Tag Archives: GOVERNANCE

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa’s Adviser Disgusted Over Continued Abductions

Presidential Advisor and Cleric, Shingi Munyeza Thursday morning took to social media to vent out his disgust at the continued reports of abductions of opposition and civil society members.

The outspoken businessman, who is part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Advisory board called for the prosecution of perpetrators of abductions.

Zimbabwe has, in recent weeks, witnessed an increase in the number of people being abducted and most of them are either opposition members or CSO leader who are critics of the Mnangagwa regime.

Posting on his Twitter, Munyeza said he was alarmed by the rate at which the crimes are happening without action being taken.

“Abductions, beatings, torture must stop. 1.I’m totally disgusted and alarmed by an unprecedented trend of abductions in our country

“2. It’s worrying that the State has not come up with a position on stopping this, 3. The State must protect its citizens and culprits brought to book,” he said.

The European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) have also raised alarm bells at the abductions and issued a joint statement last week in the wake of police brutality on opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters during a foiled demonstration.

“Intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on human rights defenders, trade union and civil society representatives, and opposition politicians – prior to, during and following the demonstration in Harare on 16 August – are cause for great concern.

“The Zimbabwean Constitution guarantees the right to personal security from violence and prohibits physical or psychological torture. The Heads of Mission urge the authorities to respect these fundamental rights and to hold perpetrators of violence legally responsible,” reads part of the statement issued last week.

The government has continuously denied any involvement while saying it was disturbed by the reports of torture on citizens.

President Mnangagwa yesterday said CSOs and pro-democracy activists should stay in their lane and respect the dictates of the constitution.

“May I urge civil society to restrict themselves to their mandate. The rule of law observance is not needed for the purpose of pleasing other countries, we need it because it is proper for ourselves,” warned Mnangagwa.

The EU Ambassador, Timo Olkkonen called on Mnangagwa’s government to respect people’s fundamental rights of expression.

“People’s civil rights, such as their rights to assembly and their right to peaceful demonstrations and petition, and also their right to acquire legal processes when they are suspected of crimes must be respected.

“Zimbabwe should show that it genuinely has made a break from the past,” said Olkkonen.

Late last night, comedian, Samantha Kureya, better known as Gonyeti in the entertainment circles, widely known for producing satirical skits was allegedly abducted by armed men who beat her together with other family members.


Zimbabwe: EU Tells Mnangagwa To Be Serious In Corruption Fight

European Union (EU) Ambassador Timo Olkkonen yesterday told President Emmerson Mnangagwa that his administration should walk the talk on corruption and show seriousness in bringing perpetrators to book.

The EU is funding a €14 million Anti-Corruption Awareness Campaign program which will run for 15 months and will be administered by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Olkkonen told delegates at the launch that although there have been positive steps from Mnangagwa in the fight against the scourge, there is still need to back up the words with the right action of bringing those fingered before the courts.

“Perpetrators should not go scot-free, due process of the law should be followed, ZACC’s independence should be respected and it should be adequately resourced, the court system should be transparent on statistics and outcomes of corruption cases.

“Your words since your election, your Excellency have been of hope, of rebuilding and unity, this has raised great expectations amongst Zimbabweans and these require great fearless actions in pursuit of justice in order to meet the people’s expectations,” he said.

Olkkonen said if the President’s words are to be matched, Zimbabwe needs a radical, merciless and blind justice system in fighting corruption.

“The EU stands ready to support this and as mentioned above is supporting better justice delivery,” he noted.

The Mnangagwa administration has been accused of shielding the real corrupt culprits while using less powerful people as scapegoats.

Ironically, during Olkonnen’s address, news filtered in that former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko had been granted a poultry ZWL$1000 bail after he was arraigned before the courts for various corruption-related activities during his time as a joint second most powerful person in the land.

“With the level of corruption in Zimbabwe, perhaps the rate of convictions may still be on the low side. I have come across a term as I meet with Zimbabweans online and offline, called ‘catch and release’ meaning that no one is held to account; it is just an insincere anti-corruption fight,” Olkkonen further stated.

He said for as long as there is a bad public perception on Zimbabwe regarding corruption, the citizens will not have confidence in the government and public institutions

“Corruption is a discrete crime and for as long as there is no confidence in the government’s sincerity in fighting corruption which can only be demonstrated by applying the law fairly, impartially and diligently without fear or favour, without political bias, without consideration of economic or social status, the battle against corruption will be lost,” noted.

Mnangagwa, however, said his government is committed to fighting corruption as he gave arresting powers to ZACC.

“I have given arresting power to ZACC as I said earlier, I gave them crocodile teeth to bite anyone sucked in corruption,” he said.

ZACC Chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said her commission has taken a serious stance against corruption and is fully committed to seeing the eradication of the vice.

“However, this fight is not the preserve of the Commission alone but is inclusive,” she noted.

Although numerous arrests have been made, there has not been one conviction related to corruption.

Former cabinet minister, Prisca Mupfumira is currently in remand after she was arrested on allegations of abusing over US$95 million from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) among other allegations.

Mphoko is the latest public figure to be brought to court on corruption charges but his instant release has further put questions over Mnangagwa’s sincerity in fighting corruption.


Zimbabwe: Electricity Crippled Zimbabwe Turns to Nuclear Enrichment, With Help From Russia Power

Troubled by a recurring electricity crisis, Zimbabwe agreed terms with Russia to engage in uranium exploration and enrichment in a bid to begin generation, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo revealed this week.

Moyo recently visited the Kremlin and on Tuesday told a post-Cabinet media briefing that Russia and Zimbabwe had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in the “peaceful use” of nuclear power.

“This was cooperation in exploration and other areas and research in as far as peaceful use of nuclear is concerned.

“When we say peaceful use of nuclear energy, it is one of the areas where power can actually be generated from in as far as that is concerned,” said Moyo.

“It is not so much about being implemented but it is an agreement which conjoins the two countries for research.”

Moyo co-chaired the Third Session of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation between Zimbabwe and Russia from 5 to 7 August in Moscow alongside Russia’s Environment Minister Sergey Yefimovich Donksoy.

Zimbabwe is battling to deal with its worst power crisis since independence amid indications its major source of hydro-energy Kariba Dam might be shut down for the first time since commissioning in the late 1950s.

A 400MW relief power supply deal from South Africa’s Eskom has done little as some areas still go as long as 10 hours without power from an initial 15 hour schedule.

Though extremely expensive to build and with stringent international regulations, nuclear power facilities produce energy at a 91% efficiency 24 hours a day with zero carbon emissions..

Some 13% of the world’s electricity, mostly from Europe and America comes from nuclear energy.

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi who is grappling to find solutions to the power crisis is currently trying to persuade neighbouring Mozambique for fresh supplies after Zimbabwe was cut off due to failure to service a US$40 million.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said technicians from Zesa are expected to leave for Mozambique to begin negotiations.

Also agreed in Moscow were partnerships in exploration of diamonds and platinum among other minerals. Russia’s Alrosa has already been granted a concession in the Marange diamond fields.


Zimbabwe: MDC Lashes Out At SADC but Pleads With Regional Body to Act

Failure by regional power block Sadc to raise issues around the violation of citizens’ rights by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has left the opposition seething with anger.

In a statement on Tuesday the opposition MDC led by Nelson Chamisa said Sadc had instead concentrated on trivialities choosing to congratulate Mnangagwa on his appointment as chair of the regional group’s Organ on Politics Defense and Security at a time when security forces had brutally crushed its planned protests country-wide.

“Other than paragraph 6 of the Communique that congratulates Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe as chairperson of the Organ on politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, nothing else is said about Zimbabwe,” the party said in the angry statement.

Chamisa has been looking up to regional power block Sadc and the African Union to reign in Mnangagwa but looks to have lost the battle thus far.

Ironically Mnangagwa will now lead Sadc’s watch over regional security and the Zimbabwean leader has already indicated that he will concentrate his efforts on troubled nations in the Great Lakes Region and Lesotho among other hot-spots.

To make matter worse, Sadc in its communiqué indicated it had set aside October 25th as a special day to push for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe’s leadership by the West especially the US.

“It is disconcerting that Sadc could congratulate Mr Mnangagwa as the new head of the regional body’s organ on Defense and Security at a time when Zimbabweans are suffering insecurity and defenselessness from the regime power in Zimbabwe,” the MDC statement said.

“Zimbabweans have come to know that when Sadc leaders want to ignore or distort the tricky crisis of illegitimacy in Zimbabwe, they wax lyrical about sanctions and express ‘solidarity with Zimbabwe’, while saying and doing nothing about the worsening plight of Zimbabweans.”

The country’s main opposition party added: “Where is Sadc’s responsibility to protect? When will Sadc, just for once, stand with the people of Zimbabwe and express solidarity not with Zimbabwe but with Zimbabweans?”

In conclusion the MDC seemed to admit it had little option but to plead with Sadc to do something on the situation in Harare.

“The MDC urges Sadc to urgently take note of the worsening situation in Zimbabwe as a threat to peace and security in the region and to recognise its responsibility to protect, find lasting solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis anchored on facilitated and credible national dialogue,” said the opposition party.

Chamisa has demanded a face-to-face meeting with Mnangagwa in the wake of disputed elections won by the Zanu PF leader by a slim margin last year.


Zimbabwe: MDC Organising Secretary Amos Chibaya Arrested Over Failed Demonstrations

Harare police late Thursday arrested MDC national organising secretary Amos Chibaya over the recently banned demonstrations that had been planned by the party in five cities across Zimbabwe.

Chibaya was convener of the protests that the opposition says were aimed at forcing the government to address the country’s socio-economic challenges as well as force President Emmerson Mnangagwa to agree to dialogue with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

In a statement, MDC deputy information secretary Luke Tamborinyoka said by 6pm Thursday, Chibaya who had handed himself over in the company of human rights lawyer Obey Shava was still being interrogated by detectives at the CID Law and Order division in Harare.

“The MDC national organiser Hon. Amos Chibaya has been arrested and has been charged for failing to take steps to stop demonstrations.

“Upon hearing that the police were looking for him, the Mkoba MP handed himself over to Harare Central Police Station at around 4pm today in the company of his lawyer, Obey Shava,” said Tamborinyoka.

The MDC deputy spokesperson said Chibaya’s arrests signalled the beginning of an effective State of emergency in Zimbabwe.

“His arrest is testimony of the closure of democratic space in Zimbabwe. In fact, the country is under a de facto State of emergency, judging by the abductions, torture and arrests of innocent Zimbabweans in the past few days,” the statement said.

Chibaya is currently out on bail on a subversion case connected to the violent and deadly January protests that left 17 people dead and dozens injured following a 150% fuel price hike.

State security agents have been on a blitz to arrest opposition party officials thought to be behind plans to continuously demonstrate “until there is a legitimate government in Zimbabwe.”

Tamborinyoka, in an update after his statement, said Chibaya was to be detained overnight and will appear in court Friday.

The MDC had planned five demonstrations in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare but police issued prohibition orders in all cities.

However, in Harare, suspected MDC supporters poured out onto the streets of the capital last Friday triggering running battles with police.

A number of people were injured in the ensuing melee while over 120 activists were arrested.


Zambia: What Govt Should Do to Clean Up Poisonous Soil, Dust in Kabwe

Johannesburg — Thousands of children in Kabwe are developing lead poisoning because of growing up in contaminated neighborhoods due to exposure around a former lead and zinc mine. Twenty-five years after the mine’s closure, children living in nearby townships continue to be exposed to high levels of toxic lead in soil and dust in their homes, backyards, schools, play areas, and other public spaces.

Human Rights Watch is urging the Zambian government to promptly clean up the contamination and ensure proper treatment for all who need it. HRW also found that government-run health facilities in Kabwe have no chelation medicine for treating lead poisoning or lead test kits in stock, and no health database has been established to track cases of children who died or were admitted to hospital because of high lead levels. allAfrica’s Sethi Ncube spoke to Joanna Naples-Mitchell, children’s rights fellow at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

What measures could be taken to pressure govt to acknowledge full responsibility of the lead contamination caused by Kabwe mining?

The government has already acknowledged that it has the legal responsibility to address this issue, this actually builds into the agreement when the mine was closed in 1994,  it’s a government-owned investment holding company ZCCM Investments Holdings PLC that retained the legal liabilities for the environmental and social impact of the mine even though the mine itself was privatised.

The government has acknowledged that it has this responsibility, the question is whether it will take  the full responsibility to really address the legacy of this mine. It has taken some measures now and some are underway but the question is whether it will really take measures that will be needed adequately clean up the lead and protect future generations in Kabwe from lead poisoning and as of now that’s not clear.

How effective have the past govt clean-up projects been?

Depending on how you measure effectiveness but if your measure of effectiveness is whether on not the lead levels in the soil were safe after the clean up projects, then the projects were not adequate and therefore were of limited effectiveness.

The only large scale clean-up effort that the government undertook was under the last World Bank-funded project to address Kabwe, which was from 2003 to 2011. It was called the Copperbelt Environment Project. Under that project the government was addressing its environmental, social problems related to mining in Kabwe and Copperbelt province.

The actual clean-up that the government did as documented by the World Bank mainly involved planting grass and providing some clean soil. There was very limited removal of contaminated soil that was done. The main part of the project was actually planting grass and creating this new water infrastructure in Kabwe. It was a UK company called Water Management Consultants that designed this clean-up model. That raises this question of why is this company specialising in water designing a clean-up programme in an area where the water has not been found to be contaminated. It’s the soil and the dust that’s contaminated. There was this effort to plant grass as well as trees in homes and some schools.

After the project was over there was further testing that was done by academics and NPOs and they found that the soil was still extremely contaminated. To me, this shows that the government’s past clean-up projects, the main one, have not been effective. It did not achieve its intended goal.

What do you think should be done to solve this problem?

The government should adopt a comprehensive and sustainable approach to clean up. Which means, they need to address all the different sources of contamination, that is homes, schools, health centres, unpaved roads that go through the areas that are affected and those roads are covered in dust. Whatever method that the government uses to clean up the lead needs to be sustainable, it needs to be something that could last for years or at least be maintained. Something like planting grass everywhere if people can not afford to water will not be sustainable.

Is the government aware of the extent of damage caused by the exposure to lead and that health facilities don’t have any means to help affected people?

Yes, the government should be aware of the extent of damage because they have been doing testing of children and adults since the 1990s, they have data from hundreds, probably thousands of people that they have tested, that show how high lead blood levels are and regardless of whether or not these people don’t show obvious symptoms medical experts would say that the levels that are there are really dangerous and they could be doing all sorts of damage internally to people even if they don’t seem to be showing symptoms.

The fact that they sought this funding from the World Bank both in 2003 and again in 2016 for this new project signifies that they are aware that this is a serious problem and they are taking steps to try and address it, which is positive. The question is if their response is really going to address the crisis that it really is, if it really addresses the scope of the problem and if not what else would they do to fill in any gaps in this clean up effort that they are undertaking.

In terms of the question of the health facilities not having any means to help the affected, it’s not clear to us whether different government ministries all have the same information about the means health facilities have, we didn’t always get consistent information about what was available in health facilities from government officials in Lusaka but in Kabwe we found out that the health facilities didn’t have any ability to even do blood tests anymore and that ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc had run out of test kits in 2016. And they stopped doing c helation treatment, which is for children who have lead levels threshold which removes lead from the body, they stopped doing that in 2011 after the last World Bank-funded project ended. There are at least some government officials who are aware that, that’s the case.

Are people aware of the situation, and are they willing to follow any channels to make sure government does right by them?

Most of the people we spoke with were aware that there’s lead in the soil and dust and most of them who were in the community had children who’ve been tested for lead.

I think it’s a real challenge in Kabwe, there’s a lack of accountability in part because a lot of people are just trying to get by. They have a lot of concerns on their minds, lead may not even be the most important thing on their minds. We spoke to people who hadn’t worked since the mine closed and who wanted livelihood opportunities and we spoke with people who work at the old mine dump. There are a lot of pressing concerns that are competing for people’s attention, making it very hard to push government on this issue.

Is anything being done to help children with learning abilities that have been affected by the contamination?

We spoke with the District Assessment Centre which evaluates children for disabilities and learning challenges in the classroom and they said that at the time they were not actually testing children for lead and it is not something that they could remember that they had done in recent years and so something very practical would be for them to start testing children for lead when assessing them for disabilities and trying to determine where these challenges are coming from.

We looked at the bit of whether children are getting extra support in the classroom if they have disabilities and again we have no way of knowing if a disability is related to lead or not. We spoke to several families who said their children were not getting any extra support in the public schools they attended but we can not make a definitive statement that this is an issue throughout Kabwe but what we say in the report is that the government should dig deep in its efforts to address that associated disabilities are learning barriers in light of the fact that there is widespread lead poisoning in Kabwe because there are more likely to be these kinds of problems because of the lead.

Why isn’t the media making enough noise on the subject?

I think that it’s challenging because this has been a problem for so many decades, the mine closed 25 years ago. The first government testing of the soil was in the 1990s, the first ever public study in lead in children and the soil in Kabwe was actually in the 1970s, there was British researcher who wrote a thesis on Kabwe and actually documented the only publicly known cases of children that were hospitalised or died from lead poisoning and he found high levels of lead.

The sense of urgency around the issues has been lost around the crisis because this has been going on for too long. Also, the effects of lead are invisible and that makes uneasy to build up stories around this tragedy when so much of it is hard to see, even though it’s unfolding all the time in Kabwe.

As I’ve been saying that there is this World Bank-funded government project that launched in December 2016 and I think the fact that it’s been delayed may also make it hard to sustain interest. There have bureaucratic ways so the government says, that’s why there hasn’t been results on the ground yet.

Inviting all households in contaminated townships to participate in voluntary clean-ups might help…

As far as I know, this has not been tried before on a large scale in Kabwe, but under the pilot clean-up programme that was done in 2015-2016 by Pure Earth NGO and the Kabwe municipal council and the local NGO Environment Africa, they basically did that. But it was only for 120 homes because they had limited funding. What they did was, invite people voluntarily to participate in these efforts, all the households they invited participated.

Has govt received support to enhance its efforts to address lead poisoning in Kabwe?

It’s their responsibility to address the problem because it did take ownership of the mine in 1970 and when the mine closed and its assets were privatised, it officially took on the responsibility for the environment and social liabilities related to the mine. We would encourage donors to support the government’s efforts, this is a problem that requires a lot of different actors for it to be solved effectively. What we recommend in the report is that donors all support the government in its efforts to address the lead poisoning but it really is the job of the government to implement any projects designed to improve the health of the residents and clean up the lead.


South Africa: The Apartheid Flag – ‘Divisive Symbol of Oppression’

Cape Town — The old South African flag which was outlawed by a court judgement this week was adopted two decades before the formal policy of apartheid was enforced. But the elements which go to make it up are embedded in centuries of colonial and settler oppression.

In a landmark case heard in Johannesburg, Judge Phineas Mojapelo, the deputy judge president of the region’s High Court, found that the “gratuitous” display of the flag fell within the category of hate speech as defined in the country’s Equality Act. The definition covers action which demonstrates a clear intention to “be hurtful”, to “be harmful or to incite harm” and to “promote or propagate hatred”.

But the judge said he was not banning the use of the flag. It could still be used if displayed for purposes including “artistic creativity, academic and scientific inquiry [and] fair and accurate reporting in the public interest…”

The flag was adopted in 1928 to replace the British Union Jack as part of efforts to unite white South Africans of British and Afrikaner descent after they combined to form the Union of South Africa as part of the British empire in 1910. Before union, two independent Afrikaner republics had fought – and lost – wars of independence against London and its two British colonies. Black South Africans were excluded from the 1910 settlement.

The horizontal orange, white and blue stripes of the 1928 flag are those of the “Prince’s Flag,” based on the flag of the Dutch prince, William of Orange-Nassau – reflecting the interests of the first European settlers in South Africa in the 17th century. (The flags of New York, N.Y. and Albany, New York – colonised by the Dutch earlier in the 17th century – are currently also based on the Prince’s Flag.)

Superimposed over the centre of the Prince’s flag in the 1928 flag are the Union Jack, the flag of the Orange Free State and that of the South African Republic, the latter two incorporating the Dutch national colours of red, white and blue.

South Africa joined Britain to fight Nazi Germany under the flag in World War II, and the Union Jack survived efforts to remove it after Afrikaner nationalists adopted apartheid and pulled out of the British Commonwealth and declared a republic in 1960.

The 1928 flag was replaced on the advent of democracy in 1994 by the current South African flag, which incorporates the black, green and yellow of the liberation movements as well as the colours of its Dutch and British predecessors.

The controversy which led to this week’s court decision began in 2017, when some whites taking part in nationwide protests against the killing of farmers displayed the 1928 flag.

Sello Hatang, the chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation – which brought the court case – told Judge Mojapelo that the display of the flag reminded him of “occasions… in my childhood… when I heard white children singing ‘Daar kom a bobbejaan’ (There comes a baboon) as my grandmother walked past them on her way to work… (and)  she was powerless to do anything about her trauma and anguish.”

Hatang added: “The Old Flag represents nothing other than the inhumane system of racial segregation and subjugation that governed South Africa before 27 April 1994 (which manifested in various forms since the 1600s and became formally known as apartheid from 1948). It was that system, under that Old Flag, which licensed those white children who still haunt my memories to dehumanise me, my brother and my grandmother in the way that they did.”

Judge Mojapelo said in his findings that the display of the 1928 flag is “extremely hurtful and dehumanising to those who suffered under apartheid.

“The message generally communicated by displays of the Old Flag indicates a symbol of support for and promotion of the racist ideologies espoused under the apartheid regime. This communication, in turn, promotes hatred and harm towards those who suffered, and continue to suffer…”

He concluded: “Those who display the Old Flag choose deliberately not only to display the apartheid discriminatory, divisive and oppressive flag; they also consciously and deliberately choose not to display the new democratic all-uniting non-racial flag. They choose an oppression symbol over a liberation symbol…”

The group against which the Mandela Foundation brought the court case, AfriForum, proclaims on its website that it treasures Afrikaner culture and heritage, “taking into consideration mutual respect and recognition between communities.” But in response to Judge Mojapelo’s findings, an AfriForum official defiantly tweeted the 1928 flag, writing: ‘Did I just commit hate speech?’ He now faces an urgent application from the foundation to declare him in contempt of court.


Nigeria: Presidential Tribunal – Supreme Court Strikes Out Atiku, PDP’s Appeal

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, struck out an appeal the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate in the last presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, filed before it.

The appeal marked SC/738/2019, had sought to quash an aspect of proceedings of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal where President Muhammadu Buhari’e re-election is being challenged.

The appellants prayed the Supreme Court to review the record of proceeding the Justice Mohammed Garba-led tribunal held on June 11, to determine if the presidential tribunal was right when it held that the All Progressives Congress, APC, filed a valid reply to the petition against the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.

Meanwhile, though the apex court adjourned the appeal for hearing, at the resumed proceeding on Tuesday, counsel to the appellants, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, drew attention of the court to the fact that the constitutionally prescribed period for determination of such interlocutory appeal, had elapsed.

Following his unchallenged oral application to withdraw the appeal, it was accordingly struck out by a five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Datijo Mohammed.

The Supreme Court said it was satisfied that the appeal had become statute barred.

However, the panel has stood down proceedings to rule on a second appeal that Atiku and PDP filed to challenge refusal of the tribunal to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to open the central server it deployed for the 2019 presidential election, for inspection.


South Africa: How More Women in Agriculture Will End Food Security, Tackle Land Reform

Addressing gender disparities in the agricultural sector is a prerequisite to increasing women and youth participation in the sector, creating much-needed employment opportunities and ensuring food security, says agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo.

Despite the changes in the gender composition in other industries, Sihlobo says the share of women’s contribution in South Africa’s agricultural labour market is hampered by legal and cultural constraints which manifest themselves in unequal land inheritance, ownership and usage. In addition, women receive less than 10% of available credit and 7% of extension services. This is similar for women in the developing world and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

“If anything, women’s participation in the agricultural sector has been volatile. In the quest to grow the sector and unlock employment generation, it is critical to explore ways of tackling gender disparity and improve the proportion of women in the agricultural labour market in the next few years,” says Sihlobo. He says that between 60% and 80% of smallholder farmers are women, but they own only 15% to 20% of land in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sihlobo says the legal and cultural barriers that impede women from fully participating in agriculture needs to be tackled head-on in order to unlock the latent potential of this sector.

“It is also important to note that women’s incomes make a larger impact on food security compared to that of men. Studies have shown that every Rand in income earned by women achieves the same impact as R11 earned by men. Therefore, increasing the effective participation of women in commercial agriculture will significantly increase the potential to address food insecurity,” says Sihlobo.

Despite disproportionate representation as landholders, Sihlobo concedes that the industry is making encouraging progress in increasing the number of women participating in leadership positions. Several national agricultural associations and organisations, such as the African Farmers Association (AFASA), the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Fruit South Africa, Grain South Africa’s farmer development programme and the Agricultural Business Chamber’s Grain Unit, amongst others, have prominent women at the helm.

“The contribution of women should not only be limited to the labour market and farms, but should also extend to management positions that can influence public forums and policy discussion. Given women’s contribution in these roles, their inclusion in agricultural public policy engagements would potentially add a rich diversity of views that would address fundamental gender gaps. This desired outcome would, in all likelihood, not materialise if women are left out in the cold and if their valuable contribution in addressing these issues is not adopted,” says Sihlobo.

Peter Setou, Chief Executive of the Vumelana Advisory Fund, agrees on the importance of increasing the number of women in the agricultural sector and – more so – within the Communal Property Institutions (CPI) structures: “There is a need for adequate representation of women within the CPI structure to ensure that women who have been recipients of the land reform programme play decision making roles within the CPI structures on their Communal Property Association (CPA).”

The Vumelana Advisory Fund is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2012 to help beneficiaries of the land reform programme put their land to profitable use by establishing commercially viable partnerships between communities and investors.


South Africa: Another Loss for Mkhwebane as Court Rules in Favour of Ramaphosa

The North Gauteng High Court has ruled that Cyril Ramaphosa complied with the remedial action of Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane’s report regarding former Revenue Service deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s pension pay out. Judge Letty Molopa-Sethosa, who delivered the ruling, also ordered that the Economic Freedom Fighters and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane pay President Cyril Ramaphosa’s legal costs, IOL reports.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represented Mkhwebane, told the court that President Ramaphosa was being used as a proxy for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in applying to stay the disciplinary action recommended by Mkhwebane.

While delivering her judgment, Judge Molopa-Sethosa noted that Ramaphosa’s decision to wait for Gordhan’s review application before taking disciplinary action against Minister Gordhan was rational. Alfred Mhlanga, head of legal at the office of the Public Protector, spoke to the media after the ruling was handed down and said the judgment would be considered and be given a close reading.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, spokesperson for the EFF, voiced concern that Mkhwebane’s jurisdiction was being lessened by the ruling and that it was becoming easier for remedial actions recommended by the Public Protector to be suspended. Ndlozi added that the EFF would take a previous ruling by Judge Sulet Potterill, who described Mkhwebane’s recommended remedial action as  “vague, contradictory and nonsensical”, to the Constitutional Court. Ndlozi believes a favourable outcome in that regard would render Thursday’s ruling moot.

Today’s judgment comes after the North Gauteng High Court granted Gordhan an interdict allowing him to avert the remedial action recommended by Mkhwebane. Mkhwebane had recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gordhan after she found him guilty of “improper conduct” for his approval of former South African Revenue Services deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.

This marks the latest setback in a series of legal troubles for Mkhwebane who also faces an investigation from the Hawks police unit after a complaint was laid by anti-corruption pressure group Accountability Now.