Duplicate problems, different responses

The United States and Venezuela traded harsh words after President Nicolas Maduro said that parties that boycotted last month’s mayoral elections would be banned from future elections. A ruling party bigwig said this reflected the government’s belief in multiparty democracy, a position that refreshes memory on the calls to make voting mandatory witnessed in the wake of low voter turnout that marred President Uhuru Kenyatta’s fresh presidential elections win.

Something for Judiciary to learn from our neighbours down south

While the Supreme Court has been lauded for its independence from the way it handled the recently concluded presidential election petitions, the Judiciary could borrow a thing or two from the way its South African equivalent has dealt with corruption at the highest office.

Two courts ruled against South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma just days ahead of a conference in which the ruling African National Congress Party was scheduled to select his successor as party leader. One court ordered him to allow an independent Judicial Review into the allegations of state capture in which he is accused of appointing Cabinet Ministers at the behest of people with whom his family has business interests another court ordered that he personally pay costs associated with his efforts to prevent the anti-corruption ombudsman from releasing a report in which these allegations were made.

Zuma doesn’t care for self-flattery after all!

Still on Zuma, hardly is a speech littered with irony as the one he gave at the ANC national conference where the part was scheduled to choose his successor. The 75-year-old said the party’s poor local election results last year “were a stark reminder that our people are not happy with the state of the ANC”.

He blamed the decline in support on “perceptions in society that we are soft on corruption, self-serving and arrogant…Petty squabbling that takes us nowhere needs to take a back seat, our people are frustrated when we spend more time fighting among ourselves instead of solving the daily challenges they experience… Factionalism has become the biggest threat to our movement.” Zuma said.

The ANC is still South Africa’s biggest party by far, but the 54 percent it won in local elections last year was its worst poll result since the 1994 elections that marked the end of white-minority rule.

Coming of age? Supreme Court’s ground-breaking decisions…

Hot on the heels of its acclaimed decision in the first presidential election petition of 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya has made another stellar contribution to jurisprudence with its grand pronouncement on the death penalty. In Francis Kioko Muruatetu and another vs. R petition No. 15 of 2015 the Bench declared unconstitutional the mandatory nature of the death penalty as provided for under section 204 of the Penal Code. The Court also recommended that the Attorney General, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions as well as relevant agencies prepare a detailed professional review in context of the decision with a view of coming up with a framework to deal with the re- hearing and sentencing of death row convicts.

Palestine shows Israel two can play at that game, but which way Middle East?

In a hurriedly convened meeting of the Islamic cooperation in Istanbul Turkey, members recognised the Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. There was strong condemnation too for the United States and Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that Palestine would no longer accept Israel as a mediator in the peace process. In his strongest speech yet, Abbas termed the move a crime and urged the United Nations to take over the peace process. The summit was convened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a self-proclaimed champion of the Palestine cause.

Trump is a maniac, yes, but for whom does he act, really?

Just whose interests is Donald Trump advancing? In the last month alone he has managed to push through a tax bill that slashes the taxes rich corporates pay by almost 15%, as well as stir up fresh conflict in the Middle East and the world by unilaterally declaring Jerusalem to be the Capital of Israel. Before then he had threatened to blow up North Korea and called President Kim Jong Un “little rocket man”. He has also made it obvious his support for various forms of extremism and white supremacy courses not to mention increasing military presence in Afghanistan.

In line with continuing special investigations into collusion between the trump campaign and Russia and his supposed bromance with Russian president Vladimir Putin, some say that he is pushing Russian interests.  Others presume that his is a selfish course since he belongs to the top cadre which most of his economic policies look to favour. But could it be more than that? It’s plausible that Trump is advancing the interests of a tiny cabal of rich businessmen and powerful oligarchs believed to control the world? In his critically acclaimed book War is a racket, the late Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, arguably America’s greatest war hero, revealed that all international crises are manufactured crisis with a profit motive. In what could blow the lid on Trump’s behaviour, General Smedley demonstrated that foreign policy is decided and executed for the benefit of these powerful groups who install and control government from behind the scenes.

Same forest, different alpha monkey

Really, is there any difference between Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his predecessor, Comrade Robert Mugabe? Mnangagwa unveiled a new cabinet in which he kept most of his predecessor’s worst ministers, appointed generals to the foreign and agricultural ministries and brought no technocrats or opposition figures into government as had been mooted, much to the dismay of Opposition politicians and human rights organizations.

For a long time Mnangagwa, 75, stood as Mugabe’s right hand man and even looked the likely successor to the veteran leader, until he was fired. It was always likely that his quest for regime change was fuelled more by the desire to have the whole cake for himself at the expense of the Mugabes and particularly Grace, than the need to institute actual reform as many thought.

Double victory for the ‘little man’, and the rest of them

Hardly two months after a Botswana transgender man won a 10 year battle to be legally recognised as a man, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, a transgender woman, has achieved yet another landmark victory in court.

Justice Leatile Dambe of the Botswana High Court ordered that Kgositau’s gender be changed to female in the national registry within seven days.

“The director of the National Registration is ordered to issue the applicant with a new Identity Card identifying her as a female within 21 days of this court order,” Dambe ordered.

Museveni may rule, but not if Ugandan doctors can help it

Uganda’s medical doctors recommended that all presidential candidates should be subjected to mental and medical checks to assess suitability to execute the duties of the highest political office in the land. The recommendations submitted by the Uganda Medical Association were part of the medics’ submissions to Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee which sought a medical opinion on whether an individual can still effectively execute the office of the president at 75.

President Museveni is 73 years old and under the current constitution of Uganda will not be eligible for re-election when his term fifth term expires in 2021. For the greater part of this year, Ugandans have been polarised by debate on whether the Article 102(b) of the constitution that provides for presidential candidates to be between the ages of 25 and 75 should be amended. The legal affairs committee was tasked to study the proposal and submit a report to be debated by Parliament.

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