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The following was written by ASFL Executive Board Member Martin van Staden

The Cold War is over… but we know that! We’ve known it since the early 1990s. Unfortunately, however, we have not reaped the benefits of it being over here in Africa – much due to our own stubbornness.

fidel-castro-con-mandela

When the news broke that Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro had finally died, my mind wondered to his comrade Robert Mugabe, who is far more advanced in age than Castro was, but still rules Zimbabwe with an iron fist. Mugabe, however, also represents an ideological tendency which is evident in various places throughout Africa. The adherents of this ideological tendency are not yet convinced that the Cold War is over.

To them, Marxist-socialism still represents a viable framework for Africa’s development and prosperity, despite the fact that not only did reality disprove Marxist-socialism, but market capitalism has been steadily bringing Africa out of poverty!

Contrary to popular belief, the Soviet Bloc did not fall as a result of a military engagement or trade sanctions. Ordinary, everyday economics destroyed the Soviet Bloc, just like ordinary economics destroyed Zimbabwe, and how ordinary economics destroyed Venezuela. This is why the fall of the Soviet Bloc is often referred to as ‘the fall of communism’. It represented a moment in time when a particular ideology was, objectively, decimated by reality. This has not happened often in history.

But many in Africa are unwilling to accept this. When these individuals think back to the Cold War, they see only the Western powers not being not too keen on supporting the anti-colonial liberation movements, and the Soviet Union and Communist China, on the other hand, being more than happy to do so.

This support, however, was not out of the kindness of the communists’ hearts. They were very much committed to spreading their ideology around the world – whereas the West was not – and Africa and South America represented fertile ground for them to do this, as well as undermine the liberal West. 

Many of my peers are quite proud of how unapologetically pro-Castro they are. To them, the fact that Castro and the communists assisted the liberation movements, and, particularly, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, was enough to vindicate them and their ideology. While this is understandable within context, what bothers me is the fact that they would reject facts just to push narratives sympathetic to socialism.

The most glaring example of this is the continued belief among many who belong to the so-called ‘post-colonial’ school of thought that Cuban forces won a grand victory over the South African military in the Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale during the Border War.

This, despite the fact that only around 30 South African soldiers were killed in the period spanning 1987/88, while the Cubans and Angolans lost well over 4,000. The battle, from a strategic perspective, was a draw, because both the Cubans and the South Africans got what they wanted. (For the Angolans, however, the battle was a complete defeat. Unfortunately, the Angolan military did not, at any stage during the entirety of the war, match the far better equipped and well-trained South Africans.)

The only reason Castro romanticized the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, and fought so hard to make it appear like a grand victory for Cuba, was so that Cuba could exit the conflict in Angola with its head apparently held high. The Cuban people had supported the intervention, and the Soviet Union had paid for it. Castro could not afford for it to look like Cuba was defeated, otherwise risk losing already-dwindling Soviet support, and low public morale. It was simply underhanded Cold War political posturing.

It is truly bizarre that many of my peers continue to adhere to this twentieth century narrative. By doing so, they aren’t spiting those of us who oppose communism. Instead, they are contributing to the continued misery of ordinary Africans. They are – or they are at least trying to – breathe legitimacy into a doctrine that has killed more Africans than direct colonialism ever could; bearing in mind that Marxist-communism is certainly indirect colonialism. Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and all the other core socialist and communist theorists were white European men, after all!

There is no doubt that it is a taint on Western liberal democracies’ history that they opted not to support the anti-Apartheid movement quite as enthusiastically as the communists did, but that doesn’t change the reality of how economics works. Indeed, price controls will always lead to incorrect signals being sent throughout the market, thus leading to useless surpluses and disastrous shortages. And value will always be subjective, meaning that no amount of romanticizing farmland by post-colonial politicians, will ever make ‘patterns of ownership’ any more important in the minds of the people.

Individuals will always be the best judges of what is best for them. These are axiomatic truths which no amount of doctrinaire demagoguery will change. However, the Marxist ‘Frankfurt’ school of thought tried to delegitimize how economics works by attempting to deny logic; the very fabric of reality itself! Ridiculous!

When the Cold War ended, Africans should have rejoiced! The end of the Cold War meant that we no longer had to stick to our communist allies, despite the fact that economic realities did not support their position. When the Berlin Wall fell, so did our moral obligation toward the Soviet Bloc.

It is not too late. The principles of economics never change, and are waiting for Africa to embrace them wholesale.

Report by ASFL Executive Board member, Aimable Manirakiza

SFL Burundi 2

Students For Liberty (SFL) in Burundi recently completed its 2 months long inter-university competition in which 10 universities across the country participated. This Network For A Free Society (NFS) funded project was aimed at deepening the participants’ understanding of the principles and foundations of free societies. This was done through a CD (A free society) produced by the Coppet Institute with support from NFS. The project was divided into two parts: the intra-university competition and the inter-university competition.

The Intra-University competition

SFL Burundi 6This competition, also called the knowledge contest, was a question-and-answer game contest. It was based on 4 themes: liberty, free market, democracy and the foundations of a free society, with the basic theme being “The Principles and Foundations of a Free Society”. This took place between September and October in the 10 universities. The first stage was the internal elimination in each of the SFL Burundi club in thhose universities. They are: University of Burundi (Mutanga Campus), University of Burundi (Kamenge Campus), Upper Normal School (Kigobe Campus), National Institute of Public Health, Lake University (Kigobe Campus), Light University (Mutanga Campus), Light University (Kinindo Campus), Wisdom University (‘Afrique Campus) Asiatique, University of the Great Lakes Campus Saint Michel, Ntare Rugamba University.  Groups of 5 competed in each university to get the ticket to compete at the inter-university stage. A total of 500 students participated at this stage. SFL Burundi 4

At the end of each internal competition, there were prizes reserved for participants of the program. The winning team was presented a USB flash drives containing 100 texts on the ideas of a free society, didactic materials made of pens and notepads that helped them prepare for inter-university competition

 

The Inter-University Competition

The inter-university competition which is a second part of the project took place on October 28, 2016 in the amphitheater of the ENS with the participation of the ten (10) universities. Each SFL club from these 10 universities was represented by a team that won in the intra-univerity playoffs.There were 120 students from the ten schools ; club presidents, students from the ENS,  journalists fSFL Burundi 5rom different media organizations, bloggers and jury members were also in attendance. In all there were two hundred (200) participants at the competition. There was also a debate between the teams on how they conceive the idea of a free society in the country. The competition continued on to the semi-finals with 4 schools and on to the finals where the University of Burundi Campus Mutanga met the University of the Lake. The University of Burundi Campus Mutanga won the finals with 270 points against the 90 points obtained by the University of Lake Tanganyika. Consolation prizes were also given to the other teams

                                                Written by Nicholas Woode-Smith, ASFL Regional Director, South Africa.

It is important going into this article to specify how the success mentioned in the title is measured. Success is typically seen as a fulfillment of a function, but if Socialism as a system is measured in this way, then it fails dismally. The form of Socialism I am referring to is not the end-goal but the activism in spreading the ideology. In this sense, it is undeniable that Socialists have performed Chewell in the battle of ideas. I purport that this is not due to their virtue as a theory, but rather their lack of it.

As Libertarian leaders and activists, we know the struggle of gaining new adherents to our movement. Many people are indoctrinated by statism, or by socialist hypocrisy. In addition, it seems many people are just lazy and apathetic. This all culminates in a scenario where it is difficult to convert people into meaningful adherents to the Libertarian ideology.

Socialists, on the other hand, have this ability to generate new followers easily. People flock to socialist movements. They may not be meaningful adherents, but they do make up a critical mass that can help that movement succeed.

Discovering the failure of Libertarianism as an activist ideology and the success of Socialism in its efforts to spread itself as an ideology is crucial in subverting the latter and improving the success of the former – if possible.

What follows are a variety of reasons that could explain why Libertarianism struggles as an activist movement and why Socialism succeeds.

Socialism is simple

As a student of political philosophy, I can confidently say that Marxism is not a simple ideology – but that hasn’t stopped people pretending to be inspired by him to justify their simplistic ideologies. Socialism is the ideal of easy, quick fixes that solve all the world’s problems and bring on utopia. It promises Eden with the ease of a can-opener. As individuals versed in economics and history, we know this to rather result in hell on Earth, but the mob do not know this.

For the average joe or student, socialism is a simple ideology with a good message. To them, it is about helping the poor and overcoming social problems through a virtuous government. It is helped by a string of buzz words that don’t need much extrapolation. All socialists need to do is shout about overcoming oppression, helping the poor and destroying injustice – regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

As Libertarians, we need to target these buzz words and their claims. Socialism rests on the idea of a virtuous and selfless government. We know such a thing to be near to impossible. We have history, philosophy and economics on our side and can use them to disprove the Socialists. We just need to formulate the argument in such a way that minor adherents to Socialism understand and come to agree with us.

The difficulty arises in that Libertarianism is not a simple ideology. Many of us came to be Libertarians after reading books deemed too complicated for most. To be a Libertarian, one typically needs to be a minor philosopher at least. As activists, we have to either aim for a small amount of quality converts or dumb down our message to achieve critical mass.

Socialism lets people feel smug

One of the primary reasons why people become Socialists is so that they can feel smug and act like they’re helping people. As my article in the Rational Standard shows, this is seldom the case. Socialist activists are lazy and apathetic at best, not involving themselves in private charity or even lobbying for the policies they claim to support. Rather, the ideology exists only to breed self-satisfaction with minimal effort.

Libertarianism struggles in this sense. It is an ideology that calls for rational and virtuous selfishness – a concept that is too complicated for many. Above this, our opponents have succeeded in lambasting us, deeming us cold and callous. For many, it is hard to see the inherent unethical nature of free education. When they see us protesting it, they see us as cold and uncaring.

If emotions win debates, then Socialists win hands down. They have managed to construct their ideology into a contest of feels and offense. Libertarians try to engage in debates the more responsible way, through logical discourse, but this does not appeal to many possible activists.

Rather, Libertarians need to consider appealing to emotions more. We do have emotional issues that we can draw on. Protesting against war is a good issue to play on people’s emotions. Bringing up the atrocities of statism and Socialism are also good tactics to demonize the opposition. Individualism can also be approached emotionally to appeal to people’s conscience.

Socialism is ingrained in popular politics

Ultimately, the problem we have in opposing Socialism is that it is ingrained in our politics. Many African gove

Hayek

Friedrich Hayek

rnments are inspired by Socialism. Many parties want to implement it. Africa has a struggle history of Socialism. University academics love to promote it despite its history of failure.

Libertarians have to oppose this popularity by subverting Socialism at every turn. A movement lives or dies by the confidence of its members. At Students For Liberty, Rational Standard and in our daily lives, we must continue to oppose Socialism and disrupt their comfortable position atop the pedestal of popular political discourse. By doing so, we may just save South Africa and the world from another era of Gulags and failed economics.

This article was written by ASFL Local Coordinator, Odewale Abayomi Joseph.

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Based on the universal declaration of human rights, a few of the hallmarks of a society erected on the platform of liberty are: “everyone has right to life” and “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. While, “[those] charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty”.

It is quite worrisome and inhuman going by painstaking observation of recurrent trends in Nigeria; hardly will a week pass without cases of mob attackers mercilessly pouncing on suspects. Wide practice of this primitive act in this age makes one wonder whether Nigeria is experiencing progression or retrogression.

The recent cyberspace eruption over a “seven years old boy”; who was heinously murdered in Lagos for stealing “garri” brought to the fore the inherently laden and nagging practice of jungle justice which has infiltrated the colourations of our society. With utmost disregard to the rule of law, many people, with heartless effrontery, judge and kill fellow human beings without any sense of humanity. Sad to note that the indifferent passersby and bystanders at the gory scene derived joy in taking pictures and recording video clips for whatever reason they do so.

In saner climes, enough time is taken for proper investigation and prosecution of crime suspects. With the rampant mob attacks, many Nigerians are obviously not respecting human rights. This is invitation to lawlessness! The Shi’ites killings and Fulani herdsmen havocs further attest to infringements on human rights, adorned in nonchalance regalia — capable of invoking violence. These utter disregards for the sacred human lives are capable of causing outbursts, disorderliness and tension across this fragile nation if radical sanity is not restored.

The lawlessness in the offing is traceable to the rots in our diverse institutions. Such an irony, it is an insult to our judicial system seeing confirmed treasury looters arrested, meted with sham prosecutions and released on paltry bail terms. What baffles me is how these elitist manipulators are being hailed as saints by the masses while walking freely among those they deprive the essentials of good life due to their indiscriminate and over bloated plundering of our commonwealth. But the frustrated masses involved in “minute” offences are lynched by the angry mobs or sent to lifetime imprisonment.

All hope may be lost in the Nigeria Police and the NSCDC as they usually fail to respond promptly to cases of mob attacks. This situation has undoubtedly affected the integrity of our entire security system. The judiciary which ought to be the masses’ last hope inspires no confidence in the Nigerian people. The “Aluu four” lynching where “Chiadika Biringa, Lloyd Toku Mike, Tekena Elkanah and Ugonna Obuzor” were gruesomely murdered by vigilante groups over false thievery accusation reflects the danger and backwardness of jungle justice. Had it been they were granted fair hearings and properly prosecuted — the death of these promising youths could have been averted and the truth would have unfolded.

Human rights can be seamlessly respected when our institutions work harmoniously. Therefore, our corrupt and defective institutions need to be restructured, strictly guided and guarded in dealings on the platter of fairness, equity and transparency. The perpetrators of jungle justice should be dealt with because anybody could be a victim.  This barbaric act must stop!

 

 

Opinions in the article above is that of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of ASFL.

This report was written by Executive Board member, Moronfolu Adeniyi.

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cross-section of some participants at the forum

On Saturday 5th November, 2016, African Students for Liberty organized a Liberty and Leadership Forum for pro-liberty student leaders and local coordinators in Nigeria. This was to enable them meet one another, learn, develop their leadership capacities, and plan for the new academic year. The event was held at the conference room, Royal Green Guest House, Ibara G.R.A, Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Over 40 participants were in attendance and there were lectures and discussions on very important topics such as Free Speech, Fund Raising, Financial Management, Events Benchmarking, Leadership, Time Management, Campus Regulations, Drug Policy, Open Borders, and Government Regulations.

The event commenced with a Local Coordinator, Sodiq Alabi taking the audience through the vision and mission of Students for liberty; He talked briefly about ASFL and the need to further promote the Local Coordinators’ Program (LCP) in colleges across the country.

ASFL’s West Africa Regional director who is the host, Moronfolu Adeniyi spoke on ‘Promoting Liberty on African Campuses’. He highlighted some of the gains recorded so far as well as the adjoining challenges in the cause of advancing liberty across tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Moronfolu ended by narrating his experience as a student and how he and his team were able to surmount several obstacles from their school management in getting the organization established on their campus. He energized participants to be focused and determined pro-liberty advocalandlf2tes.

In her presentation on ‘leadership and time management, essential tools in activism’, Oluwaponmile Orija said, “You do not need a formal title to be a leader”. She believes leaders are at forefront of change and that proper time management increases effectiveness and productivity.

 

Lilian David, ASFL Executive Board Member talked extensively on ‘Benchmark of Successful Events/Projects’. To organize successful events, she identified and explained three strategies that student leaders can employ, which are: Coordination, Supervision, and Teamwork. She also shared possible events that can be organized by ASFL leaders, especially on campuses. She noted that, “evaluating the success of your event will require that you set goals and expectations, get feedbacks, evaluate your finances and set success indicators prior to the event.”

SFL African Programs Manager, Olumayowa Okediran gave a broad introduction of ASFL to the participants. He explained how governments enact laws to infringe on individual rights and in turn hamper social freedom. He shared his experielandlf3nces in the liberty movement and encouraged the Local Coordinators to put more effort into their activities and embrace the opportunities available to them. Olumayowa also informed the participants about the ‘No Nanny Campaign’, a global SFL campaign that is identifying and reproving laws that are infringing on individual rights, and plans to integrate it into subsequent programs of ASFL.

 

Former ASFL Executive Board member, Odunola Oladejo and John Aiyede (vice president of  ALSO, University of Ibadan) shared insights on ‘Free Speech and Campus Regulations’. The participants were better informed on the importance of employing bottom-top approach in creating social movement for a free and prosperous Africa.

Stephen Oguntoyinbo, country representative for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and his delegation gave a presentation on drug policy issues and harm reduction. He emphasized the importance of good communication and advocacy skills for student leaders in the libertarian community. He also made known their readiness to be part of the ASFL Network. They were able to engage the participants by sharing highlights of some the works their organization is doing both locally and internationally in getting young people involved in the realization of a free society, and to put an end to the war on drugs and other human right abuses.

Special thanks to Students For Liberty for the unwavering support in advancing the cause of liberty in Nigeria and Africa at large. The outcome of this event reaffirmed our conviction on the need to keep spreading the ideas of human dignity, individual and economic freedom, and ability to pursue one’s happiness without coercion.

Liberty and leadership forum

This weekend, ASFL-Nigeria will hold a day Liberty and Leadership Forum in the ancient city of Abeokuta, Ogun State. This forum is scheduled to hold as follows:

Date: Saturday, November 5, 2016

Time: 10:00am

Venue: Conference Room, Royal Green Hotel, Ibara GRA, Abeokuta.

This forum is being organised for current and aspiring student leaders, ASFL Local Coordinators and other young leaders in Nigeria. It is aimed at equipping the participants for greater impact in the new academic year through various topics on leadership, liberty, team-building, effective communication, networking, advocacy and activism.

There will also be sessions on free speech, debate on drug policy, borders and government regulations.

This gathering would therefore prepare and sharpen the skills of participants for a brighter and prosperous year for ASFL in Nigeria.

To attend, register at http://bit.ly/2dQUmQv

For enquires, contact Moronfolu Adeniyi ([email protected]) or Sodiq Alabi ([email protected]).

                                           Written by SFL African Executive Board member, Nicholas Woode-Smith

There seems to be two categories of calls for why South Africa must leave the International Criminal Court (ICC).

  1. The ICC violates African sovereignty and is an enemy of Africa.
  2. The ICC is worthless.
  1. ICC is an enemy of African Sovereignty

In response to #1, this assumes that sovereignty effectively means that corrupt and evil elites can have carte blanche over their respective nations. As no reasonable individual believes this should be the case, then #1 is effectually debunked. On the contrary, having an independent institution that can aid good governance and accountability strengthens sovereignty.

ICCIn the Weberian conception of sovereignty – a state is sovereign when it exercises legitimate authority and a monopoly of force on a geographical area and society – many African countries, notably Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), do not fulfil this requirement. Rather, they are divided among many capricious warlords, who prey on the populace as mini despots.

Herbst and Mills have written extensively on the problems facing failed states in Africa, suggesting many solutions that would be condemned as neoliberal in some circles, but which have worked in states which have deigned to adopt them. In a fascinating article by the two writers, they argue that the DRC is not actually a country. In fact, treating it like a country has exacerbated its problems, they argue, and prevented any form of meaningful solutions.

I advise everyone to read the article, linked above. Simply, it argues that treating a truly unsovereign state as sovereign has prevented it from moving towards a solution. In this manner, Africa’s obsession with sovereignty over solutions has led to its stagnation and ruin.

In this sense, the true enemy of African sovereignty is African governments and the overarching institution of the African Union which bars any meaningful solutions to Africa’s instability. Rather, they condemn the ICC, a body that is aimed at enforcing stability and justice worldwide.

Unfortunately, this fallacy has convinced many South Africans. Suffice to say that the ICC does not pose a threat to South African sovereignty – rather, it acts as a potential defender of South Africans from self-enriching elites who may mean to do harm. One cannot expect the courts of a nation to be sufficient to keep leaders in check; in this manner, an international institution, like the ICC, is valuable to hold criminal elites accountable.

2. The ICC is worthless

I have seen a few commentators argue that the ICC is useless and hasn’t helped Africa. Firstly, this is more the fault of Africans barring it from effectively dealing with African criminals than any internal vices. Mainly, however, the ICC may be worthless or ineffective, but it isn’t a net loss on Africa; if anything, it is a net gain, as it does scare criminal elites.

If this is your problem with the ICC, then it is not really a case of convincing you that the ICC is valuable; it is more a case of convincing you that the ICC is more valuable than detrimental. This is easy to prove, as evidenced by criminal elites’ fears of the institution. Criminals don’t fear an ineffective force, so their desperation to get rid of the ICC is a testament to the ICC’s value as a body to ensure accountability, or at least keep elites watching their back.

Conclusion

Fundamentally, the ICC is a net gain on South Africa and Africa as a whole. It holds elites more accountable than they would be without it. In addition, it does not violate African sovereignty and, rather, helps achieve it by enforcing stability and justice. It is a last line of defence when local courts fail to apprehend criminal elites. For these reasons, South Africa and Africa need the ICC.

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African Students For Liberty is excited to announce the first ASFL Write For Liberty Workshop scheduled to come up at the University of Ibadan as follows:

                  Date: 25-26 November, 2016

                  Time: 12pm-6pm (Day 1) and 8am-2pm (Day 2)

                  Venue: Seminar Room, U.I Workers Cooperative Building, Atiba Road, University of Ibadan

About Write For Liberty


Write For Liberty is a new initiative of ASFL to train, motivate and empower passionate young Africans to write on local and international political, economic and social issues from libertarian perspectives. The Write For Liberty workshop is a 2-day intensive coaching that will bring together tens of young African writers or intending writers for lectures and discursive sessions on writing, liberty and Africa.

Participants will learn from speakers and advocates of liberty on how to write, publishing opportunities, contemporary African issues and liberty.

Who Should Apply?


African Students who are interested in writing for liberty, human rights, free-market and development.

Apply at https://goo.gl/forms/vXmSePfXbSOrNxd42

Meals and accommodation of participants will be catered for during the period of the workshop. However, participants have to cater for their transport to and from the workshop.

Successful applicants will be sent invitation via email immediately after the end of application. Participation is strictly by invitation!

For enquiries, contact Stephen Oyedemi at [email protected] or Oluwafemi Ogunjobi at [email protected].

 

                                                            by SFL African Executive Board member, Martin van Staden.

Jacob+Zuma+

I won’t act like I am a fan of international bodies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, or the International Criminal Court (ICC).

All these organizations, at some stage in their respective histories, have engaged in some of the most atrocious liberty-violating conduct, especially where it lobbies its member states for policy changes. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), for example, has on more than one occasion recommended to South Africa’s government that income and corporate taxes must be raised. The World Health Organization, similarly, has long championed stricter regulations on those activities it considers to be unhealthy, and has welcomed ‘sin’ taxes.

All these taxes and regulations, for those who don’t know, have a vast array of unintended consequences, and often, if ever, do not achieve their aims. The burden that any new tax or regulation creates, will always end up being effortlessly shifted onto the poor.

It would be intellectually dishonest to believe the International Criminal Court is exempt from such an anti-freedom mindset in the international arena.

The most pressing example of the ICC engaging in questionable behavior has been its refusal to bat an eye at how the Islamic world – indeed, Islamic governments, and, for the purposes of the ICC, individuals within Islamic governments – treats women and homosexuals. Rape and sexual assault are recognized crimes against humanity by UN Security Council Resolution 1820. Sharia law all but celebrates this kind of heinous conduct toward women, and this atrocious legal regime is either officially adopted or explicitly endorsed by the vast majority of Islamic nations. The ICC simply doesn’t care, whether that is due to political correctness, or a concern about the West’s oil supply.

But despite these notable and important imperfections, the decision by South Africa’s executive cabinet to leave the International Criminal Court sets a potentially disastrous precedent for the rest of Africa.

Professor George Ayittey outlined seven critical institutions which an African nation requires for successful governance. Among these are the checks and balances afforded by the legislature and the independent judiciary, and an independent electoral agency. The mere presence of these institutions is insufficient; their character must also be appropriate. When the judiciary is too afraid to cross the President, or when the legislature is simply a rubber stamp for the ruling party’s internal decisions, or when the electoral agency has its mind made up about election results before the first vote is cast, these institutions are useless.

Ayittey

And these useless institutions are unfortunately what currently characterizes the African political dynamic. At this stage I must stress that I do not care whether this also happens in Europe or America; indeed, I am an African, and just because someone else is governing their nation poorly, doesn’t mean we must of necessity follow suit. South Africa might have a relatively strong judiciary which, in most recorded cases, finds solidly against the executive government, but the same cannot be said for some of our immediate neighbors or other nations throughout the continent.

There currently exists no reason to believe that if African countries exit the ICC, their internal mechanisms will hold those who commit crimes against humanity to account. Indeed, the opposite is true, if we take into account how African countries have dealt with dictators and genocidal maniacs in the past. For instance, why is it that the ICC must be responsible for bringing Omar al-Bashir to justice? Why has the Sudanese criminal justice system not dealt with the man?

Moreover, the African Union, or so-called ‘African solutions to African problems’, are not the answer, either. Ayittey summed up what the African Union is, in practice, quite brilliantly, when he wrote “it is famous for its annual summits, where unrepentant despots sip champagne and applaud their own longevity while issuing preposterous communiqués that nobody else in the world pays attention to.”

The AU is a club for dictators. It has greenlit electoral fraud across the continent, notably in Zimbabwe, where the ancient Robert Mugabe continues to try his best to starve or otherwise drive Zimbabweans across the border to greener pastures. No ‘African Union Court’ is going to hold al-Bashir or Mugabe to account.

But the ICC might.

The ICC does not share the same political interests as the African dictators’ club. Indeed, the West has its own political interests which hinder it from holding its own leaders to account, but it has few reservations about throwing African tyrants in prison. And while the double standard is worrying, we should not be sad to see these tyrants go.

If South Africa leaves the ICC, I have no doubt that other African nations will feel sufficiently confident to do the same, thus robbing one of the only institutions which is not afraid of African dictators of its jurisdiction. Indeed, as Africans we will be robbing ourselves of a relatively painless and peaceful way of ridding ourselves of despots. Do we want to go down a path where the only certain way of achieving freedom, is through armed revolt?

We must not allow our pride as Africans to blind us to the reality of politics on our continent. Our liberal democratic institutions are nowhere near where they need to be; and, if that wasn’t clear to any South African reading this, yes, that includes South Africa.

Let’s rather use the ICC to our advantage and remove the cancerous looters and tyrants who continuously push for Africa’s death-by-hemorrhage.

                                                            By Linda Kavuka, Member, SFL African Executive Board

PARLIAMENT-JOINT-SITTING

The efforts of activists, members of the civil society and freedom fighters in their own right were finally realized in 2010, when Kenya held a referendum and promulgated the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The country had experienced imperial presidency for over two decades and the aim of the constitution, among other reforms was to shift powers from the presidency to other authorities like Parliament and the Judicial Service Commission.The Constitution provided for, among others, enhanced checks and balances within the government, an enhanced role of Parliament and citizens, an independent judiciary, and a most progressive Bill of Rights. Notably, the Constitution provided for a major devolution—not only of resources and functions, but also creating a whole new layer of county government.

The idea of devolution, had been attempted from the post colonial government days but failed due to various reasons. Kenya adopted the system of devolved government from a unitary system of governance. Previously divided into 8 provinces, the constitution introduced 47 county governments, matching the number of tribal groups in the country.

The system was formerly implemented after the 2013 elections. The general idea of devolution is good, as it ensures that resources are not restricted to only some areas of the country, which was previously the norm. The Northern regions of Kenya for example had been neglected by previous governments and are under-developed compared to the rest of the country.

Kenya’s decentralization is among the most rapid and ambitious devolution processes going on in the world, with new governance challenges and opportunities as the country builds a new set of county governments from scratch.

The country previously under the provincial system of administration was divided into provinces, then divisions, districts and lastly wards. The new constitution introduced the central government and 47 new county governments each with Members of the Assembly, Speaker and other officials. The first problem the people of Kenya experienced, was, the Members of parliament rejecting the salaries set for them by the Salaries Regulation Commission and ganging up to increase the amount.

Various civil society organizations came together to protest the move by the parliamentarians by holding one of the most daring protests witnessed in the country outside the gates of the parliament building famously known as the “M-Pigs” protest.  Unfortunately, the government caved in to the pressure to give the parliamentarians what they wanted, and this was the beginning of  making the great Constitution appear like a simple piece of paper, with leaders infringing upon law after law.

Mpigs

Three years down the line the number of representatives (Governors, Senators, Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies) has proven to be a challenge for the people of Kenya. The economy is in the sky with the majority of Kenyans struggling to make ends meet, and various employees from the public sector striking more often than before including teachers, doctors, nurses all demanding for their unpaid salaries.

A report which was commissioned by National Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee and conducted by Auditor-General Edward Ouko, has called for a review of the system of representation. The audit unveiled on Thursday found that Kenyans are over-represented. Kenya has more representatives compared with countries with similar population and size of economy. “Kenya has over 2,600 representatives. This is a ratio of about one representative to about 16,000 Kenyans. The current Parliament translates to an average of 120,000 constituents per Member of Parliament and 100,500 including the Senate. This is lower than the global average of 146,000 constituents per Member of Parliament, but higher than the African average of 83,450 per MP.”

Reports have indicated that the Kenyan representatives are some of the most highly paid in the world, with their pay being higher than the salaries of representatives in developed countries. There are 47 County Assemblies with 2,526 Members of County Assemblies, both elected and nominated. There are concerns regarding the cost implications of the expansion of Parliament from a single Chamber with 222 members, including nominated members, to a bi-cameral Parliament with 418 members (Senators and National Assembly Members).

Kenya’s population is not so much as to have almost 3000 representatives in the Houses of Assembly. This means that there is a bunch of free loaders who are enjoying heard earned Tax-payers money with nothing to show in terms of the development of the people and the areas they represent.  Rather, Kenyans have witnessed the most shocking level of corruption ever in the country, attributed to a bloated government. The first step to saving the country is to reduce the number of representatives by more than half the current number.

What Kenya needs include good governance, low taxes, respect for the rule of law, among others, rather than a big government with the attendant waste and corruption that come with it.