Monday, 26 June 2017

KENYA: Opposition applauds court ruling against right of national counting centre to change local results

This week there is some important court reporting. First from Nairobi where the Appeal Court has backed an important ruling on vote counting, to the delight of civil society and the opposition. And then to South Africa's Constitutional Court which has made a landmark ruling on the rights of Parliament to organise a secret ballot. And from Zimbabwe, comes the news that Pastor Evan Mawarire, whose patriotic #ThisFlag campaign won support from millions via the internet, has been arrested again – this time for talking to protesting medical students. On the international diplomacy front, France is at odds with the United States over who pays for a new, regional anti-terror force in West Africa. And in EthiopiaNigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has to struggle with some home-grown resource nationalism in the Oromo region.

KENYA: Opposition applauds court ruling against right of national counting centre to change local results
In a judgement that could greatly help election monitors, the Court of Appeal ruled on 23 June that results of the presidential election announced in the counties would be final and not subject to change by the national counting centre. In previous elections, the national counting centre in Nairobi had changed tallies submitted by polling stations across in the country, provoking suspicions of foul play.

The court decision comes as concerns grow about the risks of violent clashes around national elections on 8 August as opinion surveys suggest the presidential race between President Uhuru Kenyatta and challenger Raila Odinga is tightening substantially.

Civil society groups had won the first stage of the battle at the High Court in April. But the Independent Electoral and Border Commission (IEBC), which manages the elections, had asked the Appeal Court to reverse the decision.

The three-judge panel declined to do so, arguing that the IEBC's Presiding Officers at polling centres were capable of overseeing the voting, counting, collation and publication of results before these were transmitted to the national counting centre in Nairobi. If the Appeal Court had rejected the High Court's ruling, the main opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) said it would have pulled out of the elections. Now it is quietly celebrating the decision.

Kenya's Appeal Court ruling in favour of official IEBC results being released at constituency and county level parallels a similar ruling by Ghana's High Court ahead of national elections there in December 2016. In Ghana, that ruling allowed the New Patriotic Party to run its own fast and highly efficient vote tabulation system which released accurate results days ahead of the official Electoral Commission. Based on results verified and agreed on by party agents at the polling stations, the NPP's vote tabulation system also operated as a check on vote tampering.

With two digital data experts in each constituency, the NPP was able to release accurate results based on real voter numbers as well as monitor what was happening with the official count. We hear that Kenya's Nasa officials have taken a particular interest in tactics used by the opposition in the Ghana election.

Presiding judge William Ouko at Kenya's Appeal Court said the case for the IEBC's national counting centre to overrule the decisions of its organisation at county and constituency level didn't stand up. "It is hypocritical for the appellant [IEBC] to doubt the competence, proficiency and honesty of its staff."

SOUTH AFRICA: Supreme Court says Parliament's speaker can order secret ballot for confidence vote on Zuma
Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete faces the dilemma of her career this week following a ruling from the Supreme Coourt which gives her the right to organise a secret ballot for the forthcoming confidence vote on President Jacob Zuma. Mbete has batted away the opportunity once, telling MPs that it wasn't her prerogative to organise a secret ballot in parliament.

Dissident MPs took the case to the Supreme Court. Now they have their answer from Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, with the unanimous support from the rest of the Court. Justice Mogoeng said that MPs should feel free to vote without fear or favour and that Speaker Mbete should consider the interests of the country, above the governing African National Congress.

President Zuma's foes within and outside the ANC hope a secret ballot would embolden dissident MPs on the ANC benches to vote against him. Zuma has survived four no-confidence votes in parliament but the margin of victory has been getting tighter. In last November's no confidence vote, several dissident ANC MPs simply didn't turn up.

Mbete, who has been one of Zuma's closest allies, will be under enormous pressure to turn down the request for a secret ballot on the confidence vote. Zuma has already said a secret ballot wouldn't be fair as it gives the opposition a majority it doesn't have. He knows that it would take just over a fifth of the ANC's 249 MPs to swing the no confidence vote against him.

In South Africa's current political mood, that's a risk he can't afford to take. The question now is whether Mbete herself would be prepared to heed Chief Justice Mogoeng's advice to put country ahead of party. Previous behaviour suggests she won't but South African politics has been throwing up some big surprises recently.

ZIMBABWE: Arrest of Pastor Mawarire sends harsh message ahead of fraught elections next yearIf the authorities in Harare hope that today's arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire would deter others from protesting against President Robert Mugabe's government, they may have badly miscalculated. Strategists in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front seem to have been rattled by some tentative steps to organising a united front among the opposition parties for next year's elections.

Previous attempts by the government to rein in Mawarire, who abjures any partisan alignment, have simply fired up Zimbabweans, eventually forcing the government to back down.

This time Mawarire was praying with a group of medical students from the University of Zimbabwe who had been protesting about heavy increases in their fees. Their predicament shines a light on the wider crisis in the country. Zimbabwe's 15 universities turn out about 30,000 graduates a year into an economy where the unemployment rate is running at over 90%, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

At the very least, Mawarire is likely to get the students on his side, quite apart from the millions of people who have been fruitlessly seeking jobs in the still-shrinking formal economy.

AFRICA/FRANCE/UNITED STATES: Washington and Paris clash over Sahel counter-terror bill
This is the diplomatic sequel to that 'trial of strength' handshake between Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France last month. Now the arm-wrestling is moving to what countries pay for regional security.

Washington wants to cut its funding for United Nations peacekeeping missions, and in its sights is France's plan to boost a five-country African military force in the Sahel. A US refusal to pay its share of the bill at the UN could jeopardise the entire initiative.

It is a top priority for new President Macron. Within days of his election victory in May, he flew to Mali to meet President Ibrahim Keïta, then went to visit French soldiers serving in the current regional anti-terror force.

For now, France is the greatest contributor to that force but Macron's plan is to cut foreign troop numbers and improve training for African counter-terror forces. There is no official figure for the budget for the five-country force but the Mali operations alone, have a budget of over US$900 million.

Britain, currently embroiled in difficult negotiations to leave the European Union, has its own interests. London is one of the biggest foreign contributors to anti-terror operations in Somalia; it makes those resources available as part of an informal agreement under which France takes the lead on security operations in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and the wider Sahel.

It may be that Britain could act as a bridge between Paris and Washington on the Sahel force. It will be a difficult negotiation given the Trump administration's determination to cut back its US$7.9 billion a year dues for UN peacekeeping operations.

It also comes when Pentagon officials are quietly warning that the Trump administration's cuts to humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives in Africa could lead to more violence and terror on the ground. That in turn, argue the defence officials, would require still more US military spending to pursue what Washington sees as its national interests.

ETHIOPIA: Dangote could quit Oromia project after imposition of new local content rules
In the latest twist over battles between nationalist African governments and multinational companies, Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote is squaring off against the Oromia government in Ethiopia over demands that his cement manufacturing plant give supply contracts to local entrepreneurs.

Specifically, Oromia's East Shewa Zone administration argues that Dangote's company should buy from pumice, sand and clay mines worked by the region's young people. This follows a spate of protests last year against foreign companies in Oromia. The protestors were also demanding land and political rights.

But for now, Dangote's officials are taking a tough line, arguing that the supply chain order contravenes the terms of its mining licence in Ethiopia. Without an acceptable resolution on the matter, the officials suggest that the Dangote operation would have to close.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Grave danger in Congo

The storm in Congo-Kinshasa has been gathering for a year and the next six months are likely to prove critical. Warning of grave danger, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, together with former presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo, and seven other former Presidents, has called for credible elections as soon as possible.

Annan, Mbeki and Obasanjo have a special interest in Congo-K's stability: they played a key role in brokering and guaranteeing the pact in 2002 that set up a power-sharing government in Kinshasa, which was headed by Joseph Kabila. Now, he refuses to listen to them. However, African Union leaders have, so far, failed to register even mild concern about Congo's mounting chaos. Political dialogue has ground to a halt with the opposition accusing Kabila of sabotaging the election calendar.

Now there are signs that Angola's government is losing patience. Luanda's veteran foreign minister Georges Chikoti has openly criticised Kabila's handling of the rebellion in Kasai, which is driving refugees across the border into Angola. In December, Angola withdrew its military trainers from Congo, sending a signal it was no longer willing to prop up Kabila militarily. Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese businessman and President José Eduardo dos Santos's son-in-law, went further still, urging demonstrations against Kabila and openly backing Moïse Katumbi, the exiled Congolese opposition leader.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

NIGERIA: After the budget is signed, better news about the numbers

We start in Nigeria on a rare high note – at least on the economic plane – and then go to Tanzania, where President John Magufuli's government is stepping up his campaign of resource nationalism. In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma is also playing the resource nationalist card while in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel sees great potential for a more constructive relationship between Europe and Africa.

NIGERIA: After the budget is signed, better news about the numbers
In stark contrast to the febrile political climate, the economic data in Nigeria are looking at their most positive since President Muhammadu Buhari came to office two years ago. Some of that is due to longer-term trends: oil prices have strengthened and production is up while investment in farming and agro-processing is beginning to pay off.

Shorter term factors are also helping. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo signed the 7.44 trillion naira (US$23.6 billion) budget for 2017 on 12 June and that will release disbursements from the government's capital spending programme of N2.2 trn., a record figure. As those disbursements – many on roads, power stations and social investment – sluice through the system, they should create jobs and boost incomes, giving a much-needed lift to local economies across the federation. Of course, much will depend on how the spending is managed.

Both international and Lagos-based market analysts are putting out increasingly upbeat analyses of the country's economic prospects, much of them based around the combined effects of more spending on infrastructure, far higher agricultural production and the launching of Aliko Dangote's 500,000 barrel-a-day oil refinery and petrochemical plant next year. After 18 months in the doldrums, the Nigerian Stock Exchange is bouncing back, registering gains week after week.

Yet there are plenty of questions about the better data. For example, inflation fell to 16.25% in May, its lowest figure for a year. Food prices, however, remain extremely high across the country and are rising at a faster rate than the baseline inflation figure.

This matters because for many families, food is the biggest item of expenditure. Higher local food prices seem to be linked with the growing volumes of food that is being exported to Nigeria's neighbours, which has created some local shortages. In the medium term, higher food prices could encourage more people to go into farming.

Another concern is what happens to the naira-dollar exchange rate. As better economic news trickles out, along with big government disbursements, the naira has strengthened: the parallel market rate is currently N367=US$1. It remains an open question whether the strengthening of the currency reflects the more positive economic mood or is just a function of the government's releasing hundreds of millions of dollars. For now, officials in Abuja say their much criticised exchange rate policy has been vindicated.

TANZANIA: President Magufuli's new claims against Acacia Mining presage tougher resource nationalist measures
After giving full support to a committee which claims that the state has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars in mining taxes and royalties, President Magufuli is set to extend the scope of his campaign of resource nationalism to the oil and gas sector.

This follows the release of a government committee report on 12 June concluding that Acacia Mining had failed to declare some 40% of its production to the authorities. 'These people are ruthless,' Magufuli said in a live broadcast of the release of the report, '…They have taken all the gold and other minerals but revenues, taxes, they didn't pay.' The committee's conclusions extend across the entire mining sector, although Acacia is in the government's sights in the short term.

The report recommends that Acacia and the government should open arbitration on what it says are outstanding dues; this should be handled by Tanzania's courts, it adds.

For its part, Acacia denies all wrongdoing but is taking the report extremely seriously. 'Acacia remains open to further dialogue with the government regarding these issues and continues to assess all its options.' Top company officials met with Magufuli's team after the report came out last week and talks are continuing.

SOUTH AFRICA: Nationalist Mining Charter draws fire from the companies
With his new mining charter, Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, is trying out a similar blend of local politics and resource nationalism in South Africa.

Launched on 15 June, the Charter stipulates that all mining companies in the country should ensure that 30% of their shares are held by black South Africans (that's up from current threshold of 26%), and they should award 80% of their spending on services to black-owned companies and ensure that over half their top management are black. It would also end the 'once-empowered, always-empowered' principle that allows a mainly white-owned company to comply with ownership rules by selling its equity to black investors, even if they later sell it on to other white investors.

Zwane's Charter has predictably prompted loud criticism from the big mining companies, which say they will challenge it in court. No one expects it to get passed into law in the short-term but it could prove smart politics for Zuma's allies, who are under pressure to put their 'radical economic transformation' agenda into practice.

For Zuma, the spectacle of his ministers battling with big mining companies might – temporarily – distract attention from the legions of corruption allegations that he faces in connection with his own business friends. The row over the Mining Charter is surfacing just as the African National Congress prepares for its big policy conference next month.

And in December, the ANC will hold its leadership elections. The two frontrunners for the party presidency are Zuma's ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. And every ANC member knows that Ramaphosa made his fortune from astute investments in the mining sector during the first round of black economic empowerment, which is now seen as having done little more than enrich a small elite.

AFRICA/GERMANY: Chancellor Merkel calls for revisions to EU-Africa trade deals
The Afro-German partnership is going from strength to strength after a conference and a series of bilateral meetings in Hamburg earlier this month. As host of the Group of 20 most industrialised countries next month, Germany wants to push Africa up the agenda. In fact, only one African state, South Africa, is a member of the G-20.

Trade and investment, not aid, dominate Germany's revived relations with Africa, although by some measures, Berlin is also the biggest giver of non-tied development assistance to Africa.

The Africa push is led by Merkel, who has already established a reputation for a more open-minded view on migration than many of her European counterparts. Cynics says this is more about Germany's requirements for labour than high moral principle.

Now Merkel has joined the two issues: she is calling for more focus on trade and development in Africa as a means to reduce the numbers of people trying to navigate the perilous waters of the Mediterranean between Libya and southern Europe. Last week, Merkel told fair-trade campaigners in Hamburg that she understood their complaints about the trade treaties between the European Union and Africa. She said the EU-Africa summit due to be held later this year should discuss how to renegotiate them.

In London last week, Ghana's Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said that his country had been given fast-track membership of the Germany-Africa trade partnership scheme and would be accessing over $200 million in trade development credits. He said that Germany's apprenticeship programmes for high-level technical education offered a viable solution to the skills mismatch in his country.

Monday, 12 June 2017

AFRICA/EUROPE: After political shocks, a new diplomatic order starts work

Political changes in Europe – and their effects on Africa – start the ball rolling this week. And then it's off to Lusaka where the Zambian government is about to ink a new deal with the IMF. In Nigeria, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo's profile could rise higher still should he sign the 2017 budget while his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, stays on medical leave. There are more warnings about election clashes in Kenya, and Ethiopia needs another billion dollars of emergency food to stave off a disaster, following the recent drought.

AFRICA/EUROPE: After political shocks, a new diplomatic order starts work
As the slings and arrows of voter sentiment hit Europe's populist movements, the continent's diplomacy is adapting, particularly in Africa. This week Germany is convening several special meetings on economic and security policy in Africa ahead of its G-20 summit.

The immediate winners in these diplomatic shifts are the centrist governments that are running Germany and France. Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron are espousing a more robust and internationalist approach, which they contrast to the more nationalist and inward-looking ideas espoused in the United States under President Donald Trump and Britain under Theresa May.

Last week's national election and political meltdown in Britain after the governing Conservative Party lost its majority in Parliament is likely to reinforce this trend. With Prime Minister Theresa May's position gravely weakened, there is still more confusion about the government's plans for leaving the European Union and promised reformulation of its trade and diplomatic strategy.

By contrast, Germany is leading a new generation of trade and investment pacts which Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia have already signed. Chancellor Merkel is calling for a Marshall Fund to accelerate economic growth and development in Africa. Her Development Minister Gerd Mueller is calling on the United Nations this week to establish a €10 billion (US $11.2 bn.) fund to respond to the chronic food shortages and crop failures, which have worsened as a result of climate change.

France's President Macron, further strengthened by the victory of his En Marche! party in the first round of legislative elections on 11 June, has already signaled his strong support for a stronger European security policy in the Sahel, where French special forces have been deployed to fight jihadist groups. Some big funding battles loom over how the regional security budgets are divided: France and Germany have concentrated funding and projects in the Sahel; Britain has focused its efforts in Somalia.

ZAMBIA: Lusaka prepares for IMF deal after mining rows
With its financial engineers returning to Lusaka this week, the International Monetary Fund says it could conclude a US$1.3 bn. adjustment loan deal with the government in the coming days. The government has pledged to halve its budget deficit to 4% by 2019 but the deal still has to be approved formally by the IMF board in August.

These negotiations come amid continuing political turmoil, during which challenges to last year's national elections have escalated with the detention of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema on treason charges.

Some of the political rows have spilled into the country's mining industry as the government has struck an increasingly nationalist posture as local economic pressures mount. Earlier this year a dispute over taxes and royalties prompted a public spat between President Edgar Lungu's government and the Canadian-listed First Quantum Mining. After much bluster, Lungu opted for discreet private negotiations to settle the row. But last week, local police arrested 31 Chinese citizens accused of illegal mining; Chinese mining companies, like their Western and Indian counterparts in Zambia, have been accused of financial malpractice by successive governments over the past 15 years.

NIGERIA: Why the signature on the 2017 budget is so politically important
Will he or won't he? That's the unresolved question in Nigeria about whether President Muhammadu Buhari, on medical leave in London since 7 May, will make it back to Abuja to sign this year's budget. Some staffers in Aso Rock started talking up the President's imminent return.

Such speculation about Buhari has now been formally squashed with one of his aides telling journalists that he was undergoing further tests on 12 June; the results of which would determine the date of his return to Nigeria.

Two officials in the presidency and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, insist the 2017 budget will be signed this week, having been approved by both houses of the National Assembly after a six-month delay. This means Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would sign the bill, a move which many would see as increasing his standing in the political system. It would also unblock most of the pipelines of government spending, both to ministries and to the politically important 36 states in the federation.

However, some of Buhari's allies are getting wary about Osinbajo's political profile. No longer seen as the apolitical technocrat, Osinbajo's role as stand-in for Buhari, deal-maker in the Delta, and now presiding over the 2017 budget, positions him clearly in the front line of politics. And that means getting into the starting blocks for the 2019 elections.

KENYA: Fears mount after Odinga warns on election trickery and violence
There is a worrying sense of déjà vu about national elections in August with politicians making public condemnations of violence but saying they will not be able to hold back their supporters if there is provocation. That was the line both sides adopted in the 2007 elections and their violent aftermath. Politicians generally reined in the rhetoric in 2013 because the horror of the 2007 elections was fresh in people's minds.

Political speeches have been far less constrained this year. The latest top politician to sound such harrowing warnings is Raila Odinga, presidential candidate of the opposition National Super Alliance. In a series of press briefings, Odinga has said he thought something sinister was afoot at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission where two senior officials were dismissed this month.

One of them headed the procurement office which organises the production of some 130 million ballot papers for national, provincial and local government elections.

ETHIOPIA: Despite economic successes, desperate food shortages in drought hit areas
The government's food stocks are running dangerously low, it has warned this week, with people in the Ogaden areas neighbouring Somalia facing a 'food and nutritional' disaster next month without fresh supplies. After 15 years of high growth and talk of a long-term economic turnaround, the crisis is a blow to the government's efforts to forge a new image for the country. Officials in Addis Ababa reject any insinuation that the food crisis, which affects almost 8 million people or a tenth of the country, is in any way a replay of the famines that plagued the country in the 1980s.

Although climate change and the drought are the main causes of the current food crisis, tens of thousands of migrants trying to escape the continuing conflict in Somalia are putting added pressure on Ethiopia's state system. Mitiku Kassa, head of disaster relief in the Addis Ababa government, says the country needs at least a billion dollars worth of emergency food aid.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Grey skies for green energy

Extreme weather amid this week's storms in Western Cape in South Africa and the continuing drought in north-east Africa remind us of the realities of climate change. Cape Town hovers between devastating storms one month and worsening water shortages for the rest of the year. Drought has knocked off one per cent of growth from East Africa's economies. Fights over land and water in the Sahel, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire pit farmers against herders in clashes in which thousands of people have died in recent years.

Even before the United States government pulled out of the Paris climate treaty on 2 June, few funds for climate adaptation were reaching Africa.

Africa would benefit from a better coordinated approach on climate and environment policy, perhaps using the research capacity of the Economic Commission for Africa and the convening power of the African Development Bank. Political backing from the African Union would also help. More detailed reporting on the Sahel and the Horn should prompt research into ways to ameliorate or adapt to the environmental devastation. Some pioneering projects for local meteorological centres, assets for international climate research, struggle for funding. There is a direct link between plans for a green energy corridor up the spine of Africa, running on renewables, and tackling climate change. Africa's massive expansion of agricultural production and processing, together with its solar power farms, depend on tackling the threat of climate change.

Monday, 5 June 2017

After global protests over Washington's withdrawal from the Paris climate treaty, how will Africa react?

We start with the aftermath of the United States' withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and its implications for Africa. Then we go to Morocco, where protests are spreading. In South Africa, the relentless drip of information and claims about President Jacob Zuma's relations with the Gupta family continues while there are some glimmers of positive economic news in Nigeria. Finally, there's more news on the prospects for testing negotiations between Tanzanian President John Magufuli's team and the country's biggest gold miner.

AFRICA/UNITED STATES: After global protests over Washington's withdrawal from the Paris climate treaty, how will Africa react?European and Asian countries responded quickly and critically to US President Donald Trump's pull-out from the 2015 climate treaty on 2 June but the African response has been muted so far. This is despite the fact that seven of the ten countries most damaged by global warming are in Africa.
Africa produces just 3.8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from its oil and coal industries. This compares with China's production of 23% emissions, while the US produces 19%. China now leads the global solar power industry in terms of units produced and is matching the US research effort. Africa is a key market for solar power projects from both Chinese and US companies – regardless of the politics over the Paris deal.

Some African politicians say discreet lobbying to persuade the USA to contribute to the proposed US$100 billion climate change adaptation fund would be of more use than joining the public criticism of the Trump government over its pull-out from the COP22 treaty. They say that they could get backing from US green energy companies.

Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, has called for much more determined action by African governments to promote the continent's 'Energy for all' campaign which aims for a 'low carbon' transition to a power sector that provides economical and sustainable electricity for most of the continent. With its 1.1 billion people and the fast rising demand for power, Africa's plans for a green electricity industry should become a showcase for the Paris accords, says Annan.

But little of the climate adaptation funding has been released to Africa so far, says Annan. This is due mainly to a lack of integrated plans and policies for the rapid expansion of energy provision on the continent, he adds. Those countries that have pressed ahead with sustainable energy projects – such as Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Morocco and South Africa – are already bringing in substantial outside finance.

A big weakness is the paucity of regional and cross-border power projects, says Annan. Less than 8% of power is currently traded across borders in Africa. That, he argues, means a big boost to regional transmission lines, new power trading accords and a harmonisation of national grids.a
MOROCCO: Escalating street protests test King Mohammed VI's resolve a week after the arrest of dissident in El Hoceima.

The protestors are not going away in El Hoceima in the northern Rif region, a week after the arrest of activist Nasser Zefzafi. This dissident mobilisation, extremely rare in Morocco, represents a growing challenge to the new Prime Minister and the Makhzen, the royal establishment around King Mohammed VI.

It was the death of a fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, in clashes with security forces last October that triggered the latest round of mass protests in the area. Then the government stepped up security but made some concessions to local people.

Dissident leader Zefzafi and his allies have been lambasting the regional authorities for poor services and corruption. People were enraged when the government failed to address the complaints and instead sent in security forces to put down the protests and arrest Zefzafi. In neighbouring Imzouren, police fired water cannon to break up fresh protests.

SOUTH AFRICA: Deluge of leaked emails points to the huge influence of the Gupta businesses over President Zuma and his ministersA week ago, President Jacob Zuma survived yet another bid by the National Executive Committee of the governing African National Congress (ANC) to sack him over his family's ties to the Gupta family's conglomerates. This week, the campaign to oust him continues, with the release of some 200,000 emails from the Guptas' companies purporting to show their influence on Zuma and other top politicians.

This deluge of secret emails from the company, uncovered by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Daily Maverick, adds more weight to claims of impropriety at the highest levels of government. The Johannesburg Sunday Times, one of the best-selling papers in the country, says it has evidence that the Gupta family has bought Zuma a US$25 million mansion in the United Arab Emirates. It said the story had been corroborated by local business people and senior officials in the ANC.

It follows allegations last week that the Guptas were arranging UAE nationality for the Zuma family. This claim about the Dubai mansion elicited a rare response from the Presidency, which comprehensively denied the allegation, insisting that Zuma owns no properties outside South Africa. But the ANC has called for an investigation into the credibility and origins of the leaked emails.
All of this material could become legally important if the call for a judicial probe into relations between the Guptas and government officials is heeded. The Public Protector, the country's top anti-corruption body, demanded the probe but Zuma has challenged the proposal in court. He may be fighting a losing battle. Although the NEC declined to debate a call for his removal, it agreed that there should be a judicial enquiry into links between the Guptas and his family and senior officials.

NIGERIA: New data signals some economic respite as President extends London medical tripVice-President Yemi Osinbajo is making halting progress on the economic front while President Muhammadu Buhari stays on in London for medical attention. At the end of May, the National Assembly passed the 2017 budget, after long delays, and the Senate passed a new version of the Petroleum Industry Bill. After Nigeria's share index rose 12% over the past month, local bankers forecast that it could be the start of a stronger recovery.

The next key step is for the Presidency to sign the budget and trigger the distribution of ministerial and state allocations. It's unclear whether Osinbajo will do so this week or wait until Buhari's return. Meanwhile, the National Statistics Agency is due to release key figures on exports, imports and unemployment on 6 June which should give a clearer picture of economic progress.

TANZANIA: Mining company talks with top government officials will wait for report on second presidential probeCritical negotiations between Acacia Mining, majority owned by Barrick Gold, and top state officials over tax levels, royalties and local processing will not start before the release of a second presidential report into the industry. The first presidential report accused Acacia of massively under-declaring its production, a claim that pushed down the value of its shares by 30%. Due to the robust resource nationalist position of President John Magufuli, the dispute with Acacia has taken on strong political overtones.

Officials at Acacia, led by its Chief Executive Officer Brad Gordon, met top government officials in Dar es Salaam last week and deny all wrongdoing. However, Gordon says the company is willing to discuss plans for increasing processing in the country and would finance a study in the commercial viability of establishing a local smelter plant.