New Zealand Government Update

After one of the strangest elections in New Zealand history, New Zealand finally has a government. Labour's Jacinda Ardern has been crowned New Zealand Prime Minister by Winston Peters and New Zealand First. 

Through this, we will go through the structure, the policy information we have and what the implications are for National. 

Structure

The Government will be a Labour - NZ First government that has a confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party. This is not a Labour - NZ First - Green government as many commentators are stating. There is a Labour - NZ First Coalition agreement which is looking to give Winston Peters the Deputy Prime Minister job (the same job he held under National under Jim Bolger). New Zealand First will get four ministerial positions (it is unclear if this includes Winston or is including Winston) and one Parliamentary Undersecretary. 

The Ministries that New Zealand First will get are:

• Foreign Affairs
• Infrastructure
• Regional Economic Development
• Internal Affairs
• Seniors
• Defence
• Veterans' Affairs
• Children
• Forestry
• State Owned Enterprises
• Racing
• Associate Finance
• Associate Education and an Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Regional Economic Development

The Greens have a confidence and supply agreement with Labour. This government represents the first time that the Green Party have had Ministers, even if they are outside the cabinet. 

The Ministries that the Greens will get are: Climate Change, Associate Finance, Conservation, Women, Land Information New Zealand, Associate Environment, Statistics, Associate Transport, Associate Health and an Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence).

Prime Minister - designate Ardern has dismissed the fact Climate Change as a minsitry is outside the government as something she can do as she doesn't need convincing on the subject.

The full roll out of Ministries will happen at the swearing in ceremony later this week. 

Considering the Labour gains from the Maori Party, the Maori Development portfolio is one that is promoting a lot of speculation as to who will receive that portfolio. This considering that Deputy Labour Leader, Kelvin Davis is likely to pick up Corrections as one of his portfolios in the government. 

Today the Labour - NZ First agreement and the Labour - Green agreements were both signed. 

Here are the substantive policies inside the agreements:

• Regional development: A $1 billion per year Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund

• Rail: Significant investment in regional rail.

• Forestry: Re-establish the New Zealand Forestry Service, and planting 100 million trees per year in a Billion Trees Planting Programme.

• Auckland Port: Commissioning a feasibility study on moving the Ports of Auckland to Northport

• Biosecurity: A funding increase to Biosecurity NZ and a select committee Inquiry into biosecurity

• Irrigation: Honour existing Crown Irrigation investment commitments

• Monetary policy: Review and reform the Reserve Bank Act

• Minimum wage: Increase to $20 an hour by 2020, with the final increase to take effect in April 2021

• Tax: Increase penalties for corporate fraud and tax evasion, and introduce a tax on exports of bottled water

• KiwiBank: Investigate KiwiBank's capabilities to become the Government's banker when that contract is next renewed.

• Foreign ownership: Strengthen the Overseas Investment Act and create a comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing

• Research and development: Increase R&D spending to 2 per cent of GDP over 10 years

• Health: Re-establish the Mental Health Commission, annual free health checks for seniors with the SuperGold card, free doctors' visits for all under 14s, increasing the age for free breast screening to 74

• Education: Restore funding for gifted students and Computers in Homes, pilot counsellors in primary schools, free driver training for all secondary school students, restart Te Kotahitanga teacher professional development

• Defence: Re-examine the Defence procurement programme

• Housing: Establish a Housing Commission

• Law and Order: Work towards 1800 new police officers over three years, investigate a volunteer rural constabulary programme, increase funding for Community Law Centres, establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission

• Social Development: More funding for family violence networks, including Women's Refuge and Shakti, pilot a Youth Education, Training and Employment programme and provide 800 extra places for the LSV scheme, introduce Ready for Work programmes

• Superannuation: Keep age of eligibility at 65

• Environment: Move to an emissions-free government-vehicle fleet by 2025/26, introduce a Zero Carbon Act and independent Climate Commission, which will consider including agriculture into the ETS, establish a tyre stewardship fund, piloting alternatives to 1080, work towards a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary

• Conservation: More funding for the Department of Conservation

• Democracy: No new parliamentary building this term, an independent review of electoral processes and enrolments, and a review of the parliamentary processes, and pass a 'Waka Jumping' bill

• Immigration: Ensure work visas reflect skills shortages and cut down on low quality international education courses, and take action on migrant exploitation, particularly international students

• Pike River: Commit to re-entry to Pike River

• Other: Build a Maori Battalion museum at Waitangi, review retail-power pricing, allow a conscience vote on a NZ First euthanasia referendum bill, a Public Inquiry "a decade after Shand" to investigate the drivers of local government costs, support NZ First's racing policy, work towards a Free Trade Agreement with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government sponsorship of UNSC2334, concerning the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

The New Zealand Green Party and Labour have a separate confidence and supply agreement which has a number of policy concessions in them in return. These include:

• Climate Change: Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission (which will also look at transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035), analyse all new legislation for climate impact, establish a Climate Change board of public sector CEOs and a set of indicators for environmental, social and economic sustainability

• Transport: Investigate a Green Transport Card to reduce the cost of public transport for low-income people and welfare recipients, prioritise National Land Transport Fund towards rail infrastructure as well as cycling and walking, cancel Auckland's East-West motorway link, work towards light rail from Auckland city to airport

• Green economy: Government-backed Green Investment Fund of $100 million to stimulate up to $1 billion of new investment in low carbon industries by 2020, assist agricultural sector to reduce biological emissions and improve water quality

• Environment: Increasing conservation funding and predator control, commit to minimising waste to landfill by reducing all waste classes by 2020

• Rivers and lakes: Stronger regulation to clean up waterways, fund freshwater enhancement, wind down Government support for irrigation, better enforcement of the Resource Management Act

• Ocean Sanctuaries: Work with Maori to establish the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary as well as a Taranaki blue whale sanctuary

• Welfare: Ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions, review Working for Families, provide safe sleeping environments for vulnerable families

• Health: Free counselling for under-25s, increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services, referendum on the personal use of cannabis by the 2020 election

• Education: Ensure children with special needs and learning disabilities can fully participate in school

• Pay equality: Eliminate the gender pay gap within the core public sector

• Homes: A rent-to-own scheme will be part of Labour's Kiwibuild programme, increase in the number of homes insulated

• Refugees: Adequately fund and support family re-unification for refugees

 

German Coalition Formation

After a long and impressive 12 year run at national helm, Angela Merkel’s center right CDU/CSU hit a snag last month, when the results of national elections were televised. The polls revealed a downturn in CDU/CSU performance compared to 2013 – indicating the party wouldn’t be able to attain absolute majority in the Bundestag, the national parliament. That, coupled with the rise of far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has caused palpable unease among Merkel’s cohort.
 
But the frenzy of elections has blown over and the focus among leading parties has now shifted to seeking out possible coalition partners. A possible ‘Jamaican Coalition’ (a partnership of CDU/CSU, FDU, and Greens), that would entail FDP and Greens entering torturous political negotiations with Merkel’s conservative block, is among the most likely scenarios  and has thus been a subject of post-election analysis. 

The three parties of so called ‘Jamaican coalition’ have previously never come together for coalition at the center – only governing the state of Saarland together during 2009-2012. Currently, they face disagreements over a range of issues like volume of migrant inflow, tax structure, environment policies, and EU reform. Accordingly, the proscribed coalition contract between the three that sets out policy and legislative priorities for upcoming government is expected be quite detailed and lengthy.

It should be noted that at the Federal level, the FDP will be expected to join a Merkel Government if given the option. The Green Party has never joined a government at the Federal level that has not been lead by the SPD. 

Though Christian Lindner’s FDP and Merkel’s CDU/CSU share similar socioeconomic outlook and together form the Germany's center-right coalition that has governed the country at a federal level for the most part since independence, they’ve their share of nuanced differences over more than a few issues. Most notably, FDP’s recognition of Germany as a cosmopolitan society and and its embrace of immigration, a focus on entrepreneurship promotion, increased liberalization of economy, and critique of expansive welfare system form the key points of contention between the two. For its part, thus, the FDP is expected to respond cautiously to Merkel’s alliance overtures as its checkered political history with Kohl led CDU during the 1990s – during which it won between 6.2 and 11 percent of the vote in Bundestag elections – will serve to deter Lindner from embracing centrist conservatives and re-experiencing the electoral embarrassments of the past. The 1998 federal elections in which the CDU/CSU - FDP coalition lost, the FDP's nearly 30-year presence in government coalition came to a rather unceremonious end and marked a major setback in party’s history.

For Greens though, the core issue remains to be environment and climate change. While the FDP stands for market liberalization, the Greens advocate a strong welfare state, government investments and strict quotas for more environmentally conscious policies. Also, as the FDP calls for greater German investment in international security, the Greens argue for more spending to curb unemployment among European youth and improving education. On Europe, unlike CDU and FDP, the Greens oppose giving Frontex, Europe’s border control agency, more power and disagree with CDU and FDP on the idea that Germany ought to do more for its debt-stricken neighbors. Their manifesto instead proposes a Green New Deal for Europe to do away with austerity, investment in a circular economy, and digitalization of Europe. Another aspect of the possible Jamaican Coalition is the diverging views on immigration between the leftist greens and CDU’s populist Bavarian sister, CSU. It is therefore not far-fetched to say that under present circumstances, the possibilities of two coming together in a coalition are slim.

This is a Coalition formation that has never been tried in Germany. It will require calm and cool negotiations to ensure that the trade-offs to form the Coalition are brought together to deliver Germany the stable government required. 

We do not believe another Grand Coalition is in the SPD's interests after going through another election with a falling vote share after another term in the 'grand' coalition. Most in the SPD see Opposition and the best way forward and to allow the 'Jamaica' option to be pursued in order to ensure the AfD is not the official Opposition.

The SPD and the Greens say that they would put any coalition deals to a vote of their members, raising the risk of new elections, given the strong grassroots resistance in both parties to a pact with Merkel. We would rate the chances of a new election at 10-15% in reality as our team and people on the ground know that the party who forces the new election will be the losers in it. 

 

German Election Analysis

The results of German general polls have been announced. To expectations of many political pundits and commentators, Angela Merkel led center-right CDU/CSU has clinched a majority with almost 33% of total votes – a figure that is slated to hand her 218 seats in Bundestag. The Social democrats, or SPD, helmed by Martin Schulz, is trailing second with just over 20% votes and is projected to command 138 seats in the house.

The most interesting aspect of the poll however is the rise of AfD, a far-right, anti-immigration party, which had previously struggled to enter mainstream politics. It emerged as the largest party in the house by claiming a significant 13.5% of the vote – a proportion that will land it 87 seats. This shift marks the first time a far-right party has been able to make its way to Bundestag in last six decades and spells a change of tone in nation’s future parliamentary discourse.

Shortly after the results were made public, Schulz confirmed statements by other senior party members that the SPD would not reenter into a coalition with the CDU/CSU but opt for opposition.

With SPD out of the possible governing coalition, that leaves Merkel with the pro-business Free Democratic Party or FDP and the Greens as potential partners. They have scored 10% and 9% of votes respectively and together with CSU, form the most likely ruling trio. It’s a coalition that’s widely been dubbed as the Jamaican coalition after the three parties’ respective black, green, and yellow flags – the same colors that fashion Jamaican national flag.

It’s worth mentioning that while this coalition has worked at state level, it hasn’t been tried over national stage before – a reality that analysts predict will necessitate complex negotiations before any mutually agreeable arrangement can be reached. Merkel’s conservative party is itself divided in two camps, her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister Christian Social Union which is headed by Horst Seehofer. The two wings began to diverge few years ago and are increasingly taking on distinct political identities. Meaning that the sought after alliance, in another sense, would comprise four separate parties with sometimes nuanced but mostly disparate outlooks.

The Greens, a party born out of the 1968 social revolution is also split into two camps - leftist ("Fundis") and the more pragmatic centrists ("Realos") and will be sending two delegations for negotiations.  The business friendly FDP would be wary of putting itself through the same predicament that it had to face after forming a coalition with Merkel in 2009. The party, according to reports, will be pushing for the seat of finance minister in any likely coalition – a demand that will require Merkel to swap her finance minister and long term aide Wolfgang Schäuble to some other role.

In any case, the results of recent poll have created an interesting and complex political ground in Bundestag in which the traditionally dominant CSU/CDU stands at its lowest parliamentary strength in decades. This electoral equation will lead to a tough and drawn-out negotiations between prospective ruling partners and require conservative CDU/CSU to make uneasy compromises if it wished to reelect Angela Merkel as national chancellor for the 4th consecutive term.

Kenyan Election Cancelled

On September 1st 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya gave its verdict on the petition filed by the NASA Coalition Presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, disputing the declared results of the August 8th presidential elections. 

The six judges, led by Chief Justice David Maraga, ruled by 4 votes to 2 that the elections were not properly conducted and that the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner was invalid, null and void. 

CJ Maraga noted in the summarised ruling that elections are a process, and not an event, and that the election process had been marred by irregularities and illegalities. 

The court ruled that the IEBC “failed, neglected, or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution” and applicable laws.

The court declared that the IEBC committed irregularities and illegalities in, among other things, the transmission of results.

The court also found that these irregularities and illegalities affected the integrity of the entire Presidential Election.

The court ordered the IEBC to conduct fresh elections in strict compliance with applicable laws, within 60 days as provided for in the Constitution.

The ruling shocked most of the country. This is the first time in Africa that a court has nullified the re-election of a sitting President. 

Raila Odinga and NASA supporters were delighted. 

President Kenyatta gave an official statement that though he disagreed with the ruling, he would respect it. However, speaking at various rallies afterwards, the President said that CJ Maraga and his ‘wakora’ (thugs or crooks) had nullified his re-election. He and other Jubilee supporters accused the Supreme Court judges of overturning the will of the people, of colluding with the NASA coalition and also of staging a judicial coup. The President and his Deputy – Mr William Ruto – said they would deal with the Judiciary and they would revisit the matter after the fresh elections. Jubilee repeatedly said that the Court should have ordered a recount of the ballots instead of calling for fresh elections.

Mr Odinga and the NASA coalition demanded that the IEBC, that the court stated had not conducted the elections properly, should be reconstituted before the new elections. NASA named specific officials that they said should be removed from the Commission. Jubilee responded that if the IEBC officials are removed, then the Supreme Court judges would be removed too (though this is not a simple process).

The IEBC Chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati, invited the Director of Public Prosecution to investigate IEBC staff and prosecute those found to have possibly been engaged in wrongdoing.

On Thursday 14th September, newly-elected Nyeri Town Member of Parliament,  Ngunjiri Wambugu filed a petition with the Judicial Service Commission seeking to remove Chief Justice David Maraga from office. Ngunjiri says that Maraga exercised a judicial coup by annulling the presidential election. He claimed that the CJ exerted undue pressure on the rest of the judges to make the judgement that they did. 

The MP later withdrew the petition, saying that the political climate did not favour it. It was reported that President Kenyatta asked him to withdraw it.

On Monday 18th September, another petitioner – Mr Derrick Ngumu, who describes himself as the Executive Director of Angaza Empowerment Network, filed a petition seeking the removal of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola for alleged gross misconduct. The two judges are among the four who voted to nullify the presidential election.
Mr Ngumu accused the judges of breaching the Judicial Service Commission code of conduct during proceedings for NASA's presidential election petition, by meeting NASA leaders to discuss the case as it was going on.

On the whole, Jubilee supporters seem to feel that the Supreme Court was wrong to ‘overturn the will of the people’ and that the judges who voted for the annulment were compromised.

NASA supporters, on the other hand, believe that the Supreme Court vindicated their position that the poll was rigged. 

It is noteworthy that during the hearing of the petition, the Supreme Court ordered the IEBC to allow the parties to the case and the court itself access to the server to examine its contents. IEBC complied only partially with this order of the court. This has solidified the view that the IEBC has some damning information within its servers that it is keen to hide.

After much talk by Jubilee leaders against the Supreme Court and it’s judges, the Chief Justice read a statement on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission, condemning the attacks on the Judiciary and stating that the Judiciary would not allow anyone to dictate to it how to discharge its mandate. He said “if leaders are tired of having a strong and independent judiciary, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether.”

He called upon Kenyans of goodwill to stand up for the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law. “On our part, we are prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.”
 

New Zealand Election: Final Update

With New Zealand heading to the polls after what has been one of the more tumultuous campaigns since the advent of the MMP voting system; New Zealanders go to the polls. 

The basic tenants of tomorrow in our analysis go like this:

  1. The current governing arrangement (National - United Future - Act - Maori Party) will not be returned, despite this being Bill English's preferred option.
  2. The Labour-Green alliance under the Memorandum of Understanding is unlikely to be able to govern in its own right. 

United Future will lose its place in Parliament after Peter Dunne announced he was retiring as the MP for Ohariu and United Future not polling at the 5% threshold to get a List MP elected.

Whether or not Hone Harawira and his Mana Party can get elected in Tai Tokerau on the back of the 2 for 1 campaign he is running and whether or not the Maori Party can get 2 MPs back into Parliament will be critical in the dream scenario of the left where they can govern with a Labour-Green - Maori - Mana block. 

The fact remains: It is most likely that Winston Peters and his New Zealand First Party will become the King or Queenmaker to form the next Government of New Zealand. 

Winston Peters has governed with both National and Labour previously. He served as Deputy Prime Minister to Jim Bolger and Foreign Minister to Helen Clark in her third government. 

Winston Peters has already stated that he will not enter into a government with the Green Party. 

This means that the likely situations for the next government are:

  1. National - NZ First
  2. New Zealand First- Labour (with Greens in a Supply Agreement)
  3. Labour - Green - Maori - Mana

This is how we see the most likely scenarios, however, picking the combination from an MMP election is always difficult and predicting the results of negotiations to happen on a hypothetical equation of the Parliament is even more fraught.

Our team will be tweeting tomorrow night as the results come in 

New Zealand Election Update

New Zealand elections are conducted using the MMP voting system - Mixed Member Proportional. Its defining characteristics are a mix of MPs from single-member electorates and those elected from a party list, and a Parliament in which a party's share of the seats roughly mirrors its share of the overall nationwide party vote.

It is a proportional system, which means that the proportion of votes a party gets will largely reflect the number of seats it has in Parliament.

Each voter gets two votes.

The first vote is for the political party the voter chooses. This is called the party vote and largely decides the total number of seats each political party gets in Parliament.

The second vote is to choose the MP the voter wants to represent the electorate they live in. This is called the electorate vote. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. They do not have to get more than half the votes.

Under current MMP rules, a political party that wins at least one electorate seat OR 5% of the party vote gets a share of the seats in Parliament that is about the same as its share of the party vote.

For example, if a party gets 30% of the party vote it will get roughly 36 MPs in Parliament (being 30% of 120 seats). So if that party wins 20 electorate seats it will have 16 List MPs in addition to its 20 Electorate MPs.

Coalitions or agreements between political parties are usually needed before Governments can be formed.

Going into this election, National governs with the Support of United Future and its MP for Ōhāriu, Peter Dunne, Maori Party and their MPs and Co-Leaders Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiakiri and Marama Fox who was elected as a List MP and is the Maori Party Candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and David Seymour from ACT who is the MP for Epsom. 

This election comes on the back of some major changes in New Zealand politics. Firstly, with the mid-term resignation of John Key and the ascension of Bill English to the top job. In this election, he seeks a mandate in his own right. Secondly, we see the mid-campaign resignation of Opposition Leader Andrew Little and the ascension of his Deputy Jacinda Ardern. Her rise to the leadership with Kelvin Davis as her Deputy Leader has given the Labour campaign a new momentum and energy that Labour has not seen since the election defeat of Helen Clark.

This has seen Labour's poll numbers rise to 32.5% according to Roy Morgan, 37% according to UMR and 33.1% (Reid Research). While UMR traditionally has a Labour bias, all three polls show National falling but Labour making most of its gains from the Green Party who have seen support fall since the resignation of one of its Co-Leaders, Metiria Turei.

At the last election, National achieved its best result under MMP, winning 60 seats and Labour had its worst election ever. The Labour Party’s share of the vote in 2014 (25.1%) is the lowest it has achieved in any MMP election to date; it is also the lowest share for the Labour Party in any election since 1922 when its 23.7% vote share was third-highest behind the Liberal and Conservative parties.

There are 25 MPs who have self-identified as being of Māori descent or 21% of the total Parliament; there are a record eight MPs who identify as being of Pacific Peoples ethnicity, or 7% of the Parliament; there are five MPs who identify as being of Asian ethnicity, 4% of the Parliament.

Our analysis of recent NZ wide polling is that either National or Labour would need the votes of New Zealand First and Winston Peters to govern.

Newshub-Reid Research poll has New Zealand First at 9.2% and third in the party standings. This poll has neither the Greens-Labour Coalition and the National-ACT-United Future Coalition couldn't govern without New Zealand First. 

According to the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll the Green Party could be out of Parliament as a result of the Labour new leader's popularity and the fall-out from Metiria Turei's resignation. The Greens have dropped 11 percentage points to 4 percent, according to the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll - its worst result in the poll since 2009. In this poll, New Zealand First polls at 10%.

With United Future Leader, Peter Dunne resigning from Parliament as the MP for Ohariu; this leaves National in a dangerous position of not having enough support party MPs without Winston Peters.

It should be noted that in neither poll, National polls over the 45% 'firewall' it needs to be sure of its majority against the Labour-Greens Coalition.

What we are seeing in New Zealand with the rise of Ardern is similar to what we saw in the United Kingdom, the condensing of the vote around the major parties as voters sure up their major party and move away from 'split' voting, which is normally voting differently between the electorate vote and the party vote. 

Therefore, with an election on September 23; people should be watching for the following:

  • How high can the 'Jacinda Effect' take Labour?
  • Can the Greens recover? 
  • Can the National vote get above 45%

We also say to people to watch the debates. John Key was an excellent debator and gained momentum from the debates. Right now the momentum is certainly with Ardern and with Bill English moving to centre his campaign on spending commitments to arrest the momentum back from Labour, the debates will be key. 

Kenyan Election Update: Military Rigging Claims

National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga said there was a plan to rig the August elections. The opposition leader tabled details of alleged rigging plans involving security forces to aid Jubilee hold on power in an operation named Dumisha Utulivu (Keep the Peace). The statement by NASA and the accompanying documents immediately went viral among Kenyans on social media.

The document presented to the public by NASA indicated that a number of officers and soldiers will be participating in the plot. It mentioned the selection of 'regime-friendly' soldiers and the use of signal-jamming equipment in selected areas mainly in Central Kenya, which is perceived to predominantly support the Jubilee regime.

According to Raila, the soldiers are being trained on how to cut off power and water in Kibera and Mathare slums and keep people out of city centre.

“Also included will be 226 new soldiers, being trained to be deployed in this mission. The soldiers don’t have networks in the military. Because they are new, they will readily take any orders, and at the same time cannot be identified, nor can they communicate with other soldiers who might not be privy to the plot and would oppose it,” Mr Odinga's running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, claimed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President, William Ruto, dismissed the rigging claims saying Raila has sensed defeat and is now discrediting the polls at every opportunity.

In a move that surprised many, on Friday, Kenya Defence Force (KDF) spokesman, Colonel Joseph Owuoth, reportedly confirmed the authenticity of documents presented by NASA on the “Dumisha utulivu” operation. However, he said they were quoted out of context and that military was apolitical and professional.

With just about 10 days to the elections, IEBC Chair, Wafula Chebukati, said the Commission had put “strict measures” in place to prevent rigging. The IEBC chair said IEBC had no plans of deploying KDF anywhere in the electoral process.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo disowned the documents presented by NASA, saying she had not seen them and that the KDF were not plotting anything outside the law.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi expressed worry about KDF's admission of the authenticity of a letter presented by the Opposition on an alleged rigging plot.

"Military documents do not leak. And if they leak, military never confirms that they are authentic."

He added via Twitter on Saturday: "KDF Spokesman executing a scheme. Worrying."

NASA politician, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, claimed that KDF Spokesperson Colonel Joseph Owuoth, who, the previous week, confirmed the authenticity of documents presented by NASA, had gone missing.

Prof. Nyong'o claimed at a press briefing in Kisumu that Col. Owuoth was ordered to go on compulsory leave right after issuing the statement confirming NASA’s allegations. He was also ordered not to talk to the press and to go to his home in Koru.

The Colonel was said to have been in constant communication with his sister until Monday morning. He boarded a public transport vehicle in Nairobi and went silent once he reached Nakuru (or was assumed to have reached Nakuru), and was not heard from again.

These claims caused considerable concern, since they were made just days after the IEBC ICT manager went missing and was later found dead.

Col Joseph Owuoth resurfaced at a press conference at Defence headquarters alongside Defence CS Raychelle Omamo, and dismissed claims by his family and politicians that he is missing. He also said that he was okay and still on duty and not suspended as claimed by NASA leaders.

NASA's Prof. Nyong’o had told journalists in Kisumu that the family of Owuoth has reported him missing, a day being sent on compulsory leave.

The Defence CS, at the same press conference, said that the ministry had "carried out investigations to establish the veracity, authenticity and source" of the documents presented by NASA, and that the ministry "can state categorically that these documents are fake in all aspects."

SA No Confidence: Where to from here?

Tuesday 8th August 2017 is a day that will go down in history in the young democracy of South Africa.  A vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma as president of the country was allowed to be cast in private and the result was closer than expected and whether this or the fact thevote was in private was most surprising is still open for debate.

However, what was the vote of no confidence really for?  Was the only the fact that South Africans and a growing number of MPs were unhappy about the way Jacob Zuma was running the country? The fact is that the vote of no confidence was a vote of no confidence in many areas of the turbulent and sometimes violent world of South African Politics.

The opposition lost the vote, one cannot truly say that Jacob Zuma won because a number of his own party members turned their backs on him and did not tow the party line. The vote demonstrated a healthy democracy but also highlighted the fact that some MPs and Ministers are so “captured” that it is a case of better the devil you know than to lose a job with good pay given as a reward for loyalty to one man and a family.

The anger towards those who voted to remove the beloved leader is, in the days after the vote, is beginning to surface. The ANC is a divided party, the tripartite alliance is under more strain the than ever before but the weakness or fear of those such as the SA Communist party who have been outspoken about Mr Zuma has become blatantly obvious. Inside ANC structures there is turmoil, vows to oust out or seek revenge against the twenty something ANC members who broke rank is starting to surface, this despite the vote being secret. The ANC, for these members has become a power hungry monster that has lost the moral high ground serving the few not the many like something from an Orwellian Animal Farm nighmare.

Opposition parties have concluded that while the vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma may have been a win for the president is it a loss for a dying or maybe even now dead ANC. The broken and divided ANC along with its alliance partners is fighting for its life, clambering to find its identity. This leads to desperate measures and the prospect of impossible to honour promises in the run up to the 2019 elections.

A lot of trust in the ANC has been lost; the once loved struggle party is losing its lustre in an ever more educated and now less trusting citizenship of its country. The debate who should be the next ANC party leader is not an easy one and ames put forward are names that are popular only in certain enclaves of the party showing not just a divide but multiple, perhaps fatal, fractures. 

Cyril Ramaphosa, the struggle icon, wealthy businessman and trade unionist missed a golden opportunity to stand up for what is right in the no confidence vote and in the eyes of the people has lost some favour. He had the chance to do what the people wanted and didn’t choosing to stand by his party not his country.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former wife of Jacob Zuma, could be the first woman president of South Africa. The very fact she is or was related to Jacob Zuma is perhaps a bridge to far for South African Voters and many are asking, “What has she really done?” The family ties to corruption are just too strong for many voters to think about with the name sending shivers down the spines of people throughout the country.

Other names in the hat include Former ANC Treasurer-General Matthews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, current ANC Treasurer-General and ANC National Chairperson and Speaker of the house Baleka Mbete.

Every single name has in some way been tainted with the same brush that has painted the ANC corrupt, incompetent and untrusted, each has had a chance to stand up and be the change but are either captured, afraid or just weak. This says a lot about the ANC, it shows how people get to where they are. It shows how favour and loyalty to a man or promise rather than being wiling and competent to perform and serve their country has become the norm, shedding light on a once glorious ANC that people had hope in that now shows how a few have benefitted over the many.

The successes of the ANC in improved education and placing some business in black hands have perhaps become the things that ultimately destroy the party, voting them out of power or barely hanging in there in some form of delicate coalition. Better-educated people, people who have waited too long for broken promises and the very fact that opposition parties have made massive changes in a number of major metros they won in local elections, mean the ANC is exposed. The Gupta emails, evidence of mass corruption and in recent days the stance on a senior minister accused of assaulting two women in a nightclub have shown the true colours of the current party.  These true colours clearly show how the party has become a dark, untrusted and distant shadow of the party that once fought and won the fight for freedom two decades ago.

Where can South Africa go? Who will win the next election?  It is difficult to say, party politics can get dirty and the ANC has its back to the wall. What is known is that the people of SA are unhappy and that can only mean two things, a low voter turnout that would favour the ANC or change of political direction that leads to unchartered territory. 

What the A-League Expansion Process can learn from the MLS

With the botched and stalled A-League expansion process currently going nowhere and with a lot of expansion bids seemingly in limbo watching potential capital investment into the game fly elsewhere; it is worth looking at the MLS Expansion Process for some blue Sky potential. 

Undoubtedly, the A-League could learn from the American process as could the local bids (and potential bids) learn from the expansion entries in the MLS.

For the A-League bids that don't currently have identified capital partners (eg. those bids that aren't the Sunshine Coast, Southern NSW, Canberra, Tasmania and Brisbane City); it's more than clear that certain disclosures around capital would have to be met in order to be considered real by any serious football board.

However, without the FFA willing to get their house in order, this is difficult. We know as advisory consultants in this space that potential investors will not invest without a clear pathway and some confidence set by the governing officials. 

We have seen from the MLS the benefits of a clear expansion platform to attract new investment into the league. There have seen a number of expansions with the MLS over the years.

Yet, in this round the MLS Commissioner has confirmed that teams 25 and 26 will be announced during the second or third quarter of 2017, at an expansion fee of $150 million each, and will begin MLS play by 2020. Teams 27 and 28 will be announced at a later date, at a price delivered in conjunction with the timeline. 

The league acknowledged ownership groups from 10 markets that have publicly expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Three key aspects are considered top priorities when reviewing candidates: 

  • A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market.
  • A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.
  • A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community

The Stadium proposition has already been passed with the bid from the Tampa Bay Rowdies via a public referendum. On the other hand, St. Louis will remain a two-sport town after voters defeated a measure that would have helped pay for a stadium as part of an effort to lure a Major League Soccer franchise. City voters turned down Proposition 2 on Tuesday by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote. It would have provided $60 million from a business use tax to help fund a soccer stadium.

The MLS effort in Charlotte, which was among the favourite thanks to the city’s size and importance in a growing area of the country, is on life support after the city declined to approve the funneling of tax revenue earmarked for tourism toward a portion of a stadium.

In Indianapolis, an effort to get the state legislature to pass a bill allowing taxes generated at and adjacent to a new soccer stadium to be spent on its construction has gone nowhere. 

The first teams to enter the MLS in the 21st Century were Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA for which they paid $7.5 Million to enter. These bids will be paying $150 Million entry fee.

In the A-League, there are no local ownership requirements. This means that any serious capital investor and those seeking to bring a bid together really need to be a homogenous working unit. This is required in terms of PR, engaging with the three tiers of government and with the FFA authorities. 

The importance of a quality investor group has already been shown in the MLS expansion bid process. On the one hand, we see the Nashville bid bringing in the owners of the Minnesota Vikings into their bid consortium. Mark Wilf, his brother Zygi, and cousin Leonard, in their 13th season as majority owners and of the Minnesota Vikings, has signed on as a minority owner of Nashville Soccer Holdings, the business enterprise led by billionaire Nashville businessman John Ingram.

This is not to say any expansion process is smooth sailing.

The Sacramento bid, which had been considered a slam dunk for entry, have fallen into disarray with the addition of Meg Whitman (Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Mitt Romney Presidential Backer) into the ownership group.

One would have thought a press release would have been forthcoming from the club, but one never appeared, even on the club's website. A press release instead emerged from an entity calling itself Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings. Now there are disputes about whether or not the bid will be the Sacramento Republic or not.

We would also note that the right ownership group should not be a substitute for a corporate partner structure that works. Any bid that can show good governmental and corporate buy-in to the bid, will have a leg up in this process. The A-League simply can not afford another team that has a revenue base that is too narrow without local corporate buy-in to the brand. 

If we look at the FC Cinncinati bid for the MLS expansion, a year before they played their first game in the USL (the American 2nd tier), the club had 17 corporate sponsors signed up. Toyota is the USL jersey sponsor. 

The fact is, the expansion process in the A-League will need some components which the FFA will have to include when they finally get the house in order. These are:

  • Stadium
  • Catchment Area
  • Capital Requirement
  • Local Talent Depth
  • Support History

Therefore, there are a lot that bids, or potential bids, can do to prepare to enter the FFA process in a serious way.

Firstly, there is the private sector capital backer. The backers will need to be somewhat flexible with the components they will need to invest in, the total sum of the capital investment and be prepared to invest long term in the bid as there is no 'end date' for this process as such. Sports investment exit strategies are not comparable to almost any other investment.

This is shown by the divisions with the Sacramento MLS bid intrigue around their ownership structure and whether or not the Republic name will be used if granted one of the spots in the MLS when the MLS goes to 28 franchises. For more information about this, click here

  • Stadium: There are many bid proposals that have been declared/are being contemplated that will need an agreement on a stadium. This could require receiving funding commitments from a local council, state or territory government or getting an agreement with the owning level of government to receive private sector investment. 
  • Catchment Area: If you don't have a catchment area of around 500,000 the bid won't be commercially viable. Now, there are some bids that are pushing the limits to make their bid catchment areas appear bigger. The catchment area also needs to be around the 500,000 mark to ensure that the bid can prove localised support for the game.
  • Local Talent Depth: This is a subjective criterium. However, the bid needs to have a real and in deep pitch in this space. This also needs to be about ensuring that the bid is backed by the State FA and the junior clubs in the region. 
  • Support History: This all comes back to community engagement. If the bid is based off an existing team, the figures from that team come into figuring. However, as a bid, you need to engage in a solid community engagement campaign to engage your catchment in the bid and bring a level of 'hype' behind your bid. 

Don't underestimate the value of bringing a derby to the table as well. If we look at what makes the A-League sizzle, look at the Sydney derbies, Melbourne derbies and Central Coast-Newcastle rivalries. Even the rivalries that Brisbane Roar have had with the now defunct Gold Coast and Northern Fury sides were commercial gold for the league. This immediately brings into focus the prospects from Southern Syndey, Woollongong, South Melbourne, Brisbane City, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. 

This is actually one of the big drawcards for bringing St. Louis into the MLS. St. Louis also helps MLS fill out the midwest U.S.—the league cares about geographic coverage—and instantly creates a couple of promising potential rivalries. An I-70 derby with Sporting Kansas City could become one of the league’s premier showdowns, while the enmity Blues and Cardinals fans traditionally have for their rivals in Chicago could form the basis of another run rivalry. 

The geographic coverage argument from St. Louis also provides the basis for arguments for bids from places such as Tasmania and Canberra.

However, for any prospective bid, the best thing we could do is show a living exemplar of a side to model a bid on: Atlanta United FC. 

Before they started, they had 24,000 season tickets sold; outdoing the top attendance rates of the MLS. 

Atlanta United's inaugural season may still be far from over, but already the club is on the road to becoming MLS's most successful expansion team.

The team is performing well in their first season, reaching for the playoff stages. The average attendance for the team is around 44.000 spectators, which are more than good numbers. If we look at how the first squad was built, we won’t find stellar European signings, like most of the franchises, do as a marketing tool in their first years. The squad is built around young players with some experienced ones from the MLS and some interesting young foreigners. 

They hired Gerardo Martino as their first manager (originally from Barcelona) and are also heavily invested in the youth development in their catchment area.

All of this is part of a long-term project, and it’s exactly what the A-League should be seeking for the new teams. For a franchise to be successful (and in the end, the league depends on the success of the franchises), it needs to be self-sustainable for the most part.

The main difference between traditional clubs and franchises is that sentiment of 'belongingness' that a club has: people will always belong to their club, no matter who’s the newest signing or in which position or division they’re in. 

The A-League are still a long way off creating any environment of belongingness for new entrants. The wait continues.

 

Kenyan Election Update: Extra Ballots

Thirdway Party Presidential candidate, Dr. Ekuru Aukot, accompanied by his running mate, Emmanuel Nzia, addressed the media at Ridgeways Baptist Church, Kiambu County on Sunday 30th of July 2017. The candidate accused the IEBC of printing extra ballot papers beyond the 1% contingency provision made for spoilt votes. 

Dr. Aukot added that the 5.7% extra ballots should be a cause for concern. 


"IEBC must now turn its attention to the KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Elections Management System) to ensure that voting is credible. Used, unused and spoilt ballot papers must be reconciled properly and results tallied transparently and transmitted without any hitches," he said. 

The electoral commission said the one per cent additional ballot papers were meant to cater for ballots that were reported as spoilt before they are cast. The commission explained that the ballot papers are bound in booklets, each booklet having 50 papers, hence the commission's decision to round off the number to 50. 

The IEBC communication manager, Andrew Limo said that for uniformity purposes, the commission had to round off to 50 because there was no way to print unmatched numbers for different counties. 

Via Twitter on Saturday, the electoral agency said they had printed 416,360 booklets of 50 ballot papers each, thus totalling 20,818,000 papers. This is to cater for 19,687,563 registered voters, meaning there is an extra 1,130,437 papers.

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders on Monday 31st July claimed that the printing of additional papers could be another plan to rig the General Election. 

The Orange Democratic Movement's National Chairman, John Mbadi, the Secretary General, Agnes Zani, and the Wiper Vice Chairman, Mutula Kilonzo Jr, asked the IEBC to explain the extra ballot papers and warned that this could affect the credibility of the polls. 
"Does this then mean ballots for the other positions will not be spoilt? Why only the extra for the presidential (ballot papers)?" asked Dr Zani. She faulted the electoral body for not involving all stakeholders before deciding to print extra ballot papers. 

The electoral commission on that Monday released a document detailing the packaging of the presidential ballot papers. The document lists each of the 290 constituencies, their respective total number of registered voters, and number of ballot papers to be delivered. It further detailed the number of ballot booklets to be delivered to all the polling stations spread across the country and how the commission reached the rounded off figures.

Commissioner Roselyn Akombe said the ballot papers and result forms have been customised for each polling station, making it impossible to use those not meant for a particular polling station.
 

Kenyan Election Update: Ballot Paper Dispute

On Friday, July 7th 2017, the High Court nullified the tender for the printing of presidential ballot papers for the August 8, 2017 presidential election to, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company.

In its ruling, a three-judge bench hearing a judicial review filed by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to conduct adequate public participation in the tender process, a move that they said goes against constitutional requirements. Further, the bench found IEBC’s decision to meet representatives of Jubilee and NASA at the exclusion of other parties fielding presidential candidates was inappropriate.

The court ordered the IEBC to commence the procurement process afresh.

NASA had also argued that President Uhuru Kenyatta has a relationship with Al Ghurair, which  influenced the award of the tender to the firm. The court ruled that the evidence provided to support this claim fell short of the evidentiary standard required to prove it.

High Court judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga and John Mativo found that public participation in the direct procurement process was necessary for free, fair elections.

In response to the court ruling, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the Judiciary against what he considered a plan to frustrate the IEBC in order not to conduct the General Election on August 8th.

The President said Kenyans would not accept any attempt to postpone the polls from the date specified in the Constitution.

Speaking at a rally in Baringo County on Sunday, 9th July, President Kenyatta said the Judiciary should not take them for fools for being silent as the courts make decisions that could lead to the postponement of the elections.

(On NTV's talk show 'Press Pass' the next day, commentator Patrick Gathara pointed out that the 2013 General Elections were not held on the day specified in the Constitution, but on a day set by IEBC following a court ruling.)

"I want to tell those in the courts that because we have respected you for a long time we are not fools.
We cannot accept the courts to be used by those not interested in the elections to frustrate IEBC," said the President.

The President said it was strange that the IEBC had been allowed to go ahead with printing ballot papers for other elective positions but not for the president.

Chief Justice David Maraga, in his Twitter handle on the same day, termed the President's accusations as unfortunate.

"I would not ordinarily respond to statements made by politicians in the course of campaign activities, but these accusations are particularly unfortunate, based that they are on completely wrong premises."

The CJ said that he had at no time asked the IEBC not to proceed with the printing of ballot papers, contrary to statements by Deputy President William Ruto in Baringo on that Sunday.

"The comments I made in Mombasa and elsewhere, which were either deliberately or inadvertently taken out of context, were in reference to the courts' efforts to expeditiously clear the numerous petitions arising from the party primaries in order not to inconvenience the printing of ballot papers," said Maraga.

He added: " I have always been at the forefront of defending the cardinal principle of decisional independence of judges, and at no time have I ever directed any judge or judicial officer on how to determine the cases before them."

On Monday 10th July, Jubilee Party leaders accused judges who handled the tender case of conflict of interest.

The Jubilee leaders said that Judge Odunga’s wife is Siaya Senator James Orengo’s niece while Judge Ouko is related to NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga's wife, Ida.

Speaking at the party’s headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, the leaders led by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said that Judges George Odunga and William Ouko should have recused themselves due to conflict of interest.

The IEBC appealed the High Court decision on the ballot paper printing tender, arguing that the judges erred in finding that public participation is a mandatory precondition to direct procurement conducted as provided under the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act. 

On Thursday, the 20th of July, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgement and allowed the IEBC to proceed with the printing. 

The Court of Appeal said the High Court decision did not take into consideration the constitutional timelines within which General Election must be held. The five-bench judge also ruled that public participation is not a requirement in direct procurement, which was the procedure used by the IEBC in awarding the contract to Al Ghurair. 

The appellate judges did, however, agree with the High Court that newspaper cuttings are insufficient proof of a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Al Ghurair bosses and that such a meeting influenced the award of the tender.
 

The Future of South Africa

Open any South African newspaper or visit any South African news website and things do not look good.  On every page, there is something depressing and with an initial glance, one would assume things are getting worse.

But, are things getting worse in South Africa?

The answer is “yes” but it will not stay that way.

The Guptavisation of South Africa

Perhaps the most prominent name in South Africa today is that of Gupta. The Gupta’s are a family who arrived in SA in the late 1990’s with nothing, made friends in the right places and rose to become one of the most influential business families in the country.  For many years their business efforts and now exposed, alleged dodgy dealings were of little concern, until a Gupta owned Jet landed at the Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria full of guests for a wedding, a wedding too that has since come under the spotlight funded by corrupt, government money.

A flurry of media activity around the jet soon began to unearth the shadier side of the Guptas, President Jacob Zuma and a gravy train of ANC Politicians and heads of state owned enterprises. In recent weeks the so-called #GuptaLeaks emails have shed further light on the shady dealings of the Gupta Family and their associates of influence in Government and cast a shadow over the once valiant, now deemed corrupt, ANC.

The political space in SA is alive and a young democracy is showing it can work. However, weak leadership in the ruling party and mounting allegations of corruption are putting the democracy to the test. Recent downgrades in the South African currency, the Rand, are in many ways a result of the now political infighting and the results of poor decisions, lack of investment partly due to corruption and the lack growth that stem from this.

President Jacob Zuma is considered to be at the very heart of problems South Africa is facing, and his party, the ANC, is divided over his role as president and this too is beginning cause challenges in the country. There are calls for Zuma to fall with a growing list of over 700 accusations of fraud that the president and his cronies are fighting to keep out of court to enable corrupt gains to continue, and yet time and time again the “Teflon President” still remains in his seat.

Things will get better

Despite the political turmoil and the ever-deepening piles of emails and documents that sway the argument that corruption is rife and state capture has happened, there is hope. This hope is what makes South Africa the country it is and it is this hope that any investor in SA needs to appreciate.

In the middle of the 1980’s the escape out of Apartheid seemed impossible; in 1994, the dream came true. The people rose up and made South Africa new, or as new as they could. This fighting spirit remains in South Africa today, 2019 sees a general election and recent politics and the truth coming out about corruption are reasons for a change in SA.

The ANC, as it stands at this moment, has little chance of securing a majority and should corruption charges against many ANC Members be proven people should think twice about their vote. The rhetoric from other parties is becoming a powerful “don’t vote ANC” with both the DA, the official opposition and EFF, a breakaway from the ANC each gaining significant ground in recent municipal elections with major cities changing hands. These changes have unearthed appalling levels of mismanagement that are being put right, this is something any investor must acknowledge as a sign of things to come.

The view of SA for investors is clouded by smoke from the political situation. However, SA is a place where long term investment will yield good returns and shrewd investors will reap a just return with the right financial, social and humanitarian strategy behind their investment. The Rand, despite plummeting in recent months due to crazy political decisions should not be the deciding factor on investment; it is in fact fairly stable despite its value. One needs to look at the stability of the country outside the world of politics and that there is a nation hungry for jobs and a better country.

A change of government may not necessarily be the panacea investors are seeking to the problems in SA, nor is it something that can be assured of, and one needs to consider much more. The corruption in South Africa is now known to exist and people are aware of it, this will be further addressed as the democracy matures and those at the heart of it are ousted. Right now, is a time where clever money will receive a long-term reward while some of the problems are being fixed, now is the time to get a head start and have some patience.

Structures need to be put in place, the power utility, for example, has to turn itself around along with good governance and either investment or privatisation. South Africa cannot survive at all without this and many other current State Owned Entities that have been milked through corrupt dealings. There comes a point, and many will say it is coming soon, where the people of South Africa will have to rise up, bring the change they want and grow the country again as they did in 1994. Any investment will surely understand the importance of that.

Many lessons have been learnt in the last twenty plus years, these will be used to move forward and that makes South Africa a place that will be hungry for investment especially from investors with a heart for change not just profit.

 

 

Nawaz Gone: What's next for Pakistan?

The morning of July the 28th will be long remembered as a real watershed in the history of Pakistan’s politics. After having kept the country’s Prime minister waiting for months on scaffold, the Supreme Court- country’s apex judicial body- has finally decided to disqualify him on account of corruption. Nawaz Sharif, one of the most powerful premiers ever, was just months away from completing his 5-year tenure to become the first elected Prime Minister ever in the country’s history to serve a complete term in office. The decision was largely hailed by the opposition parties and the people alike. Since the verdict was announced, the country’s atmosphere has been rife with sanguinity that the decision marks the beginning of accountability process for all and sundry, even the oligarchs.

But is it really that simple?

The ruling party has tried to dispel the impression that this move is yet another assault on the nascent democratic process which has been hardly allowed to strike root. Former cabinet colleagues and party loyalists have also recorded strong reservations against the entire investigation process and the judgement itself. The opposition parties, however, are contending amongst themselves to take credit for the decision. Each one of them claims that the movements led by their party culminated into PM’s disqualification. Nevertheless, it’s PTI, led by Nawaz’s arch rival Imran Khan, who bags the maximum credit in terms of popular opinion.

The whole episode started with Panama Papers leaks which stated the Prime Minister’s children held offshore companies and properties in London and British Virgin Islands. Petitions were filed in the apex court demanding probe into the matter which the court rubbished, calling the petition ‘frivolous’. Only two months later, as the momentum against the Premier started to build up, the court decided to take up the case. After listening to the arguments from both sides, the court, in April, decided to order a probe into the matter by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The JIT presented its report three months later, in July, and after a few final hearings, the verdict was announced.

Although a popular one, the verdict still raises serious questions regarding the efficacy of the judicial system.

 The fact of the matter is that the court has not unseated the Prime Minister on account of corruption or money laundering. In fact those cases against the Prime Minister and his children have been transferred to National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which has been advised to file the references in an accountability court. The Premier is disqualified, however, on account of concealment of ‘assets’. The country’s law sanctions the declaration of sources of income and assets of persons who want to run for the parliament. But the law does not define what an ‘asset’ means. In Sharif’s case, the assets turned out to be his unwithdrawn salary of merely AED 10,000 which he had to receive from a Dubai-based company where he had served at a ceremonial post. To fetch this definition of an ‘asset’, the Judges made recourse to Black’s Law Dictionary which said ‘receivables’ also are tantamount to assets. The court even went further to define the terms ‘receivables’ and thus established that an unwithdrawn salary amounts to assets.

The Prime Minister was thus found guilty of concealment of assets, but perhaps the most damning thing about the verdict was that the court found the Premier not ‘honest’; Article 62 of the Constitution demands that the parliamentarians shall be ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’. This was the article which was ridiculed by the same court during the hearings of a petition in 2014, citing that ‘honest’ and truthful’ are vague terms and if they are applied in their stringent meanings they could lead to the disqualification of the entire Parliament. Even the PTI leader Imran Khan has said similar things in the past, but he won’t have scruples celebrating the same clause if it serves his own political ambitions.

The kind of love this nation has for conspiracy theories have encouraged some of the politicians and journalists to once again point the fingers towards the Army; the difference between the civilian and military’s outlook on Afghan and Indian policies being the rais onde Tre. It is a fact that the country has a long history of Army rule. It is also true that every putsch was backed by the supreme judiciary. But mere speculations cannot help reach the judiciary’s contention to pass such a stringent verdict.

It is too early to say how significant an impact this decision can cast on the voter base of the party, especially in the bellwether state of Punjab. It will depend largely on how successfully the ruling and the opposition parties can present their case in front of the people. Needless to say, the ruling party’s argument that this decision is a blow to democracy is a bit too overstretched to comprehend; in fact it can be a blow to dynastic politics. Having a majority in both the houses, the ruling party has enough choice to pick the Premier of its choosing, and the democracy can move forwards.

In run-up to the elections which are due next year, it is unlikely that there is a discontinuity in government policies; domestic and foreign. According to one argument, the Punjabi business interests have also grown too strong in recent years to let the ruling party change course abruptly. The military establishment might have a bargaining leverage in foreign policy if the incoming PM failed to assert himself. However, there is no significant change in the domestic policies expected in the foreseeable future.

Whether the judiciary has finally taken a decisive step to hold the political elite accountable or has it proved itself to be a media-courting agency, yet again, which could give in to public pressure? The answer to the question can perhaps be better sought once free trails in relation to graft and money laundering against the accused are conducted and the culprits are brought to the book.

From corporate boardrooms to cagefighting, not your average consultant

From corporate boardrooms to cagefighting, not your average consultant

 

Corporate advisors and backroom strategists tend to conjure images of suits and ties, boardrooms and coffee; yet at least one Australian based strategist has long cultivated his professional edge in a very unlikely arena, combat sports.

Australia has recently experienced somewhat of a purple patch with regards to sports of the more combative variety. Jeff Horn recently claimed the WBO welterweight title in sensational fashion and only one week later Robert Whittaker became the first Australian to win a UFC title.

One keen spectator of both events was Senior Partner of Gravis Insights Australia, Ben Scott. As a professional strategist who has advised multinationals, captains of industry and politicians he is perhaps not the first person you would expect to find inside a cage or boxing ring, yet it is precisely this arena that Mr Scott cites as a ‘laboratory of sorts’ for his professional career.

He has trained at Jeff Horn’s West End based boxing gym and also personally with UFC champion Robert Whittaker but what is it exactly he takes away from the ring and into the boardroom?

“Essentially the discipline, mindset and resilience you develop in combat sports and martial arts, be it training or competing, is very adaptable to everyday life,” Mr Scott said. “In terms of business, leadership, strategy applications, it doesn't matter, you will find the benefits are widely applicable.”

“For me, I am a strategist at heart and I also advise clients in the corporate world, mostly as strategic counsel, so the principles of strategy in sports like boxing or Jiu Jitsu are ones I really enjoy. They are not the only aspects of martial arts I take into boardroom and of course not everything is transferable, obviously the physical aspects of combat sports are not too applicable in the boardroom but many clients may have quietly hoped they were at times (laughing).”

Whilst beating up the competition in a boardroom might be more metaphorical than physical Mr Scott explains that in the sometimes hostile environment of mergers and politics the mindset of a martial artist has come in handy.

“Oh we have worked in some very hostile environments. Personally, I have been in and around political strategy as an adviser for a number of years before entering the corporate sector and that world is a blood sport to be honest.

“For example, our firm was the only Australian outfit engaged in the US presidential contest and to be honest that was one of the more savage and brutal contests, be it business or politics, I have personally ever been involved with.”

Much of the work Mr Scott does as a Partner with Gravis involves global trade and investment activity, conducting early due diligence on projects for larger players whilst also providing strategic counsel on competitors and emerging markets.

“The nature of our work at Gravis is very multi-disciplinary but essentially we often are at the pointy end of the spear for a company or private investor on a significant transaction or evaluating a potential investment opportunity in global markets. 

"We are often required to tell people things they do not want to hear or engage with competitors of a client who can be less than welcoming at times.

“So the concepts in martial arts and combat sports, not forgetting that some of these concepts are as old and established as civilisation itself, can be very handy and more than anything are very effective for personal development in addition to professional applications. It may sound counter-intuitive but a very significant benefit you develop from martial arts and combat sports training are virtues such as patience and presence of mind.

“Some of the most lethal people I have ever met are also some of the most placid, respectful, unassuming and modest folks you would ever meet.”

The idea of martial arts principles finding their way into the boardrooms of corporate Australia is actually not without precedent. One of the more lesser known facts about Jeff Horn is that his head trainer, Glenn Rushton, is a highly successful investor and businessman.

"I really respect Glenn Rushton both as a martial artist and a businessman. Having trained at Dundee's (Jeff Horn's West End gym) in the past it is not hard to see why Jeff has such a great attitude." 

Whilst the perception of sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts can be one of brutality, Mr Scott says it really is something anyone can at least train and study.

"Anyone can train in these disciplines and learn from them for sure, even my mother trains at Dundee's (Jeff Horn's West End boxing and conditioning gym)," he revealed laughing. 

Mr Scott's journey in combat sports has taken him ringside at several UFC  and boxing events where he has also worked as a professional combat sports reporter for media outlets, such as Ninemsn and Wide World of Sports.

Having trained in a number of martial arts he says that the mind and body principles he has learnt will stay with him forever, just don’t expect to find him in a boxing ring under lights any time soon.

“Many corporate leaders and entrepreneurs are fond of quoting self-help gurus and books like Sun Tzu’s Art of War, for example, but really how many people comprehend it and apply it effectively? It has really become nothing more than a cliché. I’ve found that training in an artform such as jiu jitsu or boxing embeds strategic and leadership concepts very effectively. Perhaps I’m just more of a tactile learner (laughs).

“Without getting too hippy about this, the mind and body benefits of martial arts become embedded pretty deeply and it is not just combat sports, actually, I also highly recommend activities such as yoga and meditation to any corporate, any leader, or any individual for that matter, who is seeking to progress as a human being.

“I am by no means an elite fighter or martial artist, my interest continues to be in the personal development aspects I gain from the training more than anything. I’m not going for prize fights at this age (laughing).”

And what of Australia’s recent success in the combat sports arena? He is not surprised. 

“Having trained at Jeff’s boxing gym in the past and also with Robert personally in the past, I couldn’t be happier that Australian martial artists and athletes, because they are the most elite athletes around, are obtaining the rewards for the years of hard work they’ve put in.

“I would happily have Jeff, Glenn or Rob present a session on concepts like strategy and resilience in a boardroom over any other corporate consultant or self-help guru you will find on any corner.”

“The business world, government, political leaders, they could all learn a great deal from them.”

Kenyan Election Update

Speaking at a political rally in  Kajiado on 15th June 2017, National Super Alliance (NASA) Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, said that the people of Kajiado sometimes felt compelled to sell parts of their land, not out of their own desire, but because of poverty. He said that NASA would change that, so that people do not sell their land. He also asked why the land buyers were coming from their places to the sellers' area and that those would-be buyers should remain in their areas. 

Video clips of part of his speech were shared on social media and Jubilee leaders and supporters alleged that Raila was calling for the eviction of 'outsiders' from Kajiado. President Kenyatta pointed out, at a subsequent rally, that the Constitution allows any Kenyan to buy land and settle in any part of the country. Some leaders called upon the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Directorate of Public Prosecution to probe Raila for incitement.

Mr. Odinga and NASA officials said that the presidential hopeful had said nothing wrong, and that he had only said NASA would end poverty so that people do not sell their land. Mr. Odinga further added that President Kenyatta's Jubilee administration must implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation's Commission's report on land injustices.

Just days after Mr. Odinga's remarks, leaflets calling for certain communities to leave Kajiado County by the 7th of August 2017 - the day before the elections - were found in circulation. Kajiado County Commissioner Harsama Kello said the government was seriously investigating the matter.

Presidential poll results for each constituency will be announced at constituency level, the Court of Appeal ruled on 23rd June, upholding an earlier ruling of the High Court.

The Court of Appeal said that it was hypocritical for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to doubt the honesty of its own staff to give this as the reason for the Commission 'verify' the results from the constituencies that it receives in Nairobi.

This matter was brought before the Court of Appeal by the IEBC after the electoral body disputed the ruling made in April by the High Court which stated that results announced at constituency tallying centres would be used to determine winners. 

A three-judge bench of the High court ruled that presidential election results announced at constituency tallying centres would be final in respect of the constituency and could only be questioned by the election court. The IEBC argued that the Constitution gives it powers to collate the presidential votes from the constituencies before they are pronounced as final. It also argued that IEBC had a responsibility to verify the results since only one court — the Supreme Court — can hear presidential election disputes.

The case in question was filed by human rights activists Maina Kiai, Khelef Khalifa and Tirop Kitur against the IEBC and Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Section 39 of the Elections Act and Regulations 83(2), 84(1) and 87(2)(c) of the Elections (General) Regulations 2012 that essentially granted IEBC powers to confirm, audit or even verify presidential election results sent by a Constituency Returning Officers.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga had welcomed the April ruling saying that the results at the polling stations can be picked up and relayed to the public by the media and that this is the norm in other jurisdictions around the world.

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001235500/court-now-strips-iebc-boss-power-to-change-constituency-results
https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001236476/why-high-court-got-it-wrong-on-presidential-tallying-case
http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/06/23/win-for-nasa-as-appeals-courts-rules-for-constituency-presidential_c1585138
https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001244632/court-presidential-results-at-constituency-level-final
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Kenya is to hold General Elections on August 8th 2017. The Kenyan polls body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), awarded a tender to print about 120 million ballot papers, election results forms and poll registers for the elections to a Dubai firm, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC. 

The National Super Alliance (NASA) on Thursday 22nd June filed a lawsuit against the IEBC to block the tender. The suit seeks to cancel the tender on account of alleged fraud and lack of consultation with the main political parties. Presidential candidate Raila Odinga accused IEBC of ignoring voices of suspicion and fear over the involvement of the firm in the electoral process and alleged links to the President Uhuru Kenyatta's family.

On Friday, Justice Odunga asked the Chief Justice to constitute a three-judge bench to hear the dispute over the ballot papers.

This tender has not been without controversy. In October 2016, IEBC awarded the tender to Al Ghurair but the decision was nullified by the High Court in February 2017, following a suit filed by the opposition's Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) (CORD later joined others to form NASA). 
In its suit, CORD argued that the ballot papers tendered for were not in compliance with the amended Election Act which requires the papers to be in conformity with the integrated system. Judge George Odunga directed that the tender process start afresh.

Citing time constraints, the electoral commission opted to use restricted tendering where select firms were invited to bid but that also ran into trouble weeks later, when the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board nullified the process on grounds of faulty tender papers. The Board also accused the Commission of blatantly violating the law.

But later, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced the IEBC would go for direct procurement after consultation with stakeholders.

On June 9th IEBC said it had taken into consideration several issues before settling on Al Ghurair. Among the considerations are the capacity of the firm, history of work done in Africa and the region, logistics and pricing.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga denied that the opposition was consulted.

Opposition leaders said senior Jubilee officials are involved in the Sh. 2.5 billion tender.

Chebukati announced that the IEBC will sponsor representatives of stakeholders to travel to Dubai and witness the printing of the materials.

NASA lawyers said their coalition would not honour IEBC’s invitation to accompany them to Dubai to witness the ballot printing process, maintaining their call that the tender should be awarded to another firm. Jubilee leaders also said they would not be part of the trip.

Thirdway Alliance Party of Kenya also called on the IEBC to cancel ballot printing tender to avoid chaos in the country. Party leader Ekuru Aukot asked for the tender to be awarded to an independent printing firm that has no links to any party contesting in the August elections. The party proposed that the United Nations supervises the tender process.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party claimed that the Opposition was frustrating the process so the tender could be given to a South African company of their choice. Jubilee has also accused the Opposition of plotting to have the elections postponed.

On Friday June 23rd, Chief Justice David Maraga, as requested by the High Court, named Justice George Odunga, Justice Joel Ngugi (presiding) and Justice J.J. Mativo to form a three-judge bench to hear the case. Maraga authorised the judges to sit beyond working hours, if necessary, in light of the matter's urgency.

NASA lawyer, who is also the Senator for Siaya County, James Orengo, said that the remaining six weeks before the polls were enough for another firm to print the ballot papers.

"Printing ballot papers is not rocket science. We even print money here in Kenya," he said.

He added that in previous elections, nominations used to be done three weeks before the polling day and the polls body still managed to have ballot papers printed in the UK.

The anti-politician is now mainstream and politics has an authentic deficit disorder

With Teresa May heading to the Queen to form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) it follows one of the worst election campaigns ever seen from the UK Conservatives.  

This was a campaign where the Conservatives blew a 20% lead at the start of the campaign and wound up losing their majority. 

It has been another example illustrating that without the influences of run-off voting systems or proportional voting systems (aka France and Holland); yet another leading campaign has run into a cocktail for political disaster, complacency, expectation management failure and authenticity deficit disorder.

The fundamental premise of this campaign, from the framing right through to execution, was that the Conservatives couldn’t lose. When they realised they could lose, the scare campaign was ramped up. Yet this was far too little and late to stem the bleeding.

However, whilst Corbyn has picked up a bit over 30 seats, he is still well short of a majority in the House of Commons. Despite increasing Labour’s vote share and adding millions of extra votes to the Labour tally, there is still a fundamental weakness in the Labour vote; a fundamental inability to take out marginal tory seats and to capitalise on the poor campaign of the Scottish Nationalists. In summary, the Labour vote was coming off a low base.

This election saw a pitch for a 'strong and stable' government fall flat.

The anti-establishment nature of the referendum campaign has scrambled the foundations of British politics. May was intitially a ‘remainer’ now advocating for a tough line on Brexit (or ‘hard brexit’ as many describe it). Jeremy Corbyn is an acolyte of Tony Benn, the leader of the hard left-wing of the Labour Party through the 1970s and 1980s and Michael Foot, the author of the manifesto which became known as the ‘Longest Suicide Note in History’. Corbyn was an early supporter of a Brexit, then campaigned in the referendum for ‘remain’ and now supports a Brexit once again.

On the backdrop of this scrambling was a Conservative campaign that refused to engage in TV debates, ran a campaign that wasn’t based on connecting with the mainstream and often appeared aloof. This was followed by a manifesto which attacked the Conservative base voters (see social care funding, ending the pension ‘triple lock’ and the famous ‘dementia tax’) that was never going to be rewarded.

Labour’s gains are also even more interesting, considering that the Corbyn campaign was often attacked for not doing enough to win back marginal seats.

Britain has seen a referendum campaign end their membership of the European Union and effectively seen the end of ‘New Labour’ all in the space of two years. Yet, what is again being missed in the majority of post-mortem conversations is that the trend is global and there are lessons for the future. But what is 'the trend'?

There is a global trend (and there has been for at least seven years) amongst western electorates, which don’t have proportional election systems, to now back to the ‘anti-politician’ politician regardless of political philosophical divides. The 'anti-politician' often taps into a resentment of existing institutions. Also known as 'anti-establishment' politics. In electorates where authenticity has been a perceived problem, the ‘standard’ campaign based on presentation, photo opportunities and three word clichés are not working (note ‘Strong and Stable’ and ‘Jobs and Growth’)

This is also prefaced on the fact that the ‘anti-establishment’ politician needs to rise inside the framework of establishment parties. This can be seen most recently with a Donald Trump Republican presidency. This is not as easy nor as random as it may seem.

For example, Jill Stein can’t mobilise a Sanders-style movement in the American left. Likewise, Hanson and Bernardi won’t be able to lead parties of government in the Australian mainstream system and the best that New Zealand First and Winston Peters can hope for is a role as a ‘support party’ (again) to a National Party government.

It is very important to also note that there is a difference between ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘populism’. The concept of politicians using budget measures to ‘buy’ support well and truly pre-dates the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ concept.

In the United States, we witnessed Hilary Clinton be attacked on two flanks - one from the philosophical left and one from the philosophical right. In the Democratic Primaries she lost 22 states to Bernie Sanders; a Corbyn-esque, dedicated Socialist independent Senator from Vermont who energised a base and built an engaged movement. Not unlike the ‘momentum’ movement behind Corbyn.

Despite Clinton surviving the challenge on her left, she failed to stave off Trump, perceived to be on her right, who perfected the anti-politician image, turned out his voters; but more importantly her campaign failed to bring out the voters mobilised by first Obama, then Sanders; Millennials, Latinos and African-Americans. Her turnout fell dramatically which allowed Trump to win.

In this new political reality, however, Clinton was a career political professional attempting to fend off two anti-politician campaigns that were always going to cannibalise her vote regardless of which traditional philosophical divide they may have been perceived to represent. 

In Australia, Barnaby Joyce will get some enjoyment to see that the electorate has finally caught up with him. He has been prosecuting this argument well before the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ politician around the world. Australia is full of politicians trying to bring this together; between Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi, Bob Katter and Derryn Hinch; they all don’t get anywhere near the standard of Barnaby Joyce and his ability to do this, despite being the junior Coalition partner in an unpopular government.

However, if Anthony Albanese wins the leadership of the Labor Party in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull would almost be electorally unable to win. Albanese has figured out how to master this on the left in the Australian context, without the status of trying to do this from inside a minor party.

If the Coalition doesn't recognise and get across this anti-politician trend with effective strategies, they won’t win in 2019. If the Nationals in New Zealand don’t see the events of the UK and US as something that can manifest itself in New Zealand too, they will see a much larger New Zealand First and a more powerful Winston Peters.

Welcome to the mainstream where the anti-politician rules. 

Kenyan Elections 2017

Kenya's General Elections for President and other positions will be held on Tuesday August 8th 2017. Excitement and tension is building up towards that day, especially with regard to the Presidential election. 

The incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta will be vying for a second term. Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2013 elections, after his main rival at the time, Raila Odinga, disputed the results of those elections and filed a suit in the Supreme Court of Kenya. The Supreme Court upheld the declaration of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President a few weeks later. 

President Kenyatta is running on the recently formed Jubilee Alliance Party - a party formed out of the coalition of parties under which he vied for presidency in 2013. Mr William Ruto, the Deputy President, will be his running mate once again.

Before the 2013 elections, the current opposition formed the CORD coalition (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy). The principals of this coalition were Mr Raila Odinga, who was then Prime Minister and is the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, who was then vice-president and is the leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement and Mr. Moses Wetangula, who is currently the Minority Leader in the Senate and is also the leader of the Ford Kenya party 

Mr Odinga was the presidential candidate of the CORD coalition and Mr Musyoka was his running-mate.

A few notable political leaders have now teamed up with the CORD coalition to form what they have called the National Super Alliance (NASA). 'Nasa' also means 'to seize' or 'capture' in Swahili, Kenya's national language, and the opposition has declared their determination to capture the Presidency this year. 

One of the NASA leaders is Mr. Musalia Mudavadi, 56, the leader of the Amani National Congress, who was also a presidential candidate in 2013 and came third in those polls.

A recent addition to the NASA coalition is Mr Isaac Ruto, the current governor of Bomet County, and former member of the URP party that was part of the Jubilee coalition. His entry to NASA is seen by some as a blow to Jubilee and a boost to NASA, at least in terms of perception and possibly in terms of votes as well.

The NASA coalition has publicised an agreement on positions that each principal will get if they win the Presidency and form the next government.

As many people expected, once again, the 72-year-old Raila Odinga will again be running for president this year - for the fourth time. Mr. Musyoka will once again be his running-mate.

Mr. Musyoka served as Vice-President of Kenya from 2008 to 2013. He was a presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, and after those elections, he was appointed Vice-President, even as the country was engulfed in violence as the opposition disputed the election results that declared Mr, Mwai Kibaki the winner of the Presidential race. 

This violence eventually led to the current President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his Deputy, William Ruto, (the two being in opposite political camps at the time) being brought, with others, to the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. The cases against them were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. 

Mr. Odinga, who believes he was the actual winner of the 2007 elections, was appointed Prime Minister in April 2008 in a power-sharing deal with Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Odinga was Prime Minister until 2013.

The fact that Mr. Odinga and Mr. Musyoka were in government between 2008 and 2013 is often cited by Jubilee and their supporters when pointing out perceived failures of the administration of that time, and by extension, the failures of the two, though these supporters often don’t also point out that their own leaders were also in the same government.

Officially, there are 18 people in total who have registered with the IEBC as presidential candidates. Only a few are comparatively well known such as Dr. Ekuru Aukot, former member of the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review that worked on Kenya's 2010 Constitution and Mr Peter Ondeng’, who is expected to get at least some votes from evangelical Christians. The effect of these less prominent candidates on the presidential vote and if they might cause a run-off is yet to be seen.


Kenyan politics, to a significant extent, is based on tribal affiliations. Presidential candidates usually get major support from the areas largely inhabited by their ethnic communities. It is likely that tribal arithmetic – the number of voters from each tribe and their turnout at the polls - will play a significant part in the 2017 elections, but there are also emerging voices of opposition to this approach. A number of people in their forties and younger, are declaring that supporting a candidate based on tribe does not benefit them in their personal lives, and they would rather vote in competent leaders from whichever tribes. 

For example, there was a strike by doctors serving in public hospitals, which resulted in their union leaders being jailed for a few days (for failing to call off the strike). The fact that the doctors come from various ethnic backgrounds and they stood together for their cause may be seen by some as an indication that the tribal mindset may be weakening, at least among the younger generation.

Corruption in government will certainly be among the top issues harped upon by the opposition. USAID recently withdrew funding for government health projects citing corruption and the opposition will likely point this out as an example of government corruption being visible even to outsiders.

The current rising food prices will also likely be raised and the opposition will probably cite this as an example of failure by the government and probably also state that this failure was deliberately orchestrated to allow well-connected cartels to sell food to the public at exorbitant prices.

The Jubilee response to these accusations seems to be that the food shortage is caused by drought and that is beyond the government’s control. Some supporters also say that there was a similar hike in food prices when many of the opposition leaders were in government, so food shortage and high prices are not something new.

The opposition has often said that the Jubilee government has recklessly borrowed money, especially from China, and indebted the country beyond reasonable levels. They have also claimed that a lot of this money is then misdirected to individuals after it is received. 

The incumbent side usually responds by saying that the borrowed money has been used to start long-term projects that will lay the foundation for the country’s future growth and prosperity. The Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR) project is one of the main projects that the Jubilee administration proudly takes credit for. It is supposed to ease transport of goods and services between the port town of Mombasa and the interior of Kenya and has created jobs for those working on the project. 

However, some claim that the cost of the SGR project was inflated and that it did not yield good value for money, when compared to a similar project in neighbouring Ethiopia, for example.

Apart from the polls themselves, IEBC, the body mandated to manage the elections, has been under criticism about its preparedness. In 2013, the polls faced challenges of failure of its machines and officials were later accused of negligence in procuring equipment. The commissioners of that time were compelled to resign following pressure by the opposition and new commissioners were selected and sworn into office. The IEBC recently admitted that it had as many as 128,000 records with shared details in its voter register. This register is currently undergoing audit by an independent audit firm.

In elections like Kenya, predicting elections isn't a straight forward business; but we will be keeping our eyes on the campaign and the results and the opportunities that can come from it it to engage with this part of Africa.

Sierra Leone: The Future

Sierra Leone has witnessed a mixed bag of fortunes in recent years. Between 1991 and 2002, the country witnessed a Civil War that killed thousands. However after the war, the country had witnessed impressive growth based largely on mining exploration. In 2013, the economy grew at 20%, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.


Unfortunately, in May 2014, the Ebola virus broke out in the country. It took advantage of the underdeveloped health care system and misconceptions about the disease to spread. The virus killed over 3,000 people in the country. But thanks to domestic and external forces, the virus was defeated, and Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in March 2016.


The post-Ebola Sierra Leone provides a new opportunity for strategic planning and investment in the country. The government has declared the Economic Recovery Strategy that would shore up investments in critical areas and infrastructure. Other actors such as the mining industry have also reopened for business. In 2016, the IMF believed the economy would grow by 4.3% as business reopened.


Yet, the investment climate in Sierra Leone is still fraught by challenges, most predating the Ebola outbreak. First, despite years of consistent growth, more than half the population remain in poverty and large number of youths are unemployed and unskilled.
Second, Sierra Leone’s economy is highly reliant on the mining for export revenue and growth. This makes the country extremely vulnerable to price shocks whenever global commodities prices decline. A phenomenon it presently faces as Chinese demands for commodities has declined since 2014. This reduces foreign exchange, increases inflation and causes reduction in government spending.


Third, the World Bank ranked Sierra Leone 147 among 189 countries for the ease of doing business in 2016. This ranking was influenced by challenges such infrastructural dearth as road networks remain underdeveloped, low electricity generation, difficulty in accessing credits, high interest rates, and difficulty registering property. 


Fourth, corruption remains widespread in the country, and little government efforts have been made to curb it. In 2015, a report by the country’s Auditor General showed that the country had failed to properly account for large sum funds allocated to fight Ebola. A lack of transparency also in the mining sector, the country’s most important sector, threatens the credibility of negotiations and contracts.


Despite these challenges, Sierra Leone offers great investments opportunities. Its domestic political system has remained stable since 2002, thus providing a peaceful environment for business. Also, the fact that many resources remain untapped provides interesting investment opportunities. Sectors such as agriculture, tourism and natural resource exploration are yet to be fully harnessed. But most importantly, Sierra Leone’s location, and its membership of the 300 million ECOWAS body, grants it huge access to the economies of other West African nations. And through the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) and the Everything But Arms Initiative, Sierra Leone is granted duty-free access to the US and EU economies respectively.


Summarily, the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 was a huge setback to Sierra Leone’s development. However, the country, with foreign support has been able to wither that crisis, and has since resumed economic growth. However, like most developing countries, doing business with the country is not without challenges. Nevertheless, Sierra Leone does have some important advantages investors would be wise to key into in the post-Ebola world. 
 

French Presidential Election

In the aftermath of Brexit and the tensions caused by the Dutch elections and Geert Wilders, The French Presidential Campaign will catch everybody’s attention and it will be the second of three big challenges European Union will face in 2017.

With regard to migration, the rise of nationalism or populism in several European countries in the last couple of years has concerned European leaders for eventual harms it could do to the European project and single market. For French people, nationalism is not something new. In fact, the radical right-wing party National Front (Front Nationale in French) has been participating in every French electoral campaign since its founding in 1972, however, their national relevance in french politics was very residual until the 2002 Presidential campaign of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked all critics and media when he assured a 2nd round with Jaques Chirac against all the experts' expectations who thought 2nd round would be Chirac facing Lionel Jospin. 

This result made the French parties to announce their vote preference in Chirac. As a matter of fact, 2nd round was too easy for Chirac. Besides the support of all moderate and progressive parties, Chirac had media and syndicates on his side, and so it became quite predictable his victory. In the end, Chirac’s won with 88% of the vote.

From that moment until 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen kept his position as President of National Front and competed in all French and European elections; however, he never reached the heights of 2002.There were many reasons for the decline of the radical right-wing party such as the modification of the regional electoral system to contain the influence of National Front in some regions; party faced a financial crisis and forced the party to make a restructuring to solve it.

Furthermore, the beginning of the 21st century was a time of some prosperity for both European countries and European Union. The European currency “Euro” had a bright start and it gained a very good reputation in the international markets, which gave some credit to the European project. The Euopean project was at an all time high of popularity in its member states.

After the results in 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen retired from the Presidency of National Front and there was an internal run between his daughter Marine Le Pen against the vice-president Bruno Gollish. In January 2011, Marine Le Pen was elected president of National Front and with her presidency, National Front was able to win 24 seats in the European Parliament.

This year, eleven candidates are running for President, but only 4 have any real chancey to get the final two places for a run-off election. What has changed the dynamic of the election is that both the Socialist candidate for President (Benoît Hamon) and Republican Candidate and Former French Prime Minister under former President Nicholas Sarkozy; Francois Fillon have both had lacklustre campaigns which have also seen Fillon has stubbornly resisting calls to step down after revelations he paid his wife and children government salaries, though they apparently did little or no work in return. He has not denied the payments but insists he did not misuse public funds.

Most French voters are not vindictive with regard to such minor instances of corruption, and given the other choices may decide to forgive Fillon because of the experience, demonstrated competence and sheer gravitas he would bring to the presidency.

Opinion polls show around a third of France's 45.7 million voters might abstain, an unprecedented number in a country with a long tradition of high turnouts. Even among those who intend to vote, about one-third have yet to make up their mind on how to cast their ballot.

When Fillon won the Republican Primary election in November, he proved that he was a strong finisher and will be betting that he gets a good split of the 30% undecided factor in recent French polling.

Heading into March, this race looked like it would have been the first election in French post- war history where there was not a major party candidate in the run-off election; which Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron being the likely candidates. Le Pen and Macron had 25% and 24% taken at the end of March by PrésiTrack OpinionWay / ORPI for Les Echos and Radio Classique.

While Fillon is attacking Macron as a closet Socialist too close to the unpopular Hollande Government, Le Pen has her vulnerabilities as well. Le Pen relies on support among young and working class voters, two groups where abstention is forecast to be high. 

According to the dutch Investment bank Rabobank, Emanuel Macron is the most likely candidate to succeed Holland in the presidency. According to the last polls Macron and Marine Le Pen are tied with 23%, followed by François Fillon and Mélenchon (Communist) with 18% each. 

This has been backed up by the latest Ifop-Fiducial poll on 12 April showed Le Pen winning 23.5 percent in the April 23 first round, one point ahead of centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Both Le Pen and Macron's support dipped by half a point from Tuesday while conservative Francois Fillon was stable on 19 percent and Melenchon unchanged on 18.5 percent.

The top two candidates go through to a run-off on May 7, where polls say Macron would easily beat Le Pen.

Mélenchon has surged in recent weeks with some good debate performances, in a field where enthusiasm is low (outside of Le Pen), however, his platform by many is seen as far too left wing even for left of centre voters who are gravitating to Macron's campaign as the only 'viable' opposition to Fillon or Le Pen. 

With Mélenchon and Le Pen rising in the polls; until the elections are over, the financial markets will see unrest as both want to put the EU membership of France to a vote and Le Pen wants to take France out of the Euro.

However, we predict that if Le Pen is in the final run-off election; she will lose. Le Pen, just like her father will galvanise all of the other parties against her (providing Mélenchon doesn't make the run off, which we see as unlikely). It is predicted that Macron, as the most likely to run against Le Pen would receive the endorsement of the Socialist President Hollande and the Republican Party through its standard bearer Fillon. 

This prediction is not only based in history when the same phenomenon saw Jacques Chirac receive the support of every other party to block Jean Marie Le Pen but in every head to head poll completed this cycle shows Le Pen losing to either Fillon or Macron.

Indian Super League

The Hero Indian Super League, more commonly known as the Indian Super League (ISL), is a men's professional football league in India. Founded in 2013, the goal for the league was to elevate football into one of the top sports in the India, and to create a system which could better organically increase India's participation on the football scene worldwide.

Building on the success that the Indian Premier League (IPL) -- the professional Twenty20 cricket league in India -- enjoyed, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) envisioned a football version of said league. In 2010, the AIFF signed a 15–year, 700–crore deal with Reliance Industries and the International Management Group of the United States, giving the tandem the exclusive commercial rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, video, franchising, and overall creation of such a football league.

Between the combination of the grassroots effort to grow the sport within the second most populous nation in the world, and the potential business returns that could be had if the league were to achieve a similar level of success as the IPL, the bidding process for the eight franchises that would be formed at the onset of the league drew significant interest from major corporations, Bollywood stars, IPL teams themselves, and other various consortiums of potential owners. When the first eight cities/states -- Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune -- were announced as having been awarded franchises, the list of individuals who won the bidding for these franchises was a veritable "who's who" of Indian star power. Indian cricket superstars Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and Bollywood superstars like Salman Khan, John Abraham, and Ranbir Kapoor were among the league's initial franchise owners.

Official statistics for the cost of each of the league's eight franchises are hard to come by, but according to recent estimates, each team has paid as much as Rs. 55 to 60 crore to cover operating costs including license fees, player acquisition, training and management, and promotions. These costs are in total for the entire franchise, meaning those teams owned by a multitude of individuals would split said costs between them. Further, like any major football or sporting league around the world, the league has also signed a bevy of sponsorship deals, and relies heavily on the revenue generated from these deals. The revenue earned from said franchising deals is believed to offset some of these operating costs that owners would otherwise have to solely bear. Hero Motocorp was the league's first title sponsor, and three-year deal signed by the company is said to have paid somewhere in the neighborhood of Rs 20 crore per year.

When the league officially began play in 2014, it was received with tremendous excitement, fanfare, and pomp and circumstance. The inaugural match took place in Kolkata, often referred to as "India's Mecca of Football." That match packed in over 65,000 fans into Salt Lake Stadium, and set a precedent for an incredible first year of league play. The initial match, and subsequent matches, generated tremendous buzz on the web, with search engine hits skyrocketing and league chatter on social media chatter dominating many of the usual sites. In the first week alone, the league generated a viewership rating of just under 171 million people, trailing only the IPL nationwide.

Only a few weeks into its inaugural season, the ISL was reported to be the fourth most popular football league in the world, leapfrogging Italy’s Serie A in terms of average attendance. The average attendance was reportedly more than 24,000 fans per match, which put the league just behind that of Germany’s Bundesliga, the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga. With the league off to such a fast start, then-FIFA chief Sepp Blatter was said to have called India "the sleeping giant of football."

But after completing three seasons of play, there appears to be a mixed outlook on the future viability of the league. Three years after that raucous crowd of 65,000+ packed Salt Lake Stadium to watch Atlético de Kolkata defeat Mumbai City, Kolkata now fails to fill their new 15,000-seat Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, where they currently play. Some of the premier rivalry matches used to draw crowds over of over 25,000 fans; many of those same matches now draw as little as half that number.

Along with the backing of big-name owners, the Super League banked on the idea that luring well-known football stars, including Nicolas Anelka, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Luis Garcia, Roberto Carlos, Lucio, Helder Postiga, and Florent Malouda in the first two seasons alone. However, the appeal of the Indian population being drawn to watch these stars up close has not gone as planned.  Anecdotally, Indian football fans look at these acquisitions more as "has-been" players looking into cashing in their final paychecks. Those same football fans are still captivated by the stars who play in the European Premier League, or other top football leagues. Indian football purists complain that the level of play in the Indian Super League doesn't possess nearly the same style, flair, and grace of the other top leagues. They view the Indian league as being too slow, methodical, and error-prone.

Still, there remains a great deal of optimism around the potential of the league. India's booming economy and rapidly-progressing quality of life should continue to be able to potentially draw stars from other countries to come and play in the Super League. 

ISL viewership and attendance spiked back towards positive levels in 2016, growing as much as 41% in some areas from the previous year.  Analysts point to the fact that the cumulative viewing number of Indians residing in rural areas within the country as over 100 million people, touting this number as a sign of increasing interest in the league. Those same analysts believe that the league will become the country's top football league as early as 2018, overtaking the nine-team I-league formed in 2007 (who is also struggling with their own attendance and interest-level issues). 

If those numbers continue to grow later this year, it could establish the Indian Super League as one of the dominant sports leagues in the world, for many years to come.