President Filipe Nyusi surely hoped that such a problem would not come up so early in his new job. On 18 November, one of the most notorious and wealthiest donors to the governing Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), Mohammed Bashir Suleiman, was kidnapped. He is the highest-profile victim yet of the wave of kidnappings that has swept the country. After armed men snatched him from his own shopping mall, his family issued a statement confirming the abduction and appealing to the government to do its best to secure his release. Witnesses report that he was held up at gunpoint at the mosque in the shopping centre and taken away in a Toyota car with no number plate. Police, who have mobilised officers throughout the city, say four men carried out the abduction. We hear that the secret services were also activated to help out.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Diamonds are a vital export for Central African Republic but the main beneficiaries recently are rebels linked either to Anti-Balaka groups or to the Séléka coalition. The interim government's Mines Minister, Joseph Agbo, has been calling for several months for the export ban to be lifted, saying it was 'adding misery to misery'. According to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), rough diamond exports stood at 371,000 carats, worth US$62.1 million, in 2012, the year before the ban was declared in May 2013. That figure represents about half of CAR's total exports and 20% of budget receipts.
EUROPEAN UNION | AFRICA
The European Union – the continent's biggest trading partner – has now signed up most sub-Saharan African countries to bilateral or regional Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). The framework sets the stage for increasing liberalisation of trade and the reduction of tariffs. Only the disputed Western Sahara and strife-torn South Sudan and Somalia are outside the framework. African governments say that they are happy with the arrangements, which Brussels regards as essential. However, small farmers worry how the agreements will affect their livelihoods while others fear that the constraints on tariffs and import controls could limit the freedom of African governments to decide their economic policy.
EUROPEAN UNION | AFRICA
West African small farmers' organisations oppose the European Union's Economic Partnership Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). The Ouagadougou-based Réseau des organisations paysannes et des producteurs agricoles de l'Afrique de l'ouest, also known as the Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organisations of West Africa, works against the EPA. ROPPA's Executive Secretary, Kalilou Sylla, speaks for its leaders when he says, in an article published by the Netherlands-based European Centre for Development Policy Management, that the deal is 'detrimental to economic development and cooperation between Europe and Africa'.
Six months into President Jacob Zuma's last term of office, the economic forecasts are worsening. The governing African National Congress is suffering from strategic splits in its Triple Alliance with trades unions and communists at a time of slow growth, declining state capacity, a ratings downgrade and persistent allegations of corruption against the ruling circle. Zuma and the government will probably muddle through but many feel that economic management will follow the downhill path taken by the ANC's cohesion and stature.