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Published 4th October 2013

Vol 54 No 20


Kenya

Shockwaves after the shoot-out

KENYA: Eastleigh, a neighbourhood in Nairobi, also known as 'little Mogadishu' where most residents are from Somalia. Sven Torfinn / Panos
KENYA: Eastleigh, a neighbourhood in Nairobi, also known as 'little Mogadishu' where most residents are from Somalia. Sven Torfinn / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

As forensic investigators comb the Westgate mall for clues about the insurgents, anger at the security failure grows

In the wake of the murderous attack at Westgate Shopping Mall, President Uhuru Kenyatta faces tough questions about the probity and efficacy of his government. Kenyatta received a huge diplomatic boost from the attack, which began on 21 September, with widespread calls for the immediate cessation of his case before the International Criminal Court. However, that rapidly gave way to a more critical view of his government and its security system. Politicians and media are openly calling for the sacking of the prickly Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, Joseph Ole Lenku, and the Director of the National Intelligence Service, Major General (Retired) Michael Gichangi.

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The warnings before Westgate

The growing politicisation and corruption within the state security system help explain the government’s poor coordination and its failure to act on warnings it received befo...


Taylor goes down alone

Taylor loses his appeal against war crimes conviction as governments demand changes in international courts

The Special Court for Sierra Leone's confirmation on 26 September of the 50-year sentence for war crimes of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, comes as African govern...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Last Saturday 60,000 people filed in to New York's Central Park to hear Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys play and to declare with the event's organisers, the Global Citizen group, that the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 was entirely achievable. Wonder interrupted his set to introduce United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, straight from the General Assembly debate, to reinforce the point to a more exuberant audience. A consensus is emerging that ending extreme poverty – defined as ...

Last Saturday 60,000 people filed in to New York's Central Park to hear Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys play and to declare with the event's organisers, the Global Citizen group, that the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 was entirely achievable. Wonder interrupted his set to introduce United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, straight from the General Assembly debate, to reinforce the point to a more exuberant audience. A consensus is emerging that ending extreme poverty – defined as those living on US$1.25 or less a day – by 2030 should top the UN's next list of development goals.

Africa's average growth rates of over 5% a year for the past decade are fuelling hope: in 1990, 1.9 billion people were living on $1 a day; by 2010, 1.2 billion people were living on $1.25 a day (the new poverty line). In fact, the data is much more ambiguous. This month, finance ministers head for the Annual World Bank Meetings in Washington, where they will hear that higher growth doesn't always translate into lower poverty: in oil-producing countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Gabon, there is just more inequality.

Alongside the Bank's reports, the ministers should read a compelling new survey by the Afrobarometer group on what it calls 'lived poverty' – that is how often a family goes without enough food, medicines, fuel or cash income. Although on this measure poverty has been falling over the past three years in Ghana, Malawi and Zambia, it is rising in Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania, all countries which have robust economies and growth rates. And in many other parts of Africa, the fruits of growth are not reaching the poorest people – or even coming close.

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Keïta’s test of words and deeds

There is no doubting the political and financial good will towards the country. The President now has to make good on it

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta emphasised his inaugural message of reconciliation and tolerance with a major national celebration for the country on 19 September, with heads...


Oil bids defy security crisis

With over 60 fatalities and wider regional security concerns, the hostage siege in Nairobi is not deterring oil companies from targeting Somalia

International conferences extolling political progress in Somalia and raising aid funds for post-war reconstruction have triggered several bids for oil acreage in the region despit...


How the parties will go into 2014

If the Economic Freedom Fighters took just 5% of the national vote, that could be a significant and lasting breakthrough

None of the opposition parties can seriously challenge the African National Congress for power at the centre in the next elections but growing political volatility gives them oppor...


Neither military nor Mursi

Activists from the 2011 revolution are struggling to organise a political alternative to the dominant military and its Islamist adversaries

Left-wingers and other secularists are trying to remobilise the revolutionary spirit of January 2011 and on 24 September they formed an opposition alliance, the Jebhat Tariq el Tha...


September uprising

Spontaneous street protests against price rises quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the regime

The sight of one of the regime’s stalwarts, Nafi’e Ali Nafi’e, being driven out of the wake for a protestor killed by security officers on 27 September summed up ...


No princes on the ballot

Public enthusiasm for the election is running high but questions about the electoral register and campaign finance may undermine its legitimacy

The official start of the presidential election campaign on 24 September has triggered an immediate flurry of activism, even if many Malagasies don’t really believe the long-...


Coming to the aid of the party

In New York, President Zuma sings Happy Birthday to ANC Chairwoman Baleka Mbete, who is currently at the centre of a major political row

On the evening of 24 September in New York, President Jacob Zuma was in high spirits. Earlier that day, he had addressed the United Nations General Assembly debate in which South A...


ZANU-PF expands its business empire

The security chiefs and their political allies use diamond revenue to buy up a national fuel distribution company

The head of the firm FBC Holdings, John Mushayavanhu, is at the centre of a mysterious plan to buy a controlling stake in a national fuel distribution company, Zuva Petroleum. FBC ...


End of Salvation

A leading light in the ruling NCP tells a London audience that the Islamist project is over and democratic transformation is imminent

’The phase of Salvation is over,’ the Director of Khartoum’s Centre for Strategic Studies, Sayed el Hassan el Khatib, told Britain’s Royal Institute of Inte...


Political mould starts to break

The poorest people and the middle class are voicing growing doubts about the ANC – even though its rivals don’t look much more convincing

The African National Congress approaches elections next April-May – and the 20th anniversary of majority rule – with party and country alike in poor shape. Social and e...


Gulf states to the rescue

Massive aid to the military-backed regime from Saudi Arabia and its allies could help dampen political tension after the ousting of President Mursi

The economy is still struggling on many fronts but some indicators look healthier, thanks largely to over US$8 billion of aid from Gulf Arab governments since the army deposed Pres...


Drill-ship in the dock

Top politicians are battling it out in the courts again, this time over claims of corruption the two main parties are throwing at each other

Power-brokers in the governing National Democratic Congress and opposition New Patriotic Party are squaring up for a fresh courtroom battle after the Supreme Court upheld President...



Pointers

Tender mercies

Insisting that major infrastructure contracts go to competitive tender has got Transport and Communications Minister Paulo Zucula the sack, say senior political sources. President ...


'Failed feudal state'

The widely discredited 20 September election saw pro-royal politicians take nearly all 55 parliamentary seats. Traditional chiefs loyal to King Mswati III had vetted all the candid...


Gems make friends

After intense lobbying by Belgium, on 24 September the European Union lifted its ban on diamond imports from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and its partners – Ma...