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Published 1st April 2016

Vol 57 No 7


South Africa

Night of the generals

Jacob Zuma answers questions in parliament. Pic: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam
Jacob Zuma answers questions in parliament. Pic: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam

Increasing surveillance of ANC dissidents and burglaries of journalists and activists point to paranoia at the top

A veteran of the pre-liberation African National Congress armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK, Spear of the Nation), General Siphiwe 'Gebuza' Nyanda doesn't scare easily. Yet when a well armed hijacker decided on 23 March to make off with his Porsche luxury car, he didn't offer any resistance. Nyanda survived without a scratch and the car was found without serious damage a few hours later. Another random hijacking? Perhaps, but it has emerged that Nyanda is the spokesman for a group known as Senior Commanders and Commissars of the ANC's former military wing.

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Dollar curbs anger bigwigs

The central bank is restricting dollar exports in the face of strong resistance from the ruling elite

Government officials and bankers are 'narrowing options' for international transfers in US dollars because correspondent banks fear the United States government will punish them fo...


Sassou makes it modest

The incumbent claims 60% of the votes in a re-election lacking credibility but facing no serious international challenge 

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso arranged for his re-election with considerably less self-confidence than he had shown in previous electoral contests. The campaign was marked by secu...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Despite pressure from the doom-sayers amid the commodity price crash, some big battalions in Africa are fighting back with ambitious new projects that could create growth and jobs – if they go ahead. Most significant is the US$5.42 billion deal between Kenya and the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to extend the railway from Naivasha to Malaba on the Ugand...

Despite pressure from the doom-sayers amid the commodity price crash, some big battalions in Africa are fighting back with ambitious new projects that could create growth and jobs – if they go ahead. Most significant is the US$5.42 billion deal between Kenya and the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to extend the railway from Naivasha to Malaba on the Ugandan border. In December, China had agreed to lend Kenya $1.5 bn. for a new railway from Nairobi to Naivasha in the fertile Rift Valley.

China's support for regional power and transport projects, such as the Kenya-Uganda railway, points to a change of strategy: as an increasingly diversified economy and at the centre of the region's economic integration plans, Kenya could become a major hub for Chinese trade with Africa. The project follows China’s big investment in Ethiopia's power sector. Both initiatives are establishing China as a builder of much needed infrastructure rather than just a neo-colonial buyer of primary commodities.

Another project announcement this week is more off-piste: the embattled commodity giant Glencore promises to invest $1.1 billion in its Mopani copper mine in northern Zambia over the next two years, despite cutting back production across the region as prices fell. Like Beijing’s railway, there is a commercial logic to Glencore’s plans: it has already invested $3 bn. in the mine and to mothball it indefinitely would represent an unsustainable loss.

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What price recovery?

Crashing prices and Ebola blighted the economy. Now, hopes are pinned on the mining sector for a much-needed rebirth

Flattened by an Ebola epidemic, the crash in world iron prices and serial mismanagement in its mining companies, Sierra Leone's economy is in intensive care. On 15 March, the day a...


Darfur votes under fire

A referendum is supposed to decide the form of government for the region but few doubt Khartoum will decide the outcome

For Khartoum, the Darfur referendum due on 11-13 April will officially conclude the Doha peace process and 'prove' that the war in the far west is over. In fact, Khartoum has barre...


Clearing decks and debts

Hopes are high for a debt-repayment package, the next step on the road to new credit and investment but key reforms will be necessary

Zimbabwe has approached Algeria for US$900 million to help clear its debt-repayment arrears, financial sources in Harare have told Africa Confidential. Zimbabwe owes $1.8 billion t...


The shoo-in is booed off

The voters knew what they didn't want – the old President's placeman. But do they know what they are getting instead?

The winner of the presidential election, business tycoon Patrice Talon, remains a cipher as the impact of his unexpected victory sinks in and the public wonders what changes he may...


Old problems for Sisi’s new faces

There are ten new ministers in the cabinet but they face the same persistent difficulties as their predecessors

The government feels it needs to show a new face when it presents its programme – as required by the new constitution – to parliament on 27 March. President Abdel Fattah el Sisi re...


Stop-go Simandou

The President is trying to keep up hope for the massive iron mine even though its value has been written down by $1 billion

Guinea's recently re-elected President Alpha Condé has adopted a conciliatory tone towards mining company Rio Tinto over its sluggish development of the Simandou iron-ore mine, des...


Little rain on Bongo's parade

A series of defections leaves the President reliant on close family, cronies and poll manipulation

The temperature of the presidential election campaign, which is due in August, has risen by several degrees this month after squabbles erupted in the ruling Parti démocratique gabo...


Reshuffle and a long goodbye

A raft of new cabinet appointments has reignited suspicion that President Koroma may be planning to stay on beyond the end of his second term 

President Ernest Bai Koroma named 13 new ministers and deputy ministers, some of them his most devoted and hardline supporters, on 14 March in Freetown. One Freetown daily dubbed t...



Pointers

General's quarters

The government has revoked the appointment of the former transitional Prime Minister, General Yacouba Isaac Zida, as Ambassador to the United States over corruption allegations. A ...


Issoufou woos

From the lofty vantage point of his 92.5% victory in the presidential election on 20 March, President Mahamadou Issoufou is offering opposition members government places. Having bo...


POW row heals

President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh has been trying to capitalise on obtaining the release of four Djiboutian soldiers from Eritrean custody after mediation by Qatar. He hopes it will h...


Shein's tarnished win

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi finally got the electoral victory it wanted in Zanzibar after widespread intimidation, ballot-stuffing and an opposition boycott in the 21 March re-r...