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Published 17th March 2017

Vol 58 No 6


South Africa

How to repeat the Mugabe mantra

Jacob Zuma. Pic: (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Jacob Zuma. Pic: (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

By calling for land redistribution without compensation, Zuma is following his Zimbabwean counterpart and throwing his foes into confusion

Just as mounting political crises again threatened to overwhelm President Jacob Zuma, he pulled out the land card to buy himself breathing space before the African National Congress's elective conference in nine months' time. The beleaguered ANC leader demonstrated his capacity for coming back against all the odds when he endorsed the idea of a 'pre-colonial land audit', followed by 'a single law to address the issue of land restitution without compensation'. This gambit could restore his political fortunes by winning new allies on the left. It would require abandoning the existing constitutional mechanisms for land reform and compensation, and moving to a more radical, expropriatory model.

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Nyusi celebrates Exxon's entry

Bringing in the US oil giant was a personal triumph for the President but it won't raise as much tax as he hopes

President Filipe Nyusi felt the political ground underneath him get firmer when news of the Exxon-ENI deal came through. The United States oil giant ExxonMobil is buying 25% of the...


Poll calendar under pressure

Against a stream of disputes and delays, doubts are growing that the elections will be peaceful, credible or on schedule

For a candidate who is way ahead of his rivals in the opinion polls, President Uhuru Kenyatta strikes the pose of a surprisingly angry and intemperate man. On 7 March at Lodwar in ...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The announcement this week by the United Nations that over 13 million people in Africa face starvation in what it calls the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is a reminder of continuing failures in food production across the continent. The UN's warning focuses on the war-torn areas of north-east Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan but Africa's food cr...
The announcement this week by the United Nations that over 13 million people in Africa face starvation in what it calls the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is a reminder of continuing failures in food production across the continent. The UN's warning focuses on the war-torn areas of north-east Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan but Africa's food crisis extends way beyond those borders. In fact, in many African countries food prices are driving up the inflation rate and pushing down living standards to a politically dangerous level, according to an important new monograph from the London-based Africa Research Institute.
Many government statisticians omit food and fuel prices from their 'core' inflation data because they are so volatile. This means the problem of spiralling food prices is gravely under-reported.
Drought is fuelling food price inflation in southern and East Africa: by 16.5% in South Africa, 26% last year in Zambia, over 40% in Angola, 18.8% in Uganda, 33% in South Sudan and 70-90% in Somalia. The exception is Ethiopia, formerly stricken by famine. Its government now has a much stronger development focus and has kept food price inflation well under 10%.
Governments could do much more to end this suffering. Apart from boosting incentives and extension services, such as supplying seeds and fertilisers to farmers, governments should cut tariffs, and greatly improve transport links and storage facilities.
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More progress, less movement

The governing party is disappointing many with its response to mounting insecurity in the north

There was an air of festive predictability about the Second National Congress of the governing Mouvement du peuple pour le progrès, held in Ouagadougou on 10-12 March. Among...


Squaring the triangle

Momentum is building behind General Haftar but the UN-supported government in Tripoli still has strong advocates

International support for General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the east, is growing beyond his core base of external supporters of Egypt, Russia and ...


Peace moves stumble

Séléka feels short-changed and distrust may be reaching the point where armed conflict could start again

The African Union has launched its initiative to mediate between armed groups and the government, and to convince the militia to implement disarmament, demobilisation and reintegra...


Mutharika's woes look terminal

The cabinet is shedding ministers tainted by Cashgate and related scandals as the government's authority dwindles

President Peter Mutharika is becoming increasingly isolated as a succession of ministers are forced out of office. This makes him more dependent on alliances with largely discredit...


Mega-projects await reforms

With President Buhari back from sick leave, questions multiply about the timing and content of the economic rescue plan

Hopes for Africa’s biggest economy are yo-yoing as policy-makers argue over radical reform of the naira exchange rate and the sale of government stakes in oil and gas assets....


Lungu’s terms and conditions

The President is confident that judges will rubber-stamp his eligibility to stand again in 2021. If not, a two-thirds majority in Parliament is within easy reach

President Edgar Lungu had barely begun his second term of office this year when he declared himself ready for another. Although the constitution states that no president who has he...



Pointers

Standoff in the Sahara

Moroccan forces have withdrawn behind their defensive wall at Guerguerat in Western Sahara after months of rising tension on the disputed territory's southern border with Mauritani...


Broken China

Urbino Botelho, Foreign Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, has made his bid for posterity by breaking off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and restoring relations with the People's...


Pariahs united

A United Nations report provides evidence that outcasts stick together, if not always honourably. North Korea has been providing military radios to Eritrea, in violation of UN sanc...