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Published 13th December 2013

Vol 54 No 25


South Africa

When the clouds cried

SOUTH AFRICA Bishopscourt, Cape Town. Nelson Mandela, the day after his release from prison, at Archbishop Tutu's residence in Bishopscourt. Graeme Williams / Panos
SOUTH AFRICA Bishopscourt, Cape Town. Nelson Mandela, the day after his release from prison, at Archbishop Tutu's residence in Bishopscourt. Graeme Williams / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The nation’s grief at the loss of its founding father was brusquely interrupted by the next struggle for power

It was a day of the sharpest political contrasts when South Africans and the wider world celebrated the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on 10 December at the FNB stadium in Soweto. African National Congress Vice-President and old Mandela favourite Cyril Ramaphosa explained to the international audience that the rain pouring down on the stadium and its surrounding mine dumps was the best possible omen for the hero's departure. Another ANC veteran told fellow mourners that even the sky was weeping for the country's loss.

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The time of Mandela

Mandela

People are together on the streets as they were in the 1994 liberation elections but this time, to celebrate the life of their globally venerated leader

Nelson Mandela's face appeared magisterially on a tableau draped over the front of the Elysée Palace as African leaders and European bureaucrats walked across the courtyard ...


Presidential letter bombs

Private letters to President Jonathan from General Obasanjo and Bank Governor Sanusi warn of deepening financial and political threats

The leaking this week of two damning letters to President Goodluck Jonathan was surely no coincidence and fires a powerful broadside against his government and his plans to run for...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The polite phrase is capital flight. Others dub it plunder. Call it what you will, billions upon billions of dollars of illegal profits, stolen tax revenue, fraudulent oil income, smuggled gold and diamonds and more flee Africa every year. The latest estimate of the size of the sinkhole in Africa’s finances – Global Integrity’s ‘Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011’ – reckons some US$74 billion escaped in 2011 alone. These funds are not income from investment or legiti...

The polite phrase is capital flight. Others dub it plunder. Call it what you will, billions upon billions of dollars of illegal profits, stolen tax revenue, fraudulent oil income, smuggled gold and diamonds and more flee Africa every year. The latest estimate of the size of the sinkhole in Africa’s finances – Global Integrity’s ‘Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011’ – reckons some US$74 billion escaped in 2011 alone. These funds are not income from investment or legitimate shares of wealth but the proceeds of crime.

Vast though it is, the figure represents only about 7.7% of the total of $947 bn. that was spirited out of the developing world in the dead of night that year. Ominously, however, the rate of the flow of booty out of Africa has increased by over 20% between 2002 and 2011, with Africa’s outflow having the biggest ratio to gross domestic product, according to the report. This makes Africa the global region that loses most capital relative to the economy as a whole.

Africa’s robbers are mostly its own rulers and their friends; it is they who are plugged into the central banks, the customs services, the diplomatic corps and the civil service and it is they who facilitate this particular export boom. Certainly, they are ably assisted by compliant financial institutions in the industrialised world, which are only too happy to launder ill-gotten gains. That makes them accessories after the fact. Much tougher and more determined investigators and prosecutors are needed – and soon.

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On the brink

French and regional troops are preventing the violence getting worse but no political force seems able to provide leadership

As French President François Hollande flew to Bangui on 10 December, it was already clear that the religious and ethnic divisions that spawned most of the killing will take ...


Salini looks to expand

Salini has merged with a Milan-based multinational construction competitor. A Salini statement said that a September Extraordinary Shareholders’ Meeting of Impregilo SpA, a 1...


Vote on constitution nears

Liberals hope democracy can co-exist with a military insulated from scrutiny but many lawyers wonder about the flaws in the new legal framework

Egypt’s draft constitution has been handed to President Adly Mahmud Mansour for formal signing, after the 50-member drafting panel approved it on 1 December. A simple majorit...


Sall struggles to stay on course

The President needs big ideas to win elections and keep the faith of his allies, and turn around a sluggish economy. Yet he has been losing friends and momentum

President Macky Sall arrived in Paris on 4 December for the African security summit with a diminished entourage. Although he brought a full complement of ministers and soldiers, hi...


More boots on the ground

After despatching two military missions in 18 months, President Hollande’s whole Africa policy is taking on a new seriousness

The loss of two soldiers just days into the Opération Sangaris deployment in Central African Republic reminded French President François Hollande of the human –...


Shoring up regional support

After a period of defiant independence, Addis Ababa has now, belatedly perhaps, built strong diplomatic support behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Before the joint meeting...


The fire in Jonathan's backyard

Piracy, oil theft and sectional rivalries are spinning out of control in the Delta, the political heartland of President Jonathan

The idea that choosing a President and a Petroleum Minister from the Niger Delta would be the best way to tackle the crisis in the oil and gas industry is being severely tested. Fo...


Another dam under fire

The Gibe III dam on the Omo River may threaten Lake Turkana and those who depend on it

A new report claims that Ethiopia’s Gibe III dam on the Omo river could lower water levels in Lake Turkana, in Kenya’s remote and arid northwest, by as much as 20 metre...


Secrets of the dam builder

Sudan has now thrown its weight behind the Millennium Dam, at a time when curiosity about the contractor, Salini, was already growing

As Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese ministers sat down to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on 9 December, one item was notably absent from the agenda. The role of Salini...


Counter-terrorism force under attack

Human rights activists target US and British support for Kenya’s security forces over illicit killings, torture and rendition

Complaints that Kenyan anti-terrorist units are engaged in torture, rendition abroad of suspects, 'disappearances' and assassination could threaten United States and British cooper...


Saving Field Marshal Omer

President Omer el Beshir promised to step down in 2015 and now he has a new deputy whom he trusts not to turn him over to the ICC

Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir ‘decided to meet his fate with those he trusts most’, said a senior opposition source of the 8 December reshuffle. Some key leaders were rem...


Arms-for-minerals trades exposed

Zimbabwe has parcelled out choice mining concessions to Russia and China in exchange for arms – but they may have sold them too cheaply

Deals to trade mining concessions for arms from Russia and China were arranged privately during the period of the coalition government by Zimbabwe African National Union–Patr...



Pointers

Heads up for headquarters

The African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries wants a new headquarters and is hoping the European Union will pay. The 18 million euros (US$24.8 mn.) would come from the 10t...


Changing the constitution

After two seats controversially changed hands, the governing All People’s Congress (APC) is just one seat short of a two-thirds majority in Parliament. That’s the vote ...


Cape to Cairo, again

Agrogate, an Egyptian private equity group, hopes to start work this month on a hard-top road in Sudan, the 362 kilometre Dongola-Toshke (Argeen) Highway, which will link the count...