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Published 10th June 2005

Vol 46 No 12

South Africa

Corruption and conviction

A 15-year gaol sentence for the Deputy President's advisor tests the government's accountability and its unity

Text message jokes were flashing across South Africa this week. 'Jacob Zuma and Schabir Shaik are together in a car. Who's driving?' Answer: 'The Police!' This debunking of Jacob Gedleyhlekisa Zuma, heir apparent and one of South Africa's most popular politicians, would have been unthinkable just months ago. But the conviction and sentencing of Zuma's Financial Advisor, Schabir Shaik, on 8 June on three counts of corruption and fraud has raised new doubts about the Deputy President's judgement and his actions. At the heart of the eight-month Shaik trial was an investigation into allegations of corruption linked to South Africa's US$6 billion arms procurement deal. During that investigation in 2003, Zuma denied that he had sought a bribe from the French company, Thales, now known as Thomson CSF. That point was a key element in the state's case against Shaik, and Judge Hilary Squires concluded that Shaik had in fact solicited a bribe on behalf of Zuma.

Marc and the miners

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Washington and the multinationals give Ravalomanana's team a boost

Multinational mining giant Rio Tinto is about to approve a US$500 million dollar investment in the Fort Dauphin region of south-eastern Madagascar. The resulting employment and eco...

Born again Stalinism

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President Guebuza combines liberal economics with hard-line politics

Treading the boards at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town last week, President Armando Guebuza, impressed the delegates as a witty and thoroughly modern business-minded reformer...

Hotel Hullaballoo

A lady, a hotel, a president and an old-fashioned political scandal

Gizelle Yazji, a Florida-based Iraqi financial consultant, claims that she negotiated the purchase of a US$3.5 million hotel in Accra's upmarket Airport district on behalf of Presi...

Soccer, Islam and hard times

Football riots and fears of terrorism are undermining ATT's reputation

Bamako is worried about security, and awaiting a cabinet reshuffle by President Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT). Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufi Maïga may not survive. Some c...

Blood over oil

Political mayhem follows the latest oil block awards in the Joint Development Zone

Ministerial resignations and dismissals in São Tomé and indignant denials of corruption in Nigeria follow the 31 May award of five blocks in the two countries' Joint ...

One law for the poor

The government that smashes unlawful small businesses is saved by unlawful currency deals

The government's willingness to use arbitrary force against poor Zimbabweans just after claiming a landslide election victory on 31 March suggests it thinks the country is much clo...

Brassed off: a contractor under fire

In the badlands of the Niger Delta a dispute over an oil-loading contract shows the often corrosive relationship between multinational oil companies, government officials and local...


Watergate, the sequel

A controversial US$143.5 million project to commercialise Tanzania's water and sewage system has ended in acrimony and political embarrassment for the World Bank and the British go...

Undiplomatic closure

Opposition is mounting to the British government's plans to close its embassy in Madagascar - just as the country is on the brink of securing major new mining and oil investments a...

Dominant Dominique

Reform of France's Africa policy has been set back with the sacking of Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and his replacement by a diplomatic novice, Philippe Douste-Blazy. The new Pr...

Factions and fractions

A bitter race looms for the Secretary Generalship of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at its national congress on 21-23 July in Serowe. A compromise offered by Vice-Presi...