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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 24th April 2018

ZIMBABWE: Mnangagwa government plans to float bond after stops in USA and Europe on the roadshow

Patrick Smith

This week, Southern Africa is making all the running. We start with Zimbabwe where new President Emmerson Mnangagwa's economic ambassadors are stepping up the  charm offensive on investors. Another newish President, João Lourenço of Angola is consolidating his grip on  the military. And South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, the third newcomer to the Presidential club, is grappling with another provincial explosion. And in Antananarivo, protestors are calling for the immediate exit of Hery Rajaonarimpianina from the Presidency ahead of this year's planned elections.

ZIMBABWE: Mnangagwa government plans to float bond after stops in USA and Europe on the roadshow
As election campaigning heats up at home, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's economic team relentlessly circles the globe drumming up investment and new finance deals. Although the government claims to have corralled almost US$8 billion in new investments, mainly in the mining business, many of the biggest companies are waiting for the outcome of the elections which will be held in the last two weeks of July, according to Foreign Minister General Sibusiso Moyo.

At one of the latest meets, organized by London-based  Exotix in New York, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya, wooed United States investors. This followed the spring meetings of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington DC in which the institutions held to their line of no substantive negotiations on new finance for Zimbabwe until after the elections and the agreement of a definitive settlement on the country's arrears. Harare owes some $2.5 bn. in arrears to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

However, the Mnangagwa team are in a hurry to resolve the matter. Mangudya told the bankers at the New York meeting that the government was seeking bridging finance to repay the arrears to the International Financial Institutions. This would be in addition to what the Cairo-based Afreximbank has offered already in terms of overall financial support. More surprisingly, Mangudya told investors that the government was planning to float a Eurobond later in the year.

ANGOLA: President Lourenço's anti-corruption purge extends to military and spy chiefs
Simultaneously sacking the chief of staff of the armed forces and the director of the well-financed foreign intelligence service suggests a supreme confidence in one's grip on power or political recklessness.

Luanda insiders assure us that President João Lourenço's latest top level sackings – he has dismissed police chiefs and the son of former President José Eduardo dos Santos has been charged with corruption – prove he has effectively consolidated power in the eight months since he was elected.

Certainly, there has been no public criticism of the move; indeed some Angolans are calling for Lourenço's purge to take on still bigger targets in and around the Dos Santos clan.

According to the presidential decrees read out on state television on 23 April, General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda and long-time intelligence operative André de Oliveira Sango were sacked because they have been named as suspects in the latest round of anti-corruption investigations. Yet their exit also takes away two more allies of the Dos Santos clan who might have been able to protect the former president's interests as the new government pushes ahead with its anti-corruption sweep.

The next round of the battle is likely to focus on former President Dos Santos's role as head of the governing MPLA. Although Dos Santos wants to remain party chief for another year, supporters of President Lourenço say they are determined to push him out within the next few weeks. Should they succeed, that would be one of the last vestiges of formal power held by Dos Santos, opening up the possibility that he could face the same sort of police investigations that have already been launched against his son José Filomeno and daughter Isabel, former managing director of  Sonangol.

MADAGASCAR: Crisis deepens after President Rajaonarimampianina accuses protestors of attempting a coup d'etat
The protests in Antananarivo have been building up since 20 April with  President Hery Rajaonarimampianina accusing the demonstrators of mounting a coup against him. That claim seems to have designed to draw attention away from the deaths of two protestors on the second day of the demonstrations.

Ostensibly, the protests were against the new electoral laws which seem designed to stop some of the country's most high profile politicians – including the weird alliance of Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina– from running in this year's presidential elections. Now the protests have morphed into a general campaign to pressure Rajaonarimampianina to step down immediately.

SOUTH AFRICA: Demonstrators and investigators pile pressure on ex-President Zuma's allies in North-West Province and Free State
It is the latest episode of the country's state capture. This time the focus is on the North-West Province where premier Supra Mahumapelo, a close ally of ex-President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family, faces scrutiny for his award of over 65 million rand in no-bid contracts to private health care and ambulance companies. Demonstrators, angered by this opaque business at a time when the public health system in the province has broken down, have brought the provincial capital Mahikeng to a standstill.

Capitalising on the public mood, Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters were pushing a no-confidence motion in Mahumapelo as the mood on the streets turned uglier. This brewing crisis in the province ties into a wider split within the African National Congress between factions that back current President Cyril Ramaphosa and those that back his predecessor, Zuma.

It is serious enough to have forced Ramaphosa to rush from the Commonwealth summit in London to a crisis meeting of the ANC caucus in North-West. Accompanying Ramaphosa were Jessie Duarte and Ace Magashule, both of whom come from the Zuma camp. This points to the complexity of the crisis and the practical limits of Ramaphosa's position. As with other top Zuma allies, Ramaphosa's preferred course of action will be sit back and let the police investigators and the courts run with the ball. Whether the demonstrators on the streets in Mahikeng will wait that long for Mahumapelo's day in court is another matter.


NIGERIA: Security and oil business top agenda for President Buhari's meeting with US President Trump on 30 April

AFRICA/UNITED KINGDOM: After Commonwealth summit in London, Trade Minister Liam Fox to spell out new era for UK-Africa relations

ETHIOPIA: Local businesses call on new Premier Abiy to ease the state's grip and speed economic liberalisation

EGYPT: Oil minister Tarek el Molla forecasts $10 billion of investment in national gas industry over next two years