Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

South African potential can emerge from mountain of bricks

We are now less than a week away from the start of the Confederations Cup and the first true test of South Africa's preparedness to host the 2010 World Cup.

It's hard for a lot of people to take the Confederations Cup seriously, although in Germany four years ago it did develop into a summer festival and in the end proved a tasty appetiser before the main meal 12 months later.

The field for South Africa is somewhat lob-sided: Brazil, Italy and the all-conquering Spanish are the strong favourites with the United States, Egypt and South Africa perhaps having the potential to create an upset. Iraq and New Zealand should pose few problems for the big teams.

Most importantly, though, this is a test of the organisational ability of the World Cup hosts, whose preparations for 2010 have been clouded by uncertainty.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Santana’s stuttering English is a good sign for South Africa

South Africa’s Brazilian coach Joel Santana has broken into English at news conferences on just a handful of occasions.

It's mostly after rare wins for the national side when the local media are in good humour and Santana seeks to charm them with his piecemeal vocabulary. Few notes are taken amid the mirth.

Zuma’s balancing act

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South African President Jacob Zuma has a tough balancing act to perform as he begins his term in office.

 On the one hand, Zuma is anxious to assure investors that there will be continuity in the economic policies that have secured the country’s status as the regional powerhouse.

Sovereign risk in South Africa

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Recent events in South Africa have sent some conflicting signals to investors about sovereign risks. On the one hand there was some regulatory flip-flopping over the Vodacom listing given objections from the union organisation COSATU, which raised questions about the influence of unions in Jacob Zuma’s administration. On the other hand the sovereign issuing some $1.5 billion was highly successful and oversubscribed.

With Zuma recently elected on a platform of change for his domestic audience and continuation of old policies when speaking to investors, there is a raft of new ministers and new ministries and quite a bit of policy uncertainty. No foreign investor will deny South Africa’s need to address serious social problems of inequality, housing, jobs and education through a more developmental state agenda.

South Africa’s unions flex their muscles

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After South Africa’s unions came close to blocking the listing of mobile phone group Vodacom, new President Jacob Zuma may want to keep a closer eye on his left wing allies.

The attempt to sink the $10 billion bourse debut of Vodacom, which went ahead on Monday after an 11th-hour court ruling, hurt the rand currency and revived investor concerns over Zuma.

Holding President Zuma accountable

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Making sure South Africans hold their new government accountable is essential if the country is to succeed under Jacob Zuma, believes Mamphela Ramphele, an anti-apartheid activist and prominent South African businesswoman.

“We underestimated what it means to govern a modern democracy,” she told Reuters. “In that context we have made many  mistakes. The first mistake was to conflate the leader, the party, the government and the state. That conflation leads to the undermining of state institutions … and abuse of state resources for party political reasons.”

What chance for democracy in Nigeria?

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Can Nigeria, the so-called “giant of Africa”, live up to its claim of being the biggest democracy in the black world? Not if its latest state governorship election is anything to go by, argue some in Africa’s most populous nation.

The re-run of elections for the post of governor in southwest Ekiti state were seen as a test of whether Nigeria’s electoral system has improved since flawed federal and state polls in 2007.

Can Zuma live up to unity pledge?

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Pledging to work for national unity is pretty much a formality for any election winner, but in the case of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma it may be more than a platitude. It may need to be.

“The new President of the Republic will be a president for all, and he will work to unite the country around a programme of action that will see an improvement in the delivery of services,” Zuma said after the African National Congress won its sweeping victory.

Africa? No thanks.

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The pivotal marketing position when South Africa were still bidding for the 2010 World Cup was the assertion it would be a tournament for all of the continent. ‘Africa’s bid’ was the pay-off line used throughout the successful campaign.

Using famous footballing personalities from around the continent, South Africa garnered widespread support with its all-inclusive approach against their Arab rivals in the race to win the right to host the event.

Zuma sweeps in

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It was South Africa’s most exciting election campaign for a long time, enlivened by the split in the African National Congress and the personality of Jacob Zuma, the man who is now pretty much assured of becoming president despite the best efforts of plenty of people within his party as well as the opposition.

So far, the results don’t look too different from the pre-poll forecasts. An ANC victory was never in doubt and the battle was as much as anything about whether the party could keep its two-thirds majority in parliament, which lets it change the constitution and further entrench its power. That was still in doubt after early figures.

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