About Mark Waller

a freelance journalist and translator from Finnish to English, currently living in South Africa. Mark has been freelancing for Finnish media and organisations since the early 1990s, and mainly focuses on issues to do with overseas development, foreign policy, social policy and the EU, and Southern Africa. Waller has visited the Southern African region frequently in the 1990s and early 2000s, and for the last 10 years has been based in South Africa, where he has covered aspects of the transition to democracy for Finnish papers and magazines.

South Africa: A sort of justice for Ahmed Timol – freedom fighter murdered by secret police in 1971

It’s taken 46 years for some sort of justice to prevail in the case of Ahmed Timol, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody when South Africa was under racist white rule. Timol was the twenty-second person to be killed in police custody following the introduction in 1967 of the Terrorism Act. This allowed for indefinite detention without trial. Timol was a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), which was banned by the apartheid regime. In October 1971, he was arrested for being in possession of the communist party newsletter Inkululeko-Freedom and other material. A few days later he was … Continue reading

“Don’t take us for granted!” – voters give African National Congress a dose of tough love

TSHWANE, SOUTH AFRICA – Interest in countries’ local elections is usually confined within state borders, while national elections nearly always attract international attention. Not so South Africa’s municipal elections on August 3, which made headlines around the world. The elections saw the ruling African National Congress (ANC) lose its outright majorities in half of the country’s eight urban hubs, the metropolitan municipalities of Tshwane (Pretoria), Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Nelson Mandela Bay. The major ascendant parties are the conservative Democratic Alliance (DA) and the left-populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). A massive 204 political parties contested the elections, 68 per cent more … Continue reading

Africa: What Obama didn’t say was more revealing than what he did

Africans are used to having heads of state from the global north coming and telling them what they should be doing to lift their countries out of poverty. President Barak Obama’s visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in East Africa at the end of July in many respects upheld that time-honoured tradition. But with an important difference. Obama’s Kenyan paternal family background made his presence in the country as much a homecoming as a state visit. He was welcomed with open arms by an adoring public and upbeat local media. The same went for his visit to Ethiopia. For many people … Continue reading