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Niger Delta: Chevron LPG installations lit up at night. Oil pollution in the Delta is causing tremendous problems for the local community. Petterik Wiggers / Panos
Niger Delta: Chevron LPG installations lit up at night. Petterik Wiggers / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Piracy and militant attacks are cutting oil production in the Niger Delta as the government struggles with northern insurgents

NIGERIA

Abacha’s ghost and Boko Haram

ETHIOPIA

Empire-building in Addis

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Has the International Criminal Court, as Paul Kagame charged, ‘been put in place only for African countries’? Having spent hundreds of millions of dollars, only securing its first conviction on 14 March, it might also be thought a shameful waste of resources. All that effort, just to convict Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for recruiting children as soldiers nearly ten years ago.

Prosecuting criminals with vast resources at their disposal, however, is neither cheap nor easy – some of them are heads of state, after all, and have vast funds with which to fend off justice. This was also the court’s first case. It needed to be a success.

So much for the resources. And the fairness? ‘Why not Argentina, why not Myanmar, why not Iraq?’ Jean Ping complained. The court’s answer was, because most of the cases were themselves referred by Africans. They knew their own countries were too fragile to bring to justice villains of such magnitude.

Which, lest we forget, the ICC did. Lubanga was a frequent visitor to these pages in 2002 and 2003 during the worst of the Congo-Kinshasa bloodbath, a cruel, greedy warlord with the blood of tens of thousands of Congolese civilians on his hands. There were many like him. Indeed, in the lonely years to come, he may echo Ping’s words and ask, ‘Why me?’ Why not those who gave him orders, sponsored, condoned and collaborated with him, such as first the Ugandan, and then the Rwandan, governments?

SUDAN

Opposition turns up the heat

Over a hundred people tried to storm a police station in Khartoum’s Ed Deim area on 6 March after Awadia Agabna died in clashes with police. Protests then spread. She was from the Nuban Ama tribe’s royal family, whose head is Nayal Edam, a member of the National Islamic Front government after its 1989 coup. Awadia stood for the National Congress Party in the 2010 elections.

SUDAN

Khartoum rewrites history

Despite bombing civilians, the National Congress Party (NCP) has some success abroad in the propaganda war, persuading governments to accept its version of events: that the Sudan People’s Liberation Front/Army-North (SPLM/A-N), backed by its former comrades in Juba, launched an unnecessary war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile when negotiations were under way.

SOUTH AFRICA | ANALYSIS

How to buy growth – for $100 billion

The announcement of these grandiose schemes in Parliament last month coincides with leadership contests within the governing African National Congress, which will choose its presidential candidate at its conference in Mangaung in December. Critics claim that wealthy ANC supporters will be promised state contracts in return for political and financial backing.Amid the global economic slowdown, the government aims to double the current average growth rate of about 3.5 % a year and create 5 million new jobs by 2020.

SOUTH AFRICA

At the top, a three-way split

The cabinet is split three ways over control over the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and infrastructure spending.

SOUTH AFRICA

Business gets a seat at the table

Infrastructure investment is financed partly from the National Treasury or appropriations by Parliament. Yet a large share of the finance comes from the budgets of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), national and provincial departments, and municipalities.

ZIMBABWE

Constitutional reform blow

The process of drafting the new constitution is teetering towards collapse. So the various factions are honing their plans for what could be a bruising election campaign under the existing law. The five-year electoral cycle ends early next year but rivalries within each party militate against any of them adopting a coherent plan by then.

ZIMBABWE

The rise of Tendai Biti

Tendai Biti has been the star both of the Movement for Democratic Change as its General Secretary and of the Government of National Unity as its Finance Minister. He was perhaps lucky, as his predecessors had so ruined the economy that some recovery was inevitable and he was helped by the coming on stream of diamond and platinum mines.

ALGERIA | MOROCCO

The neighbours start talking

Several high-level diplomatic meetings initiated by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane in recent weeks have raised hopes that Algeria and Morocco might finally reopen their border, closed since 1994.

TUNISIA | MAGHREB

Tunisia lobbies for the UMA

There is growing talk that the moribund Union du Maghreb arabe will hold its first summit since 1994.

TANZANIA

Poisoning the atmosphere

Bitterness is growing in the disputes within the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi and government and CCM skeletons are refusing to stay in the closet. The latest row concerns the Deputy Minister for Works, Harrison Mwakyembe, and whether or not he was poisoned by rivals anxious to prevent corrupt officials coming to justice.

TANZANIA

Dead banker tweeting

In mid-February, the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s old guard and their well-connected business friends experienced a collective shudder when the former Bank of Tanzania (BOT) Governor, Daudi Ballali, started broadcasting on micro-messaging service Twitter. @daudibalali has tweeted over 250 times, with messages such as ‘It’s time to go home. I didn’t die, I’m not dead.’

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Has the International Criminal Court, as Paul Kagame charged, ‘been put in place only for African countries’? Having spent hundreds of millions of dollars, only securing its first conviction on 14 March, it might also be thought a shameful waste of resources. All that effort, just to convict Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for recruiting children as soldiers nearly ten years ago.

Prosecuting criminals w...

AFRICA | BRITAIN

Getting out of the bush

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to eviscerate its highly successful African Service looks counterproductive. It is all the more surprising given that Africa is being targeted by well-financed Chinese, Iranian, Qatari, Russian and Turkish media organisations, all keen to supplant the BBC’s influence.

Pointers  

GAMBIA | IRAN

Friends reunited?

Could President Yahya Jammeh, who has run one of the region’s most corrupt and brutal regimes since 1994, be planning to reopen diplomatic relations with Iran?

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