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Published 16th February 2007

Vol 48 No 4


South Africa

Raining on the parade

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Heated arguments about crime and unemployment draw attention away from the government's economic successes

Cape Town was gripped by a heat wave with temperatures soaring into the high 30s, in the days leading up to the opening of parliament on 9 February and President Thabo Mbeki's state of the nation address. But on the day, the weather changed and it rained heavily on the political fashionistas in all their splendour. Spirits were hardly dampened, least of all those of sacked Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who was given red carpet treatment by Speaker Baleka Mbete of the kind usually accorded to visiting heads of state. As the television cameras zoomed in, Zuma greeted Mbeki with improbable warmth and enthusiasm. Mbeki's speech had some confessional moments, conceding that his government has not made the progress it hoped for in cutting poverty.


Toxic traffic

As oil trader Trafigura pledges to pay the Ivorian government CFA 100 billion (US$198 million) in compensation for a deadly toxic spill last August, Africa Confidential has uncover...


Winner takes (almost) all

The President's party has grabbed the top jobs for itself and those who are left out are angry

The new government, formed by Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga on 5 February, began in deep trouble. President Joseph Kabila's Alliance de la Majorité Présidentielle (A...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

President Jacques Chirac and Françafrique will take a bow this week at the Cannes summit, which will attract some 40 African leaders. Some leaders just wish to bid a tearful farewell to Chirac and the old patronage system that oiled business deals in Africa and political parties in France. Others will search for clues about presidential contenders Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal. On their obligatory campaign stops in Africa last year, their main interest lay in stopping illegal immigrati...
President Jacques Chirac and Françafrique will take a bow this week at the Cannes summit, which will attract some 40 African leaders. Some leaders just wish to bid a tearful farewell to Chirac and the old patronage system that oiled business deals in Africa and political parties in France. Others will search for clues about presidential contenders Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal. On their obligatory campaign stops in Africa last year, their main interest lay in stopping illegal immigration. Although Sarkozy’s mentor was Charles Pasqua, a Françafrique veteran, he distanced himself by visiting Mali and Benin, two of Francophone Africa’s most democratic states. Then he laid down the law on cultural integration back home: ‘When you live in France, you respect her republican rules, you don’t practice polygamy, circumcise your daughters or slaughter sheep in your bathroom.’ The more liberal Royal, born in Senegal, promises to promote solar energy projects in Africa and reform France’s foreign aid system. Neither talks about the running diplomatic battles between Paris and Kigali or Abidjan, nor Sudan’s destabilisation of French allies, Chad and Central African Republic. De non-ingérence à indifférence, peut-être.
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Kabila's yes-men

The overstuffed government has 60 members: six ministers of state, 34 ministers and 20 deputy ministers. The presidential alliance takes 18 places, 15 of those for President Joseph...


Muluzi on the record

In Britain for a month, former President Bakili Muluzi tells Africa Confidential about his political plans

Malawian attitudes to former President Bakili Muluzi are still mixed but President Bingu wa Mutharika insists that he is still a 'good friend'. His Deputy Information Minister, Joh...


Odinga and the Oranges

The opposition alliance shows its fault-lines as it tries to choose a flagbearer

Until this month, Raila Amolo Odinga's presidential plans were progressing well. As a workaholic activist, Odinga believed he had the public profile and national base to emerge as ...


Conté goes another round

The appointment of a presidential ally as new prime minister has worsened the confrontation on the streets

More than 60 deaths during the January general strike failed to soften President Lansana Conté who is embroiled in another - perhaps terminal - round of confrontation with h...


Women in power

Who are the women vying for the top jobs in the African National Congress, and what are their chances?

The National Assembly has 131 female members out of 400, up from just 12 before the 1994 elections. This places South Africa twelfth in the global league of female parliamentary re...


Senegal Elections 2007

Turnout was high across Senegal, with early results giving the President a lead and indicating a strong showing by the formerly governing Parti Socialiste

Voting was colourful in the city of Thies, 70 km to the east of Dakar and Senegal's second most populous city. Men and women, young and old, turned out after mosque prayers in thei...


Ethnic alarums

More than most countries, Kenya's politics is about winning over ethnic constituencies and building powerful coalitions. Recently, Kenyans have heard warnings about the dangers of ...


The commanders confer

Darfur's rebel commanders are to meet and hammer out a common position ahead of a new round of peace talks

The Darfur rebel commanders' conference may have taken weeks to become reality but it is increasingly seen as a necessary stage if peace is to return to the region. Outside Darfur,...


Shuffling the deckchairs

Ministers may change but economic policy still defies reality, as the currency crashes

A 'fusion of new and old blood' to reinvigorate the economy was President Robert Mugabe's hopeful description of his cabinet reshuffle on 6 February. His real economy chief, Reserv...



Pointers

Anniversary boycott

Too many Ghanaians suspect that their judges administer the law in favour of the New Patriotic Party government. Their mistrust was increased by the gaoling for ten years of Daniel...


China in Chambeshi

Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the Copperbelt was cancelled at the last minute amid reports that several hundred miners working for the Chinese-owned Non Ferrous Corporatio...


SWAPO splinters

Senior officials in the governing South West African People's Organisation accuse supporters of leader and founding President Sam Nujoma of rigging party elections and harassing op...


Buying time

Irregular war-time army recruits mutinied in five towns in early February in a protest over pay. President Laurent Gbagbo has bought some time, but may not have enough cash to reso...