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Published 8th February 2019

Vol 60 No 3


Glitches in the growth

Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019
Copyright © Africa Confidential 2019

A pan-African market will boost the region but governments are lagging behind on policies to create jobs and diversify the economies

When African Union leaders meet in Addis Ababa to ratify the continent's free trade area on 9-10 February, it will be against a backdrop of gloomy forecasts about global economic trends. In part, that environment has added urgency for the regional economic communities to speed up policy convergence between members states and encourage investors into these expanded markets. For African policy-makers three international developments stand out this year. First, United States-China trade tensions, which could still escalate into longer-term disruption, are slowing down trade and pushing down commodity prices. But some advocates of de-globalisation, with some desperation, argue that it might encourage more Chinese and US investment in other regions including Africa.

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The President's anger

Kenyatta’s frustration with the slowness of change is visible as he looks to his legacy and Ruto ponders the next election

For a leader who has tamed the political ambitions of the main opposition party and brought it to support his government's national unity and development agenda, President Uhuru Ke...


Anglo at a turning point

The mining behemoth’s fortunes are improving just as Vedanta makes clear its takeover ambitions

As mining investors and managers gathered for the annual Mining Indaba in Cape Town on 4 February the talk was of little else but the rumour that Anglo American might finally depar...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

A year into his presidency and a quarter century after the first free elections in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has to strike a balance in his State of the Nation address to parliament on 7 February. On the one hand he wants to assure people that the investigative commissions into grand corruption under his predecessor will result in prosecutions of senior officials in the governing African National Congress.

On the other, Ramaphosa has to contend with the supporters of ex-...

A year into his presidency and a quarter century after the first free elections in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has to strike a balance in his State of the Nation address to parliament on 7 February. On the one hand he wants to assure people that the investigative commissions into grand corruption under his predecessor will result in prosecutions of senior officials in the governing African National Congress.

On the other, Ramaphosa has to contend with the supporters of ex-President Jacob Zuma, such as ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule, who have a grip on the party machinery. Not only do Zuma's acolytes issue statements calculated to undermine Ramaphosa, they have worked hard to ensure strong representation on the ANC's parliamentary list. This should guarantee a strong lobby for Zuma in the new parliament after national elections in May. The ANC is forecast to get at least 55% of the vote. Any less would weaken Ramaphosa's authority.

Also, Ramaphosa will tread carefully on his plans to restructure and unbundle Eskom, the power utility, ahead of the elections. His backers in the trade unions have already spelled out their opposition to privatisation. He will have to give assurances on jobs as his government restructures so many state companies. But most of all, people expect a coherent statement on the government's land reform and its provisions for expropriation without compensation.

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Mountains to climb

The success of the Prime Minister’s reforms depends on how he manages intricate regional and ethnic power struggles

Abiy Ahmed was one of the star attractions at the Davos circus. Yet after leaving the World Economic Forum with the applause ringing in his ears, more down-to-earth political machi...


President says au revoir

Abdel Aziz looks ready to stand down, but he is keeping a tight rein on power and may yet decide to return

The announcement that Defence Minister Mohamed Ould Cheikh el Ghazouani is to be the ruling Union pour la République (UPR) candidate in this year's presidential elections ha...


A party at war

A ferocious fight lies ahead for President Masisi as his predecessor mobilises to oust him from the top of the ruling party

Ex-President Ian Khama's anger at his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, is so strong that he is backing a rival candidate to remove him from the leadership of the ruling Bots...


Errors of judgement

The row over the President’s suspension of the Chief Justice raises doubts over the conduct of this month’s elections

Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari on 25 January, is fighting for his professional life in a partisan battle that casts a shadow over presidenti...


Eight years of transition

As established parties gear up for elections later this year, Premier Chahed's new party hopes to offer a credible alternative

Two distinct narratives dominate the political landscape eight years after President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia as the Arab Spring erupted. One relates to the par...


A day of portents

The inauguration of the new president witnessed incidents that gave a foretaste of the kind of regime the country can look forward to

The day – 24 January – of Congo-Kinshasa's first peaceful handover of power since independence in 1960, was full of signs and omens. One of them was the sight of young ...



Pointers

Diplomatic differences

After a fallow period for the African Union's regional diplomacy, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat, has been working hard to restore its prestige an...


From bullet to ballot

Nearly 18 months after suspected government gunmen poured 40 bullets into Tundu Lissu, MP, outside the National Assembly in Dodoma, the most persistent thorn in the side of Preside...