General

Malawians will be electing a president, law makers and local government leaders on May 20th.  This is the fifth election since the country returned to plural politics in 1994.  One would wonder why it is important for the Open Society Foundations to be concerned about the integrity of elections in Malawi given its minimal geo-political significance compared to countries such as Nigeria, DRC, South Africa, Egypt, etc.  Yet Malawians deserve no less an opportunity to exert popular control on national decision making by exercising real choice to elect their representatives.

There should have been a huge outcry by now. Government ministers and artists and academics and journalists should be shouting from their pulpits. Because a unique part of South Africa's cultural heritage was stolen this week. The work of one of the country's foremost artists. Five years of images lost - many of them irreplaceable. But hardly a word. Why? Because what was stolen was a collection of photos taken by Zanele Muholi - stunning, striking, powerful images of black lesbians and of gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and the prejudices they face.

When in doubt, send in the police. That seems to be the motto in Swaziland – which is odd given the claims of King Mswati (and his government and glossy tourist brochures) about how peaceful the country is and how happy and contented his people are.

The Open Budget Survey on Zambia makes for dismal reading. Not only does Zambia score way below other members of SADC – including renowned bastions of access to information such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe – but its overall Open Budget Index (OBI) total is a shocking 4/100.

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