Friday, February 28, 2014

Namibia: Almost a million people registered

THE Electoral Commission of Namibia earlier this week said it has registered almost a million voters since 15 January 2014.The ongoing general registration of voters, which comes to an end on Sunday, has recorded 974 545 prospective voters.The ECN said, of this figure, 2 619 people registered with the country's diplomatic missions all over the world.

ECN's director Paul Isaack said they are satisfied with the registration and further encouraged all eligible voters to register at the nearest points in their constituency as soon as possible. The director of operations at the ECN, Theo Mujoro, said the Commission hopes to have more than a million people registered when the deadline is reached.

Source: The Namibian

MEC has released nominated candidates to contest the 20 May parliamentary elections

1,290 people have been approved by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to contest for the May 20 polls as Members of Parliament for the 193 constituencies that the country has.In a press release that has seen the missing of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson, the commission has indicated that it has approved nominations of 1,290 people who aspire to be members of Parliament.

Of the total number, 1,033 are men while only 257 are female. This has completely hit at the gender 50/50 campaign as it means that more men are in the race.Last week the commission approved 11 people out of a possible 12 for the seat of Presidency and only two were female while the other nine were males.

Source: Malawi Electoral Commission

MEC demarcations confuse constituents and party leaders

There was rare unity between main political parties’ supporters; Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) on Wednesday, February 26 as they presented their grievances against confusion on two registration centres that belong to two constituencies.The team led by senior Group Village Headman (GVH) Martin Ndozi presented their grievances on Monday to an official at the Lilongwe District Commissioners office.

Their major demand is that Tsabango 1 Centre and Dolicasterns School under Lilongwe Central Constituency be transferred to Lilongwe City South East Constituency.“We are not happy for Doricasterns School and Tsabango to be in Lilongwe Central Constituency (Rural) and we want them to be under Lilongwe City South East Constituency,” reads part of their petition, signed by chiefs and party officials from the area. The GVH told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that all along they had been getting development activities through Lilongwe City Assembly and hence the two centres under Tsabango 2 Ward should be transferred to Lilongwe City South East Constituency.“This is very confusing. We have been told that we will be voting for a member of parliament from Lilongwe Central Constituency and at the same time vote a councilor from Lilongwe City South East Constituency,” said Ndozi.

PP shadow councilor for Tsabango 2 Ward, Linda Mpela, concurred with Ndoz saying the demarcation would force people to vote representatives they don’t need.“We have been told by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials that people from this ward who registered at Tsabango 1 School and Dolicasterns School would vote for a councilor under Lilongwe City South East Constituency and a member of parliament from Lilongwe Central which does not make sense,” she said. She then urged MEC to include Tsabango 1 School and Dolicasterns under Lilongwe City South East Constituency.A Mec official told Mana on condition of anonymity that the constituents had a case and blamed MEC for having taken this long to clarify the issue.The source said all along the area in question has been under Lilongwe Central Constituency such that Tsabango 1 centre has been in Lilongwe Central Constituency.

“The confusion is coming in because local government polls and the demarcation does not make sense because it’s like these people belong to two different constituencies. They will have a councilor from Lilongwe City South East Constituency (Tsabango 2 Ward) and a member of parliament from Lilongwe Central Constituency,” said the source.He further said a Member of Parliament from Lilongwe Central Constituency complained that he was failing to initiate development activities in the area (Tsabango 2 Ward) because of the confusion. “The Member of Parliament told us that he was finding it difficult to start development activities like construction of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) depot.“They would not use money allocated to Lilongwe Central Constituency under Local Development Fund (LDF) for an area which is under Lilongwe City South East Constituency in terms of ward demarcation,” he said.Malawi would hold Tripartite Elections for the first time on 20th May, 2014.

Source: Mana Online

South Africa: IEC gazettes election timetable

After meeting with all major political parties contesting the upcoming elections on Wednesday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has gazetted the election timetable.The timetable sets the dates and deadlines for various aspects of the upcoming national and provincial elections, including the submission of party candidate lists, objections to candidates, applications for special votes and notifications by overseas voters.

“The election timetable covers the key legal requirements to be met by voters, political parties and the IEC over the 70 days leading up to the 7 May 2014 elections,” the commission said.According to the timetable, the lists of candidates will be submitted by March 12.

The deadline for objections to candidate lists is 1 April and the opening date for the submission of special votes applications is 7 April.The parties have unanimously adopted the election timetable, according to the IEC.The IEC has already reached its target of a registration of 80%, with 24.5 million South Africans eligible to cast their ballots.

Source: Morning Africa

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Egypt takes steps to replace government

Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour is taking steps to appoint new leaders, a day after the military-backed government resigned. Mansour asked Ibrahim Mahlab, a former minister, to begin consultations to form a new government, according to state-run Nile TV.

The former government headed by Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi turned in its resignation to Mansour on Monday, adding new uncertainty to the nation's three years of upheaval. Mansour accepted the resignations and thanked the prime minister and his Cabinet members for their service.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Liberia: Political parties defy NEC

Twenty (20) political parties whose registration and certification risk revocation of the National Elections Commission (NEC) have in the strongest term, dismissed the NEC’s petition filed before the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.The parties described the petition as a hunt-down of legitimately registered and recognized political parties in the country. According to them, the commission’s action is a witch-hunt orchestrated to confuse the electorate ahead of election.

The parties argued that no part of the Constitution of Liberia gives the National Elections Commission the power to penalize political parties it believes are in constitutional breach.The NEC recently filed a petition before the civil law court, seeking the revocation of registration and certification of 20 political parties, including the National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP and Citizens Unification Party or CUP, amongst others. The NEC said its action is in line with Article 79(c) of the Liberian Constitution, which requires that the headquarters of registered political parties should be situated in the capital city, and Article 83(d) which mandates political parties to publish and submit their sources of funding and assets, including bank balance of US$10,000 and expenditures on the 1st of September each year, no later than thirty (30) days prior to the holding of an election.

The NEC in its petition against the parties also cited Part II, Chapter IV of the Electoral Guidelines which provides for penalties against political parties specifically revocation of registration and certification upon failure to adhere to both articles 79(c) and 83(d) in the provisions of the Constitution.With the petition filed by the NEC, it is incumbent upon the political parties concerned to make their returns after 10 days, something the parties said they did on February 20, 2014 through their lawyers. But the 20 political parties in a joint press conference held at the headquarters of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) said, the NEC is in grave error by not taking into consideration Article 84 of the Constitution, which gives the Legislature the power to provide penalties by law for any violations, not the NEC.They described the NEC’s action as reckless, capricious, and malicious as well as a demonstration of power beyond the contemplation of the authors of the Constitution of Liberia.

Reading the joint statement signed by all of the 20 political parties, the National Chairman of the Citizens Unification Party (CUP), Momolu Freeman said: “We, the current protectors of our democracy hold to the fact that the NEC led by Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah failed to understand Article 80(b) of our law, and at such, political parties henceforth have lost confidence in the NEC.”Freeman said shortly, the parties will petition the 53rd Legislature for a vote of no confidence in the NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoyah. However, NEC Communication Director Joey Kennedy told the NewDawn that the commission would not respond to the parties as the matter is already before the Civil Law Court.

Source: The New Dawn

Malawi: MEC denies that stolen hard disk had the voters register roll

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has come in the open to deny allegations that a hard disk that was stolen by its temporary data entry clerk, Hanleck Bwetule, contained the voters register roll.Reports circulated that a hard disk containing a voters register roll had been stolen by an official at the Commission casting doubts over the credibility of the 2014 elections.However, MEC has released a statement denying the reports. Below is the report:

(for immediate and urgent release to all Political Parties and the Media)


The Malawi Electoral Commission would like to correct some misinformation regarding an external hard disk that was stolen on Saturday, 22nd February, 2014.The Commission would like to inform the public that the external hard disk which was stolen by Mr Hanleck Bwetule, who was working as a Temporary Data Entry Clerk, did not contain the voters’ roll. The external hard disk was used within the ICT Department for transferring of documents from one computer to another and NOT storage of the voters roll.

The Commission is assuring all electoral stakeholders and the general public that information about the voters roll is safe and intact. The voters roll, containing information of about 7.5 million registered voters cannot fit into an external hard disk of 500GB. Such information is stored on a server where access is strictly controlled. The public should also know that it was MEC officials who recovered the external hard disk from Mr Bwetule. During interrogation he confessed that he stole the gadget to make up for the deductions on his last month’s payment because of absconding duties. He was later reported to the Police considering that his act was criminal.

Dated at Blantyre this 24th day of February, 2014.

Willie Kalonga

Source: Face of Malawi

Mozambique makes election reforms to end violence

Mozambican lawmakers voted on Friday to reform the body that will oversee upcoming presidential elections, in a bid to end violent skirmishes with a revived rebel movement that have destabilised the country. After a brief debate lawmakers from the ruling Frelimo party as well as the main opposition party Renamo voted unanimously to reform the body that will oversee presidential elections in October.

Renamo had demanded sweeping changes to the electoral law, arguing that without more equal representation on electoral bodies, Frelimo would steal the vote. In late 2012 Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama returned to remote base in central Mozambique, vowing to reignite the country's brutal 16-year civil war that resulted in the death of an estimated one million people.Since then, his Renamo supporters have fought a low-level insurgency against government troops, attacking public infrastructure and killing civilians and soldiers.

The party boycotted municipal polls over the issue last year.The crisis had been top of the agenda in a series of negotiations held between the government and Renamo MPs in Maputo aimed bringing calm to the centre of the country.Under the reform the National Election Commission will increase from 13 to 17 members and Renamo will gain two seats bringing its tally to 4.Parliamentary speaker Veronica Macamo described the vote as "historic".

Source: AFP

Algeria's President Bouteflika to run for re-election

Algeria's president, who has not publicly addressed the country for nearly three years, will be running for a fourth term in April.Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 76, suffered a stroke last year and critics say he is still too ill to govern.His candidature was announced by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal."Even if he has not completely recovered physically, I can assure you he is in possession of all his mental and intellectual faculties," he said.

Algeria has the largest land area of any African state, is rich in oil and gas, and under President Bouteflika has been an ally of the US.The president, in power since 1999, is one of the few remaining veterans of the war of independence against France.He is credited by his supporters with curbing a brutal insurgency by Islamist extremists and restoring economic stability.But he has had persistent health problems and his rule has recently been dogged by corruption scandals implicating members of his inner circle.

Despite regular elections, power in Algeria remains in the hands of a small group of military and intelligence leaders.The question of whether Mr Bouteflika would seek re-election has dominated Algerian politics in recent months, with normally concealed differences between senior party and military officials emerging in public.This month, a retired senior general urged him to step down "with dignity" and not stand for re-election.

One opposition figure called on the president to publish his medical records before seeking office again.Mr Bouteflika has appeared only rarely on television and always in a wheelchair since returning from a four-month convalescence in Paris after his stroke.He appears to have limited movement on one side of his body.Despite his illness, correspondents say he is still likely to win the 17 April election. His National Liberation Front party has ruled Algeria for nearly three decades and opposition political groups are weak.

Source: BBC

Friday, February 21, 2014

South Africa: Over 30 000 vote in by-elections

Ballots were cast by 30 565 of the 87 957 people registered to vote in 10 municipal by-elections around the country, according to results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Thursday.A total of 411 spoilt ballots were recorded in nine of the 10 wards in by-elections on Wednesday. Citizens in only one ward - Thaba Chweu in Mpumalanga - did not spoil a single ballot.

The highest number of votes cast was in Ward 43 in Cape Town where 5 670 of the 18 889 registered voters made their mark.This was followed by Ward 48 in the eThekwini Metro where 5 631 of the 15 597 registered voters cast their vote.In Ward 35 in Cape Town 5 299 out of 16 787 registered voters visited the polls.Ward 49 in the Ethekwini metro saw 5 124 of the 15 912 registered voters casting a ballot.Of the 4 420 registered voters in Saldanha Bay, 2 362 people made their mark.

On the Hibiscus Coast in KwaZulu-Natal, 2 064 of the 5 201 voters cast their vote.Fewer votes were cast in Greater Taung (1 472 out of 3 859 registered voters), Lephalale in Limpopo (1 359 out of 4 310), Kgatelopele in the Northern Cape (968 out of 1 783), and Thaba Chweu in Mpumalanga (616 out of 1 199 registered voters).

Spoilt ballots
The highest number of spoilt votes was recorded in Ward 48 of KwaZulu-Natal's eThekwini metro with 116 spoilt ballots, followed by its Ward 49 with 102.In Cape Town, Ward 35 had 51 spoilt votes, followed by the nearby Ward 43 with 46 spoilt votes.Greater Taung recorded 37 spoilt votes, and the Hibiscus Coast had 19. Closely behind was Lephalale in Limpopo and Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape with 15 spoilt votes each.At the bottom was Kgatelopele in the Northern Cape with 10 spoilt votes.

The 10 wards were contested by 37 candidates, representing 13 political parties and four independent candidates.Four of the previous councillors had died, three had resigned, and three were expelled by their parties.The ANC won six of the wards and the DA secured the remaining four.A spoilt vote is a ballot cast that cannot be counted, usually because the paper was filled in in a manner that made the choice unclear.

Source: News24

South Africa: ANC wins 6 by-elections whiles DA wins 4.

The ANC has won six of ten wards in the municipal by-elections, according to results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Thursday.The Democratic Alliance won the remaining four wards. In KwaZulu-Natal, African National Congress candidate Shunmugam Moodley took Ward 48 of the eThekwini Metro with 2 407 votes out of the 5 515 valid votes.Ward 49 of eThekwini was won by DA candidate Donovan Pillay who secured 2 542 votes out of the 5 022 valid votes.On the Hibiscus Coast, DA candidate Zuret Opperman won Ward 12 with 1 131 votes out of 2 045 valid votes.

In Lephalale in Limpopo, ANC member Alpheus Thulare took Ward 9 with 1 270 votes out of the 1 344 valid votes.In Thaba Chweu's Ward 12 in Mpumalanga, DA candidate Nicko Janse van Vuuren defeated ANC candidate Akilantwanana Leshaba with 540 votes out of the 616 valid votes.In Greater Taung in the North West, the ANC's Keamogetse Moipolai won with 1 021 votes of the 1 435 valid votes. In Kgatelopele in the Northern Cape, ANC candidate Yvonne Kerneels won with 489 of the 958 valid votes.

In Ward 35 of Cape Town, ANC candidate Mzuzile Mpondwana won with 79% of the votes.In Ward 43 of Cape Town, DA candidate Elton-Enrique Jansen secured 4 523 (80%) of the votes to win.In Ward 9 of Saldanha Bay, ANC candidate Ikakanyeng Matthews Riet won 1 977 votes [84.2%] of the 2 347 valid votes.The 10 wards were contested by 37 candidates, representing 13 political parties and four independent candidates.Four of the previous councillors had died, three had resigned, and three were expelled by their parties.

Source: News24

Malawi electoral body releases names of presidential hopefuls

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Thursday announced the list of 11 aspiring presidential candidates as preparations for the May 20 general elections gathered pace.These include incumbent President Joyce Banda, Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika, Malawi Congress Party’s Lazurus Chakwera, United Democratic Front president Atupele Muluzi, and National Salvation Front leader James Nyondo.

Other presidential hopefuls are Progressive Party Movement’s Mark Katsonga, Chipani cha Pfuko leader Davis Katsonga, George Nnesa of the Tisinthe Alliance, United Independent Party’s Hellen Singh, People’s Transformation Party leader Kamuzu Chibambo and Labour Party president Friday Jumbe.Section 51 of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act obliges the MEC to publish names of validly nominated candidates for presidential election within seven days from the last day of receiving nomination papers.

The nomination court for aspiring presidential candidates opened from 10-14 February.Umodzi Party leader John Chisi was disqualified from running for president after his nomination papers were found not to meet the minimum requirements for presidential candidates. MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said Chisi’s nomination papers were rejected by the commission for not meeting the requirements set by the Malawi Constitution. According to the Malawi Constitution, no person shall be eligible for nomination as a presidential candidate if they hold public office.“We expected the candidate to resign from his public office before presenting the nomination papers to our office in which he did not,” he said.

Source: Star Africa

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

South Africa: ANC says DA's impeachment threat is 'hot air'

The ANC on Wednesday dismissed Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko's warning to President Jacob Zuma as an empty, rhetorical threat. "We are aware that, with the election looming, some political leaders will blow plenty of hot air at every direction in order to grab as many headlines as possible," ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani said. "There are opposition parties in Parliament who have offered the electorate no alternative or creative ideas since 2009, except to repeatedly call for the president of the country to resign."

On Tuesday, Mazibuko vowed to table a motion to impeach Zuma if the public protector's report on his private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, implicated him in wrongdoing. Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on Zuma's State of the Nation address on Tuesday, she told MPs she wanted to deliver a very clear message on the Nkandla "scandal", which involved over R206m of public money.

"I want to use this opportunity to send a very clear message to our honourable members, that should the honourable president be involved in any wrongdoing in the public protector's report on the Nkandla scandal, I will not hesitate to table a motion to impeach him in this House," she said. Sizani on Wednesday claimed Mazibuko's comments were designed to pressure the public protector to find Zuma guilty.

"While certain opposition parties have clearly demonstrated that they exist for no other reason except to engage in a negative and anti-Zuma campaign, as the ANC we will continue to celebrate with the people our achievements and our practical plan to move South African forward beyond the 2014 election," he said.

Source: News24

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tunisia's New Constitution: How Compromise Won Out Over Conflict

Tunisia's new constitution marks a decisive turn to democratic and civil rule, not only in its content but in the context of how it came about. The constitution that was finally passed by Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly (NCA) at the end of January may be as important for the way in which it came about as for what it actually says. In both its process and outcome, there is a lot at stake for Tunisia, the continuing revolutions in the Arab world, and beyond.

In a previous article, I talked about the culture of constitutionalism in Tunisia and how the latest episode of it bears its imprint. The first phase of the transition after the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was rich in constitutionalism; the second one, in which the NCA was elected to write the constitution, got bogged down in electoral politics and sidelined its own mission. The parties entrusted with the task ended up unable, many of them perhaps unwilling, to bring it to a conclusion until they were compelled to turn their minds to it by civil society mediators in the aftermath of political assassinations and mass street protests.

The first of these assassinations − the killing of Chokri Belaid on 6 February 2013 − was a turning point in the transition and marked the silencing of an influential figure who often spoke about “Tunisian intelligence”, by which he meant a critical mass of educated elite formed through a specific educational system and confluence of historical and geographic factors unique to the country. That intelligence, he argued, is both what would save the nation and what the post-revolution state should invest in.

Part of this intelligence and elite is the labour movement and civil society, and indeed, throughout the past three years − through five governments and three presidents − one thing has remained constant: namely, a culture of dialogue, compromise and what may be called institutionalism. By the latter, I mean a belief in, and consolidation of, institutions even as the system as a whole was faltering. The frame of dialogue and the road map masterminded by Tunisia's main trade union (UGTT) along with three key civil society organisations − the association of business owners (UTICA), the Tunisian League of Human Rights, and the Lawyers Association − have been the determining factors in the text as well as the context of the constitution.

Source: Think Africa Press

Ramphele debacle won't harm DA - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille, who has been confirmed as the DA's presidential candidate, says her party's short-lived alliance with Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele will not harm its chances in the upcoming elections. According to the Cape Times, Zille said the aborted merger will benefit the DA and cost Ramphele's party more votes. The DA will gain one or two percent of the national vote because Agang is gone, Zille reportedly said.

Moved on
She added that the DA had moved on from what had been an embarrassing episode for both parties, and that the failed deal with Ramphele had not caused any ructions in the party. Zille failed to rule out further talks with Ramphele, saying she never say never, but DA officials told the Cape Times that the DA is "over Ramphele".

Meanwhile, Beeld reported on Tuesday that the DA federal council over the weekend had placed Zille at the top of the party's election list. In terms of the DA's constitution, the party leader is entitled to occupy the first position on the candidate lists. The constitution also makes provision for the party leader to be a premier or mayoral candidate. Despite the failed deal with Ramphele, DA officials accepted Zille's detailed explanation of the move, and were reportedly keen to guard against uncertainty ahead of the May elections, unanimously endorsed Zille as the party's presidential candidate.

Source: News24

Monday, February 17, 2014

French MPs visit CAR ahead of vote on military intervention

A  delegation of 10 French MPs were to travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday for a one-day visit ahead of a vote in the French parliament on whether to extend or stop the French Sangaris military operation there. Although the French intervention was intended to be short, France has made little progress so far in the CAR as sectarian violence shows little sign of abating.MPs must vote soon to endorse or oppose the government's decision to send troops.Last week Paris said it would send 400 more soldiers, although it was also able to announce on Sunday that a much-hoped-for European contingent would be sent within a few weeks.

The visit is an initiative of the Socialist head of the French parliament's foreign affairs committee, Elisabeth Guigou.French MPs need to see what's happening on the ground before making a decision, she told RFI.I suggested this visit two or three weeks ago, because it seemed legitimate that MPs see the on-site progress of the operation Sangaris with their own eyes before the vote to extend the mission on 25 February," she said. "We will meet with CAR political authorities first - President Catherine Samba-Panza, Prime Minister André Nzapayéké, as well as the foreign affairs, defense and public safety ministers."

The MPs were also to meet the heads of the French and African military operations in the CAR and hopes to see local NGOs.Guigou believes that there is consensus in parliament on extending the operation and even to beef it up.Nzapayéké on Sunday met leaders of Christian anti-balaka militias, some of whom said they were "ready to cooperate to restore peace" although many have been involved in reprisals against Muslim Séléka militias.

Source: RFI

Analysis: As Malawi gears for presidential polls, Banda’s halo slips

In May, just a few weeks after South Africa, Malawi will go to the polls. Despite never having won an election before, President Joyce Banda is hoping to remain in charge – this time with a real mandate from the people. But it won’t be easy. Although her presidency began brightly, she’s falling into some of the same traps as her notoriously corrupt predecessor, and people are beginning to notice. By SIMON ALLISON.
Before Nelson Mandela died, most South Africans didn’t know who Joyce Banda was. They certainly would not have been able to pick Malawi’s president out of a line-up. But then she came to his funeral, and gave a simply magnificent speech, concluding with this unforgettable, Madiba-inspired advice: “Leadership is about falling in love with the people you serve, and them falling in love with you.” She was eloquent, moving, and deeply personal. Malawi was in safe hands, we felt, and the international community concurred. On taking over the presidency and appearing to right many of her predecessor’s wrongs, Banda was lauded widely.

Malawians might feel a little differently. Last week, on Valentine’s Day, President Banda submitted her nomination papers to the Independent Electoral Committee, confirming that she would stand as the People’s Party candidate in the presidential election scheduled for 20 May. If she wins, it would be her first election victory (in 2012, she assumed power after the death of incumbent Bingu wa Mutharika).But a victory is by no means guaranteed. Hanging over Banda’s head are accusations of dishonesty, graft and incompetency, and Banda’s political opponents are gleefully sharpening their (metaphorical) knives. Forget Mandela. If we’re going to mention Banda in the same breath as a major South Africa leader, then Jacob Zuma might be a little more appropriate.

Zuma has the Nkandla scandal clouding the last days of his first term in office. For Banda, it’s Cashgate. Last year, a series of suspicious incidents (in particular the attempted assassination of a senior civil servant, and the discovery of huge amounts of cash in the boot of another’s car) opened the lid on a massive, multi-million dollar corruption scandal, which the BBC described as “the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history”. Initial investigations revealed that while the rot may have set in under the late Mutharika, it had certainly continued under Banda, and she had done little to stop it. In total, it’s estimated that around $250 million may have been lost through dodgy payments made to dodgy businessmen for services that were never in any danger of being rendered.

President Banda was appalled – in public, at least. “"We need to start fighting corruption from individual, household, community to national level…It is everybody's war,” she said. She also commissioned a government report looking into the scandal, with assistance from forensic investigators loaned by the British government. In addition, at least 70 people have been arrested as part of a separate police investigation (although opposition groups have dismissed this as going after the “small fry”, while the “big fish” swim free).
Despite this, Banda has never been able to shake claims of involvement herself. And even if she was not involved, the sheer scale of the corruption is an indictment of her administration, and her ability to control it.

Either way, it reflects a serious problem at the heart of Malawi’s government, and donors – who provide 40% of the country’s budget – were unimpressed, suspending some $120 million in funding. Privately, several representatives of international aid organisations working in Malawi have told the Daily Maverick that while Banda has talked the talk, she has failed to take any meaningful action against high-level perpetrators.

Source: Daily Maverick

Credibility of 2015 Polls Tops Agenda as US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission Ope

As the nation continues to prepare for the 2015 general election, discussions aimed at establishing benchmarks for a transparent and inclusive poll would top the agenda at the United States-Nigeria Bi-National Commission (BNC) which opens in Abuja today.The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, would lead the Nigerian delegation, while the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, would lead the US delegation at the February 17 to 18 meeting.

According to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Abuja yesterday, the Governance, Transparency, and Integrity Working Group of the BNC would also discuss the continued integration of the civil society into the electoral process ahead of the next general election in Nigeria. It read in part: “On governance issues, corruption is a potential impediment to effective governance and economic development in Nigeria.  Through the BNC, we aim jointly to improve Nigeria’s capacity to fight corruption.

“The commission allows for dialogue and strategic thinking designed to expand mutual cooperation across a broad range of shared interests.  It is also a collaborative forum to build partnerships for tangible and measurable progress on issues critical to the United States and Nigeria.“Participation in the commission meeting reflects the commitment of the United States and Nigeria to their strong bilateral relationship.  The United States supports the aspirations of the Nigerian people for a peaceful, prosperous, stable, and democratic future.”The BNC was inaugurated in April 2010.

Source: The New Day

Friday, February 14, 2014

Nigeria Elections: Jonathan vowed to serve single term – Obasanjo

President Goodluck Jonathan undertook before elections in 2011 to serve only one term as president, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said. Bloomberg quotes Obasanjo as saying in an interview in London: “President Jonathan said, not only once, twice, publicly, not only inside Nigeria, but outside Nigeria, that he would have one term, and said that to me,” Jonathan has been in power since his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, died in office in 2010. When he won 2011 elections he broke an unwritten convention within the ruling People’s Democratic Party to rotate power between the south and the mainly Muslim North, but has not yet said whether he intends to stand for re-election in the 2015 general election.

One of the things that is very important in the life of any man or any person, is that he will be a man or a person of his word,” Obasanjo said. “If you decide your word should not be taken seriously that’s entirely up to you.” Obasanjo, who backed Jonathan’s presidential campaign four years ago, declined to say whether Jonathan should or shouldn’t stand for re-election. A former military ruler in the late 1970s, he later served two terms as elected president after military government ended in 1999. Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman, couldn’t be reached on his mobile phone for comment as it was switched off, said Bloomberg.

Source: Daily Trust

Libya denies rumours of impending coup

Libya's government and armed forces on Friday moved to quash rumours of an impending coup after a retired general called for parliament and the government to be suspended. In a video posted on the Internet, Mr Khalifa Haftar announced an "initiative" looking to the interim authorities being suspended. Both the prime minister and the head of the armed forces poured scorn on the idea of a coup d'etat. Mr Haftar commanded ground forces during the 2011 uprising that overthrew the 42-years of Muammar Gaddafi's leadership.

"The command of the Libyan national army announces its initiative for a roadmap, that will be made public in the coming days" in consultation with different parties, Haftar said in the video.
The initiative foresees the suspension of the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's highest political authority, and the transitional government. It also looks to the formation of a presidential commission headed by the president of the Higher Judicial Council.

Its a lie
"The Libyan national army has decided to act... not in order to govern but to prepare the proper conditions" for elections, Mr Haftar said. After Haftar's video was released, rumours quickly spread on social networks that a coup may be in the offing."It's a lie. The situation is under control and there is no suspect movement," the army chief of staff's spokesman Colonel Ali al-Shikhi said. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan described the rumours as "ridiculous", saying that Haftar "is not a member of the military". He was retired," Mr Zeidan said, adding that state institutions were functioning normally.

It is not known if the former general has any support among the ranks of the army or from powerful groups of former rebels. Haftar, originally from eastern Libya where the revolt against Col Muammar Gaddafi erupted in February 2011, served under the strongman before defecting in the late 1980s. He returned to join the rebels after spending more than two decades in the United States. Haftar's video comes after the GNC on February 3 took the controversial decision to extend its mandate until December, despite opposition by much of the population critical of its inability to halt Libya's slide into chaos. The authorities have struggled to restore law and order in the troubled aftermath of the Col Gaddafi era.

Source: Africa Review

Malawi: MEC Predicts a High Contest in the Elections

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) staff members have been warned never to undermine nor lower the integrity and neutrality of the commission as an electoral body during the forthcoming nomination period.
MEC Chief Electoral Officer, Stanley Billiat issued the warning Friday at Masongola Hotel in Zomba when he opened a one-day nomination data entry clerk training organized to equip MEC clerks with data entry knowledge in readiness for the coming nomination exercise.

Billiat told the gathering that included MEC staff members from the Southern and Eastern regions of the country the commission will not hesitate to sever ties with the employees who will conduct themselves in a manner that tarnishes the image of MEC as an electoral body. When you go to work, you are the ambassadors of the commission. Whatever you do, will not only reflect on you but also the commission. Therefore, be sober and humble by treating all candidates with respect," explained Billiat. The electoral officer also assured the members, of the body's awareness of misconducts displayed by some MEC clerks during the previous registration period, pleading with them not to repeat the same during nominations.

Billiat asked the members to adhere to the rules set out by MEC, if the body is to deliver a free, fair and credible tripartite election.We have set a good foundation which needs to be utilized since May 20 is just around the corner and all eyes are on us. Despite challenges, the voter registration exercise went on successfully and we achieved 94.10 percent of our projection, an attachment which is enviable by most countries." said Billiat. In an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana) the MEC Officer said the training would equip MEC staff with data entry techniques that include picture taking skills and ballot paper management among others.

Billiat painted a picture of how closely contested this year's elections will be, hence urging MEC members to take the training seriously. There are 18 presidential nomination forms that have been collected. A total of 22 political parties have collected the forms for parliamentary elections while 21 political parties wish to contest in the 193 constituencies while six parties intend to field a candidate in all the 462 wards according to MEC records. Presentation of nomination papers is set to commence on 10th February, 2014.

Source: Malawi News Agency