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Published 18th December 2015

Vol 56 No 25


South Africa

Jacob Zuma's costly week

Demonstrators at the government's Union Buildings in Pretoria, 16 December 2015. Photo: Jacques Nelles/AP/Press Association Images
Demonstrators at the government's Union Buildings in Pretoria, 16 December 2015. Photo: Jacques Nelles/AP/Press Association Images

The President kicked a hornets' nest when he sacked his Finance Minister. The ensuing crisis hit his authority and the economy

The impromptu alliance of African National Congress leaders and business interests which forced President Jacob Zuma to rethink his unilateral decision to sack Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replace him with a little-known back bencher has opened a new political chapter. Last week's man-made crisis, which has proved hugely expensive for both working class and corporate South Africa, has greatly weakened Zuma and strengthened his growing band of critics within and outside the governing ANC. It was Zuma's greatest blunder since he assumed the presidency in 2009.

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Dissent dogs DA leadership

Lindiwe Mazibuko's political comeback has come to a sudden stop. Some feel ex-leader Helen Zille retains too much power behind the scenes

Once upon a time, Lindiwe Mazibuko was the golden girl of opposition politics: she was articulate, respected and quoted in the media every day. She was the youngest Democratic Alli...


EFF's economic roadshow

As Malema's following grows, a dialogue has begun with investors worried by talk of nationalisation and price controls

Foreign direct investment is vital to the South African economy and the only confident prediction is that there will be deep change. As Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters lo...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Wobbly governments, imploding companies and crashing commodities mark out a coda to the past decade of high growth and political self-confidence. Economists argue about how much rising national incomes could be attributed to better macro-economic management and the role of Asia’s gargantuan appetite for oil, metals and soft commodities. Although deficits, inflation and debt all fell as economies grew and currencies strengthened, some old ailments are returning. Alarm bells are ringing...

Wobbly governments, imploding companies and crashing commodities mark out a coda to the past decade of high growth and political self-confidence. Economists argue about how much rising national incomes could be attributed to better macro-economic management and the role of Asia’s gargantuan appetite for oil, metals and soft commodities. Although deficits, inflation and debt all fell as economies grew and currencies strengthened, some old ailments are returning. Alarm bells are ringing louder as so many countries issue sovereign bonds just as interest rates rise again.

A new chapter has opened with China's economic rebalancing and reduced demand for Africa's resources. A strengthening United States' economy and some consolidation in Europe are prompting renewed interest in African economies, at least outside the mining and oil industries.

Of necessity, tough economic changes are on the agenda: governments will have to boost tax collection and cut illicit financial outflows. And more ambitious structural changes will need finance for local production: to process local crops and more manufacturing, as well as the region’s fast- growing service sector. Money and technology from both China and the West could foster these changes but these will require some hard bargaining by African governments. So far, only a few governments seem set to navigate the choppier economic waters.

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Pig-in-a-poke or panacea?

Some see PPPs as ideal for investing in Africa's infrastructure. Others believe it's a way for Western governments to save on aid expenditure

Nobody doubts that Sub-Saharan Africa needs heavy investment in public infrastructure. 'An acute infrastructure deficit is evident, especially in energy and roads.' So warned the W...


The Kinshasa shell game

The President has been wooing rival parties to come into his big tent but some have their own agendas

The Tshisekedi clan has done it again. Félix Antoine Tshisekedi, son of Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, the octogenarian leader of the opposition Union pour la démocratie et le pro...


Cognitive dissonance

As political negotiations stutter in Addis Ababa, the UN and the European Union turn a blind eye to Khartoum's heinous rights abuses

Chances of serious talks next week between government and opposition look slim. Although African Union mediators announced that the 'preparatory' political meeting would open in Et...


Taking down Tompolo

As politics fizz and oil prices crash, the government targets the capo di tutti i capi of the Niger Delta militants

One of the shrewdest and wealthiest militant leaders in the Niger Delta, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, faces a legal battle that could provoke a new political sh...


Luanda rewards its own

Many of the contracts from the latest onshore bidding round have gone to secretive companies linked to top party and presidency officials

The ten oil exploration blocks which were tendered in Angola's first-ever onshore bidding round were never, in today's weak price environment, going to attract major interest, espe...


Soro has phone trouble

The former rebel leader is a problem for the President, who may now have the means to dispense with his disreputable ally

The Speaker of the Ivorian Parliament, former rebel leader and ex-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, made a lot of telephone calls to the men responsible for September's attempted coup...


Police under fire for excesses

Law enforcement has long been notorious for routine brutality, but recent cases of extreme violence have drawn public anger and the attention of the President 

Signs of tension between the ruling military and the Ministry of Interior, which governs Egypt's police, are on the rise after a string of deaths in custody and evidence of torture...



Pointers

New SEC rules

Oil, gas and mining companies will be forced to publish payments made to foreign governments under new rules from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. According to...


'Greater Addis' anger

Human rights groups have accused the security forces of killing more than 40 people in Oromia state after renewed student protests broke out over the planned expansion of Addis Aba...


Lungu hangs on

President Edgar Lungu told the International Monetary Fund delegation which left Lusaka on 3 December that he intended to call general elections well before they are due next Septe...