Masipula Sithole (1946-2003)
Masipula Sithole was one of Africa’s most respected political scientists and a devoted advocate of democracy. The younger brother of the founder of the opposition Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party, Sithole was since 1980 a professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe and, more recently, founding director of the Mass Public Opinion Institute in Harare (a member of the Afrobarometer network). Widely admired inside Zimbabwe and among colleagues internationally for his wit, warmth, and courage, Sithole received his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, taught at the University of Dayton, Ohio, and held a research fellowship at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was also a member of the Research Council of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Sithole was most recently a senior fellow in residence at the U.S. Institute for Peace. A longtime critic of the regime of President Robert Mugabe, Sithole and his son, Masipula Sithole, Jr., were working on a book-length manuscript entitled, “Mugabe’s 23 Years of Risk Taking in Zimbabwe”—a historical case study that incorporated prospect theory to analyze the nature of political developments in postcolonial Zimbabwe. The Journal of Democracy extends its condolences to the Sithole family.
Human Rights Activist Acquitted
Egypt’s supreme appeals court, the Court of Cassation, on March 18 acquitted Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the country’s most prominent democracy advocate. Ibrahim was first arrested in June 2000 along with 27 colleagues from the Ibn Khaldun Center, an independent think tank established by Ibrahim in 1988. In May 2001, a security court sentenced him to seven years in prison for embezzlement, [End Page 188] tarnishing Egypt’s image, and accepting foreign money without government approval. He appealed but was found guilty again in July 2002. The Court of Cassation was his last judicial option; its verdict is final, and the Egyptian government cannot appeal. After receiving medical attention in the United States, Ibrahim returned to Egypt and plans to teach the fall semester at the American University in Cairo. Committed to resuming his lifelong agenda of promoting human rights and democracy, he returned to work at the Ibn Khaldun Center, which was scheduled to reopen in late June.
Ibrahim is the author of numerous monographs, essays, and articles on democracy, human rights, and economic development, and is a member of the Journal of Democracy‘s International Advisory Committee. For more information on the case, please see his “A Reply to My Accusers” in the Journal‘s October 2000 issue.
Postponement of World Movement’s Third Assembly
In light of the then-impending war in Iraq and the uncertain world situation, the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy regretfully decided on March 18 to postpone the World Movement’s Third Assembly, which had been set for April 23-27 in Durban, South Africa. The Third Assembly has been rescheduled for 1-4 February 2004, and its theme will remain “Building Democracy for Peace, Development, and Human Rights.” It will bring together more than 500 democracy activists, practitioners, and scholars for over 40 workshops focused on regional challenges, areas of democracy work, and building functional networks across borders. For more information, see www.wmd.org.
Democracy-Support Foundations Convene in Paris
On March 20-21, 36 organizations from 18 countries participated in the World Conference of Democracy-Support Foundations, which serves as a venue for these organizations to discuss and pursue common interests and projects. The conference, held in Paris, included roundtable discussions about the potential new role of democracy-promotion foundations in a united Europe, perspectives on democracy in Africa, the role of foundations in promoting democracy in the Muslim world, and the work of the foundations in South America. NED president Carl Gershman’s speech to the conference, “Promoting Democracy in the Muslim World,” is available at www.ned.org/about/carl/mar2103.html.
Islam and Democracy
On May 16-17, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) held its fourth annual conference in Washington, D.C. Panel discussions were held on religious versus secular governance, the role of women and gender in the governance of Muslim states, and the cultural legitimization of democracy. [End Page 189] Keynote speakers included Zainah Anwar of the Malaysian organization Sisters in Islam, leading Egyptian democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor Lorne Craner, and Abdelaziz Sachedina, author of The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism (2001).
The CSID also recently published a report on its workshops on Islam and democracy, organized in October 2002 in Morocco, Egypt, and Yemen. The workshops brought together moderate Islamists and secularists, and resulted in the creation of a Network of Muslim Democrats. The reports can be accessed at www.islam-democracy.org.
African Democracy Conferences
On April 7-10, 350 representatives of African parliaments, electoral management bodies, civil society, academia, and international and regional organizations gathered at a conference on “Good Governance, Democracy, and Elections,” convened in Pretoria by the African Union and the Electoral Commission of South Africa. The conference produced a declaration outlining principles for constitutional and legal frameworks, electoral systems, political parties, election-related conflict, observation and monitoring, and electoral processes, as well as a series of recommendations for further action.
On April 23-25, the Africa Democracy Forum, a network of democracy activists in Africa, held a meeting in Durban, South Africa. Over 120 participants gathered to strengthen the ADF’s networking efforts and to begin to confront the continent’s challenges to democracy. The meeting included workshops on topics such as electoral violence, judicial reforms and independence, HIV/AIDS, and the role of civil society in electoral reforms.
Global Corruption Report
Transparency International has released the 2003 Global Corruption Report, which focuses on the need for greater access to information in the struggle against corruption. It explores how civil society, the public and private sectors, and the media use and control information to combat (or conceal) corruption. The report includes tools for accessing information about the state of corruption worldwide, and is available at www.globalcorruptionreport.org.
Report on NED’s International Forum
On March 25, the Forum sponsored an event on “Democratization Efforts in the Gulf Region and the War in Iraq,” featuring a presentation by Jean-François Seznec, adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, and author of The Financial Markets of the Persian Gulf (1987).
On April 25, the Forum cosponsored [End Page 190] with the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSIAD) a luncheon discussion entitled, “Crises and Breakthroughs: Whither Turkish Democracy?” featuring Soli Özel, professor of international relations at Bilgi University, Turkey, and advisor to the chairman of TÜSIAD.
In recent months, the Forum has hosted a number of luncheon presentations by its Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. At an April 1 seminar, Richard Joseph delivered a presentatition on “Democratic Development and the African Predicament.” One of the world’s leading scholars on democracy and development in Africa, Joseph is director of the Program of African Studies and John Evans Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa (1999). During his fellowship, Joseph worked on a book on state crisis and democratic development in Africa.
On May 7, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Steven Finkel gave a presentation entitled “Can Democracy Be Taught? The Impact of Civic Education Programs in Developing Democracies.” Finkel is professor of politics at the University of Virginia, where he teaches courses on public opinion, political behavior, and research methods. During his fellowship, he is preparing a book on the efficacy of civic education initiatives in the Dominican Republic, South Africa, and Poland.
On June 5, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Ceslav Ciobanu spoke at a roundtable discussion entitled “Democracy in Moldova: Challenges and Prospects.” Other speakers included Todd Stewart, visiting fellow at the Institute for International Economics; Chris Holzen, the International Republican Institute’s program director in Ukraine; and Charles King, associate professor in the School of Foreign Service and the department of government at Georgetown University. An economist by training and Moldova’s former ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico, Ciobanu has participated in the formation and promotion of economic and political reform in Moldova. While in residence at the Forum, he is preparing an article examining the benefits and risks of federalization to Moldova’s democratic development.
On June 10, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Baogang He gave a presentation entitled “How Democratic are Chinese Village Elections?” As a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute and associate professor of government at the University of Tasmania, He teaches courses on Chinese politics, political theory, and international relations. He is the author of Democratization of China (1996) and The Democratic Implications of Chinese Civil Society (1997). During his fellowship, he is completing a book on village democracy in rural China.
Also scheduled to speak in June and July were Olga Gyarfasova (Slovakia) on June 18, Mustafa Erdogan (Turkey) on June 25, Herbert Boh (Cameroon) on July 8, and Schu Sugawara (Japan) on July 24.