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Published 6th June 2008

Vol 49 No 12


South Africa

Apartheid's awful legacy

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The murders of immigrants have their roots in poverty, xenophobia and the failure of political leadership

Violent rampages in townships and informal settlements have changed South Africa and the way the world sees it. Mobs have forced tens of thousands of migrants from other African countries into hiding or protected camps, killed 56 people, and looted goods worth millions of dollars. White people rarely encounter hostility but African migrants have for some years known and worried about just how unpopular they are. Africa and the world as a whole knew little about it. Many South Africans are doing fine humanitarian work for displaced migrants but the recent violence has broken the spell of the acclaimed 'Rainbow Nation'.


Bemba under arrest

It is convenient for President Kabila that his main opponent stands accused of war crimes

At least a couple of months must pass before Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo can be transferred from Belgium, where he was arrested on 24 May, to prison in the Netherlands. The arrest warr...


Paying the price

Economic troubles damage the governing party’s electoral chances in one of Africa’s most stable democracies

President John Agyekum Kufuor’s government faces new problems, both political and economic, as it prepares for national elections in December, when the President will step down. Ri...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa keeps a strong sense of irony despite the efforts of its more crass politicians. It reached new heights in the past week of summitry in Japan, Italy and South Africa. First came Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir, who opened a conference session on ‘good governance and consolidating peace’ at the Japan-Africa summit on 29 May, a week after he sent troops to destroy Abyei in the disputed North-South border area. Field Marshal Omer’s address on the rule of law followed international calls to...
Africa keeps a strong sense of irony despite the efforts of its more crass politicians. It reached new heights in the past week of summitry in Japan, Italy and South Africa. First came Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir, who opened a conference session on ‘good governance and consolidating peace’ at the Japan-Africa summit on 29 May, a week after he sent troops to destroy Abyei in the disputed North-South border area. Field Marshal Omer’s address on the rule of law followed international calls to Khartoum to hand over two of its senior officials indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Then came President Mugabe’s address on 3 June extolling his policy successes to the emergency United Nations summit in Rome on the global food crisis. Four days earlier his Social Welfare Minister, Nicholas Goche, had banned the distribution of food aid in Masvingo province and other areas by Care International because it was helping the opposition. In Cape Town at the World Economic Forum on 4 June, host Klaus Schwab suggested that speakers start by discussing concerns about Africa. ‘Let’s focus on the positives,’ implored South Africa’s President Mbeki. Then Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga asked how it was that Zimbabwe’s government could delay the release of election results for four weeks while the region’s leaders stayed silent. His question was greeted with… well, regional leaders’ silence.
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A last chance reshuffle

Three days after announcing his economic package, President John Kufuor completed his much-delayed reshuffle. Kwamena Bartels was the main casualty, after less than a year as Inter...


Change in Chikomba

About 150 kilometres south of Harare, Chikomba District has long been the home base of the ruling party’s power elite. These days, however, it shows the same political schisms seen...


The cracks spread

Rifts in the Unity Government become public but the Northern opposition again fails to seize its chance

The political aftershock of the attacks on Omdurman and Abyei is spreading. Most dramatically, Southern President Salva Kiir Mayardit has condemned the government in which his Suda...


Quiet President, worried country

Umaru Yar’Adua is short on leadership – just when Nigeria needs it

There was little fanfare for Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s first anniversary as Nigeria’s President on 29 May. His quiet leadership infuriates his opponents and bewilders those accustomed ...


Off with their heads

Impatience with democracy, not fear of a coup, seems to lie behind the arrest of opposition leaders

President Bingu wa Mutharika boasts that he is a disciple of founding President Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Indeed, he has picked up the old autocrat’s authoritarianism without his tact...


Biya's purge

The President is about to sack some selected ministers for corruption but that won’t end the problem

Corruption scandals have become a handy way for President Paul Biya to brighten his image ahead of the 2011 presidential election. They allow him to boost his credentials for the ...


Fighting democracy – Mugabe's last stand

No matter how President Robert Mugabe does his sums, the odds are against him if there is a credible rerun of the presidential election on 27 June

More than 50 opposition supporters have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the first round. On 4 June, police briefly arrested the likely winner, Morgan Tsvangirai, ...


Locked up

The following have been arrested and charged, or expect to be charged, with treason in connection with an alleged coup plot. All except Bakili Muluzi and Humphrey Mvula were arrest...


Once more the President's man

A consensus premier is fired and the old guard’s man gets the job

He was supposed to be a consensus Prime Minister but he did not last long. Lansana Kouyaté, appointed in February 2007, after bloodshed and strikes had almost toppled President Lan...



Pointers

Sanctions and standards

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials are concerned whether the Zimbabwe operations of London-based Standard Chartered Bank violate European Union sanctions, acco...


Correction

In AC Vol 49 No 11, in the article on Dijibouti/Eritrea, we incorrectly stated that Eritrea had severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. In fact, we had intended to refer to Ethiopia’s ...


Mawere against Mugabe

One of Zimbabwe’s most strident businessmen, Mutumwa Mawere, is winning his long battle for compensation with President Robert Mugabe’s regime over the ownership of his company Afr...


Diamond horror

On 24 May, Kinshasa recalled ‘for consultations’ its Ambassador in Brussels, Jean-Pierre Mutamba, and (to the horror of the diamond trade) closed its Antwerp consulate. Later, it c...