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Published 19th February 2010

Vol 51 No 4


South Africa

The state of Jacob Zuma

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Jobs and housing, not sex scandals, will determine the President’s future as party rivals struggle for influence in the government

Reports of President Jacob Zuma’s political demise are exaggerated. Yet what should have been a moment of triumph for him during the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison proved to be yet another tribulation in his worst week yet as President. The usually unflappable Zuma looked rattled as he arrived at Parliament in Cape Town to give the State of the Nation address on 11 February. His speech was a damp squib – too plodding to fire up his political base and too short on specifics to impress the markets.


A clash at the border

A confrontation between Harare and Gaborone over a wandering pride of lions has escalated into a serious bilateral rift

The formulation of foreign policy in Zimbabwe is the jealously guarded function of the President’s Office and, through it, the Central Intelligence Organisation. The Foreign Minist...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Understandably, Nigeria’s Acting President Goodluck Jonathan opposes military coups. A week after he took power through what some describe as a ‘democratic coup’ (see Acting President Jonathan sets out his plans), Jonathan hosted a summit of the West African regional grouping ECOWAS on 16 February. The group elected him Chairman and then demanded the region ‘get tough on crisis states’.   A chance to ...
Understandably, Nigeria’s Acting President Goodluck Jonathan opposes military coups. A week after he took power through what some describe as a ‘democratic coup’ (see Acting President Jonathan sets out his plans), Jonathan hosted a summit of the West African regional grouping ECOWAS on 16 February. The group elected him Chairman and then demanded the region ‘get tough on crisis states’.   A chance to test that call came two days later, when troops stormed the presidential palace in Niamey, arrested President Mamadou Tandja and suspended the constitution. Tandja’s illegal prolongation of his mandate had already prompted ECOWAS to expel Niger. Thousands of angry civilians demonstrated in the streets of Niamey last Sunday. The coup poses a challenge to those wanting to fight this sort of regime change. Diplomats were aware of Tandja’s plan to stay in power last year but were powerless to stop him. African Union officials argue that there is no such thing as a good coup, but the new Conseil Suprême pour la Restauration de la Démocratie promised to make Niger ‘an example of democracy and good governance’.  After the death of Lansana Conté, there was a grudging acceptance of Guinea’s military coup in 2008. After soldiers massacred 130 civilians last September, that judgment was proved horribly wrong. Although the rules condemn coups, their leaders are often given a honeymoon to clean house and hand over to civilians – the prospect of which Niamey’s new leaders show little enthusiasm.
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Petrified Politburos

The old ruling party’s new Politburo, announced on 11 February, is anything but new. The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s 49-member policy-making committee, announ...


The junta explains

The putschists use former Pentagon officials to polish their image

Blamed for the massacre of over 100 civilians last September, the junta in Conakry is trying to improve its image via a United States-based public relations company run by two form...


SWAPO's big guns in the fray

With five years to go, rows are already under way about the next presidential candidate and the last election results

President Hifikepunye Pohamba will be sworn in for his second five-year term at the end of March after the ever-governing South West Africa People’s Organisation was awarded an app...


Beating up the bankers

A Congressional probe shows how banks in the USA welcomed stolen funds from Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria

Among the offending banks named in a new Congressional report on money laundering and corruption are HSBC Holdings, Europe’s largest bank, and Bank of America. They are accused of ...


Acting President Jonathan sets out his plans

From the surrealism of ‘missing president’ Umaru Yar’Adua, linked to the outside world via a ghostly voiced interview with the BBC, and with attendant disputes of legitimacy and sovereignty, Nigeria has solved the crisis in its own way, by effecting what some call a ‘democratic coup’. One by one, the elected institutions of state (the powerful governors’ forum and both houses of the National Assembly) and several non-elected regional councils met and agreed to support the handover to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Whatever the constitutional doubts that remain, the 9 February resolution by the National Assembly, citing the ‘doctrine of necessity’, to recognise Vice-President Goodluck Jonatha...


Protection in the arms bazaar

A plea bargain deal in the UK and USA has set back investigations into arms trade crookery in South Africa and Tanzania

The US$450 million in fines that BAE Systems agreed to pay on 5 February to halt investigations into corrupt payments on arms deals adds to its financial woes. And it covers only p...


If you sincerely want to be rich

In February, the United States Senate Subcommittee on Investigations produced evidence on the transfer of illicit and suspect funds from African regimes to the USA. Its report high...


Goodluck with the money

Now a man in a hurry, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has to stamp his authority on Abuja and quickly decide which ministers and officials can help him and which to drop. Within...


Maize splits the Grand Coalition

The Kibaki-Odinga courtship is over again and presidential contenders head for the brink before the 2012 elections

Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s 16 February call for his allies to boycott cabinet meetings until the furore over his right to suspend ministers is settled shows how quickly and deep...



Pointers

A welcome for Monsieur Z

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has asked Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere if he will issue a visa for Protais Zigiranyirazo, known as ‘Monsieur Z’ (AC Vol ...


Quiet trips to DC

The National Congress Party (aka National Islamic Front) wants to stop the world challenging its planned April election victory. A quiet push last month on debt relief and the Unit...


Money muddles

Western governments publicly back Somalia’s ‘moderate Islamist’ government but have not disbursed the promised funds. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), now besieged in its...


Dynastic dynamics

President Faure Gnassingbé is set for an easy victory against a divided opposition in the 4 March national elections: the main opposition parties plan to boycott the vote (AC Vol 5...