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Published 17th April 2009

Vol 50 No 8


South Africa

Zuma's surprise package

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The coming presidency will face the hard times with some unexpectedly right-wing measures and boosted security services

Jacob Zuma's inevitable ascent to the presidency has been achieved at considerable cost. The governing African National Congress has been absorbed for the last year in faction-fighting, dealing with defections, quashing Zuma's corruption charges and bullying the National Prosecution Authority to drop the case. The result was a legal mess: the NPA cited its receipt of illegal intercepts (see Pointer) as its reason for dropping the case but failed to explain why its top investigators had been working on the Zuma case for the past four years - unless they too were part of a political plot. For Zuma, it is mission accomplished. The main project now is to run the government.


It's the political economy, stupid!

The economy contracted in the first quarter of 2009 and South Africa is entering its first recession in 17 years. The South African Reserve Bank has cut its repo rate (the rate at ...


The Mills grind slowly

Under attack from his own party as well as the opposition, the President strives to shape his government

To mark his hundredth day in office on 17 April President John Evans Atta Mills gave his government eight out of ten for trying to fight corruption, protect citizens from armed rob...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden are maintaining a tradition of marine gangsterism that dates back to the 14th century, according to the journals of Moroccan traveller and scholar Ibn Battuta. Then as now international power relations were in flux. In 1991, the outgoing Republican administration under United States President George Bush bequeathed to Democratic President Bill Clinton a commitment to deploy troops to distribute aid and stabilise Somalia. In January 2009, another ou...
The pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden are maintaining a tradition of marine gangsterism that dates back to the 14th century, according to the journals of Moroccan traveller and scholar Ibn Battuta. Then as now international power relations were in flux. In 1991, the outgoing Republican administration under United States President George Bush bequeathed to Democratic President Bill Clinton a commitment to deploy troops to distribute aid and stabilise Somalia. In January 2009, another outgoing Republican administration under another President Bush bequeathed to another Democratic President, Barack Obama, a commitment to attack the USA’s enemies on land in Somalia and offshore. The US backed a Security Council resolution to prepare a mandate for the return of United Nations peacekeepers to Somalia by 15 April and a decision on deployment by 1 June. Wary of another repeat – the US lost 18 soldiers in Somalia in 1993 – US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice is unenthusiastic about the UN plan. This week’s spectacle of the USS Bainbridge, a destroyer with Tomahawk missiles, confronting a Somali dhow sums up the new asymmetric warfare. This issue will be to the fore at a 22-23 April conference on Somalia in Brussels to be attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. Top of the agenda is security and the need to tackle the scourge of piracy; the risk is that the land-bound causes of piracy will be again ignored.
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Tendai Biti has a plan

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has emerged as the key figure in Zimbabwe's economic recovery, walking the uneasy path between securing external finance from sceptical outsiders and d...


The bust and after

Finance ministers and central bank governors are holding an African summit in Washington next week to map a way out of the crisis

As the international financial crisis intensified last year, some African governments thought they could avoid the worst by strengthening their trade and investment ties with Asia....


Victory in a vacuum

This time, rigging the election turnout was more important than rigging the vote

Since there was no heavyweight candidate to stand against him, it was little surprise that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was re-elected with 90.24% of the vote in the 9 April elec...


From retreat to turnaround

Foreign investors but not their governments are beginning to take Harare's new order more seriously

Warm words emerged from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's ministerial retreat in Victoria Falls on 3-6 April and are encouraging foreign business to look at profitable turnarounds...


Museveni - from grand reformer to simply surviving

With his eyes on another five-year presidential term in 2011, President Yoweri Museveni has shaken up his cabinet, touted Uganda's future as an oil exporter and pressed for a military resolution to the conflict with the LRA. The only thing that could stop him from extending his 23 years of rule is infighting between the factions of the ruling National Resistance Movement. Museveni's long-term allies benefit from his grip on power, but a new generation in the ruling party wants changes to policies and leadership.

President Yoweri Museveni has two main power centres. Firstly, the National Resistance Movement which still enjoys popular support across Uganda, especially in the vote-rich rural ...


And the good news

Amid the gloom lie some positives. African economies now have on average 5.7 months of reserves to cover imports, policy frameworks are sounder, government ministries are better st...


The contenders

According to the official result, confirmed by the Constitutional Council on 14 April, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was re-elected with 90.24% of the vote, from a 74.6% turnout. ...


Oil without borders

The drama surrounding oil reserves on the Ugandan and Congolese sides of Lake Albert came to an end in April with London's Heritage Oil and Gas and Ireland's Tullow Oil still the m...


Une affaire de famille

Voters in the local elections have turned down President Wade’s political plans for himself and his son Karim

Disaster has struck President Abdoulaye Wade’s coalition, led by his Parti Démocratique Sénégalais, at the polls on 22 March. The rural, municipal and regional elections marked his...



Pointers

Integrity in question

Claims that the World Bank’s Vice-President for Integrity and former head of South Africa’s Scorpions anti-corruption unit, Leonard McCarthy, used his position to pursue political ...


Hamas and Hezbollah

Last week, President Hosni Mubarak’s government arrested 49 Egyptians, Sudanese and others whom it accuses of forming Hezbollah cells in Egypt, planning attacks on Israeli tourists...


His father's son

The arrest of former Defence Minister Kpatcha Gnassingbé while pleading in vain for asylum outside the gates of the United States Embassy in Lomé on 15 April appears to have ended ...