Tanzanians are heading to the polls on the 28th October. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has governed Tanzania since independence in 1961, and is the second longest-ruling party in Africa. President John Magufuli swept into power in 2015 with a promise to end corruption and expand infrastructure. However, his strong-handed governing style has been strongly criticised, with human rights groups and opposition parties accusing Magufuli of increasing repression ahead of the polls, intimidating political rivals and restricting the press.
Campaign rallies are in full swing, with early signs of tension between opposition groups and the ruling party. Tundu Lissu, the presidential candidate from the main opposition Chadema party, has publicly stated he believes the elections will not be free, fair or transparent. Fears have been raised by citizens about the potential outbreak of violence if the election is not held in a transparent manner and the outcome delayed.
Tanzania’s incumbent President and presidential candidate of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party,John Magufuli speaks during the official launch of the party’s campaign for the October general election at the Jamhuri stadium in Dodoma, Tanzania. PHOTO ERICKY BONIPHACE/ AFP
Magufuli’s main opponents are likely to be Lissu, who recently returned to Tanzania after spending nearly three years in Belgium for medical treatment after a failed assassination attempt, and former foreign minister Bernard Membe from the ACT-Wazalendo, who was expelled from the CCM in February.
Initially, opposition parties were set to head to the polls without a coalition or alliance in place to unseat the ruling CCM. Recent media reports have indicated that the country’s two leading parties, Chadema and the third biggest party in the country, ACT-Wazalendo, led by Zitto Kabwe, have decided to form what has been dubbed a “loose collaboration”, and endorse a common candidate for the polls in each region. ACT-Wazalendo’s supporters will vote for Lissu while in exchange, Chadema has endorsed ACT-Wazalendo’s candidate in Zanzibar (the island is a semi-autonomous region with the Tanzanian federation).
However, an obstacle to this loose collaboration may lie in Tanzanian law, which requires parties interested in forming an official coalition to sign an agreement at least 90 days before elections are held, and have it approved by the country’s Registrar of Political Parties. While an informal collaboration may not technically break the rules, the Registrar of Political Parties has already issued a warning to party officials against endorsing each other’s candidates.
Outbreaks of Violence
Several instances of violence have been reported in the mainstream media and social media platforms, such as:
On 6 October, police reportedly arrested an unspecified number of Chadema opposition supporters in the Coast Region attending an alleged unauthorized rally by Lissu. Police officials claimed to be upholding Lissu’s temporary suspension of his campaign by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
On 7 October, Lissu was involved in a stand-off with the police for nine hours on his way to Dar es Salaam to meet with party members.
Accusations of hired thugs and police officers led to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro ordering an immediate investigation into the claims that Serengeti Parliamentary candidate for Chadema, Catherine Ruge, was assaulted by the police officers on 14 October 2020.
Some video clips have gone viral showing assets belonging to Chadema candidate for Chato constituency and a local party official being torched. Geita Regional Police Commander Sikoki Mwaibambe confirmed the incidents, saying a group of seven to 10 people stormed the home of the Chadema parliamentary candidate for the constituency, destroying a perimeter fence and torching a shed.
Human Rights Abuses
There have been a series of accusations against the CCM regarding human rights abuses stemming from their decision in December 2019 to withdraw its declaration from Article 34(6) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. This declaration allows individuals and NGOs to take their cases directly to the African Court. Human Rights Watch has warned that Tanzanian authorities continue to step up repression of opposition parties, non-governmental organisations and the media, ahead of the elections.
National Electoral Commission Partiality
Tanzanian human rights activist Fatma Karume said in an interview that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is most likely not an independent entity, and has members of the CCM party appointed as returning officers.
Election Campaign Suspensions
Despite a pledge of fairness, the NEC has suspended the election campaigning of several opposition leaders for allegedly breaching the Ethics Committee regulations by violating section 21(a) and (n) of the code of ethics for presidential, parliamentarian and councillor election elections:
Lissu recently had his campaign activities suspended until 10 October after being accused of making seditious statements at one of his rallies. The NEC stated he was suspended from 3 October for breaching the elections code of ethics.
ACT-Wazalendo has faulted the five-day campaign suspension slapped on the party’s presidential candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad, saying it shows the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not independent. Mr Hamad becomes the second presidential candidate after Mr Lissu to have his campaigns suspended.
Chadema’s parliamentary candidate for Kawe Constituency, Halima Mdee, was also handed a seven-day campaign suspension?.
Mtwara Urban Constituency’s candidate Maftah Nachuma (on the Civic United Front ticket) suffered a 10-day suspension.
Election Observers Participation
Chadema’s Secretary-General John Mnyika told the media that he is concerned about the lack of permission given to a number of important international observers and local NGOs – namely the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF), the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) and the Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee (TEMCO) – to monitor the elections and provide voter education prior to the election day. Election observation is important because it provides additional resources in the pre-election preparation and can be an oversight mechanism to safeguard election processes involving voter registers being up-to-date, ballot materials being delivered throughout the country and the appropriate technologies being adopted to avoid election fraud. The government’s actions may result in the election outcome being contested.
In a response measure, on 15 October, the CCM sought to calm diplomats’ concerns about fairness in the run up to the election. The ruling party leadership met with envoys from various countries and assured them of fairness and legality of the polls. The CCM’s Secretary-General Bashiru Ally met with diplomats from Kenya, Mozambique, the USA and seven countries from the European Union.
Tundu Lissu, Tanzania’s former MP with the Chadema main opposition party, who was shot 16 times in a 2017 attack, returned after three years in exile to challenge President John Magufuli in the October elections. PHOTO STR/AFP
Restricting Media Freedoms
The limiting of freedom of expression and media came into effect on August 10th, after Tanzania’s communications authority restricted cooperation between international and local media outlets. Local media outlets must seek permission to broadcast international news content, and will be punished if content is deemed “offensive”. Magufuli has defined “offensive” as anything that is contrary to his views and statements about current affairs within Tanzania. There are many reports of journalists facing harassment and detainment in Tanzania under Magufuli’s leadership.
Tanzania recently passed the Online Content Regulations 2020 that make it an offence for Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp users to post messages which “ridicule, abuse or harm the reputation, prestige or status of the United Republic of Tanzania” ahead of the election.
COVID-19 and the Media
While the world battles with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is an opportunity for Tanzania to emulate Malawi’s successful hosting of their election earlier this year under challenging conditions. Unlike Malawi, Magufuli declared the country “coronavirus-free” thanks to prayers by citizens. A recent Al Jazeera interview with Muthoki Mumo from the Committee to Protect Journalists for Sub-Saharan Africa highlighted that it has become increasingly difficult for journalists to do their job under Magufuli’s presidency. Journalists are restricted from reporting on the coronavirus and its impact on the elections. Magufuli has positioned himself as the gatekeeper of all information related to the coronavirus pandemic in the country. As a result, the government has not updated its national statistics for the virus since June, and there have been no regulations or restrictions implemented. The citizens are effectively being denied the right to credible information on what’s happening in their country. Political analyst Aikande Kwayu wrote that the Tanzanian government’s response to the pandemic “has revealed, rather than informed, the governance style under the current administration”. Rather than cooperating and engaging with medical experts, Magufuli has cast doubt on their professionalism and taken the science into his own hands.
In general, an incumbent has a political advantage over challengers during an election period. The incumbent often has more name recognition based on their position of previously holding office. Incumbents also tend to have easier access to campaign finance, as well as the use of government resources that can be directly and indirectly used to boost the incumbent’s re-election campaign. In this case, the CCM and Magufuli appear to have made full use of the advantages of incumbency.
The ruling party’s campaign strategy has seen Magufuli’s face and the party’s signature green-and-yellow colours found on posters, leaflets and billboards across the country, with coverage of his campaign dominating the news. Media freedom remains restricted and is tightly controlled by the government.
As a direct result, Chadema’s blue-and-white signature colours or posters are absent on the streets and their campaign messages are missing from the airwaves. Also, the party has raised concerns about new taxes, making it considerably more expensive to produce electoral materials. In order to counter these government created obstacles, Lissu and his party have utilised the social media space, which has less government control, to grow its popularity and support.
More recently, ballot papers have been altered from the standard alphabetical order to a supposedly random sequence which sees Magufuli’s and the CCM name appear first and main opposition candidates, Chadema and Lissu, appear last.
Dr Craig Moffat is Head of Programme: Governance Delivery and Impact at Good Governance Africa.
Monique Bennet is a senior researcher at Good Governance Africa. She has a keen interest in data science, data visualisation and statistics using the R programming language. Throughout her studies, research topics such as development, democracy and the environment within the context of developing countries have been her focus areas.
SIXOLILE NGQWALA holds a Masters of Commerce (MCom) in economics from the University of Fort Hare, where he was involved with the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) in econometric research (econometric modelling, data coding, data mining, data analysis and interpretation). He has a BCom Hon in economics, and an undergraduate degree in Business Management and Industrial Psychology.
East Africa is experiencing the worst desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) outbreak in decades. The outbreak began in early 2019 and science isn’t enough to save the livelihoods and ensure the food security of at least 39 million people who are currently at risk. Implementing existing environmental protection policies and consistent resource allocation to national and regional organisations will ultimately be the difference.
Naturally, these policies and actions should be supported by expert scientists and researchers. Desert locusts have plagued farmers in Africa and Asia since Pharaonic times and is mentioned in both the Bible and Koran. Since the United Kingdom’s establishment of the Anti-Locust Research Centre in 1945, four major international conferences have been held to formally establish a method of monitoring, controlling and preparing for future outbreaks.
Two factors have impacted the success and failure of desert locust management. First, desert locusts ignore international boundaries which means that international cooperation is crucial for successful intervention. Second, plague outbreaks are intermittent, so funding for both research and control fluctuates and needs to be more consistent. Oscillation between recession and outbreak periods can cause a lack of available funding for monitoring and control operations. Countries have become poorly equipped to cope with an upsurge because of these seasonal fluctuations.
Cooperation and coordination
The very nature of the desert locust problem calls for an approach to environmental governance that involves both state and non-state actors. Despite international organisations like the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) being a central actor in dealing with the desert locust outbreaks, states in the affected regions need to have internal policy measures implemented to ensure preparedness for predicted outbreaks. In 1962, the Convention for the Establishment of the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) was held to unify cooperation between the governments of Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The DLCO-EA hoped to ensure cooperation in the control of desert locust plauges across the region. Despite having the necessary scientific understanding of how to deal with the locusts, the organisation has been unable to deal with the magnitude of the current outbreak. Lack of membership payment by Uganda, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan, all of which owed an estimated $8 million to the organisation, is clearly a primary problem. This is nearly half of its members failing to contribute to the capacity and maintenance of the DLCO-EA. Environmental problems are inherently challenging to solve because they are embedded in complex biological systems.
Their impacts are often time-lagged so if political leaders are short-sighted, it’s unlikely that they will cooperate effectively. Effective locust control requires a well-timed coordinated response. Consider, for instance, that warning signs of a severe outbreak surfaced after the North Indian Ocean experienced its most active cyclone season ever recorded. This created ideal breeding and survival grounds across the Arabian Peninsula. Desert locusts occur in swarms due to a particular combination of weather, soil and vegetation conditions that complements its reproduction and mutation from an otherwise solitary creature into one which matures and develops into speedy swarms (gregarisation) of up to 150 million locusts.
This mutation makes the desert locust one of the most destructive insect groups when met with cropland. The Desert Locust Watch agency of the FAO released frequent warning bulletins during the cyclone season and from late 2019 it was clear that breeding had gone uncontrolled in Yemen. Despite the warnings, the DLCO-EA and member states did not have sufficient supplies of pesticides, protective gear and locust control authority to allow for effective control.
Why science isn’t enough
In a recent article published in Nature, the authors demonstrate that researchers are improving their understanding of how the locusts communicate, using predictive modelling to determine outbreak locations before they happen. They consequently call for more data-driven agricultural policies. No one should disagree, but if governments aren’t prioritising this research or actively monitoring and evaluating their current strategies then the science may come too late.
In Ethiopia, for instance, there are environmental policies in place, but they lack the necessary resources, implementation and expert involvement to make a difference or show positive outcomes. Conflict and instability in Somalia have made certain areas inaccessible to control operation groups. Kenya were initially not fully prepared for the scale of the outbreak but have managed to fight back and clear the infestations. Swarm breeding in northeast Africa and Yemen is currently threatening a second wave that could migrate south into eastern Ethiopia, central Somalia and northern Kenya. The fight is not over yet.
Transnational governance on environmental issues cannot act as a substitute for strong state-based governance. Research shows that strong national environmental policies create incentives for state and non-state actors to cooperage and engage transnationally. The DLCO-EA should be complemented by member state investment into national locust control policies so that they are better able to work in synergy. The most recent Locust Watch bulletin indicates that more swarms are forming and breeding has commenced in the Red Sea near to Somalia.
Kenya is likely to be affected from mid-November but the situation seems less severe than in 2019. The Kenyan based IGAD Climate Prediction & Applications Centre (ICPAC) is using satellite technology to help monitor breeding and movement forecasts of the desert locusts. They are cooperating with environmental ministries to help inform resource allocation and control operations across the region. This kind of cooperation and coordination between science and politicians will surely make the difference in preventing future environmental disaster.
This article was first published by Daily Maverick here
Monique Bennet is a senior researcher at Good Governance Africa. She has a keen interest in data science, data visualisation and statistics using the R programming language. Throughout her studies, research topics such as development, democracy and the environment within the context of developing countries have been her focus areas.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which has also closed the stock exchange over forex concerns, has hit people already losing livelihood options during the Covid-19 lockdown hard
A man shows a wad of the new Zimbabwean ten-dollar notes received from an ATM outside a bank in Harare on May 20, 2020. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced this higher denomination bank note into circulation together with the Zimbabwean two-dollar and Zimbabwean five-dollar notes to ease perennial shortages of cash experienced in the country. Photo JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP
The Zimbabwean government has, for a prolonged period, been engaged in a losing battle to stem illegal foreign exchange market activities. As has been the fashion, the regime has blamed runaway inflation and spiraling price increases on nefarious activities by “market saboteurs”.
Among these innumerable efforts, in the first week of June, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) threatened to embark on an unusual exercise. It sought to pursue illegal foreign currency dealers via the surveillance of WhatsApp groups through its financial intelligence unit, in collaboration with the police, banks, mobile-money service providers and relevant regulatory agencies. It threatened to bar and freeze suspects’ mobile numbers and accounts. This proved impossible.
On June 23, the RBZ then introduced a foreign exchange auction system (FEAS), which resulted in a move from a fixed exchange rate on the interbank market, which had, since March, been pegged at one US dollar to 25 Zimbabwe dollars (ZWL). After the introduction of the FEAS, the US dollar is now officially trading at 57 ZWL, against a black-market rate of between 80 and 100 ZWL.
On June 26, three days after the introduction of the FEAS, the permanent secretary in the ministry of information and publicity, Nick Mangwana, announced a ban, with immediate effect, on all mobile-money transactions (MMTs) and trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE). These drastic measures were described as making way for “intrusive investigations” into illegal dealings linked to the foreign currency black market, in which EcoCash is cited as the “centre pivot”.
In terms of market share, EcoCash, a subsidiary of Econet, accounts for about 97% of Zimbabwe’s mobile-money services. In addressing a crucial gap in Zimbabwe’s cash crisis, MMT services have, nonetheless, made the country’s economy vulnerable to a multiplicity of illicit foreign currency activities.
That said, the RBZ must not lose sight of its contributory role to this crisis through its (mis)management of the nation’s banking system that led to the liquidity crisis in the first place. This birthed and nurtured the mobile-money system that has since spiraled off its radar and, hence, out of its control.
Like any other stock exchange, the ZSE serves as a critical link for investors in the country. The loudest, yet most unfortunate, message from the temporary ban on its trading is that Zimbabwe is not only closed for business but also has no regard for investors’ property rights. Indeed, typical of the proverbial “burning down the house to kill a rat” or “throwing the baby out with the bath water”, this drastic measure is not good for investor confidence.
Further to this looming ZSE national catastrophe, the repercussions of which are yet to fully play out, is the plight of citizens already burdened by a loss of livelihood options during this indefinitely extended Covid-19 lockdown, that is most concerning. After the shock announcement of a blanket suspension of mobile-money services, the RBZ emerged, seemingly to avert a crisis, and reviewed the ban. This reviewed statement indicated that the ban is on MMT agents and merchant mobile-money account holders, while individual transactions up to a maximum of 5,000 ZWL are permitted.
Despite this reversal of the blanket ban and the assurance given by RBZ, Mangwana’s utterance has led to anxiety and a loss of confidence, with some street vendors and supermarkets already declining mobile-money payments.
For citizens battling a worsening economic crisis under the lockdown, this unfortunate development further impoverishes people, most of whom are Econet subscribers, who constitute an unbanked population that has found relief in transacting through mobile-money services.
For the few that are banked, the protracted liquidity crisis has seen citizens brave endless days and nights in long, winding queues in an effort to secure limited withdrawals each week. It is not unusual to leave the bank empty-handed even after dedicating oneself to these queues.
Apart from the often prohibitive costs associated with opening and maintaining a bank account, MMTs have offered a lifeline amid Zimbabwe’s protracted liquidity crisis. The Covid-19 context has also increased the demand for mobile-money services. This is because in light of the increasing levels of police abuse and brutality, they are a safer option in the current context in which citizen mobility, even for access to essential services, is restricted.
MMT services have also fulfilled transacting needs within an already failing banking sector, which, due to Covid-19 social-distancing regulations, has been operating below capacity. The digitalised transacting on mobile-money platforms offered by EcoCash, OneMoney, MyCash and Telecash have come to the rescue of consumers.
Last Friday’s announcement is evidence of a huge climbdown by the RBZ. Mangwana retweeted the climbdown with no hint of irony. This announcement has the potential to decimate what is left of Zimbabwe’s meagre economy and points to a governance system that has failed to subordinate itself to the rule of law.
The government should manage its communications system and segment information outflows so that announcements are delivered by the appropriate authorities, in this case the RBZ and the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Since this is not the first example of such a case in Zimbabwe, until such time as public officials are brought to publicly account for their utterances, with consequences, not much reform can be expected in this regard.
As observed by telecommunications expert Dennis Magaya, the government’s failure to contain illegal foreign currency activities confirms a “widening gap” between a fast-changing digital world and Zimbabwe’s current monetary policy framework. This should be subject to regular review, in line with prevailing digital advances, to ensure that while monetary operations are not beyond its purview, they remain investor- and citizen-friendly.
A long-term solution to Zimbabwe’s liquidity crisis, which inevitably fuels the illegal foreign currency exchange market, must be found. Beyond the concerns of manipulation and illegality and hyperinflation as a result of money supply mismanagement, the latest crackdown compounds already immeasurable suffering for the majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens.
Sikhululekile Mashingaidze currently serves as Senior Researcher in the Human Security and Climate Change (HSCC) project at Good Governance Africa. Being engaged as a part-time enumerator for Mass Public Opinion Institute’s diversity of research projects during her undergraduate years ushered her into and nurtured her passion for the governance field. She has worked with Habakkuk Trust, Centre for Conflict Resolution(CCR-Kenya), Mercy Corps Zimbabwe and Action Aid International Zimbabwe, respectively. This has, over the years, enriched her grassroots and national level governance projects’ implementation and management experience. Her academic research interests are in the field of genocide studies with a commitment to deepen her understanding of girls and women’s experiences, their agency in reconstituting everyday life and their inclusion in peace-building and transitional justice processes. Socially she has a keen commitment in supporting girls education, women’s economic empowerment and the fulfilment of their equitable and sustainable development in Africa’s underserved, often hard to reach communities. She enjoys writing and telling the stories of navigating everyday life.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the eulogy during the funeral service of South African anti-apartheid figure Andrew Mlangeni in Soweto, South Africa, on July 29, 2020. – Mlangeni, 95, was the last surviving Rivonia trialist, spending more than quarter of a century imprisoned on Cape Town’s notorious Robben island before his release in 1989. (Photo by Jerome Delay / POOL / AFP)
There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” We have former United States president George W Bush to thank for this misconstrued adage. This is the state that we South Africans find ourselves in regarding some government officials’ attitude and behaviour towards the citizenry; those who have been caught have transgressed the best interests of good governance.
The recent misuse of a state aircraft to carry an ANC delegation to Zimbabwe is a case in point. The delegation was led by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule to discuss the economic, social and political crises in Zimbabwe. July saw anti-government protests in that country, to which the state responded by arresting journalists and opposition figures. This prompted international condemnation and calls for the South African government to intervene.
President Cyril Ramaphosa sent former parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete and former ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi in August to “engage the government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe”. But this was not to be. Zanu-PF did not invite any other organisations to “engage with” the South African delegation. This drew criticism from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and others who were excluded from the talks.
A second South African delegation saw the ANC and Zanu-PF holding discussions at party to party level. The ANC delegation included senior ANC leaders such as Lindiwe Zulu, the minister of social development. They arrived in Harare on 8 September, having hitched a ride with Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who was making an official trip to Zimbabwe on a South African Air Force National (SAAF) plane.
The South African National Defence Union defended the minister’s decision to offer her ANC colleagues a lift in a SAAF jet, saying that we are living in unique circumstances under lockdown. The defence department said the ANC delegation’s trip just happened to coincide with the minister’s official trip and there was nothing more to it. But, have people’s expectations of government accountability dropped so low that such explanations suffice? I unpack relevant questions and events regarding the infamous trip to Zimbabwe that require clarity.
When Magashule was asked if the party had improperly used state resources to conduct ANC business, he promptly responded: “No”. A short while later he changed his tune and said the ANC would pay back the costs incurred. This change of heart maybe him realising that the delegation did indeed abuse state resources. But it was probably an attempt to try to do damage control after the public outcry.
In Chapter 6 of the document Guide for Members of the Executive, under the section International Travel, clause 1.3 states: “Ministers and deputy ministers should approach the president in writing to request approval for the intended visit and in the event of a planned official visit abroad, such request should be at least two weeks prior to departure. Such a request, in the case of a minister, should be accompanied by a request for the appointment of an acting minister.”
Did Zulu travel in her personal capacity as an ANC leader or not? Either way she would have had to seek approval from the president to appoint an acting minister, which would have meant her inclusion in the delegation would have been discussed even if she was going in her own capacity. It is strange that her inclusion in the delegation can be written off as a mere oversight.
Newly appointed Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (R) is sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at Sefako Makgato Presidential Guesthouse on May 30, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)
The minister was on an official trip for which the president had given permission and for which she was entitled to use an SAAF aircraft.
Is it not natural to assume she would have had a discussion with either the president or her husband, Charles Nqakula, who is the national security adviser to the president, about the purpose of her visit and who she would ferry to Zimbabwe?
Misuse of an SAAF jet
In Chapter 7 of the government handbook, clause 1.2 states: “Air transport provided by the South African Air Force or any other government department may not be used by members for party political engagements, unless such transport enables the member concerned to fulfil important official engagements before or after the party political engagements.”
This is probably the reason the president found it was “an error of judgment to use the plane to convey a political party delegation”.
It is puzzling that as the president of the ANC, he would not have been kept abreast of the developments regarding the delegation to Zimbabwe.
And it seems fair to assume there would be some liaising between the ANC officials and officials in the presidency regarding the business of international relations.
South Africa’s ports of entry were closed under Covid-19 regulations, except for those designated by the minister of home affairs to undertake (a) the transportation of fuel cargo and goods; and (b) humanitarian operations, repatriations, evacuations, medical emergencies, movements for diplomatic and international organisations and staff and other exceptions.
It is unclear which ministry gave official permission for the trip. In terms of the lockdown restrictions the ministry of transport authorises travel out of the country. When questioned about authorisation, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula did not commit to an answer but rather stated that because the delegation travelled in a SAAF jet, it did not need permission because the air force “controls the skies”.
An ANC statement on 15 September stated: “We profusely humble ourselves where we went wrong during the lockdown and will reimburse the government for the costs incurred on behalf of our delegation. Our delegation is under quarantine in line with our lockdown regulations.” But the Sunday Times reported that Magashule insisted he did not believe the delegation had abused state resources. Is the statement not a hollow apology perpetuating the sense of foolery to which we have become so accustomed?
The report further stated that at least two members of the delegation — Zulu and former minister Nomvula Mokonyane — did not go into the stipulated 10-day self-isolation period required under lockdown regulations after international travel.
Ramaphosa issued Mapisa-Nqakula with a formal reprimand. He imposed a three-month salary sacrifice, starting from 1 November, which will be paid into the Solidarity Fund that supports the country’s response to the pandemic. And he told her to ensure the ANC reimburses the state for the cost of the flight.
Although Ramaphosa’s swift action is commendable, two points require clarity:
l It was a long while before an amount was set for how much the ANC must pay back. It has since been established that the repayment will be R105 545.56. But the question is: if the ANC does pay their share of the cost of the flight, does it mean a political party has subsidised the government’s official business activities?
l Although Mapisa-Nqakula will lose three months’ salary we should not be overly empathetic. The minister will not face the realities so many South Africans have to deal with, including the fear of losing their homes. According to Chapter 8 of the handbook under the section Accommodation, she will still enjoy the benefits of living in her official residence at no cost. The “punishment” for breaking Covid rules is divorced from the deprivations faced by most South Africans.
The president said the minister’s error of judgment was not in keeping with the responsibilities of a minister. He found that Mapisa-Nqakula:
Did not “act … in the best interest of good governance”, as required by the code for executive members;
Failed to adhere to legal prescripts warranting care in use of state resources; and
Acted “in a way that is inconsistent with [her] position” as required by the executives’ guide.
For any society, it is important that officials are held accountable when they transgress the principles of good governance. It is also important that the punishment meted out will act as a deterrent for future transgressions, otherwise the foolery will continue.
South Africans should expect more accountability from government officials. If not, we have ourselves to blame and the correct version of the adage will ring true: “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.
This article first appeared in the Mail and Guardian here
Craig Moffat, PhD is the Head of Programme: Governance Delivery and Impact for Good Governance Africa’s National Security Programme. He has more than 17 years of practical experience working for government institutions and multilateral organisations. He was previously employed by the South African Foreign Service, where he worked extensively at identifying and analysing security threats towards South Africa as well as the southern Africa region. Previously, he was the political advisor for the Pretoria Regional Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Stellenbosch University.
Across Africa today, both the scale and complexity of state fragility is unprecedented as countries grapple with multiple overlapping challenges, including a burgeoning youth population, mass migration, climate change and variance, food insecurity, and economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. State fragility, where the state does not maintain a monopoly on violence, usually goes hand in hand with highly complex and precarious governance environments, often involving bargains and concessions between elites, the state, non-state actors, as well as formal, and informal security structures. However, despite the importance and reality of these localized dynamics, counterterrorism policy and security coordination usually remains at the highest political/geopolitical level.
In recent months, Good Governance Africa (GGA) has provided extensive analytical coverage of the escalating political and economic crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe. It is with great concern we have watched the Zimbabwean government’s violent crackdown on citizens, journalists, and political opponents trying to shed light on government corruption and mismanagement. Despite these setbacks, it has been heartening to see a mass movement coalesce around the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign and renewed international attention on events unfolding in Zimbabwe.
While new forms of citizen protest, and the sheer speed of social media, allows widespread coverage and calls for action, it remains crucial to harness this momentum and create the right context for new institutional formation to take root and a new political settlement to be reached. We must use this opportunity to move from revolt towards legitimate reform. As learned in the wake of the Arab Spring of 2011, elites can subvert social movements to create governance contexts even worse than those of their predecessors. Ruling coalition elites have also become experts at exploiting what Anthony Downs called the “issue-attention cycle.”
Moving from protest to programme requires the hard work of thinking through what is most appropriate for each given context. In this respect, and in line with GGA’s aim of helping to improve governance performance across the continent, we will be hosting a series of meetings which seek to both generate actionable policy interventions and build partnerships to address the urgent need for change in Zimbabwe. This first meeting will took the form of a public webinar and was held on Tuesday, 22 September 2020. For this initiative, GGA is seeking to draw on insights from leading voices on Zimbabwe and the region.