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Empowering Young African Women

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Under the theme “Network for Empowerment, refuelling a Continent on the Rise” of the last congress, young African women from different countries who gathered in Nairobi (Kenya in East Africa) were collectively looking for more empowerment. With this in mind, they shared their views and thoughts on existing challenges and opportunities, and other pertinent issues affecting women and development in Africa. The congress attracted quite a number of dignitaries from government, ministries, departments, institutions and agencies. Besides sessions and panel discussions, the conference offered the platforn for interactions, socialisation and networking.

In his welcome address, Daniel Osei Tuffuor, the Chairperson of the YAWC Network Council and the Executive Director for ExLA Group, recounted the achievements of the Young African Women Congress since its inception in 2016. He was emphatic on the empowerment it has brought to many women on the African continent and the enormous benefits of the networking aspect of the congress. 

“Over the years, since the establishment of YAWC, we have had many women go through this boardroom experience of keynotes, panel sessions, group brainstorming sessions and numerous presentations among others. Some have shared very insightful thoughts with us. Others have inspired us with their own struggles and success stories. One thing which has kept us progressing, however, has been the unlimited networks that have been built through these engagements,” Daniel Tuffuor remarked.

He drew the attention of delegates the newly campaign dubbed, “What Women Want” launched by the African Union Commission as part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. It is amazing as part of its Agenda 2063, the African Union has launched a campaign known as the “What African Women Want” which across the continent offers the opportunity to engage and share success stories, testimonies and best practices on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. The campaign began on March 4 and ends on December 26, 2022. 

“It is therefore encouraging to use the opportunity to share what you have acquired through the congress on some of these platforms. You will be shaping the conversation in the most transformative approach,” he stated.

The leaders of delegation from different countries took their turns to deliver their solidarity messages on behalf their countries’ delegations.

Ms. Vivian Akoto, the Leader of Liberia’s delegation and the Vice President of the YAWC Network Liberia, emphasized the need for women to be optimistic about building strategic partnerships. She further suggested that women take leading initiatives from local communities to the global platforms. These initiatives that could drive women in business and leadership. Women should push for the power of education, equality and inclusiveness.

On her part,  Ms. Stella Ayerango, the Leader of Ugandan delegation and the Media Liaison Officer for the YAWC Network Uganda Chapter briefed the gathering on the successes chalked by the Ugandan government concerning women’s empowerment agenda. According to her, the government of Uganda has provided enormous opportunities for women in a men-dorminated world. She cited Ugandan women in certain key positions including the Vice President, the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Inspector General of Government and many others that have been given to women. The country can boast of over 180 women in Uganda’s parliament, and women serving under different capacities in the cabinet.

Ms. Ayerango added Uganda has women CEOs in the public and private sectors which is a motivation for the rest of Ugandan women especially the young ones. She stated that having women in positions is the key in increasing access to economic, social and political empowerment; increasing participation of women in decision making and creating more leadership opportunities through building of confidence; enlightening the women about their human rights and how to deal with issues like domestic violence especially against women and girls.

Despite the achievements in her country, there are still some challenges including limited and/or no access, at all, to good quality education and primary health care. Research and monitoring show that gender-based violence increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, so are teenage pregnancies, high school drop outs, defilement and rape, poverty, land ownership. 

Ms. Matilda Hammond, the Leader of Ghana’s Delegation, delivered her solidarity message. She acknowledged the fact that women have been given the platform for their voices to be heard in recent times even though there are few challenges like domestic violence and others that are still holding them down. She highlighted some interventions made by the YAWC Network Ghana Chapter. 

According to her, the chapter has been prominent in speaking up against vices committed against women. They have been writing articles and sharing their thoughts on social media and other platforms condemning these acts whenever they come up.

Ms. Nnenna Mary Anozie, who led the Nigeria’s delegation, encouraged the young women to exhibit the spirit of oneness since it is the best tool for strengthening their front. She, however, charged the delegates to stay focused and be optimistic of the resolution at the congress and the subsequent effort would yield results.

Ms. Wirba Stephanie Kininla, the Leader of Cameroon’s delegation, briefed the gathering on the achievements of the YAWC Network, Cameroon Chapter. She narrated embarking on activities to assist groups of women and girls who face socio-political conflict, especially the current conflict in the NorthWest and SouthWest regions in the country that started October 2016. 

According to her, the YAWC Network Cameroon Chapter has worked in closed partnership with organizations such as the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Foundation for the Promotion of Peace and Dialogue. “The women are getting involved in peace talks to ensure a return of peace in the country. Women are sitting at tables with men actively working and participating in the peace-building process. We are changing the narratives in decision making and policies,” she emphasized at the congress.

Ms. Wirba further stated that the YAWC Network Cameroon Chapter has worked with government ministries and that has achieved some considerable results. That includes the Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAS) working for the promotion and social inclusion  of the woman; Ministry of Secondary Education (MINSEC) for getting all girls who get pregnant back to the classroom and attend school normally;  Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family (MINPROF) for creating safe spaces for women and girls who are internally displaced as a result of the conflict for a temporal stay. The network has also created referral pathways with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to assist women and girls suffering Gender Based Violence.

The YAWC Network Cameroon Chapter Executives were privileged to be part of a training organized by United Nations Refugee Council (UNREC) and Ministry of External Relations (MINREX) on integrating men and women dimension in the fight against the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the South West region of Cameroon. 

The Chapter visited a secondary school with internally displaced persons and offered psycho social support. They have organized mental health master classes to help relieve women and girls of stress they go through daily.

Ms. Ruth Jemutai Rop, the Leader of Kenya’s delegation and President of the YAWC Network, highlighted Kenyan women’s achievements. According to her report, Kenya has put in place some legal and policy framework to fill the gaps. There is an affirmative action law under Article 56 of the Kenya constitution as well as two third gender balance in all elective and appointive leadership positions as per Article 27(8) of the constitution. 

She referenced to other laws including the Sexual Offences Act, 2016, the Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act and the Policy on Gender and Development, 2019. She further hinted that many women, who have risen to key leadership positions as a result of these established laws, include the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, the Deputy Chief Justice, the First Deputy Speaker of the Kenya Senate, amongst other key appointees of the government.

Ms Rop, however, acknowledged that even though the country has achieved some milestone, there are still hiccups and these include under-representation in key decision-making process and positions and gender-based violence. She finally called for support from the YAWC Network fraternity to help the country reach its women empowerment targets.

The solidarity messages session was climaxed by a note from the Global President of the YAWC Network, Ms. Jacqueline Nyapendi. She highlighted the achievements of the Network on the Africa continent and emphasized that it is crucial to have such a potent network on the continent advancing the empowerment of women. 

Ms. Nyapendi pointed out that considering the challenges, at the moment, in Africa, gatherings like the Young African Women Congress becomes very important. “The impact of Covid-19, the violence in Ethiopia, the poverty, financial strife, mental distress, child abuse, and several forms of torture experienced in different countries all speak to a need to network and empower to cope better,” she emphasised. Ms. Nyapendi charged all the delegates to continue to speak up against the vices meted out to women across Africa.

Hon. Nadia Ahmed Abdallah, the Deputy Minister for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, stressed on the fact that even though women have broken spaces, they still need to break more spaces to occupy the seats that are still needed to be occupied by them. She encouraged the delegates to make conscious efforts to empower themselves, and further admonished them to stop individualism, support one another and even their male counterparts.

Dr Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia,Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, participated virtually. In his remarks, Bawumia spoke around the theme of the congress: “Network for Empowerment, Refueling a Continent on the Rise” and urged delegates to tap into the strength and expertise of African countries to build lasting solutions to its numerous challenges and to take advantage of existing opportunities. 

“Indeed, Africa is on the rise. Women remain the continent’s most reliable tool for transforming sustainable development. Over 50% of the continent’s population constitutues women. He quoted the most prominent educationist from the Gold Coast – now Ghana, Kwegyir Aggrey who said – ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation,’ to signify the importance of empowering this unique sect of the population,” Dr Bawumia stressed.

Executive Director Ms. Judie Kaberia for the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and the Young African Women Congress (YAWC) 2022 East Africa, during the session asserted that Kenya is still lagging behind when it comes to women in political leadership compared to countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania in the region. 

According to her report, the current Kenyan parliament has 20% of women but she was optimistic that this year’s election would witness an increase in the numbers because a lot of women are in the race. She applauded the women in media for giving their platforms to the female politicians to share their stories and what they can offer to the country. She further stated that women must be deliberate about mentorship so that the mentorship gaps amongst women of different generations are filled.

Sarah Ssali, an Associate Professor and Dean at the School of Women and Gender Studies, and the Director at the Centre of Excellence in Notions of Identity at Makerere University, discussed salient points, dissecting the essence of building networks in reference to the women empowerment agenda that could benefit Africa. She told the women shift away from “self-centredness” to more collaboration and inclusiveness. She believes that to achieve real empowerment on the African continent, there is the need to conceptualize and to pay attention to Afrocentrism. It means to centre Africa in the world view and make it an important tool for powering decolonization.

Professor Sarah Ssali  urged the delegates to surround themselves with people of substance so that they would have influence on them, enumerated the importance of networking which includes for sharing information, mobilizing resources, marketing products, helping to realize the continental goal of Africa. 

Ms. Harriet Kyeremanteng Oppong, the Deputy Director at the Office of the Chief of Staff at the Presidency in Ghana, advised the young women to have ambitions and set their minds to achieving them. She was of the opinion that young women stay focused on their chosen careers and build solid networks since that will be of great benefit to them in times of need.

The panel session on the topic: “Economic Empowerment of Women: Getting it Right” carefully examined aspects of economic empowerment for women. It connects opportunities, women getting equal rights, employment including small businesses, access to finance, access to properties, access to education, access to information and training et cetera. Therefore, it is necessary for governments to put the right policies for women that would enhance their economic empowerment.

The final day was a fun trip to Naivasha Game Park in Nakuru County with a stopover at the Great Rift Valley. The YAWC 2022 East Africa subregional session was such an amazing and memorable event, and many of the delegates anticipate for the annual continental convocation of the next congress planned for October 2022 in Accra, Ghana located in West Africa.

MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

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Central African Republic: Militias spreading ‘terror, insecurity’, must lay down arms

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UN peacekeepers patrol the town of Bambari in the Central African Republic. (file) MINUSCA/Hervé Serefio

Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) must lay down their arms and engage in political dialogue, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert said on Friday, urging the international community to strengthen efforts to restore State authority and end impunity there.

“I vehemently condemn the obstinacy of the Coalition of Patriots for Change and other armed groups who continue to spread terror, insecurity and suffering among the civilian population and victims of violations and abuses,” said Yao Agbetse, who monitors rights abuses in CAR.

Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) must lay down their arms and engage in political dialogue, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert said on Friday, urging the international community to strengthen efforts to restore State authority and end impunity there.

“I vehemently condemn the obstinacy of the Coalition of Patriots for Change and other armed groups who continue to spread terror, insecurity and suffering among the civilian population and victims of violations and abuses,” said Yao Agbetse, who monitors rights abuses in CAR.

Grave human rights violations

At the end of a ten-day official visit to the country, he expressed dismay over reports from residents in the town of Bria, capital of the Haute-Kotto prefecture, who described the ease with which armed groups can move in and out of neighbouring Sudan.

In that same district, schools in Ouadda, Yalinga, and Sam-Ouandja regions, have been closed for four years.

Meanwhile, in Haute Kotto and Mbomou prefectures, the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic and the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance en Centrafrique (FPRC) have committed numerous grave human rights violations, including sexual violence, particularly rape and sexual slavery, mostly targeting girls aged 11-17.

Mahamat Salleh, an FPRC leader based in Nzako, has been implicated in several cases of rape and other serious human rights abuses, Mr. Agbetse said.

‘Unacceptable’ attack

He pointed to the brutal, organized attack on the village of Boyo last December, saying that human rights violations committed by the CAR national army (FACA) and the internal security forces (FSI) and their auxiliaries were “unacceptable”.

Russian allies and the FACA had allegedly provided support to the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia who committed atrocities there, including beheadings and sexual violence, and forced thousands of residents to flee.

“The seriousness of these facts requires appropriate responses from national authorities towards the victims,” Mr. Agbetse said.

“I recommend that the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCAset up a more reactive warning system and regular joint operations with the FACA to prevent tragedies like the one in Boyo”.

Mercenaries

The UN expert also demanded that Russian mercenaries of the Wagner security group refrain from obstructing collaboration and joint operations between FACA, FSI and UN peacekeepers. 

“The Wagner group must not prevent the deployment of MINUSCA protection operations and not obstruct the investigation of human rights abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law,” he continued.

In the interest of all citizens of CAR, the UN expert urged outlawed militias to engage in the peace and reconciliation process led by the Commission on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation.

Systematic investigations

At the conclusion of his visit, Mr. Agbetse recommended that all allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law be systematically and thoroughly investigated by Central African authorities.

“These investigations must be followed by concrete actions to ensure that the victims have access to justice,” he said.

The expert said a reparation fund should also be established to ensure justice for victims.

Moreover, he strongly recommended extraordinary judicial sessions to tackle the heavy caseload of sexual violence allegations linked to the chronic instability and conflict across CAR.

Sentencing

Mr. Agbetse upheld that in cases of conflict-related sexual violence, so-called “amicable settlements” were simply unjust to victims, and must be stopped, he added.

Moreover, he noted that some testimonies and reports indicated a lack of control and accountability within the State apparatus, including the judiciary, police, and the civil service in general.

He also called on Authorities to address hate speech and incitement to violence, and on the international community to strengthen its support to ensure that State authority restoration is effective.

Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

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Russia and Zimbabwe Relations Remain Work-in-Progress, says Brig. Gen. Nicholas Mike Sango

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Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, and shares borders with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. It is very rich in mineral resources and is the largest trading partner of South Africa on the continent of Africa. Russia maintains very friendly relations with Zimbabwe, thanks to ties which evolved during the struggle for independence. Since then, Russia has had a very strong mutual sympathy with and friendly feelings toward the southern African people, government and the country.

Brigadier General Nicholas Mike Sango, Zimbabwean ambassador to the Russian Federation, has held his position since July 2015. He previously held various high-level posts such as military adviser in Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and as international instructor in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

As Brigadier General Nicholas Sango prepares to leave his post in August, our media executive Kester Kenn Klomegah conducted this exclusive interview with him to assess and guage the current climate of relations between Russia and Zimbabwe specifically and Africa generally. The following are excerpts (summarized text) from the long-ranging interview.

Q: As you are about to leave, what would you say generally and concisely about Russia’s policy towards Africa? 

Amb. Sango: Russia’s policy towards Africa has over the last few years evolved in a positive way. The watershed Russia-Africa Summit of 2019 reset Russia’s Soviet-era relations with Africa. Africa fully understands that the transition from the Soviet Union to the present-day Russian Federation was a process and that today Russia is now in a position to influence events at the global scale. Even that being the case, her institutions and organs, be they political or economic are equally in a transitional mode as they adapt to the Federal policy posture and the emerging realities of the present geo-political environment. Africa in return has responded overwhelmingly to the call by its presence in its fullness at the 2019 Sochi Summit.

Q: Do you feel there are still a number of important tasks which you have not fulfilled or accomplished as Zimbabwean Ambassador to the Russian Federation? 

Amb. Sango: Zimbabwe government’s engagement with the Russian Federation is historically rooted in new state’s contribution towards Zimbabwe attaining her freedom and nationhood in 1980. This is the foundation of the two countries relations and has a bearing  on two countries  interactions and cooperation. Relations between the two countries have remained stead-fast with collaborations at political and economic spares hallmarked by Russia’s involvement as early as 2014 in the commissioning of the Darwendale Platinum Project followed by ALROSA, the diamond giant setting its footprints on the territory of Zimbabwe. 

The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe visited Moscow in 2019. Since then, there have been reciprocal visits by ministers and parliamentarians. In early June 2022, the Chairperson of the Federation Council visited Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s military have participated in Army Games over the years and will do in 2022 ARMY GAMES. Further to these mentioned above, Russia has continued to support human resource development through its government scholarship programmes as well as training other arms of government.  Zimbabwe recently hosted the Russia-Zimbabwe Intergovernmental Commission where new cooperative milestones were signed.

Zimbabwe’s foreign policy is anchored on engagement and re-engagement. As Ambassador to Russian Federation, my focus as per direction of the Zimbabwean President was to promote business-to-business engagement and attract Russian investment in Zimbabwe. While the Darwendale Platinum Project and ALROSA’s entry into the Zimbabwe market, we have not seen other big businesses following the two. 

The volume of trade between Zimbabwe and Russia could be better. Perhaps, as an Embassy, we have not made a strong case for importers to look in Zimbabwe’s direction. Or, our own trade and investment institutions have not fully appreciated the potential of the Russian market. The concern by Russian importers regarding the logistical cost of bringing goods from landlocked countries in the far southern hemisphere is appreciated. This, however, would not inhibit the importation of non-perishable products.

As mentioned earlier on, businesses are still in transitional mode and it is the hope that the emerging world order will in time persuade business to look at Africa through the lenses to see the vast opportunities and benefits beckoning. On the other hand, having established the Russian-Zimbabwe Business Council, it was hoped that businesses of the two countries could speak to each other, appreciate the strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities open. Although the benefits are yet to be seen, this remains work-in-progress.

Q: Has the experience, including all your interactions, changed your initial thoughts when you first arrived to this ambassadorial post in 2015?

Amb. Sango: Interestingly, my views and perceptions about Russia before and during my stay in the beautiful country has always been grounded in the history and our nation’s journey to nationhood, independence and sovereignty. As a product of the revolutionary struggle and from my government’s direction and policy, Russia was and will always be an ally regardless of the changing temperatures and geo-political environment.

Q: What would you frankly say about Russia’s policy pitfalls in Africa? And what would you suggest especially about steps to take in regaining part of the Soviet-era level of engagement (this time without ideological considerations) with Africa?

Amb. Sango: There are several issues that could strengthen the relationship. One important direction is economic cooperation. African diplomats have consistently been persuading Russia’s businesses to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) as an opportunity for Russian business to establish footprints in the continent. This view has not found favor with them and, it is hoped over time it will.

Russia’s policy on Africa has been clearly pronounced and is consistent with Africa’s position. Challenges arise from implementation of that forward-looking policy as summarized:

– The government has not pronounced incentives for business to set sights and venture into Africa. Russian businesses, in general, view Africa as too risky for their investment. They need a prompt from government.

– Soviet Union’s African legacy was assisting colonized countries attain independence. Russia as a country needs to set footprints into the continent by exporting its competitive advantages in engineering and technological advancement to bridge the gap that is retarding Africa’s industrialization and development.

– There are too many initiatives by too many quasi-state institutions promoting economic cooperation with Africa saying the same things in different ways but doing nothing tangible. “Too many cooks spoil the booth.”

– In discussing cooperative mechanisms, it is important to understand what Africa’s needs and its desired destination is. In fact, the Africa Agenda 2063 is Africa’s roadmap. As such the economic cooperation agenda and initiatives must of necessity speak to and focus within the parameters of the AU Agenda 2063.

Q: And finally about the emerging new world order as propagated by China and Russia? 

Amb. Sango: Africa in general refused to condemn Russia for her “special military operation” in Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly and that shook the Western Powers. The reason is very simple. Speaking as a Zimbabwean, our nation has been bullied, subjected to unilateral coercive measures that have been visited upon us and other poor countries without recourse to the international systems governing good order, human rights and due process. There is one more historical fact – Africa is no longer a colony, of any nation and refuses to be viewed as secondary states. It is for the above reasons that Africa welcomes multilateralism and the demise of hegemonism perpetuated by so called “big brothers” – be it social, cultural, ideological or economic. Africa rejects this western perception of Africa. 

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South Africa’s Storms and Good Hope

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Recent days have seen Cape Town once again pummelled by heavy storms, high rainfall, severe winds and tumultuous seas giving credence to the title ‘Cabo Tempestado’ (Cape of Storms) the name given it by Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Dias after passing around a terrible storm off the Southern African coast in 1488 as he sought to circumnavigate the African continent in search of a trading route to the wealth of India and the East.

In the socio-economic-political spheres the country, as described by Prof. Dr. Irina Filatova’s, June 16 RIAC article South Africa Stands on Verge of Massive Domestic Crisis appears to be facing escalating multi-faceted storms.

Systemic corruption, mismanagement of state owned entities, public sector bloat, an increasingly belligerent revenue collection service that treats South African’s more like chattel slaves than citizens, amongst the world’s highest unemployment and rates of violent crime, among the world’s worst performing countries in terms of maths and science scores for high school graduates and an unacceptably high rate of tertiary educational dropouts. This isn’t breaking news but the logical outworking of the ongoing National Democratic Revolutionary (NDR) philosophical narrative adopted by the governing African National Congress (ANC). It is true that under these policies the country is being directed to an ever-stifling centralisation in the name of common good collectivism.

It is an undeniable and deepening crisis, one which the governing ANC/SACP/COSATU1 Alliance will find increasingly difficult to navigate in order to avoid losing their outright parliamentary majority which they have enjoyed for an unbroken 28-year tenure since 1994. According to recent reports and polls, including statements by the SACP, the forecasted outcome of the next general election is that the ANC will lose their parliamentary majority and be forced into some sort of coalition with smaller opposition parties. The most likely partner in this respect would be the extremist far-left leaning Economic Freedom Fighters who favour nationalisation of mines, banks, agriculture and the private health sector.

A less likely outcome is that there is sufficient defection amongst ANC voters to the centre/centre-right parties liberal (Democratic Alliance/DA), socially conservative (African Christian Democratic Party/ACDP and Freedom Front/FF+) or the emergent but electorally untested Independent Candidate level movement (One South Africa/OSA). These parties, despite differences, share a broadly similar political and economic outlook (protection of the rights of the individual, free markets, privatisation of state owned entities et.al) and at the provincial, metropolitan and municipal level demonstrated the ability to work together in order to run efficient, comparatively corruption free administrations in their respective spheres.

The political stakes are rising, compounded by the various debilitating factors described by Dr Filatova, a toxic cocktail that if not neutralised could push the country off the edge into a failed state or the even worse case of a Hobessian ‘war of all against all’ scenario. The situation in many ways resembles the early 1990’s when fears of a full scale political/tribal war between the ANC and the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party). The added risk of a military coup by the South African Defence Force generals to stop what they regarded as a communist takeover of the country. The very prospect of a peaceful outcome seemed remote with the IFP refusing to participate in the elections. Efforts by America’s Henry Kissinger and Britain’s Lord Carrington failed to reach an accord with news reports of cataclysm, doomsday and apocalypse being forecast for the country.

Yet events turned out quite differently to what many had predicted, the IFP finally agreed to take part in the elections. The threat of a military coup when senior officer General Constand Viljoen registered the Freedom Front as a party on 1 March 1994 sending a clear message that the only feasible option was through the political process. Peaceful elections took place in what many believed to have been a miraculous trend reversal. South Africa had survived the storms and seemed to have entered a new and hope filled era.

That was then. Today the euphoria of the Rainbow Nation lies dead and buried in the graves of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It would seem that the socio-economic-political storms for which we are so accustomed have returned with a vengeance.

Alongside the decrepit and ailing political state of affairs the future direction of which could swing in any number of ways there exists a robust and resilient private and non-governmental sector consisting of multiple entities that are self-consciously working to counteract the decline of and fill the vacuum caused by dysfunctional local government as well as building alternative structures in multiple spheres that have become synonymous with the general socialist drift of the ANC. Chief amongst these groupings is the Solidariteits Beweging (Solidarity Movement).

The broader Solidarity Movement could best be described as a confederation of civil society organisations, including but limited to a Trade Union (Solidarity), Civil Rights (Afriforum), Social services (Solidarity Helping Hand), a private university and other training institutions.2

British born political scientist, journalist, historian and emeritus fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford describes the function of the Greater Solidarity Movement as “quite explicitly building a state within a state”3

Johnson goes on to say: “As will be seen, not only is the Solidarity Movement incomparably stronger than any other part of civil society but it is also far more assertive and ambitious. That said, the movement is keen to turn its back on the apartheid past. It wants to “bring about a South Africa where all will be free and equal before the law and will be treated with dignity and fairness”. It stresses “self-reliance” as the answer to “state decay” and emphasises “Christian democratic values” and a free market economy. It is particularly concerned with minority rights and has taken up a great variety of legal cases. While the Afrikaans community is closest to its heart it has also offered legal assistance to members of other racial groups.”

It appears that funding is raised solely from voluntary individual member contributions with no state or large corporate support.

Some of the key figures in the broader movement are Flip Buys (BA Communication & Political Science, Hons. Labour Relations). Kallie Kriel (BA, MA Political Geography) CEO of Afriforum and Deputy CEO of Afriforum Ernst Roets (LLB, LLM). Roets is the author of the book, “Kill the Boer4: Government Complicity in South Africa’s Brutal Farm Murders” has been interviewed by, amongst others, Tucker Carlson of Fox News and by Russia Today about the violence faced by the countries farmers.

Naturally, Solidarity is just one visible example of what is taking place on the ground as Johnson describes it: “A stampede away from reliance on the state has been under way for some time. Many residents have invested in solar panels and boreholes in order to be no longer dependent on the state for electricity and water and those who can rely on private health, security, education and transport.” The trek away from dependence on the state is not restricted to South Africa’s High Net Worth Individuals and middle class professionals but is becoming equally attractive to the working class and informal sector. Private sector schools have begun investing in some of the poorest socio-economic areas around Cape Town. Curro, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed company in February 2020 opened a cutting edge private school, fees for which have been offered at a price point commensurate with the income level of the residents of Delft. Delft, an area on the outskirts of Cape Town with an estimated unemployment rate of 43% (pre-covid) and where less than 50% of the residents have graduated from has been deemed by Curro to be a suitable location in which to invest for the future. If the project is successful, it could become the model for a country-wide rollout.

In the health care sector, private listed companies Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare have also been pursuing, in addition to their network of hospitals, the development of clinics in lower income areas.

It is not within the purview of this article to investigate the extent to which private companies in security, banking, technology, agriculture, mining, and professional services have adapted and continue to operate in an often openly hostile environment. Providing goods and services reflective of a thriving advanced industrialised country and not that of a developing one. Suffice to say that the collective de-centralised strength of the non-state sector may well prove to be robust enough to absorb the impact of a massive domestic crisis to prevent descent into complete chaos. The genuine work of reconstruction from the grass roots could then begin in earnest.

South Africa has had its fair share of storms and it would appear that the clouds are darkening again as the next crisis gathers momentum. When news of Batholomew Dias’s successful passage past the southern coast of Africa reached Portugal it was taken to be a good omen that a sea-faring trade route to India could be opened. In anticipation there of the Portuguese King, John II, changed the name for Cabo Tempestado to Cabo da Boa Esperanca – The Cape of Good Hope. It is that same spirit that looks ahead past the challenges and dangers that beset this beautiful country to that has opened up the realisation of the possibility of a peaceful and prosperous future.


[1] The so-called Tripartite Alliance was formed in 1990 after the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of revolutionary organisations. The member organisations consisted of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress Of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Much of the membership is intertwined with the ANC as the political expression of the broader movement in the National Legislative Assembly. The SACP, whilst a registered political party, has never contested an election, its leadership however sit as Members of Parliament or cabinet ministers under the banner of the ANC.

[2] https://beweging.co.za/en/what-is-the-solidarity-movement/

[3] https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/thinking-about-state-failure-iii-2

[4] The struggle song – Dubul’ ibhunu – includes repeated chanting of the phrase ‘aw dubul’ibhunu’, literally: shoot the boer (farmer) and continues to be used at public rallies by some political parties, notably the EFF

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Around one million species are facing extinction, according to a report from IPBES, an independent intergovernmental science and policy body...

World News9 hours ago

Escalation of violence in Gaza

The ongoing and serious escalation of violence in and around Gaza between Palestinian militants and Israel has claimed the lives...

Africa11 hours ago

Central African Republic: Militias spreading ‘terror, insecurity’, must lay down arms

Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) must lay down their arms and engage in political dialogue, a UN-appointed...

Middle East13 hours ago

Winter sports in Saudi Arabia? An unproven concept except for the surveillance aspect

Temperatures in north-western Saudi Arabia, on average, seldom, if ever, drop below eight degrees Celsius except in the 2,400-metre high...

East Asia15 hours ago

Tension prevails after Pelosi’s Visit

Already tense geopolitics are boiling and making the whole world more nervous. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has damaged International politics...

New Social Compact18 hours ago

Ups And Downs of Women’s Property Rights

In the English speaking world during the first part of the 19th century, women were considered either too frivolous or...

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