The Africa Confidential Blog
Corporates clash with politics
Developments in Nigeria and South Africa point to the danger when political and business interests converge. President Cyril Ramaphosa's directorship of Lonmin, the company operating in Marikana when the police massacred protesting mineworkers, nearly sank his political career. Ramaphosa is leading an anti-corruption campaign targeting international outfits such as McKinsey and KPMG for their relations with Jacob Zuma's government. This week Ramaphosa faces tough questions about his son's business interests and a donation to his election campaign.
In Nigeria, opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, a multi-millionaire whose fortune came from oil services company Intels, is the business candidate par excellence. He wants to sell off large stakes of Nigeria's oil and gas industry, float the naira, and make corporate tax levels the lowest in Africa. Apart from obvious conflicts of interests, there is the matter of one of Atiku's strongest backers, a former director of military intelligence. In documents obtained from the Milan court which is trying officials from Royal Dutch Shell and ENI for grand corruption in the purchase of oil block OPL245, this senior officer's name repeatedly comes up centre-stage. Some in the Atiku camp argue that legal proceedings against the two companies, in Italy and Nigeria, should be stopped in favour of the block's rapid development. It may be another tricky case of business interests colliding with political ones.