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Thread: Swaziland: the revolution to come

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Default Swaziland: the revolution to come

    SWAZILAND: Faceless bombers sow insecurity
    MBABANE, 14 June 2010 (IRIN) - No individual or group in Swaziland has admitted responsibility for a spate of recent bombings against government and opposition party targets, but their actions are creating a sense of instability in the aid-dependent southern African state.

    "The bombings have not caused any casualties as yet, but they are so frequent now and all over the place that we are asking, 'What is happening in Swaziland?'" an NGO programme officer, who declined to be identified, told IRIN. So far the bombing campaign has not disrupted the activities of aid organizations.

    Sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch rules Swaziland, where a growing pro-democracy movement has demanded political reform but received little support from democratic neighbours South Africa and Mozambique.

    King Mswati III currently serves on the Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and has been leading the regional body's efforts to re-establish democratic norms in the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar after the unlawful transfer of power there in 2009.

    Swazi police said commercial explosives were detonated on 10 June in the bathroom at the Magistrate's Court in the commercial hub, Manzini, and that in the past month the residences of two members of parliament had been petrol bombed, as well as the homes of three police officers in separate attacks.

    Political activist Alex LaNgwenya's home in Bhunya, 80km south of the capital, Mbabane, was bombed on 8 June; the explosives were so powerful that damage was caused to homes in an adjacent workers' compound.

    LaNgwenya is a leader of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), pro-democracy group. He and family members all survived the attack, and have denied allegations that the bomb was made by PUDEMO and exploded inadvertently on the premises.

    In 2008 two PUDEMO members were killed by an explosion at a bridge about a kilometre from one of Mswati's palaces. Police alleged that the three men involved - Musa Dlamini and a South African, Jack Govender, who were killed, as well as another South African, Amos Mbedzi, who survived the blast - had planned to destroy the bridge.

    The Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 was enacted soon after the incident, and PUDEMO and SWAYOCO were banned as terrorist organizations. Several members of PUDEMO and SWAYOCO were alleged to have carried out a bombing campaign and detained. Anyone found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization is liable to a prison sentence not exceeding 10 years.

    Bombings have increased in intensity since 1995, when a petrol bomb extensively damaged the Houses of Parliament in Lobamba, 20km east of Mbabane. No person or organisation has ever acknowledged any involvement in a bombing incident.

    Death in police custody

    Sipho Jele, 34, one of several PUDEMO members on bail after being arrested in 2006 on various bombing charges, was again arrested on May Day 2010 for wearing a PUDEMO T-shirt. He died in police custody.

    The South Africa-based Swazi Solidarity Network (SSN) said in a statement on 14 June that the Swazi security forces were using the bombings as a screen to "conduct illegal raids and arbitrary detentions of known political activists".

    The SSN said police had detained more than 10 SWAYOCO members, arrested another on charges of bombing the two MPs houses, and had raided the home of PUDEMO president Mario Masuku on 14 June.

    The question of who the perpetrators of the bombings are has sharply divided Swazis; some insist it is the work of political opposition groups, while others maintain the incidents are being coordinated by elements within the government to justify greater use of the terrorism act against pro-democracy activists.

    "We are confident that, working hand in hand with the entire security apparatus of the nation, we shall have positive results," Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini told Parliament recently. "We are confident that arrests would soon be made and a clear message sent to everyone that terrorism in all its forms would not be tolerated."
    http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89483

    Barely known, merely the last absolute monarchy in Sub saharian africa and one of the most HIV/AID affected country of the world with almost no resources, no military importance...

    Who wants to bring down Mswaty III?
    The last liberation war of Africa?

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89483

    Barely known, merely the last absolute monarchy in Sub saharian africa and one of the most HIV/AID affected country of the world with almost no resources, no military importance...

    Who wants to bring down Mswaty III?
    The last liberation war of Africa?
    Its a matter of time, and in my honest opinion he should be forced out or into a purely ceremonial role before any shooting war starts.

    With his 13 wives he consumes more out of the national budget than is spent on education.

    Together with that we have astounding arrogance:

    Swazi King Sends Wives on Shopping Spree

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Since 2 days state workers are on strike demanding a political opening of the power to multiparty and democracy.
    http://www.afrik.com/article12182.html
    (The article is in French Sorry)
    I think the question behind the threat is at what moment a legitimate power loose its legitimacy. I mean, in the case of Swaziland it is just obvious that no one will even try to support Mswati III. But he is the legitimate power and political parties are forbidden and direct critics of the King are illegal and punishable. So there is no room for political dialog. So the only way to bring political agenda in such case is violence, which makes of you an insurgent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Since 2 days state workers are on strike demanding a political opening of the power to multiparty and democracy.
    http://www.afrik.com/article12182.html
    (The article is in French Sorry)
    I think the question behind the threat is at what moment a legitimate power loose its legitimacy. I mean, in the case of Swaziland it is just obvious that no one will even try to support Mswati III. But he is the legitimate power and political parties are forbidden and direct critics of the King are illegal and punishable. So there is no room for political dialog. So the only way to bring political agenda in such case is violence, which makes of you an insurgent.
    At the moment the 'insurgents' are seen as criminals but in a few years they will be seen as liberator heroes.

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    Default Background reading

    A rather bland Wiki profile:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaziland

    The BBC profile, March 2010:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/afr...es/1069035.stm

    There is very little on Google News, but this is puzzling and I have no idea how reliable it is:
    Startling revelations have emerged that some of the people responsible for the spate of bombings are trained in groups of five in Nelspruit, South Africa.
    Link:http://www.observer.org.sz/index.php?news=14169
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Legitimacy comes from the people

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Since 2 days state workers are on strike demanding a political opening of the power to multiparty and democracy.
    http://www.afrik.com/article12182.html
    (The article is in French Sorry)
    I think the question behind the threat is at what moment a legitimate power loose its legitimacy. I mean, in the case of Swaziland it is just obvious that no one will even try to support Mswati III. But he is the legitimate power and political parties are forbidden and direct critics of the King are illegal and punishable. So there is no room for political dialog. So the only way to bring political agenda in such case is violence, which makes of you an insurgent.
    At some point the scales tip. When the people of no longer recognize the legitimacy of the government the government is no longer legitimate. Official, sure, Legal, usually; but still legitimate? No. This contributes to COIN failures in a big way. The counterinsurgent is apt to (logically) place far too much importance on his officialness and his legalness and the fact that the insurgent is neither. The counterinsurgent is right; but the points are immaterial.

    Insurgency is rooted in the perceptions of the populace, and it is those perceptions that must be addressed and nurtured. Everything else is moot.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Bob,

    As you said, legitimacy lay in the hand of the people. So in COIN, as it is practiced nowadays, the question would be is it possible to build legitimacy? (And I do not have the answer).
    The question may seems genuine as if you take the postulate that legitimacy is built through democracy then you run elections and you have a legitimate government.
    But to that I see several constraints or contradictions:
    - In recent past, we tried to build legitimacy by picking up individuals as our champions, gave them means to be elected but in fact did not make any real populace consultation as the democratic process was tricked at the early stage. So the legitimacy of the elected body is extremely questionable.
    - If you have an elected body recognised by 51% of a population but controlling less than 49% of a territory: he is legitimate but unable to administrate.
    - If the elites of a selected place do not recognise the democratic process as legitimate. You end up with a governmental body which is not capable to administrate and incapable to deliver services. Then you loose the capacity to enjoy its legitimacy.

    A combinasion of those constraints may even make the problematic of building government legitimacy even more complex...

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Police raided Musa Hlophe house...

    "On the Morning of June 17, 2010 the home of human rights defender Musa Hlophe was raided by police on suspicions of his alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
    Musa Hlophe who is 72 years old, is a long standing human rights defender, former trade unionist and ex-chair of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, and coordinator of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO).
    "SCCCO is a coalition of trade unions, employers, lawyers, churches NGO’s, media, women and youth groups which aims to give a platform to civic society on issues of common interest, promoters democracy, human rights and economic and social justice, and is involved in the promotions of a local broad-based civic education campaign.
    On June 17, 2010, Musa Hlophe and his family were awoken early in the morning, by a large number of police officers who arrived in a fleet of vehicles and requested to search the house for evidence of terrorist activities.
    "A search warrant was provided which reportedly detailed the purpose of the search as being to search for bombs or bomb-making materials, any documentation aimed at promoting a terrorist act or any material which could be used to promote a terrorism act.
    "The police left the house after two hours with just two documents; namely a memo from Freedom House concerning Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and a document relating to democratisation in Swaziland.
    While there is no evidence linking the raid to specific SCCCO activities, the police search occurred just two days after a preparatory meeting held on June 15 between the European Union (EU) and representatives of Swaziland Civil Society including SCCCO in advance of the of the political dialogue held on 16 June between the EU and Swaziland Government.
    "The dialogue took place according to Article 8 of Cotonou agreement, which includes human rights issues. The raid also follows the recent meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, held on June 2 – 18, 2010, which reviewed Swaziland’s implementation of ILO convention and decisions.
    "Front Line believes that the police raid at the home of Musa Hlophe is directly linked to his work in defence of human rights, and that the suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities constitutes an attempt to de-legitimise the work of human rights defenders in the country.
    Front Line urges the authorities of Swaziland to:
    l Immediately cease all further harassment of Musa Hlophe and his family, as Front Line believes that the raid carries out at his home was solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.
    l Return the documents confiscated during the raid, as they are manifestly not linked to any terrorism related activities.
    l Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Swaziland are able to carry out their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions."
    http://www.times.co.sz/index.php?news=17680

    Due to my passion for exotic places, I do follow Swaziland actuality since several years. (Also I am paid for, groundnuts but that’s not the point).

    Let’s have a look on Swaziland peaceful struggle for democracy.
    2001 (if my memory is correct): the most important opponent is arrested after riots.
    2006: the King pass a legislation admitting political parties as “associations” but no civil rights opening.
    2008: the anti terrorism legislation is passed on
    2009: women get the right to own land… (That gives you an idea of the civil rights opening)
    2010: the most important opponent is liberated. The very same day he makes a speech saying that the King has no legitimacy.
    Just after, bombs start to blow a little everywhere.
    Now opponents and human rights activist in Swaziland are arrested.

    Somehow, this reminds me Zimbabwe. I have the strange feeling that Swaziland is learning from our dear beloved Bob…

    Sometime, taking arms seems to be the right solution.

    And by the way, all real opposition to Mswati III is based in South Africa and Swazi Observer is may be not the most objective news paper to look at Swaziland...
    Not saying that Swazi time is more objective neither. But it’s good to have the 2 sides of the corner.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Self-Determination and Popular Sovereignty > Democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Bob,

    As you said, legitimacy lay in the hand of the people. So in COIN, as it is practiced nowadays, the question would be is it possible to build legitimacy? (And I do not have the answer).
    The question may seems genuine as if you take the postulate that legitimacy is built through democracy then you run elections and you have a legitimate government.
    But to that I see several constraints or contradictions:
    - In recent past, we tried to build legitimacy by picking up individuals as our champions, gave them means to be elected but in fact did not make any real populace consultation as the democratic process was tricked at the early stage. So the legitimacy of the elected body is extremely questionable.
    - If you have an elected body recognized by 51% of a population but controlling less than 49% of a territory: he is legitimate but unable to administrate.
    - If the elites of a selected place do not recognize the democratic process as legitimate. You end up with a governmental body which is not capable to administrate and incapable to deliver services. Then you loose the capacity to enjoy its legitimacy.

    A combination of those constraints may even make the problematic of building government legitimacy even more complex...

    Frankly I neither understand, nor approve the trend in recent years (yes, this is new) to push for turning every government into a Democracy. To me it is in direct violation of our Constitutional and Declaration of Independence born principles; and is little removed from those who worked to spread communism in the past.

    The best you can do is help to shape the conditions that allow a populace to shape their governance to the form they desire, and to bestow their legitimacy on the same. To attempt to control what that outcome may be, or who may lead it is to likely rob it of the very legitimacy it needs to succeed.

    There is no perfect way to do this, but our efforts to control it are not helpful. To encourage and enable is good and noble, to control is selfish and makes our words and actions hypocritical.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Frankly I neither understand, nor approve the trend in recent years (yes, this is new) to push for turning every government into a Democracy. To me it is in direct violation of our Constitutional and Declaration of Independence born principles; and is little removed from those who worked to spread communism in the past.
    Well, Bob,

    I think that you have here THE epicentral point of the problematic. Democracy is seen as the only solution (And was promoted as such) since Cold War was won by "Democracies" over the totalitarian "empire of Evil". Note by the way that the only ideological victory was the one of capitalist economy and not democracy... But I get lost.

    And I think that the bias is coming from that voluntary very misinterpretation of the end of Cold War.
    But now that we made the political decision (Cotonou for Europe in Africa; UN council for the rest of the world except those who disagree...) either we try to find the magic potion, either we make a different political choice.
    Actually most of the difficulties we all face in State Building like operations comes from that statement: democracy is the only solution.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Personally I think the West set the conditions, but it was the populaces of Eastern Europe standing up to the illegitimate governances imposed over them; empowered through the emerging information age by the knowledge that they were not acting alone; that ended the Cold War.

    We took the credit, not recognizing the real power at work; and then similarly not recognizing the effects of that same power at work in the Middle East and the growing popular unrest there as the rationale for Cold War imposed Western controls grew thinner and thinner each day that the fall of the wall receded into the pages of history.

    We claimed credit for one in the name of Democracy; and then placed blame on the other in the name of Islamism. We over rate and misunderstand the role of ideology in such popular movements. Critical Requirement, certainly. Essential requirement or COG? No.

    People who believe their government to be illegitimate, their situation to be unjust or disrespectful, or their plight to have no legal or certain hope for change are a simmering powder keg of power and change. Once they appreciate their situation is not the best they can hope for, once they realize they are not alone, they are far more apt to act out, regardless of the odds against them. History bears this out.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 06-20-2010 at 10:31 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The best you can do is help to shape the conditions that allow a populace to shape their governance to the form they desire, and to bestow their legitimacy on the same.
    In places like Africa, alas, the noble intent may go awry, especially in "nations" composed of multiple populaces whose deepest and most heartfelt desire is to stomp the living $#!t out of the neighboring populace and take all the marbles for themselves (actually not exactly a situation unique to Africa). That doesn't mean self-determination is not worth pursuing, but the idea that self-determination will bring peace and stability is often illusory.

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    That doesn't mean self-determination is not worth pursuing, but the idea that self-determination will bring peace and stability is often illusory.
    Then what?
    Actually self determination to bring stability is an illusion or an intellectual bias. Efficiency and social services delivery may help much more and have better results than empty elections...

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default True enough. However

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    In places like Africa, alas, the noble intent may go awry, especially in "nations" composed of multiple populaces whose deepest and most heartfelt desire is to stomp the living $#!t out of the neighboring populace and take all the marbles for themselves (actually not exactly a situation unique to Africa). That doesn't mean self-determination is not worth pursuing, but the idea that self-determination will bring peace and stability is often illusory.
    Waging war or propping up dictators is no path to peace and stability either. There will indeed always be wars and rumors of wars. The insertion of "states" and European forms of governance has not done any favors for the people of Africa.

    There are indeed no perfect answers. Any answer they sort out for themselves, no matter how bloody, will be more enduring and effective than any sorted out for them, no matter how bloodless. Best we can hope to do is temper the violence a bit as they sort it out.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Actually self determination to bring stability is an illusion or an intellectual bias. Efficiency and social services delivery may help much more and have better results than empty elections...
    Without a functioning economy delivery of social services depends on foreign assistance, neither sustainable nor healthy. Of course a functioning economy requires investment, which won't happen without some level of political stability, and around we go in circles. Call it the African shuffle; very difficult to find a practical intervention point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Waging war or propping up dictators is no path to peace and stability either. There will indeed always be wars and rumors of wars. The insertion of "states" and European forms of governance has not done any favors for the people of Africa.
    Agreed, though I'd add "attempts to impose democracy" to the list of things that aren't a path to peace and stability.

    The question, of course, is how to achieve something akin to self determination and popular sovereignty without something resembling democracy, and to that I've no answer at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    There are indeed no perfect answers. Any answer they sort out for themselves, no matter how bloody, will be more enduring and effective than any sorted out for them, no matter how bloodless. Best we can hope to do is temper the violence a bit as they sort it out.
    Can't disagree with that; I've said it enough times myself. Of course there are cases where the process of sorting it out is going to crunch up against other interests, which may include ours, and that's when it gets sloppy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The best you can do is help to shape the conditions that allow a populace to shape their governance to the form they desire, and to bestow their legitimacy on the same.
    How do you test the will of the people?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    In places like Africa, alas, the noble intent may go awry, especially in "nations" composed of multiple populaces whose deepest and most heartfelt desire is to stomp the living $#!t out of the neighboring populace and take all the marbles for themselves (actually not exactly a situation unique to Africa). That doesn't mean self-determination is not worth pursuing, but the idea that self-determination will bring peace and stability is often illusory.
    There was no noble intent towards Africa.

    The colonies were abandoned and then we saw repeats of "one man. one vote, once" Only South Africa remains as a beacon on the continent but is teetering on the brink as the new inner circle have their noses firmly in the trough.

    The most shattering thing about Africa has been the early vociferous complaints about colonial boundaries only to find the OAU and now the equally useless AU demanding that no national boundaries be changed. You go figure.

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Without a functioning economy delivery of social services depends on foreign assistance, neither sustainable nor healthy. Of course a functioning economy requires investment, which won't happen without some level of political stability, and around we go in circles. Call it the African shuffle; very difficult to find a practical intervention point.
    Dayuhan
    Depends on what you call a functioning economy.
    DRC never stopped to be an investing place and was much more profitable for investor when was at war.
    In Liberia, the direct effect of the raw material crises in the 70 led to the total disruption of a functioning economy that led to a first revolution and the arrival of Samuel Doe in power. The fact that he did not even try to restore the social services favorise the military adventure of Charles Taylor who entered in the country without local insurgent network but 200 mercenaries (mainly Liberian).
    In Zimbabwe, as the economy was completely dysfunctional, social services were still functioning and the country was stable despite having a war affected economy.

    Economy is not the solution to initiate stability and create conditions for investment. Stability is. Only social services equally shared can provide such stability. Once you have fund the stability, then you are in much better position to bargain your investments in the country… But may be it is too social/populace/people oriented?

    JMA:
    As you pointed it, the problem is one man one vote, ONCE.
    While it should be one man, one vote: several times.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    There was no noble intent towards Africa.
    Of course not. I was responding to Bob's World's hypothetical "the best you can do" construct, not to actual conditions.

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Dayuhan
    Only social services equally shared can provide such stability. Once you have fund the stability, then you are in much better position to bargain your investments in the country…
    How do you finance social services without somebody somewhere generating a taxable surplus... e.g. without a functioning economy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    How do you finance social services without somebody somewhere generating a taxable surplus... e.g. without a functioning economy?
    Well if it were not for the income derived through the Southern African Customs Union Swaziland would be a real basket case. SACU link

    Money for nothing.

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