During the night of 14-15 November, Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) soldiers were posted to strategic points in the capital, Harare. By morning, the world woke up to news that President Robert Mugabe was under house arrest, with the army’s top officers emphasising that it was 'not a military takeover' and that it was not aimed at President Mugabe, 'only targeting criminals around him'.
Although the action was triggered by the sacking of Emerson Mnangagwa on 6 November, there are reports it had been planned much earlier, with senior officers consulting South African and Chinese officials. The lead authors of the military action – sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and General Constantino Chiwenga – had prepared the ground for the operation and troops encountered little resistance at the barracks of the Presidential Guard and its commander Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe. It is understood that neutralising them was the first part of the military action.
It is reported that Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and Chris Mutsvangwa, the 'war veterans' leader and former ambassador to China, talked to local security officials about the implications of their military action in Harare. They were reportedly assured on non-intervention by South Africa so long as the action didn't spill over the borders and remained 'broadly constitutional'. Chiwenga and Mnangagwa promised to find a way to avoid the action being stigmatised as a military coup by the African Union (AU) or the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Africa Confidential has reported.
With how the events leading up to the ‘coup’ turned out, there are chances Mugabe was aware of the plot to oust him and prepared for it. This is because more than 48 hours after the military took over they have not reached a deal with the 93-year-old. With every passing hour, Mugabe gets a firmer grip of the situation, and gains leverage and assures him of returning to work.
How it all began – the week of upheaval
Sunday, 5 November: Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga flies to a meeting with China's Defence Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing. The meeting was discreetly and hastily arranged by Chiwenga to win Beijing's support for a 'smart takeover of power', it is reported. Chiwenga's message was that a planned purge of the armed forces by the G40 faction of the ruling party, which has supported Grace Mugabe, would destabilise the country and threaten China's interests.
Grace Mugabe called Mnangagwa a "coup plotter" and a "coward" in a speech that ruffled more than a few feathers in ZANU-PF. The speech came after one by Mugabe at a rally on Saturday, where he criticised Mnangagwa for the first time.
• Monday, 6 November: President Mugabe sends Mnangagwa a letter dismissing him as Vice-President.
• Tuesday, 7 November: Mugabe widens the purge and sacks three ministers and Mnangagwa allies: Cyber-Security Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri and Minister of State in the President's Office, Chris Mushohwe. Mnangagwa crosses the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, with South Africa his eventual destination.
• Wednesday, 8 November: Mnangagwa releases a strongly-worded critique of the clique around Mugabe, blaming it for economic deterioration and accusing Mugabe's family of treating ZANU-PF as their personal property.
• Sunday, 12 November: General Chiwenga returns to Zimbabwe via South Africa from his trip to Beijing. There are reports that that Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri had orders to arrest him, whereby Chiwenga arranges to be met by a large group of soldiers. Over the past week he had been resisting pressure from Mugabe to resign as ZDF Commander. All this points to efforts by Mugabe to purge the ‘trouble-makers’.
• Monday, 13 November: Chiwenga calls a press conference in Harare, which is filmed and distributed on YouTube and social media. He reads a statement blaming the failing economy on factionalism in ZANU-PF over the past five years, and arguing that the ruling party's problems were caused by 'elements who did not struggle with us in the War of Liberation' (i.e. the G40 faction). He also demanded that ZANU-PF stop purging liberation heroes.
He appeared on the platform with top military chiefs, but not Chihuri. Chiwenga's message is published on the website of the state newspaper, The Herald, but immediately taken down. It is not given any coverage on the state news broadcasts that night, nor is it printed in The Herald the following morning.
• Tuesday, 14 November: Chairman of the ZANU-PF Youth League, Kudzanai Chipanga, releases a statement blaming the military for the 'missing’ USD15 billion, declaring that the youth will defend the revolution. Chipanga's statement is broadcast on the state media and broadcasting services.
During the day, there are reports of soldiers driving into Harare to meet others already in the centre of the city. Other reports emerge of armoured cars and tanks heading towards the base of the Presidential Guard in Tynwald, some 15 kilometres out of Harare. By early morning of Wednesday 15th it seemed the stage had been set for the ouster of Africa’s oldest leader.
What is next for Mugabe?
The situation remains fluid and anything can happen. When Zimbabwe’s military detained President Mugabe on Tuesday night, it appeared the stage had been set for his ouster. We are slowly discovering it may not be so easy to remove Mugabe. President Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military seized control of the country, at a graduation ceremony at Harare's Open University.
The appearance comes amid reports that the party was due to meet to draft a motion to fire Mr. Mugabe on Sunday. If the 93-year-old leader still refuses to stand down, the party plans to impeach him on Tuesday, pointing to a failure of the military action.
It is reported that Mugabe has got many demands that he is insisting on and the main one is not making Mnangagwa the interim president, as he feels Mnangagwa will go after Mugabe’s political allies in ZANU PF. The military wants Mnangagwa as Interim President. However, this position has legal and institutional considerations; how to reinstate Mnangagwa and by pass the second Vice President Phelekeza Mphoko. For Mnangagwa to take over, Mphoko will also have to resign.
Two scenarios stand out for me on how the situation in Zimbabwe will unfold.
1. What happens next will depend on the reaction by Mugabe and the G40 faction. Mugabe will likely try to convince General Chiwenga that, for stability’s sake, the status quo should remain until April 2018 elections. Under such an agreement, the president may be forced to re-appoint Mnangagwa and dismiss Grace Mugabe from politics. This would have the short-term impact of pacifying the military, but would almost ensure enduring factionalism in ZANU-PF.
2. The extreme will be when ZDF pushes for President Mugabe’s removal from office, to be replaced by a Lacoste representative, or Mnangagwa himself. In such a case, safe passage for Mugabe and his family would probably be guaranteed.
The likelihood of each of these two extreme outcomes is near equal, and there exists a wide spectrum between them, hence why this hasn’t been as swift. Knowing Mugabe, he is probably fighting it out for the first option. This is risky because any date other than now will most likely result in purging of army generals.
If the army generals take power by force they risk alienation from the African Union, Southern Development Community (SADC). My prediction, I expect Mugabe to resume the work of the presidency within days, barring the impeachment. History, and regional politics are against a violent power takeover in the southern Africa region.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.
Incompetence or Disrespect?
One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.
Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.
Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:
While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.
To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.
The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.
The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.
Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.
Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on¬†transitioning towards renewable energy sources¬†such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.
This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.
Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.
On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies‚Äô operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.
Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.
Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana‚Äôs drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana‚Äôs growth. ¬†Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.
Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking¬†(CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana
So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there‚Äôd be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company‚Äôs marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why?¬† Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.
A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – ‚ÄúA brand is a person‚Äôs gut feel about a product or service‚ÄĚ. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn‚Äôt still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.
Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‚Äėbrand bonds‚Äô with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‚Äėrelationship‚Äô started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ‚ĄĘ exercise wherein we test people‚Äôs loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‚Äėtheir‚Äô brand. They simply won‚Äôt easily ‚Äėbreakup‚Äô with it. Doing so can cause brand ‚Äėheart ache‚Äô. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.
Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It‚Äôs fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is ‚Äď Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you‚Äôve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we‚Äôve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‚Äėstrategy sessions‚Äô ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‚Äėfeel‚Äô.
Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‚Äėsome of the commenting described the new packaging as ‚Äėugly‚Äô ‚Äėstupid‚Äô. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it‚Äôs new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand.¬† Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‚Äėadjusted‚Äô its logo.
So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :
Our brand name no longer reflects our company‚Äôs vision.
We‚Äôre embarrassed to hand out our business cards.
Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We‚Äôre undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We‚Äôre struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We‚Äôre not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.
The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos‚Äô glove in an instant.
So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.
There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‚Äėmake a plan‚Äô as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy¬†distils why your business exists beyond making money ‚Äď its ‚Äėwhy‚Äô. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don‚Äôt buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don‚Äôt buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.
But perhaps you‚Äôve done the important research and strategy work. It‚Äôs still possible to bungle the final look and feel.¬† A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‚Äėland‚Äô the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country‚Äôs largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.
Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check ‚Äď use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.
Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.