Some local difficulties have broken out in Abuja ahead of another investment roadshow by Nigeria and there is new and dramatic twist in the trial of strength between South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and his Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan. The crisis in Ghana at Obuasi, one of the biggest gold mines in the world, is getting worse with over 18,000 illegal miners operating there. The UN has condemned an attempted putsch in Tripoli which it says will set back its attempts to broker the formation of a national government in Libya.
NIGERIA: Cacophony in the cabinet ahead of
First Lady Aisha Buhari's criticism of her husband's
government in a no holds-barred interview with the BBC on 14 October
has deepened concerns over policy as Abuja's economic team continues
its fund-raising tour with an investment conference in London set for
Friday (21 October).
Mrs Buhari told the BBC Hausa service that unless things
improved she would not campaign for a second term for him. Anonymous
government officials tried to downplay the interview as a 'family
affair'. That didn't work.
Then, President Muhammadu Buhari, questioned
at a press conference in Berlin with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, tried to make light of it
by saying, 'I don't know exactly what party my wife belongs to.
Actually, she belongs in the kitchen, the living room and the other
rooms in my house.' That put the President in a deeper hole. His press
office passed it off as banter.
Although Nigerians have been enthusiastically debating Mrs
Buhari's comments, poor economic conditions dominate much media
comment. Budget Minister Udo Udoma said the
government plans to sell off some $15 billion worth of state assets
when he opened discussions on the 2017 budget in the National Assembly
last week. Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, who is set
to address the London conference, plans to raise some $4.5 bn. in the
markets over the next 18 months.
SOUTH AFRICA: Reports of the Guptas' $480 million
payments raises stakes in Zuma's legal battle
The Treasury may have scored a palpable hit in the latest battle with
President Jacob Zuma and his business allies in the Gupta family. On 14
October Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan filed a Financial Intelligence
Report, which questioned some $480 mn. of transactions by the Guptas,
with the Pretoria High Court. The affidavit, first revealed by the
amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, has now obtained wider
circulation (a certified copy of Gordhan's affidavit is appended
here for your interest).
Gordhan is asking the court to issue an order declaring that
he cannot interfere with the decision by commercial banks to close down
the accounts of the Guptas' holding company. Zuma's allies, including
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, have
been trying to pressure Gordhan to compel the banks to reopen the
Guptas' corporate accounts.
This follows days of tension leading up to Public Protector Thuli
Madonsela's planned release on 14 October of an investigative
report on the Gupta family's political and business influence in South
Africa. A last-minute court application by President Zuma delayed the
publication of the report. Zuma's lawyers were insisting that he should
be able to question witnesses and see any evidence that might implicate
him in wrongdoing.
However, several senior African National Congress figures are
calling for the release of Madonsela's report as soon as possible. Over
the weekend, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa came
out with his strongest endorsement of Gordhan to date.
GHANA: Claims of election link to Obuasi gold-miners
Over 18,000 illegal gold-miners are working at the Obuasi mine in
central Ghana, despite repeated requests by the owners, AngloGold
Ashanti, to the government to stop them. Hundreds of illegal artisanal
miners have been killed or maimed so far this year in their hazardous
In May, AngloGold Ashanti registered a case against Ghana at
the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in
Washington after the government withdrew security guards from the mine
as part of a politically-inflected dispute with company.
The Ghana Minerals Commission gave the illegal miners, known
locally as galamsey, until 10 October to leave the mine. But
the order was not backed up by any state security officials.
Mining industry officials say that the governing National
Democratic Congress fears the potential impact of any mass eviction of
miners on the national elections, which are due on 7 December. Some
officials claim that the illegal miners are sponsored by senior
politicians, from all parties, seeking seeking to raise money for
campaigning. Yet none of the political parties have produced plans to
create alternative work for the illegal miners. So the crisis, along
with its injuries and deaths, drags on.
LIBYA: Would-be putschists target UN-backed government
The United Nations suffered another setback to its bid to broker a
political settlement in Tripoli when the Government of National Accord
(GNA), which it supports, was the target of an attempted coup in the
capital on 14 October.
The coup-plotters, led by former premier Khalifa
Ghwail, took over the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, where the GNA's
state council was meant to establish itself. Ghwail accused the GNA of
forfeiting the right to rule because of its repeated failures.
For now there is a stand-off in Tripoli with some militias
backing the GNA and others Ghwail. MPs elected to the parliament based
in Tobruk, eastern Libya, who are expected to meet on Monday (17 October),
are watching developments in the capital closely. Forces loyal to the
eastern-based army commander, Khalifa Haftar, have
captured most the country's oil ports in recent weeks.