Thursday, 19 October 2017

China's global reach

In terms of its economic impact and geo-political weight, the Congress of China's Communist Party this week matters more for Africa than a presidential election in the United States. Already regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping, President Xi Jinping wants to preside over the next stage of the country's economic transformation, in which he sees the government playing a leading role, making state enterprises 'bigger and stronger'.  But he is far less enthusiastic about 'market forces' than his recent predecessors, partly because of rising inequality in the Western mould, insiders say.

Beijing's promise to boost consumer spending and innovation will be keenly watched in Africa. More resources will go into the 'One Belt, One Road' project, a branch of which cuts through East Africa en route to the Middle East and Europe. Alongside that project, Xi envisions a sharp expansion of China's global role as a 'major and responsible country' in the 21st century. That includes a growing role in the UN and other international organisations as well as consolidating its leadership role in Asia.

Africa's authoritarian leaders will pay particular attention to Xi's views on the need to strengthen national security and control the internet, 'to oppose and resist erroneous viewpoints'. On that front at least, regimes in Egypt, Togo, and Cameroon – who are fond of shutting down the web – are keeping pace with Beijing.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

KENYA: Political chasm widens with calls for Kenyatta to be sworn in after Odinga announces boycott of fresh presidential elections

This week, the breaking news comes from Kenya with opposition leader Raila Odinga's withdrawal from planned fresh elections. The constitutional mess there contrasts tellingly with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's elegant exit from power in Liberia as competitive multi-party elections are held there this week. With his eyes on Zimbabwe's elections next year, President Robert Mugabe is pushing back against his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa in a cabinet reshuffle. And Nigeria sceptics admitted to being heartily impressed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who explained the government's plan for economic revival at a conference in London.

KENYA: Political chasm widens with calls for Kenyatta to be sworn in after Odinga announces boycott of fresh presidential elections
Minutes after opposition leader Raila Odinga announced he was pulling out of the rerun of the presidential elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta told a rally in southern Kenya that it would make no difference. 'We have no problem going back to the elections. We are sure we will get more votes than the last time.'

His supporters went further, arguing that without Odinga's participation there would be no need for an election and that Kenyatta should be sworn in immediately. No chance, say the leaders of Odinga's National Super Alliance (NASA) camp, the country is now facing a constitutional crisis.

Those behind Odinga's boycott want it to trigger a restarting of the electoral cycle with all parties allowed to participate in fresh elections within 90 days. NASA official are still insisting on the replacement of several top officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and sweeping reforms of electoral management before a new round of elections could be held.

The IEBC, which Odinga singled out for particularly harsh criticism at his press conference today, has called an emergency meeting to decide on the next steps. Whatever plan it announces is almost certain to trigger a resort to the Supreme Court by one side or the other.

Officials from both the Kenyatta and Odinga campaign are due in Europe and the United States this week to explain their position as outsiders become increasingly bemused by this extended electoral crisis and the economy slows down.

LIBERIA: Establishment and 'disrupter' candidates vye to succeed Johnson-Sirleaf in this week's landmark electionsPeople clutching voters' cards started queueing before dawn on 10 October across the country in elections in which 20 contenders are competing for the Presidency. It is the first time that an outgoing Head of State has organised multi-party elections on a universal franchise to choose a successor. It is also probable that the presidential elections will go to two rounds.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has earned plaudits for keeping her distance from the race to succeed her and for insisting she will continue to live in Liberia after she leaves power. She would become the first retiring leader in the country's recent history to do so.

Most candidates in the race have paid lip-service to Johnson-Sirleaf's record of achievement but she has drawn criticism for appointing family members to key posts and failing to crack down harder on corruption. Some within her governing Unity Party fault her for unwillingness to offer a more enthusiastic endorsement of her Vice-President, Joseph Boakai, 72, who is running to succeed her.

In a speech in Washington last week, Johnson Sirleaf, 78, said she hoped the elections would usher in a new generation of leaders to build on her legacy in Liberia. Skipping a generation would rule out a government led by either of the front-runners: Boakai or Charles Brumskine, 66, another veteran politician.

Of the younger generation, Johnson-Sirleaf doesn't think highly of the former top footballer, George Weah, 51, who has chosen Jewel Howard, the former wife of gaoled military leader Charles Taylor, as his running mate. Some insiders say that Johnson-Sirleaf would have liked to back the candidacy of Alexander Cummings, 60, a youthful-looking businessman who returned to the country two years ago. We hear that Johnson-Sirleaf has held back from saying positive things about Cummings to avoid weakening her own party. All the parties are fighting legislative elections as well.

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe moves against his deputy Mnangagwa and promotes his 'homeboy' to finance post in reshuffleAfter months of bitter fighting in the ruling party over the succession, President Robert Mugabe's latest cabinet reshuffle undermines Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies. It is a decisive blow in favour of Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, whose faction in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has become a rallying point for opponents to Mnangagwa.

Mugabe has stripped Mnangagwa, 75, of the Justice Ministry, a key post which could determine the management of the sucession within the party and the country. Mugabe's long-time ally and former intelligence chief, Happyton Bonyongwe, takes over the Justice post.

This has been a bad year for Mnangagwa, who was hospitalised in South Africa in August complaining that someone had tried to poison him. Dismissing such claims as blatant lies, Grace Mugabe accused Mnangagwa of lacking patriotism and ratcheting up grievances in the ruling party.

Mnangagwa's ally and fellow lawyer, Patrick Chinamasa, has been moved from the Ministry of Finance, from where he was nudging through contentious economic reforms, to a new Ministry of Cyber Security. Although this new job will play an important role in quashing opposition campaigns, activists have ridiculed Chinamasa's obsession with social media calling him the 'Minister of Twitter and Whatsapp Affairs'.

In Chinamasa's place at the Finance ministry is Ignatius Chombo, the former Home Affairs minister who comes from Zvimba in Mashonaland West, a key local support base for Mugabe. There is still no organised challenge to Mugabe's continued rule within ZANU-PF. His latest appointments clearly strengthen the position of his wife within the political hierarchy.

NIGERIA: Vice-President Osinbajo talks up forex policy and investment revival but rules out a run for the presidency
In an assured performance in London on 9 October, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said that Nigeria had attracted pledged investments worth over US$20 billion this year as the economy recovers slowly from recession. Osinbajo, the lead author of Nigeria's medium-term economic reform programme, says the government plans to spend a third of this year's budget on roads, railways, ports and power stations.

A new 3,000 Megawatt power station in Lagos State, the country's commercial centre, is being planned and that will encourage more investors to set up productive ventures, added Osinbajo, who was speaking at the Financial Times 'Africa Summit' on 9 October. When asked at the meeting whether he would consider running for the presidency in 2019, Osinbajo replied with a smile that it 'wasn't on the cards'.

Earlier this year, Osinbajo won high praise when he took the helm of the country during President Muhammadu Buhari's lengthy periods of medical leave in London. There has still been no announcement about whether Buhari intends to stand for a second term in 2019 but there is an assumption that whoever wins the nomination will hail from one of the northern states. Osinbajo was born in Lagos in the south-west.


SOUTH AFRICA: State electricity company seeks $115 million in compensation from McKinsey and Trillian after claims of corrupt payments 

IMF/WORLD BANK: African finance ministers due in Washington DC as Chinese trade and ballooning commercial loans overshadow Bretton Woods' role

CONGO-KINSHASA: Opposition leader Moïse Katumbi pledges to return in December to fight presidential election, promising journalists seats on his plane

TANZANIA: Energy and Mining ministries broken up as Magufuli pushes ahead with economic nationalist agenda

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Liberia sets an example

Presidential and parliamentary elections in Liberia on 10 October raise again the matter of presidential term limits.

After a crowded career in commercial and development banking as well as director of the United Nations Development Programme in Africa, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf told us that, for her at least, two terms in the presidency was plenty.

Over two decades into what is known as Africa's second liberation – the collapse of most one-party regimes and their replacement by some form of pluralist politics – Johnson-Sirleaf's view is far from universally shared on the continent. Last week, parliamentarians in Kampala clashed after an ugly debate in which some political hacks tried to push through a bill abolishing the age limit of 75 for presidential candidates. Its aim was to clear the way for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in power for 31 years, to stand for yet another term in three years' time. This week grenades were thrown at the houses of two of the MPs who opposed the measure.

In Kinshasa, multiple rebellions, several of them urging Congo-Kinshasa President Joseph Kabila to stand down as the constitution specifies, are gathering force. And in the second-longest presidency on the continent, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, 93, speaks confidently of winning another term next year. His deputy and putative successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, claims to have been poisoned by a rival.

Monday, 2 October 2017

LIBERIA: Last week of campaigning ahead of watershed national elections as President Johnson-Sirleaf prepares her exit

The election countdown is on in Liberia with the field still wide open. Across in Kenya, the main parties argue over how to reform the electoral commission before the presidential election of August can be re-run. In neighbouring Uganda, veteran President Yoweri Museveni faces heavy opposition to a self-serving plan to abolish the age limit of 75 on heads of state. President Muhammadu Buhari's show of solidarity with the troops in north-east Nigeria fighting the jihadist Boko Haram militia follows yet another speech about the threat of secessionist movements in the south of the country.

LIBERIA: Last week of campaigning ahead of watershed national elections as President Johnson-Sirleaf prepares her exit
The national elections due on 10 October are the most open political contest in the country's history with at least three strong candidates vying for the presidency. Because the election is likely to go to a second round, contenders are steering a difficult path between building up their own bases and attacking their rivals. The successful candidate will have to build a broad-based alliance to win in the second round.

Although opinions vary on Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's record, and many of her strongest supporters are overseas, she is the first leader to organise a democratic succession. She says she is determined remain in Liberia as a private citizen after the transition.

So far, the race has been dominated by: Johnson-Sirleaf's self-effacing deputy Joseph Nyuma Boakai; veteran presidential contender Charles Brumskine; former AC Milan striker and winner of the Ballon d'Or, George Weah; businessman-turned-politician Alex Cummings; and MacDella Cooper.

Boakai presents himself as decent, competent and the continuity candidate building on Johnson-Sirleaf's legacy, while Brumskine prioritises economic diversification and breaking aid dependency.
Weah, who chose Charles Taylor's ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor as his running mate, is trying to maintain his appeal to young people. Cooper, the only female candidate, pushes the importance of economic empowerment and the need to tackle corruption. Cummings was a star performer in the presidential debate and has new ideas about raising funds to develop roads and power stations. He wants an independent prosecutor to tackle corruption.

KENYA: Stand-off between the two main parties over new commission staff, rules and the election date
Preparations for the re-run of the presidential election due on 26 October have been further complicated after the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) walked out of negotiations over reforms to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. James Orengo, a Senator and legal adviser to NASA, said his organisation would take to the streets until the government accepted the need for a thorough overhaul of the commission and its top management.

The governing Jubilee party, Orengo argued, is trying to restructure the commission to reduce its independence from government. If the two main parties – Jubilee and NASA – cannot agree on how to reform the commission in the next few days, that leaves two difficult options. Either hold the election on 26 October on terms that NASA rejects and risk an opposition boycott; or postpone it for weeks or months while the two protagonists argue over wider reforms to electoral management.

UGANDA: Museveni to make next move to extend his tenure after last week's parliamentary pandemonium was beamed around the world
If President Yoweri Museveni, after over three decades in power, was hoping to find a quiet way to extend his tenure, he was thwarted after clashes between MPs over a bill to end the age limit of 75 for presidents. Museveni will be 76 when the next elections are due in 2021.

Footage of fist-fights, chair-throwing and other mayhem in the parliamentary chamber flashed around the world. One scene prompted a commentary from South African satirist Trevor Noah on the Daily Show in New York.

Back in Kampala, protestors took to the streets in sympathy with the combatants in parliament. Given that his own National Resistance Movement harbours increasing numbers of dissidents, Museveni will have to tread carefully to avoid some form of broad coalition blocking his plan for another term.

NIGERIA: President flies to Maiduguri to see troops on Independence Day after making a call for national unity
Showing solidarity with his former comrades in the military, President Muhammadu Buhari flew to Maiduguri – the centre of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east – on Independence Day. Buhari's trip may also have been intended to convey the message that he was fully recovered from his long bouts of medical treatment for undisclosed ailments.

Buhari's trip followed another stern call for national unity which singled out the secessionist movement in south-east Nigeria as a serious threat. Any call for constitutional change '…should take place in a rational manner', said Buhari. He had less to say about the Boko Haram insurgency, over which the government has claimed victory. In the past year Boko Haram has intensified operations in northern Cameroon and the southern region of the Niger Republic, but has continued to use young people in suicide attacks against mosques and market-places.


CONGO-KINSHASA: The United Nations sends troops to South Kivu after Mai-Mai Yakutumba groups declare war against President Joseph Kabila's government

CÔTE D'IVOIRE/GHANA: Governments struggle to maintain payments to farmers as global cocoa prices fall by over 40%

RWANDA: Police say they have arrested oppositionist Diane Rwigara for security offences but are yet to charge her in court

SOMALIA: Turkey opens $50 million base in Mogadishu to train government forces and boosts its exports

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

GHANA/COTE D'IVOIRE: Accra wins oil border dispute but will step up economic cooperation with its neighbour

This week we follow on from developments at the United Nations General Assembly, which opened in New York last week and was attended by most African heads of state. Ghana's President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo had most to celebrate. Others were left bewildered after an encounter with United States President Donald Trump. Some investors are warning Tanzania that its nationalist economic policies could be counter-productive. The blowback from South Africa's Gupta-gate crisis continues to hit KPMG. And Congo-Kinshasa President Joseph Kabila's promise to investigate the murder of two UN officials leaves many unconvinced.

GHANA/CÔTE D'IVOIRE: Accra wins oil border dispute but will step up economic cooperation with its neighbour
Ghana is to step up production in the Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme oilfields after an international ruling found in its favour and against Côte d'Ivoire in a dispute over their maritime border. Production is likely to increase to 80,000 barrels per day from the current level of 50,000 bpd.
The award of most of the disputed oil field by the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to Ghana gave a fillip to its delegation at the UN General Assembly. It has also boosted the share price of Tullow Oil, the lead operator.

Along with Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta, President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo made a strong pitch to US investors in the energy and financial services sectors. The message was that the economy is being revived and the debt burden is being reduced.

Diplomatic and commercial relations between Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are likely to remain cordial despite the ruling. Earlier in the month Akufo-Addo and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, who have been personal friends for some years, announced plans for a joint-venture cocoa-processing factory and to set up a buffer stock of cocoa beans to stabilise prices. The two countries grow over half of the world's cocoa: global production is forecast at about 4.7 million tonnes for 2016-17. The buffer stock plan has been dubbed 'Chocpec' because it would involve voluntary curbs on production to maintain prices.

KENYA: Supreme Court calm as Kenyatta accuses it of judicial coup and opposition calls for new election officials
Multiple disputes are flaring up ahead of the planned rerun of the presidential election. Unconvinced by the Supreme Court's detailed ruling last week explaining its reasons for annulling the election, President Uhuru Kenyatta accused it of negating the will of the people and mounting a coup which could lead the country into 'judicial chaos'. The Court is standing by its 1 September ruling that the election didn't meet constitutional requirements.

Kenyatta's rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, is focusing his fire on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, insisting that most of its top management be replaced before another round of elections can be held. This week Odinga's National Super Alliance (NASA) organisation is to launch a campaign of mass protests to force the commission's hand.

Already, the commission has postponed the planned date for the rerun to 27 October from 16 October after one of its IT providers said the earlier date would not leave enough time for preparations. As the political temperature heats up, Odinga has accused Kenyatta of steering the country into crisis, comparing his stance to that of the defeated President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh.

TANZANIA: Magufuli's tough line on mining laws faces investment test as corporate grumblings increase
More and more mining companies are clashing with President John Magufuli's nationalist economic strategy to boost local processing and extract more taxes. Behind the scenes, the mining companies are saying there will be an investment strike if the government persists in this vein.

Yet there is no sign that Magufuli or his close circle is prepared to change course. Rather, they look set to double down on their main policy goal: to boost the government's share of revenue from mining. The government view was neatly summed up in an off-the-record comment by a senior official to Africa Confidential: 'Tanzania is now one of Africa's fastest-growing economies but we have seen little benefit from that in terms of revenues or jobs… and we have to change that balance.'

First came the government's demand that Acacia Mining, the London-listed subsidiary of Canada's Barrick Gold, should stop exports of ore until it built a local smelter. Then the government presented Acacia with a $190 billion bill for what it said was unpaid taxes, adding the under-reporting of exports to the charge sheet. Then the government pushed through new laws implementing yet more resource-nationalist measures, and then accused Petra Diamonds of under-reporting exports and avoiding taxes. Other mining companies fear they are in the firing line. The big test will be whether any of them shut up shop and walk away.

SOUTH AFRICA: Gordhan steps up pressure on KPMG to examine its suspect political and commercial links
The troubles of Dutch-based KPMG International and its South African affiliate are set to multiply after the company came under fire for auditing companies run by the Gupta family, who are accused of using their relations with President Jacob Zuma to win state contracts, for 15 years before dropping them last year.

There is also the charge that KPMG aided and lent respectability to a politically-motivated investigation into the South African Revenue Service whose findings were used to oust the respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Although KPMG has withdrawn the conclusions of its investigation, it has not apologised either to Gordhan or the many senior officials who lost their jobs as a result of the affair.

Two weeks ago KPMG International purged its local management in Johannesburg and issuing a qualified apology for work that fell below its usual standards (AC Vol 58 No 19, KPMG feels the Gupta heat). On 21 September, Gordhan met KPMGI Chairman John Veihmeyer and has called for 'full and proper disclosure' of the company's operations in South Africa. In turn, KPMG has agreed to an inquiry by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

But this is unlikely to be enough. Gordhan has been speaking to his lawyers about the case; the opposition Democratic Alliance has announced that all local and provincial governments under its control would review their contracts with KPMG. The current Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has also called for all national and local departments to review with contracts with KPMG.

Alongside that reputational damage in the public sector, the bigger financial threat to KPMG is whether or not the country's biggest companies and banks will also drop it. Already, several medium-size financial service companies have dropped the firm and three of the biggest banks are reviewing their contracts. The question that presumably motivated KPMGI Chairman Veihmeyer to travel to South Africa and apologise personally for the company's record is whether it can stop the contagion there. Or will KPMG's Gupta crisis wreck its business across Africa and beyond?

CONGO-KINSHASA: Kabila pledges full investigation into killing of UN experts but UN Secretary General favours independent probe
Demonstrators gathered on New York's First Avenue last week waving placards accusing President Joseph Kabila of killing oppositionists and trying to extend his term of office unconstitutionally while the target of their outrage was inside the UN headquarters addressing the assembly.

Kabila had nothing to say about his plans to prolong his tenure but did assure the assembly that his government would punish those responsible for the murder of two UN experts, Zaida Catalán and Michael J Sharp, in Kasaï in March. A UN Board of Inquiry report examining the circumstances of the murder has not satisfied relatives of the victims or other critics (AC Vol 58 No 19, Storm over probe into UN experts murder).

Among Congolese civic activists and many UN staff, there is extreme scepticism that the trial of nine murder-suspects by a Congolese military tribunal will uncover the truth. Facing pressure to commission an independent investigation, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been talking about a 'follow-on mechanism', expressing hopes that 'independent experts' may be able to work alongside Congolese state investigators.

ZIMBABWE: Pastor Evan Mawarire due in court on subversion charges after he criticises government's economic record
RWANDA: Police have arrested activist Diane Rwigara and family for 'security offences'
LIBYA: US airstrike on Da'ish fighters points to growing cooperation with General Khalifa Haftar
MAURITIUS: Critic drops accusations of money laundering against Attorney-General, claiming he was manipulated by media

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Trump takes on the UN

Some African leaders in the United Nations General Assembly on 19 September listening to United States President Donald Trump's planned remedies for rogue states seemed to breathe a sigh of relief at his lack of interest in their continent. The following day, during discussions chaired by Ethiopia, which presides over the UN Security Council this month, African officials saw in more detail what planned US budget cuts are likely to do to UN operations on their continent.

President Trump's enthusiasm for the military and US projection of power doesn't extend to financing or participating in UN peacekeeping operations. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is pushing for swingeing cuts – of up to 10% – to UN missions in Congo-Kinshasa and Sudan. Trump wants to limit the US share of the UN's US$7.3 billion peacekeeping budget to 25%. It is currently 28.5% and the US is easily the biggest contributor.

UN operations in Congo-K are to be cut by about $90 million by economising on staffing and travel. This comes at a time when the country could be on the brink of political implosion as opposition mounts to Joseph Kabila's attempts to extend his presidency, against the terms of the constitution. Other missions in the frame for cuts are those in Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan. Washington evidently wants France to lead in the two francophone states, and for Britain to take on a stronger role in Juba.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

KENYA: Political bitterness growing as Kenyatta warns that an Odinga presidency would face impeachment

This week, Kenya's election saga rolls on with the opening of parliament in Nairobi and conflicting claims about the electoral commission. In South Africa, more companies and state officials could become targets of the 'Gupta effect'. Tanzanian President John Magufuli has another foreign mining company in his sights, this time over allegations of dodgy diamond-dealing. The same charge is levelled in Zimbabwe but this time – to the embarrassment of Robert Mugabe – against allies of the President and officials in the national spy agency.

KENYA: Political bitterness growing as Kenyatta warns that an Odinga presidency would face impeachmentMixed messages are emerging on the campaign trail and in parliament ahead of the rerun of the presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court. Opening parliament yesterday (12 September), President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that 'divisive and destructive politics' were threatening the stability of the country.

It was a sideswipe at politicians of the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) who boycotted the opening of parliament yesterday. 'We shall continue to encourage vibrant democratic competition,' said Kenyatta, '…we shall not allow destructive division.'

At the same time, opposition leaders were holding a rally in the Nairobi slum of Kibera at which they rejected the mooted presidential poll date of 17 October. They also demanded the resignation of the management of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

At the beginning of the week, at another election rally, President Kenyatta warned that if opposition leader Raila Odinga won the presidency in the rerun election he would be impeached within three months. Kenyatta was referring to the increase in the number of Jubilee MPs. They now constitute nearly two-thirds of the 290-seat parliament.

Jubilee officials have been trying, in recent days, to woo some MPs who have been supporting Odinga. For now, no end to 'divisive politics' looks to be on the agenda.

SOUTH AFRICA: Corrupt officials in state companies could face civil actions to recover funds as more Gupta-linked multinationals come under fireCalls from Thuli Madonsela, South Africa's former Public Protector, for civil actions against officials caught up in claims of multi-million dollar fraud linked to the Gupta brothers' companies have won strong support from local business.

Africa Confidential understands that some prominent local companies are preparing to sue senior state officials who they say are responsible for massive losses to South Africa's treasury. Madonsela has pointed to the public losses following payments of 300 million rand (US$23 mn.) by Eskom, the state electricity company, to Trillian, a company linked to the Gupta family and allies of President Jacob Zuma.

Officials at Eskom were warned of impropriety linked to the Trillian payments but failed to act, said Madonsela. Although the South African government has an Asset Forfeiture Unit, Madonsela has questioned whether it would be willing to act in such a case because it involves high-ranking officials.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the British-based auditors KPMG who have worked for several companies owned by the Gupta family. 'Save South Africa', a local civil society group, has accused KPMG of playing a 'central role in facilitating state capture' by the Guptas. This week, South Africa's Institute of Directors announced it would no longer co-sponsor events with KPMG and several companies are said to be reviewing their relations with the auditors.

TANZANIA: Government seizes consignment from Petra Diamonds,  accusing it of under-declaring mineral exportsPresident John Magufuli's government, already in a heated dispute with Acacia Mining, has stepped up his resource nationalism campaign by ordering an urgent review of all Petra Diamonds contracts.
This follows officials' seizure of millions of dollars worth of diamonds from Petra Diamonds' mine at Dar es Salaam airport. The company put the value of the stones, which were to be exported to Antwerp, at $14.7 mn. but customs officials ordered a fresh valuation after which the government claimed the true value was $29.5 mn. Finance Minister Philip Mpango has launched an investigation into the government's valuation team.

After President Magufuli ordered all officials involved in the affair to quit the government, Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Transportation Edwin Ngonyani and Minister in the Presidency George Simbachawene announced their resignations. They both expressed confidence that the investigation would clear them of wrongdoing.

Petra Diamonds has now suspended operations in Tanzania. It will now face a wider enquiry into claims that it substantially underpaid duties and taxes.

ZIMBABWE: Spy agency and Mugabe allies control diamond mines in Marange, according to Global WitnessAs President Mugabe announces the start of voter registration ahead of next year's national elections, an undercover investigation claims that his political allies and officials in the Central Intelligence Organisation have been trading diamonds illicitly from the mines in Marange. The revelations, by London-based Global Witness, will acutely embarrass Mugabe, who claimed last year that illegal Marange diamond exports had cost the country $15 billion in lost revenue. He accused 'foreign-owned' mining companies of swindling the state.

But it seems a company called Kusena, in which the CIO and others had a secret stake, was a major beneficiary of the diamond deals (AC Vol 55 No 10, Mugabe moves on Marange). The spy agency is said to have used its highly lucrative stake as a slush fund for covert operations. In previous elections, such operations, which have included serious assaults, have targeted the opposition.


TUNISIA: Questions over who ordered the expulsion of dissident Moroccan Prince Moulay Hicham

NIGERIA: Women Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan pledges to back Atiku Abubakar in 2019 presidential race

GHANA: Central Bank launches tougher rules on capital requirements after two local bank takeovers