We start this week in Addis Ababa for an important but poorly attended summit of the African Union, then take stock of a regional security summit held over the weekend in Bamako. Looking at a big real estate foreclosure linked to a Nigerian oil baron in Manhattan, we ask what this might mean for the Abuja government's anti-graft campaign. Finally, we go to Johannesburg where an African National Congress policy conference is being dominated by the coming leadership contest.
AFRICAN UNION: Money and
peacekeepers top summit agenda
A lengthening list of security crises and a shortening roster of
funders for peacekeeping operations greet the new African Union
Commission Chairman Moussa Faki
Mahamat at his first summit in the post in Addis Ababa today and
tomorrow (3-4 July). He will be presiding over some important debates
at the summit but several of the continent's top leaders – Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari, Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Egypt's Abdel Fattah el Sisi and South Africa's Jacob Zuma – will not be attending.
There are also calls for the AU to take a far more robust approach to
resolving the conflicts in Congo-Kinshasa
and South Sudan, as well as
ensuring that rumbling conflicts like those in Congo-Brazzaville and Mozambique are put on the official
Although there is consensus that African member states must pay more
for peacekeeping operations on the continent and the upkeep of the AU,
there is still no agreement on the system to be used. Last year, Donald Kaberuka, former President of
the African Development Bank, proposed a 0.2% levy on all imports from
outside Africa to cover the assessed contribution of member states.
That was agreed in principle and would mean member states would pay a
quarter of the cost of all peacekeeping operations on the continent.
The goal is for the AU to secure some $400 mn. for peacekeeping
operations by 2020.
Last month Kaberuka told the United Nations Security Council that more
needed to be done to coordinate finance for peace and security
operations in Africa. There is serious concern in the UN that United States' President Donald Trump's planned budget cuts
will force the winding-up of several peacekeeping operations as well as
block the start-up of new ones. The US is still the biggest funder of
peacekeeping operations globally as UN rules link to contributions to
the size of national economies.
Such rules are now being contested by US politicians close to Trump.
There are also some policy shifts among Africa's other international
partners. There are questions about whether Britain will fill the gap if the
European Union pulls out of financing peacekeepers in Somalia next year. China and India want to do more business in
Africa and are taking a bigger diplomatic and security role in the
Germany has also launched
a well-financed Africa strategy, albeit without much consultation on
the continent. Perhaps to rectify that, Chancellor Angela Merkel last month met with
several leaders including Ghana's
Nana Akufo-Addo, Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Guinea's Alpha Condé.
Other countries courting the AU include Brazil, Japan, Israel and Turkey: they want rights to attend
all the meetings as observers in exchange for stepping up
contributions. But some member states want tougher rules on this new
wave of foreign friends: Kagame suggested that outside states should
attend only those sessions on issues in which they have a direct
AFRICA/FRANCE: Regional security
forces goes ahead but US pulls back
Five West African states met in Bamako yesterday (2 July) to plan a new
regional security force Despite the US withholding diplomatic support
it secured backing from France and the European Union worth around €60
million. Leaders from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania said their governments
would pay €10 mn. each to the force.
Also at the summit was France's President Emmanuel Macron who pledged over 70
armoured vehicles and more troops to add to the 4,000 that France
already has in the region. But Mali's President Ibrahim Keïta said there was still a
shortfall of around €300 mn. of funding for the force.
anti-corruption drive surfaces in New York
After two years of tortuous investigations into claims that the
previous government had improperly awarded tens of billions of dollars'
worth of oil trading contracts to its business and political friends,
there are signs that some have been making progress. However, the
immediate beneficiaries are likely to be financing companies and others
owed money by those under investigation by the Nigerian authorities. So
far there has been little information about what funds have been
recovered and on what terms.
Last year, Nigeria's Federal High Court announced a global freeze on
assets tied to oil trader Kola Aluko which include luxury homes in New York, Los Angeles, and London as well
as a mega-yacht called Galactica Star,
which has been leased out to several international celebrities.
This month a $50 mn. apartment on Manhattan's so-called 'Billionaires'
Row', which had been purchased by one of Aluko’s companies, is to be
sold off at a foreclosure auction in New York on 17 July. Aluko
is accused by the Nigerian authorities of benefiting to the tune of
some US1.8 billion from illicit oil trading contracts.
There is still no public information on Aluko's whereabouts or any
contacts that he may have had with Nigeria's investigators. The British
authorities, who have been holding the passport of former Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke for about a
year and a half, are due to announce within three months whether they
will proceed with a criminal case against her. Much of Aluko's fortune
was built up during her tenure as oil minister.
SOUTH AFRICA: More
revelations on Zuma-Gupta links as ANC policy conference meets
The big political news in South Africa this week was meant to be the
six-day policy conference of the African National Congress in
Johannesburg but it is competing with the latest allegations against
President Jacob Zuma and his business friends, the Guptas.
Both the debates over policy and arguments about Zuma's relations with
the Guptas will shape preparations for the ANC's leadership elections
at the end of the year. The two frontrunners to lead the ANC – Deputy
President Cyril Ramaphosa and
the former Chairwoman of the African Union and ex-wife of Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – are using
the policy conference to set out their differing ideas.
Dlamini-Zuma is echoing the talk of 'radical economic transformation'
such as wide-ranging land and wealth distribution being pushed
rhetorically by her husband, but her rival, Ramaphosa, talks more about
'inclusive growth' and cutting out corruption. How those debates play
out at the conference will influence sentiment amongst the 4,000 or so
ANC delegates voting for the party's new leadership in December.
Meanwhile, two new allegations are fuelling public concern about the
Zuma-Gupta relations. Firstly, senior ANC politician Tokyo Sexwale has called for a
criminal investigation into whether local finance company, Trillian
Capital Partners, was given an advance warning of Zuma's plan to sack
finance minister Nhlanhla Nene
in late 2015.
Sexwale, who is retiring as chairman of Trillian, said an internal
investigation at the company highlighted concern about collusion with
The other development prompting interest is the claim that the South
African affiliate of KPMG auditors did not raise concerns when its then
clients, the Gupta family, diverted some 30 mn. rand (US$3 mn.) of
public money to finance a family wedding in 2013. The money is said to
have come from the Guptas' Estina agricultural project which is
part-financed by the Free State provincial government. Those claims by
the amaBhungane team of investigative journalists are based on
financial spreadsheets found amongst the over 100,000 emails leaked
from the Guptas' accounts.
The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors in South Africa has
announced a probe into KPMG's work with the Gupta companies on this
period. When South Africa's Public Protector announced in 2016 that she
would be investigating links between the Guptas and government
officials, KPMG ended its 15-year long auditing contract with the