Oct 03rd, 2012

Sep 10th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Sometimes, one ‘small’ story encapsulates everything that is going wrong in a country. Take Zambia. Yesterday, the police broke up an opposition rally in the capital, Lusaka – as the police have done on countless occasions over the years. It would normally not be worth a mention except that it is a stark sign of the times – and a clear indicator of the alarmingly oppressive tendencies at the heart of Michael Sata’s government.

    election, opposition, police, Zambia, HRDB

Sep 07th, 2012

Sep 05th, 2012

Aug 06th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Former Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana must be cursing the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). Until SALC's precedent-setting High Court victory earlier this year in the Zimbabwe torture case, Ravalomanana was happily living in exile in South Africa waiting for his chance to return home. But now he finds himself under investigation by his host's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for alleged crimes against humanity while he was battling to stay in power in Antananarivo.

    crime, impunity, Law, madagascar, Regional, Law

Jul 31st, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Malawi's former ruling party - the ironically-named Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) - has a lot to answer for. It should be cravenly apologising for the mess it made of Malawi and working to come up with some decent policies for the elections ahead (or disbanding in shame). Instead, it is trying to drum up support by beating the old drum of homosexuality - hoping that this divisive issue will make Malawians forget the party's past abuses.

Jun 11th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    You can always tell when President Mugabe is really rattled. It's when he launches into a tirade about white, racist, imperialist conspiracies in a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from the facts. It has worked pretty well for him in the past but his latest rant only served to highlight the issue he currently wants to bury - the state-sanctioned torture of opposition supporters and the fact that those responsible might now be brought to book in South Africa.

    court, Mugabe, torture, Zimbabwe, Law

Jun 05th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Most of the (not very expansive) coverage of the SADC Heads of State summit in Angola has focussed on the blow to ZANU-PF hardliners, who were clearly on the receiving end of the call for all parties in Zimbabwe to finalise the constitution-drafting and referendum process and agree on time frames for the full implementation of the Roadmap to Elections. And it is praiseworthy that SADC seems to be sticking to its guns on Zimbabwe, which can only help the chances of a peaceful transition to genuine democracy.

    Congo, DRC, elections, peace, SADC, security, HRDB

May 10th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    There should have been a huge outcry by now. Government ministers and artists and academics and journalists should be shouting from their pulpits. Because a unique part of South Africa's cultural heritage was stolen this week. The work of one of the country's foremost artists. Five years of images lost - many of them irreplaceable. But hardly a word. Why? Because what was stolen was a collection of photos taken by Zanele Muholi - stunning, striking, powerful images of black lesbians and of gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and the prejudices they face.

May 09th, 2012

May 08th, 2012

May 03rd, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    It is not often that the Swazi people get to say what they think about anything - let alone their King. Their elections are little more than 'selections' given the ban on political parties. And their press is not allowed to be much more than a praise-singer for the monarchy. But a Gallup poll conducted late in 2011 has at least given an idea of what Swazis think - and it won't be happy reading for the King and his clique since more than 40% of Swazis disapprove of the King's performance.

    election, king, poll, Swaziland, HRDB

May 02nd, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Status is clearly everything to King Mswati. You would think that he would be happy with more wives and palaces then his fellow rulers - as well as an absolute control over his tiny Kingdom that many of his non-monarchical peers must envy. But for years, there has been something missing - an aeroplane just for him (and his queens). He tried in the past but was met by such a fierce wave of criticism from both inside and outside Swaziland that he backed down. But now he has found the ideal solution - get one of his (very few) friends to 'give' it to him.

May 01st, 2012

Apr 17th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Whisper it softly but something truly extraordinary has happened in Zambia in recent weeks - a major mining company has been forced (shock!) to take the health of local people into account and (horror!) to actually consult civil society and local communities about its activities. These 'earthshattering' events have not attracted nearly as much attention as they should. And if you're thinking 'well it's not much' - let me repeat - a rich, politically-very-powerful mining company has been forced to back down by the government because of concerns about the rights of local communities.

Apr 11th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    A few months ago, Bingu wa Mutharika, called his fellow Malawians 'chickens' for having the audacity to criticise him and complain about the way he was 'governing' them. Well the chickens are certainly coming home to roost now for the craven bunch of apologists and praises-singers (sorry Cabinet members and other senior officials) who backed Bingu's personalisation of the State.

Mar 29th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    In another huge blow to the credibility of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika and his government, the US has suspended a massive aid package, which would have ploughed US$350 million into the country's barely-existent power sector. It is also a devastating blow to the millions of Malawians who would have benefitted from the extra electricity - and a potentially fatal blow to hopes of sustainable growth and development.

Mar 28th, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    For a man who's often seen flashing a lot of flesh in his traditional monarchical garb, King Mswati III seems to have very thin skin. Even the tiniest criticism seems to upset him. His sycophantic ministers and cronies have tried everything to shield him from complaints - stuffing parliament with supporters, ensuring all chiefs are compliant, beating up protestors, muzzling the printed media and banning any independent radio stations from broadcasting - but they still can't prevent the rising tide of discontent and anti-Mswati sentiments from reaching his sensitive ears.

Mar 22nd, 2012

  • Richard Lee

    Botswana's President, Ian Khama, is different to his fellow SADC leaders in many ways. He is the son of his country's founding president. He is at least a decade younger than most of them (leaving aside Swaziland' King Mswati and the coup-leading DJ in Madagascar). And he's never been married (but then Mswati and Zuma make up for that).

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