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Volume 21 Number 4
1 December 2012

The term ‘sustainable development` has become a global buzz phrase to describe ‘a pattern of economic growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come`. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation – agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 as an affirmation of the United Nations` commitment to the full implementation of Agenda 21 – states that ‘Africa`s efforts to achieve sustainable development have been hindered by conflicts, insufficient investment, limited market access opportunities and supply side constraints, unsustainable debt burdens, historically declining levels of official development assistance and the impact of HIV/AIDS`. The feature articles of this issue of the African Security Review speak to this statement by clustering around the various challenges to sustainable development faced by countries across Africa.

Bolaji Omitola focuses on the Nigerian federation and interrogates why the system of government adopted by Nigeria, which was intended to achieve ethnic unity, democratic stability and socio-economic development, has instead led to disharmony and a de-linkage between the state and its people, as well as creating the space for an upsurge in terrorism. The nature of the grievances of the groups involved in acts of terrorism, such as Boko Haram and the Niger Delta militants, ranges from political and economic to religious, and, argues Omitola, may not be unconnected to the design and operation of the federation. The author posits that the current reign of terror is indeed a manifestation of the discord that exists between the state and the people, with the result that popular movements have begun to provide an alternative platform for voices ‘from the streets` to be heard. The paper concludes that the success of the federation lies in the ability of the current Nigerian leadership to marry decentralist constitutional reforms with an agenda for mass-based socio-economic development.

Moving from statecraft to corruption, Tendai Gwatidzo and Sheshangai Kaniki use data on manufacturing firms in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to investigate what types of firms are asked to pay bribes by public officials in order to access infrastructure. The provision of infrastructure should be a given and is fundamental to robust economic development, but the authors of this article find that firms in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya face severe problems with accessing adequate infrastructure. Despite the fact that Kenya faces fewer infrastructure constraints than Tanzania and Uganda, Gwatidzo and Kaniki find that Kenyan firms are more likely to be asked for bribes than Ugandan and Tanzanian firms, suggesting that paying bribes could be enabling Kenyan firms to access limited infrastructure. Interestingly, the article notes that an efficient court system reduces the propensity of public officials asking for bribes. The authors anticipate that these findings will provide policy makers with specific targets to aim for in the design of policies meant to address corruption in infrastructure provision.

One of the commitments of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation is to ‘deal effectively with energy problems in Africa` by establishing and promoting ‘programmes, partnerships and initiatives to support Africa`s efforts to implement NEPAD objectives on energy, which seek to secure access for at least 35 per cent of the African population within 20 years`. Mwita Chacha observes that African states are hampered by unreliable electric energy that has not complemented economic development efforts. His paper explores the plans of several African states to pursue nuclear energy options in the future, and the security and financial challenges faced in this project. The author proposes the use of regional integration arrangements to address these challenges, as a way of complementing other efforts of enabling African states to obtain nuclear energy. The existence of these arrangements and their institutional mechanisms can enable African states to enhance security and cost-effectively develop a nuclear power infrastructure.

The Commentary and Africa Watch sections of this issue take us to quite different security concerns. Through the lens of recent events in Zambia, Anneke Meerkotter examines the dilemma that legislation aimed at countering sex work poses for resource-constrained police forces in southern Africa, who typically respond with two common practices: police engage in ad hoc, short-term, human resource-intensive police sweeps or crackdowns on sex workers; and the development of an inherent culture of police corruption in relation to the sex industry. The author notes that the negative effects of both of these practices have been well documented and goes on to look at the rationale (or lack thereof) behind a police crackdown on sex workers in Zambia.

Staying in southern Africa, Refiloe Joala interrogates the super-inflation of the office of the presidency in Malawi. She argues that, until recently, Malawi`s political culture remained embedded in the norm of patronage whereby ‘good` and ‘decisive` leadership was aligned with the centralisation and personalisation of power. As such, the executive in post-transition Malawi was caught between personal ambition and upholding the constitution, at the cost of good governance, state functionality and sustainable social development. Joala believes that this has culminated in a multiparty democracy with an overly celebrated elected leadership that is doomed to fall into the same trappings that marked the demise of the previous leadership. She discusses the impact of an imperial style of presidency on the state of democracy in Malawi under the country`s successive presidents – Bakili Muluzi, Bingu wa Mutharika and the currently untested presidency of Joyce Banda.
This issue of the African Security Review ends with an analysis of the recent events at the Africa Union (AU) that caused a stir across Africa. Mehari Taddele Maru looks into the electoral process at the AU, the reasons behind the victory of South Africa`s Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and assesses whether or not the integrity of the AU Commission electoral process was damaged during the campaigning and voting process. Mehari proposes a radical revision of the existing criteria for nomination to chairperson of the AU Commission, proffers specific recommendations for the amendment of the rules of procedure of the AU Assembly to allow for a qualified majority as a deadlock breaker in the fifth round of voting, and recommends the development of a code of conduct for future elections at the AU.

Romi Sigsworth (Editor)

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