The Africa Confidential Blog
SOUTH AFRICA: Zuma chooses the messiest exit after marathon executive committee meeting
This week we start, inevitably, in South Africa with
the latest scenes from the seemingly unending drama of President Jacob
Zuma's departure. Then to Nigeria where the
government is belatedly acknowledging calls for sweeping constitutional
changes. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli's
resource nationalist campaign continues to hobble a gold mining
company. Ghana's Finance Minister is in Asia drumming
up interest in another Eurobond issue. Finally, a security chief once
detained for coup plotting returns to favour in Sudan's
Islamist power structures.
SOUTH AFRICA: Zuma chooses the messiest exit after
marathon executive committee meeting
Choosing to prolong the agony, Jacob Zuma has rebuffed the
latest bid to edge him out of the presidency after ignoring a formal
demand to quit by the African National Congress. The call was made
after a 13-hour meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee which
only ended in the small hours of 13 February.
Although there is no formal deadline, party insiders say that
unless Zuma publicly accedes to the party's recall motion – essentially
a sacking – the ANC will organise a no-confidence vote against him in
parliament within days. This could trigger the most disruptive – and
perhaps the most humiliating – departure for Zuma.
Beyond the resignation drama, Zuma is also likely to hear more
news about whether he will face prosecution on a raft of corruption
charges linked to the government's US$5 billion arms deal with Western
companies in the late 1990s.
*We will publish a full analysis on the Zuma exit and its
political implications on the website today.
NIGERIA: Buhari backs call for state police forces as
herder-farmer clashes spread in the Middle Belt
Concern about the worsening security problems in the
Belt and northern states have boosted calls for sweeping amendments to
the constitution, including allowing the creation of state police
commands. Currently, the Nigeria Police Force is under strict federal
control. Politicians in the centre have jealously guarded their power
over the police, arguing that allowing state governors to establish
their own police forces could balkanise the nation.
Now, both major parties, the governing All Progressives
Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, are tabling their
own plans to restructure the federation. How much these plans are a bid
to win votes in next year's national elections remains an open
question. Any serious constitutional reform is unlikely to get through
parliament in less than a year. The popular demand for such changes is
Last week President Muhammadu Buhari's
office came out for the first time in favour of establishing
state-level police forces. He has come under growing pressure to
respond more effectively to the brutal clashes between cattle herders
from the north and settled farmers in the Middle Belt. It has become
the dominant security issue in Nigeria and Inspector General of Police Ibrahim
Idris has been widely accused of favouring the herders and
acting too slowly to protect farmers.
TANZANIA: Acacia's dispute with President Magufuli
enters its second year, cutting gold production
The row between the government and the gold-mining company
Acacia Mining, an affiliate of Canada's Barrick Gold,
is slowing the local company's operations. Acacia's revenues dropped by
almost a third last year after the government banned the export of gold
and copper concentrate. It's the latest evidence of the effects of
President John Magufuli's resource nationalist campaign, which has
resonated throughout the region.
Acacia's biggest headache is the confrontation with Magufuli
over his accusations that it connived with local officials to
under-report the value of its exports. After a specialist panel
Magufuli set up reported back, Acacia was presented with a $190 billion
tax bill late last year.
The company denies all wrongdoing. Parent company Barrick has
taken the lead in the negotiations with the government, offering a
settlement of $300 million late last year. But since then there has
been little movement in a dispute which is depriving both company and
government of substantial revenues. Acacia's new Tanzanian managing
director, Asa Mwaipopo, is leading efforts to improve
relations with the government.
GHANA: Finance Minister tests appetite for bond sale
in Asia ahead of President Akufo-Addo's state visit to China
Although he still has to get backing for a major bond
from parliament, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is
in Singapore and Hong Kong this week to drum up
interest for Ghanaian paper in the Asian markets. He plans to float the
bond in April.
It will be a vital part of the government's efforts to raise
funds for programmes such as universal free secondary education and the
One Factory, One District plan. Officials in Accra told Africa
Confidential that there was already substantial interest from big
Asian economies in Ghana's industrialisation plans.
Ofori-Atta is travelling with executives from three local
banks, Ghana Commercial Bank, Fidelity and Standard Chartered. Although
Ghana's debt is running at over 60% of gross domestic product, which
the government inherited from its predecessor, its bonds remain popular
with international investors who regard it as one of the most stable
countries in the region.
SUDAN: President el Beshir reappoints Salah Gosh as
spy chief five years after he was accused of coup plotting
The return of Salah Abdallah Mohamed 'Gosh'
as director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)
raises fresh questions about the direction of the National Congress
Party (aka National Islamic Front) regime after a wave of protests over
worsening economic conditions.
President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir sacked
Gosh as his security advisor in 2011 amid signs of growing rivalries
within the Islamist regime. A year later, Gosh and several other top
intelligence and military officials were arrested after being linked to
a coup plot. Some of the soldiers were sentenced to gaol terms but Gosh
was released without charge after eight months in detention.
Director of the NISS until 2009, Gosh was held responsible for
planning behind the government's military campaign in Darfur, in which
over 300,000 people, mainly civilians, died, according to the United
Nations. Despite being subjected to sanctions and a travel ban for his
involvement in what the International Criminal Court classifies as a
genocide, Gosh was able to establish effective relations with
intelligence agencies in Britain and the United
On one occasion he was smuggled into London for urgent cardiac
treatment. It may be partly those ties, as Khartoum tries to make the
most of Washington's decision to drop sanctions, that have brought Gosh
back to the centre of national security. The move may also signify the
regime's growing concern about internal coherence as rivalries
intensify to succeed President Omer.