Jean-Jacques Cornish

Constitutionality is vital with democracy everywhere under threat

There has been universal condemnation of the mutiny that became a coup in Mali – as there should be.

From the United Nations Security Council down to the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States neighbouring Mali there are demands for a return to constitutionality.

The putschists insistence that they have no interest in political power and that they will move the country to democratic elections “within a reasonable time” does not cut it.

ECOWAS states have closed their land and air borders to the landlocked state.

Presidents Muhammadu Issoufou of Niger, Macky All of Senegal, Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire are headed for Mali to impress on the group of colonels who have arrested President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his Prime Minister Boubou Cisse that they will be shunned until constitutionality is restored.

The African Union has suspended Mali’s membership in accordance with its policy of red-carding any unconstitutional change of government.

Defence of this principle is paramount at this political moment in time. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko faces opposition demands to quit after a rigged election and the nominal leader of the free world, President Donald Trump will not commit to acknowledging defeat if he loses the November election in the United States. 

With democracy under attack we are reminded that is an imperfect system. As Winston Churchill told us with stark humour it is better than all the rest. If we embrace it, recognizing the will of people is its very bedrock.

If that has been tampered with there is machinery, albeit frustratingly cumbersome and slow, to deal with it.

But moving in therapy is never the answer.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.