[in] focus

Africa’s self-reliance in the context of changes in global power

Central to the idea of African renewal or renaissance is the continent’s ability to reduce and ultimately end its excessive dependence on others to finance even its most basic programmes. Ubiquitous poverty, a heavy disease burden, rampant corruption, weak intra-African trade, slow integration and other factors hamper Africa’s ability to achieve this. Yet, increasingly remittances and competition between new and old donors provide opportunities for Africa to grow its self-reliance.

Recent reports suggest that some R2 trillion worth of remittances are expected to reach developing countries in 2012. This development is to be applauded as it means that gradually poor countries will become less dependent on foreign aid.

In 2008, remittances from migrants constituted two percent of GDP of developing countries and three percent in case of low-income countries. The inflows declined in 2009 as a result of the effects of the global economic crisis, but picked up again in 2010. This means for the second year in a row and in the midst of a deepening global economic crisis, remittances are on the increase.

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Congolese need to go beyond vigilance on Election Day to become everyday architects of the desired open and democratic society

The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) defied all man-made and natural disincentives to go to the polls on 28 November 2011 to elect a new President and members of the country’s 500-seat National Assembly. As predicted, logistical challenges and growing intolerance on the part of contenders and their supporters had a negative impact on the conduct of the vote in almost all the 11 provinces of the DRC. Besides the shortage of voting material that forced the electoral commission to extend the ballot by two days in some parts of the country, incidents of violent confrontations, arson attacks on polling stations, as well as intercepted attempts to stuff ballot boxes with pre-marked papers are also reported to have marred the DRC’s second post-transition general elections. Needless to say, these irregularities have to some extent compromised the quality of the ballot and risk exposing the outcomes to severe contestation.

Looking beyond what, by most accounts, appears to have been a chaotic poll, to a consideration of its implications for the quest for an open and democratic society in the DRC, one heartening development cannot be overlooked – the vigilance displayed by the Congolese populace. The November 2011 elections were observed by much fewer international monitors than was the case in the first transitional elections in 2006. Coupled with the weak resource base of political parties and local civil society groupings, this reduced international presence had, prior to the polls, prompted fears that the vote in most parts of the vast country would unfold virtually unmonitored.

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South Africa-Nigeria Tensions: Whither Cooperation for Common African interests?

Wasted opportunity is a phrase that best captures the unexplored possibilities for cooperation between two of Africa’s major powers — Nigeria and South Africa. Embroiled in numerous feats of tug-of-war, South Africa and Nigeria find themselves opposing one another too often. This leaves little room for heightening political and economic cooperation between the two African powerhouses.

The battle for a potential African seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been a major source of contention between South Africa and Nigeria. As the most populous African nation, Nigeria’s permanent membership on the UNSC would more proportionately represent the African continent. Similarly, as the most economically advanced country in Africa, a seat for South Africa could signify increased economic possibilities for UN operations in Africa. While both South Africa and Nigeria offer compelling arguments for UNSC permanent occupancy, they would do well to ensure that their competition for permanent membership is not at the expense of their relationship.

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Sheer MADness: Should ‘fairness’ negate efforts to curb nuclear proliferation?

With a president seemingly hell-bent on murdering his people in Syria, a looming electoral disaster in Egypt, and the ongoing crisis of the Israel/Palestine question, it didn’t seem like the situation in the Middle East could become any more volatile. Hats off to Iran, then, for adding to the muddled morass of Middle East politics.

With a president seemingly hell-bent on murdering his people in Syria, a looming electoral disaster in Egypt, and the ongoing crisis of the Israel/Palestine question, it didn’t seem like the situation in the Middle East could become any more volatile. Hats off to Iran, then, for adding to the muddled morass of Middle East politics.

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Contextualising South Africa’s Foreign Policy Towards Zimbabwe

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, seems to be tougher on Zimbabwe than former president Thabo Mbeki with his much criticised ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach. What led to this rapid change?

Zuma can be condemned for many controversial decisions he has made in the past, but one has to give him credit for promoting a democratic process in Zimbabwe. As vice-president under Mbeki, Zuma was not particularly outspoken about the Zimbabwe situation. This changed soon after he lost his position as vice-president.

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