Posts

Zimbabwe’s readiness for the Elections

Next month, Zimbabwe will enter into its first election under their new era of democracy since a coup that overthrew Former President and Dictator Robert Mugabe. For the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s name will not be on the ballot papers, as well as former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who passed away in February 2018. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced early this year that elections will take place on 30 July. Twenty-three candidates have come forward to compete for Zimbabwe’s Presidency.

President Mnangagwa promises that the elections will be fair and free and has called for peace throughout. Under the Mugabe reign, elections were filled with violence and intimidation, the Zimbabwean public and international community lost all hope in the Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC). The Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Watch has scrutinized the elections credibility and the role the ruling party and opposition play in intimidating the voters. The ZEC has come out and insisted that the electoral management body is well prepared for the coming elections, all measures have been put in place to ensure a fair, free and transparent elections. 

International observers are expected to come and assess the election process, this is one of the measures to ensure the elections are transparent and credibility is placed on them. Opposition parties are ready and confident that they will perform well during the elections, campaigns are in full swing. President Mnangagwa has stated that he will accept whatever outcome, he will step down and allow the new president to lead the country if he loses the elections. The general public of Zimbabwe is not confident that the transition will be as smooth as the president makes it seem. They are not yet confident in the election process.

United States President Donald Trump has stated that sanctions to Zimbabwe will continue as they are not yet sure whether the new dawn of Zimbabwe is real, they will wait to see transformation first.

 

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

[WATCH] Selection and election: How China chooses its leaders

China has developed a unique system of choosing its leaders, eschewing Western models for a process based on merit and broad support. Scholar Zhang Weiwei argues that while the system of “selection and election” is not perfect, it is a match for alternative models and has delivered for the Chinese people.

Copy & video: China Global Television Network

 

 

Indian politicians vote to elect new president

Politicians from both houses of India’s parliament have cast their ballots to elect the country’s next president, with two candidates from the lowest rank of the Hindu caste system – Dalits – vying for the largely ceremonial post.

The candidate from the ruling BJP, Ram Nath Kovind, a 71-year-old lawyer turned politician who was until recently governor of the eastern state of Bihar, is predicted to win.

Kovind is also backed by several regional parties.

His main rival is Meira Kumar, 72, who was India’s first female speaker of the parliament and a former federal minister. She is backed by the main opposition Congress party.

The new president – India’s 14th – will take over from Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran Congress politician, who completes his five-year term on July 24.

The day-long polling was being held simultaneously in the national and state capitals, according to India’s Election Commission.

The votes will be counted on July 20.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, was among the first to cast his vote at a booth in Parliament.

“The presidential poll this time is historic. Probably for the first time no party has made any undignified or unwarranted comment on the rival candidate,” Modi said on Twitter on the eve of the poll.

“Every political party has kept in mind the dignity of this election.”

Against the odds

Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party leader,  acknowledged on  Sunday  that the odds were stacked against the opposition’s candidate.

The president is chosen by an electoral college of two houses of parliament and state assemblies.

The BJP has over two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament, and runs governments by itself or in alliance with other parties in 17 of India’s 29 states.

The winner of Monday’s contest will be India’s second president belonging to the Dalit community, after KR Narayanan, who was president between 1997-2002.

Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, are on the lowest rank of India’s tradition social system based on caste.

India’s president is the head of the state, but executive powers are vested in the prime minister.

The president, however, has an important role to play when elections produce hung parliaments, state governments are dissolved and during other political crises.

US Elections: Are Indian foreign policy pundits missing the bigger picture?

India has reached a stage where there exists a bipartisan agreement in the US for a strong bilateral strategic partnership with India. Nevertheless, foreign policy dynamics are much more complex and it will be naïve for India to take comfort in these statements alone.

By Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan 

The US elections are less than two months away and the campaign is reaching its pinnacle. Going by some polls, Republican candidate Donald Trump may enjoy a small lead over the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in some of the swing states. With the numbers running neck to neck within the possible margin of error, the only thing that can be predicted is that it will be a tight race.

Even as we are close to the election, little is known about the foreign policy positions of the two candidates. Hillary Clinton, having been the Secretary of State during the first term of the Obama administration, is a relatively known entity on foreign policy. Trump’s views are a lot less known and therefore it is important to analyse what his foreign policy might look like.

Recently, Newsweek magazine did a story on how Trump’s business dealings in foreign countries could upset US national security. The story is clearly to take a dig at Trump who has made a big issue of the Clinton Foundation. It was alleged that those who made donations to the Clinton Foundation benefited from special influence when Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State. It is difficult to prove this one way or the other.

The Newsweek story spoke about the Trump Organisation’s investments in Maharashtra and elsewhere and reported that the organisation has engaged in shady deals in Mumbai, Pune and Gurgaon. The article suggests that a Trump presidency, in order to advance his financial interests, could try to please the Indian government by taking decisions that may hurt US national interests. It raised a pointed question, “If Trump takes a hard line with Pakistan, will it be for America’s strategic interests or to appease Indian government officials who might jeopardise his profits from Trump Towers Pune?”

The merit of this argument is hard to accept, to say the least. But generally, many foreign policy pundits in India seem happy that Trump has kept a positive tone on India. For instance, the Republican Platform talked of India as a ‘geopolitical ally and a strategic trade partner’ whereas the reference to Pakistan was in terms of securing its nuclear arsenal and in the context of the war on terror. In the larger strategic context, the Grand Old Party (GOP) looks to India to play a larger role in Asian and global affairs. The 58-page Republican platform went on to say that ‘the dynamism of its (Indian) people and the endurance of their democratic institutions are earning their country a position of leadership not only in Asia but throughout the world.’

It is almost certain that China is not excited about what Trump had to say about Beijing. The GOP platform, for instance, talked about the complacency of the Obama administration and how that has emboldened China to engage in a series of provocative actions such as issuing “threats of intimidation through the South China Sea” and “parading their new missile ‘the Guam Killer’.”
In addition, the platform drew attention to the continuing cultural genocide in Tibet and Xinjiang as well as how the promised autonomy of Hong Kong is stripped off. China as a currency manipulator and its offences against intellectual property rights were also highlighted. And the list goes on.

Taiwan also figured prominently, with the platform talking about the shared ‘values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy and the rule of law.’ The platform went on to say that the bilateral relations with Taipei will continue to be guided by the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, while noting opposition to either side trying to change the status quo. It further added that if China were to use means other than dialogue to force upon a situation on Taiwan, ‘the United States, in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself.’ The manifesto also mentioned the need to pursue ‘timely sale of defensive arms including technology to build diesel submarines.’ This categorical statement must be reassuring to Taipei in the wake of a strong and mighty China that has unilaterally tried to change the status quo in South China Sea and elsewhere.

Indian foreign policy pundits are excited that the mention of India, though limited, is in a positive light and that New Delhi is seen as an actor that should play a greater role in the Asian strategic framework, something former President George W Bush also talked about in his campaign. The fact that China and Pakistan do not stand to benefit a special relationship with the US if Trump were to be elected must be particularly soothing to Indian ears.

[Paraphrased and sourced from New Delhi-based Diplomatist Magazine, www.diplomatist.com