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Published 27th August 2010

Vol 51 No 17


Ghana

The politics of no

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Party feuding, jarring personalities and tax deals – not rivalry with China – have kept ExxonMobil out of Ghana’s oil fields

The announcement on 17 August by ExxonMobil that it is abandoning its campaign to buy a 23.5% stake in the Jubilee field, Africa’s biggest offshore oil field, is likely to precipitate a bid by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), backed by the China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Africa Confidential has learned.


No referee for the referenda

Khartoum is determined to block January’s referenda; the South is determined to hold them

Four months before the scheduled referenda that would decide Sudan’s future borders, the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum is now openly saying that a ‘credible’ referendu...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

South Africa’s usually amenable President Jacob Zuma rails against journalists’ interest in the business liaisons of the African National Congress. ‘The media has put itself on this pedestal of being the guardian,’ he fumes. ‘We therefore have the right to say who is guarding the guardian.’ He accuses the press of conspiring to stop him becoming president – it reported in detail the charges against him in 2007 of corruption, racketeering, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. All the charges ...
South Africa’s usually amenable President Jacob Zuma rails against journalists’ interest in the business liaisons of the African National Congress. ‘The media has put itself on this pedestal of being the guardian,’ he fumes. ‘We therefore have the right to say who is guarding the guardian.’ He accuses the press of conspiring to stop him becoming president – it reported in detail the charges against him in 2007 of corruption, racketeering, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. All the charges were dropped just before his election in 2009. Zuma proposed a media tribunal to regulate critical reporting. The Congress for South African Trade Unions, whose members are now on a national strike, has warned that it could become a censorship tool. Cosatu’s position will do nothing to shore up its already faltering alliance with the ANC. The opposition Democratic Alliance has compared the plan to the draconian apartheid-era press controls; the move has been widely condemned by Western newspapers. Only a few ANC chieftains, such as Pallo Jordan and Ben Turok, have ventured to criticise the proposal, but some hope it might be quietly dropped before the party’s National General Council next month. That is improbable, as Zuma’s supporters are ready for a fight with the journalists. If the hardliners win, it will be to the detriment of the freedom to investigate political and corporate malfeasance and to South Africa’s international standing, boosted hugely by its successful hosting of the World Cup.
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Strategy of sabotage

The National Congress Party employs a variety of tactics to sabotage January’s referenda. Because a 60% quorum (of a still undefined electorate) is needed and a 51% vote for or aga...


Copper-bottomed but leaky

Booming mines and farms, and a government beset by talk of corruption and strange legal decisions

Fuelled by rising world demand for copper and cobalt and by a bumper maize harvest, the economy is growing at a roaring 7.5%. Yet President Rupiah Banda, who will seek re-election ...


The polls close but violence continues

A grenade attack greets President Kagame’s reelection – and another army officer heads to gaol

Assassination attempts – failed and successful – have tarnished Paul Kagame’s second landslide election victory. Nobody was surprised when, on 9 August, Kagame was reelected to the...


Strong investment, weak prosperity

According to the latest figures from the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), foreign direct investment totalled a record US$2.4 billion in the first half of 2010, up from $959 million...


The battle of the Nile

Egypt and Sudan are playing a central role in the dispute over the Nile. They know they can no longer ignore the thirst for water of the seven upstream countries but are focussed on their own growing needs. The five states most concerned, led by Ethiopia, intend to change the balance of water power.

The old arguments about the Nile waters will enter a new stage this autumn, when the nine governments of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) next meet. On present form, it looks improb...


A dubious election date, again

Organising October elections seems beyond the government’s will and the electoral commission’s resources

>Defying those who say the government is not politically or administratively ready, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro announced that elections for president and Parliament will be held...



Pointers

Otunnu objects

With only six months before Ugandans go to the polls, opposition parties are mired in disagreement after Olara Otunnu made a bid to undermine attempts to field a unity candidate in...


Turning a corner

Kenya is euphoric again. After barely averting civil war following the 2007 elections, the approval of a new constitution by referendum marks a dramatic turn in the country’s polit...


Mounting strikes

Support is building for the national strike of nurses, teachers and clerks since it was launched on 18 August, presenting two serious threats to President Jacob Zuma’s government. ...