Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wangari Maathai

Irin reports that Kenyan Professor Wangari Maathai, who won last year's Nobel Peace Prize,is to head a new African Union (AU) body aimed at bringing "people power" to Africans. Maathai was elected president of the newly launched Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) by its civil-society organisation members. The body aims to bridge the gap between African governments and institutions, and the 830 million people on the continent, by giving them a proper voice in decision-making.

Irin says that "Along with the Pan-African Parliament and the Court of Justice, ECOSOCC is one of the new structures intended to make the 53-nation AU more transparent and accountable". We'll have to see what happens, but Maathai has proved to be a powerful force in radically improving the environment. She has also shown herself to be a tough operator, risking her life to stand up to her opponents. This could be a really positive development.

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