Category Archives: Africa – International

Kenya – MPs back Kenyatta anti-graft call

The Star (Nairobi)

MPs hail Uhuru graft order, public apology

DELIVER: Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa. Photo/Monicah Mwangi

DELIVER: Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
TRUE: Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.Photo/Monica Njeri

TRUE: Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.Photo/Monica Njeri
IMAGE: Nominated MP Amina Abdallah. Photo/Monica Mwangi

IMAGE: Nominated MP Amina Abdallah. Photo/Monica Mwangi


March 27, 2015

MPs have praised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call for officers implicated in graft to resign and apology for historical injustices. Uhuru gave a State of the Nation address yesterday to a joint sitting of the Senate and the National Assembly.

“The fact that he has apologised for the wrongs committed as recommended by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission is good for the healing and reconciliation of this country,” majority leader Aden Duale said.

“This is the message Kenyans have been waiting for and it has been delivered at an opportune moment.”

Duale said Uhuru’s speech marks a new beginning in the war against corruption.

“Those mentioned should not wait to be told to do the necessary; they should just pack the belongings and leave,” he said.

Deputy minority leader Jakoyo Midiwo the speech must be backed up with action.

“Talking is cheap. He is talking the language Kenyans want to hear. He has set the mood but we want to challenge him to walk the talk,” he said.

Suna West MP Joseph Ndiege said the speech was okay but failed to address “the ailing agriculture industry”.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. The collapse of the sugarcane sector is a case for concern.”

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa said Kenyans are eagerly waiting for Uhuru’s promises to be implemented.

“We expect individuals like Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi, Defence PS Mutea Iringo and IEBC Chairman Isaack Hassan to step aside.”

Nominated MP Amina Abdallah the exit of those mentioned in corruption will improve Kenya’s image in the region and internationally.

“The president has set the standards and I don’t expect those mentioned to stay put. But if the good things the president has mentioned are not implemented it will severely damage the credibility of the government,” she said.

Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo said Uhuru’s speech was a “true President’s speech”.

“Apologising for past historical injustices is the height of magnanimity this country has witnessed,” he said.

He said he hopes it translates into a new face of Kenya when the hiring of parastatal boards is done.

“Previous public appointments have only favoured two tribes out of the 42 we have,” he said.

Nyandarua women’s representative Wanjiku Muihia said Kenyans “expect heads to start rolling now”.

– See more at:

South Africa – ANC heads to its national council terminally ill

Mail and Guardian

Zuma inherited a divided ANC from Mbeki, but the party heading to the council is now terminally ill.

President Jacob Zuma has outmanoeuvred his opponents and can expect to be warmly embraced at the ANC's next national general council, but the party itself is in a mess. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)


The ANC’s national general council is often a stage for the party president to gloat about his achievements, set the tone for the next national conference, whip his opponents and remind delegates that he is still in charge.

Then-president Thabo Mbeki did exactly that in Port Elizabeth in 2000, when he was at the height of his power.

He flagellated the communists for a lack of creativity and their reliance on century-old Marxist ideas. He also reminded delegates that the council was not an elective conference but a forum in which to review programmes.

“Accordingly, none of us will have to spend time lobbying for particular candidates and positions,” Mbeki said at the time.

But, in the process, Mbeki lit a slow-burning fuse. Five years later, the council was transformed and launched a rebellion against him. He was defeated as party leader two years later and was ultimately fired as South African president.

Zuma faced the 2010 council with some trepidation because the ANC Youth League president at the time, Julius Malema, and company were fuelling the fire of discontent.

But he prevailed and defeated Kgalema Motlanthe two years later, although Malema was still giving him sleepless nights.

Ever aware of how things can go wrong, the ANC is preparing for any eventuality at its upcoming national general council, scheduled for June in Midrand.

In the party’s internal national working committee report to the national executive committee (NEC) in November, it said: “This NEC is responsible for the success of the [national general council]. It should disabuse rumour-mongering that suggests that the [council] will be used for anything else but its constitutional duties.”

90/10 formula
Delegates to the council are determined according to a 90/10 formula – 90% of delegates are branch members and 10% are NEC members and Cabinet ministers. Influential businesspeople, ambassadors and artists are invited but may not participate in debates or help make decisions.

But the ANC also does not want too many guests, perhaps in a bid to bar plotters. NEC sources said there is a concern that some of those invited could seek to influence decisions taken at such gatherings.

Again, Zuma is facing the council as a weak president of the country – although as party leader, he has been emboldened and is confident that he will not be publicly humiliated.

So far, Zuma’s grip on the party has not slipped. His internal rivals are weak, fragmented and still sulking about previous hidings from big daddy. They won’t dare to challenge his running of the country and the party openly.

Instead, the party delegates will be his enthusiastic backing vocalists, with the singin’ and dancin’ president leading the national general council in song.

As a barometer of Zuma’s power in the party, it is instructive to look at the NEC. Of the original 80 members elected at Mangaung in 2012, some of whom have resigned, died or were dismissed, only an estimated half a dozen are strongly opposed to Zuma. But nobody is willing to admit to this, never mind going on the record about it, with its obvious career-limiting implications.

Of the nine provincial party chairs, most of them premiers, only Gauteng’s Paul Mashatile is not a pal of Zuma, who is firmly in charge. But the question is: What kind of party is he in charge of?

Zuma inherited a divided ANC from Mbeki in 2007, but the ruling party heading to the council is now terminally ill.

Back in the spring of 2011, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe bemoaned the ill health of the party. “This is pointing to the general problem of provinces only taking the need for branches to be in good standing when there are conferences, rather than ensuring that this is how the organisation should be.”

Not much has changed since.

Zuma leads a battered organisation, with all three ANC leagues struggling to run their programmes.

Dormant youth league
The youth league, which used to regard itself as a kingmaker, is dormant. Since the dismantling of all youth structures, a task team appointed to revive the league has failed to convene an elective conference.

The women in green have also not met to elect their leaders. The women’s league has postponed its conferences several times.

The body that represents the aged members of the party, those over 60 and with four decades of uninterrupted membership, is also in a mess. The veterans’ league cannot verify who has been a member long enough and who is old enough to qualify. Its president, Sandi Sejake, has also admitted that the organisation is broke and in disarray.

The national general council can be convened without the leagues because most delegates come from branches spread throughout the provinces, but many of these are not in good shape either.

Mantashe told the Mail & Guardian last week that all the party’s leagues will be convening their long-delayed congresses.

“The women’s league next month [April], the veterans in May and the youth league in June. Whether weak or not, I will not say.”

Mantashe denied that the provinces are in disarray, except for a few regions.

But in his November report to the party’s NEC he painted a gloomy picture. Of the nine provincial party structures, only three were stable or relatively stable, he said.

  • In the Eastern Cape, Mantashe warned that “communities are fast losing respect for the organisation”. Regions are “weak in guiding the structures politically and providing political oversight at municipal level”. Only one out of eight regions has most of its branches in good standing. The other seven are all troubled by political instability caused by factional divisions.The ANC is worried that in the Nelson Mandela metro “the threat of the opposition gaining ground” and “the influence of Numsa [the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa] is posing [an] additional threat to the movement”.

    Only 10 out of 74 branches in the Sarah Baartman region are in good standing and membership is declining. In the Joe Gqabi region, 15 out of 47 branches are in good standing.

    Eastern Cape political analyst Joleen Steyn Kotze said the decline in ANC membership and support in some areas could be attributed to poor service delivery, factional fighting and the inability to draw a distinction between party and state.

  • In the Western Cape, the historically divided provincial ANC is still in ruins, according to Mantashe’s report.

    “Tensions have [been] revisited and the divisions between officials of the province are again visible.”

    The report summarised it as a province that is “in a serious crisis that requires serious attention” by the party’s management. “Only one region [out of six] is in good standing and all others are in dire straits.”

  • Gauteng, Mantashe said, is “functional” and “intact”. But that’s relative. Out of the five ANC Gauteng regions, two – Tshwane and Sedibeng – are in turmoil.
  • In Limpopo, new cracks have started to emerge in the ANC provincial leadership. Regions such as Mopani, Waterberg and Sekhukhune are still arenas for factional wars in the party and municipalities.
  • In the Free State, the party is relatively stable. Of the five regions, four are in good standing, according to Mantashe.
  • In the once dysfunctional North West, Mantashe found that there are “signs of the province stabilising and investing time in working for unity and cohesion”. However, there are “still serious suspicions among comrades”. The ANC in the province is threatened by the fact that Malema’s fledgling party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, “is a new force”.
  • The Northern Cape, the ANC’s smallest province, is “one of the most stable provinces”.
  • In the Zuma stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC appears to be seriously divided, but its provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, has denied that the province will go to the national general council fractured.

    Yet Mantashe’s report said “unity and cohesion” are the biggest challenges in a number of regions in the province. Seven regions, including the largest, eThekwini or Durban, are divided. Its regional conference was nullified recently and might be reconvened if the NEC supports the proposal.

  • In Mpumalanga, the ANC has been weakened by scuffles between the provincial ANC and its alliance partner, the South African Communist Party.

    Provincial secretary Lucky Ndinisa admitted that his province’s priority is to fix what he euphemistically referred to as internal organisational “challenges”.

    “Things are so bad that we can’t have regular meetings,” he said.

Mantashe said that speculating about the council before the NEC’s regular meeting this weekend would “mess up the meeting”.

Weak structures could diminish the ANC’s capacity to assess and review its programmes at the council. This, in turn, could affect policy-making at government level.

In 2007, the ANC elective conference in Polokwane decided that the government must take its policy cue from the party.

The past six years have been tough for the behemoth that has dominated South Africa’s body politic for two decades. Although its majority is decreasing, it is still far larger than any of the opposition parties.

Incompetent but politically connected individuals
With the local polls a year away, the ANC is likely to revive the long-standing issue of the number, size and shape of the provinces and municipalities at its council. Delegates might also discuss the election of candidates for next year’s municipal polls, a messy process that has previously led to incompetent but politically connected individuals weakening local government. The resulting backlash has been violent protests by angry voters.

Furthermore, the ANC’s response and attempts to tinker with its policy machinery have been undermined by events beyond its control. The economy is slowing and failing to create jobs, debt is rising and Eskom is battling to keep the lights on. As a consequence, business is not investing enough and is complaining about the ANC’s policy disjuncture.

Even where it has control, the ANC has allowed the mess to continue. Most state institutions and parastatals are dysfunctional because of bad appointments, infighting and interference from the top.

With the EFF threatening to grab land, the emotive issue is again featuring prominently on the ANC’s agenda. It has proposed a ban on foreigners owning farmland and wants to force farmers to share land with farmworkers.

Unisa’s political analyst Somadoda Fikeni believes it would be beneficial for the ANC to use the council as “a session for a brutally honest engagement” and to ask: “Why have we churned up so many policies but we are seeing little results?”

But the council’s role is merely to tweak its programmes; it is not a policy conference. Nevertheless, the focus will be on internal party dynamics and, as in recent times, one eye will be firmly on succession.

The North West ANC is already spearheading constitutional changes for the party to align its electoral conference with the ANC’s elective conference, which would mean extending Zuma’s term in the party for another two years. But it may face opposition to this idea.

The Eastern Cape’s Mlibo Qoboshiyane and Gauteng’s Nkenke Kekana said it was decided that the party leader elected two years before the country’s general election would automatically become its presidential candidate.

The date for the council has not been finalised, although it has been tentatively scheduled for June. Some in the ANC suggest postponing it to September to give the party more time to resolve its internal matters. It would also deprive headline writers of the “winter of discontent” cliché.

But whether the three extra months would be long enough for the ANC to be described as being “back on track” or having its “house in order” gives us the opportunity to roll out another old journalistic chestnut: it remains to be seen.

Nigeria – troops from Chad and Niger drive Boko Haram from villages


Niger, Chad troops pursue Boko Haram in Nigerian border area

Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:47pm GMT

DIFFA, Niger (Reuters) – Troops from Chad and Niger pursued Boko Haram fighters across a northern Nigeria border area on Thursday, driving them out of a village they held there and causing some to flee into Niger, two senior Niger military officers said.

Niger and Chad are participating in a joint offensive along with Nigeria and Cameroon aimed at ending the Nigerian Islamist group’s six-year insurgency, which has spilled across Nigeria’s borders to threaten regional stability.

A column of troops left the Nigerian town of Damasak, which was retaken from the militants earlier this month, in the morning to capture the Boko Haram-occupied village of Gasheger, the sources said.

A Reuters witness across the border in the nearby Nigerien town of Diffa, which has served as a staging area for the operations, heard explosions around midday as the sources said the coalition troops met resistance from the Islamists.

“We took back Gasheger,” one of the officers told Reuters.

During the clashes, Boko Haram fighters fired a mortar that landed in the village of Kalgueri, killing one woman, the sources said.

After being driven from Gasheger, some Boko Haram fighters fled across the Komadougou River into the town of Guesseri in Niger where soldiers from Niger’s elite American-trained anti-terrorist unit pursued them.

“More than 100 fighters were in Gasheger. They’re now in an area with a lot of trees,” the second source said.

The regional offensive launched this year comes as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, prepares to hold elections on Saturday. Nigeria’s elections commission postponed the polls to allow the operation to go forward.

The offensive has succeeded in driving Boko Haram from several towns and districts. But retreating Islamist fighters have slaughtered civilians and kidnapped hundreds of villagers, according to witnesses and residents.

African presidents spend on PR to improve their images

Mail and Guardian

African presidents from Goodluck Jonathan to Yoweri Museveni are allegedly spending millions on western PR specialists to fix their tarnished images.

African leaders reportedly spent millions on Western PR specialists trying to undo damage to their tarnished images. (Reuters)

A row over a law banning homosexuality in Uganda has been reignited after it emerged that the government paid a US public relations firm to offset negative publicity, a report said Monday, highlighting African governments’ love affair with Western image doctors.

Uganda’s Observer newspaper said the government had spent 614-million shillings ($206 000) “to prop up Uganda’s image” after it was “tarnished by the Anti-Homosexuality Act”.

It said that many MPs in the east African nation’s Parliament, where support is strong for tough anti-gay legislation, were now refusing to approve the government’s payment to Scribe Strategies and Advisors, a Washington-based lobbying firm.

“It’s quite unbelievable that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could use this money to clear Uganda’s image, yet us as Ugandans we are against this issue of homosexuality,” Florence Nebanda, one of several reportedly furious MPs, was quoted as saying.

Fox Odoi, an MP who opposed the legislation, confirmed to news wire AFP that the foreign ministry had informed Parliament that the cash was paid to the firm to lobby a bipartisan congressional caucus.

He said the firm was paid “to clear the image of Uganda”.

Museveni’s hotel problems
Aston Kajara, a state minister, was also quoted as saying that the fall-out from the controversy had resulted in President Yoweri Museveni having trouble finding a hotel room in Texas in September last year, when he visited the US state to drum up investment.

“There were campaigns against the government of Uganda to the extent that even the hotel they had booked for him had to change. We engaged consultants to intervene and stem the hostility against the president on behalf of Uganda,” the Observer quoted him as saying.

The anti-gay bill, under which gays could have been jailed for life, was signed into law by Museveni in February 2014, but was struck down six months later by the constitutional court on a technicality.

The law drew widespread international condemnation, with US Secretary of State John Kerry likening it to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany.

Since then MPs have proposed another law criminalising the “promotion” of homosexuality, although activists say it would be equally repressive.

Uganda would not be the first African country to engage image specialists to spruce up a dented image.

Last month the Kenyan government took on influential Washington lobbying firm Podesta Group for a reported $30 0000 a month plus expenses, the country’s leading Daily Nation reported.

The firm’s main objective is to persuade the US government to allow direct flights from Nairobi, which have for years been declined on security reasons, Kenya’s ambassador to the US was quoted saying.

This includes the removal of tourist advisories and other negative impressions formed by Americans, the paper said, noting that the country has in the past been represented in the US by two other image management firms.

In 2012 the country’s president Uhuru Kenyatta hired British PR firm BTP Advisers to promote his election campaign, which came at at time when he was facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court.

In media interviews the firm said it was providing “strategic advice on the election campaign and providing international media relations support since there’s an enormous amount of international interest in this election.”

The hiring of the firm was seen as ironical as the Kenyatta campaign had cast “Western imperialists” as interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, has also had a long relationship with Western image consultants. It’s latest contract with US firm Levick ran into headwinds after Nigerians queried its role.

Levick was signed on in June last year reportedly for $1.2-million, to improve media coverage of the Nigerian government’s efforts to rescue over 200 schoolgirls abducted in north eastern Nigeria.

The Los Angeles Times reported the firm had helped get prominent media placements for president Goodluck Jonathan, including an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

In reaction to the furore, the firm in a statement said: “As the world witnesses the brutality of Boko Haram, and its cowardly tactics of using children as pawns in their terrorist campaign, Levicks’s only mission is assisting the Government of Nigeria with its number one priority – the rescue of the girls and combating terrorism.”

The girls are yet to be rescued, nearly a year after they were kidnapped, but a multinational force has helped turn the tide against the Boko Haram militants who claimed the abductions.

Photo with the Obamas
In 2002 Angola hired Washington PR firm Patton Boggs to rebuild ties with the US government, on a reported one year-contract worth $2.2-million, or $2.9-million in current terms. The ruling party was during the Cold War backed by the Soviet Union.

In 2009 when US president Barack Obama and his wife posed for an official photo with Equatorial Guinea president Obiang Nguema and the First Lady, it was the culmination of several years of lobbying.

Nguema, who came to power in a coup in 1979, spent several years in the diplomatic cold, leading to the US closing its embassy in 1994. However the discovery of huge oil reserves in the country changed that dramatically, but the Malabo government had also sought out American PR strategists to help the effort.

Washington lobbying firm Qorvis Communications was taken on for a reported $60 000 monthly, while US regulations also showed a former official in the administration of president Bill Clinton as being paid $1-million a year.

In 2006 the Sudanese government took on New York firm Summit Communications. whose most high profile work for its client appears to have been the insertion of an eight-page advertising insert in the New York Times.

Khartoum was said to be aggrieved by the negative media coverage in the US, and UN accusations that it was complicit in the violence in its Darfur region.

Global marketing giant Young & Rubicam in 2008 also ran an election campaign for Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, in a vote that he came close to losing before his main opponent Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of a second round face-off.

Blair’s long list
The increasing involvement of former highly placed officials is also a trend, with former British prime minister Tony Blair through his Africa Governance Initiative seen to be advising up to 10 African governments.

Brussels-based campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory, in a new hard hitting report said while there was a global trend to “outsource” diplomacy, there is “currently a particularly fierce ’Scramble for Africa’ among Western PR firms.

Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo form part of the 18 case studies in the report named Spin doctors to the autocrats: how European PR firms whitewash repressive regimes.

Uganda and Egypt are also mentioned, with loose European Union regulations cited for the lack of more information about African clients, as opposed to the US where reporting is mandatory.

The report says that governments engage such firms to help them get trade preferences and preferential accession talks, and to succeed they need a good image.

Electioneering is identified as a key moment to bring in such firms, which in their defence often say they are seeking to bring about progress on human rights issues.

According to the report, Nigeria is Africa’s biggest spender on image-making, ahead of Egypt and Morocco. – MGAFRICA Writer, Agency.

This article first appeared on the Mail & Guardian‘s sister site,

Nigeria – Buhari and Jonathan sign peace accord days before election


Nigeria election: Jonathan and Buhari sign peace deal

A poster of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and presidential candidate of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is displayed side by side with leading opposition All Progressive Congress presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari along the highway in Lagos
Gen Buhari is predicted to present a strong challenge to President Jonathan

Nigeria’s two main presidential candidates have signed a peace accord to prevent violence in tightly contested elections due on Saturday.

Ex-military ruler Abdussalami Abubaker brokered the deal in talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and his main challenger Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria’s Peace Committee raised concerns on Monday that campaigning had been marred by hate speech.

Some 800 people were killed after the disputed 2011 elections.

Mr Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from Gen Buhari, with some analysts predicting a photo-finish.

In 2011, official figures said Mr Jonathan won by a wide margin.

Gen Buhari said those results were fraudulent, and violence broke out in his mainly northern strongholds.

On Wednesday, Nigeria’s government ordered the closure of all land and sea borders to ensure a peaceful election.

Kenya – new constitution brings no benefits and impunity still reigns


Kenyan political leadership: the more things change…
24 March 2015

The Kenyan constitution of 2010 proposed to revolutionise the way in which the country’s political leadership interacts and functions by devolving power to county governments.

This was aimed at promoting a more participatory, interactive and inclusive system of governance. Political leadership was to play a vital role in sustaining this new system, as outlined in the chapter on leadership and integrity.

The guiding principles here include selfless service based on the public interest; honesty in the execution of public duties; accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and discipline and commitment in service to the people.

What Kenyans are witnessing today, however, contradicts this vision of a better-governed country. Some political leaders have rather focused on ensuring impunity for their corrupt activities, in many instances by hiding behind their political parties and ethnicity.

The post-2010 political leadership has been unable to adapt to the devolved system of governance, which calls for transparency and accountability. Instead, leaders continue to engage in a way that is combative and confrontational, punctuated with negative political posturing.

The political leadership has restricted accountability and entrenched impunity within the public sector

This has created an ‘us-versus-them’ situation between different parties and leaders, with those seen to be close to members of the other political side labelled as traitors. The situation continues to worsen. Political parties and coalitions threaten members with party disciplinary action and expulsion for their working relationships with those perceived to be ‘enemies’ – including the government, in the case of the opposition.

This continued form of abrasive political engagement shows that the country’s leadership has neither been dynamic nor innovative enough to measure up to the new political systems.

This has led to high levels of intolerance, which can be witnessed even at grass-roots level. On 14 September 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta was heckled by rowdy youths in Migori County – a stronghold of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

A similar scenario occurred during the funeral of Fidel Odinga, son of the CORD leader, Raila Odinga, when individuals sympathetic to the ruling Jubilee Alliance were heckled while addressing the mourners. County governors from both sides of the political divide have been subjected to this trend. CORD governors Alfred Mutua and Evans Kidero Machakos, and Nairobi governors, have been taunted, accused of being Jubilee moles and threatened with party disciplinary action for their relationship with the government. Jubilee-affiliated governors were likewise also asked to quit and were called traitors due to their Pesa Mashinani referendum initiatives.

Political leadership ought to transcend the social, economic and political divides of society

This leadership crisis should be viewed against the backdrop of the hotly contested 2013 general election, as well as alignments ahead of the 2017 elections. The Jubilee administration seems to have acquired a ‘winner takes it all’ attitude and looks set to govern without input from the opposition. CORD has been pushing for national dialogue with the Jubilee government, but without success.

The hard stances adopted by members of the Jubilee Alliance is based on a belief that engaging with the opposition would make the government seem weak, failed and lacking leadership acumen. This stems from a perception that the opposition’s calls for dialogue is a strategy by CORD to negotiate their way into government, as Alan Duale, the National Assembly Majority leader, has stated on several occasions.

This model of political leadership has a negative impact on governance, as every national concern is politicised and approached in a partisan manner. Consequently, the leadership has been unable to unite the nation even when it comes to important national policies and strategies. This has resulted in crucial national initiatives being contested and lacking in legitimacy due to their partisan origin. The Security Laws Amendment Act 2014 is an example, given the contestations the act elicited after it was acrimoniously passed in the National Assembly. The lack of dialogue led to valuable resources being lost at a time when the country is facing increased security risks, as different stakeholders filed court cases to challenge the legality of the act and seek judicial interpretation.

When leaders are involved in corruption issues, the matter is usually dismissed as a witch-hunt

The governance style of the current political leadership has severely restricted accountability and entrenched impunity within the public sector. This is because whenever senior political leaders are involved in ethical or corruption issues, the matter is usually politicised and dismissed as a political witch-hunt.

Recent allegations of bribery and corruption against the National Assembly oversight Committee on Public Accounts is a case in point. The committee’s Honourable Ababu Namwamba has recently been facing a vote of no confidence to remove him as the chair. His party (CORD) came to his rescue, however, saying that the vote against him was a scheme by the ruling coalition to install a Jubilee-friendly chairman. Consequently, the matter shifted from ethical to political, despite the fact that there were audio recordings which allegedly demonstrate how six committee members of Parliament had received bribes. It is reported that CORD leaders met with their members of the committee and urged them to back down.

The inability or unwillingness of the political leadership to become dynamic and innovative, and adapt to new institutional mechanisms, threatens to erode the principles of good governance in Kenya. This will inevitably result in a confidence crisis: the public will only become more mistrustful and disillusioned as the leadership appears to be dedicated towards self-preservation instead of public service. Political leadership ought to transcend the social, economic and political divides of society to promote sustainable and equitable development. It’s time for our politicians to show that kind of leadership.

Sebastian Gatimu, Researcher, and David Wamugo Wagacha, Intern, Governance, Crime and Justice Division, ISS Nairobi

Africa and the world – rising but on the margins


As pressure mounts for Africa to take greater responsibility for development, peace and security on the continent, the question of regional leadership becomes pressing. A recent African Futures paper explores the changing power capabilities of Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa (the so-called ‘Big Five’) over the next 25 years. These countries are all leaders in their respective regions and hold some of the greatest power potential in Africa.

Collectively, they represent 60% of the African economy, 40% of Africa’s population and 58% of the continent’s military spending. This is expected to remain the same over the next 25 years. The future of these countries will provide a fairly straightforward answer to the often-evoked question of whether or not Africa is rising. Indeed if these states fall or fail, Africa will not be able to rise.

The authors of the paper, published by the Institute for Security Studies and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, use the International Futures forecasting system to forecast future power trajectories. In an increasingly flat world where institutions matter, states that don’t network will have little influence on issues of regional and global governance.

The projections explored in the paper are based on a new index to measure national power, which includes diplomatic engagements in addition to traditional measures such as demographics, economics and technology.

If the world were a democracy, Africans would certainly have a bigger say

Today, the combined power of Africa’s 55 countries accounts for close to 9% of global power. This is more than that of Japan, Russia or India, but less than the United States (US) or China, which represent about 18% and 13% of global power, respectively. By 2040, Africa’s total relative power is forecast to surpass that of the declining European Union (EU) and US – although only adding up to around 11% of global power. This is at odds with the world’s demographic evolution. By 2050, one in four people will be African. If the world were a democracy, Africans would certainly have a bigger say.

In the next couple of decades, Africa is set to remain at the margins of global power. And this is an understatement, as Africa is clearly neither a country nor a union of states with any kind of supranational provisions. Even with significant advances in regional and continental integration, it is highly unlikely that Africa will speak with one voice in foreign policy matters, or be able to act in unison.

Only Nigeria has the potential to become a player with global significance. But this would require far-reaching changes in its current domestic stability, governance capacity and political leadership, which is an unlikely scenario. All other African countries are expected to remain so-called ‘minor powers,’ which affects Africa’s influence in issues of global governance.

For the Big Five, the data tells a story of two emerging powers and three whose potential is waning. The capabilities of Nigeria and Ethiopia are expected to grow considerably in the next 25 years. Those of Egypt, South Africa and Algeria, on the other hand, are forecast to remain stagnant or experience a slight decline.

Nigeria’s economy, already the largest in Africa, is expected to represent almost 3% of the global economy by 2040. Its military spending is set to increase significantly over the next 25 years, ready to overtake Africa’s current military heavyweight, Algeria, in more or less 10 years. By 2040, Nigeria is forecast to account for nearly a fifth of Africa’s total power capabilities.

By 2040, Nigeria is forecast to account for nearly a fifth of Africa’s total power

Ethiopia, the other rising power, is coming from a low base and the country will remain the poorest among the Big Five. Nevertheless, by 2040 it is expected to be the sixth largest African economy due to high average economic growth rates. Algeria, Egypt and South Africa are likely to grow below the African average growth rate of 6.3% per annum. The size of their populations will also stagnate – although this is due to higher general levels of development, which are associated with lower fertility rates.

Among the Big Five, Egypt has traditionally dominated the category of global diplomatic engagement. This can be gauged according to the number of embassies abroad, the number of memberships to international organisations and the number of international treaties ratified by a country. Egypt’s strategic location, and its important role in both Arab and African nationalism, ensures that it is deeply connected internationally. Egypt is closely followed by South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria, while Ethiopia lags behind. Not surprisingly, South Africa made big strides after the end of apartheid in 1994 when the country reintegrated into the international community.

The way the Big Five project power is not necessarily in line with their capabilities. After all, power is as much about potential as it is about concrete projection. Some countries are able to influence more international actors, institutions or regimes than would be expected based on their capabilities, while others don’t live up to their potential.

It is questionable whether South Africa will continue punching above its weight

This is the case for Nigeria, which has been punching below its weight despite a strong set of capabilities. High levels of internal instability and corruption along with a political economy of violence compromise the country’s prospects. There is also a lack of strategic vision in the foreign-policy domain, which has recently been aggravated by the growing threat of Boko Haram.

Algeria’s role in Africa is also at odds with its relatively robust albeit declining capabilities. Faced with significant domestic and regional threats, Algeria remains focused on the need to maintain a large military capacity for internal purposes.

Egypt punches above its weight internationally, but below its weight in the African context. The country is struggling to cope with the aftermath of the Arab Spring as well as spill-over effects of the conflict in neighbouring Libya. Domestic challenges seem to detract from projecting power outside of the country, with external priorities evolving around the conflict in the Middle East and efforts to contain terrorism.

In contrast, both South Africa and Ethiopia have largely punched above their weight. Despite its limited capabilities, Ethiopia is Africa’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions and plays an important role in peace and security matters in the Horn of Africa. Indeed, regional security is a domestic priority for Ethiopia.

South Africa, for its part, has capitalised on the miracle of the transition to democracy; Nelson Mandela’s legacy; the international activism of his successor, Thabo Mbeki, as well as several years of healthy economic growth and a benign global environment. Yet it is questionable whether the current context of stagnant or even declining capabilities and a lack of credible leadership will allow South Africa to continue punching above its weight in the medium-term future.

What seems certain is that the distribution of relative power in Africa will remain multipolar, with various countries fulfilling the role of regional leaders.

Julia Schünemann, Senior Researcher and Project Leader, African Futures and Innovation Section, ISS Pretoria; Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director, ISS; Jonathan D. Moyer, Associate Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures.