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Robert Gabriel Mugabe: A Lesson of Hope and Despair in Zimbabwe

Opinion

Robert Mugabe, the prime minister and president of Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 until 2017, when he was overthrown in a coup, has passed away at the age of 95. To speak the name “Mugabe” invokes charged political debates characterised by a range of conflicting tensions: hope and despair, demonisation and adulation, contempt and respect, dissent and loyalty. Sometimes these attitudes are interchangeable and overlapping, sometimes they express more fixed polarities. These divisions draw from the violence, fissures and closures that have given rise to Zimbabwe’s post-colonial political spectrum and left painful traces in the political imaginary of Zimbabwean people.

By Brian Raftopoulos

Perspectives #01/2019: Robbin’ the Hood: Inquiries into State Capture

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This edition of Perspectives tackles questions of state capture, and how the concept can contribute to understanding and strengthening democracies across Africa. Our contributors also open the possibilities that emerge when “state capture” is released from particular institutional settings and national boundaries.

State Capture: On Kenya’s Inability to Fight Corruption

Interview

Since the launch of Transparency International (TI)’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 1995, Kenya has invariably foundered in the bottom third of the countries surveyed. TI-Kenya’s Bribery Index reports widespread bribery; some institutions, including the police, land registries and county licensing services are notoriously predatory.

By Gladwell Otieno

Presidential Families & Co. in Senegal: A State of Capture in the Making?

Interview

Senegal is often referred to as an example of democracy in Africa. The country holds regular free and fair elections, has a vibrant civil society and a population protective of its democratic achievements. On the back of numerous anti-corruption efforts, Senegal fares comparatively well in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (67/180). However, according to a study by the Senegalese National Office to Fight Fraud and Corruption, 95.3 percent of the general public and 61.7 percent of professionals attest to the presence of corruption in their immediate environment. Although the country has had its fair share of grand corruption scandals, the term “state capture” has not yet found its way into the Senegalese vocabulary.

By El Hadji Malick Sy Camara

On Hope and the Death of Nostalgia

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Having just elected a new president who has not yet made it clear whether or not he will be capable of addressing corruption, poverty and inequality, South Africans must either learn to live with uncertainty or embrace possibility. I am too cautious to suggest that we might begin to hope, but certainly, as the distance between 1994 and today widens, I see the merit in examining what is possible and looking for places where feats of imagination and acts of hard work might yet produce positive results.

By Sisonke Msimang

Politics & Consciousness: A New Dawn on the Horizon!?

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The Cape Town office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in conversation on the 2019 South African Elections

“While the team had diverse views on the contested areas of South Africa’s political landscape, all agreed that a consolidation of Ramaphosa’s political power now very much depends on his new cabinet. This will not just be determined by his political will alone, but also his ability to manoeuvre through the tricky corridors of the ruling party’s house of cards.”

A View from Below

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“…the view from the ground of the 2019 elections does not bode well for South Africa’s constitutional vision of an equal, non-racial society where every person’s human potential can be fulfilled.”

By Niren Tolsi

The People’s Choice: 2019

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".....difficult choices are made not in five-year intervals at the voting booth. They are made in day-to-day life. In struggle for a better life. In the picket lines, community halls, classrooms, offices, on social-media timelines and in the streets......"

By Ayabonga Cawe

Economic Tips for the New 6th Parliament

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"More than half of the population withdrew their consent in this last election, holding little hope for this system to respond to their crisis in any coherent or meaningful way. Despite the many possible actions that could be taken, the new parliament and the new administration will almost certainly vindicate their choice."

By Luke Jordan

People must continue to strive for democracy

Interview

Akpan Hogan Ekpo, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Uyo University in Nigeria, talks about the state of democracy in South Africa 25 years after the end of apartheid.

The Private Funding of Political Parties: What Do We Know?

Partner Publication

The negative impact of unregulated private funding of political parties in South Africa stretches back to the period prior to the inception of democracy in 1994.  Although on the 23rd of January 2019 President Ramaphosa signed into law the Political Party Funding Act (The Act) that provides for the regular and systematic disclosure of the sources and amounts of private funding allocated to political parties, South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) decided to postpone its implementation until after the May elections. In the absence of an effective party funding transparency disclosure regime that enables an informed vote, this research compiled by My Vote Counts (MVC) collates historical and publicly available information on the private funding of political parties through donations and/or other financial transfers.

How Does Eshowe Experience our Democracy Ahead of the Elections?

Partner Analysis

While most political parties are now focusing on the big cities, what do the elections look like from a rural perspective? My Vote Counts spoke to a resident of Eshowe in KwaZulu Natal to hear from him how the Eshowe community experiences South Africa's democracy, if they feel included at all and what they think about elections.

What we do

Inequality, poverty and the failure to deliver quality public services such as health and education threaten to undo democratic gains in the region.  In response, the Democracy & Social Justice programme seeks to strengthen the political voice of marginalised groups advocating for socio-economic rights and the equitable use of state resources to address injustice.

The programme supports citizen groups’ engagement with policy, analysis of budgets and social audits.  It also supports citizen networks and network building that seek to build public ownership of democratic institutions, and hold them to account for their role in building a just society. The programme specifically targets social movements and membership based organisations.

As feminism is a central tenet of all HBF programmes, this programme works towards the vision of a society and institutions which actively respond to – and attempt to correct – the political and socio-economic realities of gender inequality.