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President Goodluck Jonathan during his declaration speech In Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan during his declaration speech In Abuja

Despite security and economic crises, Jonathan wins his party’s support for a second term while the opposition faces a leadership contest

The candidate's declaration speech is, by tradition, a key moment in the theatre of Nigerian politics. President Goodluck Jonathan's rally in Abuja on...


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Suddenly the political action has shifted to Africa's parliaments, as party alliances crack and legislators target the executive authority of presidents. The latest parliamentary fracas, in Nigeria, pitted the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) against riot police and ended in masked officers firing tear gas into the main lobby of the building on 20 November.

The clash started when the APC's latest recruit, Aminu Tambuwal, who has defected from the governing People's Democratic Party, turned up at the National Assembly. His attempt to carry on in his post as Speaker of the House of Representatives affronted his old allies and they locked him out of the building. Undaunted, opposition members of parliament scaled the walls to force a way in for Tambuwal. After hasty consultation, Senate President David Mark adjourned all sessions until 25 November.

A week earlier, riot police stormed South Africa's Parliament to remove Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela, an MP from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters. African National Congress MP and House Chairman Cedric Frolick ordered that she be forcibly evicted after she refused to withdraw her accusation that President Jacob Zuma was 'a thief'. More bizarre still, the centrist and hitherto mild Democratic Alliance MPs joined forces with more radical oppositionists and tried to shield Mashabela. Now the DA claims its MPs were injured in the ensuing altercation.

What lessons from these parliamentary punch-ups? Firstly, the use of force against political dissidents strengthens opposition morale and cooperation. Secondly, those who have seen police act arbitrarily against others may now spare some sympathy for parliamentary protestors.


Kingpin kidnap chaos

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.


Diamonds fund rebels

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.


Rules of commercial engagement

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.


Peasants against the pacts

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'.


Gloom settles on economy

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.


Loans for oil

China has for some time been a leading lender to Uganda but loans have accelerated this year since the government promised to pay for Chinese-built infrastructure from future oil revenue. Uganda's oil fields are now believed to contain some 6.5 billion barrels. This year alone, China has signed deals to build two hydropower dams worth US$2.2. billion, a standard gauge railway that could cost up to $8 bn. and a $600 million fertiliser plant. This is in addition to the $2 bn. oil-field being developed by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Limited and the $350 mn. road between the capital, Kampala, and Entebbe International Airport.


Hard times for the revenue service

The South African Revenue Service was one of the most effective state agencies of the post-apartheid era. Often held up as a model tax organisation for developing countries under the leadership of Pravin Gordhan in 1999-2009, it is now the latest body to be caught in the multiple controversies swirling around President Jacob Zuma and the governing African National Congress (ANC). The times since Gordhan departed to become Finance Minister have not been happy ones at SARS. Amid the scandals are three official inquiries into the conduct of leading figures in the organisation in the past two years alone. SARS Commissioner Oupa Magashula was forced out in July 2013 after allegations of impropriety. Two separate inquiries into key senior staff are under way and have now been joined by a third.


Oil price down, debts up

Hopes that the government would agree a three-year programme worth US$1 billion with the International Monetary Fund this month have been thwarted by worries over debt, deficits and lower oil revenue. Negotiations could now drag on into the first quarter of 2015, according to authoritative sources. As the two sides discussed Ghana's growing debt, now reckoned at well over 50% of gross domestic product, a senior official spoke of 'hard choices' yet to be made. 'Ghana has to balance its short term needs to finance recurrent costs against its plans to restructure the economy which need a much higher level of capital investment than provided for.'


Foreign boost for opposition

A group of influential outsiders is struggling to galvanise the fractious opposition to beat the late Michael Sata's party in the presidential by-election due in January, Africa Confidential can reveal. Their efforts have not been helped by former President Rupiah Banda's announcement on 17 November that he will stand on the Movement for Multiparty Democracy ticket. Nevers Sekwila Mumba, Banda's successor as party leader, also insists he will be the MMD's candidate. Banda, then the incumbent, lost the presidential election to Sata in 2011.


Security leaks and party splits

Jubilant opposition groups say the emergence of more leaked security documents points to the deepening factionalism at the heart of the National Congress Party regime. Documents laying out NCP plans for next year's elections and surveillance of Sudanese abroad, especially in Britain, are now being translated from Arabic into English. Meanwhile, Africa Confidential has translated extracts from a report on a meeting between state officials and representatives from Iran and the Al Harakat al Muqawama al Islamiya (Hamas). These passed largely unnoticed amid the excitement over the main batch of documents. AC has been given the name of the very senior official said to have leaked the papers.



Suddenly the political action has shifted to Africa's parliaments, as party alliances crack and legislators target the executive authority of presidents. The latest parliamentary fracas, in Nigeria, pitted the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) against riot police and ended in masked officers firing tear gas into the main lobby of the building on 20 November.

The clash started when the APC's latest recruit, Aminu Tambuwal, who has defected from the governing People's Democra...


MDC can't exploit ZANU-PF splits

Restoring credibility is now the challenge for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change as much as for the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. ZANU-PF hopes to re-launch its fortunes with a decision on the succession at its party Congress next December, after spending the last few months in a welter of faction-fighting. Not to be outdone, Morgan Tsvangirai and his official MDC have also been damaging their prospects with unseemly internal battles and unpopular personnel changes.



Shoukry gets stuck in

While President Abdel Fatah el Sisi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces handle substantial foreign affairs matters, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is usually left with little to do but present an amiable public face to fend off rising criticism of...

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