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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 13th September 2017

KENYA: Political bitterness growing as Kenyatta warns that an Odinga presidency would face impeachment

Patrick Smith

This week, Kenya's election saga rolls on with the opening of parliament in Nairobi and conflicting claims about the electoral commission. In South Africa, more companies and state officials could become targets of the 'Gupta effect'. Tanzanian President John Magufuli has another foreign mining company in his sights, this time over allegations of dodgy diamond-dealing. The same charge is levelled in Zimbabwe but this time – to the embarrassment of Robert Mugabe – against allies of the President and officials in the national spy agency.


KENYA: Political bitterness growing as Kenyatta warns that an Odinga presidency would face impeachmentMixed messages are emerging on the campaign trail and in parliament ahead of the rerun of the presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court. Opening parliament yesterday (12 September), President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that 'divisive and destructive politics' were threatening the stability of the country.

It was a sideswipe at politicians of the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) who boycotted the opening of parliament yesterday. 'We shall continue to encourage vibrant democratic competition,' said Kenyatta, '…we shall not allow destructive division.'

At the same time, opposition leaders were holding a rally in the Nairobi slum of Kibera at which they rejected the mooted presidential poll date of 17 October. They also demanded the resignation of the management of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

At the beginning of the week, at another election rally, President Kenyatta warned that if opposition leader Raila Odinga won the presidency in the rerun election he would be impeached within three months. Kenyatta was referring to the increase in the number of Jubilee MPs. They now constitute nearly two-thirds of the 290-seat parliament.

Jubilee officials have been trying, in recent days, to woo some MPs who have been supporting Odinga. For now, no end to 'divisive politics' looks to be on the agenda.

SOUTH AFRICA: Corrupt officials in state companies could face civil actions to recover funds as more Gupta-linked multinationals come under fireCalls from Thuli Madonsela, South Africa's former Public Protector, for civil actions against officials caught up in claims of multi-million dollar fraud linked to the Gupta brothers' companies have won strong support from local business.

Africa Confidential understands that some prominent local companies are preparing to sue senior state officials who they say are responsible for massive losses to South Africa's treasury. Madonsela has pointed to the public losses following payments of 300 million rand (US$23 mn.) by Eskom, the state electricity company, to Trillian, a company linked to the Gupta family and allies of President Jacob Zuma.

Officials at Eskom were warned of impropriety linked to the Trillian payments but failed to act, said Madonsela. Although the South African government has an Asset Forfeiture Unit, Madonsela has questioned whether it would be willing to act in such a case because it involves high-ranking officials.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the British-based auditors KPMG who have worked for several companies owned by the Gupta family. 'Save South Africa', a local civil society group, has accused KPMG of playing a 'central role in facilitating state capture' by the Guptas. This week, South Africa's Institute of Directors announced it would no longer co-sponsor events with KPMG and several companies are said to be reviewing their relations with the auditors.

TANZANIA: Government seizes consignment from Petra Diamonds,  accusing it of under-declaring mineral exportsPresident John Magufuli's government, already in a heated dispute with Acacia Mining, has stepped up his resource nationalism campaign by ordering an urgent review of all Petra Diamonds contracts.
This follows officials' seizure of millions of dollars worth of diamonds from Petra Diamonds' mine at Dar es Salaam airport. The company put the value of the stones, which were to be exported to Antwerp, at $14.7 mn. but customs officials ordered a fresh valuation after which the government claimed the true value was $29.5 mn. Finance Minister Philip Mpango has launched an investigation into the government's valuation team.

After President Magufuli ordered all officials involved in the affair to quit the government, Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Transportation Edwin Ngonyani and Minister in the Presidency George Simbachawene announced their resignations. They both expressed confidence that the investigation would clear them of wrongdoing.

Petra Diamonds has now suspended operations in Tanzania. It will now face a wider enquiry into claims that it substantially underpaid duties and taxes.

ZIMBABWE: Spy agency and Mugabe allies control diamond mines in Marange, according to Global WitnessAs President Mugabe announces the start of voter registration ahead of next year's national elections, an undercover investigation claims that his political allies and officials in the Central Intelligence Organisation have been trading diamonds illicitly from the mines in Marange. The revelations, by London-based Global Witness, will acutely embarrass Mugabe, who claimed last year that illegal Marange diamond exports had cost the country $15 billion in lost revenue. He accused 'foreign-owned' mining companies of swindling the state.

But it seems a company called Kusena, in which the CIO and others had a secret stake, was a major beneficiary of the diamond deals (AC Vol 55 No 10, Mugabe moves on Marange). The spy agency is said to have used its highly lucrative stake as a slush fund for covert operations. In previous elections, such operations, which have included serious assaults, have targeted the opposition.


IN VERY BRIEF

TUNISIA: Questions over who ordered the expulsion of dissident Moroccan Prince Moulay Hicham

NIGERIA: Women Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan pledges to back Atiku Abubakar in 2019 presidential race

GHANA: Central Bank launches tougher rules on capital requirements after two local bank takeovers