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Governance, Democracy and Accountability (720)

Sunday saw French citizens vote in the first stage of their presidential elections, with a second run-off stage for the two lead candidates Emmanuel Macron (of En Marche!) and Marine Le Pen (of the National Front) scheduled for 7 May. While it is premature to discuss the winner of the run-off election and its implications, the real interesting conversation must begin now, beforehand, for it is one about opinions rather than outcomes – opinions that veer strongly towards politics’ favourite new buzzword: populism.
With the passing of struggle stalwart Ahmed “Uncle Kathy” Kathrada this week, we are freshly reminded of his legacy in the anti-apartheid movement as well as that of other struggle heroes who fought for freedom. Among them are ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo and Steve Bantu Biko, the liberation activist murdered by security police 40 years ago, both of whom were commemorated on human rights day last month.
In his oration at Nelson Mandela’s official burial ceremony in December 2013, Uncle Kathy as Ahmed Kathrada was affectionately known, said that his friend had joined “the A-team” of the ANC, which included Chief Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Helen Joseph and Bram Fischer among others. Now the 87-year-old activist and struggle veteran has also left us to join them in a place that is more serene and less fraught than life on earth. 
SAIIA Policy Insights No 41, March 2017
A prominent thread in the conversation about Africa’s development since the end of the Cold War has been the need for good governance. The continent’s resource and economic constraints have posed serious problems but a consensus has emerged that Africa’s success would hinge on getting its policies, institutions and public administration in order. This need for good governance was underscored by the tide of democratisation in the 1990s.
The recurring xenophobic violence is no new matter in South Africa. In 2006 an assessment on South Africa's state of democracy by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), urged the government to address the perception that migrant workers are unfair competition for locals.
Monday, 27 February 2017

The Future of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe turned 93 last week, making him both one of the oldest and longest-serving presidents on the continent.
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 251, February 2017
In February 2015, South Africa experienced an upsurge of xenophobic attacks throughout the country.  In response to this horrendous act, SAIIA Chief Executive, Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, wrote this article and former senior researcher Tjiurimo Hengari wrote a related paper on the subject ‘Xenophobia Trivialises South Africa’s Ambitious Africa Policy’. Earlier this week the violent acts flared up again in Pretoria West. The institute again calls for an end to the violence and the stereotyping of certain groups as more crime-prone than others. South Africa must address the ‘demon’ of xenophobia and violence once and for all if it is to remain…
The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today launched the Fourth edition of the African Governance Report (AGR-IV).
This year's African Union (AU) January summit, appropriately themed around the potential of the continent’s youth, sought to position the continental body to meet the challenges of the coming decades – an era during which the continent, having fallen behind its global peers, is pursuing a decisive developmental breakthrough.
Technology for Accountability, or 'T4A', is fast becoming the latest catchphrase in development. Also called 'civil tech', T4A broadly refers to any use of technology to further the aims of good governance, enhance transparency and promote accountability. To explore this area, SAIIA held a workshop on 'Technology and Accountability in Africa in the 21st Century' on 3 November 2016.
‘Grandpa, it’s enough.’ Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party in South Africa, has called for President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to step down and not ‘overstay his welcome’. At 92, Mugabe is the oldest president in the world, bearing ironic comparisons to the gods of Ancient Greece. Like Zeus, who refused to share power with his siblings, Mugabe is unlikely to step down anytime soon.
Before fleeing over the weekend, President Yahya Jammeh plunged his country into a political crisis whose outcome will resonate far beyond Gambia’s borders. Having conceded victory to opposition candidate Adama Barrow after the 1 December election, Jammeh reversed himself a week later.
SAIIA Policy Briefing No 158, January 2017
SAIIA Policy Insights No 39, December 2016
In the latest in SAIIA's series of briefings exclusively for our diplomatic members, we were pleased to host a closed diplomatic lunch discussion on 'The Gatvol Syndrome - The Year in Review, The Year Ahead', with SAIIA Chief Executive Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, and SAIIA Deputy Chairman Moeletsi Mbeki.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Trump’s plans for Africa

Donald Trump's election as the 45th President of the United States of America was announced on 10 November 2016 - a day set to be remembered in history books.
The 2016 elections of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were scheduled for mid-September this year, and then postponed to 27 November. But the country is still nowhere near being ready to conduct a legitimate vote, and tensions there are reaching critical levels. What should South Africa be doing to help? 'Help'. That was the one-word message I received from my contact in the DRC. It was enough to tell me everything I needed to know.
SAIIA Research Report No 24, November 2016 Download - English Foreign Policy Programme As the global development landscape continues to evolve, new and emerging actors – countries transitioning from being aid recipients to aid providers – are becoming increasingly visible on the global scene. Although the approaches, interests and resources of emerging donors are far from uniform, their increasing presence in global development – particularly in fragile and conflict-affected settings – could create new ways of thinking about foreign aid and contribute to more horizontal, equitable and efficient practices. The rise of these donors also poses challenges: their compliance with…
How can technology can be used to enhance accountability and governance, especially in the African context? What has worked and what hasn’t, and why? What role do young people play? And what are the downsides of new technology? SAIIA held a conference today to discuss these issues and others.
The 2016 Mo Ibrahim Index was released earlier this month.
Declining safety and deterioration in the rule of law are holding back progress in governance in Africa. This is according to the latest Ibrahim Index of African Governance.
Partnerships between government and civil society organisations (CSOs) can be volatile if not adequately nurtured, leading to mutual suspicion and questioning each other’s agendas. CSOs in South Africa have recently expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of consultation and implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). This is a voluntary international initiative where government and CSOs work together to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The OGP will reflect on its first five years in New York on 21-22 September 2016 and the stakes are high for South Africa to lead by example and…
The African Peer Review Mechanism – the continent’s home-grown governance assessment and promotion tool – seems to be slowly turning its fortunes around. On 6-7 September, it will hold a workshop in Sandton discussing how to implement its first ever five year strategy for 2016-2020.
The slowdown of the African economy – due to declining Chinese demand for raw materials, unsustainable, uneven growth and the potential Brexit fallout – calls into question the hopeful ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. What is holding back Africa’s development, and what’s being done about it? To what extent is corruption to blame, and is the continent’s 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063, up to the task of tackling it? The latest ‘Panama Papers’ revelations, released late July 2016, have implicated more African countries – 44 out of 54 countries on the continent use offshore financial structures.
The drought that has hammered Southern Africa over the past years is a potent reminder (if ever it was needed) of the foundational importance of agriculture to the continent’s fortunes. Agriculture remains a mainstay of Africa’s economy, accounting for around a third of GDP and two thirds of employment.
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 232, May 2016
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