May God Bless Mandela with the Mandela family..........
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,
Voice of America (Washington, DC)
Madagascar Disqualifies President, 2 Key Rivals From Election18 August 2013
Madagascar's electoral court has disqualified incumbent President Andry Rajoelina and two other high-profile candidates from standing in a presidential election scheduled for Friday.
In a ruling announced Sunday, the Madagascar court said Rajoelina's submission of candidacy papers in May came too late for the election. Rajoelina has served as leader of the impoverished island nation since 2009, when he ousted president Marc Ravalomanana in a military-backed coup.
The court also blocked the presidential candidacies of Ravalomanana's wife Lalao and former president Didier Ratsiraka. It said the two candidates had not lived in Madagascar for the required six month period before their nominations.
Lalao Ravalomanana returned to her country in April to compete in the election, ending a self-imposed exile in South Africa. Ratsiraka also returned to Madagascar earlier this year after 11 years of exile in France.
Madagascar's regional and international partners had criticized the candidacies of the three high-profile figures because of their links to the country's troubled past. The 2009 coup led to Madagascar's regional isolation and suspension from the African Union and a downturn in its vital tourism industry.
The African Union issued a statement Sunday, welcoming the disqualifications as a step toward holding a presidential election that can end Madagascar's crisis. Controversies surrounding the candidacies had forced authorities to delay the vote until August 23. It was not clear if the court's latest move will lead to another delay.
The court also disqualified five other candidates from the vote and gave parties three days to nominate replacements.
Rajoelina initially said he would not to run in the election, making the pledge in January in response to appeals from the Southern African Development Community regional bloc. Marc Ravalomanana, who fled to South Africa after being forced from power, already had made a similar promise.
Rajoelina changed his mind in May, saying the candidacy of Lalao Ravalomanana had broken her husband's pledge.
South African Institute of International Affairs (Johannesburg)
Southern Africa: The 33rd SADC Summit in Lilongwe - an Organisation At the End of Its ResourcesBy Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, 16 August 2013
The overarching mandate of the Southern African Development Community is the furtherance of socio-economic cooperation and integration, including political and security cooperation among its fifteen member states.
Ordinarily, it is with these in mind that the 33RD annual SADC Summit is convening in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. The agenda of the summit is congested, and is clearly illustrative of the multitude challenges facing the regional body nineteen years since its transformation in 1994 from the Southern African Development Coordination Conference, which was founded in 1980.
As the body is fumbling on toward two decades of its existence in 2014, more questions than answers abound with regard to the ability of regional leaders to fulfil its lofty mandate. In its search to live by this mandate, the Lilongwe Summit will ambitiously deliberate on a wide range of issues, including the appointment of a new top leadership for the secretariat, the overall political situation in the region, and the report of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration. Instead of taking serious stock ahead of the twentieth anniversary of SADC next year, indications are that the Summit is likely to gloss over some of the most pressing issues that have led to the lack of/or timid implementation of its 26 legally binding protocols which covers areas as diverse as trade, defense, movement of people, corruption, energy and the illicit drug trade.
A diffuse political assemblage
The slow progress that has become emblematic of SADC's institutional politics is not only a matter of the high stakes interactions and bargaining between states within regional economic communities, but more a manifestation of the embedded fault-lines that have been characterized by a permanent state of political crisis in certain member states. Throughout its relatively short existence, SADC has been dealing with pressing political crises in this or that member state with devastating consequences for a regional identity whose raison d'être ought to be the developmental agenda of the region. First, these crises required protracted mediation. This has been the case with Zimbabwe, lasting well over a decade and still ongoing, and Madagascar, which has been in a state of political impasse since 2009.
Second, a lack of effective crisis management and a unanimous stance in SADC led to the deployment of military personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lesotho in 1998 with one camp supporting military intervention, while the other opposed it. Both these interventions left schisms between member states. More recently, SADC sponsored an intervention brigade of approximately 3 500 soldiers, authorised to conduct robust peacekeeping operations to protect civilians under threat and to neutralise armed groups in the eastern DRC. Third, several member states including Angola and Mozambique have experienced protracted tensions and crisis since 1994, while others such as Malawi and Zambia went through periods of constitutional crisis and internal political challenges.
This picture of permanent conflict, crisis and tension displaced what ought to have been a dominant trade integration agenda for the region. The overwhelming majority of the extraordinary SADC Summits have been dedicated to dealing with political crises in member states. Mediating in conflicts and military interventions are costly and take away much needed resources that could have been best utilised for development. How to institute the required shift from an agenda whose agency is driven by the necessity to solve conflicts and political crises in member states, and rarely the hard economic issues that are the leitmotif of regional economic communities, remains the most crucial challenge facing SADC at the Lilongwe summit and beyond. Whether such a hard and urgent discussion will take place in light of the timidity of the SADC collective with regard to punitive measures for member states operating cunningly outside the boundaries of good governance and rule of law is still an open-ended debate.
Shifting to a developmental agenda
The most salient existential question facing SADC at this point in its history is how to set the wheels in motion for a prosperous region. In light of the dominant political culture and politics of liberation discourses and socialisation within the region, it appears highly unlikely that such a shift will take place in the short to medium term. Apart from the suspension of member states where power is seized through unconstitutional means, SADC decisions on the burning political governance questions reflect the lowest common denominator approach. The recent endorsement by SADC of what was arguably a flawed election in Zimbabwe captures pretty well the inability of SADC to make the hard choices that will create solid foundations for a sustainable region.
Moreover, the SADC secretariat is heavily underfunded and understaffed. The morale of staff members is allegedly low due to the absence of a strong political and administrative vision. Weak states are less likely to invest and empower regional institutions, and the membership of SADC fits neatly into this category. Therefore, a disempowered secretariat will struggle to implement regional master plans.
The Lilongwe Summit agenda provides an opportunity to open the box and to think carefully about the institutional mechanics of SADC. With Zimbabwe slightly off the radar, the Summit should re-engineer the institution and set in motion an ambitious governance agenda that creates buffers against misrule and unending conflict resolution. Regional leaders should muster the courage to think about the SADC of the future. The current default mode is a region dealing with, and muddling from one conflict to the next with potentially corrosive effects on the developmental agenda.
Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is head of SAIIA's South African Foreign Policy and African Drivers Programme (SAFPAD).
Samora Machel death: Time for Mozambique to move on?By JANET OTIENO | Tuesday, October 25 2011 at 11:52
Mozambique | South Africa
Politics | Society
South Africa to review Samora Machel death
afrol News, 9 February - In 1986, Mozambique's founding President, Samora Machel, mysteriously died in a plane crash over South Africa while in conflict with the apartheid regime. Officially, the pilot is blamed for the crash, but most Mozambicans do not believe that. Today, South Africa's Security Minister announced the re-opening of the investigation into President Machel's death.
The South African Minister thus did his utmost to give the impression that there were indications of a false conclusion in the South African government report that had concluded that President Machel's pilot had made a fatal error, leading to the crash. Minister Nqakula did not want it to look like he had given into political pressure to reopen the case.
There has indeed been pressure on the Ministry. Sectors of the Mozambican government, one of South Africa's closest allies, are uncomfortable with the investigation made by Pretoria's former apartheid regime into the death of Mozambique's national icon. President Thabo Mbeki in his state of the nation address agreed and mentioned that a satisfactory explanation still was needed for the plane crash.
Late President Machel's widow, Graça Machel, is a prominent person in South Africa and now married to former President Nelson Mandela. Ms Machel has repeatedly called for a new investigation into her late husband's death. These calls have increased in strength now, as late President Machel's death is nearing its 20th anniversary.
There is now wonder that the lethal plane crash of the Mozambican President in 1986 has caused so much controversy. President Samora Machel was at the time the leader of Marxist Mozambique, one of the few countries with a common border with South Africa to defy the potent apartheid regime with strength.
While Namibia was occupied by South Africa and Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana had to keep a low profile due to their dependency on South Africa, Angola and Mozambique had turned into the two countries where the front line fighting between apartheid followers and opponents was occurring.
Mozambique was one of the main hosts for exiles of the African National Congress (ANC) during President Machel's era. South African troops and Mozambican rebels financed by Pretoria were attacking Mozambique's Marxist government and ANC groups based in the country. The situation between Mozambique and South Africa was war-like and President Machel was seen as one of Pretoria's most dangerous opponents.
Shortly before his death, however, President Machel agreed to lower the conflict level with the apartheid regime. A non-aggression agreement was signed between Maputo and Pretoria, where Mozambique promised it would not let the ANC operate from its territory, while South Africa promised to stop funding the Renamo rebels.
Then, on 19 October 1986, President Machel left from a political meeting he had had in Lusaka, Zambia. His small Tupolev 134A jetliner flew south-eastwards over Zimbabwe and approximately followed the South African-Mozambican border towards Maputo.
Shortly after 21:00 hours, the plane crashed into the hillsides of the Lebombo mountains at Mbuzini in eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga), only some few kilometres inside South African territory. 34 of the 44 on board died in the crash, including the Mozambican President. According to the South African investigation, the Tupolev's pilot had followed the wrong radio signal, thus turning into South Africa and crashing.
South African Security Minister Nqakula recognises that the official story behind President Machel's death needs revision. "We will deploy some of the best resources we have, human and material, to get to the bottom of that matter," he told the press today. "We owe it to the people of Mozambique to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated," the South African Press Association quoted him as saying.
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Machel’s son’s finger in every pie
Mozambique: Government Proposes Further Talks With RenamoBy Filipe Madinga, 2 July 2013
According to the office of the Prime Minister, the proposed session would tackle the issue of disarming Renamo and also prepare the groundwork for a meeting between President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
Additionally, the government wants the participants to sign the minutes covering the three previous sessions.
During Monday's meeting, Renamo refused to discuss disarming its military force based on the technicality that the issue will be covered in the second item in the formal agenda (defence and security) and thus can only be looked at after completing the first point - on electoral legislation.
After eight rounds of talks Renamo seems to have at last recognised that it is not going to be successful in its unconstitutional demand that the government instructs the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, to table and accept Renamo's proposed changes to the electoral legislation.
On Monday the Renamo parliamentary group agreed to present its own proposals to the Assembly of the Republic for debate at the extraordinary parliamentary sitting that is scheduled for the first fortnight in August.
Renamo has not yet indicated if it is prepared to meet again on Thursday and whether it is ready to move on to discussing disarmament.
In total there are four issues on the agenda for the talks. The third issue is Renamo's complaint of party political bias in the state apparatus, whilst the fourth covers economic questions.
Madagascar defiles its futureBy RIVONALA RAZAFISON in Antananarivo and AGENCIES | Saturday, August 10 2013 at 16:22
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Samora Machel died when his plane crashed under mysterious circumstances in the Lebombo Mountains in 1986. It was a time of heightened political tensions in the region and many have always maintained that the crash was no accident. Speaking in exclusive interviews, Hans Louw, a former Special Forces and CCB operative revisits the facts behind the myths surrounding the infamous event, revealing that he was part of a major South African government plot to bring the presidential plane down.
Is this the year we find out who killed Mozambique’s revolutionary president, Samora Machel?
Samora Machel Monument
It’s as if the Samora Machel Monument wasn’t meant to be found. After the initial turn off from a well-marked highway between South Africa and Mozambique, the road to the site of the mysterious plane crash of Mozambique’s first president twists and turns for miles with only a sparse handful of signs. We turn to Big Brother Google for guidance and follow a map to Mbuzini, the town closest to the memorial.
Built at a cost of US$240,000 to the ANC government, the monument was declared a South African national heritage site in 2006, seven years after its inauguration by peace icon Nelson Mandela and former Mozambique president, Joaquim Chissano. Chissano ascended the democratic throne when, on their way from an international meeting in 1986, Machel and 34 fellow passengers plunged to their deaths in the mountain range between South Africa’s Mpumalanga province and Mozambique, in circumstances that to this day remain a chilling whodunit.
Machel took office as Mozambique’s founding president in 1975, after years of heading the country’s guerrilla movement FRELIMO in the struggle for independence from Portugal, and proceeded to lead the country through a tempestuous decade. He was a firm believer in armed struggle not as a means to an end, but as a means to the beginning. "Of all the things we have done,” he said, “the most important – the one that history will record as the principal contribution of our generation – is that we understand how to turn the armed struggle into a Revolution…it was essential to create a new mentality to build a new society."
Upon independence, Machel introduced sweeping reforms geared towards this new mentality. An ardent socialist, he nationalised all land and property, and spearheaded the establishment of public schools and clinics across the country. He also banned religion, provoking the wrath of international churches that had massive investments in the country.
By the end of 1975, most of the settler Portuguese population had left Mozambique in fear of violent retaliation for colonial crimes. They left a trail of malice in their wake, urbanites destroying industrial infrastructure, plantation owners burning crops and equipment as they abandoned their rural kingdoms.
Their abrupt and destructive exit threw the newly independent country into economic upheaval. The colonial system had excluded black people from most professional fields, ensuring that the technical aspects of industrial and agricultural production remained almost entirely in Portuguese hands. The colossal skills gap that followed the mass exodus - combined with acts of sabotage by the departing Portuguese - caused production to plummet, dealing a severe blow to the country’s finances.
The blow was worsened by changing patterns of labour and trade. Under Portuguese rule, Mozambique had provided huge amounts of labour, as well as two-way trade, to South Africa and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), ensuring a constant stream of revenue to the colonial government. Relations with both countries soured as soon as FRELIMO took charge, and within a year of independence, historian Tony Hodges reported, recruitment of Mozambicans to South Africa’s mining sector had decreased from nearly 2,000 a week to less than 400 a week.
The South African and Rhodesian governments, galled by Machel’s socialism and by the support he provided to liberation movements in those countries, reacted further by investing in a Mozambican rebel group RENAMO. The group launched a violent anti-FRELIMO campaign, destroying newly-built schools and clinics, and other public infrastructure. Their acts of sabotage became the seeds of a devastating civil war that would stretch out into the early 90s, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives.
Within a few years of independence, this simmering cocktail of instability had driven Mozambique into dire economic straits. These were worsened by internal political tensions, as the new mentality that Machel had preached struggled to take root. In Mozambique, like in many African countries, there were what historian David Robinson describes as “elements within the organisation and its military forces that looked forward to the rise of a black bourgeoisie after independence”.
Soon, these elements were casting shadows and smears over the vision that had bloomed at independence, and self-serving officers began to exploit their power for financial gain. Corruption crept into the highest tiers of military and political structures. Re-education camps that had been established to house criminals were particular points of controversy. Machel had hoped that by “integrating the man in a progressive and well planned activity, re-education makes him understand the importance of socio-political activity, it makes him understand that the life of one is connected with the lives of all”.
In practice, however, stories of mismanagement, unjust detention and bad treatment soon emerged from the camps. Machel confronted government officers for their role in the country’s decay, reiterating his desire to connect the period of armed struggle to a sustained revolution, a new society. “Our liberation war was not waged to replace Portuguese injustice by Mozambican injustice, European injustice by African injustice and foreign injustice by national injustice.”
Amidst the political hailstorm in which his presidency unfolded, this charismatic ideology was not easy to bring to life. Still, despite the economic meltdown, the disappointment of unfulfilled post-independence expectations and his reputation for dealing harshly with dissidents, Machel retained popular support during his time in office. Percy Zvomuya writes that “Unlike revolutionaries who never got to govern and therefore tarnish their legacy and early promise, [he had] a long enough time in office to disillusion many, yet people still cry when they think about Samora”.
But he was not short of enemies either, not least of which was the South African government, who invaded Mozambique in 1981 to hunt down African National Congress (ANC) members. In response, Machel held a rally in Maputo’s city centre, where he embraced then-president of the ANC Oliver Tambo before defiantly throwing out a challenge to the apartheid government. “We don’t want war. We are peacemakers because we are socialists. One side wants peace and the other wants war. What to do? We shall let South Africa choose. We are not afraid…and we don’t want cold war either. We want open war. They want to come here and commit murder. So we say, let them come! Let all the racists come…then there will be true peace in the region, not the false peace we are now experiencing.”
Machel and Tambo inspecting weapons
Mozambican politicians were not spared his fearless fury at anything he perceived to be an affront to the integrity of the revolution. At another rally that year, he took a strong swing at corruption, declaring his intent to launch a “legality offensive” targeting military, defence and security officials who wanted to ride on the backs of the people. Historians Fauvet & Mosse write that “Diplomats from the Soviet bloc states were amazed. No leader of any other socialist country had ever castigated his own security forces in this way. Were such statements not the height of recklessness? Was Machel not inviting a coup d’état? But there was no coup.”
Nonetheless, he was operating in an increasingly hostile terrain, which became especially clear after a foiled coup plot in 1984 in which members of his own cabinet were implicated, two of whom would go on to become president after his death. That year, as RENAMO wreaked increasing havoc in Mozambique – bombing infrastructure and killing civilians – Machel was also squeezed into signing an agreement with the South African government, in which he agreed to curtail support to the ANC in exchange for South Africa stopping its supply of money and arms to RENAMO.
Although the deal caused great disappointment to freedom fighters in the region, the threat posed by RENAMO at the time was so severe that even Tambo, then-president of the ANC, had to admit that “The [Mozambican] leadership was forced to choose between life and death. So if it meant hugging the hyena, they had to do it." But the situation continued to worsen. Before leaving for a meeting of Frontline states in Lusaka in October 1986, Machel made it publicly known that he had survived a recent assassination attempt. He accused the South African government of plotting to kill him, and issued instructions for what should happen in the event of his death.
The plane's wreckage
Machel never returned to Mozambique from the meeting. On his way back, the presidential plane took an inexplicable and fatal 37-degree turn into the Lebombo mountain range that lies between South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. Nine hours passed before South Africa notified Mozambique that the plane had crashed, even though South African security forces had been on the scene several hours before. During this time they went through the wreckage confiscating all official documents, as well as the plane’s black box. Incisions in the necks of the two pilots later raised suspicions that they had been killed at the site, not during the crash itself.
Soon afterwards, South Africa established a commission of inquiry which, after a delayed start due to the security forces’ initial refusal to hand over the black box, eventually issued a report blaming the crash entirely on error by the Russian crew. The Russian government convened their own inquiry, which concluded that the plane had been misdirected by a decoy beacon that was set up to pull it off course. The decoy led pilots to believe that they were above flat terrain near Maputo, when they were in fact flying straight into the mountains.
South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) later investigated this case, and published a report containing details that strengthened the theory of assassination. Graca Machel, Samora’s widow and the current wife of Nelson Mandela, testified that he had been killed and presented the TRC panel with details of a plot involving agents from South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi.
The TRC failed to reach a definitive conclusion one way or another, although they stated that enough evidence had accumulated to warrant an investigation. Over a decade later, in December 2012, the South African government’s elite police unit the Hawks announced the launch of a new probe into the crash. The investigation is now underway in collaboration with the Mozambican government, and might finally bring some overdue answers to the questions that hang over Machel’s untimely death.
Statue of Samora Machel
But regardless of the outcome, it won’t resolve other unsettling issues, issues of memory that linger in spaces beyond the reach of any commission of inquiry. Today in Mozambique, reminders of Machel are everywhere. Streets and institutions are named in his honour, striking statues capture his trademark gestures, bumper stickers testify to the popular support that he left behind. But the legacy that he lived and died to defend is harder to find.
Is history happening in reverse? Where large numbers of Portuguese fled around independence, large numbers are now returning, enticed by the opportunities offered by the country’s booming economy. International organisations are sweeping into the country with business, aid, Jesus. In the rapid transition from being one of the world’s poorest to potentially one of the continent’s richest countries, conspicuous consumerism abounds. Where Machel called for nationalisation of the country’s resources, today’s government has assured foreign investors that Mozambicans need hold no more than a 20% share in mining ventures.
In South Africa, whose liberation he supported so fiercely, an impoverished informal settlement in Cape Town bears his name. Shacks are clustered around the OR Tambo road that runs through the township, which is situated at a deliberate distance from the moneyed city centre, offering a niggling reminder that flags and anthems might have changed, but the age-old system of economic oppression is still alive and kicking.
Thomas Sankara, former president of Burkina Faso who was assassinated one year after Machel, remarked shortly before his death that “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.” But though ideas might be immortal, it seems it’s easy enough to forget them, to idolise personas and honour their memories with symbolic souvenirs while the visions for which they lived and died lie trampled underfoot as people scramble for riches.
We finally make it to the memorial, perched high on a hillside surrounded by rural tranquillity. Among preserved pieces of the plane’s wreckage, 35 steel tubes – one for each person who died that night – tower towards the sky, their specially designed slits releasing soft wails every time the wind blows. It’s the kind of sound you can neither replicate nor forget, that kind that haunts you through the daily contradictions that fall into that ever-widening gap that Machel strove so hard to close, the gap between struggle as a series of actions and revolution as a way of life.