Who’s next

There is almost universal consensus that the elimination of corruption will bring Africa to the fore, allowing it to take advantage of its demographic profile. The big challenge is democracy. The death of two leaders, one in Ghana and the other in Ethiopia, offers an interesting contrast.

On July 24th, within hours of the sudden end from cancer of Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, his deputy, John Mahama, was sworn in with impressive constitutional calmness to replace him.

The death of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s authoritarian leader for the past 20 years, whose failure to implement a succession plan has left a power vacuum that portends potential problems for the country and the region. That will expose the West’s failure to promote the long term benefits of democracy where once the country had achieved stability following the ravaging starvation in the 1980s exacerbated by a similar political vacuum at the end of the Haile Selassie era.

The rest of Africa is jealous of Ethiopia’s proud heritage and success at avoiding colonisation in the Scramble for Africa during the latter stages of the 19th century.

It’s time to right a wrong.

More at:
Bye-bye big man
In rude health
Meles Zenawi’s successor faces challenges
Ethiopia profile

The man who tried to make dictatorship acceptable

What price a life

The death of 34 rioting miners killed by police at a Lonmin mine in Marikana South Africa is in stark contrast to the 17 police injured by rioting youths at Amiens in northern France.

The South African police say that their response was in self defense, yet only one officer sustained minor injuries. Video footage reveals a panicked response, with the police firing live rounds at the onrushing crowd. The police in Amiens were armed with non-lethal rubber bullets.

Ultimately, if anyone is held accountable for the deaths, it will probably be the police officers who fired the shots. But this is really an issue of poor preparation and inadequate training exacerbated by bad management. Besides those who fired the bullets, senior government officials are also responsible should be held accountable.

One of the reasons Senegal elections this year were peaceful, disproving predictions ofviolence, is the police’s professional handling of the pre-election demonstrations. This was very different their poor handling of the demonstrations only months earlier, when voters objected to President Wade’s attempt to change the constitution.


The Senegalese police’s interim training paid dividends as they showed discipline and order in the face of clear provocation. Conflict was avoided, resulting in a smooth transition of power.




South Africa deserves better, and that will only start when the people in power start being held accountable for the deaths that they cause.

More at:
Zuma announces inquiry into Marikana shooting
Peace organisation blames Zuma, ANC for Marikana killings
Liberté, égalité, fermeté?
Violence flares

Will South Africans’ anger boil over?

Crazy weapons

If you live in America, you are four times more likely to be murdered than if you live in Britain, almost six times more likely than in Germany, and 13 times more likely than in Japan. Two-thirds of all murders in America involve guns, whereas in Britain the figure is under 10%.

Colorado’s latest slaughter of innocents confirms the insanity of allowing weapons to everyone, and yet neither the President, nor his challenger are saying anything.

The second amendment which reads:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

is the foundation on which the weapons lobby depends. They believe that the Amendment’s phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” creates an individual constitutional right for citizens of the United States.

Some scholars point to the prefatory language “a well regulated Militia” to argue that the Framers intended only to restrict Congress from legislating away a state’s right to self-defense.

The controversy was addressed by the courts in 1939 in United States v. Miller. The court determined that the scholars were right. That opinion stood for almost 70 years, until 2008 when in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller when the court reinstated the individual right for U.S. citizens to possess firearms. The decision was reaffirmed in the 2010 decision of McDonald v. City of Chicago.

People are right to rebel against their soldiers being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why aren’t they equally vocal about the mass murders happening at home?

That’s crazy.

More at:
Colorado’s dark night
United States v. Miller (No. 696) 26 F.Supp. 1002, reversed.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER (No. 07-290) 478 F. 3d 370, affirmed.

Let the games begin

With the appointment of Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has confirmed his intention to focus on the state of America’s economy as a primary issue in the run up to the election. That’s a good thing.

In probability the Republican’s candidate will continue to blame the incumbent for the current state of affairs and promise that he will do much better. He’s already said as much.

What positive effect can a politician’s policies have on an economy?

Efficient government is key. And that’s where the disagreement will start – at least after the blame game’s ended.

Functional overlap
One issue that rarely gets raised is the level of duplication that exists across agencies – sometimes within agencies. For example there are 16 fiefs covering the intelligence responsibility. These agencies duplicate efforts, each trying to outdo the other, instead of sharing critical information. The details of the issues were set out in a Washington Post exposure following a two year investigation.

The challenge of fixing this is the responsibility of the Director of National Intelligence. This position has had a regular change of incumbents who, undermined by a lack of authority, struggle to fulfill the mandate.

Costly tax code
An unnecessarily complex tax code, with thousands of tax breaks that favor interest groups, exacerbates wealth inequality, and costs the country hundreds of billions in breaks and incentives, administrative overhead, and expert advice for tax payers.

The belief that congressional oversight provides democratic control over the President’s powers is a myth. When dominant party in the house is not the same as the President’s the country sinks into a morass of partisan bickering.

It would preferable for America to adopt a system of referenda, with proper controls and balances to avoid California’s mistakes, to enact significant legislative changes.

Direct involvement demands that electors understand the implications of important decisions. Rather than having partisan commentary, public debates between experts educates voters, and permits them to make decisions that are informed.

Dream on.

More at:
Seeking a new spy-in-chief
A bad job
Shirtsleeve time
What’s your security clearance?
A hidden world, growing beyond control
Another fine mess