along the coast and the country’s borders, as well as at schools and hotels. But is this enough?


William Assanvo, a senior researcher at ISS Dakar, will present this View on Africa. During his presentation, he will analyse this latest attack and discuss its implications for the West African region.



Source: ISS Africa

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