the brief: issue ten


South Africa’s municipal elections end the ANC’s electoral domination

by Connor Crout

image credit: GDJ (Pixabay)

On 1 November, South Africa held municipal elections to elect all councilors for metropolitan and local municipalities and 40 percent of councilors for district municipalities.

For the first time in South Africa’s post-Apartheid history, the African National Congress party led by Cyril Ramaphosa did not get a majority of the vote, only managing 46.04 percent. Coincidentally, the turnout was also 46.04 percent.

The ANC had faced many corruption allegations leading up to the elections, which might have led to their electoral downfall. This is evidenced by opinion polls showing the ANC’s support falling by approximately 19 percent from mid-August to late October.

The ANC will now have to begin coalition talks, already ruling out coalition talks with the biggest opposition party the Democratic Alliance. Having to form a coalition government marks the end of ANC’s electoral domination in South Africa.

Ethiopian government declares state of emergency

by Frank Roberts

image credit: MariamS (Pixabay)

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has encouraged ex-soldiers to re-join the military and for civilians in Addis Ababa to arm themselves in light of the increasing advances of Tigray rebels. An official state of emergency was called on 2 November. In response, the US embassy has demanded all non-essential personnel leave the capital amidst growing pressure for Ahmed to resign.

Ethiopia has been embroiled in a conflict with the rebels since November 2020, with famine afflicting thousands. The dominant Tigray faction, the TPLF, has now joined forces with nine other factions in an effort to collapse the government. International bodies, such as the UN Security Council, continue to call for talks to end the conflict; neither side is expected to negotiate. Ethiopia has over 80 ethnic groups and there are fears of widespread civil war across the territory.


Conservatives’ 21st victory in Japanese elections raises fears about Japanese democracy

by Harvey Young

image credit: Chris 73 (Wikimedia Commons)

The elections held on the Japanese House of Representatives, held on 31 October, resulted in another victory for the conservative LDP. with This was the party’s 21st electoral victory since 1955. The LDP won a majority with 261 seats whereas the biggest opposition party, the CDP, won only 96 seats.

Many did not predict the election to go so well for the LDP due to its recent instability. The former Prime Minister, and LDP leader, Shinzo Abe was seen as a stabilising figure in Japanese politics. However, after he stepped down in September 2020, his successor Yoshihide Suga resigned only after one year due to dwindling approval ratings.

Both the relative unpopularity of the LDP and a lack of credible opposition indicate a growing dissolution with politics amongst the Japanese population as this election had a turnout of just under 56 percent.

Struggle for stability as Kabul hospital attacked

by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Zohra Bensemra (Reuters)

Violence erupted in Kabul on 2 November when two explosions and gunfire caused the deaths of over 20 people, including a child, at Sardar Daud Khan hospital. A suicide bomber detonated explosives near the entrance of the facility which enabled gunmen to enter the hospital grounds. The Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-K), a central Asian offshoot of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, stated that the assailants had been killed by Taliban special forces before they entered the hospital building.

The attack marks the fourth atrocity committed by IS-K since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August. Although they are both Sunni Islamist militant groups, IS-K claims that the Taliban are not sufficiently hard-line. Despite its small size, the growing IS-K group could put Taliban attempts to stabilise their new Islamic Emirate into difficulty.


Clean power can make the UK energy independent

by Luke Jones

image credit: Andy Dingley (edit Muhammad (Wikimedia Commons))

The decline of North Sea oil has induced an ever-growing reliance on foreign suppliers to keep Britain’s lights on. Once an energy exporter, the UK now imports over a third of its energy needs according to a 2018 parliamentary report. 

Beyond environmental and economic circles, Johnson’s 2035 target to power the UK by clean energy sources can be justified through the lens of national security. Such a transformation, reversing the UK’s trend of energy dependence, would minimise the threat of an external power flicking the switch on its power supply off. In the UK and abroad this logic could be employed as a call to action to help win over some fence sitters in the climate change debate.


US Submarine hits seafloor as tensions rise in South China Sea

by Max Bedford

image credit: 12019 (Pixabay)

While operating in the South China Sea, the USS Connecticut hit an uncharted ‘seamount’, forcing it to surface and sail in open water for over a week before reaching US waters in Guam. The South China Sea is currently one of the most contested bodies of water in the world, with China claiming sovereignty over the region while the US and local coastal nations disagree.

An investigation resulting from the event saw Commander Cameron Aljilani and two additional senior crewmen removed from service as Navy officials claimed they ‘could have prevented’ the collision. Events like these are irregular, however highlight the wide reach of the US forces, seemingly ever-present when tensions emerge in a region.


Charges pressed against Smith abductor

by George Shaw

image credit: Legal Gavel & Open Law Book (Wikimedia Commons)

Terence Darrell Kelly, aged 36, was charged today in Carnarvon, Australia with the forceful abduction of Cleo Smith, aged 4.  Kelly, who had no connection to the Smith family, abducted the child from her family’s tent in a campsite on 16 October, triggering an almost nationwide search which ended with the infant being found unharmed in a locked home in Carnarvon on 2 November.

Police have determined Mr Kelly to have acted alone, describing the kidnapping as ‘unplanned and opportunistic’.  He was taken to hospital with self-inflicted injuries before being charged, and will be remanded in custody until 6 of December, according to local media reports.  Kelly did not apply for bail, and appeared in Carnarvon Magistrates court on 4 November.


A highway to marine protection?

by Eleanor Austin

image credit: Dustin Haney

Alongside wider climate commitments at COP26, four Latin American countries confirmed united protection of marine life. On Tuesday, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama formed the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) at the conference. This would extend, but also align previously protected waters to safeguard over 200,000 sq. miles. Connecting these waters has been signalled as not solely rhetoric, with the nations individually highlighting their commitments.

Whilst fishing is a significant source of income to individuals in these regions, the scale and methods used have been precarious to marine environments. These coasts are home to wide biodiversity, which are vulnerable to predicted sea level rises, ocean warming and acidification. In time we will see how this marine corridor is observed, but for this region through limiting fishing, the sustainability of their marine wildlife and communities will hopefully be secured.

Welsh imports destabilize Brazilian tribal communities

by Harry Padoan

image credit: CIFOR (Flickr)

A study from WWF Cymru, Size of Wales and RSPB Cymru has revealed that imports to Wales have increasingly strained the natural resources of high risk areas in Brazil. The mass farming of soya has caused deforestation, threatening the environment of communities within the Atlantic Forest. Rivers have become badly polluted, traditional herbs have become scarce and indigenous territories have struggled to survive.

 Environmental charities estimated that an area around 40 percent the size of Wales has been solely responsible for producing such commodities. As a result, the Welsh government has pledged to take action on products such as beef, soy and palm oil, but many fear that post-Brexit trade deals will fail to guarantee high environmental and social standards.

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