This week we start in the South African courts to watch the latest round of the proxy political battle between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma; the Kenyan economy gets a vote of confidence from the World Bank; results in Côte d'Ivoire's constitutional referendum are expected early in the week; and the biggest foreign investor in Guinea's Simandou mine, Rio Tinto, is selling its 46% stake to Chinalco, one of the biggest resource companies in China. Finally, the chairwoman of Ghana's Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, is in Europe this week to discuss her efforts to ensure credible and peaceful elections in December.
SOUTH AFRICA: Pressure mounts
on ANC leaders as Prosecutor wobbles on case against
The governing African National Congress faces another week of turmoil
as State Prosecutor Shaun Ibrahim
looks set to back down on his widely
criticised attempts to lay fraud charges against Finance Minister
Pravin Gordhan. Several senior ANC figures are giving strong support to
Gordhan, questioning the motives behind Ibrahim's threatened
Many political insiders believe that Ibrahim, an ally of
Jacob Zuma, is part of a campaign to stop the Finance Minister's probe
into state corruption and patronage. Unless Ibrahim calls off the case,
Gordhan is due in court on 2
November to face charges of fraud for approving an early retirement
deal for a senior staffer at the National Revenue Service.
As the Gordhan case plays out this week, ANC leaders are
mulling a new
report prepared for the party's National Executive Committee which
calls for President Zuma to resign. The report includes trenchant
criticism from party's branches of the leadership's lack of
accountability, in particular Zuma's close personal relations with
KENYA: Mixed signals as
Kenyatta tries to boost economy ahead of next year's
Against the trend of slowing economies in much of the rest of Africa,
Kenya's farming and tourism sector are growing faster and bringing in
more foreign investment. On 31 October, the World Bank announced that
Kenya's economy should grow this year by 5.9% against an earlier
forecast of 5.6%.
President Uhuru Kenyatta's
government says the final growth figure
should be 6% for this year and will rise to 7% next year. Facing a
tough election next August, with veteran oppositionist Raila Odinga
among the leading challengers, Kenyatta is keen to claim economic
Although Kenya is Africa's fastest growing retail market and
the region's most diversified economies, its tea production is falling
short of the government target – 500 million kilograms – because of a
regional drought. Kenya is the world's biggest tea exporter. Coffee
production has also been hit by the drought.
And despite big investments by France's Carrefour and the United
States' Walmart into Kenya's retail sector, two local
chains – Nakumatt and Uchumi – are restructuring after hitting serious
COTE D'IVOIRE: Opposition
boycott undermines constitutional referendum
A proposed new constitution which dilutes the nationality qualification
for presidential candidates and strengthens executive powers is likely
go through after the 30 October referendum. But the organisation of the
referendum and the drafting of the new constitution have been lambasted
by civic activists and opposition parties which boycotted the
They are eagerly waiting to see what percentage of the
million registered voters turned out on 30 October. Critics say the new
constitution was rushed through – Ivorians had just two weeks to debate
its provisions before the referendum – and serves the interests of
President Alassane Ouattara,
above all else.
The new constitution allows a candidate with just one
parent to run for the presidency; the previous constitution of 1999
stipulated that both parents should be Ivorian. This created problems
for Ouattara as his opponents claimed that at least one of his parents
came from neighbouring Burkina Faso.
Opposition parties insist that Ouattara's election as
President in 2010
and 2015 was illegitimate. They add that the new constitution is
designed to weaken the power of parliament.
Under the new constitution Ouattara will be able to appoint a
Vice-President who will succeed him should he resign. It also allows
President to appoint a third of the members in the Senate, and
establishes a national house of traditional rulers which might further
weaken the power of the elected chambers.
GUINEA: Rio Tinto sell stake
in world's biggest ore mine to China
After two decades of political fights and lawsuits, Rio Tinto is
leaving Guinea, having sold its 46.6% stake in the Simandou iron ore
mines for an estimated US$1 to 1.3 billion to Chinalco, one of China's
biggest resource companies. The development of Simandou, the
world's biggest iron ore mine, could double the size of Guinea's
economy but investors have struggled to raise funds to build a 1,000
kilometre railway linking the site to a seaport.
The decision to quit was made by Rio's new managing director
who said his company was struggling raise money
for the project. Company officials could take another six months to
finalise the deal under which Rio would be able to recoup much of its
estimated $1.4 bn. investment in the project.
The sale will not directly affect the complex three-way legal
between Rio and its erstwhile partners in Guinea, Brazil's Vale and
Steinmetz Resource Group in which each side accuses
the other of fraudulent practices.
GHANA: Appeals from
disqualified candidates could delay presidential election
due on 7 December
Charlotte Osei, the chairwoman of Ghana's Electoral Commission, is due
to address a meeting of the Royal African Society in London on 2
November, as 13 opposition candidates are protesting their
disqualification from the elections. The two leading candidates –
President John Mahama and Nana Addo Akufo Addo of the New
Party – are the front runners in the presidential elections on 7
December and have not got involved in this latest controversy.
The Commission ruled that the 13 presidential candidates would
ineligible because of mistakes and duplications in their applications
forms. The disqualified candidates include Nana Konadu Agyeman
Rawlings, wife of former President Jerry Rawlings, and Paa Kwei Nduom,
an Nkrumahist candidate who leads the Progressive People's Party.
Rawlings and Nduom, along with some of the other candidates are
contesting their disqualification in a petition to the High Court.
Although the Commission insists its decision is final, it agrees that
the Court appeal process must be completed before the elections are