Politics

Fri,17Aug2018

Politics

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: 'It's time for change of leadership'

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela listens as South Africa's president Jacob Zuma, addresses party delegates in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 5, 2017. Photo: Themba Hadebe/AP/SIPAPresident Jacob Zuma has led the governing ANC party to the lowest point in its history due to corruption, and South Africa is reverting to the racist state, says the activist, former first lady and ANC stalwart, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

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Spotlight on Winnie Kiiza, firebrand leader of Ugandan opposition

Twitter State House UgandaIn Uganda, the firebrand leader of the opposition in parliament is standing up to the government, which is using strong-arm tactics to change the constitution and allow Museveni to stay in power.

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Revolutionary justice

To the barricades as the African sun beats down, comrade judges.
 
You have nothing to lose but your horsehair wigs and billowing black robes.
 
But surely the idea that the courts, deep in pomp, would constitute a revolutionary guard against the global tide of authoritarianism and political crookery is naive in the extreme?
 
Why would this elite cadre of judges flaunting their self-belief as they pass judgements have any interest in challenging the status quo?
 
Yet, for the past few years, the courts have shown a thrillingly robust spirit as better organised activists use them to show governments the limits of their power.
 
In the US, the courts struck down Donald Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants; in ­Britain, they forced Prime Minister ­Theresa May to consult parliament before she signs its divorce with the European Union (EU).
 
This has extended to Africa where lawyers, in and out of court, find themselves on the frontline of political battles.
 
The ruling by Kenya’s Supreme Court on 1 ­September to annul presidential elections because they did not meet the standards set out in the electoral law was held up as a ­triumph for judicial in­dependence.
 
The court’s decision was also a side-swipe at international observers who had rushed to endorse the election and lecture the losers about the need to move on.
 
It may have been helpful for the court that Kenya’s chief justice, David Maraga, is a conservative and deeply religious figure with no record of radical affiliations.
 
Critics accuse the court of heating up Kenya’s political climate; in fact, it was already on the boil.
 
The judges were doing what they should do: testing the provisions of the constitution against realities on the ground to make the political system more accountable to the people.
 
Radical justice
 
Far better that arguments about fair elections and legitimacy should be hammered out in courtrooms or council chambers than settled on the streets.
 
Kenyan activists took a cue from their Ghanaian counterparts, who launched a monumental appeal against the 2012 election results.
 
Although those petitioners failed after eight months of detailed public hearings, the case helped change electoral law.
 
That laid the groundwork for last year’s far more credible and accountable elections.
 
In South Africa, the courts are being dragged into the centre of the political ­arena.
 
Asked to rule on the reliability of provincial and the African National Congress’s elections, they have been handing down verdicts inimical to President Jacob Zuma’s interests.
 
Most of all, the tacticians of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance have been scoring successes in their efforts to ensure that the 783 charges of corruption and racketeering against Zuma are tested in court.
 
There is no immutable plan for all this.
 
The activists and petitioners are losing as many cases as they win.
 
But by pushing back against arbitrary power, the courts are opening up ways for people to organise a more honest and accountable political system.
 
That’s radical, if not revolutionary, justice. 
 
From the November 2017 print edition 

Gabon in election turmoil

President Ali Bongo's family have ruled the Central African oil state for almost 50 years. Photo©Francois Mori/AP/SIPAA day after Wednesday's contested re-election of Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon is still under a state of high alert.

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Kenya's hate-speech test

Curio (right) and Odinga (left) at the ‘hate speech lunch’. Photo©All Rights ReservedMP's incendiary statements have put Kenya's new laws in the dock as the threat of a repeat of the electoral violence that followed the contested 2007 presidential polls looms.

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Burundi: No guns at the table

Pre-election protests in 2015; today the opposition is militarised. Photo©Berthier Mugiraneza/AP/SIPANew peace talks in Arusha have again excluded Burundi's armed opposition groups.

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U.N. Security Council diplomats expected in South Sudan this week

Photo© Joshua Lott/AP/SIPAU.N. Security Council diplomats are expected to visit South Sudan this week, a foreign affairs ministry spokesman said on Wednesday without giving any details on the purpose of the trip.

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