Are Africa’s politicians value for money?

Are Africa's politicians value for money?

MPs can be preening, corrupt, overpaid and opportunist. But activists increasingly see them as key allies in the struggle for change against overbearing presidents and ministers.

The dusty streets of Ouagadougou teemed with people last August protesting against President Blaise Compaoré’s plans to create a Senate alongside Burkina Faso’s 111 seat National Assembly.

One of the demonstrators carried a sign reading: “Some are eating. Others are watching. This is how revolutions are born.”

It might seem perverse for opposition MPs and rights activists to demonstrate against a new legislative chamber. But the oppositionists, led by Zéphirin Diabré of the Union pour le Progrès et le Changement , described the proposal for a Senate as a trick, a colossal waste of money and simply a means for Compaoré to change the constitution to allow him another term in power after 2015.

In turn Compaoré dismissed the protestors: “Even in Paris, even in the United States, a march has never changed a law.” That may prove a serious mistake on Compaoré’s part.In a poll 69% of Africans wanted parliaments, not presidents, to make the lawsMass demonstrations helped promote civil rights in the United States, break down apartheid in South Africa and have helped win victories […]

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