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Published 9th January 2009

Vol 50 No 1


A new landscape unfolds

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Changes in South African politics will reverberate across the region in a year of economic tumult

SOUTH AFRICA: Mosiuoa 'Terror' Lekota's COPE takes on Zuma and the ANC With general elections coming up and the world recession pressing down, South Africa faces a new political scene. Firstly, who will lead the governing African National Congress to the polls? Secondly, how well will the new, breakaway Congress of the People do (AC Vol 49 No 25)? COPE’s future depends on whether ANC President Jacob Zuma survives to lead the campaign for the national presidency and parliamentary dominance. COPE reckons that, with Zuma at the head of the ANC, its chance of an electoral breakthrough is good. The December meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee decided not to have Zuma’s face on the party’s election materials, to focus on the ‘brand’ rather than on any individual. COPE has unveiled what it calls a ‘New Progressive Agenda’ (or ‘New Way’) to reinvigorate political life. With similar ideas, ex-President Thabo Mbeki tried, and failed, to modernise the ANC.


The end game speeds up

Six Zimbabweans make diverse predictions about economic and political developments in the year ahead but agree on the main problem

THE CIVIC SOCIETY ACTIVIST The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will reject the agreement brokered by South African ex-President Thabo Mbeki and no inclusive government will b...


Whiskey doubles all round

All of North Africa’s leaders will have something to celebrate in 2009, even if the majority of their populations won’t

North Africa’s leaders are among the longest-serving in the world and the most immune to democratic impulses. In comparison, Africa south of the Sahara with its multiparty election...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Ghana’s cliff-hanger elections and another successful transition start Africa’s year on a positive note. It left those who had been predicting mayhem puzzling why Ghana failed to follow Kenya’s descent last year into chaos after a similarly close-run and disputed election. The answers, Ghanaians say, are in their political traditions, the credibility of the electoral commission and the local media’s vigilance. Yet some senior figures in the main parties still favoured fighting out the electi...
Ghana’s cliff-hanger elections and another successful transition start Africa’s year on a positive note. It left those who had been predicting mayhem puzzling why Ghana failed to follow Kenya’s descent last year into chaos after a similarly close-run and disputed election. The answers, Ghanaians say, are in their political traditions, the credibility of the electoral commission and the local media’s vigilance. Yet some senior figures in the main parties still favoured fighting out the election on the streets. Politicians across Africa are studying Ghana’s vote closely ahead of more than 20 elections due in 2009. Doubtless, the defeat of a previously popular governing party reflects the effects of last year’s rocketing food and fuel prices and concern about jobs. These will matter hugely in Southern Africa’s six elections this year, particularly in South Africa, where the governing ANC faces a challenge from a party of ANC dissidents. And for the first time, the economic and political chaos in Zimbabwe will be a major issue for voters in the region. That might bolster moves by the ruling ZANU-PF hierarchy finally to edge out President Mugabe. Further north in Algeria, Congo-Brazzaville, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Niger and Sudan, elections this year are unlikely to be harbingers of change: for those incumbent regimes, the vote will be a masquerade behind which the real politics continues.
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Courts and killings

Regional leaders face a new impetus from Africa and beyond to bring political murderers to account this

SUDAN: Vulnerable but dangerous A tumultuous political year will begin with the International Criminal Court’s expected issuing of an arrest warrant for President Omer Hassan Ahm...


Before and after the voting

Ghana’s close-fought but well-run election will set a new standard for competitive politics in Africa

NIGERIA: Reform and unrest The Supreme Court’s validation of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s contentious 2007 election victory will do little to stabilise Nigeria’s fractious poli...


Old wounds, new crises

Falling commodity prices and failing politicians will make a dangerous combination this year

CONGO-KINSHASA: Talking to Nkunda – and Kigali No ceasefire was arranged at the latest negotiations in December between the Kinshasa government and General Laurent Nkunda’s rebel...


Two and a half cheers for democracy

Ghanaians show the rest of Africa how it can be done

Ghanaians start the year with a collective sigh of relief that the close-run parliamentary and presidential elections did not descend into political mayhem (AC Vol 49 No 25). The v...