Idasa questions judgement of Director of Public prosecution in arms deal

African democracy institute Idasa is questioning the judgement of former national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, who decided not to investigate Fana Hlongwane, an adviser to then defence minister Joe Modise, who we recently learned took a R24m payback  from a SAAB subsidiary Saab in its bid to supply Gripen fighter jets to SA.

In the light of the new information, Idasa adds its voice to the call growing in South Africa for the reopening of the arms deal investigation. Read the full article by Idasa’s Richard Calland and Judith February here.

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African Charter campaign mounts pressure for successful elections

There are 17 presidential and legislative elections due to take place in Africa this year, and after the violent electoral standoff in Côte d’Ivoire the time has come for African leaders and institutions to take elections seriously.  Idasa’s campaign to promote the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance needs ratification from 15 more countries to become a force to be reckoned with. Read more here.

Idasa responds to Swaziland crisis

As the protest campaign grows in Swaziland, and alarming reports grow of a security clampdown, African democracy institute Idasa calls on Swaziland to avoid further bloodshed and a repeat of the crises we have seen in conflict-ridden Libya and Ivory Coast – and urges parties in the mounting conflict in that country to aim towards building an environment that is conducive to dialogue and negotiations.

Idasa recognises citizens’ right to protest and make their voices heard, and sees the demonstrations as a clear indication of the determination, commitment and willingness of the people of Swaziland to pursue democratic reform.
Read more here.

Idasa asks where is Africa heading?

Idasa has issued a call to the African Union, the United Nations, development agencies and think tanks to engage in a very honest appraisal of the transition processes currently in practice on the continent. We remind our fellow African citizens that with a number of elections pending in Africa, and as our continent moves towards democracy, now is the time to reiterate our call to respect democratic, electoral processes and outcomes. Countries like Ghana, Zambia and South Africa have held successful democratic elections, but we can’t afford to ignore the lessons of Ivory Coast. To prevent such bloodshed in future we recognise the role of the African Union to determine African solutions to African problems, but call for honest debate on its capacity and willingness to do so. We also recognise the responsibility of the international community to protect civilians but believe there is an urgent need for clarity on the international interventions in situations where the rights of self determination are superseded by the need to protect innocent civilians in conflict between governments and their peoples.

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Statement from the spokesperson for the archdiocese of Abidjan

A statement from the spokesperson for the archdiocese of Abidjan has been published on BBC online talking about refugees in the cathedral. Read the full statement here.  All comments are welcomed here.

African citizens demand change, Idasa looks at implications for the continent

Now is the time for the African Union, regional African blocs and individual African leaders to stand beside Africa’s citizens in their call for greater democracy on our continent. African democracy institute Idasa sees in the waves of popular uprising in North Africa the opportunity for African leadership to support democratic consolidation; a consolidation that will allow for the advancement of the economic opportunities for Africa’s citizens and the amplifying of the voice of our people.

Despite differing circumstances and contexts, all the peoples in uprising share in common a demand — so long unheard — for human rights, reform and an end to the autocratic dispensations. This can’t be created just by determination on the part of citizens or secured by good intentions alone. Africa needs governments the world over to act promptly and decisively. Stable democracies, like that of South Africa, must come to the aid of those struggling with transition and offer whatever experience and practical support they can.

The Ivorian people are calling to have their vote upheld. Tunisia is now facing a power vacuum, after the Jasmine Revolution ousted authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, after 23 years. Its caretaker government is now facing nearly daily protests and a much weakened administration. Idasa adds its voice in support of recent UN action to halt the vicious attacks in Libya on citizens who are expressing their demand for an end to autocratic rule.

Idasa, as one of the leading democracy think-tanks on the continent, is inspired by this display of citizen action and calls for decisive leadership now to prevent further bloodshed, ensure civilian authorities are installed in government and support the change cried out for by citizens.

We urge the world to demand that democratic institutions be put in place, protected by entrenched constitutions, so that individuals cannot subvert them and they cannot be dispensed with by opposing elites.

South African former president Nelson Mandela’s decision to stand for only one term in office reminds us of the dangers posed when leaders — however iconical they may be — become entrenched in power over time.

Idasa reminds our continent’s leaders that democratic elections are the starting point of democracy, and the results of polls cannot simply be disregarded. Ignoring this universal and fundamental principle will have serious consequences for future generations of African citizens who have the right to live in peace and relative prosperity.

Is Ivory Coast to be the third country in which we as Africa allow an incumbent head of state to subvert election results and use violence to demand a continued presence in government? We are very concerned that a precedent is being set in place that will have serious long-term consequences for our continent.

Idasa believes that democracy extends beyond elections to active citizen participation, government accountability, and universal human rights. Disregarding these rights compromises our continent and undermines its history of resisting oppression and struggling for the rights of every man, woman and child.

At the same time as unrest envelops North Africa, we must not be distracted from the urgent need to support Southern Sudan’s efforts to build Africa’s next state and ensure it is a democratic, developmental one.

African countries in transition present opportunities for change; strong moral leadership now will translate into a chance for Africa to influence the shape of global politics and economics. While the former powerhouses of the past struggle with recession and stagnation, Africa has a chance to stand tall. However, we can only stand as tall as our smallest citizen and if we disregard the voices of our people, we sacrifice our ability to contribute to global change.

For further comment please contact Ivor Jenkins, Idasa’s Head of Portfolio and Project Development, on ijenkins@idasa.org.za or 082 445 1193  or Paul Graham, Idasa’s Executive Director, on pgraham@idasa.org.za or 0825713887.  See more info here.