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Defense & Security
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Russia in Africa: Prigozhin’s death exposes Putin’s real motives on the continent

by Joseph T. Siegle

The apparent assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin in the crash of his private jet between Moscow and St. Petersburg represents an inflection point in Russian-African relations. Prigozhin, as leader of the notorious Wagner Group, had been the point man for Russia in Africa since Wagner first began operations on the continent in 2017. More than a single entity, the Wagner Group is an amalgamation of shell companies deploying paramilitary forces, disinformation and political interference in Ukraine, Syria and Africa. Its leaders have been sanctioned by 30 countries for the group’s destabilising activities.  Prigozhin was believed to be living on borrowed time after he led a short-lived insurrection – part of a power struggle with the Russian military leadership – in June. While he quickly backed down, the action embarrassed Russian president Vladimir Putin and triggered chatter that Putin’s perceived weakness would embolden other challengers to his authority. Prigozhin advanced Russian influence in Africa by propping up politically isolated and unpopular authoritarian leaders. As a result of Wagner’s support, these leaders were beholden to Russian interests. Wagner’s backing took a variety of irregular forms, like paramilitary forces, disinformation campaigns, election interference, intimidation of political opponents, and arms for resources deals. Prigozhin referred to this interlocking set of influence operations as “The Orchestra”, which he conducted. Wagner deployed forces to Libya, the entral African Republic, Mali and Sudan. It has also been interfering in domestic politics and information narratives in some two dozen African countries. I research the role of governance in advancing security and development as well as the influence of external actors in Africa, including Russia. Democratic transitions and institutions of democratic accountability are among my interests. The breadth of Russian political interference in Africa points to Russia’s strategic objectives for the continent. It aims to secure a foothold in North Africa and the Red Sea, undermine western influence, normalise authoritarianism and displace the UN-based international system. None of these objectives are about making Africa more prosperous or stable. Rather, the continent is primarily a theatre to advance Russia’s geostrategic interests. Attempting to maintain the lucrative and influential operations of the Wagner Group in Africa after Prigozhin’s death will make it hard for Russia to deny that it uses irregular and illegal actions to extend its influence. Maintaining Wagner without Prigozhin The Wagner model has seen Russian influence expand rapidly in Africa. That’s despite Russia investing very little on the continent. Most of Wagner’s costs have been covered through cash and mineral concessions provided by host regimes. By some accounts revenues from mining operations in the Central African Republic and Sudan generate billions. It is no surprise that Russia would want to keep the Wagner enterprise going. Tellingly, on the day of Prigozhin’s plane crash, deputy defence minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was in Libya to reassure warlord Khalifa Haftar of Russia’s ongoing support. Yevkurov later visited the military juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso to deliver the same message. The question will be whether the Russian military has the capacity. Russia needs soldiers in Ukraine. So, it may not have experienced fighters to spare in Africa. It is also an open question whether Wagner troops will agree to sign contracts with the Russian defence ministry, given the way their leader was dispatched. The Russian government would also need to recreate the multidimensional dealings that made Wagner’s operations effective in shoring up client regimes. For years, Russia has promoted hybrid warfare – the fusion of conventional and subversive tools. Synchronising this across multiple African contexts will require greater dexterity than the Russian security bureaucracy is likely capable of, however. Finally, Russia has benefited from the plausible deniability that Wagner has provided while doing Putin’s bidding. In every context in which Wagner forces have been deployed, they have been credibly accused of human rights abuses including rape, torture and extrajudicial killings. In Mali, Wagner is linked to more than 320 incidents of human rights abuses and hundreds of civilian deaths. Wagner has also been accused of driving away local communities where it has secured mining concessions, effectively annexing African territory. By directly taking over the mantle of Wagner operations in Africa, the Russian government can no longer claim ignorance or impotence to do anything about these unlawful and destabilising actions. Russia has largely escaped serious reputational costs for Wagner’s thuggish activities in Africa. But this will change when it owns the repressive tactics Wagner has deployed. Reassessments in Africa What of Wagner’s African clients? Leaders of these regimes have come to power through extraconstitutional means. They restrict opposition voices and media. They are isolated internationally. Simply put, they cannot survive without Moscow’s support. So, we should not expect a change in receptivity from the military juntas in Mali, Sudan, Burkina Faso, the co-opted leadership in the Central African Republic, or the Libyan warlord, Haftar. What will be telling is the reaction from other governments on the continent. Some will continue to see value in flirting with Russia as a way of hedging against international criticism. Russia’s reach in Africa may be exceeding its grasp, however. There is a growing awakening on the continent of how little Russia actually brings to Africa in terms of investment, trade, jobs creation or security. Its deployment of mercenaries, disinformation, political interference and arms for resources deals mean it actually amplifies instability on the continent. The symbolism of this was vividly brought home in the days before the Russia-Africa Summit at the end of July. Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal that had enabled 33 million tonnes of grain to get from Ukraine to Africa and other parts of the world. The deal had eased supply chain restrictions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Not only did Russia scuttle the deal: it bombed the Ukrainian ports that were exporting the grain, wasting 180,000 tonnes in the process. The contempt Putin showed for African interests by this action was hard to ignore. This disregard, coupled with recognition that Russia offers relatively little to Africa, contributed to only 17 African heads of state attending the St. Petersburg summit. By comparison 43 African heads of state attended the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi in 2019. The way that Prigozhin was eliminated must also give African leaders pause. Putin speaks often of his desire to create a new international order. Russia’s lawlessness at home and abroad is bringing into sharp focus what his world order would look like. And that’s not a vision many African leaders share.

Defense & Security
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Middle powers, big impact: Africa’s ‘coup belt,’ Russia, and the waning global order

by Theodore Murphy

The changing global order has created an enabling environment for the recent spike of takeovers in Africa’s ‘coup belt’ – with Russia and newly assertive middle powers offering themselves as partners to putschists Coups d’états have returned to Africa. In the 1990s and 2000s, the number of forced takeovers of power on the continent fell; but the figure began to creep back up around 15 years ago. This deterioration has come to particular prominence with the emergence of a ‘coup belt’ spanning from Sudan to Niger (and mostly recently Gabon), where eight coups have taken place in the last three years.  The drivers behind coups range from state fragility to weak economic development. But such factors were also a constant in the decades immediately after the end of the cold war – when Africa experienced fewer coups. The overlooked factor is the weakening of global order and the coup-enabling international environment it has created. Policymakers should consider, in particular, the role that activist ‘middle powers’ and Russia are now playing in taking advantage of an increasingly lawless international setting. US retrenchment, selective AU enforcement As the United States retrenches to pursue its strategic competition with China, its capacity to invest seriously in both strategic imperatives and values-led foreign policy objectives is coming under strain. With the essential taking precedence over the good, upholding democracy in Africa has slipped down the list of America’s strategic priorities. Africa’s own system for deterring takeovers has also weakened considerably. The African Union’s  enforcement of its coup-prohibiting rules grew increasingly inconsistent during the same period, during which time it began to enforce only selectively, due to the whims of powerful AU member states. This started with the coup in Mauritania in 2008, and was followed by President Sisi’s post-coup election in Egypt, and more recently by coups in Chad and Sudan. The interregnum and the rise of the middle powers To paraphrase Gramsci, the international rules-based order has not yet died so the new order cannot be born. The world thus finds itself in an interregnum in which the rules-based order is fraying but where the next iteration of global order is yet to emerge. Aware that the world around them is changing, African leaders worry that a new version of cold war is developing, and that they are at risk of being forced to choose a side – America or China. But a cold war-style scenario is not a given, which means African leaders may be preparing for the wrong thing. This risks obscuring a major challenge created by the interregnum: the rise of assertive middle powers.   With global order in flux, middle powers seek to maximise their sovereignty and expand their influence. For middle powers in the Gulf, to Egypt and Turkey, those twin ambitions translate into treating the Horn of Africa as their near abroad. Russia surges into the coup belt sharing the same middle power motivations, but it differs on one count: desire to undermine the West. The opportunity generated by coups determines where Russia chooses to engage. But pursuing its rivalry with the West provides a second motive for Russia’s focus on the western half of the coup belt: it works to push back the strongest European influence, namely France’s presence in francophone Sahel states. Naturally, Russia’s and middle powers’ engagement in Africa pre-dates the interregnum, but the opportunity presented by the evolving global order supercharges their interventions. Russia and middle powers exploit US retrenchment and eroding AU norms by offering themselves as partners to putschists. Seeing the opportunity to gain influence in power-grabs, they move in and back their preferred horse. These include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey throughout the Horn of Africa, where Turkey is more focused on Somalia; the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are more focused on Sudan. In the Sahel, Turkey is tentatively exploring economic and security cooperation in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Russia plays a role across the Horn of Africa and Sahel sections of the coup belt; its deepest footprint is in Mali and Burkina Faso. All active middle powers are eyeing the prize of Libya as part of the strategic rationale for getting involved in its bordering countries. With increasing numbers of autocratic political entrepreneurs in the coup belt bidding for power, the opportunities for engagement multiply. Middle powers – and Russia, to a lesser degree – place serious political and financial capital behind their engagement as well as no-questions-asked security support. This creates outsize impact compared to the mid-level Western official engagement and more conditional provision of financial and security support. Even though they wield greater firepower, the abilities of middle powers’ diplomatic and security institutions have yet to catch up with the demands placed on them by their political masters’ robust will to act. The impact can be of the bull in the china shop variety. Russia and middle powers create an enabling environment for Africa’s autocrats by making their international and African-regional isolation impossible. The previous, unipolar period allowed the US, with European flanking, all behind an African lead (generally the AU), to deploy carrots and sticks while corralling other external powers. But middle powers’ assertive go-it-alone policies hamper the formation of a critical mass of international support to disincentivise rule-breaking.  How to navigate this new landscape African leaders grasp that changing global order is creating greater interest in Africa. They encourage new partners as a welcome means of diversification beyond the former confined choice of the US, old colonial powers such as France and Britain, or China. But the impact of Russian and middle power engagement in the coup belt demonstrates the pitfalls of such diversification. Rather than creating an additionality of options for Africa’s benefit, Russian and middle power engagement strengthens African autocrats and feeds state destabilisation. There will be no return to the unipolar US-led order; no American linchpin to hold together the rules-based order against coups in Africa. Even if the US were to reallocate political capital to this end, the interregnum phase has already created shifts in global order of a magnitude that makes assertive middle powers and Russia near impossible to contain. Nor can muscular engagement by France in its former colonies – the Sahel swathe of the coup belt – fill the US leadership gap. As much as France struggles to retain its primus inter pares role among European powers in the Sahel, the fever-pitch of anti-French sentiment in its former Sahel colonies constrains its efficacy. When encouraging all-comers to support development in their countries, African leaders may have lingered too little on the drawbacks of Russia’s and middle powers’ engagement. If their fear was of Africa’s instrumentalisation by China and the US, then Russia and middle powers are not creating greater African agency. As it stands, they simply add to the number of actors instrumentalising Africa. That is the true wake-up call sounded by the Niger coup.

Defense & Security
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BRICS rises

by Manoj Joshi

Now with 11 members, BRICS’ decision-making by consensus will be that much more difficultOnce upon a time, the BRICS were nothing but a slogan devised by Goldman Sachs’ economists to describe four emerging market economies to which South Africa was later added. But more than a decade later, the grouping, now with an investment bank—New Development Bank—of its own is besieged by dozens of countries of the Global South for membership.The Johannesburg summit of BRICS has drawn unusual interest around the world. There was a time when it barely merited a mention in the western press, but now it has been the subject of major stories, in which some saw BRICS as brittle whiel others thought it was  seeking to challenge the G7 and the western world through a process of enlargement. While the BRICS puts itself forward as a unified face of the emerging economic powers, the reality is that within the organisation—which  is neither a trade nor military bloc—there is considerable jostling between two Asian powers who are developing a global imprint—India and China.BRICS expansion announced in JohannesburgOne of the issues where this jostling played out in was the BRICS expansion process. Reportedly, 40 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS, though some 22 nations had formally expressed interest in joining the bloc. With the latest expansion, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and UAE have been offered membership effective 1 January 2024. That there was a bit of lobbying is evident from the fact that  last week, President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Modi. According to the official spokesman, they talked about “regional and bilateral matters” as well as issues like the expansion of BRICS. The two leaders later met in Johannesburg as well.There was some doubt at the beginning of the summit as to whether expansion would actually be announced. This was because of the intense negotiations over the names of the proposed members.Earlier this month, an Indian official spokesman had clarified that India believed that BRICS expansion should take place through “full consultation and consensus” among members of the bloc. In his speech at the summit, the Prime Minister made it clear that “India fully supports the expansion of the BRICS membership. And welcomes moving forward with consensus in this.” On Thursday, too, there were reports that there were “eleventh hour negotiations” over the potential new members. Reuters claimed that an agreement had meant to be adopted on Wednesday, but it was delayed by India’s introduction of new criteria for membership. On Tuesday President Lula of Brazil had made it clear that his country was did not want to be any kind of “a counterpoint to G7, G20 or the United States. We just want to organise ourselves.”In an organisation that acts through consensus, getting in is difficult, but global politics is about give and take and a certain degree of persuasion and arm twisting does go on. So does the notion of giving a push to countries who you see eye to eye with and blocking countries that you don’t. Sometimes the negotiation involves two powerful players splitting the difference and negotiating the entry of countries in such a way that a balance of sorts is maintained. This is the way India became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation dominated by China. India’s case was pushed by Russia to balance China, and Beijing finally agreed to have India, if Pakistan, its “iron” friend, could become a member at the same time.Another element in such organisations is that countries seek membership not just to further their interests but to block the ambitions of others. In this way, China sought and became a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) arrangement and once in there, it has used its vote to block efforts by the United States (US) to shape APEC into an Asia Pacific Economic Community in the manner of the European Economic Community that finally gave rise to the European Union.India has been reportedly joined by Brazil in resisting the haste and suggesting that new members may first be given the status of observers. The Indian position has been that while it was all for expansion, there was need to develop and standardise mechanisms to consider the applications and move on them.As of now, BRICS is more of a symbol than a unified and purposive entity. True, it has members like China and India who wield substantial power in their respective regions, but the entity itself hardly functions as an economic bloc of any kind. It does have the New Development Bank headquartered in Shanghai, which, in 2021, sharply stepped up its disbursements to US$7.6 billion, with its total disbursements being of the order of US$32 billion for infrastructure and sustainable development in four continents . The initial subscribed capital of the bank is equally distributed among the BRICS members.China’s role in and vision for BRICSBeijing, no doubt views BRICS as a means of offsetting US global power. In a page 2 commentary in the People’s Daily by someone with the nom de plume  “Huanyu Ping,” said that currently the world governance system was “at a historical turning point”. The growth of the emerging market and developing countries has enhanced their influence. But the western-dominated global order was a “stumbling block to world economic development and social progress.” The multilateralist BRICS was therefore providing a model for decisions to be made on the basis of equality and consensus, as testified by the share-holding of the New Development Bank. They also actively promoted reform of the global governance system and upheld the validity of multilateral and multipolar solutions.There should be no doubt about the weightage China has within BRICS. It has a GDP more than twice the size of the other members combined. Its economy may have slowed down but it is still growing, with IMF predicting a 5.2 per cent growth as against 5.9 for India. The others are growing at less than 1 per cent.  It has played a significant role in getting together two of the new incoming members, Saudi Arabia and Iran. In 2022, China was the largest trading partner of South Africa, India and Brazil.There should be little doubt that China sees Africa as a battleground in the global struggle against the US. In a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, President Xi spoke of the urgent need for China to promote cooperation with Africa because of “changes and chaos” in the world, an indirect allusion to the US. He took up the theme in the Business Forum meeting that he did not attend, but where his speech was read out: “Right now, changes in the world, in our times, and in history are unfolding in ways like never before, bringing human society to a critical juncture.”China may swear by multilateralism, but it is not really comfortable with it. What it is seeking to do is to shape institutions like BRICS in its own image for countering its principal rival, the United States of America. In this, it is unlikely to get Indian support, so what it is trying to do is to pack its membership with countries where it has already made significant investments through its Belt & Road Initiative. Such countries would be inclined to follow its global agenda, which is now manifesting itself as the Global Security Initiative, Global Development Initiative and the Global Civilisation Initiative.The Chinese aim, according to James Kynge in the Financial Times is two-fold. The first is to ensure that large parts of the world remain open to Chinese investment and trade in an environment where western attitudes are increasingly hardening. And the second is to have a bloc of votes in multilateral forums like the United Nations (UN) to project Chinese influence.In the turbulent world, China’s path is not an easy one. Its economy is slowing down and its global security calculations have been roiled by the Russian adventure in Ukraine. Further, in promoting the Global South it runs up against India which has its own ambitions, as well as the backing of the west. Even while promoting the UN and its institutions, China is not interested in any serious reform there because that could result in a bigger role for its adversaries like Japan and India.Done increases with the expansion of its membership. Now, with 11 members, things will be that much more difficult. The BRICS countries have economies and geopolitical profiles that are hugely divergent, and which makes consensus-based decision-making hugely difficult.

Defense & Security
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Nowhere to run: The dilemmas of Eritrean refugees in war-wrecked Sudan

by Lovise Aalen , Adam Babekir

War and conflict in Sudan have forced more than 4.5 million people to flee. Many of those fleeing from the war are themselves refugees, who originally came to Sudan to escape crises in their home countries. Eritreans are among the largest and longest living groups of refugees in Sudan. Many cannot return home, leaving them in a limbo. Sudan as a transit hub and a new homeThe majority of migration studies in the Greater Horn of Africa point to Sudan as the main crossing point for migrants from the region. Migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia that are crossing the Sudanese border remain in Sudan for a while and then migrate to Europe, Gulf countries, and Israel. Khartoum is considered as the main transit hub for migrants from the Horn, including Sudanese migrants hoping to make their way to Europe.Thousands of the Eritreans, however, have not only seen Sudan as a transit but as a new home. There are an estimated 134,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers in Sudan. Some of them arrived as early as the 1960s and have since remained. Most of them live in the camps in Eastern Sudan bordering their country of origin, around 100,000 in Kassala state and 14,000 in Gedaref state, while some of them live in towns, among them around 10,000 in Khartoum state.No longer a safe havenBefore the war erupted in Khartoum, many Eritreans had sought permanent refuge in the city, or using it as a pit stop on the journey onward through Libya with hopes of reaching European countries, risking their lives crossing rivers, deserts, and finally the Mediterranean Sea. These young Eritreans, both men and women, had escaped from forced conscription into the Eritrean army. They ran away from an extremely repressive state described as Africa’s equivalent to North Korea, or sought alternatives from a future without economic prospects. Many of them worked in Khartoum’s hospitality or informal business sectors, and have been victims of harassment and arbitrary detention by Sudanese security, aiming at cracking down on irregular migration.When the war broke out, they were among the civilians caught in the crossfire between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with an immediate need for protection and humanitarian assistance. Returning to Eritrea could seem like one of the most obvious ways out of the dire situation. But for many Eritreans, returning to their country of origin is not an option. Going back home would imply no protection from severe human rights violations by the Eritrean regime,  such as arbitrarily detentions, forced disappearances, secret prisons, and collective punishment of relatives of those who ran away from military service. Eritreans interviewed by Adam Babekir in Gedaref all state that they would not go back. A 28-year-old Eritrean woman, who was born in Sudan, expressed:Due to this war in Khartoum, some of my friends fled to other Sudanese towns like Kassala or Wad Medani, and those who have enough money to South Sudan. Most of the refugees are not willing to return to Eritrea because I have heard from a friend of mine from Eritrea that the situation is very bad there. So I will stay here till peace is restored in Khartoum. This is my hope and dream.Precarity in Eastern SudanAccording to the Commission of Refugees (COR)’ local office in Gedaref town more than 4000 refugees (Ethiopian and Eritrean) arrived there after fleeing the fighting in Khartoum. Some Eritrean refugees have temporarily settled in the Um Gulja closed camp at Amna Aregawi Church while others are staying in Gedaref town benefiting from their relatives’ network. The refugee camps in Sudan are run by the COR and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) collectively. COR is facing capacity constraints due to the evacuation of UN staff and other humanitarian actors from Khartoum and elsewhere. The evacuation of some UN staff, and NGO employees in addition to the influx of refugees into other states resulted in a heavier work oad and resulted in capacity constraints for COR, and the UNHCR has proposed to relocate the refugees to other camps in Kassala and Gedaref states. The majority of Eritrean refugees who has arrived in the Um Gulja camp are women and children who need essential services such as food, water, sanitation and protection. But there is no service provider or referral pathway for them even though they are in dire need of physical support. The Um Gulia closed camp in Gedaref is infamous for lacking provision of basic services. However, the only alternative camp for Eritrean refugees is El Shagarab camp, Kassala State, Eastern Sudan.A 25 -year-old Eritrean women who was born in Khartoum said:Conditions are very bad here in Gedaref. No one helps us to get medicine, food, and cover basic needs. Even my sister's husband, who lives in Germany, has difficulties sending money to us due to closed cash transfer agencies. To me, returning to Eritrea is an impossible option, so I am thinking about travelling to Egypt.Yet, the vast majority of of the Eritrean refugees are reluctant to be relocated from their current location to the Shagarab camp. The Shagarab camp is remotely located, far away from any nearby town. Therefore this option severely limits the freedom of movement for the refugees. The camp also lacks many facilities that are available to the refugees in Gedaref. Many of the refugees are also hopeful that the UN will work for a third country resettlement solution, eventually enabling them to go to Europe or Canada, and have appealed to the UNHCR to act accordingly. A 27 -year-old Eritrean women born in Khartoum confirmed that ‘COR and UNHCR have proposed for us to stay in refugee camps in Kassala state, but we have requested the UNHCR to take us to a third country, as there is no future for us in Sudan.’She added that if she suffers more than this, and if the war in Sudan does not come to an end she is considering travelling to Europe via Libya. Her preferred destination is Europe, as she expects Western communities to respect women and their rights: ‘We are very strong women with promising potential in our countries, but our societies do not empower women.’An immediate need for protectionThe protection of civilians, including both citizens and refugees, can only materialize through the cessation of hostilities, an opening of safe passage to humanitarian aid, and engagement in  comprehensive dialogue between all parties. For this to happen, international bodies such as the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the UN and the TROIKA countries consisting of Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States must continue to exert pressure, and provide technical help if negotiations materialize. Locally, in Eastern Sudan, COR must work with the UNHCR and all relevant stakeholders to provide safe passage out of conflict areas such as Khartoum to other parts of Sudan and must provide effective services to the Eritrean refugees who wish to stay in the country.

Defense & Security
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South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech at the unveiling of the statue of Former President Nelson Mandela

by Cyril Ramaphosa

Programme Director, Mama Graça Machel,  Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr. Zizi Kodwa Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms. Nocawe Mafu, Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr. Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane,  Your Majesties Kings and Queens, Other traditional leaders present, MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Ms. Nonceba Kontsiwe, Executive Mayor of the OR Tambo District Municipality, Cllr. Mesuli Ngqondwana, Executive Mayor of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality, Cllr. Nyaniso Nelani, Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Museum, Dr. Vuyani Booi, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow South Africans. Molweni. Sanibonani. Dumelang, Goeie more, Kgotsong, Lotjhani, Ndi matsheloni, Nhlekanhi. Good Morning. I greet you all wherever you may be on this Nelson Mandela Day. To be here, eQunu where Tata grew up and that is his final resting place, is a great honour. Qunu had a special place in Madiba’s heart.  This was where he spent his boyhood being cared for by his family, tending cattle and listening to the stories of the elders about the bravery of his people.  It has been said that the two most important days in your life are the day you are born - and the day you find out why. It was here in Qunu that the first seeds of his political consciousness were planted, where Madiba’s imagination was first stirred, and where his great mind began to be shaped. Madiba later said of this place that:  “It was there in the hills and valleys of Qunu, in the rolling hills of KwaDlangezwa, in the Genadendal settlement, and long the Gariep, the Lekoa and the Luvuvhu rivers, that we first understood that we are not free.”  In Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote that as he listened to the stories of the elders, he hoped to someday have the opportunity to serve his people, and to make his own humble contribution to the struggle for freedom. Madiba’s was no humble contribution. He led our nation to freedom, and even today, many years since his passing, his legacy lives on.  There are many monuments paying tribute to Madiba across South Africa, across Africa and in many parts of the world, from Palestine to the United Kingdom, Seychelles, Senegal, Cuba, the US, Brazil, China, France, and many other places. But for us to be able to honour the father of our nation at this place that meant so much to him is something we have been working towards for some time. Since 2021 the Eastern Cape Provincial Heritage Resource Agency, the Mandela family, the Nelson Mandela Museum and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture have been driving this process – a process that included public consultation. As human beings we are the sum of many parts, and Madiba was no different.  Our upbringing, our culture, and many other factors shape our lived experiences.  The statue we unveiled earlier today in Mthatha depicts Madiba in the role for which he was most well-known, that of a statesman. The statue here in Qunu depicts him in the attire of his Xhosa-Tembu culture, reminding us of the traditional values he lived by and that shaped his consciousness. It is our hope that this homage to Madiba in his final resting place will serve as an inspiration especially to the young people in the community.  It is to remind you that the seeds of greatness lie dormant within each one of us, and that it is up to us to make them germinate and bloom. It is to remind you that being born in a rural area, or having humble beginnings, is no obstacle to achieving greatness, and to fulfilling your destiny. It is to remind us of all our duty to do what we can to make the world a better place. Monuments, statues, and museums have a key role to play in the political and cultural life of any country. They are a means of giving recognition to those who suffered hardship, repression, exile, or death in pursuit of universal ideals such as human freedom.  Monuments such as this one are the struggle of memory against forgetting. These statues of Madiba are beacons of hope to individuals and communities that are still suffering from the evils of marginalisation, and the scourges of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.  This statue should serve as reminder to those of us elected to serve the South African people that we must redouble our efforts to build a better South Africa that leaves no-one behind.  To quote Madiba’s own words, as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality still exist in our world, none of us can truly rest. I would like to thank you, Mama Graça Machel, and members of the family for agreeing to collaborate with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture on this project.  Earlier today in Mthatha a library was handed over to the Zingisa Comprehensive School. I am told that the library project was sparked by a letter written to the authorities by a learner at the school requesting assistance, and I want to thank the provincial government for acceding to this request. I call upon the people of Qunu to protect and look after these sites of memorialization and commemoration. I have no doubt they have the potential to attract tourists which will in turn support business and job creation. Every Nelson Mandela Day we are called upon to dedicate 67 minutes to performing acts of goodwill towards others as part of making our world a better place. If you have not yet done so, I encourage each South African to do their bit of good today, wherever they may be. Madiba built bridges of peace, and mobilised people of the world to fight against social injustice and oppression.  Let us strive to emulate his example, today and every day. I wish you all a Happy Nelson Mandela Day. I thank you.

Defense & Security
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African-led Peacekeeping Operations: Enhancing Effectiveness

by Eric G. Berman

Among the challenges faced by African-led peacekeeping missions, loss of materiel to adversaries is a significant – and underappreciated – risk. More must be done to ensure that weapons and ammunition are appropriately managed. Last year, the East African Community and the Accra Initiative became the 14th and 15th African regional organisations to authorise peacekeeping operations, respectively (see Table below). Both missions are certain to encounter resistance among non-state armed groups active in their proposed areas of operation. Indeed, rebels from Congo’s March 23 Movement have already attacked Burundian troops serving in the East African Community Regional Force. Such groups secure considerable quantities of lethal materiel from uniformed personnel – both peacekeepers as well as national security forces serving within or near these missions’ areas of operation. Much can be done to reduce such diversion. Enhancing the effectiveness of African-led peacekeeping operations is especially important and worthy of support, as these organisations will remain significant actors in promoting peace and security for the foreseeable future. Without minimising the shortcomings and challenges many such missions have faced, numerous deployments have helped promote human security and ushered in beneficial political change. These objectives have been achieved often at considerable cost and sacrifice for the troop-contributing countries. Moreover, regardless of their track record, the UN Security Council is not likely to ‘re-hat’ these missions as readily as it has in the past. The security threats facing these missions, however, are quite grave. The African Union (AU)-led peacekeeping operations in Somalia, for example, have come under repeated attack from al-Shabaab, losing men and women in uniform as well as considerable lethal materiel as a result. Between June 2015 and January 2016, the armed group overran three forward operating bases (military camps that house formed units of more than 100 uniformed personnel, together with associated lethal equipment to allow them to be self-sufficient, often for extended periods of time) of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In May 2022, al-Shabaab again overran such a base belonging to the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which had succeeded AMISOM the previous month. AU missions in Somalia have likely lost millions of rounds of ammunition, thousands of firearms and many hundreds of crew-served light weapons (such as heavy machine guns and mortars) to their adversary. Material that armed groups have secured from African-led peacekeeping operations also includes heavy weapons systems. The Islamic State’s West Africa Province and the al-Qa’ida-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims have looted the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), as well as that of the Joint Force of the Group of Five Sahel (FC-G5S). Items seized include main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers and self-propelled as well as towed multiple-launch rocket systems and artillery. The UN, which has undertaken peacekeeping operations for over 70 years, has also experienced challenges in securing lethal materiel during its missions. Eight months after the Justice and Equality Movement attacked and overran an AU Mission in Sudan base, the successor UN–AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur lost 600,000 rounds of ammunition when a convoy transporting contingent-owned equipment was seized. That said, the UN has numerous well-established checks and balances in place to keep tabs on arms and ammunition deployed in its missions. For example, it has quarterly on-site checks of materiel, well-resourced investigations into incidents when diversion has occurred, and reimbursement mechanisms to encourage transparency and accountability. African regional organisations lack equivalent administrative practices and procedures. Where such checks and balances do exist to manage lethal materiel in African-led peacekeeping operations, they are not fully utilised. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a case in point. It has a convention that entered into force more than 10 years ago, which calls on its 15 member states to record and report materiel that is taken into a peacekeeping operation, resupplied, destroyed or taken back when the operation withdraws. This is to be done whether the mission is undertaken by ECOWAS, the UN or some other entity. These stipulations – on paper – represent a global best practice. Were they to be followed, ECOWAS could quickly determine what materiel was used or lost after deployment and make appropriate enquiries. Details concerning implementation are not made public, but it is understood that member states’ adherence to their commitments is limited, despite their being legally binding. This disconnect between expectation and reality is especially important to address because so many ECOWAS member states participate in peacekeeping operations. ECOWAS currently fields two missions: one in the Gambia and another in Guinea-Bissau. Both of these are relatively small and also relatively peaceful (although in January 2022 the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance attacked Senegalese troops serving in the ECOWAS Mission in the Gambia and disarmed them). More important for oversight purposes are the FC-G5S, the MNJTF and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, which operate in much less permissive environments in which peacekeepers routinely come under attack. Also of note is a recent policy the AU has adopted to promote management of recovered lethal materiel in peacekeeping operations it authorises or mandates. When organisations undertake formal disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes, these initiatives usually include funding for storehouses and procedures for recordkeeping. But many such undertakings recover materiel outside of DDR through cordon-and-search activities or clashes with negative forces. Oversight and resources have been lacking, and the new policies are meant to improve on previous practice. This would include ATMIS, the FC-G5S, the MNJTF and the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique. Progress is slow-going. A challenge African-led operations have is that the secretariats overseeing their implementation are not adequately staffed. This is not a criticism of officials’ work ethic or expertise, but rather a comment on the mismatch between mandates and resources. There are too few staff in relation to the work needed. The longstanding recruitment freeze at ECOWAS has recently been lifted, which ought to bring some relief. The AU remains woefully understaffed, however, which is not likely to change in the short term. Recognising these challenges and opportunities is an important first step. More appropriate staffing alone is not going to solve the problem, and yet it is essential to ensuring that existing checks and balances are promoted and used. Member states and external donors must be made aware of the frameworks and policies available and incorporate them in their discourse and priorities. And the counterterrorism, development and security sector governance communities, among others, must acknowledge their important role in enhancing weapons and ammunition management in peacekeeping operations, and in helping to generate appropriate resources and set the agenda. The deployment of peacekeepers must not add fuel to the fires they are trying to extinguish.

Defense & Security
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Why Buhari Failed

by Ebenezer Obadare

When Nigerians needed him to deliver, President Muhammadu Buhari fell short. Probably no other leader in Nigerian history has had a deeper fund of goodwill to tap into at inception than Muhammadu Buhari did when he took the reins in 2015. Nor could the public mood at the time of his inauguration have been more auspicious. On the one hand, Nigerians seemed to have had enough of Goodluck Jonathan’s habitual dithering. As time went on over the course of his presidency (2010- 2015), Jonathan had looked increasingly out of sorts, reinforcing the belief that, dumb luck apart, he had no business in the exalted office. Buhari, on the other hand, seemed ready to get back in the saddle after a previous controversial stint (1983- 1985) as military ruler. He was widely perceived as above board, a rarity for a former Nigerian public office holder. Furthermore, his military pedigree was deemed essential given the unchecked rampages of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency, which had ramped up under Jonathan, who initially downplayed its gravity before turning to South African mercenaries in desperation as the 2015 elections loomed. In any case, or so it seemed to a segment of the Nigerian electorate at the time, anyone so desperate for the nation’s highest office as to run four times (Buhari had previously run unsuccessfully in 2003, 2007 and 2011) had to have something special up their sleeve. That Buhari managed to turn such wild enthusiasm about his candidacy into grave disappointment, going from a regime of which many, rightly or not, had high hopes, to one that most can’t wait to see the back of, ranks among the most remarkable instances of reputational collapse in the whole of Nigerian political history. It was clear within the first few months—the initial struggle to put together a cabinet being particularly telling—that Buhari, for all his desperation to take power, had not done his homework and was ill prepared for the demands of the office. Nor did he seem particularly eager to embrace the role of uniter, something that the political divisions in the country at the time clearly demanded. Addressing an international audience at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in July 2015, Buhari signaled that he would favor the regions of the country which voted for him against those which did not: “The constituencies, for example, that gave me 97 percent cannot, in all honesty, be treated equally on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5 percent. I think these are political realities.” Buhari had secured the lowest percentage of votes in the Igbo dominated southeast region.       In any fair assessment, the verdict of failure on the Buhari presidency would seem unavoidable. The economy, for one, is in a far worse shape than Buhari met it when he took office eight years ago. According to the World Bank, following a period between 2001 and 2014 when, with an average growth of seven percent, Nigeria was “among the top 15 fastest-growing economies globally,” Nigeria entered a period of stagnation in 2015 as “oil prices fell, the security situation deteriorated, macroeconomic reforms were reversed, and economic policies became increasingly unpredictable.” Unsurprisingly, real per capita income fell during the same period, reaching its level in the 1980s by the end of 2021. His fiscal indiscipline, highlighted by an appetite for borrowing unmatched in Nigeria’s annals (with less than two weeks to the end of his tenure, Buhari has requested the approval of the Senate for an 800-million-dollar World Bank line of credit) has put the country in an improbable seventy-seven trillion Naira hole. Similarly, the security situation took a turn for the worse on Buhari’s watch, an irony, given justifiable popular confidence at his inception that this was one sector where the president’s military background gave him an edge over his predecessor. Buhari himself was not above pointing to this apparent advantage on the campaign trail. Yet, since 2015, amid deteriorating public safety, at least sixty-three thousand Nigerians have been killed in various acts of state and nonstate extrajudicial violence, with attacks by Islamist insurgents, assorted armed bandits, and kidnappers claiming the most lives. Numbers aside, a real sense of lawlessness pervades, with a growing recourse to vigilante justice signaling popular frustration at law enforcement and the judicial system. Corruption, too, has worsened. Last year, a Nigerian newspaper lamented that “cronyism and nepotism in Buhari’s key appointments have conflated with the working of government agencies at cross-purposes to fuel corruption.” At the same time, “serial interference” by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice appears to have stymied the work of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the state’s anti-graft agency. State pardon of top public officials convicted of corruption has both tarnished Buhari’s image as a beacon of transparency and stiffened common perception that his commitment to transparency is merely rhetorical. Paradoxically, his administration may have borne out Buhari’s private fears that, as he once confided to a top US diplomat, “the legacy of corruption in Nigeria will endure much longer than the legacy of colonialism.”   To say that Buhari has failed is not to hold him personally responsible for all of Nigeria’s failures. Not only is he ultimately emblematic of the prevailing political culture, Buhari, in so many ways, merely played the hand that he was dealt. In any event, there is the reality that no single leader, not even one more intellectually gifted and administratively astute than Buhari, can be expected to take on and solve Nigeria’s socioeconomic problems (for such are their entanglements and intricacies), never mind within eight short years. Monocultural economies are not so easily detached from their accustomed moorings, and, in any event, no single individual can be held responsible for the ups and downs of the global oil market, the reported theft of an estimated 437,000 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis, or the serial collapse of the national power grid (the official count is 99 times over the course of the Buhari presidency). That said, Buhari could doubtless have done more with what he was given and may well regret until his dying day his failure to leverage the favorable public mood in the immediate aftermath of his inauguration for tangible social transformation. By and large, Buhari failed simply because he lacked the wherewithal to govern. For one thing, if he had anything resembling a coherent economic vision, he never once articulated it, and for a man who was once ousted from power for, according to his adversaries, arrogating to himself “absolute knowledge of problems and solutions” and acting “in accordance with what was convenient to him, using the machinery of government as his tool,” he rarely saw the need to avail himself of the wealth of technical and economic expertise at his disposal. If anything, he always exuded the air of someone trapped in a 1970s command-and-control mindset, unable to adjust to the exigencies of the current moment, yet unable to do anything about it. Strangely enough, with his very ascent to the presidency, he may have achieved the only thing he really ever wanted: to recoup (sic) what he must have felt was an unfair ejection from power in his first coming as the head of a military junta. If this hypothesis is correct, Buhari’s second coming had more to do with personal redemption than public salvation.      Buhari also failed because he could not establish an emotional connection with the Nigerian public. While Jonathan always seemed too eager to please (he spent as much time on his knees as he did on his feet), Buhari’s aloofness was such as to expose him to accusations of insensitivity. His not infrequent admission that he could not wait to retire to his country home in Daura, Katsina State, may well have come from a place of genuine humility, but all it did was to consolidate widespread belief that he was a man out of his depth and all but content to run down the clock. At his best, Buhari, who, it must be remembered, never built his own political machine but vaulted to power on the back of Bola Tinubu’s, always seemed more of a sectional than national leader. On that score, he fully merits the ire directed at him by those who blame him for the deepening of ethnoreligious cleavage between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim communities. Never before in the history of political leadership in the country has a man so evidently cosmopolitan appeared at the same time so provincial.   If there is one commanding insight for Nigerians to take away from the Buhari presidency, it is that it is possible for an individual believed by many to be personally incorruptible to preside over an administration that is nonetheless defined by corruption and rank incompetence. On the contrary, with the incoming Bola Tinubu government, Nigerians will soon find out whether a leader widely seen as corrupt can preside over a relatively malfeasance-free and reasonably competent administration.