Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has hinted that the fight against corruption will be a key plank of Parliament’s activities this year.
Bagbin disclosed in an interview on the state broadcaster, GTV, late last year that he was also engaging in broad stakeholder consultation as a means of strengthening the institution of Parliament.
“I have listened to President Akufo-Addo a number of times and all the others that I have mentioned and I have listened to their counsel and I don’t run away from sharing what I am sharing with all Ghanaians about my understanding of how multiparty democracy has been practiced from country to country.
“From next year (i.e. 2022), apart from the focus on corruption, you will see me not only speaking but acting to change even the dress code and the code of conduct of Members of Parliament. As leaders we must show the way, we must show direction,” he stated on the last edition of the Momeen Tonight show for the year 2021.
Earlier in the interview, he explained his central role in handing the role of Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to a Member of Parliament with finance background instead of the position being occupied by the Minority Leader.The first year of Bagbin’s tenure as Speaker has been tainted by chaotic scenes that marked his ascension to the position and same in the last but one sitting as MPs disagreed on the passage of the controversial E-levy bill.
Bagbin has slammed the incidents on the floor, describing members as having dishonored themselves on the floor of the house. He was not presiding at the time of all three occasions where violence broke out.
The alleged arsonist behind the fire that ravaged South Africa's parliament complex last Sunday appeared briefly in court this Tuesday.
The Cape Town Magistrates Court charged the suspect, a 49-year old, for arson. The hearing is now adjourned to January 11th.
The fire started at the early hours of Sunday morning and was brought under control on Monday.
Strong winds, however, reignited the flames leaving firefighters battling the blaze late into the night.
The flames destroyed the chamber where MPs normally sit. The fire started in the old part of the parliament complex before spreading to the modern part.
Protests have proven a viable tool for showing socio-political or economic resistance and people across Africa employed it multiple times this year. Whereas some protested against their governments, for others it was to demand government attention to act in a certain way.
As is usually the case, some of the protests led to clashes with security agencies whereas others passed off smoothly. Africanews’ review of the 2021 news year, looks back at some of the major protests that rocked the continent.
West Africa protests - Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ghana
In Mali, protesters demanded that the government should defy European Union and France and enter security agreements with Russia in the fight against terrorists. The protests took place in May while in October, anti-France protests were held especially in Bamako.
In November, Burkinabes took to the streets to demand government action in the wake of deadly attacks by terrorists in the country. This came at a time the president had taken the Defense portfolio and subsequently, the then-PM Joseph Dabire resigned late this year.
In March 2021, Senegal was engulfed in mass protests that centered around the arrest of a rising young politician Ousmanou Sonko, a lawmaker and former Presidential aspirant.
He was charged with rape but most of his followers insisted that it was a case of political witch hunt and a ply to silence potential challengers to President Macky Sall, the protests led to deaths and destruction of public and private property in parts of the country.
In the case of Ghana, multiple protests were held in the country largely with full support and cooperation of the Police despite these protests being against government and its policies.
In northern Africa, the protest movement that toppled Abdul Aziz Bouteflika in 2019 continued its mass action, this time against the Abdelmajid Tebboune government that took over from Bouteflika.
A series of mass protests, nationwide rallies and peaceful demonstrations were held to demand real democratic reforms and a dismantling of the deep state that was birthed by the Bouteflika years.
Over in Tunisia, protests started earlier in the year with respect to handling of COVID-19, corruption and general economic crisis etc. The height of the protest was when President Kais Saeid dismissed the National Assembly and assumed its powers forcing mass protests to protest what was tagged a power grab.
South Africa Parliament fire reignites
South Africa's National Assembly building in Cape Town was gutted on Monday, after a major fire tore through the 138-year-old parliamentary complex the day before. Footage showed fires burning in windows, with firefighters deployed to try to put out the flames. Sunday's fire destroyed offices and caused some ceilings to collapse in a site that has hosted some of the country's most important moments. Smoke was billowing from the building on Monday as several firefighters doused the already damaged structure with water. Completed in 1884, the historic section is where Parliament holds treasures, including about 4,000 heritage and art works, some dating back to the 17th century. The collection includes rare books and the original copy of the old Afrikaans national anthem 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika' ('The Voice of South Africa'), which was once damaged. It also includes a 120-metre (390-foot) long Keiskamma tapestry, named after a river in the south-east of the country, which traces the history of South Africa from the first indigenous people, the San, to the historic democratic elections of 1994.
Elections have proven to be a fundamental contribution to democratic governance. Despite its aim of allowing a peaceful transfer of power, some elections are often marred by substantial violence. For instance, While a country like Zambia held a peaceful transfer of power in August 2021, Sub-Saharan Africa experienced a series of military takeovers in 2021, emphasizing the risky state of democracy in the continent.
If all goes well, national and local assembly elections will take place in Chad, Gambia, Lesotho, Libya, Segal, and Sierra Leone this year. However, it is likely elections in Angola, Kenya and Senegal will be ones to look out for in the months ahead. The results of elections in these three countries will significantly impact prospects for reversing democratic erosion, the extent to which civil society and countervailing institutions can keep leaders accountable.
Kenya conducted its last presidential elections in 2017. The election had its own inconsistencies with the court identifying serious irregularities. Following a rerun, Uhuru Kenyatta emerged as the winner beating his major contender, Raila Odinga.
In December 2021, Raila Odinga launched his fifth bid for the presidency, this time with support from President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta, together with Odinga sought to introduce a range of institutional reforms through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). This was intended to allow power-sharing between the president and the prime minister and disregarding parliamentary approval of presidential appointees and appointing a regulator to oversee the judiciary. However, Kenya's high court rejected the bid, classifying it as unconstitutional.
Kenyatta’s exit from office creates the opportunity for former vice-president William Ruto and long-time opposition leader Raila Odinga to appear as frontrunners.
The collapse of the BBI has taken away the possibility of a larger executive where power is shared and Kenyatta has a position. This has upped the ante for the 2022 election, which is likely to be highly contested and disputed.
As the world waits to see the outcome of this election, there is an early sign of voter apathy as some Kenyans refused to register during the mass voter registration exercise.
Senegal: local elections, a test for Macky Sall before 2024
Senegal is expected to conduct local and legislative elections in 2022. This comes three years after President Macky Sall was re-elected for a second term.
The election, which will be held on January 23, will see citizens vote for mayors across 550 municipalities. Sitting mayors majority of whom are members of the ruling party were supposed to have left power in 2019 but are still serving due to the postponement of municipal elections.
How crucial is this poll?
The upcoming local elections are important for many reasons. First, they are a referendum on Sall’s presidency, which has stained the country’s democratic qualifications in recent years. Sall had attempted the amendment of the constitution to allow him to run for a third term.
As a sign of disapproval of all these, there has been a series of street protests mainly aimed at opposing the arrest of opposition leaders. The upcoming elections will also determine who leads Dakar, the country’s capital city, which has remained an opposition stronghold since 2009.
Ultimately, the outcome of the municipal elections is likely to have a significant impact on how Senegalese view the fairness of their country’s electoral processes, including the forthcoming legislative contest scheduled later in 2022.
To every beginning, there is an end, and so is the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For the sake of this piece, Africanews takes you on a journey of the life of the man who has made a global mark as the anti-apartheid hero and an advocate for equal human rights.
1931 Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa, about 170 kilometers west of Johannesburg. Tutu was born of Xhosa and Tswana parents and was educated in South African mission. His mother, Aletha, was a domestic worker; his father, Zachariah, taught at a Methodist school. The young Desmond was baptized a Methodist.
1943 Tutu and his entire family later joined the Anglican Church. When he was 12 the family moved to Johannesburg.
1947 Desmond Tutu was diagnosed and hospitalized with tuberculosis. After his recovery, Desmond befriended a white priest, Rev. Trevor Huddleston, and served in his church.
He had aspirations of becoming a doctor after recovery, but that dream could not materialise since his parents could not afford the school fees. He changed plans to become a teacher studying at the Pretoria Bantu Normal College where he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa.
1948 The white National Party launched apartheid in the run-up to 1948 national elections. It won popular support among white voters who wanted to maintain their dominance over the Black majority.
1955 Tutu married Nomalizo Leah Shenxane. She survived him a son, Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu, and three daughters, Theresa Thandeka Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu and Mpho Tutu van Furth, as well as seven grandchildren.
1958 He taught high school for three years but resigned to protest the Bantu Education Act, which lowered education standards for Black students. He then joined the priesthood.
1960 Tutu was ordained and served as a bishop of Lesotho between 1976 and 1978. He then became assistant bishop of Johannesburg and rector of a parish in Soweto.
1962 Tutu moved to Britain to study theology at King’s College London where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree and later became a fellow.
1966 Tutu went back to South Africa to start teaching theology at a seminary in the Eastern Cape. He also began making his views against apartheid known.
1972-1975 He served as associate director of the Theological Education Fund, traveling widely in Asia and Africa and administering scholarships for the World Council of Churches.
1975 Tutu was appointed the first Black Anglican dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, south Africa and consecrated bishop of Lesotho the next year.
1978 He became the first Black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, and began to establish the organization as a major force in the movement against apartheid.
1980 Tutu led a delegation of church leaders to meet Prime Minister PW Botha, advising him to end apartheid. Though the meeting did not yield any positive results, it left a mark in the book of history as the time is a Black leader confronts a senior white government official.
1984: The anti-apartheid icon was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring about the end of white minority rule. His voice was a powerful force for nonviolence in the anti-apartheid movement.
1985: Tutu became the first Black bishop of Johannesburg. He publicly endorsed an economic boycott of South Africa and civil disobedience as a way to dismantle apartheid.
1986: Tutu becomes the first Black person appointed bishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa.
1991: Apartheid laws and racist restrictions were repealed and power-sharing talks started between the state and 16 anti-apartheid groups.
1994: After Mandela swings to power at the helm of the ANC in the country’s first democratic elections, Tutu coins the term “Rainbow Nation” to describe the coming together of various races in post-apartheid South Africa.
1994: Mandela appointed Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was being set up to “deal with what happened under apartheid” by investigating human rights violations, offering support to victims, and scrutinising applications for amnesty from perpetrators of past violations.
1996: Tutu retired from the church to focus solely on the commission. He continues his activism, advocating for equality and reconciliation and is later named Archbishop Emeritus.
1997 He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer and was hospitalized several times in the years since, amid recurring fears that the disease had spread.
2004 the archbishop accused President Thabo Mbeki, Mr. Mandela’s successor, of pursuing policies that enriched a tiny elite while “many, too many, of our people live in grueling, demeaning, dehumanizing poverty.”
2011 The Dalai Lama inaugurates the annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture but does so via satellite link after the South African government denies the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa to attend.
2013 Tutu makes outspoken comments about the ANC. He says he will no longer vote for the party because it had done a bad job addressing inequality, violence, and corruption.
2013 Referred to by many as the “moral compass”, tutu declared his support for gay rights , saying he would not “worship a God who is homophobic”.
2021 He died in cape town at age 90.
In Sudan's capital Khartoum and in Omdurman, a large city located on the bank of the main Nile river, the police fired tear gas and closed major roads and streets, in an attempted to disrupt anti-coup demonstrations.
The face to face has become habitual: thousands of protestors assembled to demand the end of military rule. On Tuesday, security forces faced protesters in the streets of Khartoum. In the marches that were the first mobilizations since Abdallah Hamdok stepped down as Prime minister, the country plunged further into turmoil.
After conceding his inability to find a compromise between the ruling generals and the pro-democracy movement Hamdock threw in the towel amid political deadlock.
Full civilian rule
The protest movement insists on a fully civilian government to lead the transition, a request rejected by the generals who say power will be handed over only to an elected government. Despite their opposition, Sudanese don't seem to grow tired as thousands like Samir al-Sayed took part in Tuesday marches. "Today's protest is an episode of many previous protests that all condemn the military coup. We are trying to continue the course of our revolution and achieve a complete civilian rule. Those are the people's demands."
Waddah Hussein concurs with Samir: "Our three watchwords are: no negotiations, no partnership, no compromise in addition to the three main demands of the revolution which are freedom, peace and justice. That's it, we have no other demands."
Sudan has been politically paralyzed since the Oct. 25 coup. The military takeover came more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.