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Zuma´s Regional Drivers of Change May 4, 2009

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by Mathias de Alencastro

South Africa is having one of the hardest socioeconomic crises since the ANC came to power. Although the country is technologically advanced, it hasn’t been capable of sustaining his energetic needs. The Rand, underachiever currency of the year, lost 12% against the dollar in the past months. The growing inflation and the high interest rates slow down the foreign investments. Supposedly the model of Africa’s development, South Africa is recaptured by its own demons. Mbeki’s “Africa’s renaissance” doctrine is not convincing.

Photo by Fábio Zanini

Photo by Fábio Zanini

Jacob Zuma arrival to the head of the ANC and his election as president are taking place through an important transition period in Southern African politics. Presidential elections will be held in Angola and Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe is facing its deepest crisis. Apparently, Jacob Zuma found an external solution for the South Africa internal crisis. This approach might shatter the regional relations in Southern Africa

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Land conflicts in the country of safaris April 19, 2009

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by Vera Quina

p10302671Violent land disputes and forceful evictions of pastoralists have become commonplace in the once calm district of Kilosa, southern Tanzania. Since last January, clashes between pastoralists and peasants have left six people dead, a large amount of properties and houses destroyed and led to the displacement of more than 2,000 persons. The land question is central to the ongoing disputes in this area, but for some reason these events go unnoticed in Tanzania, one of the last peaceful countries in Eastern Africa.

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Zimbabwe: whose responsibility to protect? February 6, 2009

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By Vera Quina

As I am writing this article, the Zimbabwean parliament is approving a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that will supposedly solve the almost year-old crisis.

what-crisis

Last March there were general elections in Zimbabwe and the party of Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) seems to have won the first round. However, the elections were tampered by the ZANU-PF party of Mugabe who asked for a second round, denying Tsvangirai an outright victory. Moreover, they unleashed a violent intimidation campaign against the supporters of the opposition; Mugabe’s brutal tactics surely paid-off as he was declared the winner of the June run-off election.

Needless to say that the 84 year-old Mugabe has been the uncontested leader of Zimbabweans for the last 28 years, and that he feels most comfortable in that position; he even went on saying that “only God” can remove him as the head of Zimbabwe. In the meantime, the majority of his 9 million fellow-countrymen are starving (90% of the population is poor), unemployment is massive (over 85%) and there is a rampant inflation (11 Million percent?!), not to mention the recent surge of cholera.

So, is Zimbabwe a case to invoke a responsibility to protect? If so, whose responsibility is it?

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Obama’s Presidency: balancing expectations January 26, 2009

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by Vera Quina

Hope for Africa too?

Hope for Africa too?

On Tuesday, the 20th of January Barack Hussein Obama, the first Afro-American winning the White House, was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. I did not have a chance to go to Washington and see it live; in fact, at the time of Obama’s speech my plane was landing in Newark, New Jersey. But while I was waiting in the long queue of immigration, I managed to get some glimpses of the inauguration ceremony and was pleasantly surprised and touched by seeing the streets of D.C filled with thrilled faces of so many African Americans. When the TV screened showed a man selling T-shirts with a picture of the White House and the slogan “THE BLACK HOUSE” I could not help to crack a smile.

During his campaign Obama surely fueled dreams, and African-Americans, many of whom long felt estranged with politics, listened and gained “HOPE”.

But what will a black President really bring to Africans in the United States and in Africa?

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Peace or Justice – Which should come first? November 11, 2008

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by Vera Quina

Both peace and justice are fundamental requirements for a long-lasting peace agreement destined to pacify a worn-torn country. However, in countries tormented by civil wars there is often a prioritization of peace, which is more easily defined and has short-term benefits, i.e end of the killing and suffering; thus, it is more obvious for society to first ask for it. Moreover, arguing for justice it is not as clear-cut (Whose and what justice?), making its case more difficult to defend, particularly when it is pursued at the expenses of continuing conflict (indictments of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army –LRA- and of President Bashir in Sudan). (more…)

Somalia, the most neglected crisis in the world. What is the Security Council doing? October 20, 2008

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by Vera Quina

Somalia remains today a challenge for the international community, as it is the worst and the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world, with 3.2 million people, almost half of the country, at risk. Apart from the political instability that has been lasting for 17 years due to warlordism and clan politics, the food price rises and the harsh drought make Somalia a quite complex case. If lawlessness in Somalia is not dealt with, the country is bound to become a safe haven for drug traffickers, terrorists and even pirates, as recently proven. (more…)