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Published 9th March 2018

Vol 59 No 5

South Africa

Zexit, Ramaphoria, then political landmines

The new President faces challenges from left and right as Julius Malema steals a march on the government over land reform

Weeks of good news for President Cyril Ramaphosa came to a grinding halt on 1 March when the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) outmanoeuvred him to win a parliamentary motion on the issue of expropriating land without compensation. A vote will now be held on whether or not to amend the constitution to allow the controversial measure. The EFF's tactical win reveals the new political landscape after the forced resignation of Jacob Zuma on 14 February.

Oromia on a knife edge

A bid by some in the ruling coalition to appoint an Oromo prime minister faces deep-seated opposition

The national crisis has entered an even more dangerous phase after a disputed parliamentary vote triggered another strike in Oromia, amid opposition concerns that the ruling party ...


Who goes first?

Map Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018
Map Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018

Timing is everything for top politicians waiting for clearer signals from the President before they launch their own campaigns

It was a clear enough announcement on 15 February from the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, that President Muhammadu Buhari would certainly seek a second term in...


Rex Tillerson, Washington's Secretary of State, started his swing on 6 March through Africa – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Nigeria and Chad – with a bellicose warning to China over its regional policy. Despite t...

Rex Tillerson, Washington's Secretary of State, started his swing on 6 March through Africa – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Nigeria and Chad – with a bellicose warning to China over its regional policy. Despite the billions of dollars from China that has been sluicing through Africa, Beijing was simply building up a coterie of client states according to Tillerson. Many of the Chinese loans would create dependency rather than development, he insisted. As a show of United States goodwill, Tillerson announced a US$533 million contribution towards famine relief in East Africa as he set off for Addis Ababa.

The real stakes of the Tillerson tour are security: strategic rivalry with China but also to boost regional counter-terrorism operations. Djibouti is the sharpest edge of the Washington-Beijing rivalry. Djibouti, which hosts US, Chinese, French, German and Japanese military bases, irritated Washington four years ago when it more than doubled the rent for the base. Djibouti's break with United Arab Emirates and its port company, DP World, further annoys Washington as President Omar Guelleh's government may hand over DP World's terminal at Doraleh to a Chinese company, according to speakers in Congress in Washington on 6 March.

Marine General Thomas Waldhauser told Congress that if China controls Doraleh, that would affect US capacity to run its base in Djibouti and resupply its ships. Washington was now far behind in a strategic race with Beijing in Africa, he added.

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Down the autocrat's alley

The government claims its political crackdown will boost growth. It's more likely to do the opposite

There has been a sea change in President Uhuru Kenyatta's political style. In a television interview last September, David Wakairu Murathe, the Jubilee Party Deputy Chairman and a ...

Not yet Team Ramaphosa

The new cabinet line-up shows signs of a fraught balancing of ANC factional interests

It may be Cyril Ramaphosa's first cabinet but it was not all of his making. That much was evident from the repeated delays in the announcement from the Union Buildings on the eveni...

Kabila's survival strategy

The President is brutally repressing dissent, ignoring and sometimes encouraging ethnic violence in a bid to prolong his rule

A leader determined to hold on to power against a growing band of opposition activists while militia fighters mobilise in the hinterland are all pushing Congo-Kinshasa closer to th...

Tax treaties 'made by the rich'

Poorer countries denounce the EU labelling some of them tax havens. Measures to curb taxation disputes are dismissed as 'prejudiced'

For some countries in Africa, being dubbed a 'tax haven' by Europeans is adding insult to injury. European Union finance ministers agreed a 'blacklist' and 'greylist' of tax havens...

New jihadist alliance strikes

The Islamist attack on the French embassy and military HQ in Ouagadougou left many asking questions about poor security

The 2 March terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou left the wall outside the French embassy riddled with bullet holes, partly wrecked the building of the État-major général des armées (E...


Flights of fancy

President Ernest Bai Koroma officially launched the Mamamah international airport project and associated 'airport city' for Freetown on 2 March, just in time to boost the prospects...

Abuja comes to Milan

Grandly billed by anti-graft lobbyists as the biggest corporate bribery trial in history, Italy's attempt to prosecute its national oil company ENI and Royal Dutch Shell for paying...

G5 unsure on role

The fraught process of raising finance for the G5 Sahel joint military task force cleared another hurdle on 23 February when a summit in Brussels raised cash pledges worth €12...

Any port in a storm

Both the structure and the timing of the deal between the United Arab Emirates' DP World and the Somaliland port of Berbera on 1 March raise big questions. The deal gives DP World ...