The politics of using refugees as election fodder: The case of Kenya’s government

In Africa, the worldwide trend of demonizing refugees to gain political traction has been most apparent in Kenya. Despite elections still more than a year away, Kenya’s beleaguered government has already been issuing trumped-up claims citing the nation’s large refugee population as an unacceptable security risk.

Tent shelters at Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp. Photo courtesy UK Department for International Development

Tent shelters at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. Photo courtesy UK Department for International Development/Flickr

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), globally, 1 in every 113 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum, with the total number at over 65 million people. Sub-Saharan Africa alone saw five consecutive years of growth in the number of displaced persons from 2009-2014, with the current total numbering more than 4 million.  The primary reason for the rise in the number of refugees around the world is the eruption or re-igniting of conflicts. Terrorism as a source of conflict increased worldwide by 80% in 2014, with the number of terrorist-related deaths rising from 18,111 in 2013 to a record high of 32,685 in 2014, according to the latest data from the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). While it is true that migrants and refugees in Africa also choose to leave their homes to escape crushing poverty or evade repressive governments, it is those from conflict zones that are targeted by craven and opportunistic politicians looking to foster support for their own election campaigns.

Kenya’s ruling coalition, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta – who until December 2014 was under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in relation to post-election violence in 2007 – could face significant challenge in elections scheduled for August 2017. Read more

South Africa’s challenge: Achieving social cohesion and economic equality — an interview with Dr Israel Kodiaga

A legacy of racial segregation combined with poor governance has the Rainbow Nation headed for extremism

South Africa’s reputation for diversity and its high level of development compared to the rest of Africa obscure a nation falling into turmoil. Two decades removed from apartheid, a faltering economy and a leadership more concerned with self-enrichment than prudent policies has the country’s society divided once again. IOA discusses these issues with the head of IOA East Africa, Prof. Israel Kodiaga, who also serves as the director of Programmes, Research and Strategic Development at the African Centre for International Studies and is a key consultant for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

Corruption has flourished under South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. Photo courtesy GovernmentZA/Flickr

Although South Africa clearly remains the most developed nation in Sub-Saharan Africa, the country’s economy is stagnating. What effect do economic issues have on social tension within a conflicted society?

There can be absolutely no gainsaying that with a robust economy and massive opportunities like the Republic of South Africa (RSA/SA) is blessed with, many of her problems are self-inflicted. You have a huge number of young people that are jobless, both by design and by misfortune or fate. Those who are jobless by design survive by exploiting welfare payments from the government – some 16 million South Africans now receive welfare benefits – to enable them to eschew work and become lazy. As long as you know you will get some money at the end of the day you can afford to sit in front of your house and idle around and get drawn into a life of criminality, often fueled by high levels of substance abuse.  Read more

IOA Redefining African Development Report

Meeting targets or creating change?

African nations are currently in the process of adopting two new ambitious and often overlapping development agendas: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – is an effort to confront global development challenges, while Agenda 2063 is a 50-year action plan launched by the African Union (AU) directed at addressing continent-specific issues.

With the international development agenda now set for the foreseeable future, ‘Redefining African Development’ explores the mixed success of the MDGs in Africa and investigates how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compare to their precursor, and how they overlap with the AU’s Agenda 2063. Specifically, the question of whether apolitical development agendas can fuel transformative change without equal focus on strengthening key institutions and expanding civil liberties and political freedoms.