Jump to navigation

Published 3rd October 2008

Vol 49 No 20


South Africa

A wounded presidency

President Motlanthe has a tough mandate: to heal a broken party and hold back an economic downturn

The soft-spoken Kgalema Motlanthe, elevated from the Deputy Presidency of the African National Congress to the Presidency of South Africa, faces a tough job. Amid bitterness, Thabo Mbeki was forced to resign, taking half the cabinet with him.The party’s divisions are deepening still further; world markets are jittery – but at least the gold price is up.


'Elder brother' Motlanthe

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

View site

He may have preferred to coach Bafana Bafana, but Kgalema Motlanthe is now Acting President of South Africa

In 1997, the quiet, unassuming but cerebral Kgalema Motlanthe was nominated by the left wing of the African National Congress tripartite alliance as ANC General Secretary, as a pro...


Would be breakaway

The ousting of Thabo Mbeki has divided the ANC

Baleka Mbete, Chairwoman of the African National Congress, says: ‘anybody who is thinking of going off and forming another party is wasting their energy’. Gwede Mantashe, the ANC’s...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

An unexpected unity of purpose has emerged in the international reaction to General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s 6 August putsch in Mauritania against elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. The United States, France and the Arab League all back the African Union’s ultimatum to Gen. Mohamed’s junta: restore constitutional rule by 6 October or face sweeping economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Gen. Mohamed rejected the AU’s demand and threatens to try President Sidi Abdallahi for hi...
An unexpected unity of purpose has emerged in the international reaction to General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s 6 August putsch in Mauritania against elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. The United States, France and the Arab League all back the African Union’s ultimatum to Gen. Mohamed’s junta: restore constitutional rule by 6 October or face sweeping economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Gen. Mohamed rejected the AU’s demand and threatens to try President Sidi Abdallahi for high treason. The AU’s efforts are led by two Algerians, Commissioner for Peace & Security Ramtane Lamamra and UN Representative in West Africa and ex-AU Commissioner Said Djinnit. They have led the pressure on Gen. Mohamed and are trying to devise a face-saving exit for the putschists. One possible sanctuary would be Morocco, which has maintained diplomatic support for the junta in defiance of its fellow African states. Some suspect a deal between the Mauritanian junta and the Kingdom on Western Sahara. Others say there are blood ties with Morocco’s ruling elite. Alone among Europeans, Spain recognises the junta, having reached a lucrative accord on fishing rights with it. Given the AU’s overwhelming reluctance to use force in anywhere bigger than Comoros, Nouakchott’s defiance will be a practical test of the AU’s political will and the efficacy of sanctions and diplomatic ostracism.
Read more

Next, the economic battle

Even if the politics fare well, foreign economic support is both essential and uncertain

The much-talked of US$1 billion rescue package for Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government is an illusion, according to British, United States and World Bank officials. There is no...


Prime Minister departs

Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga's departure could strengthen President Joseph Kabila's hand, but not for the better

Admission of failure The resignation of Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga Fundji on 25 September launches a battle for succession that will probably strengthen President Joseph Kabila...


Financial and political chaos

As equities and corporate fortunes plummeted outside, diplomats discussed aid pledges and peackeeping

After a year of the worsening credit crisis, the cost of external finance for African and other states has risen and the availability of credit is shrinking. That is doubly unlucky...


All my friends in New York

Madam President addresses the UN General Assembly

Life in Liberia is gradually improving, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the United Nations' General Assembly to some applause on 23 September. The economy has been getting st...


Politicians parley, people starve

Negotiations between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and Movement for Democratic Change have been deadlocked for the past month over five key ministries: Inform...


Forest contracts review

The government is reviewing forestry concessions and Greenpeace produces a report that shows

Congo-Kinshsasa's government is to reform the controversial forestry sector. On 30 July, an interministerial commission, Le Commission Interministérielle de Conversion des A...


The Millennium stops here

The Millennium Goals remain elusive and controversial

After five days of grand summitry in New York last week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was able to announce that US$16 billion had been raised in aid pledges to help...


Farms are the key

John Robertson, an economic consultant, says any recovery must start by restoring previous levels of agricultural productivity. 'They have destroyed the farming sector and shown no...


Another ethnic scramble

A well-intentioned reform threatens the country's regional parties and alliances

The political parties are waking up to the potentially ruinous implications of the new Political Parties Act. Passed into law in the run-up to last year's ill-fated general electio...


Graft never really went away

Revelations of grand corruption in mining and shipping contracts embarrass the government

Liberia's government, foreign diplomats and United Nations officials say that Liberia is a nation reborn. War is over, corruption is being rooted out and under the two-and-half yea...



Pointers

Alarmed allies

The United States government's facility for ignoring the crimes of its allies in the 'Global War on Terror' is again being challenged, this time from the inside. On 22 September,...


Spreading toxicity

A new round of legal action against local and foreign companies accused of dumping toxic waste in Côte d'Ivoire which killed 16 people in 2006 could have serious political an...


Arms and the boys

Somalia's pirates are busy guarding the 33 Ukrainian tanks and other equipment captured on the MV Faina on 25 September. United States' naval vessels surround the ship and the Rus...