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Tribute to Ancilla Nyirenda

ancilla nyirenda

On 5 June 2014, Ancilla Nyirenda, a key figure in the SADSEM network, died tragically in a motor vehicle accident in Malawi. She was a staff associate of the Centre for Security Studies at Mzuzu University in Malawi, and a masters student at the Wits School of Governance. Following her death, her colleagues at the Wits School of Governance released the following tribute:

Ancilla was involved in many activities. She was known for her compassion, and listened and paid attention to those around her who were in need. She was quick to share her time, and was always available to help her friends. Her kindness remains a great tribute to her. Her laughter let people know that she was around, and her jovial mood was infectious. You could not stay low when you were around her, and she lifted up everyone who was in her presence.

Ancilla was reading for a Masters of Management in the Field of Security, which she could use to continue her academic career at Mzuzu University. Ancilla had just completed her master’s degree and handed in her draft research report, on the reasons for the underrepresentation of female officers in the Malawi defence force. She also managed a gender review of SADSEM’s academic programmes on defence and security.

Ancilla played a key role in the SADSEM network – notably by liaising between the network’s old and new secretariat, originally based at the Centre for Defence and Security Management (CDSM) at Wits University and currently based at the Centre for Security Studies (CSS) at Mzuzu University.

Ancilla was developing into an emerging scholar with great potential. Her highly relevant area of specialisation would have contributed significantly to her country and the continent, providing the qualities Southern Africa desperately needs.  Her passing is a cruel blow to those of us who remain behind, overwhelmed by the realisation of what was and could have been. We miss you, Ancilla, and we feel blessed to have had you in our lives.

New book on regional security

security review 2013Collaboration between the SADSEM network and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has resulted in a major new book on regional security.

Entitled Southern African Security Review 2013, it comprises contributions by ten regional security experts – most of them associated with SADSEM institutions – which examine the security dynamics in the region and their implications for its future.

The book starts by examining conceptual and contextual issues surrounding regional security, including current conceptualisations of national and regional security; the role of donors and NGOs in security policy formation; SADC’s peace and security policy framework; the peace and security interface between the AU and SADC; and security policy formation in Namibia.

This is followed by case studies of peace and security dynamics in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, as well as an exploration of the maritime dimensions of regional security.

The book has been co-edited by Anthoni van Nieuwkerk, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Management (CDSM) at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Katharina Hofmann, resident representative of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Mozambique.

FES has co-ordinated security-related research and dialogue in the region for several years, as part of its global efforts to enhance human security and conflict prevention, and has worked closely with SADSEM in the process. Among other things, the FES Mozambique Office and SADSEM jointly host the Maputo Dialogue, an annual workshop on regional security. The book is a product of this ground-breaking initiative, and aims to present its work to a broader audience.

Hard copies of the book are available from SADSEM member institutions. A print-friendly desktop version can be downloaded from the publications section on this website.


Gender review of SADSEM programmes

gender review 1

ON 18–19 JUNE 2013, the Centre for Defence and Security Management (CDSM) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, hosted a workshop aimed at reviewing the gender components of academic programmes on defence and security offered by members of the SADSEM network.

It was attended by representatives of SADSEM member institutions in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe; participants from and representatives of the sponsoring partner, the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF); and academics and other experts on gender and defence/security training and education in southern Africa.

gender review 3

More specifically, the workshop was aimed at considering the draft findings of a gender curriculum review of postgraduate diplomas offered by two SADSEM member institutions; gaining and sharing knowledge on the integration of gender into academic programmes on security and defence; and exchanging lessons learnt about incorporating gender into SADSEM’s education and training programmes.

To this end, DCAF was asked to conduct gender reviews of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Postgraduate Diploma in Management in the Field of Security, and the University of Namibia’s Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic and Security Studies, which were presented to the workshop.

gender review 2

The workshop formed part of an ongoing Gender Training and Education Capacity Development Project pursuant to the SADSEM–DCAF 2010 Memorandum of Understanding. It comprised the following sessions:

  • Presentations by representatives of SADSEM member institutions on current efforts to integrate gender into their security and defence education and training.
  • A conceptual overview of gender, security and defence.
  • A presentation on men, masculinities and security/ defence.
  • A presentation on practical experiences of integrating gender into security/ defence education and training.
  • An overview of methods for reviewing gender curricula.
  • A gender review of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Postgraduate Diploma in Management in the Field of Security.
  • A gender review of the University of Namibia’s Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic and Security Studies.
  • A concluding session on lessons learnt, and the way forward.
Workshop report

SADSEM maritime workshop

sadsem maritime workshop 1

MARITIME EXPERTS from West, East and Southern Africa gathered at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 7 and 8 May 2013 to deliberate on the state of African maritime security. They found the world of maritime security complex, and its management challenging. Complexities seemed to include:

  • The geo-politics of energy: a new scramble for Africa’s scarce resources
  • The importance of Sea Lanes of Communication, and strategic choke points
  • Piracy, poor port security, smuggling, and organised crime syndicates
  • Terror and counter-terrorism measures
  • The environment, and fishing resources
  • ‘Sea blindness’: the inability or unwillingness of major player as well as citizens in general to appreciate the value of the seas and oceans and the need for their protection and promotion
  • The unsustainable exploitation of Africa’s maritime assets by the private sector, multinational corporations, powerful states, organised criminal syndicates and combinations of these players
  • Issues of governance and state capacity that result in the poor management of Africa’s maritime assets.

An ever-increasing feature of the African maritime domain related to global interest. Increasing interdependence and exploitation were seen as flipsides of the globalisation coin. A worst-case scenario spells out how Africans lose agency and the ability to set agendas.

sadsem maritime workshop 2

Workshop participants identified enhanced cooperation for effective African maritime governance as the appropriate response. The national effort to protect and promote maritime assets ought to be supported by cooperation on three multilateral levels: the global (UN), continental (AU) and sub-regional (ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD and SADC). Enhanced cooperation issues were thought to include:

  • The need to develop a better understanding of multi-level cooperation dynamics involving varying coalitions of state and non-state players
  • Similarly, the need to develop a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of states and non-state actors involved in enhanced cooperation
  • The need for a rigorous audit and evaluation of African policies, strategies and legal frameworks, and recommendations for harmonisation where necessary
  • Research into the question of whether lead nations complicate or enhance cooperation, and to what effect
  • Similarly, the need to better understand the exercise of hard and soft power, public diplomacy, and breaking the sea-blindness spell (if it exists at all)
  • The need for document management
  • Finding a balance between external and domestic sources of support
  • Training, education and research for increased understanding, improved management, effective and efficient implementation of policies and strategies, and effective governance, oversight and evaluation.

Workshop participants concluded that the ultimate purpose of enhanced African maritime cooperation should be to provide security and stability in support of the continent’s sustainable growth and development agendas. To enjoy maximum credibility, African maritime security policies and strategies must demonstrate relevance to the continent’s socio-economic and development agenda, inspired by the human security approach.

The workshop was organised by SADSEM and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. This report was written by the programme co-ordinator, Prof Anthoni van Nieuwkerk of Wits University.

Workshop report

Tshwane principles launched

GLOBAL PRINCIPLES for managing the interface between national security and the public’s right to information were released on 12 June 2013. Dubbed the Tshwane Principles, they provide governments with a comprehensive framework for drafting laws or regulations about the state’s authority to withhold information on security grounds, or to punish the disclosure of such information.

The principles were drafted by 22 organisations and academic centres in consultation with more than 500 experts from more than 70 countries at 14 meetings held around the world. The process, which was facilitated by the Open Society Justice Initiative, culminated in a meeting in Tshwane, South Africa, which gave the Principles their name.

The process also involved close collaboration with the UN, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACPR), Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The SADSEM network played a prominent role in the southern African consultations, which were concluded earlier this year. Representatives of SADSEM member organisations delivered keynote papers on experiences surrounding national security and the right to information in six southern African countries to a regional workshop held in February, and attended the regional experts’ meeting in April.


In an introductory passage, the base document states that national security and the public’s right to know are often viewed as pulling in opposite directions. While tensions sometimes arise between a government’s desire to keep information secret on national security grounds and the public’s right to information held by public authorities, legitimate national security interests are best protected when the public is well informed about the state’s activities, including those undertaken to protect national security.

Access to information not only safeguards against abuse by public officials but also permits the public to play a role in determining the policies of the state and thereby forms a crucial component of genuine national security , democratic participation , and sound policy formulation.

In certain circumstances it may be necessary to keep information secret in order to protect legitimate national security interests. However, a government’s over-invocation of national security concerns can seriously undermine the main institutional safeguards against government abuse, namely the independence of the courts, the rule of law, legislative oversight, media freedom, and open government.


Agains this background, the base document spells out 40 principles, and spells them out in great detail. Highlights are:

  • Information should be kept secret only if its disclosure poses ‘a real and identifiable risk of significant harm to a legitimate national security interest’ (Principle 3)
  • Information concerning serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law must always be disclosed (Principle 10A)
  • The public should have access to information on surveillance programmes (Principle 10E)
  • No government entity should be categorically exempt from disclosure requirements (Principle 5)
  • Public officials who act in the public interest to expose government abuses should be protected from retaliation (Principle 40).


Following their release, Pansy Tlakula, chair of the South African Electoral Commission and and special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa, said the principles could not have come at a more opportune time, given the recent adoption of a model law on access to information for Africa by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

‘These principles complement the provisions of the model law and also seek to strike the requisite balance between the public’s right to know and the protection of legitimate national security interests, given the current global context of rising insecurity. They will certainly come in handy in my home country, South Africa, as we struggle to resolve the thorny issues implicated in the recently adopted Protection of State Information Bill.’

Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said: ‘The Principles are a major contribution to the right of access to information and the right to truth concerning human rights violations. All states should reflect them in their interpretations of national security law.’

Lord Alex Carlisle, QC, the United Kingdom’s first independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and one of the experts involved in the consultations, said: ‘In my opinion the Principles provide an excellent international template. I hope governments around the world will examine the principles and adopt them as a standard that is both aspirational and achievable.’

More on the Tshwane Principles

SADSEM role in global initiative

THE SADSEM network has played a prominent role in regional consultations on principles for managing the often conflicting demands of national security and the right to information.

Representatives of SADSEM member organisations delivered keynote papers on experiences surrounding national security and the right to information in six southern African countries to a recent regional workshop, and were due to attend a regional experts’ meeting early in April.

Three-year project
This process has formed part of a three-year project to formulate global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information, organised by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

In the course of the project, the Initiative has worked with other NGOs and academic centres throughout the world. Among others, its partner organisations have been tasked with organising regional consultations on the draft principles.

The southern African consultation was held at the Graduate School of Public and Development Management (P&DM) of the University of the Witwatersrand on 25-26 February 2013.

Organised by the Wits P&DM and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), it brought together a wide range of participants from 10 southern African countries, including scholars, researchers, government officials, and respresentatives of civil society.

Representatives of six SADSEM member organisations delivered keynote papers on experiences surrounding national security and the right to information in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Experts’ meeting
Participants then discussed the draft global principles, and suggested how they could be improved. These suggestions were taken forward at the experts’ meeting held in Pretoria on 5-6 April, and consolidated into final regional recommendations.

The principles are meant to guide people engaged in drafting, revising or implementing laws or provisions relating to governments’ authority to withhold information on national security grounds, or penalise the publication of such information.

A drafting committee incorporating representations of various world regions is meant to finalise the Principles by April this year. The organisers will then ask a range of international institutions to endorse the principles, and launch them in collaboration with its project partners in cities around the world.

Report on Southern African Consultation

Third Maputo Dialogue

maputo dialogue 1

THE THIRD annual southern African security dialogue was held in Maputo, Mozambique on 30-31 October 2012. Jointly organised by SADSEM and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the Maputo Dialogues bring together security experts and scholars from within the region to discuss contemporary security issues and challenges in the southern African region.

The 2012 Dialogue was fruitful and insightful. Speakers explored the following themes:

  •  The state of the security debate in southern Africa (Prof Sandy Africa and Prof Mpho Molomo)
  • Donors and NGOs as security agenda setters (Prof Gavin Cawthra)
  • Regional security cooperation: the role of SADC (Prof Andre du Pisani, Prof Anthoni van Nieuwkerk and Ambassador Joao Ndlovu)
  • Crisis management in Southern Africa: the case of Zimbabwe (Munyaradzi Nyakudya)
  • The Geopolitics of Maritime Security (Prof Joao Paul Coelho)
  • Concluding reflections (Prof Bizeck Phiri)
Report on Third Maputo Dialogue

Second Maputo Dialogue

THE SECOND annual Southern Africa regional security dialogue was held in Maputo, Mozambique, on 27-28 October 2011. Jointly organised by SADSEM and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the Maputo Dialogues bring together security experts and scholars from within the region to discuss contemporary security issues and challenges in the southern African region.

Delegates considered a focused range of issues related to peace and security in Southern Africa. In particular, the meeting dealt with peacemaking and security challenges in maritime security; the newly-revised strategic plan for the implementation of peace and security through the Southern African Development Community; South Africa as a driver of regional security or insecurity; democratic challenges in Swaziland; and mediation and security co-operation in Zimbabwe.

Report on Second Maputo Dialogue

Security sector governance course in Malawi

IN SEPTEMBER 2012, the Centre for Security Studies at Mzuzu University in Malawi presented a four-day executive course in security sector governance. The course was prompted by the new opportunities presented by the evolving democratic landscape in the country.

Given its efforts to consolidate democracy, the public also has increased expectations of the security sector, and the course was designed to help participants to meet this challenge. At the same time, it presented role players in security with an opportunity to reflect on what needs to be done to entrench democratic governance of the security sector.

Participants were drawn from the Defence Force, Police Service, Immigration Department, Prison Service, Anti-Corruption Bureau, National Intelligence Bureau, National Assembly, and Judiciary; the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Energy, Mining and Natural Resources; as well as media houses, academia and civil society.

The course was funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) through the Southern Africa Defense and Security Management network (SADSEM).

Course report

SADSEM gender training workshop

sadsem gender workshop participants

On 2-4 May 2012, the Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Botswana and the Geneva-based Centre for Security, Development and the Rule of Law (DCAF) hosted a SADSEM workshop on gender training and education in the defence and security sector. Held in Botswana, it was attended by representatives of seven SADSEM network member institutions as well as local role players in gender training and education.

The workshop formed part of an ongoing Gender Training and Education Capacity Development Project set out in the SADSEM / DCAF Memorandum of Understanding concluded in 2010. The project is aimed at supporting the development of gender-sensitive security sector transformation (SST) and governance-related training in the southern Africa by reviewing and adjusting the gender components of SADSEM’s training and education programmes.

The workshop’s specific objectives were to:

  • provide a forum for gaining insight into and sharing knowledge of SST training and education;
  • present current SST training and education initiatives by SADSEM member institutions as well as gaps and needs in respect of gender; and
  • identify steps to be taken to strengthen the incorporation of gender issues within the SADSEM network.

The workshop sought to achieve these objectives through the participation of three academics from Namibia and Botswana with extensive gender expertise as well as sessions focused on:

  • SADSEM member presentations of current gender training and education
  • conceptual and practical linkages between gender, security and defence
  • Examples of gender and security sector issues in the Southern African Development Community
  • Methods for reviewing gender curriculae
  • A gender review of SADSEM’s executive course curriculum.

The participating SADSEM member instituions were the Centre for Strategic Studies, University of Botswana; the Centre for Security Studies, Mzuzu University; the Defence and Security Management Project, University of Namibia; the Centre for Defence and Security Management, University of the Witwatersrand; the Defence and Security Management Subcentre, Centre for Foreign Relations, Tanzania; the Defence and Security Project, University of Zambia; and the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Network.

At the end of the workshop the participants initiated a process for reviewing and amending SADSEM’s training curriculum in order to ensure that it incorporates gender issues.

Workshop report

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