Jump to navigation

confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 29th April 2019

SUDAN: Oppositionists and junta discuss civilian seats in new government

Patrick Smith

This week the negotiations between the ruling generals and their opponents in the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change continue in Khartoum while in South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa steps up campaigning a week before the national elections. In Kenya, parliament flexes its muscles over the government's contract with a French tech company and industry insiders in Nigeria cast doubt on an ambitious plan to boost oil production and refining. Finally, there are fears the latest South Sudan peace deal could run aground at a meeting in Ethiopia this week.

SUDAN: Oppositionists and junta discuss civilian seats in new government

After reaching a general agreement on a transitional council with both civilian and military members, this week opposition negotiators are to set out their demands for posts and power under the new order.

In principle, the ruling generals have conceded civilians can have executive power on the new council, but arguments persist about how this would work in practice. Military statements talking about 'proportional representation' for civilians in a new council have raised concerns and could mean the military appointees would remain in the majority.

The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, led by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, have told their supporters across the country to maintain pressure with street demonstrations. Last week, their mass demonstrations forced three generals, Islamists and adherents of the former ruling party to resign from the Transitional Military Council.

SOUTH AFRICA: A week ahead of elections, Ramaphosa steps up his anti-corruption purgeWith signs that voters are unconvinced by the ruling party's protestations of change ahead of national elections on 8 May, President Cyril Ramaphosa has sacked two senior prosecutors for misconduct.
The Mokgoro inquiry had called for the dismissal of Nomgcobo Jiba, deputy national director of public prosecutions, and Lawrence Mrwebi, special director of public prosecutions.

The dismissals – accompanied by letters to the pair in which Ramaphosa states that 'the panel found that you lied to me' – look designed to boost the President's credibility on tackling graft.

On 28 April, The Sunday Times of Johannesburg reported that a further four senior officials were under investigation for tax offences to the tune of 250 million rand (US$17m): Dudu Myeni, former chairwoman of Jacob Zuma's foundation and former chair of South African Airways; Nomvula Mkonyane, Minister of Environmental Affairs; Vincent Smith, an ANC MP; and Zach Modise, commissioner for Correctional Services.

The latest opinion polls give the ANC 50% of the vote but Ramaphosa needs over 55% to stamp his authority on the party and continue with the purge after the elections.

KENYA: Parliament clashes with the government over contracts for identity card and census

France's IDEMIA tech company is well connected – it won a contract for the new identity card scheme known as Huduma Namba launched in March and is bidding for the multi-billion-shilling population census due in August. But it is in the middle of a row between the government and parliament.

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) voted to take action against IDEMIA over claims over irregular payments during in the 2017 elections. It also found that the company (then known as OT Morpho) had not been registered when it was working with the electoral commission in the 2013 and 2017 polls. They put a ten-year ban on IDEMIA doing business in the country.

This could mean a trial of strength between President Uhuru Kenyatta's government and MPs. The government says it is studying the PAC's decision but has warned the company could be owed heavy damages if its contracts are cancelled.

NIGERIA: Clashes in the Delta and failures on reform bill raise doubts on ambitious oil plan

A bold new plan to double oil production and triple refining capacity by 2025 faces two massive obstacles. The first is production disruption in the Niger Delta caused by militant attacks or criminal attempts to siphon off oil, or sometimes just outdated equipment.

After the Nembe Creek Trunk Line was closed due to a fire, Royal Dutch Shell and France's Total have declared force majeure, cutting exports by as much as 200,000 barrels a day during the crisis. And Nigeria's Aiteo could face a legal battle with the Bayelsa State government, which has been highly critical of its operations in the region.

President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to announce his plans for oil sector reform. The much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill was blocked in a stand-off between the presidency and the National Assembly. Without agreement on the reforms, which are meant to set out a template for a new taxation and royalty formula, the government looks unlikely to bring in enough foreign investment to finance its hoped-for production boost.

The new target is to pump 4 million barrels a day by 2025 and increase refining capacity to 1.5m bpd, said Maikanti Baru, managing director of state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Deputy Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said that he'd resign if the country isn't self-reliant in petroleum products by the end of this year. Of all Nigeria's energy initiatives, the most likely to come on stream first is Aliko Dangote's planned 650,000 bpd oil refinery, which is to be combined with fertiliser and petrochemicals plant in Lagos State. Due to cost $9 billion to build and financed solely from commercial sources, it is scheduled to start operations next year.

SOUTH SUDAN: Deal on new government in the balance ahead of key meeting

Prospects for the peace deal signed between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, blessed by Pope Francis this month, are dimming ahead of a regional meeting which starts on Thursday (2 May) to discuss its implementation in Addis Ababa. It will be under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). President Salva will not be there but Riek, who wants a six-month delay to the formation of the transitional government, is due to attend. The terms of the deal state the new government must be formed by 12 May.

Riek says he will not return to Juba until key security arrangements have been made. That means more time to integrate his fighters into the national army and to resolve disputes over state boundaries.

Salva is urging Riek to return to take up his negotiated role as Vice-President but he also accuses him of holding the peace deal hostage.

Not yet ready to subscribe to Africa Confidential? Then why not register for our free email alerts instead. Every fortnight you will receive a concise snapshot of the latest issue of Africa Confidential.