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Published 10th September 2010

Vol 51 No 18


South Africa

President under pressure

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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The would-be usurpers plotting against President Jacob Zuma should not underestimate their target’s determination

President Jacob Zuma is hitting the media hard with a charm offensive before the governing party’s critical National General Council meeting on 19 September. His plan is to appeal to African National Congress supporters – the majority of South Africans – over the heads of the delegates, many of whom complain that Zuma’s leadership falls short of their hopes when they elected him at the Polokwane conference in 2007. The precedent that the ANC delegates established at Polokwane – of ousting Thabo Mbeki – a sitting president – might now be used against Zuma. Certainly, Zuma has fallen out with many in the coalition of trades unionists, communists and youth leaguers who voted for him in 2007 but he is a canny and determined operator: he will be not be pushed out without a fight.


Vavi and the unions stake their claim

Not only have trades unionists pushed the government to accept most of their demands for higher wages and housing allowances but some of their leaders now believe they should provi...


Good man, impossible job

Despite the time constraints, hopes for straight elections are vested in the Electoral Commission’s impressive Chairman Attahiru Jega

Everyone, in and out of government, acclaimed the appointment in June of academic and trades unionist Attahiru Jega as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. No...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Diplomatic posturing over the referendum due in January on South Sudan’s independence is weighing heavily on the United Nations. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon insists the UN should help ‘to make unity attractive’. The UN is hosting a crisis summit on 24 September to address the dire consequences  should the referendum be deferred or abandoned. The World Bank continues to discuss Sudan’s economic future as a united entity but is quietly preparing to move South Sudan under the aegis of its Nairobi...
Diplomatic posturing over the referendum due in January on South Sudan’s independence is weighing heavily on the United Nations. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon insists the UN should help ‘to make unity attractive’. The UN is hosting a crisis summit on 24 September to address the dire consequences  should the referendum be deferred or abandoned. The World Bank continues to discuss Sudan’s economic future as a united entity but is quietly preparing to move South Sudan under the aegis of its Nairobi regional office. With plans to move an independent South Sudan towards quick membership after recognised independence, the Bank is advising the Juba and Khartoum governments on how to cleanly divide Sudan’s massive US$36 billion of debt – a sensitive part of the post-referendum negotiations. Those funds were used to attack the South, not develop it. If the South takes on a share of the debt, it will need rapid debt forgiveness to qualify for international financing. The Bank’s record in the South is mixed. Although barred from giving direct financing to Juba, it ran the 13-nation Multi-Donor Trust Fund, but the pace of disbursement was chronically slow. Of the $524 million given to the Fund since 2006, only $212 mn. had been disbursed by the end of 2009. That points to bigger problems next year, as Bank officials try to push money through the system with safeguards on procurement and bidding just when a new government with horrific management problems will be desperately trying to establish itself.
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A tight election timetable

Key events in the coming months

Opposition parties, trades unions and civic activists are protesting against the breakneck schedule announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for presidenti...


Ghostly presences

As Mugabe’s party declines in Matebeleland, the old alternative resistance movement is climbing out of the grave

A black shroud materialised on Bulawayo’s Main Street a month ago in the dead of night and has since been guarded around the clock by uniformed and plainclothes security officers. ...


Expanding the contracts

Several mining companies took advantage of Guinea’s political transition to sign contracts in exchange for shining promises of future wealth. Both the candidates in the second roun...


The President is for turning

The people’s protests against ruinous rises in food prices may have ended Guebuza’s efforts to extend his rule

A week of street demonstrations has checked the confidence of the ruling Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo). After describing a 30% rise in bread prices as ‘irreversible’...


A suspect at the parade

In one fell swoop, the Khartoum government strengthens President Omer el Beshir and undermines the Nairobi government’s new constitution

With arrest warrants for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his head, Sudan’s President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir does not often get the chance to star in an i...


The real cost of Maputo’s aid

Mozambique receives more aid per head than neighbouring – and similar – countries like Malawi and Tanzania. This is partly because of its long-past ‘post-conflict status’ but also ...


Kigali wins another round of the blame game

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held an emergency meeting with President Paul Kagame in Kigali on 8 September after the Rwandan government threatened to withdraw from UN peacekeeping missions. Kigali’s logic was unassailable. A draft UN report had suggested that Rwandan troops might have committed ‘crimes of genocide’ in eastern Congo-Kinshasa in 1997; if the UN endorsed those claims, Kigali said it would have no choice but to withdraw its 3,500  troops from the UN force in Darfur, Sudan.

The credibility of the United Nations is on trial again after the leaking of its draft 545-page report mapping human rights violations in Congo-Kinshasa in 1993-2003. It seems almo...


All to play for

The military organisers of the presidential election claim that they are neutral and that the candidates are evenly matched

Two politicians enter the second round of the presidential election, the most open contest since Guinea won Independence in 1958 – thanks mainly to the apparent lack of political a...



Pointers

Nuclear-powered brothers

With the political endgame well under way for President Hosni Mubarak, his government is expanding its nuclear ambitions. Given that Mubarak has been a loyal Western ally, his nucl...


Indigens and expatriates

The National Indigenisation and Empowerment Board is supposed to ensure that 51% of the economy is indigenised by 2015. However, its original target of a blanket 51% indigenous hol...


The new guard steps up

Just before this year’s elections, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi promised an overhaul of the party leadership. the next generation of politicians is edging up the hierarchy in the go...


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