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Published 17th November 2006

Vol 47 No 23


Zimbabwe

Surreal succession

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Party factions jostle for power, fearing that Mugabe's departure will be worse than his presidency

Robert Mugabe's government has presided for the past five years over the world's fastest shrinking economy - and achieved the world's worst mortality rates. Yet the main argument at the ruling party's annual conference on 14-17 December is about whether the President will retire in 2008 or 2010. A belated agenda will be announced by John Nkomo, Chairman of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and the party Spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira. The party is divided and the various factions are manoeuvring for President Mugabe's much-postponed succession. Onlookers must unravel elaborate codes and historical postures. A quick decision is needed on whether to postpone the presidential election from March 2008 until 2010, when parliamentary elections are due. Simultaneous elections are neat, because the same party is likely to win both - as ZANU-PF has done since 1980.


After the results

If accepted, President Kabila's win offers a chance for Congo to consolidate its political settlement and to develop its mineral resources.

The streets of Kinshasa were eerily quiet for hours on 15 November after the Commission Electorale Indépendente (CEI) had announced that Joseph Kabila had won the second rou...


Breaking the arms embargo

A UN investigation shows how foreign suppliers of arms and fighters are fuelling a regional conflagration

Ethiopia and Eritrea are the leading African states breaking the United Nations arms embargo on Somalia, according to an experts' report to the Security Council on 15 November. The...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

South Africa’s Pieter Wilhelm Botha, who died on 31 October aged 90, had a comfortable retirement. Having presided over one of the world’s most repressive states, developed nuclear weapons in collaboration with Israel, invaded neighbouring states and helped perpetuate wars in Angola and Mozambique killing hundreds of thousands, die Groot Krokidil resigned in 1989. When he dies seventeen years later, he gets a generous obituary from Nelson Mandela, and President Thabo Mbeki attends his funeral. ...
South Africa’s Pieter Wilhelm Botha, who died on 31 October aged 90, had a comfortable retirement. Having presided over one of the world’s most repressive states, developed nuclear weapons in collaboration with Israel, invaded neighbouring states and helped perpetuate wars in Angola and Mozambique killing hundreds of thousands, die Groot Krokidil resigned in 1989. When he dies seventeen years later, he gets a generous obituary from Nelson Mandela, and President Thabo Mbeki attends his funeral. Their judgement was that prosecuting Botha would have undermined national reconciliation. A decade ago, former US Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker told a conference on Zimbabwe in Washington that President Robert Mugabe should be given a ‘soft landing’. Mugabe, Crocker argued, had been helpful to the USA by granting asylum to Ethiopia’s ousted leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. Today, Crocker’s proposal would be unthinkable in Washington but African politicians have mooted a similar plan to save the country from political conflagration. Yet even as the crisis deepens, no one in the ruling ZANU-PF wants to be first to propose such a plan in public.
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An outsider moves up the list

Ruling party insiders suggest that Governor Umaru Musa Yar'Adua could win the presidential nomination

Intrigue, speculation, betrayal and disappointment marked the run-up to the 17 November deadline for submission of nomination papers to compete to be the ruling People's Democratic...


Digging a black hole

As the oil price soars, nuclear power is back in fashion and the uranium to fuel it booms, the speculators get to work

The quoted price for uranium was recently just US$8 per pound. Now it is above US$60. David Miller, a geologist and market analyst, reckons that could double until new uranium proj...


Sekibo and the drones

With President Olusegun Obasanjo's sacking of Transport Minister Abiye Sekibo on 6 October, the row over the 215 million euro (US$275.5 mn.) contract to supply aerial drones for th...



Pointers

All property is theft

Disclosures about the business affairs of Teodorin Nguema Obiang, eldest son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, have boosted Malabo oppositionists and embarrassed big oil ...


Turki's landing

Sheikh Hassan Abdullah Hamid Turki, leading radical in Somalia's Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC) and high on the United States' terrorist list, is reported to have been wound...


Carpet crossing

Opposition parties are cheering the Constitutional Court's 8 November ruling in favour of restrictions on MPs trying to change their party allegiance after election.


Vila Algarve

The building which was the headquarters of torture and abuse by Portugal's secret police, is to be a centre for Mozambique's highest legal association, Ordem dos Advogados, in a re...