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Published 22nd February 2019

Vol 60 No 4


Nigeria

Drama in the delay

Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina 15 February 2019 Pic: Guo Jun/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina 15 February 2019 Pic: Guo Jun/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Accusations of malfeasance and conspiracy follow the last-minute postponement of the national elections

In an election campaign that has failed to capture the nation's imagination, the announcement that voting would be delayed by a week, less than six hours before it was due to start, marked one of its more exciting points. Even now, there are many election experts, some with the foreign observer missions, who doubt that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is prepared for the new date of 23 February. INEC blamed problems with logistics and bad weather for the delay. Dropping biometric card readers and associated electronics and ballot papers for 84 million registered voters in 179,000 polling units is a formidable operation, but it's unclear why INEC waited so long to make its announcement.


Governors get set

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As the states demand more power from the creaking federal system, the governorship races are getting closer and more important

When the world shifts its attention away from Nigeria's headline-making presidential election, the country's provincial politicians will be shifting into high gear. On 9 March, Nig...


Macky wants first round KO

Having virtually obliterated the opposition, the President is banking on winning the poll in the first round

President Macky Sall may be about to pick up an unlikely gift from an old foe. In protest at the exclusion of his son Karim as a presidential candidate – because of an unpaid...



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THE INSIDE VIEW

The gargantuan numbers aside – state power company Eskom has unserviceable debts of 420 billion rand (US$30bn) – the most pressing equation in South Africa's budget is a political one. Ahead of national elections on 8 May, President Cyril Ramaphosa has to balance public demands for better services and more jobs with fixing gaping financial holes in the state sector and taking on enough new loans without overwhelming the economy.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, whose enthusi...

The gargantuan numbers aside – state power company Eskom has unserviceable debts of 420 billion rand (US$30bn) – the most pressing equation in South Africa's budget is a political one. Ahead of national elections on 8 May, President Cyril Ramaphosa has to balance public demands for better services and more jobs with fixing gaping financial holes in the state sector and taking on enough new loans without overwhelming the economy.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, whose enthusiasm for market economics has grown exponentially in the past two decades, used his budget speech in parliament on 20 February to take another swipe at the country's ailing state-owned enterprises, weighed down by mismanagement, corruption and debt. Yet he has promised Eskom a 69bn rand bail-out over the next three years funded by public spending cuts, including job cuts.

Most conventional responses to the crisis that Ramaphosa inherited from Jacob Zuma pointed to a hard-nosed austerity programme and fast-track prosecution of beneficiaries of the many financial scams in government and business. Ramaphosa has done neither, soft-pedalling on austerity to avoid alienating the country's hard-pressed population, and shying away from speedy prosecutions of party functionaries. Ramaphosa is particularly anxious to keep the support of the trade unions, which backed him in the 2017 leadership contest but are set to oppose any public sector job cuts.

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Shabaab fight in high gear

The Nairobi attack has sparked an intense new round of action by all the combatants in Somalia

The Al Shabaab conflict has reached a new level of intensity and bloodshed following the attack in Nairobi on 15 January in which 25 people, including four attackers, were killed. ...


Back to the future dollar

The Reserve Bank’s devaluation of its bond notes and surrogate currencies lays the ground for a new national currency

As food imports dwindle and oppositionists gear up for a fresh round of protests, the government has announced a radical shake-up to its currency regime to boost foreign reserves. ...

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All bets are off

Gbagbo’s probable reappearance on the political scene is not the only bombshell as the road opens to the 2020 elections

A fortnight of political drama in Côte d’Ivoire began on 26 January when President Alassane Dramane Ouattara and family appeared before a capacity crowd at the main sta...


Pushing Beshir towards the exit

As protesters keep up the pressure, diplomats are mulling an immunity from prosecution deal for Omer el Beshir to persuade him to quit

After over two months of demonstrations across the country and over 50 civilians killed by security forces, the resilience of the opposition is persuading some foreign governments ...


Cash in the cabinet

President Lungu has chosen not to dismiss a minister after police found millions of dollars’ worth of cash in his home

Two weeks after his arrest on corruption charges, Zambia's Infrastructure Minister Ronald Chitotela remains in President Edgar Lungu's cabinet. After a tip-off from the Anti-Corrup...



Pointers

Attacks spur ethnic violence

A wave of jihadist attacks and retaliatory measures by the army is shaking up politics and endangering social stability. Prime Minister Paul Kaba Tieba and his government resigned ...


Panic in the politburo

The arrest last weekend of Ndambi Guebuza, eldest son of ex-President Armando Guebuza, in connection with the US$2 billion hidden loans scandal has sent shock waves through the rul...