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.


THE WEEK AHEAD IN BRIEF

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.




THE WEEK AHEAD IN BRIEF

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.

IN VERY BRIEF
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.


IN VERY BRIEF

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

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Observing the observers

Some rethinking by election observers and we, the journalists who cover them, is needed in the wake of the 1 September decision of Kenya's Supreme Court to annul last month's presidential election. In a rare example of editorial remorse, the New York Times has conceded that its leader, two days after the results were announced, asserting that observers had 'witnessed no foul play' and accusing Raila Odinga of 'fann[ing] the embers of ethnic strife', was misplaced. Other media outfits are less inclined to self-criticism.

Amid the complexity of a national election in which about 19 million voters marked six ballot papers each, it requires detailed scrutiny to assess its fairness. The key role of digital technology – and its vulnerability to security breaches – in verifying voters, tallying and relaying the results makes accurate judgements still harder.

That can make even intrepid journalists reliant on expert observers. Yet politics can impinge on technical judgements. After the murderous clashes of 2007-2008 in Kenya, some observers adopted a 'peace before justice' position, wanting to dampen down all but the most egregious complaints lest they fuel another political implosion. Now it seems the Supreme Court has taken a different tack, subjecting the electoral commission to the most rigorous legal tests. This comes at a time of creeping, sometime galloping, authoritarianism in Africa and its boldness puts a huge responsibility on the country's politicians.

Monday, 4 September 2017

KENYA: After court overturns Kenyatta's victory, opposition wants sweeping reforms to electoral commission ahead of poll re-run

We start in Kenya this week where the shock of the Supreme Court's decision to annul the presidential election is still being felt. Opposition movements and election petitioners across Africa have been heartened by the ruling. Some of the international analysts and observers who had rushed to endorse Uhuru Kenyatta's victory have sounded a note of humility as they await the court's full ruling. There is mixed news about China's multi-billion dollar deals in Nigeria. The family of a front-line political dissident in Rwanda, Diane Rwigara, say she has disappeared after a police raid but government officials contradict them. And Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's Deputy President, is facing a slew of dirty tricks which some are linking to outgoing President Jacob Zuma.

KENYA: After court overturns Kenyatta's victory, opposition wants sweeping reforms to electoral commission ahead of poll re-run
Critical decisions about the timing of the re-run election and the management of the electoral commission will have to be made quickly in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision to annul Uhuru Kenyatta's victory in the 8 August presidential election. Key to this will be the publication of the full written opinion by Chief Justice David Maraga setting out the reasons why four of the six judges sitting on the case decided to annul the result. Although Maraga has 21 days to release it, political insiders expect to see it later this week.

If the judgement relies mainly on evidence of procedural faults in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's management of the polls – such as tallying discrepancies between results recorded at the polling stations and those posted electronically – fresh elections may be held without a major reorganisation of the responsible institutions.

However, if Maraga's written judgement backs the claims by opposition leader Raila Odinga that there was widespread interference with the IT systems that tallied and relayed the presidential results, many will demand a wholesale restructuring of the IEBC. That could make it make it extremely difficult to meet the deadline of holding fresh elections by 31 October.

There are already loud calls from the opposition for Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the IEBC, to stand down immediately. Within hours of the judgement on 1 September, President Kenyatta said he would accept Chief Justice Maraga's decision despite his strong disagreement. But back on the campaign trail a day later, Kenyatta referred to Maraga and his colleagues as 'dishonest people', arguing that the ability of a Court to annul a popular verdict was a problem that needed 'to be fixed'.
Political and community responsibility will be tested to the limit in the coming weeks.

NIGERIA: As Chinese oil giant faces international bribe probe, Beijing agrees to finance $5.8 billion Mambilla hydro scheme
The United States' investigations are escalating into claims that China's Sinopec paid $100 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to resolve a US$4 billion dispute during negotiations to take over Addax, the Geneva-based oil trading outfit. After a company official was arrested in Geneva in March on corruption charges, the Swiss authorities fined Sinopec 31 mn. Swiss francs ($33 mn.).

This case could prove extremely embarrassing for Sinopec, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, if the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission press ahead with their own investigations.

However, the dispute shows no signs of derailing the burgeoning relations between Beijing and Abuja. Indeed, as US companies cut their investments in Nigeria's oil industry as well as their purchases of Nigerian crude, their Chinese counterparts are stepping up trade with Africa's biggest producer. This month Power Minister Babatunde Fashola announced that China's Civil Engineering Construction Corporation has won a $5.8 bn. contract to build the 3,000 Megawatt Mambilla hyrdro-electric plant. China Exim Bank will finance 85% of the contract with Nigeria providing the rest. The project is to take six years, said Fashola.

RWANDA: Disqualified presidential contender and regime critic is missing after arrest, say family
The whereabouts of Diane Rwigara, a human rights activist who was barred from contesting last month's presidential election, are unknown, say her family, following a police raid on her house in Kigali last week. Rwigara and three siblings were taken from her house for questioning on 29 August, according to the police who insist none of them were detained.

Until three years ago, Rwigara's father Assinapol had been close to President Paul Kagame and other top figures in the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front, but he fell out with them and in February 2015 died in a car crash which his family and others insist was a murder.

Her father's death pushed Diane, a chartered accountant, into politics. Rwigara's application to run in the presidential election was rejected after the government said that some of the over 1,000 signatures backing her candidacy had been forged.

Following that rejection, Rwigera announced she would start a new political group, the People's Salvation Movement. Days later the Rwandan revenue authority said that the family company, Premier Tobacco, owes 6.6 bn. Rwandan francs ($7.8 mn.) in back taxes.

GHANA: After Accra mission, IMF sees signs of economic recovery and extends programme for another year
A decision last week by the International Monetary Fund to extend its credit facility to Ghana for another year has resolved a glitch in its relations with President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo's government. For several months, top officials in Akufo-Addo's government had said they wanted an early end to the IMF facility as it was unnecessary both in terms of the financing it brought and its macro-economic conditions.

In June, Germany invited Ghana to join its Africa economic partnership programme which would yield more financing than the IMF's three year $930 mn. facility.

There were other complicating factors to the IMF's relations with Ghana's new government. Many officials had wanted the IMF to be far more critical of the previous government's breach of its commitments to the fund on the budget deficit and state spending. Instead, the IMF had issued a highly diplomatic statement about 'its concerns' three months prior to last December's national elections.

Since the Akufo-Addo government took over, the IMF has been far more forthright about Ghana's economic plight and has made stern warnings about borrowing plans. In last week's statement, IMF officials referred to 'encouraging steps' by the authorities and signs of 'economic recovery'. Both fund officials and commercial bankers say the Akufo-Addo government is much more serious about budgetary discipline than its predecessor. This year the budget deficit is forecast at 6.3%, compared with 9.3% last year.

SOUTH AFRICA: Ramaphosa faces 'apartheid-style' dirty tricks in race to lead ANC
Two leading African National Congress figures – Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu – have condemned 'dirty tricks' against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign for the leadership of the party. They said there is evidence that state resources and intelligence service personnel were used to hack Ramaphosa's email accounts.

Apart from damaging Ramaphosa’s electioneering, the stories, which broke over the weekend, may distract attention from what could be another difficult week for President Jacob Zuma. Tomorrow (5 September), the Constitutional Court is due to rule on whether there should be a judicial investigation into Zuma's breaching of the constitution. Also on 5 September, opposition parties in parliament are to push ahead with a vote for an early election to cut short Zuma's second term.

Referring to the hacked emails, the Johannesburg weekly, the Sunday Independent contacted Ramaphosa with a slew of questions about alleged marital infidelities. In response to the newspaper's story, Ramaphosa issued a lengthy rebuttal of the accusations and some of the women named in the account have come forward to back his version of events.

Mantashe went on to say the tricks were reminiscent of tactics used by the former apartheid regime. That is about as damning as condemnations get in the ANC. Although it's clear they were suggesting the involvement of President Zuma in the dirty tricks both men stopped short of referring to Zuma by name. Nor did they make any reference to Zuma's ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is Ramaphosa's main rival in the leadership contest.


IN VERY BRIEF

ZAMBIA: Top Nigerian diplomat to mediate between President Edgar Lungu and opposition leader Hakainde Hichelema

UNITED STATES/UNITED NATIONS: US President Donald Trump will host special conference pushing reforms and cuts in UN funding on 18 September

BURUNDI: UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi calls for the International Criminal Court to probe claims of war crimes by President Pierre Nkuruniziza's regime

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

KENYA: Opposition demands access to election computers as court case heats up ahead of 1 September deadline

We start this week with a couple of election disputes – in Angola and Kenya. In both cases, opposition candidates allege fraud by the national electoral commission, but few expect either result to be overturned. Congo-Kinshasa is back on the radar, with the UN criticising the government over elections, about which there are growing concerns. A new agricultural commodities exchange is stirring interest among farmers and investors from South Africa and China. Finally, France's President Emmanuel Macron hosted a mini-summit on migration in Paris over the weekend during which he got agreement, in principle, to process asylum seekers within Africa, instead of running through the checks once the would-be migrants have landed in Europe. Much detailed work remains according to both the European and African officials at the summit.

KENYA: Opposition demands access to election computers as court case heats up ahead of 1 September deadline
A trial of strength is intensifying between Raila Odinga's National Super Alliance (Nasa) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as opposition lawyers demand access to the commission's servers and other electronic data. Nasa says IEBC's announcement that incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta won the 8 August elections by 1.4 million votes was 'fatally flawed' due to meddling with the commission's information technology systems.

Although the Supreme Court, which is hearing the opposition's challenge, has requested the IEBC to grant opposition lawyers limited access to its computer servers on 28 August, both parties have been locked in dispute over the modalities. Opposition lawyers claim that the electronic results transmitted by the IEBC differ sharply from the votes counted manually at polling stations across the country.
The Presidential inauguration has been postponed until after 1 September, the deadline for the Court to rule on the validity of the elections.

ANGOLA: Opposition questions MPLA election win as talks start on $2 billion Eurobond
Opposition parties are also questioning the credibility of national polls on 23 August in Angola in which the incumbent MPLA is said to have won 61.1% of the vote by the electoral commission. Final results are not due until 6 September.

However, UNITA, the historic opposition party, says its parallel vote count in the provinces of Bie, Cabina, Huambo and Luanda, differs sharply with the results released by the commission.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Luanda have opened talks with international banks about floating a US$2 billion Eurobond. Crashing world oil prices brought Angola's economy to a grinding halt last year after a decade of growth averaging 7% a year.

Although Russian state bank VTB, which along with Credit Suisse is at the centre of the secret loans scandal in Mozambique, had earlier tried to market a financing scheme in Luanda, Angolan officials deny that it has been selected to handle the bond launch.

CONGO-KINSHASA: UN criticises President Kabila's government over rights violations as Washington ends special envoy post
Raising serious doubts about the government's commitment to holding national elections this year, a United Nations assessment has criticised the Kinshasa government for cracking down on journalists and civic activists.

A UN team led by Georgette Gagnon of its Human Rights Office concluded that the 'space for a credible electoral process is rapidly shrinking' although President Joseph Kabila signed an agreement pledging to leave power and hold free elections this year. Gagnon's assessment follows fresh reports of clashes in Kasai and the east of the country.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, who has met Kabila in private talks, has added to concerns by telling the recent summit of the Southern African Development Community that elections in December are 'unlikely'. SADC is to appoint a high-level envoy to mediate between Kabila and the opposition. Kabila may find his political plans will encounter less international opposition following a decision by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to end the appointment of special envoys to crises in Africa and Asia.

In a letter to the US Congress last week, Tillerson announced that he was shutting down the offices of special envoys to Congo-Kinshasa and South Sudan, and that those functions would be taken up by other Washington-based officials.

NIGERIA: Investment of $135 million in commodities exchange buoys hopes for speedier economic revival
The latest economic data – a slight drop in headline inflation and economic growth edging upwards slowly – points to a slow recovery from last year's recession but concerns persist about caps on social spending and a lack of new jobs.

However, the plan to invest US$135 million in an agricultural commodities exchange at Ugbokun, Edo State, has sparked huge interest following the sharp growth in farm production over the last two years. Farmers have boosted output in the wake of the crash in oil prices and state revenues.

Due to more effective delivery of seeds and fertilisers, farmers in northern Nigeria are stepping up rice, millet and sugar production, selling substantial amounts of produce to neighbouring states.
The commodities exchange at Ugbokun, known as Integrated Produce City, should encourage farmers in six states in the south of the country to boost their own production and bring it to the new market for domestic customers or exports. Crops such as cocoa, rubber, cashew nuts and palm oil will be traded on the exchange initially but the range is likely to widen to include yam and cassava.

Chief Executive of the new venture, Pat Utomi is an economist, a founder of the Lagos Business School and a former presidential candidate. Having advocated restructuring the country's economy away from its dependence on crude oil exports, Utomi is committing his energies to a project that would promote the country's self-sufficiency in staple foodstuffs. Currently Nigeria spends more than $3.5 bn. a year on imported commodities.

AFRICA/EUROPEAN UNION: France's Macron wins wide support for 'safe zones' to process asylum applications in Africa
After a summit meeting in Paris yesterday (28 August), German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron pronounced themselves satisfied with 'initial progress' on a plan to stem migration to Europe by organising the processing of applications for political asylum in Africa.

The plan, devised by Macron, also won some conditional support from Libyan leader Faiez el Serraj, Chad's President Idris Déby Itno and Niger's President Mahamadou  Issoufou. As with most of the European Union's initiatives on migration there is likely to be some inducement for regional governments to join.

Under the scheme, the EU will pay some countries in the Sahel region and West Africa to set up better facilities to accommodate asylum seekers. Over the last couple of years, the EU has stepped up development projects in African countries where people face harsh conditions and are firmly on the migration roadmap.


IN VERY BRIEF

GHANA: IMF is to release a review of the economy this week as the government forecasts faster growth over next two years.

SOUTH AFRICA: Presidential son Duduzane Zuma and KPMG are trying to limit damage of their links with Gupta family businesses.

SOMALIA: US airstrike kills top Al Shabaab commander but Mogadishu government faces protests after civilians killed in ground operation.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Buhari's quiet return

After three months' medical leave, President Muhammadu Buhari's return to Abuja on 19 August has failed to inject a new spirit of dynamism into government business.

A cabinet meeting planned for 23 August was cancelled at short notice. That was, we were told, to allow Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to discuss investigations into two suspended officials, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir Lawal, and Director General of the National Intelligence Agency Ayodele Oke.

Another reason, still less plausible, for the cancelled cabinet was the need for renovations at the Presidential offices. 'There are rats in the building,' said an official wryly, unclear whether the rodents were metaphorical ones. The inertia over the cases of Lawal and Oke shows the strict limits of Osinbajo's power as acting President in Buhari's absence. Although Osinbajo said he consulted regularly with Buhari, he was unable to sack either Lawal or Oke, let alone name replacements.

Osinbajo, who insists that substantive progress has been made on economic restructuring and security reform, admits to frustration at the pace of the promised fight against corruption. Not only have cases against officials from the previous government dragged on but there are signs of a new wave of crooked foreign exchange and oil deals. Sceptical about the executive's political will, senior politicians in the National Assembly claim to be amassing evidence on these cases.

Monday, 21 August 2017

SIERRA LEONE: More heavy rain forecast this week after over 500 killed and missing in Freetown landslide

We start in Freetown where rescue workers are trying to prevent more loss of life with renewed downpours expected this week and in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari is back on-seat and addressing the country on security matters. In Angola, the MPLA, headed by presidential candidate João Lourenço, is set to cruise to victory on Wednesday (23 August) against a weak opposition; the turnout may give a clearer idea about sentiment on the ground. Still on elections, opposition leader Raila Odinga submitted his election petition to the Supreme Court but insiders expect it will fail. Lastly, after a week of speculation about the possibility of Grace Mugabe being charged with assaulting a model in a Johannesburg hotel, the South African government gave her diplomatic immunity. Business sources claim there was a behind-the-scenes deal over landing rights for the two country's airlines.


SIERRA LEONE: More heavy rain forecast this week after over 500 killed and missing in Freetown landslide
Officials and volunteers are mapping out the most vulnerable areas around Freetown amid fears there could be another devastating landslide this week with deluges forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday 22 August) and Wednesday.


Seneh Dumbuya, the chief coroner in Freetown, told Reuters news agency yesterday (20 August) that rescue workers have brought out 499 bodies since the landslide at Mount Sugar Loaf on 14 August. Locals say another 600 people are still missing; some people trapped by rubble and mud in air pockets have been able to send text messages. The biggest risks now are that a fresh deluge could trigger another landslide, and that cholera could spread because of the shortage of clean water. Environmentalists say unregulated logging in the hills outside the capital and an absence of buildings regulation are to blame for the severity of the disaster.

NIGERIA: Buhari's dawn broadcast promises harder line on Biafran separatists and Islamist insurgents
After a day back in Abuja, a revived-looking President Muhammadu Buhari, who has spent most of this year receiving medical treatment in London, made a fiery televised address to the nation promising more determined action against Boko Haram. He added that attempts by citizens in the south-east of Nigeria to secede – a repeat of the calls that triggered the Biafran civil war in the 1960s – were a red line that no political organisation could be permitted to cross.

Although Buhari repeated the government's position that Nigeria's national unity isn't negotiable, he indicated that he would be open to a dialogue with secessionist groups. 'Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence,' he said.


ANGOLA: MPLA's João Lourenço pledges sweeping economic reforms ahead of 23 August presidential election
With his victory assured in this week's presidential elections, the MPLA's candidate João Lourenço offers a programme to restructure the oil-dependent economy and reiterates his commitment to crack down on state and corporate corruption.

Although those pledges ring hollow to the many Angolans who point out that little progress has been made on those issues during the MPLA's four decades in power, opposition parties are unlikely to make much headway in the elections. The biggest opposition party, UNITA, has been missing in action although one of its former militants, Abel Chivukuvuku, the candidate of Casa-CE, has been leading a much livelier campaign and winning over some in the coastal cities as well as the opposition redoubt of Huambo.

KENYA: Little prospect for success of opposition election petition in fast-track High Court case
Seven Supreme Court judges must rule on opposition leader Raila Odinga's petition to overturn the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 8 August elections. Insiders say the opposition's petition has far less detailed information than the complaint about the disputed 2013 elections which the Court rejected.

Kenya's courts do not countenance the sort of lengthy legal argumentation and demand for data sets from the electoral commission that was a feature of the opposition petition in Ghana in 2012. The Ghana courts took eight months to consider – and ultimately reject – the petition. But the process did give the opposition a forensic knowledge and understanding of the electoral reporting system, which it used to great effect in last year's elections.

Odinga submitted the petition last Friday (18 August), having earlier said he would prefer to mobilise his supporters against what he insists is a stolen election rather than engage with the judiciary. 'Our decision to go to court constitutes a second chance for the Supreme Court.' It can, he added, '…redeem itself, or like in 2013, compound the problems we face as a country.'

ZIMBABWE/SOUTH AFRICA: Did a deal over landing rights help Grace Mugabe get diplomatic immunity after facing prosecution for assault?
After internal argument in the government, South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, confirmed that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe's wife, Grace, was being granted diplomatic immunity following calls for her to face criminal charges over allegations that she beat up a young model in a Johannesburg hotel last week.

Some insiders are linking the decision to a sudden resolution in a dispute over landing rights between the national airlines of South Africa and Zimbabwe. After both airlines had to ground their flights on the busy Johannesburg to Harare route due to a row over operating permits, South African Airways resumed its flights to Zimbabwe just hours after Grace Mugabe's departure late on Saturday (19 August).

IN VERY BRIEF

ZAMBIA: In a dramatic climbdown, government releases opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and drops all charges

MALI: President Keïta withdraws plans for constitutional reform devolution

TOGO: Opposition demonstrates in Lomé against 50 years of the Eyadéma dynasty

Monday, 14 August 2017

KENYA: Questions remain over election but opposition challenge to Kenyatta win loses steam

We start this week with the smouldering aftermath of Kenya's elections last week, and then to moves by President Jacob Zuma and his allies in South Africa to hit back at dissidents in the governing party. A lethal attack on a restaurant in the capital of Burkina Faso is seen by some as a response to the G5 regional anti-terror force and Ethiopia's parliament has voted to lift its State of Emergency although few expect any easing of other constraints on the opposition.

KENYA: Questions remain over election but opposition challenge to Kenyatta win loses steamAfter a weekend of clashes between protestors and police, in which more than 25 people lost their lives, opposition leaders are struggling to mobilise their supporters for mass action against the disputed election result. A general strike called for today (14 August) has been greeted with a half-hearted response in the country's major cities, including the capital, Nairobi.

There are signs that opposition candidate Raila Odinga is losing the support of allies over his unyielding rejection of the official result, which gave President Uhuru Kenyatta a winning margin of about 11%. Opposition legal expert James Orengo says there would be no point in taking the commission to court over the results but said there were plenty of other constitutional options to pursue. Odinga is due to set out his strategy tomorrow (15 August).

Many activists and electoral experts have concerns about the official results and management of the poll, as well as the vulnerability of the electoral commission's database to hacking, and recommend an independent investigation. A parallel voter tabulation by the local independent Elections Observation Group (Elog) produced figures close to the officials results released on Friday.

There are also questions about the government's investigation into the torture and murder of Chris Msando, the top expert in information technology at the electoral commission. Kenyatta's government quickly rejected offers of help in the investigation from Britain and the United States and called on Kenyans not to speculate about the motives or identities of the killers.

SOUTH AFRICA: ANC dissidents face revenge after Zuma survives no-confidence vote but the Guptas could be dumpedSome of the strongest voices in the African National Congress against President Jacob Zuma will face disciplinary action after he defeated an embarrassing motion of no-confidence on 8 August. The most conspicuous rebels include former ministers of finance and agriculture Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom as well as the outspoken Makhosi Khoza from KwaZulu-Natal.

After Zuma demanded the ANC dissidents face disciplinary action, his ex-wife and a candidate to succeed him as party president, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and ANC Women's League President Bathabile Dlamini, backed his call, even though their position is likely to exacerbate party divisions.
Over the weekend Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma's closest rival in this year's presidential race, said there should be far tougher action against corporate interests trying to capture the South African state. That is code for taking on the Gupta family, who have been Zuma's closest business allies.

As more details leak out about the relationship between Zuma and the Guptas, his ties to this wealthy Indian family have become one of the president's biggest political liabilities. Many business analysts think that he is looking for a way to sever all ties with the family in a bid to shut down further state investigations into his personal finances.

BURKINA FASO: 18 killed in suspected jihadist attack on restaurant in capitalThree men armed with machine-guns killed 18 people at a Turkish restaurant in Ouagadougou on Sunday evening (13 August) in the country's worst terror attack for a year and a half. No group has yet claimed responsibility but the tactics resemble those of jihadist attacks in the region.
The shootings may an attempt to weaken Burkina Faso's resolve to step up counter-terror operations as part of its membership of the French-backed G5 alliance with Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, all of which have been targeted by Islamist militants.

ETHIOPIA: State of emergency lifted but grievances increasing over rights and resourcesThe vote by Ethiopia's parliament on 4 August to end the country's State of Emergency does not presage political liberalisation or the easing of restrictions on opposition groupings, according to local and international human rights organisations. After clashes with security forces last year, thousands of oppositionists remain in detention and none of their grievances have been addressed, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

This formal vote to end the emergency by the parliament, which has no opposition members, could make it easier for the government to secure investment and trade deals with companies concerned about reputational and political risk.

Despite scepticism about its official economic data, Ethiopia is still one of Africa's fastest growing economies and biggest markets after Nigeria. Apart from a threat by Aliko Dangote's cement conglomerate to pull out of Ethiopia as a protest against bureaucratic constraints imposed by the regional government in Oromia, few big companies have responded publicly to political developments in the country.

IN VERY BRIEF

LIBYA: Oil exports fall dramatically after threats on Sharara fields and strikes close Zueitina oil port

EGYPT: Saudi Arabia's Prince Al Waleed bin Talal is to invest $800 million in tourism at Sharm el Sheikh amid rapid expansion of Cairo's stock market

AFRICA: Over 300 financial technology (fintech) companies have raised over $180 mn. in the past two years, says 'Disrupt Africa' report


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

KENYA: Family rivalries and a high-stakes election will test institutions and technology

We start this week with a couple of high-stakes votes – one in Kenya and one in South Africa. Then we have some insight on an impromptu secret meeting in Zimbabwe, some reservations about the grand pipeline plans in Uganda and Tanzania, and a look at economic arguments in Nigeria, pending President Muhammadu Buhari's return, expected later this month. The next edition of Africa Confidential will be published on 25 August but we will be posting major stories on Kenya's elections, migration and South Africa's leadership race in the meantime.

KENYA: Family rivalries and a high-stakes election will test institutions and technology
National elections today (8 August) will be the last episode – for this generation at least – in the historic struggle between the Kenyatta and Odinga dynasties for the country's presidency. Five decades ago, it was the fathers of today's rivals – President Uhuru Kenyatta and challenger Raila Odinga – who were battling it out for the right to lead Kenya.

Odinga has dramatically cut Kenyatta's lead in the opinion polls over the last month, and some reckon he is now ahead. That sense of a very tight race has ratcheted up tensions between rival bands of supporters. The torture and murder of Chris Msando, head of information technology at the electoral commission, and a companion a week ago pointed to just how high the electoral stakes had become (AC Vol 58 No 16, Murder most foul). It also sounded alarm bells about the possibility of a repeat of the post-election political violence in 2008 should either side feel cheated by the result.

The tangible ideological differences between the conservative pro-West Kenyatta family and the leftist traditions of the Odinga family of the 1960s have worn thin. Now, both families control vast business empires, although Kenyatta's is far larger than his rival's. Much of this election is about cash, resources and control of the tens of billions of dollars that the country is spending on roads, railways, airports and power stations.

It's also about state spending further down the food chain: the tens of millions of dollars that the 47 counties share out under the new constitution which devolves economic and political power. The idea behind the new constitution is that it would lessen the fierce competition for power at the centre by distributing power more evenly across the country. Yet the rivalries at the centre seem as fierce as ever while there is a new layer of political combat in the counties separate from the national issues.

At every level technology has played a far bigger role in these elections. Kenya is one of Africa's leaders in information technology and a global pioneer in mobile money systems. Telecoms companies say 90% of Kenyans have mobile phones, about half of which have internet access. Both sides have rushed to get their political messages across on social media, and have hired their own United States-based political technology companies to boost their campaigns.

Kenyatta's team hired Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump's presidential run as well as the Brexit campaign in Britain. Odinga's team recruited advisers from Ghana, where the opposition's technological savvy helped it to defeat an incumbent president last year; and they hired the veteran campaign advisors, Aristotle in Washington DC.


SOUTH AFRICA: ANC divisions are set to deepen whatever happens to Zuma in the no-confidence vote but the economy will enjoy a fillip if he loses
The markets seem more excited than the public about Speaker Baleka Mbete's surprise decision to allow a secret ballot in the no-confidence motion on President Jacob Zuma today (8 August) in parliament. That's because many traders forecast a boost for the rand and inward flows of portfolio capital should Zuma be toppled and replaced with a more pro-business successor such as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

It is a big political risk for Mbete. If Zuma wins, he will try to purge the party and the cabinet of his foes, worsening the current rifts. If Zuma loses, Mbete would be interim President until the African National Congress chooses a successor while his supporters will demand vengeance on those they have already called traitors.

Some insiders suspect Mbete may have cut a deal with Ramaphosa or the ANC's National Treasurer Zweli Mkhize which would give her the party's deputy presidency. Seen as a close ally of Zuma's, Mbete was expected to protect her political mentor. But she may have calculated that Zuma will be in no position to make any guarantees by the end of this year, when he has to stand down as party president.

Zuma had already said that a secret ballot would give the opposition parties – who need the votes of just 50 ANC dissidents in parliament to win – an unfair advantage. The failure of efforts in the ANC's National Executive Committee to sack Zuma shows he still maintains majority support amongst the party's top officials.

There is another issue at stake: is the right to see how all the MPs vote in a parliamentary debate more important than seizing the chance to get rid of an unpopular President?  A bigger question is what difference all this manoeuvring at the top will make to the millions of jobless South Africans dealing with growing corruption and poor public services.


ZIMBABWE/SOUTH AFRICA: Financial backing from Pretoria mooted in Mbeki's secret talks with Mugabe
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki took a short break last weekend from his own country's political intrigues to discuss economic and political travails in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Top of the agenda in Mbeki's talks with President Robert Mugabe was a plan to shore up Zimbabwe's economy, which is gripped in a foreign exchange crisis.

Mbeki's plan, we hear, involves trying to bring Zimbabwe into the clearing system for South Africa's rand currency. Although the rand, like the US dollar, is legal tender in Zimbabwe, most of the country's formal trade with South Africa is still routed via the US dollar. With a strengthening US dollar and a weakening rand, that gives Zimbabwe the worst of both worlds.

If the rand became more widely used in Zimbabwe, that would lower the cost of trade between the two countries but it would give South Africa what some in Harare would see as an unacceptable level of control over its neighbour's economy.

South Africa, which is owed tens of millions of rand by Zimbabwe, may have a better chance of getting repaid if the two countries' currencies were more closely linked. Botswana's pula and Namibia's dollar offer a model that Zimbabwe could adopt.

But it is highly contentious politically. Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is said to be close to Mbeki, favours such a deal, as does Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. But the generals in Harare and Mnangagwa's rivals, grouped around Grace Mugabe, are dead against it. President Mugabe is said to be wavering between the two camps.


UGANDA/TANZANIA: Work to start on $3.5 billion oil pipeline
In a grand ceremony, the foundation stone has been laid on the world's longest and most expensive heated oil pipeline – some 1,500 kilometres from Uganda's oilfields in its western region near Lake Albert to the port of Tanga on Tanzania's coast – with a completion deadline of 2020. Uganda has about 6 billion barrels of heavy crude oil in its reserves.

The pipeline deal has sealed the friendship between Presidents John Magufuli and Yoweri Museveni, who were both at the ceremony. They share an authoritarian governance style and resource nationalist views. Magufuli is also close to Kenya's presidential challenger Raila Odinga, much to the irritation of Uhuru Kenyatta's government.

But the success of the project, which includes Magufuli's insistence that the pipeline should be operating within three years, will depend critically on the two countries' ability to raise the necessary finance. Banks will carefully examine the commercial logic of the pipeline – initially planned to cross Kenya – and the policy record of both countries. Currently, Magufuli is embroiled in a battle with multinational companies over his proposed tougher mining laws.


NIGERIA: Growth edges upwards but IMF warns on rising debt, shaky banks and the forex system
The latest word from Abuja insiders is that President Muhammadu Buhari will return to Nigeria from his medical treatment in London by the end of this month. Local business people are debating how this will affect the economy.

For Buhari, the biggest concerns have been the rate of inflation and the strength of the naira. He staunchly opposed the hefty currency devaluations tried by other oil producers such as Egypt and Kazakhstan. During his absence, the rival factions in the government – the reformers under Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the exchange rate stalwarts under central bank governor Godwin Emefiele – have concocted a messy compromise between a fixed rate and a free float. The result is a multiplicity of rates.

The latest modification allows investors to quote the so-called Nafex rate, which more closely reflects the market demand for the naira than the central bank's official rate. The initial effect of the measure was a weakening of the naira but its proponents say it will encourage more capital to return to what is still Africa's biggest economy. Alongside these policy arguments, a visiting IMF team has warned there is a dangerous level of bad and doubtful debt in the banking sector. It also concluded that there was lack of political will or consensus to push through a plan to boost the country's economy as it recovers from its first recession for two decades.




THE WEEK AHEAD IN VERY BRIEF


EGYPT: El-Sisi target of $10 billion in fresh investments is working as he opens economy and clamps down on politics


GHANA: Record cocoa crop this year as Accra talks to Côte d'Ivoire about joint investments in chocolate manufacturing


SOUTH AFRICA/BRITAIN: MTN and Vodacom in bidding war for Japan's NTT internet operations in Africa


RWANDA: After 98.6% vote, Kagame will focus on slowing economy, navigating crises in Burundi and Congo-Kinshasa

Thursday, 3 August 2017

An August full of elections

As Americans and Europeans prepare for their holidays, tens of millions of Africans prepare for elections this month while hundreds of millions more watch closely. Without prejudging the outcomes, democrats and civil rights activists are coming under heavier fire.

The Senegalese voted in parliamentary elections on 30 July, in polls that were distinguished by a leading opposition figure, the Mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, running his party's campaign from his gaol cell. Sall has been held without charge for six months. Senegal's stellar record for political pluralism, akin to Ghana's, is now in the balance.

Next up on 4 August is Rwanda's presidential election where Paul Kagame is assured of victory after another eerily quiet campaign. After last year's constitutional referendum, Kagame could stay in power, punctuated by sporadic elections, until 2034.

Angola's elections on 23 August, also fall into the category of a victory foretold: this time for the MPLA's presidential candidate João Lourenço, the armed service chiefs, and the family of outgoing President José Eduardo dos Santos, who will retain a grip over some most lucrative commercial operations in the land.

But for most political observers, Kenya's elections on 8 August are the most portentous. A clear margin of victory for either party in a contest generally judged free and fair would give progressive forces a huge boost. But as our reports suggest, that is increasingly unlikely.

Monday, 31 July 2017

KENYA: Security threats growing ahead of next week's election

We start in election land – namely Kenya and Rwanda, which are holding elections in the coming week, and Senegal, which held parliamentary elections on 30 July. Then to Ghana where the newish government of President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo has been chalking up some economic successes, and Tanzania where the dispute between President John Magufuli and the gold mining companies is escalating. Finally, to South Africa where Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has been expressing some doubts about the Gupta family, close allies of his boss, President Jacob Zuma.

KENYA: Security threats growing ahead of next week's election
The discovery today (31 July) of the corpse of Christopher Chege Msando, a senior manager in information technology at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has shocked a country already apprehensive about possible interference in the 8 August elections. Msando had apparently been tortured before he died, people who saw the body said. He is thought to have had critical information about the mechanics of the IEBC’s plan to relay results across the country.

Earlier, Raila Odinga, NASA's presidential candidate, released what he said were secret documents detailing plans for a coup d'état by a section of the military if the IEBC announces an opposition victory. Jubilee has rubbished these claims, saying the documents are standard military contingency plans. Yesterday (30 July), a man wielding a machete injured a police officer guarding the home of Vice President William Ruto in Eldoret, in the Rift Valley before holing up in an outbuilding and being shot dead by police. Ruto was not in the house at the time and police are still trying to establish a motive for the attack.

RWANDA: Political focus goes elsewhere as forecast landslide due this week
In contrast to Kenya, preparations for the presidential election in Rwanda have been eerily calm apart from criticisms, mainly from international human rights organisations, of a what they call a climate of fear. Neither of the opposition candidates – Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party ticket and the independent Philippe Mpayimana – look set for more than 5% of the vote in next Friday's poll (4 August).

Foreign diplomats and international financial institutions are uneasy about the political process in Rwanda but unwilling to express their doubts in public. Beyond cursory tours of polling stations by diplomats there will be no formal international election monitoring effort.

President Paul Kagame, who is preparing for his third successive election win, has made it clear that he regards criticism of the country's political system as 'unwarranted foreign interference'.

SENEGAL: Messy parliamentary elections raise questions over detention of popular opposition leader
Voting in yesterday's (30 July) parliamentary elections was marred by poor organisation and widespread disqualification of people whose biometric identity cards were not recognised. Claims the government is responsible are mounting. Historically, elections in Senegal have been extremely well-run with defeated candidates accepting defeat gracefully.

Yet this time former President Abdoulaye Wade, now 91 and leading one of the main opposition groupings, accused President Macky Sall's government of interfering in the electoral process. Supporters of Khalifa Sall (no relation to the President), the Mayor of Dakar who was detained on corruption charges, accused the government of jailing its opponents to avoid a catastrophic electoral defeat.

President Sall's Benno Bokk Yakaar grouping is among the 47 rival parties vying for 165 elected seats in the national assembly. It currently holds 119 seats but could lose control of the assembly given rising grievances about economic hardship. These elections are critically important for President Sall's government, which faces national elections in two years' time and is proud of its reputation with international organisations for running an open, pluralistic political system.

GHANA: Growth up and prices down as government calls for end of IMF deal
When a team from the International Monetary Fund arrives in Accra next week to assess the government's implementation of its US$900 million programme, it will be walking into a noisy debate about the country's economic strategy.

Although the IMF has been advising the government to extend its economic adjustment programme until December 2018, President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo has said the programme should end, as scheduled, in April 2018. Several government officials, including Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta, have echoed this view.

Behind what appears to be a narrow dispute over scheduling, there are bigger differences over economic strategy and the government's ability to enforce tough budgetary discipline. On 24 July, the Bank of Ghana cut its key interest rate to 21% from 22.5%. the biggest reduction for two years.
This follows the Bank's report that inflation had fallen to 12% in June and the cedi had strengthened by 7% since March to become Africa's best-performing currency. The wider economy has been growing too, expanding by 6.6% in the first quarter, boosted by higher oil and agricultural production.

TANZANIA: War of words escalates between President Magafuli and the gold miners
After a senior manager from the Acacia mining company was held on departure from Dar es Salaam airport on 24 July, a government official denied the company was being singled out. The company has just received a $190 billion tax demand from the government.

President John Magufuli has been leading a campaign to pressure the company to process minerals within the country and to meet what a government-appointed committee says are huge arrears in taxes and royalties. Last week Magufuli said he would close all the gold mines if mining companies delayed discussions on monies the government claims are owed.

The companies want to take the matter to international arbitration. Shares in Acacia, which is majority-owned by Canada's Barrick Gold, have lost more than half their value because of this dispute.

SOUTH AFRICA: Finance Minister Gigaba shares 'concerns' over influence of Gupta companies on the state
Although Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was meant to have been a loyal ally of President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family, he is beginning to stray from the script. Gigaba's acknowledgement of legitimate criticism of the Gupta family is another sign of Zuma's waning political power and his declining ability to protect his friends.

On 28 July, Gigaba told the Cape Talk radio station that he shared South Africans' concerns about the Guptas' influence over the government. He backed calls for a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations that the family had been using its influence improperly. 'I think we need to establish fact from allegation,' he told the station. '…the allegations are quite damaging to the investor perceptions, as well as the ratings agencies, of the governance of our state-owned companies.'

IN VERY BRIEF
NIGERIA: Big new developments expected soon in investigation of President Goodluck Jonathan's government and business allies
ANGOLA/CONGO-KINSHASA: More claims against Halliburton and Glencore in multi-million dollar natural resource deals
WORLD BANK: New report warns that robots will cause jobs losses in Africa's fragile manufacturing sector
ZIMBABWE: Mugabe says his ZANU-PF colleagues don't have the right stuff to fight the opposition

Monday, 24 July 2017

NIGERIA: Buhari is 'set to return home' after appearing in new pictures with State governors

This week we start in Abuja House – the one in London where President Muhammadu Buhari has been staying for the past two months. Then to Kinshasa where Congo's opposition is planning to step up protests against sit-tight President Joseph Kabila. And in Cape Town we take the temperature ahead of next month's confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma. This week Paris hosts key talks between Libya's Prime Minister Faiez el Serraj and rogue general Khalifa Haftar and the dispute between Tanzania's President John Magufuli and foreign mining companies shows sign of escalating. We round off with our In Very Brief section – three flashpoints for the week.

NIGERIA: Buhari is 'set to return home' after appearing in new pictures with State governorsA smiling President Muhammadu Buhari was pictured lunching with State governors in London yesterday (23 July). He will return to Nigeria as soon as 'the doctors give him the green light', said Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina.

The release of the picture may dampen down some of the more extreme speculation about Buhari's health but the lack of a precise date for his return will prompt his critics to demand more information about his condition. Although Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has assumed the constitutional powers of Acting President in Buhari's absence, some insiders say that some areas of government remain off-limits.

Two major personnel decisions – the appointment of the Secretary to the Government and the director of the National Intelligence Agency – appear to be on hold pending Buhari's return (AC Vol 58 No 11, A date with destiny).

The photo of Buhari released by the Presidency, the first in over two months, shows him at a dining table chatting with top officials from the governing All Progressives Congress, including Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha.

CONGO-KINSHASA: Opposition plans protests to oust Kabila as claims of grand corruption multiplyOn 8 August opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi launches a campaign of street protests and national strikes against President Joseph Kabila's rule. The opposition accuses him of reneging on his agreement to hold national elections this year and trying to extend his time in office illegally (AC Vol 58 No 11, Kabila thriving on chaos).

The protests are meant to culminate in mass demonstrations in Kinshasa and all 25 provinces on 20 August. A leading spokesman for the opposition alliance, François Muamba, says that unless President Kabila sets a date for the next presidential elections, he will cease to be recognised as head of state after 1 October.

After that date opposition activists will campaign for citizens to stop all payments to the state. Tshisekedi has also called on citizens not to accept 'bad orders' from the police and armed forces, especially from those groups that have been 'killing Congolese people'. This latest wave of opposition activism coincides with the release of several detailed reports accusing the Kabila family of gross enrichment through its grip on state power:
  • New York University's Center on International Cooperation, backed by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, says the Kabila family owns – wholly or partially – 80 companies in Congo. President Kabila and his family now own, it says, more than 81,000 hectares of farmland in the country.
  • President Kabila's sister Jaynet has a stake in the country's biggest cellphone company.
  • Zoe Kabila, the President's brother, has extensive stakes in big mining ventures including a highly lucrative partnership with Robert Friedland's Ivanhoe company, according to a lengthy investigation by Bloomberg News. Both Jaynet and Zoe are members of parliament and senior members of the President's political alliance.
  • More than US$750 million of the country's mining revenue has gone missing in the last three years, according to a new report from the London-based Global Witness anti-corruption lobby, and is being distributed through political and business networks close to the Presidential family.
The Kabila family denies all wrongdoing and Ivanhoe's Friedland says it will be issuing a riposte to the Bloomberg investigation. However, these latest claims of grand corruption at the top will loom large in the opposition campaign in the coming weeks.
SOUTH AFRICA: Opposition divided over chance of  Zuma's defeat in confidence vote next monthWith parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete yet to rule on whether the vote on the no-confidence motion on President Jacob Zuma due on 8 August will be by secret ballot or not, pressure is growing on African National Congress MPs (AC Vol 58 No 12,Zuma's chaos theory). Allies of Zuma in the intelligence services have stepped up surveillance on MPs they consider 'problematic'; some MPs say they are being threatened to vote in Zuma's favour while others claim they are being offered inducements.
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters and former President of the ANC's Youth League, forecasts that at least 60 of the governing party's MPs will vote against Zuma. That would mean a resounding defeat for the President if, as many suspect, all the opposition MPs vote against him.
Yet John Steenhuisen, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, which filed the no-confidence motion in April, doubts it will pass. The ANC controls 62% of the seats in parliament and, unlike Malema, he thinks it would be expecting too much for so many ANC MPs to turn against Zuma. Steenhuisen believes the financial interests behind Zuma, who faces public attacks on probity from his own party and the opposition, are too entrenched to allow their man to be pushed out.

LIBYA: Rogue general Haftar to meet Premier Serraj in Paris this weekFrench officials are to broker a critical meeting in Paris tomorrow (25 July) between Prime Minister Faiez el Serraj, head of the United Nations-recognised government in Tripoli, and rogue general Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have been fighting along the coast towards Tripoli (AC Vol 58 No 12, States of failure). Haftar, who last month claimed to have won control of the eastern city of Benghazi, has the backing of regional powers Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Haftar, who does not recognise the legitimacy of the Tripoli government, has not met El Serraj for 18 months. France's President Emmanuel Macron wants to show his country's support for the UN's political strategy in Libya but also to push for a deal between Serraj and Haftar.

Given the Mediterranean crossing from Libya is the main route illegal migrants take into southern Europe, trying to shore up the Tripoli government has become a priority for French, German and Italian politicians. Even if there is some agreement between Serraj and Haftar, it could prove much tougher to broker some deals between the disparate militias fighting for control around the Tripoli and the rich oil reserves.

TANZANIA: Government's dispute with Acacia mining to drag on ahead of critical negotiationsAt a rally on 21 July, President John Magufuli upped the stakes in his battle with mining companies, threating to shut all gold mines in the country if he judges them to be delaying negotiations about the payment of back taxes.

Ahead of talks between the government and Acacia mining – which is accused of owing billions of dollars in back taxes – there are reports that senior managers of the company have been pulled in for questioning by state officials. Top officials at Acacia have told Africa Confidential that they are committed to cooperate with the government's investigations into their operations. The company wants to refer the tax dispute to independent arbitration although it's unclear whether the government wants to go that route.

Magufuli's latest statements show that the mining issue now tops the government's agenda, and may help boost his political base. It follows parliament's passing of a natural resources law this month which grants the government stakes of 16% in mining companies operating in the country and an option to buy up to 50%. It would also allow the state to renegotiate contracts with mining and energy companies (AC Vol 58 No 15, Magufuli's law).

IN VERY BRIEF:

SENEGAL: Government keeps leading oppositionist and Mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall in gaol ahead of parliamentary elections  on 30 July.

ZAMBIA: Fitch ratings agency warns on growing political risk after President Edgar Lungu declares state of emergency.

ANGOLA: Security chiefs entrench position ahead of elections and the handover to new President.