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Ibrahim Boubacar Keita wins Mali presidential election
August 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Mali’s presidential election has been won by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after his rival admitted defeat in the second round.

IBKEx-Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse said he had congratulated Mr Keita and wished him good luck.

Mr Keita, 68, served as prime minister from 1994 to 2000.

Mali has suffered a year of unrest including a military coup and a French-led military intervention to oust Islamist rebels from the north.

A 12,600-strong United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) is currently deploying to the West African nation, as France begins to withdraw its 3,000 troops.

‘Enormous challenges’

No official results have yet been released following Sunday’s run-off, however, reports had put Mr Keita well ahead.

In the first round Mr Cisse, who pledged to improve education, create jobs and reform the army, polled just 19% against Mr Keita’s 40% and most of the other candidates then gave Mr Keita their endorsements.

Late on Monday, Mr Cisse tweeted that he and his family had just left the home of Mr Keita “future president of Mali, to congratulate him for his victory. May God bless Mali”.

He later told private Malian television Africable that he wished Mr Keita success “so that you can have the strength to take up the enormous challenges that await you”, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The BBC’s Alex Duval Smith in the capital, Bamako, said Mr Keita – known as IBK – had the support of influential moderate Islamic leaders; he was also considered the favourite of the military, including last year’s coup leaders.

The 68-year-old will now oversee more than $4bn (£2.6bn) in foreign aid promised to rebuild the country after a turbulent 18 months.

His new government will also be obliged to open peace talks with the separatist Tuareg rebels within two months following a ceasefire that allowed voting to take place in the north.

Military officers staged a coup in March 2012 – a month ahead of scheduled elections – accusing the government of failing to end a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

The Tuareg rebels were allied with al-Qaeda-aligned groups, but the alliance quickly crumbled with the Islamists occupying major cities such as Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu where they imposed a strict form of Islamic law.

A win for democracy in Africa. Defeated candidate Soumaila Cisse in suit visits President elect Boubacar Keita to extend congratulations

A win for democracy in Africa. Defeated candidate Soumaila Cisse in suit visits President elect Boubacar Keita to extend congratulations

In January, France sent more than 4,000 troops in January and together with West African troops regained control of northern towns and cities.

Tuareg rebels then captured Kidal, the only town in Mali where the Tuaregs form a majority, and agreed a deal in June to allow nationwide elections to go ahead.

During campaigning, Mr Keita vowed to unify Mali if elected.

“For Mali’s honour, I will bring peace and security. I will revive dialogue between all the sons of our nation and I will gather our people around the values that have built our history: dignity, integrity, courage and hard work,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

After the first round Mr Cisse, who has been more openly critical of the coup leaders than Mr Keita, had complained of widespread fraud, with more than 400,000 ballots declared spoiled.

However, Mali’s Constitutional Court rejected the allegations and the head of the EU election observer mission, Louis Michel, hailed the electoral process for its transparency.

On Monday, observers from the EU and the African Union again praised the way the second round was carried out.

“Malians should be congratulated because it seems to me they are regaining control of their democratic destiny, which is in fact nevertheless a tradition that exists in Mali,” said Mr Michel.

“It is an election that allows Mali now to start finishing the process that it has begun: The return to a normal democracy,” Reuters news agency quotes him as saying.

*Source BBC

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Young Zimbabweans and the July 31 Election – Aluta continua!
July 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje*

Grace  In Southern Africa today, low levels of political participation by civics and political apathy remains a concern to many pro-democratic forces. Low voter turn out and lack of youth participation in political processes is a common phenomenon.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that young people and especially young women do not have much faith in the politicians and thus do not participate in political processes and the effect is that their issues are not represented. From a quick scan of civic society in Southern Africa, it is clear that young women seem not to be a common feature and thus their interest and participation in many political processes is low and of concern. The reasons for this low presence of young women can be attributed to many factors some of them that include the process of socialization that predominantly restricts women to the domestic sphere and despite many efforts being made to develop women’s leadership capacities, their “coming out” remains difficult.

Other factors include lack of ample support structures to deal with the backlash when it comes to those who participate. However the greatest factor is that of a mind set that generally believes that the political sector is for men and women should look for other means of transforming the society in which they live such as spending time with children and instilling good moral behaviour. Whatever the case might be, young women are not looked at as capable leaders.

Having reflected on the above, it is critical to link such insights to the Zimbabwean watershed election that will be held on Wednesday 31 July 2013. This election has been interesting for the youth of Zimbabwe in that it seems to have the highest number of young people as candidates as has never been the case with any election in Zimbabwe. However, what is critical to note is that the youth that have been forwarded by political parties do not seem to have the necessary mentorship and support as would be important when one decides to step out into such territory. Of importance is how these young minds have been unable to match the professional levels of their more experienced counterparts.

Moreover, there does not seem to be an equal playing field for the young candidates. Despite their almost effective use of social media, more needs to be done to maintain a presence of their candidature within the various constituencies. However, despite these challenges, what remains inspiring is that these young people have decided to show an example to other young people that remain as “closet politicians”. Despite the hush political terrain, they have braved it to become the brains in the next government.

In spite of all the challenges that the young people have faced and where their candidature originates, it is inspiring to watch the young people begin to take a swipe at the possibilities that the present and future could hold for the youth as politicians. As Zimbabwe draws near its election date on 31 July 2013, there still remain some critical questions like, what inspired these young people to become active in politics when most of their counterparts shun the sector? How are they getting along as young politicians? Will they be any different from their various predecessors who seemingly started the same path with equal vigour, integrity and urgent need to transform lives, communities and the nation? Is there any hope that these young candidates will win? How genuine are their political parties in fielding them as candidates in the respective constituencies? Are these constituencies the kind that they are guaranteed a loss and was this a deliberate ploy of political parties?

Whatever the case, it is a young minds hope that these candidates would win and transform Zimbabwe to a new and different kind of politics. The kind of politics that transform lives and love and care for the people. The kind of leadership that seeks to serve the people who voted them into power and not syphon the country of its resources. Whatever the case, it is a great joy and privilege that these young people are there as candidates in 2013 and are making history. All the best brothers and sisters and may the best person suitable for the task ahead win – proud of you and Aluta continua!

* Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje is a young feminist leader from Harare, Zimbabwe. Currently she is the Director of Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP).  Grace sits on the board of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Centre for Community Development in her efforts to contribute to the democratization process of Zimbabwe


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Free and fair? Zimbabwe elections: Q&A
July 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Mr Mugabe - who has served as president since independence - is hoping for another termZimbabweans go to the polls on Wednesday to elect a president and parliament, in an election that will mark the end of the troubled coalition government between veteran President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Mugabe, leader of Zanu-PF, is seeking to extend his 33-year rule. His main rival is Mr Tsvangirai, who helped form the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999 and has been Mr Mugabe’s only credible challenger at the polls since independence in 1980.

The election will be the first to be held under the new constitution approved in a referendum in March this year. Parliamentary elections are to be held on the same day.

What happened at the last elections?

Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of the last presidential elections in 2008 but, according to official results, not enough to win outright. He pulled out of the second round, accusing pro-Mugabe militias of attacking his supporters.

Mr Mugabe went on to win the run-off and under international pressure agreed a power-sharing deal with Mr Tsvangirai, who became prime minister.

Mr Mugabe has made no secret of his distaste for the arrangement and Mr Tsvangirai has complained of a lack of co-operation in the coalition.

Who are the candidates?

There are five presidential candidates, with Mr Mugabe, 89, and Mr Tsvangirai, 61, being the front-runners.

The other contenders are Welshman Ncube, the current industry and commerce minister and leader of an MDC breakaway party called MDC-Mutambara; Dumiso Dabengwa, leader of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), a former Zanu-PF rival that merged with it in 1987 but broke away again in 2008, and Kisinoti Munodei Mukwazhe, who represents the small Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP).


Zimbabwe experienced a boom after independence in 1980. But critics accuse Mr Mugabe of ruining one of Africa’s most promising economies by seizing white-owned farms and giving them to landless blacks with little farming experience. Inflation reached an annual rate of 250,000,000% in late 2008. An estimated two million Zimbabweans left to seek work abroad.

Since the coalition took over, hyperinflation has ended and the economy at least stabilised at an annual average growth rate of about 5%, largely as a result of a 2009 decision to allow the US dollar and South African rand to circulate instead of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar.

But the economic bounce from dollarisation has faded, with growth slowing to 4% last year and only a modest 3% forecast for 2013. Dollarisation has also had downsides, making Zimbabwean exports more expensive and thus keeping growth low by regional standards.

According to Tony Hawkins, business professor at the University of Zimbabwe, real incomes are still lower than they were in the 1960s President Mugabe wants black Zimbabweans to own more of the economyand 25% below their peaks of the mid-1970s and late 1990s.

Widespread corruption also remains a sore point, particularly in the crucial diamond export sector. Last November, the campaign group Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) alleged that at least $2bn (£1.3bn) worth of diamonds had been stolen from the Marange mines to the benefit of officials, gem dealers and traders. Zimbabwean mining officials denied the accusation.

Where do the parties stand on the economy?
Mr Mugabe has said that his Zanu-PF party wants to push through its plans to increase black ownership of the economy, in what is known as its indigenisation programme, and thus promote growth. A 2010 law requires foreign firms to sell a majority stake to local people.

Mr Tsvangirai is promising that he will fix the continuing economic problems, clean up corruption, revive industry and attract much-needed investment in order to create jobs. He has also promised to promote transparency in the diamond mining sector. He rejects indigenisation as a political gimmick and tantamount to expropriation.

Election process

Elections are held every five years by universal adult suffrage.

By 23 July, about 6.4 million voters had been registered, according to officials. Zimbabwe has a population of some 13 million, according to the 2013 census.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) oversees the electoral process and demarcates constituency boundaries. It is headed by Rita Makarau, a former Supreme Court judge.

To be declared a winner, a presidential candidate must win more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate reaches this mark, a run-off will be held on 11 September.

Will the elections be free and fair?

Opposition and rights activists have expressed concern about the transparency of voter registration, the possibility of intimidation and pro-Mugabe bias in the state media.

A local campaign group, the Research and Advocacy Unit, claimed in June that the voters’ roll includes a million people who are either dead or have left the country, as well as 116,000 people over the age of 100.

ZEC’s deputy chairwoman, Joyce Kazembe, has insisted the vote will “be credible, free and fair”.

Mr Mugabe has called for peaceful conduct during and after the elections, and Mr Tsvangirai has also expressed optimism, seeking to allay fears of a repeat of the violence that marred the 2008 polls. However, violence continues to be reported across the country.

Will there be election observers?
Some 600 foreign election observers – mainly from Africa – have been accredited to monitor the polls. They will join about 6,000 local observers.

Zimbabwe did not invite Western observer missions because of sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his top officials for rights abuses.

Security forces

Some observers have voiced concern about the role of the security forces, alleging that Mr Mugabe may be merely a figurehead for powerful generals running the country behind the scenes.

Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to fix the economy if electedNew York-based campaign groups Human Rights Watch said in a recent report that some security chiefs had declared allegiance to Mr Mugabe ahead of the polls, casting doubt on their impartiality.

In May, the International Crisis Group think-tank said that the police chiefs “openly support” Zanu-PF and frequently organise the harassment of opposition and independent activists.


Radio is the main source of information in Zimbabwe. The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has a near monopoly over both radio and television and has a long history of supporting Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

Earlier this year the police announced a ban on short-wave radios capable of receiving foreign broadcasts, saying they were being used to communicate “hate speech” ahead of the elections.

In addition, broadcasts by overseas-based radio stations transmitting into Zimbabwe, such as the Voice of America’s Studio 7 and UK-based SW Radio Africa, have been jammed.

The state-run newspapers are tightly controlled by the Information Ministry. The private press, which is relatively vigorous in its criticism of the government, has come under severe pressure, and cover prices are beyond the reach of many readers.

The internet is considered to be nominally free from government interference, but it is relatively expensive and prone to disruption because of power cuts.

Parliamentary poll

Zimbabwe has a bicameral parliament consisting of a Senate and a House of Assembly.

The 210 members of the House of Assembly are elected by popular vote for a five-year term.

In the 2008 parliamentary elections, the MDC won with 51% of votes over Zanu-PF’s 45%.

* Source BBC


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Cameroon:Unpredictable President and Weak Institutions Call For Concern
July 21, 2013 | 5 Comments

-Prof T.Asonganyi on the Twin Elections and the Political Climate in Cameroon

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Prof T AsonganyiHe may be out of partisan politics but Prof Tazoacha Asonganyi remains one of the most articulate voices of reason in Cameroon. The former Secretary General of the Social Democratic Front-SDF has continued to offer insightful reading into political developments with luminary proposals on alternative paths to the change that has eluded Cameroonians for decades. As the country is caught in the frenzy of another ill prepared elections with predictable results, Prof Asonganyi opines that though the opposition has lost so much credibility, the elections are a choice between bad and worse and if the electoral system had a modicum of credibility, Cameroonians will prefer the opposition which is bad to the regime that has fared worse. With the unpredictability of President Biya’s mind and the weakness of Institutions to withstand any unforeseen shocks, there is every reason to be nervous says Prof Asonganyi.

Prof Asonganyi, President Biya recently announced Legislative and Municipal elections on June 30 to be held on September 30 and the decision seems to have taken people both in the ruling party and the opposition by surprise, why so considering that mandate of the present officials had long expired?

Yes, the mandate of Parliament and Councils had since expired. You know the twin Legislative and municipal elections that brought in the outgoing parliamentarians and councilors was held on July 22, 2007. Their 5-year mandate was supposed to expire in 2012, but it was extended twice to have them stay beyond the mandate up to mid 2013. Law No. 91/20 0f 16 December 1991 to lay down conditions governing the election of Members of Parliament, provided that a substantive candidate and the alternate would both pay a caution of 50.000 FCFA into the state treasury for their candidature. Law No. 2006-9 of 29 December 2006 modifies this amount to 500.000 FCFA. Parliament amended this to 3.000.000 FCFA in the bill of the Electoral Code that was debated and voted in March 2012 but I think before the bill was signed into law, it was modified to 1.000.000 FCFA (for candidate and alternate together). In general, it is usually the substantive candidate that coughed out this amount. The opposition and the grassroots of the CPDM have been complaining that this amount was too high. Therefore, people were caught unprepared to cough out this huge sum. I think it was more a feeling of financial unpreparedness than surprise.

Elections over the years have suffered from persistent flaws, with the computerization of voters’ registration any remote prospects of fairness and transparency in the September 30th elections?

You know the biometric system of registration of voters which was instituted is good but it is very delicate. It is only as good as you want it to be. The standard approach for setting up a credible electoral roll using the biometric system is that the first phase of general registration of voters in the field provides what would be called a “raw” – preliminary – list of voters. Following the first phase, the “raw” list is published in the various areas for verification and corrections. This second phase provides a “raw” corrected electoral roll. The “raw corrected” roll is then screened centrally with multi-biometric identification technology containing a matching server to automatically detect and delete multiple registration to clean up the register. It is this cleaned up register that constitutes a national electoral register that can be used for free, fair and credible elections. Indeed, it is this last phase that should tell us how many eligible voters have been actually registered by ELECAM using the biometric voter registration system. Unfortunately, the ELECAM chair is still talking about the 5.5 million voters that were registered in the raw, preliminary list of voters. This means that there has been no screening to remove double and multiple names entered in the roll. It is known that some people registered at their places of residence, and then went to their villages and registered again; or some people registered in their places of residence more than once.

The general expectation was that some 8 to 9 million voters would be registered. Since ELECAM could come up with a figure of only 5.5 million they must be shy of carrying out an editing process that would reduce the numbers even further. So it is now clear that ELECAM did not edit the raw list. The ELECAM chair is telling the press that “there are spelling errors in some card…..but these will not debar anyone from voting…” This is also an indication that the raw register was never sent to the field for corrections.

I kept reminding ELECAM during the registration phase that those with entrenched interests – the spoilers who made nonsense of past electoral registers: political thugs-cum-bandits-cum-party bigwigs – were still active in the field to re-enact their fraud exploits. They obviously succeeded. Therefore I do not think that as far as the electoral roll is concerned, much has changed: there are still multiple entries for some voters.

There are reports that only about five million voters were registered, and should the distribution of voters cards be mired with the deliberate cacophony we know, it means the number which actually votes may even be lower, what kind of legitimacy will those “elected” have?

Scared of its shadow?The ruling CPDM shied away from organizing primaries to pick its candidates leading to wide spread discontent

Scared of its shadow?The ruling CPDM shied away from organizing primaries to pick its candidates leading to wide spread discontent

Yes, as we have just said, there were some 5.5 million names in the raw list brought from the field. The standard practice for biometric registration is that a voter is issued a voter’s card upon registration. Since the raw list is usually edited as we have indicated above, those who registered more than once would not find their names in the final electoral roll; the cards they carry would therefore not permit them to vote. The responsibility for not voting would be theirs since they committed the crime of registering more than once. In the situation as it is now, unfortunately the receipts that were issued when people were registered did not show their polling stations where they will cast their votes; where they would have gone and collected their cards on polling day, if they did not find it now. So the distribution process will still be mired with the cacophony that has mired past processes. Those that win will enjoy only the type of legitimacy that others in the past enjoyed.

Looking at the bigger picture, just like the Senatorial elections, some analysts see the September 30th elections in the context of a post Biya era with the decision of  the CPDM leader to shun primaries a sign that he wants to maintain absolute control in the transition process, what is your reading of the political situation?

Yes. The CPDM seems to prefer people they know – incumbents that actively supported the amendment of Article 6 (2) which provided that the president shall be elected for a term of office of 7 years; he shall be eligible for re-election once. The amendment allowed Paul Biya to stay beyond two seven-year terms. Those people who helped him to obtain the amendment need to be maintained as compensation for such positive contribution to the regime, without any consideration for any other candidate sent forward by the grassroots. If the incumbents succeed to send a list to the Central Committee, however they come by it, they are assured of being selected over more popular candidates from the grassroots. These people the regime knows better are the preferred persons to have around during this end-of-reign period.

I wonder what criteria was used, but there is disenchantment from people on the way the parliamentary seats were distributed across the country, it is curious to see that it is CPDM militants like Ateba Eyene voicing out frustration at the arbitrary distribution of seats and not the opposition what is going on?

Well, Ateba Yene is a different kind of CPDM militant. You know the last population census in Cameroon was in 2005 but the results were only published in 2010, after some five years of manipulation of the figures. Indeed, the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks recently provided evidence that such manipulation took place to inflate population figures in places that support Paul Biya, or places that Paul Biya can easily manipulate and control. It is such manipulated figures that guided his creation of “special” constituencies in preparation for the September 30 twin elections. There is no reason why Tiko and Muyuka together should have one seat while there are two seats in Buea. There is no reason why a place like Lebialem, expected to have at least two seats should have only one while small areas in the South and other regions have multiple seats. The population distribution per seat in the country varies considerably, from an average per region of some 70.000/seat to over 100.000/seat. Incumbents usually gerrymander for personal political reasons; however, it is usually not as fragrant as the one we are witnessing in Cameroon. As for the opposition speaking up, the opposition has changed a lot over the last few years. It is usually said that those who have food in their mouths do not speak.

Looking at the opposition the way it is at the moment, can it win if the elections were free and fair, we wish the CPDM and its leader could take the risk and for once try free and fair elections, will the opposition fare any better in such a scenario today?

CPDM young Cadres like Dr Ateba Eyene have stepped up criticism of cronyism and incompetence within its leadership

CPDM young Cadres like Dr Ateba Eyene have stepped up criticism of cronyism and incompetence within its leadership

You know the overwhelming majority of Cameroonians would like to have a regime change in Cameroon. The present regime has lasted too long, and has very little to show for its longevity. So, most Cameroonians would vote against it if they had the opportunity to do so. The opposition has lost a lot of credibility but it is a choice between the bad and the worst. The devil we know is so bad that most Cameroonians will prefer the devil they do not know. So, yes, the opposition will fare better in such a scenario.

Is there anything that the opposition can do to register better results; one understands the level of mistrust but may mergers, zoning, or rallying behind specific parties based on strength in particular areas?

No, all that is impossible. It can occur in limited areas where a party’s list is rejected or the party did not have a list and therefore decided to support another opposition party. Otherwise, the parties have become like a source of self-enrichment for the leaders and they would hardly let their source of enrichment go! They want to remain the alpha and omega of their parties so mergers, zoning, rallying behind other parties is out! The reason why the parties have failed to field a single candidate to face Paul Biya since the experience of 1992 is because the parties have become a wealth-generating machine for the leaders.

One of the things that stood out during the Senatorial circus was President Biya’s obsession with older folks; a CPDM cadre blamed this on the inability of the younger generation to make use of their numerical strength, what is your advice to them and to others across Cameroon who will vote on Sept 30?

The youth want to have a say through primaries but they are refused that option. The youths usually want to see their decisions through from start to finish. When they are excluded from the start, they are demobilized. There was a national youth forum that was formed, that we all thought would become a voice for the youths, but it looks like the whole idea was hijacked by politicians and it fell apart. Otherwise, that is the type of structure that the youth can use to flex their muscles.  It is from such structures that they can articulate the politics of youths across parties, and mobilize to make their voice heard at elections. Without such collective mobilization with clear aims and objectives, I doubt that there is much that one can advise the youth to do on September 30 that can have any serious impact.

Sometimes people think the generational shift that is needed pertains only to the CPDM and the ruling elite, should it not also be the case within the ranks of the opposition parties especially the leading ones like the SDF,CDU,UNDP ,etc?

John Fru Ndi of the opposition SDF and Paul Biya of the ruling CPDM. Many Cameroonians think it is time for a generational change

John Fru Ndi of the opposition SDF and Paul Biya of the ruling CPDM. Many Cameroonians think it is time for a generational change

Of course it is a problem across all parties. The parties are structures that serve the personal interests of the entrenched leadership of each party. That is why the same faces are still there since 1990, tending what has slowly become their source of nourishment. To succeed, the generational shift may pass through the creation of different centres of power, rather than depending on what individuals consider as their “thing.” This requires mobilization by people of vision that put general interest first. Such people definitely exist in the country, and need to rise to the challenge.

Last question Prof, as the country moves forward, what should make us nervous and what should make us hopeful?

What makes us nervous is that we do not know what is in Paul Biya’s mind, and the institutions we have are too weak to resist any unforeseen shocks. So we are nervous about what the future holds for us as far as Cameroon-after-Biya (or Cameroon-without-Biya) is concerned. What should make us hopeful? I think the fact that Cameroon has continued to stand on its feet in spite of the several errors of commission and omission, the several misdeeds of the present regime, over a period of over 30 year…

Thanks very much for granting this interview.

It has been a great pleasure. Thank you very much too.



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Can a new party in South Africa really woo voters?
June 25, 2013 | 3 Comments

Dr Mamphela Ramphele As a new political party is officially launched in South Africa, nearly two decades after the end of apartheid, the BBC’s Karen Allen assesses its chances of success.

“They steal from us so how can we vote for them,” complains Kaiser Kangwana of the African National Congress (ANC), whose leaders in the Eastern Cape province have been mired by allegations of corruption.

Mr Kangwana, who sweated it out working in the mines for many years, is now among the disillusioned voters which Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s new party hopes to woo.

Mr Kangwana’s well-worn ANC hat belies the fact that he is a disappointed man.

“People don’t have jobs, they’re still poor around here,” he shrugs.

The new party, which the charismatic Dr Ramphele leads, is called Agang. It means “to build” in the Sepedi language.

The party’s stated aim is to galvanise South Africans to build on the democratic foundations left by former President Nelson Mandela and other icons of the struggle.

It is a legacy which some believe is now being squandered by the ANC – a party regularly accused of poor governance and failing to deliver basic services such as housing, water and jobs.

Broadly pro-business and anti-corruption Agang has yet to set out clear policies, but it seeks to make politicians more accountable, public servants more efficient, and put education at the top of the political agenda.

Its supporters believe that black economic empowerment programmes have simply enriched the few, and believes that the 30bn rand ($2.9bn, £1.9bn) that is estimated to be “lost” each year from the public purse, could be ploughed back into essential services.

Youth appeal?
But political analysts believe Agang could turn out to be a one-woman show.

Dr Ramphele is an impressive figure with impeccable “struggle credentials” – factors which still influence the way some South Africans vote.

As a community doctor who worked in the Eastern Cape alongside her partner, the late Steve Biko, Dr Ramphele led grassroots resistance against white minority rule in the 1970s.

Twenty years later saw the death of the apartheid government.

Dr Ramphele has been a director of the World Bank, a vice chancellor at the University of Cape Town, and until recently sat on the board of a major mining company.
But the fact that she has such an impressive CV may well count against her.

“The only person with a profile, the only person with credibility is the party leader,” says Aubrey Matshiqi, a political analyst with the Helen Suzman Foundation.

“We have been here before and such parties have not done well.”

In 2008, a new party called Congress of the People (Cope) was born.

Capitalising on disillusionment with the ANC and appealing to a growing black middle class, it secured 7% of the vote in the last elections.

But since then it has virtually imploded, wracked by infighting amongst its leaders.

Dr Ramphele insists that Agang is different because it is not the product of a breakaway group.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele“It is formed by citizens who either have never voted or who have never been members of political parties like me,” she says.

“I voted from 1994, but I have never carried a membership card.”

Commentators like Mr Matshiqi say that if successful, Agang could win around a million votes – many of them from Cope – when South Africa goes to the polls next year.

Yet for the party to have a real impact, it needs to win over the masses and make a dent in the ANC’s whopping two-thirds majority in parliament.

Dr Ramphele has spoken about the possibility of forging coalitions with other smaller parties to win over young black urban voters.

In her mid-60s, she may struggle to appeal to the younger generation.

But she boasts a bevy of young party staffers who are driven by a vision that “looks to the future not the past”.

As for a political partner, Dr Ramphele will have to make her selection carefully.

The most obvious candidate is the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s official opposition, which courted Dr Ramphele before she formed Agang.

‘Wasted vote’
But the DA is still considered by some South Africans to be “too white” – an image that the party is working hard to repair and which Dr Ramphele knows could repel potential voters.

Dr Ramphele, is keeping her cards close to her chest.

She told the BBC that her party was still “in conversation [with the DA], we just happen to have a different focus”.

“We can reach much further than where the DA can reach, because we are not bringing any baggage to the party,” she said.

The ANC does not regard Dr Ramphele as a threat, and said when she first proposed creating Agang in February that she was “goading” South Africans to be on the political periphery.

A new political party which puts corruption and inefficiency in the spotlight is bound to have some appeal, at a time when some South Africans fear the ANC has lost its moral edge.

But Sibusisu Segwane, a young graduate in Johannesburg, is still likely to reserve his vote for the ANC.

Although he is impressed with Dr Ramphele herself, he seems afraid to “waste” his vote.

“The ANC is the only party with experience of government,” he sighs.

It is a sentiment shared by many in South Africa, who may protest on the streets about poor service delivery and jobs but who give their vote to the ANC on election day despite their misgivings.

Dr Ramphele and her party may not pose a massive electoral challenge to the ANC, but she is exposing a wider sense of disenchantment in the post-Mandela era.

Critics say the ruling party achieved huge strides back in the 1990s but now risks courting a culture of patronage, threatening the “democratic space”.

The high-profile murder of an anti-corruption investigator this week has led friends to warn Dr Ramphele to tread carefully in the months ahead.

Yet her experience of protesting over threats to press freedom and the “stalling” over the Dalai Lama’s trip to South Africa two years ago, suggests that she has no fear of controversy.

“I am doing this for my grandchildren, for my children, and I am doing his because South Africans have an enormous unbreakable spirit that when mobilised, makes them say enough is enough,” she said.

*Source BBC


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I’m not too old to be President -Buhari
June 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Mannir Dan Ali, Mahmud Jega & Ismail Mudashir, Kaduna*

BuhariMedia Trust editors had a rare encounter with former Head of State and leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) at his Kaduna office. He bares his mind on several issues such as the recent attack in his home town, Daura; Asari Dokubo’s threats; Boko Haram; his calls for President Jonathan’s resignation; his secret deal with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and why he hasn’t groomed a successor, among others. Excerpts:

Some gunmen recently attacked your home town, Daura. Did the attack affect you personally?
Well, it affected me personally because the way I see it as a former military man, the attack was very efficiently planned and executed. It was the phase one of the agenda to destroy Nigeria. They attacked the security; the police stations in the town were destroyed, and I suspected they must have used incendiary bombs because you cannot repair the police stations. You have to demolish, bulldoze them and rebuild them.
They stationed what in the military we call cut off group; they stationed their men on all roads leading to Daura. People approaching Daura were attacked and the soldiers that were coming from Katsina town to give a helping hand to the police were ambushed and shot. I visited the soldiers that survived the ambush at the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina.
The group of the gunmen who broke into the banks, certainly they were very well trained and they brought enough explosives to blow the banks and remove whatever they wanted. There was another group of them that went around terrorising the people by just throwing bombs all over the place. They did not alienate themselves to the people they came into contact with in the course of their operation; their objectives were to attack the police, rob the banks and scare the people away. They were extremely successful in their operation.

About the same time as the Daura incident, there was an attack on security personnel Nasarawa State where over 60 security personnel lost their lives. The Director General of the SSS recently said they have forgiven the killers but a former director of NSO General Abdullahi Mohammed gave a contrary position. What do you make of this?
Firstly, we have to see the difference between Daura and the Nasarawa attack. The Daura attack has to do with security and economy because right now you cannot send money to Daura. The people there cannot send to you too because the entire senatorial district comprising about 11 local government areas has been financially paralysed.
Workers that normally take their money from these banks have to travel out of the area to get their salaries. However, the Nasarawa attack is a cult that infiltrated the police itself. The latest I learnt from you the press is that the number of security personnel killed is 56. The cult group slaughtered 56 security men. The SSS boss or whoever that said he has left everything to God has no right to do that.
Constitutionally, Nigerians can practice any religion they want or they can be atheists or anything they want to be, that is constitutional. But nobody should hurt a citizen of Nigeria and then get away with it, not to talk of slaughtering 56 law enforcement agents and then somebody coming out from the system to say such a thing. It is either that person doesn’t know what he was talking about or he shouldn’t even be there.

Maybe he is being cautious because of what happened at Baga, because the way security agencies were blamed…
This one is different from Baga and Daura. Nasarawa case is a cult case; they are part of the community that have got their religion. I’m even against the people that are suggesting that the cult’s ritual places should be destroyed. According to the constitution, you must allow them to go about with their activities as long as they don’t go against the constitution. But those that killed the 56 security men must be hunted and prosecuted no matter how long it will take because this is the bottom line about law and order and security in the country. They can’t be forgiven; they can’t override the constitution; Nigerians are being hurt and killed in their duties and those that killed them must be brought before the law.
Not long after you came back from Daura, you said President Goodluck Jonathan should resign. Why should he resign just because of an isolated insecurity episode?
No, I think I explained myself as briefly as I could. For the last 14 years there have been extreme security challenges in the country but in the last two years it was even worse.  There are two fundamental things that make a nation state viable— its security and its economy. The two years under this person, the security and the economy of the country have been compromised and this was why I said he should resign.
Unless you are telling me that you don’t know the things that went wrong in the last two years from bombing of 1st October, 2010 to now. MEND said they were the ones that did it and he came out as President and said that MEND members were not the ones. Subsequent investigation and prosecution of those who did it in South Africa proved that they did it. How can a president do that? Then look at Baga, Bama and other cases that are happening daily from Kano to Maiduguri. So what is he still doing there?

This insecurity problem, the President has tried the stick approach and he has also tried the carrot approach. If you are to be in charge, what else will you do differently?
Well, I will really go by what happened which you and I know. Firstly, how did the militancy start? How did Boko Haram start? What actions did the respective administrations at state level where those things started took? The militants, based on reports in the newspapers, were trained and armed by some party heavyweights to get rid of their opponents.
When they succeeded and won the elections, they asked those boys to return the weapons, the boys said no way. The politicians withheld their allowances, and then kidnapping started. So you will get a secondary school dropout with an AK-47 getting about 50,000 dollars per day. If the same person goes to school, he can only earn N100,000 monthly after putting 20 years in his education, so how do you expect him to forget it? It doesn’t make sense to him. This was how militancy started.
And when late Umaru Musa Yar’adua was very generous, he pardoned them, he discussed with them, he gave them money and he arranged training and re-absorption programme for them, the thing went slightly down. Abduction has been institutionalised in the South-South and the South -East and it is coming up all over the country.

How did the Boko Haram crisis start?  The military arrested their leader, Mohammed Yusuf and handed him over to the police. The police killed him and his in-law and levelled their houses. They became mad and the situation deteriorated from then up to now.
You see how the challenges started and how they were initially handled but now look at what happened in Baga and Bama. I tried to draw a parallel with what happened with Margret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister and insisted on having her convention at Brighton. The British security tried to stop her from holding it there, but she insisted. The hotel she put up in was blown up and some people died. Did the British law enforcement agents cordon off the area and shoot everything that moved?  So there is a big question mark about the competence of our law enforcement agents.

You cited a foreign example but we can also cite a local example. Early in your tenure as military head of state, there was a major Maitatsine uprising in Yola and you applied a purely military solution. Or did you think of negotiating with Maitatsine’s men at that time?
You have to frame the question properly, I’m sorry to say. The Maitatsine started from Kano, then it went to Maiduguri and Bulunkutu and then to Yola. Since you limited yourself to Yola, I’m going to limit myself to it too. My number two man, Tunde was not in the country so as the Head of State I flew to Yola and I went to the area where the operation was being carried out by the military. And that was the end of Maitatsine. But go and find out, before the President [Jonathan] was persuaded to go to Maiduguri and when he went, the whole life of Borno State was tensed he couldn’t feel secure until when he left there. I went there of course bearing in mind that I was in the military and it was a military operation, but he is a civilian and the military were conducting the operation. So this is the difference.
When we knew who was Maitatsine, wasn’t he arrested, killed and his corpse shown to everybody?  But this Boko Haram, if you could recall somebody recommended me to represent Boko Haram. I told them the honest truth that I didn’t know who their leadership was and I still don’t know who their leaders are. I don’t know their philosophy because no religion advocates hurting the innocent. So all those people giving it a religious meaning are wrong. You can’t kill a person and say Allahu Akbar (God is great). It is either you don’t know what you are saying or you don’t believe in it. It is one of the two.

It appears that many people around the president seem to think that is because you politicians in the opposition want to spoil the president’s show, that’s why there is this problem of Boko Haram.
You can effectively check this yourself. People are still being abducted and killed in the South-South and South-East. Are they doing it to spite their son of the soil whom they say if he is not voted in 2015, there will be no Nigeria?

Looking at that statement by former militant leader Asari Dokubo, what will happen in 2015?
When was he born? Did he know how many Nigerians died to keep Nigeria one? Maybe he was born after those events. But those who saw the 15th January 1966 murder of political and military leadership of some parts of the country and saw the counter coup of 29th July 1966 and those who participated in the 30 months civil war wouldn’t talk like that. He is just a spoilt child. He didn’t know what he was talking about. We wish God will bring us to 2015 and we wish to defeat Jonathan and we’ll see who can divide this country.

Talking of 2015, is it clear in your mind whether you will contest or not?
I’ve always been a very clear person. I’ve never been a confused man. I made a statement in tears when I saw how insensitive Nigerians are and they didn’t realise it until when my tears were dry. It is now their turn to cry now when there is no security and the economy is comatose. Is now their time to cry.
So will you comfort Nigerians now that they are crying?
I put it back to my party. I believe in multiparty democratic system. I sincerely believe in it and this is why I’m in it for the past 10 years. If my party which by God willing is going to APC, in approach to the processes of 2015 general elections give me the ticket, I will favourably consider it.

You were fairly clear in 2011 that you were through with running for elections. Given what you have been saying recently and which you just repeated now, could it be said that you have now become a normal Nigerian politician who says something and later changes his mind?
I expect people to say that but every situation is unique in itself. I have never denied the fact that I said I’ll not present myself but I was also very clear that I’ll remain in partisan politics to the end of my life. I did not say I will not participate again. People came with different convincing reasons that I should reconsider it and I told them that I’m prepared to reconsider it.

Now that ACN, CPC and ANPP held their conventions and have approved their dissolving into APC, where do we go from here?
I think you go back to the Electoral Act of 2010. That is where the answer is. The conventions of the parties you have mentioned is one of the criteria necessary for the formal application of the three parties, having met and  agreed to merge and form one party. They have to take to INEC the resolutions of the conventions. Two, their parties headquarters’ must be at the nation’s capital in Abuja.  Three, the names of the executives of the party as prescribed by the Electoral Act. So, the next move is for us to send the formal application to INEC according to the Electoral Act.

Those are the technicalities but what about the politics? Have you agreed for example on how you are going to merge the various state chapters?
You will not hear this from me now because we have a system. The resolutions of the three merging parties at the end of the conventions is that in the interim, the highest ruling body of the party—in our own case the CPC Board of Trustees—will continue to be the chief executives of respective parties until we formerly receive our certificate as APC. So no vacuum because nature hates vacuum. So we will continue according to the resolutions that we have passed which will entitle us to submit application and become APC. We will continue to work with this until we are registered as APC. We are APC from the date INEC gives us the certificate.

Have you agreed on who the national officers of APC will be?
That too I won’t tell you.

The public wants to know because 2015 is not far away.
This one too I won’t tell you. So, there are two things I won’t tell you.

What about this third one; we hear that the ACN leaders have conceded the presidency to the North while the party chairman will come from the South.
Well, I feel that for the stability of the party, at my own level I wouldn’t encourage rumour and I wouldn’t encourage incitement to make unprepared releases of our confidential discussions within the parties.

Several newspapers reported that there was an agreement between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and yourself for both of you to renounce your personal aspirations in the interest of the new party.
I’ll resist all temptations to get me roped into making fundamental statements about this merger. When we formally submit our applications then I will answer such questions because then the documents are with INEC and I feel it is safe enough. Now it is not safe for me to confirm or reject your suggestions.

Is it true that when this merger process started personally you wanted it to be between ACN and CPC and you were not keen on allowing ANPP people to come in?
It is incorrect.

You don’t seem to be very comfortable with ANPP people.
You are still incorrect.

nigg-leaders-playing-nigeria1What is your current relationship with the ANPP chieftain Senator Ahmed Sani Yariman Bakura? In 2007 when at one time he was the chairman of your campaign organisation a problem developed at some stage.
Well, he remained in ANPP and we went and floated CPC and we are in it. So we are in different political parties.

But now you are coming to the same party, APC. Given what happened between you and him six years ago, are you comfortable now that you will be in the same party again? 
Yes, I feel comfortable because we have just discussed the legal terms of coming together and we have all accepted it. The three parties that are coming together. We are working towards the final stages of submitting our formal application to the INEC for registration. So, what else do you really want?

What about Ali Modu Sherrif?
He is the chairman of ANPP’s Board of Trustees and I’m the chairman of CPC’s Board of Trustees. Check the constitution of their party and see how much power their BOT has and check our own to see how much power our BOT has. We are trying to be very legal because this is the safest way to arrive at the merger. The legal documents involved are, firstly, the Electoral Act 2010. This is fundamental because it is the constitutional one so to speak. And then followed by the constitutions of respective parties and their manifestos. So we came and arrived at the top of the pyramid.

Are you sticking to the rules like this because you fear that people outside may try to scuttle the merger?
I think I have a different perception of the merger. There is Electoral Act on how to merge or form a new party and we are following the laws.  I’m not too legalistic; I’m just trying to follow the laws.

This merger business is more politics than the law. Are you satisfied with the kind of people that are coming into APC because there are allegations that some of them are PDP moles.
You see, when we get the registration the next thing legally is for us to do our convention whereby the party will choose its political leadership at all levels, from ward upward. Moles or no moles, whoever wants to participate will be given the opportunity. So let all the moles be coming, let them go and register with APC in their ward, get their cards and then let them start, if they want  to be councillors or president. This is what we are going to do.

You are coming together trying to displace the ruling party that is used to the spoils of office for so many years and obviously they won’t sit on their laps and wait for that to happen. Is that why you’re being careful about whole thing?
We are being careful because that is the right thing to do. You can’t ride shoddily on laws. You just interrogated me on what happened in Nasarawa State and I told you what I think is the lawful way to do address it.  We came together to stabilise the system because PDP has compromised the security and the economy of the country. We realised that the only way to stabilise the system is for the opposition parties that have representation in the legislative arm of government at both national and state levels to come together and face PDP. This is the only way to stabilise the system otherwise they will keep on doing what they like.

Are you willing to make some sacrifices because I hear people saying that in the event it is not Buhari, will he back someone else, or must it be you?
I have answered that question. You know when you tell the truth you don’t forget it. It is lies that you forget.  Somebody asked me the same question in Minna and I told him that after consummating the merger under APC, if somebody wants to become a presidential candidate and I agree myself to participate, we can go to the primaries together with that person. Let the party choose who becomes its presidential candidate for the 2015 election. I have answered that question, so please be fair to me.

You recently turned 70 and by 2015 you will about 72. Is it appropriate to run for office at that age?
Why not? I’m not a lawyer but I try to go by the rules. I think participating in voting and looking for political office by our constitution is from the age of 18 and they didn’t say when you reach the age of 100 you shouldn’t participate. So I’m even relatively young to seek for election. So it is up to firstly my party to give me the opportunity to participate and then secondly is for Nigerians to vote me or reject me because of old age.

Given the kind of political estate you built within short period of time with millions of followers, we haven’t seen a conscious effort on your part to groom a successor.
When you are running a system unless you are so primitive, I’m sorry to use that word, you don’t have to choose a leader for your supporters. You should allow the system to identify and pick its leadership. This is the beauty of the system.

Many observers say that CPC was a highly personalised arrangement with only one real political asset, that is you. That is why people say that if some accident were to happen, there won’t be CPC again.
No, no! We have got infrastructure on the ground and in spite of coming into the field relatively late, look at what we did. CPC was registered in December 2009 and look at what it achieved. CPC has done extremely well.  We did our registration, congresses, convention and then the elections all between 2009 and 2011.

People say you mismanaged a golden opportunity to capture many states in 2011 election.
Golden opportunity to go outside the law? You don’t know what happened. You don’t know the way the elections were rigged especially in Kaduna. There was curfew imposed with the military on the streets during elections. Our candidates and our agents in polling units couldn’t move under the curfew but PDP agents and INEC officials can move.

Can that happen again?
But now when we have all the opposition parties together and we go back to our constituencies, empower and train our people, rigging will be extremely difficult. Rigging will be extremely difficult in 2015 with APC around.

You were able to win 12 states the presidential election only to come down to one state in the gubernatorial election a week later. Though the rigging you talked about could be a factor, there were also signs that perhaps you were interested only in the presidency and that you didn’t worry too much about winning governorships.
There was internal party squabble at state level. I will give you an example with my state, Katsina. There was so much infighting among the executives of the party [CPC] from ward upward. Everybody wants to be the governor or anoint the governor and because of the infighting, it was resolved by the state executive that they should all forget about positions but that they should go and campaign for the party.
CPC won all the senatorial seats in the state; it won 12 out of the 16 House of Representatives seats. How then can CPC fail to win the governorship? You see it doesn’t make sense. What makes sense is that greed divided the officials of the party in the state.

Some of those problem festered for a long time, like that of Kano State. How come it wasn’t resolved?
I have given you the breakdown of the time.

What is your take on the current crisis in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF)?
It annoys me in the sense that we have more serious things for the chief executives of states to occupy themselves with rather than the NGF which is unconstitutional.

Could it be a dress rehearsal for 2015 probably because the Rivers State governor is seen not to be with President Jonathan?
Well, they are from the same political party, the same geo-political zone, so I don’t have the inner intelligence as to why they don’t want Amaechi to continue.

CPC’s governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State appeared to have voted for Amaechi.
Yes, why not? He knows as a person he cannot make much difference. Perhaps PDP is extorting him so much that he better shows them that he is not with them. He supports anybody that will give them a good fight.

This week we marked the 14th anniversary of Nigeria’s return to civilian rule. Do we have anything to celebrate?
I congratulate Nigerians. They have the patience to tolerate misgovernance. The government has failed in its fundamental duties of protecting lives and properties. They have woefully failed in providing jobs and in getting the infrastructure that will make the economy to pick up and to bring back manufacturing, employment and goods and services. I cannot congratulate failure. To me, our democracy is a total failure. Go to your local government and do some exercise.
Get the amount that accrued to it from 1999 to date and then check what was the state and number of schools; health centres; roads and water supply before 1999 and now. At any level, from local government upward to states and Federal Government, the money gotten from 1999 to date does not correspond with what is on the ground.

What you just said now about the record of 14 years of civilian rule sounds like your speech of December 31, 1983 when you overthrew a civilian government.
No, what I’m saying is that at any level from the local government upward to states and Federal level check what was the situation of infrastructure an  before 1999 and now. Let me give you example, which is based on facts and not hearsay. There was hearing at the National Assembly on them.
The money spent on National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) now Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) from 1999 to date was between 11 to 16 billion dollars, not naira because they have turned our naira into paper. Look at the state of power now, after 16 billion dollars. In my town Daura about two weeks ago, there was no power for three consecutive weeks. If you go to parts of Abuja, sometime for a week there wouldn’t be light. This is after 16 billion dollars was invested in the sector.

They are now privatising the sector. Do you support that?
Who am I to support or reject it? It doesn’t make any difference.

It is good to know where you stand on major economic or social issues as major contender for the presidency.
But that’s just a stand. It was said that we have 8000 megawatts then, what do we have now and what have they put in infrastructure with the 16 billion dollars? You have to know where you are and where you are heading to.

What else will you do apart from probing?
I didn’t say I’m going to probe because if you say so the country will be at a standstill. We have to find out what happened between the periods; the amount that was actually realised; what is the level of infrastructure; where are the agreements and with which companies? Have they brought the equipment they promised in the agreement? Have they used technically competent people or firms to do the transmission or generation of power?  All these vital questions must be answered by those who are responsible for keeping the country where it is.

Will you continue with the privatisation program if you eventually become the president?
You see, governance is not a question of whims and caprices of individuals, it is a system. You don’t sell a country’s asset by saying just go and take it. There is a process. Does the firm or individual have the capacity to run the firm? This question must be answered, not just because somebody is a former Head of State, therefore he is infallible. He went and floated companies and then he lobbied for the business and afterwards he will go and keep the money in Switzerland or invest in a developing country and allow his country to be going down. There is a system.

That sounds like you are going to stop the power sector privatisation.
How can I stop it when I haven’t even studied how it came about? I’m not an impulsive person. You can tell me that I’m rigid and this and that but I personally believe that I’m not an impulsive person. I’m a systematic person and a law abiding Nigerian.

People say that in your career you tend to over trust some people and they abuse power in your name. When you were Head of State, you over trusted Idiagbon; when you were in PTF you over trusted the consultants and now in politics you over trusted TBO.
I did not go to the university to study management or whatever. I learnt management of people in the field, especially people under fear, in war and in the battlefield. This is where you understand the strength and weakness of individuals. But when it comes to the management of people and materials you look for the clever ones, the armchair professor of everything.  How can you have a structure without trusting people? No matter how greedy you are as a leader at every level you have to delegate to people. Even in your house, you have to assign some responsibilities to your wife. You can’t say you‘re going to the market, buy vegetables, cook the soup and count the meat. From the management of your house to wherever you find yourself, you have to trust people. There are things you can’t put in writing or talk about when you trust people because you’re not perfect and you don’t expect perfection from anybody. Only God is perfect.
I’m happy that the people I mentored, the people I’ve been accused of trusting have kept the trust. Nobody can blame Idiagbon of laziness; of lack of courage or of incompetence. Nobody can blame Afri-projects for short-changing PTF and the government. There is no type of inquiry that Obasanjo’s government didn’t put in place to get something against PTF. Not a kobo was found against us. Nobody can say Idiagbon has floated a company and gave himself licenses, so Alhamdulillah.
In politics, I have attempted and I was given presidential ticket by ANPP twice and by CPC. Yes, I have a team that is supposed to run the party but we were not successful. In each case we went to court, in 2003, 2007 and in 2011.
The Supreme Court judgement favoured PDP. Get the judgement, you can buy it, it is now a public document and study it in detail. You will find out that my team of lawyers and those around me did all that is humanly possible. Under our political development, they have done their best and I’m very proud that we have not been caught or disgraced in the system for dishonesty.

Do you have any regrets for something you didn’t do or you could have done differently as military Head of State?
It was a long time when I was Head of State and under the circumstance that I came in, I think we tried to do our best. When we came in, we did four things. One, we refused to devalue the naira. Secondly we refused to remove petroleum subsidy.
Thirdly, there were states that owed their workers up to nine months salaries; we got money from the federation account and paid them all. And subsequently we removed it from their allocations and we returned same to the federation account. Fourthly, we refused to remove subsidy on flour. I couldn’t regret doing any of these four things and making sure they all worked.
We also refused to take loans and we were servicing effectively both medium and long term debts according to the agreement entered into by previous governments. We were not a perfect regime but these are what we did in 20 months.

You don’t regret that you didn’t shoot some politicians Rawlings style?
No, we didn’t shoot anyone! It was deliberate; all those we arrested we said they should be kept in detention—president, vice president, ministers and some governors. We said they should be treated with respect until various tribunals successfully prosecuted them with documents presented against them and not by hearsay. There were people that were released because nothing was found against them. People like Adamu Ciroma, late Biliyaminu Usman who was junior minister of education and some were from the south. They were released and allowed to go because nothing was found against them. Of course they were embarrassed that they were detained.

Did you say sorry to them?
Yes, we said sorry officially.

How do you remember your daughter who died recently?
Zulaiha was my first daughter; she was to be 40 a week to the time she died. She had three children including the [one she got by] Caesarean section. She was a sickler but she was an extremely hardworking person. She went to the university and she was working with a Federal Ministry until she died.

Apart from politicking, what do you do in the form of exercise?
I think prayer is a good exercise especially when you are getting old, if you do it properly. I complement it with walking within my compound. I’m a lucky person and I thank God I’m a healthy person.

What is your favourite meal?
I think because of my military training and during the war, I virtually eat everything but I like kunu da kosai in the morning. In the afternoon I eat tuwon alkama da miyan kuka. I hardly eat rice and I eat a lot of vegetables.

*Source Sunday Trust


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South Africa’s Desmond Tutu: ‘I will not vote for ANC’
May 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

The trauma of [Nelson Mandela's] passing is going to be very much intensified if we do not begin to prepare ourselves for the fact that this is going to happen at some time”

The trauma of [Nelson Mandela’s] passing is going to be very much intensified if we do not begin to prepare ourselves for the fact that this is going to happen at some time”

South African elder statesman and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has said he would no longer vote for the ruling ANC.

“I would very sadly not be able to vote for them after the way things have gone,” he wrote in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper.

Inequality, violence and corruption are among the reasons costing the ANC his support, he added.

Archbishop Tutu, 81, was a strong supporter of the ANC’s struggle against white minority rule.

Former African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black leader after all-race elections in 1994.

“The ANC was very good at leading us in the struggle to be free from oppression,” Archbishop Tutu wrote.

“But it doesn’t seem to me now that a freedom-fighting unit can ­easily make the transition to becoming a political party,” he continued.

Describing South Africa as “the most unequal society in the world”, he highlighted corruption, unaccountability and weaknesses in the constitution as key issues that need to be addressed.

Archbishop Tutu was also strongly critical of past decisions made by the ANC government at the UN, particularly on Zimbabwe.

“The things we have voted for or against have been a disgrace. It has been a total betrayal of our whole tradition.”

Archbishop Tutu campaigned against white minority rule and was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

But he has been increasingly critical of the ruling party in recent years.

In 2011, he accused the ANC government of “kowtowing” to China, after the government delayed issuing a visa for the Dalai Lama, who had been invited to attend the archbishop’s 80th birthday celebrations.

In the opinion piece, he also warned South Africa to prepare for Mr Mandela’s death.

“My concern is that we are not ­preparing ourselves, as a nation, for the time when the inevitable ­happens.”

“He’s 94, he’s had a rough time, and God has been very, very good in sparing him for us these many years. But the trauma of his passing is going to be very much intensified if we do not begin to prepare ourselves for the fact that this is going to happen at some time,” he added.

Although officially retired, Archbishop Tutu continues to speak publicly about the world’s injustices and domestic politics.

He was recently discharged from hospital following an infection.

*Source BBC 

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Making Sense of Sudan
April 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Celebrating the bureaucratisation of peace: the Addis implementation matrix

By Aly Verjee*

Sudanese President Al Bashir arrived in South Sudan capital Juba to attand the declaration of independence.March 2013: another Addis negotiating marathon, another document heralded as the ‘breakthrough’ agreement between Sudan and South Sudan.  The 68-point implementation matrix (not counting sub-points), signed on March 12 by Idris Mohamed Abdel Gadar for Sudan and Pagan Amum for South Sudan, follows the meeting on March 8 of the defence ministers of both states, who agreed again to withdraw their forces from the previously defined Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).

Or as South Sudan’s negotiating team put it, with a first sentence tongue-twister for bored diplomats and journalists covering the next meeting in Addis: “On March 8, 2013, after months of negotiations, the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan’s Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) came to an agreement on the content of a framework for implementing the commitments made in the bilateral September 2012 security arrangements agreement. This important development should result in the creation of a safe demilitarized buffer zone along the two countries’ shared border. Both sides have already ordered their armed forces to withdraw to their side of the buffer zone.”

Point seven of the March 8 document tells of the delays suffered after the last supposed breakthrough agreement, the cooperation accords of September 2012.  It subtly ignores that failure of implementation and just says: “the original D-Day for the implementation plan matrix was 19 December 2012.  The matrix has been reviewed and the JPSM have set D-Day at 10 March 2013.”

Three months delay could be forgiven if the intentions of the parties were now honourable.  Unfortunately, there is reason to be sceptical of that being the case.  Orders by Khartoum and Juba to withdraw their troops from the border are encouraging, but are just as easily reversed.  Resuming oil production is welcome, until the next crisis comes.  We celebrate the matrix, because even modest progress is better than the alternative.  Our faith is in this new bureaucratisation of peace: the idea that if only there are or were enough technical benchmarks, processes, committees, mechanisms and modalities, on paper and on the ground, all that underlying emotional antipathy and mistrust and suspicion could be controlled if not eradicated entirely.

Turning on the oil taps averts economic annihilation for both sides.  But having initially shut down production in a bold attempt to show Khartoum that seizures of oil cargoes would not be tolerated, Juba has no guarantee of future good behaviour.  That, for example, there will be an end to aerial bombardment by the Sudanese Armed Forces on South Sudan’s territory; that Khartoum will lose interest in the various rebel militias of Jonglei; that Khartoum’s share of oil revenue isn’t used to finance future military action against South Sudan.  For its part, Khartoum hasn’t ensured that South Sudan will really expel the SPLM-N officials who frequent Juba, cut off access to South Kordofan from Unity State, or stop exploring alternatives to the Port Sudan pipeline through Kenya and/or Ethiopia.

Plenty of official allegations of bad behaviour have been made by both sides.   For the most part these fall to the JPSM to address.  In almost every case, the security modalities document says one of the following: “refer to Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission (JBVMM) for investigation,” “refer to Ad-hoc Committee for investigation,” or, “on receipt of evidential detail it is recommended JPSM form Committee…to determine veracity of the concern/complaint.”  In the unlikely event a thorough investigation is conducted, neither side is likely to be satisfied with the findings: each side believes it is the victim of the other.

With no end in sight to the war in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan makes a guest appearance in discussion of border arrangements.  More than a year and a half after UNMIS left South Kordofan, and a decade after the successes of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), international monitoring returns to Kordofan: the JBVMM will move from Assosa, Ethiopia, to Kadugli, the capital of Sudan’s presently most troubled state.

As the meeting minutes state: “Kadugli was accepted as a suitable temporary JBVMM HQ before moving to final location in Abyei.  There was acceptance that there would be no move of the JBVMM HQ to Abyei until the Temporary Arrangements were implemented and accommodation provided by UN.”

The JBVMM borrows the successful joint monitoring team concept from the JMC.  Teams made up of SAF, SPLA, and police and NISS personnel from both sides are joined by international monitors to investigate agreement violations, report on security in the border zone, arbitrate local disputes and report unlawfully held weapons.  But whereas in 2002 the JMC monitored violations of a genuine ceasefire in South Kordofan while the war continued in southern Sudan, today’s JBVMM deals with the inverse: international border management between two states legally at peace while civil war continues in the Nuba Mountains, a few towns away.

In the aspirational matrix, where three of the 68 points are marked ‘complete’, and work on most other issues is yet to start, there are the usual bugbears:

“1.4 Obligation: Determination of the final status of Abyei and consideration of formation of the Abyei Referendum Commission (Art 4.2).  Timing: Date to be agreed.  Responsible: The Presidents.”

“5.4.3. Obligation: Completion of non-binding opinion of the AU Team of Experts (AUTE) on the status of the 5 Disputed Areas.  Timing: 5.4.1 [D-Day + 66] + 60 [translation: 126 days from March 10, or July 14].  Responsible: AUTE.  Remarks: Parties have commenced cooperation with the Experts in line with draft Terms of Reference for the AUTE.  Timeline subject to change by Parties pursuant 5.4.2.”

Indeed, nothing sums it up better: ‘responsible: the Presidents’, and ‘subject to change’.  The end of matrix modifications has not yet arrived.  But spreadsheets are better than embargoes and air strikes.  One hopes the need for urgent breakthroughs does not return too soon.

*Source African Arguments.Aly Verjee is senior researcher at the Rift Valley Institute.

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Uhuru Kenyatta sworn in as Kenyan president
April 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

In his inaugural address, Mr Kenyatta said he would govern for all KenyansUhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in as Kenya’s new president, following his victory in March against Raila Odinga.

Dignitaries and tens of thousands of people witnessed the inauguration at a stadium in the capital, Nairobi.Mr Odinga did not attend the ceremony after his attempt to overturn Mr Kenyatta’s victory in court failed.Mr Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, face charges at the International Criminal Court relating to post-election violence five years ago.


They were on opposite sides at the time and both deny the accusations.Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who faces an ICC arrest warrant over the conflict in Darfur, was not in Nairobi for the inauguration.Mr Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, and is heir to one of the largest fortunes in Kenya.

 ‘Laptops promise’

He served as deputy prime minister, minister for trade, and finance minister under outgoing President Mwai Kibaki.The crowd, waving Kenyan flags, burst into rapturous welcome as the 51 year old took the oath of office, becoming Kenya’s youngest president.In his inaugural address, Mr Kenyatta said he would govern for all Kenyans.“We will leave no community behind… Where there’s disillusionment, we’ll restore hope,” he said.The new government would abolish maternity fees in its first 100 days and children starting school next year would be given laptops, he added.

 In an apparent reference to the ICC case against him, he said: “I assure you again that under my leadership, Kenya will strive to uphold our international obligations, so long as these are founded on the well-established principles of mutual respect and reciprocity.”US and European diplomats attended the inauguration, despite warning before the election that they would have limited contact with Mr Kenyatta if he is voted into office.


 Among the African leaders present for the inauguration were South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. Mr Museveni told the cheering crowd that he wanted to applaud Kenyans for rejecting the “blackmail” of the ICC.He supported the ICC when it was formed, but it was now being used by “arrogant actors” who were trying to “install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate those they don’t like”, he said.

 Mr Odinga – the outgoing prime minister – did not attend the ceremony, choosing to be on holiday in South Africa instead.Other senior members of his Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) party have also stayed away to signal their opposition to Mr Kenyatta’s presidency, correspondents say.

According to official results, Mr Kenyatta beat Mr Odinga by 50.07% to 43.28% in March, avoiding a run-off by just 8,100 votes.Mr Odinga challenged the result, but said he would respect the Kenyan Supreme Court’s ruling in Mr Kenyatta’s favour.The election was Kenya’s first after a disputed poll in 2007, which led to violence that left more than 1,200 people dead.

Mr Kenyatta is due to appear at the ICC for his trial in The Hague later this year, accused of crimes against humanity. He denies the charges.

Kenya is a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the ICC in 2002.But like most African countries, it has refused to enforce the ICC warrant for Mr Bashir’s arrest.Earlier, Kenyan government spokesman Muthui Kariuki told the BBC that Mr Bashir had been invited and would not be arrested if he accepted the invitation.After Mr Bashir visited Kenya in 2010, a Kenyan court ruled that the government must arrest him if he returned, in line with its international obligations under the Rome Statute.The government is appealing against the ruling.

 *Source BBC


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Please, pardon President Jonathan
March 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Chido Onumah*

Has he failed or where the expectations from Nigerians too high? The challenges for President Jonathan have been many

Has he failed or where the expectations from Nigerians too high? The challenges for President Jonathan have been many

Nigerians are justifiably outraged at the pardon of Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, ex-governor of Bayelsa State. Alamieyeseigha was governor from May 1999 until December 2005, three months after he was detained in London on charges of money laundering. President Jonathan had served under Mr. Alamieyeseigha as deputy governor.

Instructively, in August 2005, a month before his arrest, Alamieyeseigha delivered a message, through his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, at a seminar in Abuja on “Winning the War against Corruption”. The self-styled Governor General of the Ijaw nation “commended government’s stride with the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau, and urged the bodies not to ignore the private sector”.

According to Alamieyeseigha who called for those with criminal records to be barred from elective office, “It is only in Nigeria where people who looted banks to a distress situation are allowed to use such loots to open their own banks or are given high political appointment”. Alamieyeseigha’s paper titled: “Corruption Reduction Through Government Policies: The Bayelsa Experience”, highlighted “the various mechanism put in place by the state government to check corruption as it was inimical to national growth and development and as such, must be abhorred by all and sundry”.

By the time Alamieyeseigha was arrested a month later in London, it was reported that the Metropolitan Police found about £1m in cash in his London home and later a total of £1.8m in cash and bank accounts. Alamieyeseigha jumped bail in December 2005 from the United Kingdom by allegedly disguising himself as a woman. He had hoped to continue in office as governor. Even though that hope did not materialise, it was a good judgement call. Remaining in the UK would have been calamitous. Today, we know why.

On July 26, 2007, the fugitive governor pled guilty to six charges of making false declaration of assets and 23 charges of money laundering by his companies. He was sentenced to two years in prison. The following day, July 27, just hours after being taken to prison, he walked home a free man. In our convoluted justice system, the period he spent in detention had served to compensate for the prison sentence.

Reuben Abati, then chair of the editorial board of The Guardian and now presidential town crier had this to say about Alamieyeseigha in a 2005 piece titled, “Alami should go: It’s over”: “By running away from England under the cover of the night, away from the British judiciary which was probing him on charges of money laundering, by taking evasive action from the law and communicating with his feet, Alamiyeseigha, a man who until now was known and addressed as His Excellency, has shown himself to be a dishonourable fellow, unfit to rule, unfit to sit among men and women of honour and integrity, unfit to preach to the people that he leads about ideals and values…

“As for those persons who have been packaging Alami as a victim and who have been mouthing the asinine line: ‘If Ijaw man thief Ijaw money, wetin concern Tony Blair inside’, may the good Lord forgive them for they do not know what they are saying. All Ijaw must feel embarrassed for this is a difficult moment for them as a nation. They are being blackmailed emotionally to defend not a principled fighter, not a spirit of Ijawland, but an Ijaw leader who danced naked in a foreign land. The questions that would be asked are: what do Ijaws stand for? Where is the ancient and modern glory of the Ijaw nation? These are difficult questions. Alami must save his own people the embarrassment by stepping aside. Let him return to England and act like an honourable man”.

Eight years later, nothing has changed, except that an Ijaw man is now President and Commander-in-Chief. “His Excellency, the (former) executive fugitive of Bayelsa State”, as Abati once described Alamiyeseigha remains a “dishonourable fellow, unfit to rule, unfit to sit among men and women of honour and integrity, unfit to preach to the people that he leads about ideals and values”. What a difference eight years make. Today, thanks to his pardon, Alamiyeseigha is now “fit to rule, fit to sit among men and women of honour and integrity, fit to preach to the people that he leads about ideals and values”.

Chido Onumah Astonishingly, it is now Abati’s job to repackage “Alami” as a victim and condemn those who accuse him of being an ex-convict and a danger to society. May the good Lord forgive all the idle Nigerians who are not only exhibiting “sophisticated ignorance”, but want to destroy an Ijaw man for pardoning another Ijaw man for stealing money belonging to Ijaws for they do not know what they are saying.

To understand Alamieyeseigha’s pardon is to understand the character of the Nigerian state. There is no case to make for his pardon other than to say it is what the doctors ordered. And by doctors, I do not mean the type our First Lady and sundry public officers scurry to in foreign lands. I refer to the ubiquitous marabouts and native doctors that have become an essential part of governance in Nigeria.

They are the ones goading President Jonathan and have convinced him that to secure a second term, he must of necessity pardon the Governor General of the Ijaw nation. That is the only way he can secure the support of the Ijaws. Evidently, in Nigeria leadership is not about performance. What is uppermost now is that President Jonathan, the first president from the oily Niger Delta, has to, by any means necessary, complete his two terms of four years as the constitution stipulates.

A friend has likened President Jonathan’s dilemma, if we can call it that, to that of a managing director of a failed company who wants to remain MD even when his company is in the red. He will do whatever he thinks will help him keep his job, including cooking the books and satisfying every interest, no matter how vile. Of course, President Jonathan is also a victim of the Nigerian tragedy. Alamieyeseigha was set free many years ago when we had a certain Umaru Yar’Adua as president. The pardon on March 12, 2013, was just the icing on the cake.

I don’t think those who pardoned Alamieyeseigha thought or imagined that the tag “ex-convict” would ever leave him. Who cares really? Are we not witnesses to a senator wining election while on trial? A few days after his pardon, there were feelers signaling that Alamieyeseigha will run for senate in 2015. He doesn’t need to do anything to emerge the next senator representing his district. Like that other exemplar of perfidy in Akwa Ibom State, all the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, needs to do at the behest of the president, is to remove the name of the winner and replace it with Alamieyeseigha’s, if necessary, for his great service to Ijawland.

Alamieyeseigha will be in good company when he joins the senate in 2015. For me, that is the really troubling part of his pardon and why we must continue the quest to restructure Nigeria. Like Tafa Balogun, the rogue former Inspector General of Police, Alamieyeseigha will no doubt make a case for the return of his property “confiscated” by the state.

Alamieyeseigha believes he is entitled to be a senator and much more; after all, not many in the “hallowed” chamber can boast of a superior résumé. Ours is a system that survives on cronyism. Alamieyeseigha may emerge as senate president if he so desires. He may even return to Bayelsa State someday to complete his second term as governor.

The structure of our country makes this unwholesome atmosphere possible. That is why President Jonathan deserves our pardon for his latest political blunder!

** Chido Onumah is Coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), in Abuja. He can be reached at


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Zimbabweans hope for democratic rebirth
March 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

President Robert Mugabe and opposition rival ,Prime Minsiter Morgan TsvangiraiAfter Zimbabweans overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, there are renewed hopes that elections later this year could signal the country’s rebirth. But fears remain of a return to the dark days of political violence, writes the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani.

Joyce Ndlovu, one of a handful of female taxi drivers in the capital, Harare, speaks fondly of her home.

“Things have been difficult here for many years but we are starting to see a change. I now have hope that our country will be back to normal some day soon,” the 45-year-old beams.

She is one of more than three million people who voted in Saturday’s constitutional referendum which was declared by observers as “peaceful and credible”.

Fears of widespread violence came to nothing, seen by many as a sign that political parties have learnt from the bloodshed that marred the 2008 election.

However, it should be noted that both major parties agreed on the new constitution whereas they will once more be the main protagonists in the elections expected in July.

Ms Ndlovu says she is hopeful that her vote will help usher in a new Zimbabwe – a Zimbabwe free of political violence.

She has been a cab driver for 10 years and makes about $100 (£66) a day during busy periods and half that on slow days.

Life has steadily returned to normal since a power-sharing government was formed in 2009, ending a period of hyperinflation and economic turmoil, she says.

“I am able to plan my day now and budget for groceries. I don’t worry about whether shops will still be open tomorrow or how much things will cost or even if I’ll have a job to go to tomorrow,” says the mother of four.

At the height of the crisis, citizens left the country in their hundreds of thousands, many of them moving to neighbouring countries such as South Africa in the hope of finding much-needed jobs.

‘Dark era’

Today the economy is more stable and businesses are able to operate in more favourable conditions, largely due to the government’s decision four years ago to abandon Zimbabwe’s currency and use the US dollar and South African rand instead, economists say.

Harare is abuzz with activity: the streets are busy; smartly-dressed men and women rush to and fro; vendors sell handmade stone sculptures, fruit, vegetables and flowers.

On the surface this is a country in recovery.

The shelves in shops are fully stocked and stable food prices, though still expensive for the poor, have brought a sense of calm.

One of the businesses that has benefited from the stability is local food chain Foodworld – a 26-year-old brand competing with the likes of southern Africa’s giants Spar, Pick n Pay and OK stores.

It was forced to close seven of its 10 stores in Harare during the economic crisis, but since 2009 has re-opened four of them.

“Prices would go up as much as four times a day, you couldn’t plan for tomorrow. We could only plan for the next hour. It was a dark time,” says Denford Mutashu, one of the board members of Foodworld.

But Zimbabwe’s business community says there needs to be separation between business and politics, if life is to keep improving.

“We have witnessed quite dramatic changes. During that dark era the state would set the price of goods but we now have a normal business model where the price of goods and services is set by demand and supply,” says Mr Mutashu.

“Politics should not dictate the way business is conducted; politics should complement what is happening in business. The same way we should not interfere with politics – we need to keep the two separate,” he told the BBC.

But more than economic reform, analysts say more needs to be done to ensure an independent press.

‘We don’t want violence’

President Robert Mugabe’s allies have been accused of clamping down on independent media and using state broadcasters to promote propaganda – claims they deny.

In the suburb of Avondale, veteran journalist Mavis Moyo, 85 has lived through the worst and best of Zimbabwe.

One of the first to vote at a local polling station when it opened at 07:00 on Saturday, she believes the country will only move forward if political parties continue to work together, not as factions.

“When I arrived at the polling station for the first time I felt comfortable. People were smiling and talking to each other about a better country. We are only hopeful that the positivity that we now have will help to turn things around for us,” she said, smiling.

“We cannot move forward if you still have a situation where being members of different political views can lead to violence. Zimbabweans only thrive when we are united and that is what we need. We need our leaders to help unite us,” she added, her smile fading.

But the Zimbabwe story is far from a fairy tale. Some say they are apprehensive about the forthcoming elections.

“We might have the best constitution in the world but if our leaders still abuse it, what good is it?” asked a resident of the high-density suburb of Highfield, where Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party was founded in 1963.

The 61-year-old man, who did not want to be named and did not take part in the referendum, added: “I do not share a table with President Mugabe.”

Inside the University of Zimbabwe, the country’s young voters were more optimistic.

“It’s up to us as a Zimbabweans to decide that we don’t want violence. It is senseless for people to die just because they are from rival political parties,” says 23-year-old Deborah Mafuta.

Fellow student Tatenda Chikondo agreed.

“It is time for us as young people to rebuild this once wonderful country and we can only do it if we stop fighting amongst each other,” the 28-year-old marketing student said.

As Zimbabweans now look forward to the presidential polls, many believe that their mineral-rich country has a real chance to become Africa’s next success story – but only if the political stability continues.

*Source BBC

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In the shadow of the baobab: Kagame blows cold and hot on a third mandate
March 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Kris Berwouts*

Paul Kagame: survived his annus horribilis in 2010 and looks to be preparing to reliquish power under his own terms.

Paul Kagame: survived his annus horribilis in 2010 and looks to be preparing to reliquish power under his own terms.

In October 1990, after Fred Rwigyema’s death on the third day the struggle to conquer Rwanda, Paul Kagame took over the command over the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and led it to victory in July 1994. He became Vice-President and Minister of Defense in the transitional government installed after the Rwandan genocide. In March 2000, President Pasteur Bizimungu felt that he could no longer contribute to a regime dominated by the RPF. He resigned and Kagame became the Head of State. He has subsequebtly won presidential elections in 2003 and 2010.

In 2017, when his second mandate as an elected President expires, he will have led the RPF for 27 years and will have been Rwanda’s most powerful individual for 23 years (for17 of which he has been the country’s President). The Constitution, adopted by referendum in May 2003, foresees a maximum of two consecutive mandates for the Head of State. This means that he cannot stand for a new term in 2017.

Very soon after his re-election in August 2010, speculation and rumour developed about the chances that Kagame, with or without a review of the Constitution, would seek a third mandate. On February 27th 2013 he gave a press conference on the issue stating that he is not interested in running again.

This press conference was a reply to earlier announcements by opposition parties such as Victoire Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi and Frank Habineza’s Green Party that they would oppose changes to the Constitution allowing Kagame to continue.  But at the end of the press conference, Kagame left all options open. He isn’t seeking a third mandate and doesn’t ‘need’ this job, but he doesn’t exclude the possibility of bowing to the will of the people if they want him to stay on. “At the end of the day, let’s remember that Rwandans have to decide,” he said.

2010: a landslide victory

On 9 August 2010, Kagame was re-elected with an overwhelming 93% of the vote. In the election itself he faced three candidates who were considered by the traditional opposition as “satellite candidates, phoney opposition players intended to maintain the illusion of pluralism”.

The months before the elections had been very tense when the more genuine opposition parties started to prepare their campaigns: the Social Party Imberakuri (PSI) led by Bernard Ntaganda, the Green Democratic Party (GDP) with a leadership that came mainly from the anglophone community and which, according to many, was a result of the discontent within the RPF; and lastly the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF-Inkingi), formed around presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, who had returned to Rwanda in January after an absence of 17 years. The leaders of these parties confronted hostility and significant verbal aggression from the authorities and media. Victoire Ingabire in particular, with her clear message and direct, flambuoyant style received a lot of national and international attention. However, when the election actually arrived, none of these candidates were able to formally run for office.

In the end, all went well for Kagame. When you have almost complete control over the legislative, executive and judicial institutions, when an independent press has almost completely disappeared, when that section of opinion which has not openly sided with you has attained an extraordinary level of sophistication in the noble art of self-censorship, when for a large part of national and international opinion you represent the ending of genocide and the return to stability, you don’t lose elections.

The annus horibilis

In the months before the elections the focus of tensions changed. General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a long term companion of President Kagame and former Commander in chief of the Rwandese army, left Rwanda and its regime to join the dissident Colonel Patrick Karegeya in exile in Johannesburg. Karegeya is a former intelligence chief, but above all central to the running of the Congo Desk – created during the war in Congo to manage the exploitation of natural resources in the eastern DRC. In the months after Nyamwasa’s departure, others left too – influential and high profile people like Theodore Rudasingwa (Kagame’s former director of cabinet), Gerald Gahima (former Prosecutor General and Vice-President of the Supreme Court) and Kagame’s private secretary David Himbara. All of a sudden, Kagame wasn’t struggling with his traditional enemies but with his frustrated comrades-in-arms. The ruling inner circle was losing its coherence and had to fight against its own disintegration. When it looked at itself, it was confronted with the cracks in the mirror that belied the united and serene image which it wanted to show to the public in Rwanda as well as internationally.

Three weeks after Kagame’s re-election, the French newspaper Le Monde leaked the draft of the UN’s DRC Mapping Exercise Report which aimed to document the most serious violations of human rights in the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003. In paragraph 517, the report states: “The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.”

This was nothing less than an earthquake for Rwanda. For a decade and a half the regime functioned as the incarnation of genocide victims over those who had perpetrated it. The report, published on October 1st 2010, suggested that this might only be one side of the story, that the reality of Rwanda’s traumatic recent history might be much more complex.

The report is nothing more than a very extensive inventory of the most important human rights violations in one decade, and as such it is not a basis for prosecution. Most of the facts reported by the UN researchers were known, but for the first time they were brought together in one comprehensive document and acknowledged at the level of an official UN document. Thirty months after the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the report, there has been insufficient follow-up by governments in Africa’s Great Lakes region and by the UN itself.

Damage control

The landscape of Rwanda’s political and military elite has changed a lot with Nyamwasa’s departure. There are many indications that Nyamwasa and Karegeya tried to organize an armed resistance on Congolese soil, bringing together people from backgrounds as different as the part of the CNDP that had stayed loyal to Nkunda, certain Mai Mai groups, the FRF, bits of the FARDC and FNL. Contact was even made with some people within the FDLR. All these forces had their reasons to be against Kagame and the ambition was to unite them in an ad hoc movement against the regime in Kigali. To do that, they had to reconcile water and fire. They tried but failed, this was because of several factors.

By the end of 2010 it became clear that they would not able to raise international support for an armed initiative. The main reason for this was that Kayumba Nyamwasa did not have a sufficiently high profile to incarnate the reconciliation of water and fire. He had always been considered a hardliner of the regime, whose conflict with Kagame was about the President’s attempt  to dismantle the parallel economic structure that Nyamwasa and Karegeya had organized around the plundering of Congo’s minerals.

It has never been easy to distinguish between hawks and doves inside Rwanda’s regime, but Nyamwasa was definitely not to be considered a dove. He did not seem to have much added value to Kagame in terms of democracy, reconciliation nor good governance. For the same reasons, the political party he founded with Karegeya, Gahima and Rudasingwa isn’t much of a threat to the RPF: Kayumba Nyamwasa and his crew aren’t a credible alternative to Kagame. 2010 was his annus horibilis, but Kagame won back the full control over the regime.

Since 2011, a change of generation has taken place around Kagame. People who are or could be influenced by Nyamwasa lost space and made way for younger men and women with a different profile: born in the late seventies or early eighties, ambitious, well-trained technocrats rather than military, polyglot intellectuals rather than the leaders who grew up in the refugee camps, fought in the bush against Obote and Habyarimana, eventually getting rich through the plundering of Congo. The people who shaped Kagame’s Brave New World were replaced by the people who grew up in it (mostly receiving training and education abroad).

Not another Mugabe

Over the last few months, some Rwanda watchers have seen indications that Kagame is interested in a Buyoya-type of exit scenario: remain present and influential with a rather low profile on the national level, and play a role on the international scene as a mediator in conflicts. Other people believe he’s constructing a more Medvedev – Putin inspired leapfrog. Both sides believe that Kagame would like to avoid the political damage and loss of credibility if he continues. He is not looking forward to gaining a reputation as the new Mugabe or Museveni. His main concern will be to gain guarantees that he will not be persecuted by international justice.

Speculation has inevitably started on who could succeed him. At some point Richard Sezibera seemed in pole position. Born in 1964 and presently Secretary General of the EAC, Sezibera served as Minister of Health and as Ambassador to the US, Rwanda’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and as Kagame’s Senior Advisor. He is a medical doctor who practiced for many years in Uganda and Rwanda and has a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.

Another person referred to internally as a potential successor is Donald Kaberaku (1951), currently President of the African Development Bank. He studied in Tanzania and the UK (obtaining a PhD in economics from the University of Glasgow). In October 1997 he was appointed minister of finance and economic planning in Rwanda and is considered as one of the masterminds behind the recovery of the Rwandan economy after the genocide.

Sometimes other names appear – they seem to come and go in waves. But Sezibera, in particular, is to be taken seriously.

The M23 misadventure

At the time of writing these lines, the latest offshoot of the RCD-CNDP tree ‘M23’ has been involved in several days of heavy internal fighting between the factions loyal to Bosco Ntaganda and Sultani Makenga. The draft of a peace agreement between M23 and the DRC government is circulating, but it remains to be seen if it will ever be signed. M23 started nearly one year ago as another rebellion led by Congolese Tutsi. A settlement might be found around an old school arrangement which integrates the rebels in to the army, giving them grades and control over men and mines. Things might calm down for a while until the next time someone believes that his community’s interests are best served by a new rebellion.

This episode has weakened everybody – including the Rwandan government. It seems they overplayed their hand. As soon as it became clear that Kigali was very actively supporting M23, its most loyal partners took extraordinary measures. Nations like the UK, USA, Sweden, Holland and Germany suspended at least a part of their aid. Rwanda received heavy criticism and now knows that any future moves and actions will be looked upon with great suspicion.

As usual, the events in Congo have divided the Tutsi and, more generally, the Rwandan community in Congo as well as in Rwanda. Unlike earlier Tutsi-led rebellions, M23 wasn’t able to mobilise a lot of support among Congolese Hutu and the Banyamulenge. The Tutsi of South Kivu declared from the very beginning that they had nothing to be gained from the M23 rebllion, with which they did not identify at all. The backbone of M23 were Tutsi from the North Kivutian territories of Rutshuru and Masisi, and since the Framework Agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, they are mainly fighting each other. What separates them (strategy, geography, clans, economic interests, political affinities) is felt within the inner circle of power in Rwanda and affects cohesion there.

Not really, Mr. Blair

I do truly believe that the Rwandan regime is working on a succession scenario. However, anybody who has traveled to Africa knows that nothing, apart from scrub and mushrooms, grows underneath a baobab tree. It is very difficult for new and younger leadership to emerge in the shadow of a strong leader. Kagame led the RPF for more than 22 years and turned the country into a virtual one party state. It is not easy to replace such a leader, even in the most serene conditions. And conditions aren’t serene in Rwanda after one year of the M23. The country has been weakened by the events, as has any other actor in Central Africa involved in it, with the possible exception of Museveni.

Kagame has, however, managed an effective policy of damage limitation. Important international partners threatened to leave, but some of them have come back already. On February 22th Tony Blair wrote a letter, together with Howard G. Buffet, Stand with Rwanda. According to Mr Blair “Slashing international support to Rwanda ignores the complexity of the problem within DRC’s own borders and the history and circumstances that have led to current regional dynamics. Cutting aid does nothing to address the underlying issues driving conflict in the region, it only ensures that the Rwandan people will suffer — and risks further destabilizing an already troubled region… Cutting aid to Rwanda also risks undoing one of Africa’s great success stories.”

I do not belong to the group of people who believe that the alpha and the omega of Congo’s scourge, woe and disaster can be reduced to Rwanda’s role in it, but I do believe that a huge part of Rwanda’s success story is due to the surplus it extracts from  Congo’s minerals, and that the Rwandan government is aware that it needs to consolidate this extraction if it wants to prevent the walls of its reign from tumbling down.

Congo’s complex problems are the fruit of its own colonial and post-colonial history, but the fall of Mobutu’s empire and the difficulties of reinventing and rebuilding the new Congo after the departure of le Président-Fondateur, have been complicated by the fact that Rwanda exported its problems on to Congolese soil.

Of course, “the international community should support the three regional governments — DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda — in their efforts to build a sustainable solution to the conflict”, as stated by Mr Blair, but I don’t really think this will happen without a delicate balance between support and pressure. Not only pressure on the DRC (as it seems is the case in the Framework Agreement signed last month in Addis Ababa), but on all partners involved, Rwanda included. Pressure which does not foresee measures or sanctions is no pressure at all.

*Source African Arguments. Kris Berwouts has, over the last 25 years, worked for a number of different Belgian and international NGOs focused on building peace, reconciliation, security and democratic processes. Until recently, he was the Director of EurAc, the network of European NGOs working for advocacy on Central Africa. He now works as an independent expert on Central Africa.

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