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Published 16th March 2007

Vol 48 No 6


Zimbabwe

Beware the Ides of March

Some of President Robert Mugabe's oldest allies want him to leave – but who will play Brutus?

By overreacting to an opposition demonstration and savagely beating its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the police in Harare served their master badly. President Robert Mugabe was already under stiff pressure within his own ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. He now risks losing the lingering sympathy of his few remaining foreign friends, and in particular of South Africa and others in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), who have so far kept his country's tottering economy from final collapse. Ghana's President and African Union Chairman John Kufuor said in London on 14 March that the AU found Zimbabwe's crisis embarrassing and was committed to finding a solution.


Soft sell at 50

Half a century after Kwame Nkrumah, pan-Africanism and military coups, the Black Star has a chance to reinvent itself

The first round of celebrations of 50 years of Independence from Britain was a modest success although many Ghanaians lament that the government has not made the most of the histor...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

At first sight, it must be one of the least promising political campaigns ever. This week, we report on a movement to get individuals and companies to pay their tax and stop using offshore tax havens (see article Tax havens: Financial secrecy - profits from the laundry). The tax justice campaigners want to move the corruption debate from concentrating on corrupt African officials as lead players to the ‘supply-side’ of graft, the companies which operate vast mispricing trade schemes and siph...
At first sight, it must be one of the least promising political campaigns ever. This week, we report on a movement to get individuals and companies to pay their tax and stop using offshore tax havens (see article Tax havens: Financial secrecy - profits from the laundry). The tax justice campaigners want to move the corruption debate from concentrating on corrupt African officials as lead players to the ‘supply-side’ of graft, the companies which operate vast mispricing trade schemes and siphon off profits through tax-havens. They may have an unlikely ally in World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. In Ghana this week, he said more attention would have to be paid to big corporations’ involvement in corrupt transactions if the Bank’s anti-graft effort is to succeed. Until now, the Bank has encouraged governments to cut taxes to attract inward investment. That may change now: new estimates show Africa could be losing as much as US$150 billion a year from the combined effects of trade mispricing together with corruption and tax avoidance schemes. That is more than ten times the foreign aid and foreign investment flowing to Africa; repatriating just a quarter of it would be a huge boost to the continent’s savings and investment rates.
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Peacekeepers under fire

Ethiopia is withdrawing its troops but the transitional government is yet to start serious reconciliation efforts

The Ugandan troops who have arrived in Mogadishu did little to stop the shooting. There were 1,300 of them, the first contingent of the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom), a...


Measuring the dirty money

Transparency International estimates that Africa's political elites and their foreign business allies hold US$700-800 billion in offshore accounts - outside Africa. These transacti...


Which clan is in charge now?

The two most powerful clans in southern Somalia are the Habr Gidir/Hawiye and the Darod (each with its own sub-clans). Habr Gidir elders and sheikhs led the Islamic Courts Union (I...


Referee in a tug-of-war

The technocratic President is battling to keep her reforms on track and to outplay the kleptocrats and nationalists

Monrovia's political tug-of-war is getting tougher and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is in the middle as reluctant arbiter and sole referee. At one end of the rope, Liberia's pol...


Can the trees be saved?

The destruction of Congo's 110 million hectare forest could transform the climate of Africa – and the world

Congo's rainforest covers 110 million hectares, twice the size of France. Cutting it down, as the Amazon jungle across the Atlantic is being cut down, could transform the climate o...


Financial secrecy

A campaign is beginning to stem the flow of dirty money from Africa to Western banks

Eva Joly, the Norwegian-born French magistrate who broke open the Elf Aquitaine affair in Paris - which involved oil-fired corruption in Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Angola (AC Vol...



Pointers

The kidnap mystery

The kidnap of hostages, Ethiopian and British, on 1 March was apparently the first operation of the Afar National Democratic Front (ANDF). It was a mistake. The original plan was t...


The thirsty wait for water

Over 25,000 displaced people from Darfur have signed a petition calling for United Nations' peackeepers to come and protect them. They call for an end to violence, the advent of de...


Muluzi the Third

Ex-President Bakili Muluzi finally announced, to a large rally of his United Democratic Front on 11 March, that he will be its candidate for the 2009 presidential election. On 10 F...


Discontent in the air

The facade sometimes cracks. Angola's state media habitually promote the governing Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) but, for two hours on 12 March, R&...