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Red Friday

A banner-waving alliance of professionals and trades unionists is highlighting the growing economic hardships and shaking up the political scene

A clever campaign against worsening economic conditions – known as Red Friday – is gaining momentum after several thousand activists march...


Letting a crisis go to waste


Seized farms haunt ZANU-PF



Will the grand Africa-United States summit with more than 40 leaders in attendance in Washington D.C. on 4-6 August produce the results wanted by its protagonists? The expected high attendance is due both to President Barack Obama's charisma and the search for foreign capital.

Certainly, the business agenda will be full: the Corporate Council on Africa is holding investor sessions on individual countries throughout the summit week. Similarly, the State Department, led by Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield, is pushing development and economic issues such as the Africa Power initiative and a new round of trade concessions in the Africa Growth & Opportunities Act. China's trade with Africa is running at over US$200 billion a year; US trade with Africa has slipped back to around $85 bn. after a cut in oil imports from the continent of almost 90% due to domestic shale oil production.

The diplomatic, security and social outcomes will be harder to gauge. Part of the point of the meeting is to show the US is getting more serious about Africa policy – whether deploying military and intelligence teams or working on innovations in education and health. There was some dismay in Africa at the rule that there would be no bilateral meetings with Obama: everything is to be discussed in open plenaries, in a more informal and inter-active setting with no set-piece speeches and position papers. Although China, Japan and France have hosted several such grand summits for the whole continent, this is new territory for the US. How will we know if it worked? We'll have another one in a couple of years' time, an official replied.


Polls beckon as Hollande flies in

President François Hollande’s visit last week to Côte d’Ivoire was full of fanfares for regional security and doing business with France but behind the scenes intense manoeuvrings in all the major domestic political parties were under way. President Alassane Dramane Ouattara welcomed his French counterpart at the airport on 17 July as Hollande began the first leg of a tour which also took him to Niger and Chad. Hollande combined the two themes of business and security by taking a symbolic ride in a French-built patrol boat called L'Émergence, which Yamoussoukro will use to fight the growing menace of piracy off its coast.


Invoking higher powers

South Africans are trying to figure out the secret of the hold that Hlaudi Motsoeneng has on his position as Chief Operations Officer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Following revelations that Motsoeneng had lied about his qualifications and lacked a school leaving certificate, let alone a university degree, and that he had nearly doubled his own salary as acting COO in one year, from 1.5 million rand (US$140,000) to R2.4 mn., Public Protector Thuli Madonsela last year launched an inquiry. It concluded that the SABC should take disciplinary action against Motsoeneng for lying and that he should be removed from his position.


Writing development into law

Following President François Hollande's brief African tour this month came questions about France's development aid policy. After all, critics say, it is economic development and poverty reduction that offer the best prospect of keeping young people away from the radical activism which ends up being the target of defence budget spending. Paris's answer is to keep Africa as the priority recipient of its bilateral aid. This has now been codified in the country's first development policy law (Politique de développement et de solidarité internationale), which the Senate passed on 7 July. However, the recently approved 2014 budget cuts this year's total aid by 2.5% to 8.3 billion euros (US$11.2 bn.), a hefty chunk of which is allocated to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and European Development Fund (EDF). That leaves bilateral aid for basic development in poor countries at a mere 200 mn. euros, critics complain.


Opposition misses tricks

Attempts by opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga to put himself back on the political map are failing to spark the public imagination. The former Prime Minister's re-launch following his lengthy sojourn in the United States culminated in a protest rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on 7 July, after a whistle-stop tour across the country. So far, the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) has scored few points against President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee Alliance government and its lack of direction. Despite his troubles, Kenyatta has shored up the power of the presidency, now stronger than at any time since the heyday of ex-President Daniel arap Moi.


Islamists strike back

Islamist militias aligned with Libya's Muslim Brotherhood have mounted their most serious counter-offensive yet against forces loyal to General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar in a series of attacks in Tripoli and Benghazi. Clashes at Tripoli International Airport saw 47 people killed and 20 aircraft badly damaged. Later, a suicide bomb exploded at a Haftar position in Benghazi. Haftar, a retired General and Armed Forces Chief of Staff under Colonel Moammar el Gadaffi, has been waging a campaign against Islamist forces in Benghazi and planning to attack Islamists all over the country.


Peace at risk

The government is clamping down on elements within its former coalition partner, the mainly Tutsi Union pour le progrès national (Uprona) because of their opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza's attempts to run for a third term of office in July 2015 and alter other parts of the constitution. Although Nkurunziza narrowly lost a vote to amend the constitution to allow him to stand again, he can try again – but not until March 2015. The United Nations has also expressed 'deep concern' about the political and security situation. Many years of civil war were brought to an uneasy end in 2000 with the Arusha Accords but widespread peace only took hold in 2006. The Accords set out power-sharing protocols between the Hutu and Tutsi communities, including ethnic quotas for government jobs.


After the amnesty, more amnesty

The environmental devastation, lawlessness and grand corruption have not stopped in the oil-producing Niger Delta but the situation looks far less forbidding when set against the horrific insurgency in the north-east. The callous distinction between the two crises is that the Delta militancy, unlike that in the north, has the ability to inflict speedy and crippling economic damage. Sceptical northern politicians say that if Nigeria's oilfields had been in Borno State, the insurgency would have been met with the level of force that military governments of the 1990s deployed in the Delta.


The Jonathan surge

Despite a security crisis and a poor public image, President Goodluck Jonathan's People's Democratic Party has engineered a startling political recovery. Much of the turnaround is the responsibility of the new PDP Chairman, Adamu Mu'azu, a presidential contender in the 2007 elections, who has knitted together the party's rival factions and deployed ruthless tactics. The PDP is accused of fixing impeachment votes against its enemies and has mounted a no-holds-barred campaign to associate the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) with Islamist extremism in the public mind.


Put a faction in your tank

A new contestant in the fight to control fuel sales has burst on to the scene as the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front's internal battles heat up. Engen Petroleum Zimbabwe is taking over fuel distribution outlets from the previously dominant Sakunda Petroleum. Industry observers link EPZ with the ZANU-PF faction of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, while Sakunda interests are believed to be aligned with the faction of Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Their fierce competition to succeed President Robert Mugabe is increasingly coming out into the open.



Will the grand Africa-United States summit with more than 40 leaders in attendance in Washington D.C. on 4-6 August produce the results wanted by its protagonists? The expected high attendance is due both to President Barack Obama's charisma and the search for foreign capital.

Certainly, the business agenda will be full: the Corporate Council on Africa is holding investor sessions on individual countries throughout the summit week. Similarly, the State Department, led by Assistant S...


Frelimo and Renamo strike peace deal

The Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) government and the Resistência Nacional de Moçambique (Renamo) rebels of Afonso Dhlakama have agreed in principle on a peace deal to be announced shortly, Africa Confidential has learned. The lengthy peace talks, often deliberately dragged out or sabotaged by both sides, have finally resulted in an accord to disengage their forces under the supervision of international observers. The deal will enable Dhlakama, who is standing for the presidency in the October elections, to campaign without fear of arrest and allow the organisation of the polls to proceed without fear of disruption.



Proxy battles, real war

The explosions that destroyed an arms depot at El Geili north of Khartoum on 18 July prompted a welter of speculation on news sites and social media. Many thought that Israel had tried to destroy rockets meant for the the Harakat al Muqawama al Islamiya (...

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