Items filtered by date: Friday, 20 October 2017

South African tourism minister warned against the escalating violence between Uber and meter-taxi drivers, saying this affects the tourism industry.

"In addition to the needless destruction of property and threat on human life, the general mood of uncertainty implicit in the violence threatens the stability of the tourism industry on which thousands of jobs are reliant," Tokozile Xasa said in response to the recent attack on Uber operators.

Violence flared up again between Uber and meter-taxi drivers following the burning of two vehicles belonging to Uber drivers in Johannesburg.

Over the past several months, several people have been killed in violence related to the rivalry between meter-taxi and Uber drivers. Uber Sub-Saharan Africa has launched a petition calling on Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to take action to curb the violence.

The violence between the meter taxicab and Uber operators is injurious to the two since even local passengers would eventually stop patronizing either if the violence continued, Xasa said.

"In this context, it is self-evident that the operators are cutting off their noses to spite the faces," she said. For any domestic or international tourist, the sense of security is as important as the ordinary citizen, said the minister.
"However, both the meter taxicab and Uber operators need to bear in mind the fact that whereas as citizens, our relationship with South Africa is not one of choice, tourists can elect to visit one place and not another and one country instead of another," Xasa said.

She urged the two transport operators urgently to engage in dialogue, the better to find lasting solutions to their disagreements. "No one's life must continue to be placed in danger because two operators are in disagreement with one another. This must stop!" she said.

 

Credit: Xinhua

Published in Travel & Tourism

Former soccer star George Weah won the first round of Liberia’s presidential election with 38.4 percent of the vote, 10 points ahead of Vice President Joseph Boakai who will face him in a run-off next month, the electoral commission said on Thursday.

Liberians are slowly waking up to the prospect of the only African ever to win FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d‘Or replace Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as their leader.

Weah, 51, has served as a senator from the opposition Congress for Democratic Change since 2015, after returning home from an international soccer career to immerse himself in politics. As a political novice in 2005 he lost to Johnson Sirleaf in a presidential election.

The official final results showed Boakai, representing Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party, had won 28.8 percent of the vote, putting the two frontrunners comfortably ahead of a large field of mostly minor candidates.

Lawyer Charles Brumskine, who says the vote was rigged despite observers calling it fair, came third with 9.6 percent.

“King George”, as Weah’s supporters call him, is wildly popular among the youth and the disenfranchised, especially in the shanties of the rundown seaside capital Monrovia. Many of them feel they have not benefited from Liberia’s post-war recovery, a sentiment that has counted against Boakai.

But Weah has so far been light on policy and will face a tough time meeting high expectations in a difficult economic climate of low prices for the commodities that are Liberia’s main exports.

Johnson Sirleaf, a former finance minister who worked for Citibank and the World Bank during years in exile after fleeing Liberia during a coup, was awarded the 2011 Nobel for shoring up peace after a 15-year civil war that ended in 2003. Many Liberians credit her with creating the conditions that allow this election to bring Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power for seven decades. But she has not managed to effectively tackle corruption or lift millions out of poverty.

An Ebola outbreak ravaged the economy and a drop in the price of iron ore only made things worse. Poor roads still leave most of rural Liberia stranded during the rainy season, and few Liberians have grid power outside the main cities.

 

(Reuters)

Published in Economy

Before Kenya’s August 8 general election, opposition candidate Raila Odinga promised to be a transitional, one-term president. Uhuru Kenyatta, meanwhile, was gunning for a second and final term. Both candidates’ political legacies were at stake.

But the nullification of the presidential election has thrown Kenya into uncharted territory. It’s been made even more unpredictable by Odinga’s withdrawal from the repeat election slated for October 26.

Odinga withdrew because, he claimed, the election commission refused to meet nine demands he made as preconditions for a credible fresh election after the August 8 poll was invalidated by the Supreme Court.

The political uncertainty is having a negative impact on the country’s economy, as well as its political stability.

The hard-line positions adopted by both sides have created a deep rift between the supporters of Kenyatta’s Jubilee party and Odinga’s National Super Alliance. To make matters worse, the police have repeatedly used excessive force to contain National Super Alliance protesters who have clashed with Jubilee supporters during demonstrations.

These protests could very easily escalate into tribal violence given the ethnically divisive nature of Kenyan politics.

Election commission to blame

Kenya’s current political crisis can be attributed to the ineptness of the electoral commission. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission mishandled the August 8 election. After the Supreme Court invalidated the poll, infighting among commissioners dented the commission’s image even further. The court found the commission committed grave irregularities and illegalities during the August election.

The commission has also aligned itself with the Jubilee Party. For its part, the party has often shielded the electoral body from criticism. For example it blamed the Supreme Court for invalidating the election. All this entrenches the notion that the commission is not exercising an independent mandate.

The commission has focused too much on short term political stability. It hasn’t considered the impact of another bungled election on Kenya’s long term democratic gains. It was given 60 days by the Supreme Court and the country’s Constitution to hold a second poll, and rushed into this process without any introspection.

And divisions between the commissioners are widening. One of them, Roselyn Akombe, has resigned and says the commission’s partisan nature makes it impossible for the body to hold a credible poll. Wafula Chebukati, the commission’s chairman, responded to Akombe’s resignation by saying he can’t guarantee that his team can hold a credible election.

All this suggests that the commission could make the same mistakes it did leading up to August 8 and that the second poll will also be a sham. This would drag Kenya further into political turmoil and lead to more economic strain on the country.

Immovable positions

Unlike its opposition, the ruling Jubilee party is keen to participate in the October 26 election. It even used its majority in both houses of Parliament to push through amendments to the election laws.

These amendments dilute the electoral commission chairman’s power and also give priority to manual voting over electronic processes. Confusion over manual processes played a large role in pushing Kenya into post-election violence during the contested 2007 polls.

Jubilee has not consulted widely on these amendments, and has been widely condemned for pushing through changes to election law so close to the second poll. The changes all appear to be knee-jerk reactions to the Supreme Court’s ruling, and a push to ensure Kenyatta bags a second term.

Meanwhile, Odinga and his party have maintained that elections will not be conducted on October 26. To add fuel to the political fire, the coalition he leads has escalated its weekly demonstrations to daily countrywide protests.

Political solution

The next stage of this battle is likely to play out in the Supreme Court. The National Super Alliance still has the option to return to court to either stop the October 26 poll or challenge its outcome.

But the solution to Kenya’s ongoing constitutional crisis is not legal. It is political. The country is deeply divided along ethnic and political lines. If the electoral commission goes ahead with an election that doesn’t include Odinga, the process is likely to be deemed illegitimate.

It’s obvious that the electoral commission has been captured by partisan politics. It is operating in a hostile political environment and there is enormous division in its ranks.

In the worst case scenario, Kenya could degenerate into the kind of ethnicised election violence last seen in 2007. The feeling of disenfranchisement among some ethnic communities, who have felt marginalised by successive regimes since independence, has once again emerged in public discourse.

Assessing statements made by the electoral commission in recent days it’s clear that it’s unable to hold a credible election. On the other hand another legal battle would only drag the country into further political uncertainty.

What’s clear therefore is that a political settlement is needed to reconstitute the electoral body before holding a fresh election. This might involve forming a caretaker government to give the electoral commission time to effect the necessary reforms.

 

Sekou Toure Otondi, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Nairobi

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

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