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Published 22nd June 2012

Vol 53 No 13


A new battle to control the mines

George Soros

The collapse of an opaque scheme to set up a multi-billion dollar national mining company prompts recriminations in Conakry and South Africa

The Guinean government’s decision this week to shut down a bid by South African businessmen who wield high-level political connections, to run its national mining company follows growing pressure from international financial institutions and multinational mining companies. The scheme would have put the group in a privileged position to take a stake in some of the most valuable mining assets in the country and up to 50% of the equity in the planned national mining company.

The Italian job

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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A favourite of the old regime risks losing his property fortune under the new one

Guido Santullo grew rich on government business while his patron Lansana Conté was President of Guinea. Now, the government has requisitioned his property complex and he threatens ...


Business leaders and politicians in Nigeria and South Africa have appealed for two former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, to help improve their countries’ ailing relationship. African diplomacy has been critically weakened by disputes between the two biggest economies. Obasanjo and Mbeki fit the task. Despite their...

Business leaders and politicians in Nigeria and South Africa have appealed for two former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, to help improve their countries’ ailing relationship. African diplomacy has been critically weakened by disputes between the two biggest economies. Obasanjo and Mbeki fit the task. Despite their differences over Zimbabwe policy, they respect each other and both have problems with their successors. Obasanjo chose Goodluck Jonathan as running mate to the ailing Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007 but now his influence in Abuja is waning.

Relations between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma have been tense for years. They hit a low point when Zuma ousted Mbeki as African National Congress President in 2007 but have barely recovered. In 2010, Zuma refused Mbeki an official aeroplane to an African Union summit and then fumed after Nigeria chartered him a jet instead. According to ANC insiders, Zuma accuses Mbeki of trying to upstage him with his mediation missions for the AU.

Jonathan was furious when Zuma shouldered his way into the Ivorian and Libyan crises last year. And the two are divided over candidates for the AU chair, with Gabon’s Jean Ping (current AU Chairman) in the Nigerian corner and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in South Africa’s. Now with a compromise on the AU dispute being planned in Addis Ababa, the Nigeria-South Africa hostility could ebb, especially if their leaders listen to their not always respected predecessors.

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Kigali’s hand in the Kivus

A UN report on Rwandan backing for mutineers sparks a diplomatic row in New York as the rebels gain ground

As fighting escalates in eastern Congo-Kinshasa, pressure is mounting for the publication in full of a United Nations’ investigation into the links between Rwanda and a new militia...

End of transition looms

While Al Shabaab suffers reverses, the government that replaces the TFG in August may turn out to be little different

There is a mood of broad optimism among many commanders from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) about recent military successes. Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen, howe...

Justice denied

The mid-May visit to Zimbabwe by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay, was disastrous. She came at the invitation of Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, ...

Reforming power

The shock government audit and cabinet reshuffle prompt a push for major change in the energy sector

Although Jakaya Kikwete sacked Energy and Minerals Minister William Ngeleja, one of eight to go in April’s reshuffle, many of the power sector’s problems remain.

Saitoti’s death leaves a gap

The former Vice-President is remembered as a political creature of Moi and a hugely wealthy political operator

About 40,000 people gathered in Kitengela, on the south-eastern outskirts of Nairobi, on 16 June for the funeral of the powerful Internal Security Minister, Professor George Kinuth...

Sata takes on the judges

Controversy over the judiciary and a law suit over Zambian Airways show the PF and Banda still at war

President Michael Sata has sparked a political storm by forcing out Zambia’s most senior judge, Chief Justice Ernest Sakala, on 15 June. The opposition accuses Sata of politicising...

New broom passed over

Prior to Sospeter Muhongo’s appointment, the conventional wisdom in Dodoma was that an ambitious young Chama cha Mapinduzi member of parliament, January Makamba, would get outgoing...

Tuareg splits widen

A complex interplay of tribal, kinship, ideological and nationalist allegiances lies just beneath the surface of the Tuareg revolt

When day dawns in northern Mali, another faction emerges. Sharp divisions have opened within the Mouvement national pour la libération de l’Azawad over how best to confront the jih...

A coarse debut

Outbursts in Angola by the Zambian President punctuate a regional meeting that went badly for Mugabe, too

The most extraordinary thing about the extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community on 31 May-1 June was the performance of Zambia’s President Michael Sata. A...

Mutembo's targets

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mutembo Nchito, has his sights on Henry Banda, son of ex-President Rupiah Banda, over his role in the US$257 million sale of most of the Zamtel...

The honeymoon’s over

If she lost her majority in Parliament, President Banda would lose control of her budget and the IMF programme, too

Acclaimed at home and abroad as a breath of fresh air when she took office on 7 April, President Joyce Banda is being severely put to the test. The President faces scheming opponen...


Warlords at work

Coup plots in Côte d’Ivoire are linked to the murder of United Nations peacekeepers in the west of the country, officials in Abidjan say.

Lucrative IIDEA

Staff at the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance want IIDEA’s management investigated for wasting funds and making generous payments to former directors a...

No horizon

Though this week’s protests in the capital were ostensibly against austerity measures, demonstrators were calling for the government’s overthrow: ‘Khartoum rise up, rise up, we won...

Fine gesture

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission is giving ‘appropriate consideration’ to a request that it share with the victims the financial penalties (‘disgorgement’) it l...