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Published 21st September 2012

Vol 53 No 19


South Africa

Zuma hits back as mining unrest spreads

South African President Jacob Zuma. Graeme Williams / Panos
South African President Jacob Zuma. Graeme Williams / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The Marikana massacre shocked South Africans and unnerved the markets but President Zuma tells the trades unions that he needs another term

A rousing welcome at a national trades union conference and a belated wage deal at the Marikana platinum mines are the first signs that President Jacob Zuma is fighting back. He has been under fire over his handling of the crisis at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana, North-West Province, where police shot 34 striking miners dead on 16 August (AC Vol 53 No 17, The Marikana massacre). The worst state violence since the end of apartheid looked as if it might cost Zuma his chances of re-election as President of the governing African National Congress (ANC) at its December conference.


Disunited unions

Despite some stage-managed glad-handing, quarrels over tactics and ideology haunt Cosatu’s conference

A political fix negotiated on 16 September allowed the leaders of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to paper over their differences as Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi ag...


New York showdown

Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame take their battles over the Kivu provinces to the UN General Assembly

Congolese ministers have been energetically lobbying in New York ahead of a high-level meeting on Central Africa at the United Nations General Assembly which opens on 25 September....



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Suddenly middle Africa – that large chunk of the continent between the Limpopo river and the Sahara desert – is in the investment managers’ sights. Watch for the swarms of tropically suited analysts bearing laptops, traipsing from one frontier capital market to the next in search of rising returns. They believe they have found one in Zambia, which last week became the ninth middle-African country to float a bond.

Despite Zambia’s ...

Suddenly middle Africa – that large chunk of the continent between the Limpopo river and the Sahara desert – is in the investment managers’ sights. Watch for the swarms of tropically suited analysts bearing laptops, traipsing from one frontier capital market to the next in search of rising returns. They believe they have found one in Zambia, which last week became the ninth middle-African country to float a bond.

Despite Zambia’s unpredictable President Michael Sata and his ambivalent mining policies, its bond issue was hugely oversubscribed. Investors queued up with about US$12 billion. So the government raised the value of the bond to $750 mn. from its planned $500 mn. Almost as remarkable, the interest rate on the bond will be just 5.6%, slightly lower than debt-ridden Spain and Italy pay these days.

That reflects investors’ more indulgent views of political developments in new oil and gas boom countries, such as Mozambique and Tanzania, as well as regional economies such as Kenya and Nigeria. Most economists reckon that the really spectacular economic growth in Africa – as it doubles its population to two billion over the next 30 years – will come from its middle belt. And faith in the North Africa’s economies – save for Morocco – has dwindled. The killing of the US Ambassador in Benghazi on 13 September has spooked bankers as well as diplomats. And the political muddle in South Africa, where violent unrest in the mines continues to spread, is raising fresh doubts about its future direction.

Read more

Kilelengwani burns

The mass killings in the Tana River Delta presage an upsurge of violence ahead of elections next March

As two mass graves are discovered in the Ozi Forest, acting Internal Security Minister Mohamed Yusuf Haji is at the centre of claims of official involvement in the Tana Delta killi...


Opposition claims dismissed

Petitions accusing the government of systematic fraud in the presidential elections have been unceremoniously thrown out by the courts

The Constitutional Court has rejected the challenges by opposition parties claiming fraud during the 31 August elections and has endorsed President José Eduardo dos Santos’s first ...


The rush for land

A rush for the rich resources of one of the world’s most biologically diverse environments is entangled with the politics of the Tana River Delta. Most intriguing is the government...


Aid threatened, conflict up

Rebel forces have stepped up attacks on government positions ahead of a critical aid conference in Geneva

The United Nations officially classes Burundi as a ‘post-conflict nation’ but chronic low-level violence persists. At the beginning of September, a dissident offshoot of the main o...


New president, new laws and old enemies

The election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is seen as a sign of stability but the new government’s foundations are far from strong. Meanwhile, Kenya’s military policy is worrying other members of the Amisom alliance. The election process was marred by vote-buying but Western commentators welcomed the outcome, often warmly. However, Ethiopia has concerns about the Islamist background of the new leader

Somalis welcomed the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an outsider with a better reputation than his predecessor, as the first critical test of the new constitution. The...


Luanda buys Mayfair trophy

Despite the ruling party’s election win, criticism is growing of its opaque financial management, including property investments in London

Angola has spent £220 million (US$356 mn.) from funds ostensibly intended for long-term investment in the national infrastructure on a ‘trophy’ property in Mayfair, London. Plaza G...



Pointers

Jammeh’s execution spree

What prompted President Yahya Jammeh to start eliminating all the residents of death row in Banjul’s infamous Mile Two Jail? Some attribute it to his heavy dependence on ‘spiritual...


Morganatic marriages

Amidst a confetti shower of court orders, affidavits and writs, the nuptials between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Elizabeth Macheka on 16 September were down-sized from a f...


Dead preachers poser

The handling of the killing by Malian troops of 16 Islamic preachers, nine of them Mauritanian, threatens the delicate balance between the interim regime and the army, say Bamako s...


Profits derailed

Frank Timis’s Tonkolili iron-ore project has problems running its trains on time – and even on the line, Africa Confidential has learned. In early September, his firm, African Mine...