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Published 16th May 2014

Vol 55 No 10


South Africa

The last liberation election

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Policies not history will determine support for the African National Congress after its fifth election win

It could have been so much worse for the governing African National Congress. President Jacob Zuma faced unprecedented personal criticism and ridicule because of the shooting of mineworkers in Marikana in August 2012, the attempted suborning of independent institutions, US$22 million in state spending on his Nkandla homestead and his close ties with the multi-millionaire Gupta family. In the end, on 7 May the ANC merely put in its worst electoral performance since the first liberation elections of 1994, winning 11.4 million votes or 62.15% of those cast. That share was down from 65% in 2009 and a peak of 69% under President Thabo Mbeki in 2004.

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Everyone loses

The unfolding tragedy of the abducted schoolgirls exposes the government’s lack of strategy and will prolong the insurgency

In the short term, the crisis triggered by Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 230 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State damages all those involved in addition to the students: P...


Reversing the rot

The government makes U-turns as it tries to halt a slide into even deeper economic crisis

The first statement by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) new Governor, John Panonetsa Mangudya, on 7 May was sombre and realistic. Reassuringly, it allayed market fears that the r...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

In the clash of messages as Abuja prepared to host the World Economic Forum on 7-9 May, it was of course #bringbackourgirls that triumphed over the conference mantra of ‘Forging inclusive growth, creating jobs’. The global campaign to save the 230 abducted schoolgirls dominated discussions as government officials congratulated attendees on their solidarity. In fact, there were some important no-shows such as Microsoft; at least one big European oil company wanted to stay away but was dissuade...

In the clash of messages as Abuja prepared to host the World Economic Forum on 7-9 May, it was of course #bringbackourgirls that triumphed over the conference mantra of ‘Forging inclusive growth, creating jobs’. The global campaign to save the 230 abducted schoolgirls dominated discussions as government officials congratulated attendees on their solidarity. In fact, there were some important no-shows such as Microsoft; at least one big European oil company wanted to stay away but was dissuaded when it saw that its American rival would be attending in force.

As was clear, President Goodluck Jonathan’s government has created neither jobs nor inclusive growth in north-eastern Nigeria, scene of the abductions and base for the insurgents. And that is the vicious circle that Boko Haram wants, so it targets any investment – social or commercial – that could improve conditions. It took Africa’s wealthiest businessman, Aliko Dangote, to pull together the threads and pledge in Abuja to invest US$2.3 billion in sugar and rice production in the north, as a practical response to the insurgency. From the northern commercial centre of Kano, Dangote has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in local tomato processing factories, whose produce outsells rival brands from China and Italy.

However, Dangote looked isolated. Neither government nor companies rushed up with other industrial projects. Credible plans for jobs were thin on the ground: only grand farming schemes held out much hope. And if the government is to pull in investors, it will have to tackle the deepening crises in the north-east, Middle Belt and Niger Delta.

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Mugabe moves on Marange

The government is consolidating diamond-mining companies. This could put the President’s family in overall control

Since the government has declared that there isn't enough room in the diamond-mining area of Marange for the seven existing firms, Mbada Diamonds is expected to be the last miner s...


Red flag over Africa

'Unbreakable friendship’ was the slogan for the tour by China’s Premier. ‘Unending salesmanship’ would have served just as well

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s African tour was a week-long, effective sales pitch for Chinese technology and infrastructural expertise. He also announced several major ...


The ripples of OPL 245

Police and regulators are still investigating the consequences of Chief Dan Etete awarding himself an oil licence

The Metropolitan Police's Proceeds of Corruption Unit (POCU) in London has confirmed to Africa Confidential that it is investigating allegations of money laundering through Britain...


Trafigura takes over Sakunda

The global oil trader is taking over the ZANU-PF-connected fuels distributor as part of a regional expansion campaign

Trafigura is consolidating its grip on the fuel supply and distribution market in Zimbabwe with the acquisition of Sakunda Energy via its South African subsidiary, Puma Energy Afri...


The end of the beginning

President Salva Kiir and his former Deputy, Riek Machar, have agreed to an interim government but its shape is far from clear

Mediators in Addis Ababa studiously played down the fact that the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 9 May was not the result of face-to-face talks between South Sudan's ...


Clash of the dynasties

In general elections that promise to be the closest ever, the President is battling candidates who seek to return their families to power

Seven-and-a-half million Malawians go to the polls on 20 May for only the fourth time since multi-party democracy began in 1994 and it promises to be the closest contest yet. Presi...


The men to follow Ellen

Its choice of candidate gives the Unity Party an uphill climb to win the presidency in 2017

Observers are examining Liberia's record on gender equality. No woman has appeared on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's list of potential successors and she has said she wants the ...


Richard Kershaw

Richard Kershaw, Editor of Africa Confidential from 1963 to 1968, has died aged 80. In 2000, he wrote this article for a booklet we produced on AC's history, Africa 2000 – 40 years of Africa Confidential. He also selected four of his favourite articles from his time as Editor. There are links to them at the end of this piece

The end of 1963 was an interesting, and lucky, time to be asked to become Editor of Africa Confidential. There is no doubt that Africa as a whole (which then, as now, we defined as...

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Fixing the forces

Foreign military assistance is piecemeal and has yet to be sorted out. Britain’s contribution, for instance, includes training an officer in England, along with one from Suda...


Election officials under fire

The Malawi Electoral Commission, which is headed by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Maxon Mbendera, has been under constant attack – despite the fact that it includes commissio...


Parliament wants the President's head

A letter from almost half of all MPs calls on Hassan Sheikh to step down or be forced out

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is fighting for his political life after more than 100 members of parliament petitioned him to resign over his failure to tackle security. If he did...


Addis plan touches off riots

A scheme to expand the administrative area of the capital has sparked Oromo nationalist anger

Peaceful protests at Ambo University and on campuses across Oromia turned into deadly clashes with security forces for days after federal police shot dead a 14-year-old student, En...



Pointers

The MIGs of Mwanza

Tanzania has sent home the North Koreans who were supposed to be restoring some of the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force’s Soviet-era military equipment following secret...


Only you

President Ernest Bai Koroma’s loyalists in the governing All People’s Congress are again clamouring for him to stand for a third term. That would require a change to th...


Stand by your man

The governing Frente de Libertação de Moçambique licked its wounds and stuck on the sticking plasters during a four-day extraordinary meeting of its Central Co...


Richard Ruegg Kershaw

Richard Ruegg Kershaw, who died aged 80 on 28 April, was one of the most multi-talented editors of Africa Confidential. He went on to work in radio, television and film. Kershaw st...