Welcome to the October issue of the ALN newsletter.
First of all, I would like to reiterate my thanks to all the leaders and delegates of African liberal parties who put their trust in me and elected me President of the Africa Liberal Network during the ALN General Assembly meeting held on the 4th of August in Dar Es Salam. I can only assure them that I will do my best to make our Network more efficient, more responsive to the needs of its members, and one with a stronger voice on the African continent.
The ALN strives to promote democracy and the rule of law in Africa, never an easy task, as democracy is a goal to which we continously strive. Our continent has the potential to be the next biggest market in world economy by the middle of the 21th century. We have a wealth of natural resources, determined people, and a young dynamic population. All that is missing is true representative democracy and know-how. This is where we seek the support and solidarity of our European partners and friends.
We are grateful for the continued support of Liberal International who for the past 5 years has held its Congress twice on the African continent (Dakar 2003, Marrakech 2005) and is hoping to host its next Congress in Africa again in 2009. This shows clearly that liberals from around the world share our concern and hope for the future of our continent.
Dr Mamadou Lamine Bâ
• South Africa: Transition in South Africa, opportunity for the DA
• Seychelles: Hard times re-shape the political landscape in Paradise
• Zambia: UPND nominates Hakainde Hichilema as presidential candidate
• Malawi: UDF presidential candidate enjoys heavy backing
• South Africa: A programme of action for President Kgalema Motlanthe
• DRC: ANADER welcomes resignation of PM Antoine Gisenga
• Burkina Faso: ADF-RDA to hold congress in November
• ALN elects new President and adopts constitutional amendments
• ALN 2008-09 election calendar
South Africa: Transition in South Africa, opportunity for the DA
Jonathan Moakes, Executive Director, Resources & Development
Democratic Alliance, South Africa
The recent month has been a time of great drama and change in South Africa. Over the past few weeks, South Africans have witnessed the most historically significant chain of events in our nascent democracy since the first democratic elections and Nelson Mandela’s subsequent inauguration in 1994.
The dismissal of ANC President Jacob Zuma’s corruption case, the subsequent forced resignation of Thabo Mbeki as the nation’s president and the resultant swearing in of Kgalema Motlanthe as his replacement have awoken many South Africans from their apathetic slumber. These unsettling events have certainly destabilised the country, and caused a great number of citizens to exhibit significant uncertainty and express grave doubts about its future. However, there can be no doubt that the same events have generated great excitement among many South Africans and have galvanised citizens of all races to take an active interest in politics.
It is in this climate of transition, concern about the future and renewed political engagement that one finds a wide avenue of opportunity for the Democratic Alliance. The need for a strong, vibrant, committed opposition, underpinned by liberal principles has never been clearer. With the next general elections barely six months away, the prospects of South Africa’s official opposition making significant inroads into the ANC’s majority are good. Furthermore, to quote Helen Zille, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, the “realignment of South Africa’s politics has begun.”
On 12 September 2008 in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, Judge Chris Nicholson delivered his verdict that the decision of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute Jacob Zuma on corruption and fraud charges was invalid and therefore should be set aside. Apart from Zuma’s “victory”, the dominant feature of the judgment (seized upon with glee by Zuma’s supporters) was the Judge’s inference that Thabo Mbeki and certain cabinet ministers used instruments of state to pursue factional battles within the African National Congress (ANC). On the basis of this inference, the Zuma faction dominated National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC took the decision a week later to “recall” Thabo Mbeki from his “deployment” as President of the country, the ultimate settling of a political score. A day later (Sunday 21 September 2008), Thabo Mbeki resigned as President.
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Seychelles: Hard times re-shape the political landscape in Paradise
Roger Mancienne, Secretary General
Seychelles National party
The SNP stands to gain as the ruling party is forced to adopt an IMF supported programme of economic reforms
The political battleground is being redefined for the next few years as the Seychelles Government, with the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), lays out reform measures that spell hardship for the population. The opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP), which has long criticized the Government’s management of the economy, stands to gain as many of its policies are vindicated.
Building on democracy
Since the return to multi-party politics in 1993, two issues have dominated the political landscape. One was democracy, which the party in power had massacred in a period of repressive one-party rule. The SNP’s origins as an underground movement for political liberty and its subsequent campaign for democratic governance and constitutional rights enabled it to grow in stature and become the main opposition, achieving a steady 45% of national support. But while the population continued to enjoy a relatively comfortable standard of living, democracy itself was not enough to sway a majority of people over to the side of the SNP.
As the opposition, the SNP has been able to shift the ruling party closer to democratic standards of governance. In the 15 years of steady and persistent campaigning by the SNP, the ruling party has, even if to defend itself against the criticisms, come to pay more attention to accountability, the rule of law and respect of constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and political activity. For that reason, democracy no longer defines the political landscape so sharply.
But there is the second issue – economic management. The stance of the SNP, in accordance with its liberal philosophy, has always been different from the marxist oriented philosophy of the ruling party. From the outset, the SNP advocated changes of policy towards empowering the private sector, easing government controls, liberalizing the foreign exchange regime, eliminating waste and corruption together with more prudent management of Government finances.
The economic debate
It has been the strength of the ruling party that it had, over much of its 30 years in power, established creditable social services, with free education and healthcare and a variety of welfare benefits, while maintaining the purchasing power of the population.
The problem was that this system was fragile, being supported mostly by a very high level of government borrowing both locally and abroad. The government took a very negligent attitude to managing its debts, simply not repaying numerous bilateral and multi-lateral loans taken at the outset and eventually coming to rely on expensive commercial bank loans.
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Zambia: UPND nominates Hakainde Hichilema as presidential candidate
Tiens Kahenya, Secretary General
United Party for National Development, Zambia
Follwing the death of President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa on August 19 2008, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has since announced October 30, 2008 as the date for the Presidential Election and UPND is fielding party leader Mr. Hakainde Hichilema as its presidential candidate. According to the Zambian constitution, the vacancy in the office of the President has to be filled within 90 days of the demise of the sitting President.
Before the announcement of the Presidential election date, however, the ruling party (MMD) attempted to persuade the Zambian people to agree to a Transitional Government of National Unity, frivolously arguing that it would be extravagant for the country to hold an expensive Presidential Election, when this money could have been channeled towards development.
However, the Zambian people vigilantly stood to protect the constitutional provisions of the country and to maintain Zambia’s good governance record. It was only then that the Government quickly abandoned the mischievous attempt to vandalize the constitution and quickly announced October 30, 2008 as the date for the Presidential Election.
So far three candidates from the three major political parties have indicated their intention to contest the Presidential Election : the United Party for National Development (UPND) president, Hakainde Hichilema (HH), Patriotic Front (PF) leader, Michael Sata and the ruling party’s Rupiah Bwezani Banda (RB), who is the incumbent acting President.
The UPND officially launched its presidential campaign with a promise to improve the country’s economy.
Addressing a mammoth crowed in Lusaka, Hichilema said that he had the necessary skills and a good team in his Party to move the country forward. Accepting the Party’s nomination as its presidential candidate, Hichilema said UPND would continue with the anti corruption fight, which was the hallmark of the late President’s legacy, while good governance would be a must.
He also pointed out that his government would provide free education up to University level, work towards providing quality health care to all its citizens and guarantee food security through prudent policies in the agricultural sector.
The incumbent President has already started violating the electoral code of conduct, by distributing food stuffs to the electorate in guise of addressing the hunger situation in some parts of the country. As incumbent President he is also allowed to campaign using unlimited state resources, whereas the opposition candidates have to fend for themselves, obviously tilting the electoral playing field to the advantage of the ruling party.
Malawi: UDF presidential candidate enjoys heavy backing
Clement Stambuli, Member of Parliament and Director of Campaigns
United Democratic Front, Malawi
Malawi’s former president and United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate for the May 2009 elections, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, is enjoying heavy backing from four opposition parties which have agreed to approach the 2009 elections with one presidential candidate. The four political parties are the New Republican Party of Gwanda Chakuamba, The Malawi Democratic party of Kamlepo Kalua, The Malavi Progressive Party of Uladi Mussa and the Malawi Democratic Union of Amuna Ndife Mkumba.
The merging of the opposition parties leaves three main contestants for the 2009 elections:Dr. Bakili Muluzi of the United Democratic Front, Hon John Zenus Ungapake Tembo of the Malawi Congress Party and Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party and current President of Malawi. However, consultations are underway for a possibility of Hon. JZU Tembo of Malawi Congress Party to be a running mate of UDF’s Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
Opinion Polls carried out by the Catholic Church gave over 90% chances of winning the Presidential polls by the opposition, citing various factors most prominent of which is the failure of the current administration to abide by the rule of law. On the Parliamentary polls, predictions are that Bingu Wa Mutharika’s DPP would win only 30 parliamentary seats out of the 193.
South Africa: A programme of action for President Kgalema Motlanthe
Helen Zille, Party Leader
Democratic Alliance, South Africa
The new President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, must act quickly and decisively to gain the confidence of the South African nation, and demonstrate that he can rise above the factional power-plays of the ruling party and govern in the interests of the people as a whole.
He must show that he is the leader of the nation, rather than the chosen proxy for the leader of a victorious faction in the ruling party, at whose behest he was elected President. And for that to happen, he must, at the outset of his term in office, do two things which are in the national interest but which will not serve the self-interest of ANC President Jacob Zuma and his clique.
Firstly, he must announce the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deal, headed by a judge nominated by the Chief Justice.
In his verdict on the matter between Jacob Zuma vs. the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Judge Chris Nicholson said of the arms deal: “Only a commission of enquiry can properly rid our land of this cancer that is devouring the body politic and the reputation for integrity built up so assiduously after the fall of Apartheid”.
This proposal – a key recommendation in a judgment which, incidentally, was hailed by the Zuma camp as proof that our judiciary is independent and that constitutional democracy is flourishing – should be adopted by President Motlanthe. In fact, it is only right and just that he should use his constitutional power to appoint such a commission, headed by a judge nominated by the Chief Justice, so that we can get to the whole truth.
The decay of our state institutions, caused by infighting in the ANC and the use of these institutions to wage political battles, partly has its origins in conflicts triggered by the arms deal. President Motlanthe can help to arrest that decay, and prove his commitment to fighting corruption, by appointing a commission without delay.
Secondly, President Motlanthe must state unequivocally that under his administration there will be no ‘political solution’ to Zuma’s legal problems. Any attempt to broker a special political deal for Zuma outside of the courts, with presidential consent, would be illegal and unconstitutional, and would violate the oath of office taken by President Motlanthe when he was sworn in by the Chief Justice yesterday.
It would be a betrayal of his conscience, and a gross infringement of the principle of equality before the law, if President Motlanthe abused his power either to facilitate or condone a political settlement for Zuma.
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DRC: ANADER welcomes resignation of PM Antoine Gisenga
Albi-Bweya Nkiama, International Relations Officer
Alliance Nationale des Démocrates pour la Reconstruction , DRC
In his article Albi-Bweya Nkiama states that ANADER welcomes the resignation of 83 year old PM Antoine Gisenga (Friday 26 September) given his advanced age and the inefficiency and inactivity that characterised his term at the head of the AMP coalition government. Gizenga, the leader of the Lumumbist Party (PALU), was appointed Prime Minister following a deal with Joseph Kabila, after Gizenga emerged third in the 2006 presidential elections and his party backed Kabila during his run-off with arch rival Jean Pierre Bemba.
Nkiama calls on President Kabila to make a judicious choice when appointing the new Prime Minister, one who would be in the best interests of the people of the DRC, rather than on the basis of party politics, and one who would be capable of addressing the long standing problems of the country, notably, the renewed fighting in the Eastern DRC and the ensuing human rights abuses, the recurring public sector strikes, the rising inflation (more than 34%), the mismanagement of public funds, and the prevailing state of insecurity in the country.
Nkiama draws a parallel between the situation in the DRC and the recent political developments in South Africa, noting that Gisenga was forced to resign and that the risk of a split within the AMP coalition was a strong likelihood.
For the full text in French, please click on the following link/ Pour lire l’article complet en Francais, priere de cliquer sur le lien suivant:
Burkina Faso: ADF-RDA to hold congress in November
ALN member party ADF-RDA will be holding its 14th congress on the 29th and 30th of November 2008, under the theme of “Economic development and social stability in Burkina Faso: the role of political parties.” The theme was chosen in light of the current global financial and economic crisis and the necessity for political parties to find common appropriate solutions to protect their citizens. It is worth noting that earlier last month, a cabinet reshuffle in Burkina Faso saw Gilbert Noel Ouedraogo, ADF-RDA party leader, and Ousseni Tamboura, stay in government as Minister of Transport and Minister for Literacy respectively.
To read the press release in French please click on the following link/Pour lire le communique en Francais, priere de cliquer sur le lien suivant:
ALN elects new President and adopts constitutional amendments
Fifteen representatives of ALN members parties met in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania, 2-4 August 2008 in order to decide on the best ways of increasing the effectiveness of the Network and to agree an action plan for the next 2 years. The points discussed during the meeting included redefining the roles and responsibilities of office bearers, and of the different bodies within the ALN structure, and reviewing the procedures for admission of new members. The constitutional amendments were officially adopted during the ALN General Assembly which took place on Monday 4 August, together with an action plan for the next 2 years which stressed, among other things, the importance of increasing electoral support to member parties during elections. A new Exectuive Committee was also elected. Dr. Mamadou Lamine Ba from PDS Senegal, adviser to President Wade and Liberal International Vice-President, was elected as the new ALN President, together with 5 regional Vice-Presidents and a Treasurer.
ALN 2008-09 election calendar
Zambia–30 October 2008–Presidential
Mozambique–9 November 2008–Municipal/Provincial
Cote d’Ivoire–30 November 2008–Presidential
South Africa–May 2009–Presidential/ Parliamentary
Malawi–19 May 2009–Presidential/ Parliamentary
Tunisia–October 2009–Presidential/ Parliamentary
Mozambique–December 2009–Presidential/ Parliamentary
President Hakainde Hichilema’s historic Zambian victory signals a new era of liberal democracy in Africa
While Hichilema’s election win is a breakthrough for liberal democracy on the continent, in most African countries liberal parties do not enjoy sufficient support to