Nigeria Prevailing Despite Setbacks

Feb 01, 12 Nigeria Prevailing Despite Setbacks

Posted by in Featured, International, Politics

To say that 2011 was a dramatic year in politics is putting things mildly. From  the Arab Spring in January to the political unrest in Cote D’Ivoire following the April elections, to the death of Kim Jong Il in December and the Christmas day bombings in Nigeria, one could easily have assumed that perhaps the first few months of 2012 would be calmer.  Alas, no such luck. Whilst in the middle of investigating the Christmas day bombings by the Boko Haram, the Nigerian government dropped  a bomb on the Nigerian public.  The government announced that it would cease subsidising the price of oil or any costs surrounding oil production on 1 January 2012 . In layman’s terms, Nigerians would be spending twice as much on petrol.  The price of petrol per litre shot up to 94 cents from 45 cents per litre. The government’s response to the outrage of the general public was a ‘promise’ that the biilions saved through not subisidising the cost of oil will be re-invested into the country’s infrastructure, in addition to deploying the military to the streets of Lagos to prevent the protestors from getting out of hand. The Nigerian government was facing the age-old challenge of balancing public spending in a manner that does not render the government completely penniless. Doesn’t this all sound familiar, if one were just to rewind 20 years (the 1980s for the mathematically challenged) when  certain African countries such as Tanzania were ‘strongly advised or recommended’ to cut public expenditure to help their economies grow and reduce government debt. This resulted in the opposite effect – African economies experieced negative growth and some are today still dealing with the ramifications of the implementation of those policies. This is not in any way to negate other  external factors such as the drop in demand for primary products which African countries exported or the effect of the oil embargos of the 1970s. However, there  have been some indications that the decision to stop subsidising economic...

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ANCYL – Would Nationalisation be so terrible?

Jun 29, 11 ANCYL – Would Nationalisation be so terrible?

Posted by in Politics

To some this would be a rhetorical question. For others it would be a resounding YES.  I would have answered in the same vein, but after hearing the ramblings and sometimes threats from the ANC Youth League and strong denials from the broader ANC movement; I have been compelled to delve into this issue. The idea of nationalising the mines is really not as new as some would have us believe. When the ANC first gained power in 1994, part of the economic plan was to gain some ownership of the mines to earn revenue to fund the social programs that had been planned. This plan was clearly derailed after the infamous trip Mandela took around the world on a fact-finding mission and in hopes of reviving the image of South Africa in the world.  Seventeen years later, we find South Africa the most successful economy on the continent beleaguered with many problems. South Africa stands as one of the most unequal societies with the current unemployment rate standing between 23 % and 25% as of the 4th quarter 2010. One may ask why the sudden focus on nationalization by the ANC Youth League? The ANCYL has stated that the  economy needs to be reformed which is true when considering the fact that the majority of the unemployed in South Africa are the youth and that poverty levels are increasing by the year. The question is whether this would be the solution. There have been cases where a government’s ownership or having the majority shares of natural resources has benefited the country. Neighboring countries such as Botswana have been able to positively use the revenue gained through their joint shares with De Beers in diamond mining. Botswana is known as the success story of the sub-Saharan region with a strong economy, a stable state and population that is well provided for. This is not any way denying the problems The worrying part about the ANCYL’s insistence that nationalisation be considered a viable option is...

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Who is your local councillor?

May 27, 11 Who is your local councillor?

Posted by in Politics

It seems most South African do not know. This was one of the concerns of the local government elections. There was public discontent at the selection of candidates. Protests in the North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State took place in the months leading up to the May 18 election with appalling results. Voters in Ermelo decided to boycott the elections in protest. Conflict arose as independent candidates were deemed unfit to run by the IEC, protestors took this to be a malicious attempt for the larger parties to retain power. There is no confirmation of this however. The more horrifying result was the death of the protestor Andries Tatane in Ficksburg at the hands of the police. The issue for many South Africans is that the first time they had ever set eyes ward councilors or mayors was on a poster or at a political rally running up to the elections.  There are two ways to look at this; the apathy of the South African public needs to change, a keener interest in the country’s politics should be taken. On the other hand, the very same public blames their apathy on the lack of delivery by the government. So the question begs who or what have people voted for? Representation is a critical issue in the South African political landscape. Racial, cultural and socio-economic representation has played a major role in who has won the elections over the last 17 years. Even though the ruling party has been largely responsible for the municipalities including some successes and disappointments, analysts did not expect to see voters voting according to their happiness or unhappiness with the ruling party. There have been many complaints, the poor want housing, the more affluent want security and better roads. The result: a largely disappointed public. The results of the elections reflect some accuracy in the political analysts’ conclusions. The ANC did win majority with 63.65 % of the overall votes. What is interesting however is that the ruling party...

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Remember the Ivorians?

Apr 15, 11 Remember the Ivorians?

Posted by in International, Politics

Again we are seeing civilians being held ransom by the ego-fuelled conflicts of their leaders. In the last four months, what could have been a new dawn for the Ivoirians has turned into a familiar nightmare of a civil war. Currently Ouattara’s forces have arrested Gbagbo who is now under house arrest. The question is whether this means that a settlement might be agreed upon. The realist in me highly doubts this, as Gbagbo has not shown any intention of doing so despite the ever increasing death toll of Ivorian civilians .The old adage of power corrupting the mind could be applied here. Images of a captured Gbagbo have an eerie similarity to the condition Saddam Hussein was found when he was captured. Ouattara has been reported to have lost complete belief in diplomatic means as a solution. His forces have literally taken the presidency by force leaving a rising civilian death toll in its wake; of course this has been vigorously denied. It is all becoming too familiar, the presence of French forces in the country that have seized the airport and mobilised French nationals to begin leaving the country. UN forces are on the ground, and have has also joined   ECOWAS, the US and AU in sanctioning Cote D’Ivoire.  The utility of such tools are questionable as it seems to harm civilians more than the leader they are directed to.  There is evidence indicating that sanctions do not scare but rather embolden leaders with tyrannical tendencies. One only has to think of Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe was sanctioned to the point that the economy collapsed. We all read the news of how much the Zim Dollar lost value, millions of Zimbabweans were plunged into poverty and were forced to migrate to make a living just to be able to send currency back home that will afford basic goods. The larger concern is what effective tools the international community can come up with to deal with these tyrants. Should the sovereignty of a state...

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One Wonders, What’s Next?

Feb 23, 11 One Wonders, What’s Next?

Posted by in International, Politics

We are in the second month of 2011 and one wonders, what else is the world in store for. In the last last couple of weeks, Egypt, Libya, Iran and Yemen have erupted into chaos. Citizens have to gone to the streets demanding that their leaders step down. On average these leaders have been in power for over twenty years. All this occurring as the world is still reeling from the news of civil unrest in Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire. One thing stands out, the people of Africa and the Middle East are ready for change. They have forced it on leaders who still thought the had another term in office. They are ready to enjoy their civil rights of living in a free un-oppressive state where they are no longer beholden to the whims and insecurities of their presidents. There has been some success, Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali were ousted. On the other hand Laurent Gbagbo still holds obstinately to ‘his’ office. The issue is that these leaders feel entitled to their position of leadership. It stopped being about serving the people of the country a long time ago, if it ever was. On the 17th of February 2011, Yuweri Museveni the president of Uganda for 25 years as of this year was quoted asking: “Why are people so agitated? The economy has grown, we’ve brought peace…” This indicates the general apathy certain leaders have towards democracy. He actually still believes he has ‘unfinished business’. This sounds so familiar, wasn’t Mubarak concerned that if he stepped down, Egypt would descend into chaos, as if the already looted capital did not demonstrate that the chaos he feared was already underway. For all the disdain some might have for democracy, it carries out an important task. Leaders are prevented from believing that they are the only factor that ensures development and stability. Even if they do, democratic practice dictates that one should not be in power for more than two terms. For the...

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