Vol. III Issue. 3
Most nations rank below 50 in corruption index
08 March 2013
In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 issued by Transparency International, 90% of African countries scored below 50. But despite this bleak picture, when one looks beyond just bribes and kickbacks, it becomes evident that corruption is not a uniquely African phenomenon but even that in 'African' corruption, developed countries are deeply implicated. Multinational companies are often on the lesser examined 'supply side of corruption' whereas African governments are frequently derided for being on the 'demand' side of corruption.
It has been argued that local efforts to tackle corruption can only be effective if they are not contradicted by wide-scale corruption at the upper echelons of public life, including at the international level. Corruption, toxic debt and dubious arms deals continue to plague developing countries but the blame for this cannot solely be placed on those in the developing world. It is important that the governments of developed countries recognise the demand for reform in Africa and facilitate local efforts to fight corruption.
Source(S): Think Africa Press, March 1st 2013
Importance of good governance
African governments are beginning to accept the importance of good governance, transport management has become better, politicians and officials are learning new skills to run large infrastructure projects, and despite deep political cleavages and rampant corruption, the picture is slowly beginning to reflect changes. In the Ivory Coast national accounts are in order, debts are coming down and roads are being built. This is picture in much of Africa; the allocation of power is becoming fairer and its use more competent.
The default means of allocating power in Africa is now to hold elections, and elections are generally becoming fairer. Sceptics rightly bemoan voter fraud and intimidation, and plenty of polls are still stolen. But the margins of victory that autocrats dare to award themselves are shrinking. Many autocrats, by allowing notional democracy, have started something they cannot stop. One lesson in particular seems to have sunk in: the need for solid and durable institutions.
Source(s): The Economist, March 2nd 2013
Tired of war
The number of armed conflicts in Africa has steadily declined from at least 30 at the end of the cold war to little more than a dozen today. The number of successful coups fell by two-thirds in the same period. In a survey issued by a Swiss research project, which measured the number of violent deaths per person, only two African countries rank among the world's leading ten. One of the factors influencing this drop in violence is the fact that America and Russia are no longer propping up violent dictators simply to keep them out of each other's clutches.
A change in western attitudes has also affected the situation, with Europeans no longer turning a blind eye to gross violations of human rights. Humanitarian campaigns coupled with efforts aimed at disarmament have been successful in some parts of Africa and have contributed to the decline in the number of armed engagements. Finally some of Africa's wars have also burned themselves out. Radicalised through the independence years, several guerrilla factions have come to accept the status quo and have given up their secessionist violence.
Source(s): The Economist, March 2nd 2013
Ennahda to surrender sovereign ministries
Tunisia's ruling Ennahda party has agreed to give up key ministries to independents. The ministries of the Interior, Defence, Justice and Foreign Affairs will now be run by an independent person. A party spokesperson indicated that in this transitional period, the actions were in the best interests of the Tunisian people, and could potentially narrow the cleavage between secularists and Islamists.
Ennahda party leader, Rachid Ghannouchi stressed that the new government will be formed by five or six parties and has gone back on a previous statement in which he had declared that the ruling Islamist party would never give up power secured through the legitimacy of the ballot. With this decision the ruling party has met the demands of Tunisia's main opposition parties - Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic. This action had become an urgent necessity following the political upheaval after the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid spurred a political crisis in the country, culminating in the resignation of then Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali.
Source(s): Maghrebia, March 1st 2013
Kerry announces $250 million in US aid for Egypt
US Secretary of State, John Kerry has announced that United States would provide $250 million in assistance to Egypt, after the Egyptian president promised to move ahead with negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over economic reforms. Mr. Kerry said that the decision was reflective of Egypt's extreme needs. Although his statement indicated that Mohammed Morsi had discussed the need to ensure the fairness of Egypt's coming elections, it did not mention any specific commitments the Egyptian president had made to receive the aid.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for April and some opposition groups have said that they will boycott the vote because of what they see as an effort by Mr. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement to dominate Egyptian politics. American officials stated that the proposed aid is bifurcated into one package of $190 million infused into Egpyt's budget, and the other $60 million for the creation of a fund to support small businesses, which will provide direct support to key engines of democratic change in Egypt.
Source(s):The New York Times, March 3rd 2013
Libya national assembly returns to members after protest
Libya's national assembly building has been returned to its members after a month-long occupation by former rebels, demanding compensation for injuries sustained in the 2011 revolution. The authorities had been negotiating for several days with the handicapped revolutionaries, among them amputees, who were demanding social aid in the form of lifetime pensions. Footage released on the internet showed a devastated hall, with smashed windows and toppled chairs.
In a bid to pressure the authorities, the protesters had occupied the main hall of the General Nations Congress, the highest authority in Libya, forcing assembly members to meet in a nearby hotel. Security forces attempted to evacuate the building, but the protest resorted to hurling grenades, leaving four wounded among the security forces. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said the authorities had granted all the demands of those wounded in the conflict, offering a minimum income of 3,500 Libyan pounds a month as well as housing and a car.
Source(s):Al Ahram, March 5th 2013
Somali court reduces journalist's sentence
Mogadishu's Banadir-Region appeal court has reduced the one year jail sentence of journalist Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim to six months. He had been convicted following his interview of an alleged rape victim, and had been charged for not following 'journalism ethics' and the laws of the country by not informing relevant officials and thus offending the reputation of a national institution. Humanitarians are shocked that his sentence has been reduced rather than acquitted, and have asserted that no journalist should be jailed for any amount of time in relation to his work.
It is unclear which rules of journalism 'ethics' the court based its decision on and this has raised concerns that the draconian media law of 2007 may have been invoked. According to a lawyer observing the appeal process, there are serious irregularities in the legal proceedings. Defence lawyers at the appeal hearing worked to doubt the prosecution's evidence, frequently disapproving what they said were procedural violations that have overwhelmed the case.
Source(s): Shabelle Media Network, March 4th 2013
Kenya: Uhuru Kenyatta leads presidential race
With nearly half the votes counted in the just ended peaceful Kenyan elections, Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Coalition is in the lead in what key observers have stated is a crucial transition period in Kenya's democratic dispensation. According to provisional results being released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, (IEBC) Kenyatta leads with 53% of the total votes cast. He is directly followed by current Prime Minister, Raila Odinga who has secured 42% of the total valid votes.
Meanwhile, Odinga's party, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, has urged its supporters not to panic despite Kenyatta's lead. Presidential candidate of the Eagle party, Peter Kenneth has conceded defeat and announced this on the social-networking site twitter, thanking all those who voted for him. Preliminary results by the IEBC are expected on the 6th of March, however the chairman has advised in a television address that 'nobody should celebrate; nobody should complain'. He added that IEBC has therefore continued to appeal for patience from the public, the parties and their candidates.
Source(s): African Elections Project (Accra), March 5th 2013
Vote setbacks raise concern over Kenya race
Election officials from across Kenya are travelling to Nairobi to deliver election ballots manually after the widespread failure of the country's new electronic voting system, leading to criticism of the country's complex voting rules. Following technical difficulties, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it would count votes manually in a national tallying centre overnight. About 33,000 ballots were initially rejected for not following election rules; however the IEBC announced that even those spoiled ballots will count in the overall vote.
As of 8:15 am on the 6th of March, Uhuru Kenyatta - the country's deputy prime minister who also faces an international trial for alleged crimes against humanity - leads his political rival Raila Odinga. However, complaints against the widespread failure of the electronic biometric voting system have raised fears that the country may spiral into a similar state of violence witnessed during Odinga's defeat to incumbent President Mwai Kibaki in 2007. The results of the 2007 election were criticised for a lack of transparency in the way that the votes were counted, helping to spark a deadly wave of violence, in which more than 1200 people were killed.
Source(s): Al Jazeera, March 6th 2013
Ghana: Opposition ups campaign to delegitimise presidential poll
The leaders of the main opposition in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party, are stepping up their campaign to delegitimise the December's presidential election, in which John Dramani Mahama was declared winner with 50.7% of the vote. On 22nd February, NPP members of parliament staged on ostentatious walk-out from Parliament, the brandished placards accusing the governing National Democratic Congress of being 'stealers' during Mahama's State of the Nation address. NPP MP's are boycotting all parliamentary proceedings until what they see as the injustice of the elections is corrected.
NPP members have filed a case in which they declare the results of 11,000 out of 26,000 polling stations invalid. Their case is based on a painstaking analysis of all the voting tally sheets. They said that they have categorical evidence that almost half the votes counted by the Electoral Commission should be ruled out. If the majority of the nine Supreme Court judges agree with the petition, they would have three clear choices: to order a re-run of the entire election, invalidate the result and declare the NPP candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo as the winner, or to issue a heavily critical report of the Electoral Commission and propose some sweeping electoral changes.
Source(s): Africa Confidential, March 1st 2013
Chadian forces 'kill' Belmokhtar
Chad's army chief has stated that Chadian troops in northern Mali have killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the Algerian gas plant attack in January that left 37 civilians dead. "Chad's armed forces in Mali have completely destroyed a base used by jihadists and narco-traffickers in the Adrar and Ifoghas mountains", General Zakaria Ngobongue said in a televised statement. The announcement came two days after the French army had reported slaying the emir of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid along with 40 other terrorists.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC that the reported killing of Belmokhtar would be a "blow to terrorism and to the criminal network around this man and other people." Analysts have cautioned that the presumed deaths of the two terrorists would not sound the death knell for terror in the region.
Source(s): Maghrebia, March 3rd 2013
ACN slams Jonathan over Boko Haram menace
The Action Congress of Nigeria has said that part of the reason why the Boko Haram crisis has been allowed to fester is the failure of government led by President Goodluck Jonathan to show good leadership. The President has stayed away from the affected parts of the country since crisis started in 2009, for fear of his safety. The party however hailed the progressive state governors, under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who visited Borno state last week, saying their courageous and compassionate action was a boost to the country's unity and blow to anarchists.
National Public Secretary of the ACN, Mr. Lai Mohammed said that by visiting and reassuring the people of Borno and Yobe states, which are the most affected, the governors had assured them that fellow Nigerians had not abandoned them to their fate. He said that the message conveyed by the visit was simple, that no part of Nigeria should be a no go area, especially for the President. He cited visits made by US Presidents Bush and Obama who have made trips to places thousands of kilometres away to reassure their compatriots as an example of good leadership.
Source(s): Vanguard News, March 4th 2013
New drive to enhance cross-border trade announced
The Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) has embarked on a year pilot project aimed at enabling traders especially women to carry out cross border trade without barriers. Officials say that the project will culminate into establishment of a modern border market with standard facilities specially designed to help female traders improve their small and medium enterprises. CEPGL's Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of finance and administration said that her institution was working hard to address the existing cross border trade barriers.
A consultative meeting attended by women traders from the three member countries of Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC convened last week in Rubavu district in Rwanda, where participants pledged commitment to improving cross border trade. Ideas and experiences were shared on how small-scale cross border trade can play a big role in socio-economic development across the region.
Source(s): New Times, March 3rd 2013
Secretary-General urges special 'intervention brigades' within UN stabilisation mission
Looking to bolster a new regional accord for peace in the DRC, UN Secretary-General called on the Security Council to create a special intervention brigade within the existing UN peacekeeping operation to combat rebel groups destabilising the country's eastern region. Mr. Ban Ki Moon laid out his plans to support the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region. It was signed by leaders of 11 African countries.
He said that it presented a historic opportunity for the countries of the region to respect the integrity of their neighbours and urged them to neither tolerate nor provide support for armed groups. He reminded the Council that the mutiny sparked by the M23 rebels had brought another wave of misery to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. "While the fighting has ended, the security situation remains fragile and demands urgent action", the Secretary General stressed.
Source(s): United Nations, March 5th 2013
World Bank boosts energy programme with US $60 million
The World Bank has signed a financing agreement with Rwanda, which will see the global bank boosting the country's energy rollout programme with $60 million. The money is an additional financing loan agreement under the International Development Association (IDA) and will go to the Electricity Access Roll-out Programme (EARP.) The 30 year loan agreement was signed between the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ambassador Claver Gatete and Carolyn Turk, the World Bank's country manager.
The Rwandan government has announced that it plans to have at least 70% of the country's households to the national power grid. About $45 million of the World Bank grant is allocated for improving the general national grid roll-out, while $5m will go to green connections, which involves supporting a range of activities to scale up affordability for consumers, and promote energy efficiency and productive use.
Source(s): New Times, March 6th 2013
Namibia wants Angolan oil
Namibia wants a hand in the construction of Angolan oil refineries, while also considering buying crude oil from its northern oil-rich neighbour. These were some of the issues addressed at a recent meeting between the two countries' energy authorities in the Angolan capital, Luanda. The two delegations were led by Namibia's Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali, and the Angolan minister of Petroleum, Jose de Vascocelos.
The four day meeting focussed on oil-refining, cooperation on crude supply, the construction of a storage terminal and negotiations on a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the two countries. The Namibian delegation expressed interest in participating in the second phase of the construction of the Lobito and Soyo refineries. In order to facilitate this, de Vasconcelos encouraged close cooperation between the national oil companies, namely Sociedade Nacional de Combustiveis de Angola (SONAGOL) and the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR).
Source(s): the Namibian, March 4th 2013
ANC suspends Dodovu in wake of Chika murder charges
South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) has suspended its deputy provincial chairperson China Dodovu, one of the accused in the murder case of Oubuti Chika. Dodovu has alleged that the there is 'unholy alliance between some ANC leaders, the police and the prosecution' in a desperate campaign to have him dismissed from the North West provincial government where he's serving as provincial minster for cooperative governance and traditional affairs.
Oubuti Chika, the Kenneth Kaunda regional secretary, was shot at point-blank range in the driveway of his home on December 14. He died later in a Klerksdorp hospital. The suspected trigger man was then arrested. The others accused in the case are community member Jeffrey Letuka, North West provincial ANC Youth League chairperson Papiki Baboile and Councillor Itumeleng Molebatsi.
Source(s): Mail & Guardian, March 6th 2013
COPAC 'Yes Vote' campaigns end
Zimbabwe's Constitutional Selection Committee COPAC has announced that the 'Yes Vote' campaign for the draft constitution will end on the 8th of March. The organisation has expressed satisfaction with the manner the meetings were carried out. The campaigns began two weeks, although people country wide expressed concern over inadequate copies of the draft. Yesterday, COPAC co-chairperson Mr. Douglas Mwonzora said that teams from COPAC that had been left out.
He expressed happiness with the enthusiasm that has been shown by the people of Zimbabwe and hoped that people will vote in the draft constitution on March 16th. His counterpart Cde Paul Mangwana echoed similar sentiments, stating his happiness at the response received by COPAC. The committee printed 90,000 copies of the draft constitution, out of which 20,000 were in local languages.
Source(s): SThe Zimbabwe Herald, March 7th 2013
(This weekly news monitor is prepared by Kartikeya Khanna, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi)