Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Week in Africa.

By Gael Masengi

This past week ‘The Spear’ saga has dominated headlines in South Africa, the sentencing of former Liberian president Charles Taylor sent a strong message to the remaining warlords and dictators. Lesotho held peaceful parliamentary elections and in Malawi President Joyce Banda is taking an unusual way to deal with recession in the country.

Pakalitha Mosisili
A broad of political party leaders in Lesotho said in a joint statement, this week, that they had accepted the result of last week-end parliamentary election. The closely fought poll were universally hailed as free and fair but analysts worry the defeated incumbent Prime Mister Pakalitha Mosisili and his Democratic Congress (DC) party may be planning to subvert the will of Basotho people. No single party has secured the majority of the 120 seats in parliament; however, a group of opposition parties together won 72 seats enough to form a coalition government but the DC insists that as the largest single party, it has the first bite at forming a coalition. Mosisili’s deputy, Moyane Moleleki announced on local radio that the DC might form a “minority government”. The 1998 parliamentary election that brought Mosisili in power ignited violence from the opposition, South Africa was forced to intervene militarily to restore order.

Malawi president Joyce Banda
Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, has announced the presidential jet and convoy of more than 50 Mercedes limousines would be sold. The former vice-president of Bingu wa Mutharika, she stepped into the presidency in April when he suffered a heart attack, the jet has reportedly annual running costs of about US$ 200 000. The UK’s International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell who visited the country earlier this week said to Telegraph newspaper that the move was a sign of “the seriousness Mrs Banda is applying to overturn bad decisions taken under the previous government”. Since then, she has sacked former members of the “old guard” in the cabinet and security services, brought back Malawi’s old flag and pledged to lift the country’s ban on homosexuality, Telegraph reported.

Charles Taylor
Wednesday, former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for aiding Sierra Leonean rebels to commit atrocities. Taylor, aged 64 is the first head of state to be convicted by the International Crime Court (ICC); he was found guilty on April 26th of war crimes and crimes against humanity for supporting neighboring Sierra Leon rebels in exchange for diamonds. The ICC found that Taylor had supplied weapons, money, bases and recruited child soldiers for the self-styled Revolution United Forces rebels during a 11-years civil war which an estimated 50 000 people were murdered, raped and mutilated. Taylor’s defense team leading lawyer warned African leaders of a trap set-up by westerns leaders. Sando Johnson said that history had vindicated Taylor’s prediction, citing the demise of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the downfall of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, who is awaiting trial in the Hague. Charles Taylor will serve his sentence in Britain, where he will be detained as “category A” inmate fit only for a maximum-security prison.

On Thursday, investigators in Zambian arrested a son of former president Rupiah Banda for corruption and possessing assets brought with crime money. Andrew Banda was formally arrested and charged for corrupt practices and being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime. Government Investigative Team public relations officer, Namokolo Kasumpa said Mr Banda had received bribes from construction firm, which is contrary to the country’s new Anti-Corruption Act introduced this year under the new president Michael Sata who promised a broad crackdown on corruption. Zambian authorities also said Mr Banda couldn’t explain the amount of 360 Million Kwacha (about US$ 67 000) deposited in his bank account. Banda who’s currently serving his country as deputy high commissioner to India was briefly arrested and released 24 hours later on bail.

defaced "The Spear"
The Spear, before.
Officials at president Zuma’s office have condemned “The Spear”, a controversial painting of South African president Jacob Zuma with his exposed genitals by Cape Town artist Brett Murray. “[South Africa] cabinet expressed its disapproval of the Brett Murray portrait that depicted the president [Jacob Zuma] in a denigrating manner,” it said in a statement on Friday. Last week the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and allies marched on Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery –where the painting was exposed for public views –to demand the removal of the drawing off its wall, website and that it publicly apologise for displaying the work.  The painting was already defaced last Tuesday –the first day it went public –by two men whose motives remain unknown. The controversial painting has evoked questions of racism, dignity and freedom of expression in a country where both parties the ruling ANC, artists and journalists accuse each other of trying to suppress other.

Hosni Mubarak during sentencing.
On Saturday night Egypt’s ex strong man Hosni Mubarak began a new life as a convicted murder. For nearly 30 years Mubarak clan had ruled Egypt. Judge sentenced him for life in prison alongside his right hand man, former minister of interior Habib-al-Adly who was in charge during the crackdown last year on protesters in Tahrir Square but Mubarak was not found guilty of corruption along with his two sons Gamal and Alaa, who are said to have accumulated millions of dollars during their father’s three decades rule however they still face a separate charge for insider trading. Many Egyptians are convinced that the army, which is still runs the government and may prove reluctant to give up power even when the current presidential election has been completed, has controlled the trial behind the scenes. They fear that Mubarak’s sentence will soon be reduced, since his lawyers announced their intention to appeal. [This article has been edited, it’s originally from]

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