Toni Weis on the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi:
When I recently asked someone who knew Meles well about his legacy as a person, not just a political leader, my interlocutor rejected that distinction as artificial: “Meles was a profoundly political person”.
I’m not sure all of those who penned his obituaries – the eulogists as much as the detractors – have understood the importance of this point. If there is a consensus among the multitude of voices, it seems to be that Meles left behind a “mixed” legacy, a “checkered” or “conflicted” one: good for the Ethiopian economy (the famous ‘double-digit growth’), less so for Ethiopian politics (the infamous ‘authoritarian tendencies’).
What the commentators fail to understand is that, to Meles, these were two sides of the same coin. Development, in his eyes, was primarily a political process, not an economic one.
Ken Opalo: “The Drug War Moves East As Cartels’ Influence in Africa Grows”
The Economist on Christian religiosity in Ghana and Nigeria, with special attention to issues of security in the latter country.
Two complementary takes on mining strikes and violence in South Africa:
- Keith Somerville: “Under a democratic government committed to righting the wrongs of apartheid, distributing wealth and providing services to ALL South Africans, events like the Marikana strikes and killings should never happen. Even before the strikes, the living conditions of the miners were appalling and wages had not improved to match higher costs of living. Yet, senior politicians who had fought their way to prominence as union leaders and opponents of apartheid, are seen to be reaping the benefits of investments in mining and of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). They have become increasingly distant from those whose support made them national leaders. Every newspaper I read told this story and it was reflected in a general atmosphere of gloom, brooding resentment and a certain amount of fear.”
- Amb. John Campbell: “The Zuma government is handling poorly the upsurge in mining unrest at the Marikana platinum mine, which is spreading to gold mines near Johannesburg. Julius Malema, expelled African National Congress (ANC) bad boy, is exploiting these government errors to discredit President Jacob Zuma in the run up to the African National Congress (ANC) December party convention.”
Lesley Anne Warner on Kenya, Somalia, and the battle for Kismayo.
South Africa’s a bit south of the usual topics but it’s not really surprising that this is happening. I suspect that if you did a survey of legal industries the resource extraction industry would probably be one of the lowest paying, most corrupt and most brutal throughout the developing world. Why, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the majority of the workers are going to have less education than the owners and far smaller wages. Maybe because it’s an industry where cutting corners and not focusing on efficiency isn’t necessarily going to ruin you. Maybe because it’s often far away from the watchful public.
Additionally the South African government has been getting clearly more corrupt and determined to retain power as time has gone on. I won’t miss the apartheid government, but the current one isn’t impressing me.