AU Launches Policy to respond timely and effectively to the adverse effects of violent conflict

The African Union Commission (AUC) launches the African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) to strengthen the capacity of Member States, AU Organs and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to respond timeously and effectively to the adverse effects of violent conflict.

The AUTJP was launched at the 64th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The policy was recently adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on 12 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

On the occasion of the launch, Dr. Khabele Matlosa, Director for the Department of Political Affairs at the AUC noted that the policy will properly coordinate and structure the African Union intervention on Transitional Justice in Africa by setting the common standards and a continental guide, adding “The policy will realize AU shared values and its policy of non-indifference to war crimes, genocide and gross violation of human rights as provided in Article 4h of the African Union Constitutive Act and Aspiration 3 of Agenda 2063 which envisages an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and rule of law.”

The Policy was launched by Amb. Hadiza Mustapha, Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Peace, Security and Governance.

She welcomed the Transitional Justice Policy as the newest addition to the AU’s Peace, Security and Governance Architecture, noting that “the decision to adopt the African Union Transitional Justice Policy in February of this year is an expression of the Heads of State and Government commitment to the promotion and protection of justice, accountability, human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It is a milestone in our quest for African solutions and the need to promote peace, security and stability which are critical to AU’s development and integration Agenda.”

The launch of the Policy celebrates the AU’s historic journey towards championing a continental framework on transitional justice following the recommendation by the African Union Panel of the Wise in 200 and later endorsed by its Policy Organs in 2011. The Transitional Justice Policy was developed with a view to, inter alia, strengthen the capacity of Member States, AU Organs and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to respond timeously and effectively to the adverse effects of violent conflict.

Sierra Leone: Former SLPP Chairman joins APC


SLPP Northern firebrand now APC strongman

Former SLPP Chairman and Leader, Chief Alhaji Bai Sherbora Sumanoh Kapen III, is reported to have declared his support for the ruling All People’s Congress Party.

The declaration comes few weeks before the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on March 7, 2018.

The public declaration on Monday 5th February 2018 of the former SLPP firebrand in the North, especially in Kambia District, has shocked most Sierra Leoneans.

“He was the last of the rock of the SLPP in the North,” said Augustin Kallon, a former supporter of the SLPP now PMDC. “We were not expecting this. Some of us were thinking he will quit politics or at worst join the National Grand Coalition.”

Chief Sumanoh Kapen has been chairman and leader of Sierra Leone’s main opposition party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), since 2013. Previously he was paramount chief of Mambolo Chiefdom in Kambia District.

He served as Paramount Chief of Mambolo Chiefdom in Kambia District from 1989 to 2007. In 2011, he was elected deputy leader of the SLPP party.


Chief Kapen was elected chairman and leader of the SLPP at the party’s 2013 convention held in the southern city of Bo, defeating his closest rival, former Ambassador to Ghana Alie Bangura, in a close race for the SLPP leadership position

Mohamed Gbla, a supporter of the APC, said the reason for the decision of the former SLPP chairman to now join forces with the ruling political party is the progress he is seeing and wants continuity.

“Sierra Leoneans are no longer fools. We will not see good things happening and allow frivolous ideologies to take us back,” he said, adding that the decision of Chief Sumanoh Kapen to join the APC answers the questions of critics.

Unlike other former SLPP members who joined Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella at the NGC, Chief Sumanoh Kapen has pitched a tent with a former political foe, a decision, most pundits, are claiming will destabilize the seemingly strong support of the NGC in Kambia District.



Journalists in Sierra Leone trained on social media reporting and elections

By Dominic Tucker

BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity, on Friday completed two-day training for media practicing journalists in Sierra Leone on the use of social media as a tool for reporting the elections.


Dominic Tucker prepares for March elections in Sierra Leone

Held on the topic ‘Social Media reporting and elections’, representatives from different media were trained about the advantages and disadvantages of social media, such as how the platform could be used to inform the different types of the various publics about the elections and how it could also be used as a disservice to the public with misinformation, mistakes, and rumours.

The general elections will be held in Sierra Leone on 7 March 2018 to elect the President, Parliament and local councils, and efforts are being made by international and local stakeholders to ensure a peaceful outcome.

Specimen News’ Dominic Tucker said the training provides an opportunity for journalists to report credible news to the people through social.

“Majority of the people have access to social media especially Facebook and WhatsApp, but there are too much conspiracy theories and misinformation spreading around,” he said.

The government and people are worried about the way and manner some people are using the social media. A video documentary was played to participants to learn about the 1965 public order act on the libel laws of SL.

Section 33 (1) of the 1965 Public Order Act on the Libel Laws of SL, states, “Any person who— a) does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do, any act with a seditious intention; or

  1. b) utters any seditious words; or
  2. c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication; or
  3. d) imports any seditious publication, unless he has no reason to believe that it is seditious, shall be guilty of an offence and liable for a first offence to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to a fine not exceeding one thousand leones or to both such imprisonment and fine, and for a subsequent offence shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding seven years, and every such seditious publication shall be forfeited to the Government.”

Elections in Sierra Leone have always been marred by violence due to the regional and tribal sensitivity of the electorates. This trend, if left to the dictates of social media news, would lead to tension and violence in the 2018 elections.

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“Misinformation is already spreading in social media,” said Mohamed Tarawallie, a primary school teacher, adding that if measures are not taken the misinformation will plunge the country into a political crisis.

Tarawallie says the training of journalists is not only to ensure peaceful elections but an important step in sustaining the peace in Sierra Leone.





Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union receives the United Nations Special Representative for Libya

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, received the Special Representatives of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salame, at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 15 January 2018.


Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

The meeting provided an opportunity to exchange on the situation in Libya and means by which the partnership can be further strengthened in order to address the prevailing crisis in the country. Both the Chairperson of the Commission and the Special Representative underscored that a coordinated approach between the two organizations is vital in finding lasting peace in Libya.

Both agreed that the two organisations shall work together to facilitate building of a consensus among Libyans, in order to unify the Libyan institutions, form an inclusive national government and hold free and fair elections in the country. In so doing, the African Union and the United Nations shall act in pursuance of the relevant decisions of the Security Council and the Peace and Security Council and build on the African Union Roadmap, adopted by the AU High Level Committee on Libya, at its 4th meeting, held in Brazzaville, on 9 September 2017, and the United Nations Action Plan adopted at the High-Level Meeting on Libya, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General, in New York on 21 Sept 2017.

It should be noted that the Special Representative also met with the African Union Commissioners for Peace and Security, Political Affairs and Social Affairs in the course of which a range of issues were discussed, including efforts to address the plight of African migrants in Libya.

Why Rwanda’s development model wouldn’t work elsewhere in Africa

The Conversation

President Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame has exercised firm personal control over Rwanda’s politics since becoming president in 2000. EPA/Phillip Guelland

Professor of Democracy, University of Birmingham
Disclosure statement: Nic Cheeseman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Birmingham University of Birmingham provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.

Rwanda is often touted as an example of what African states could achieve if only they were better governed. Out of the ashes of a horrific genocide, President Paul Kagame has resuscitated the economy, curtailed corruption and maintained political stability.

This is a record that many other leaders can only dream of, and has led to Rwanda being cited as an economic success story that the rest of the continent would do well to follow.

In countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe some have argued that their leaders should operate more like Kagame. In other words, that job creation and poverty alleviation are more important than free and fair elections.

In response, critics have sought to puncture Kagame’s image by pointing to human rights violations committed under his leadership. This is an important concern. But the notion that the Rwandan model should be exported also suffers from a more fundamental flaw: it would not work almost anywhere else because the necessary conditions – political dominance and tight centralised control of patronage networks – do not apply.

The Rwandan model

Many of the achievements of Kagame and his governing Rwandan Patriotic Front party are impressive. He took over a deeply divided nation in desperate need of economic and political reconstruction in 1994. Since then, Kagame has established firm personal control over Rwandan politics, generating the political stability needed for economic renewal.

Instead of sitting back and waiting for foreign investors and the “market” to inspire growth, the new administration intervened directly in a process of state directed development. Most notably, his government kick started economic activity in areas that had previously been stagnating by investing heavily in key sectors. It has done so through party-owned holding companies such as Tri-Star Investments.

Combined with the careful management of agriculture, these policies generated economic growth of around 8% between 2001 and 2013. Partly as a result, the percentage of people living below the poverty line fell from 57% in 2005 to 45% in 2010. Other indicators of human development, such as life expectancy and literacy, have also improved.

An example for Africa?

Despite the impressive headline figures, a number of criticisms have been levelled at the Rwandan model.

Most obviously, it sacrifices basic human rights – such as freedom of expression and freedom of association – to sustain the ruling party’s political hegemony. The Rwandan system therefore involves compromising democracy for the sake of development. That decision may be an easy one to make for those who enjoy political power, but is often rejected by the opposition.

Less obviously, the use of party-owned enterprises to kick start business activity places the ruling party at the heart of the economy. It also means that when the economy does well, the already dominant Rwandan Patriotic Front is strengthened. This empowers Kagame to determine who is allowed to accumulate economic power, which in turn undermines the ability of opposition leaders and critics to raise funds.

These arguments have been around for some time. But they have done little to dampen the allure of the Rwandan model for some commentators and leaders.

Given this, the strongest argument against exporting the Rwandan model is not that it is undemocratic and gives the ruling party tremendous economic power. It’s that it won’t actually work.

Can’t work everywhere

One of the most rigorous efforts to understand the political conditions that made the Rwandan model possible has emerged from the African Power and Politics research project led by David Booth, Tim Kelsall and others. They argue that Kagame’s government is an example of “developmental patrimonialism”. In this system, the potentially damaging aspects of patrimonial politics are held in check by a leader who enjoys tight control over patronage networks. These include jobs for the boys, waste and inefficiency.

This authority needs to be established both internally and externally. External political control is required because the threat of electoral defeat by a strong opposition party may force the government to prioritise short-term survival over long-term investments. Internal control is required because the absence of checks and balances on the ruling party is likely to exacerbate corruption.

When these conditions hold, elements of patrimonialism may be economically productive by generating resources that are channelled back into the system. In the Rwandan case, the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s economic and political dominance has not undermined development because the funds generated through party-owned enterprises have often been reinvested in the economy.

Unintended consequences

The problem is that these conditions don’t hold in most African states. With a few exceptions such as Chad and Angola, the ruling party cannot aspire to the level of dominance witnessed in Rwanda because the opposition is too strong for this degree of political control to be sustained. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, for example, the opposition has consistently won a large share of the legislative and presidential vote.

In addition, even some states that feature more dominant ruling parties have consistently failed to impose economic discipline on their governments. Instead, entrenched clientelism and internal factionalism have typically undermined anti-corruption efforts. This is true for both Angola and Chad, hurting efforts to reduce poverty and boost economic growth.

Shorn of the internal and external political control required to make it work, the application of the Rwandan model elsewhere would generate very different results.

Extending the control of the ruling party over the economy is more likely to increase graft and waste than to spur economic activity. And efforts to neutralise opposition parties are likely to be strongly resisted, leading to political instability and economic uncertainty.

What this means is that if other countries on the continent try to implement the Rwandan model, the chances are that they will experience all of its costs while realising few of its benefits.

Mnangagwa and the military may mean more bad news for Zimbabwe


         Author:            Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester
Disclosure statement        James Hamill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.                                  Partners: University of Leicester University of Leicester provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

The military has taken control of the national broadcaster, troops are in the streets and the president is being held in a secure environment. All military leave is cancelled and a senior general has addressed the nation. Yet the Zimbabwean military continues with the pretence that this is not a coup d’etat.

The obvious response to this is: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then the chances are it’s a duck. And the sole reason the Zimbabwean military is not acknowledging this as a coup d’etat is to avoid triggering the country’s automatic suspension from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Both bodies frown on coups.

A perfect storm formed ahead of these events and made military action predictable. The country had once again entered a steep economic decline (not that its “recovery” had been anything of note). A clear and reckless bid for power was being made by the so-called Generation 40 (G40) faction around Grace Mugabe in direct opposition to the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the standard bearer for the so-called Lacoste faction.

This culminated in Mnangagwa’s dismissal by President Mugabe: a clear indication that Grace Mugabe was now calling the shots. It also served as a follow up to the 2015 Grace-engineered dismissal of another Vice President and rival, Joice Mujuru.

The coup means that Mugabe’s long and disastrous presidency is finally over. The only questions that remain are the precise details and mechanics of the deal which secures his departure.

Why the coup

Mnangagwa is a long time Zanu-PF stalwart and is clearly closely integrated with the military high command and the intelligence services. Both institutions are concerned that the succession is being arranged for a faction led by people with no liberation credentials but who have been skilled in manipulating Mugabe himself and in making him do their bidding. The G40 now appear to have overreached, perhaps believing that their proximity to the “old man” made them invincible.

This coup’s explicit purpose is twofold. First, it’s trying to definitively kill off Grace Mugabe’s ambitions to become president and to set in place a ruling dynasty akin to the Kims in North Korea. Second, it’s a bid to clear Mnangagwa’s path to power, first in Zanu-PF and then within the state itself (over the last three decades these have been virtually one and the same thing).

What we do not yet know is what counter force, if any, the G40 can bring to bear against the military. The calculation of the military hierarchy appears to be that Grace and company are paper tigers who will have few cards to play against such force majeure and who lack the popular appeal to bring angry and disillusioned masses out onto the streets.

Could this be the end of President Robert Mugabe’s 37 year reign? Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

The coup has formally stripped away the façade that Zimbabwe is a constitutional state. This is clearly a militarised party-state where the military is a pivotal actor in the ruling party’s internal politics. It is not simply a neutral state agency subordinate to the civilian leadership. And the idea that this military intervention is an aberration – a departure from the constitutional norm – is misplaced.

Zimbabwe is a de facto military dictatorship. It serves as a guarantor of Zanu-PF rule rather than as a custodian of the constitution. It has helped Zanu-PF rig elections. And it was central to the state terror which was unleashed against the population to reverse Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s electoral defeat in 2008. The military has always been a key political actor. The only difference this time is that its intervention is designed to control events within Zanu-PF rather than to crush opposition to it.

But, a highly politicised military is a major impediment to the re-establishment of a democratic order in Zimbabwe. It has nothing to gain, politically or financially, from democratic rule given the lucrative networks of embezzlement and plunder it’s put in place over decades. Most recently it seized and siphoned off of the country’s diamond wealth for military officers and the party hierarchy.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

This intervention is designed to secure the presidency for Mnangagwa. So it is hard to avert our eyes from the elephant –- or in this case the Crocodile –- in the room. Mnangagwa is the Mugabe henchman who helped enable the misrule and tyranny of the last 37 years. He was one of the principal architects of the Gukurahundi -– the genocidal attack on the Ndebele – in the early to mid-1980s which left at least 20 000 people dead.

He has also been instrumental in rigging elections and crushing all opposition to Zanu-PF rule, including the atrocities of 2008.

Expecting such a person to now make a deathbed conversion to the democracy, constitutional government and good governance he has spent an entire career liquidating is dangerous nonsense.

Dilemmas to come

Mnangagwa will soon have to confront a series of dilemmas. How can he put in place an administration which has the appearance of a national unity government, can secure international approval and the financial assistance required to help rebuild a shattered economy – but avoid ceding any meaningful power or control? Can this circle be squared?

The best hope for Zimbabweans is that the international community uses its leverage wisely and sets stringent conditions for such assistance: free elections closely monitored by an array of international organisations, the establishment of a new electoral commission, free access to the state media and the right of parties to campaign freely.

There should also be a role here for South Africa to restore its badly tarnished image as a champion of democracy in Africa. It has followed a malign path over the last two decades, facilitating Zanu-PF authoritarianism in the name of a threadbare and increasingly degenerate “liberation solidarity”.

Such a combination of pressures will severely restrict Mnangagwa’s room for manoeuvre. Anything short of that will deliver an outcome which is essentially Mugabeism without Mugabe.