Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Are talks going Mugabe’s way?

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Mugabe at rally in HarareIs it just me, or is Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe starting to look more confident again? At the start of power sharing talks a few weeks back he appeared distinctly grim when he and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had their historic handshake.

Mugabe shakes hands with Tsvangirai

In the past few days he has been much more his old self, lambasting the West at a speech to commemorate the dead in the liberation war, giving a national honour to George Chiweshe, who organised elections that were condemned by much of the world, and generally upbeat during three days of talks that in the end delivered no result.

Exactly what’s going on behind the closed doors is hard to fathom.

Mugabe at the talks

A top official from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF told Reuters a deal had already been done between Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway opposition faction. “Deal sealed” read the headline from the state-owned Herald. Mutambara has come out to say that no such deal has been signed but tellingly noted that “should talks fail” any party was entitled to enter bilateral negotiations.

What a deal with Mutambara might give Mugabe is the parliamentary majority that ZANU-PF lost in the elections. What it is very unlikely to give him is hope of resolving the crisis that is destroying Zimbabwe or of persuading the rest of the world that change is underway.

How will Zuma’s resumed court battle affect South Africa?

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Jacob Zuma, the embattled leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) launched a big fight for his political life on Aug. 4, asking the  Pietermaritzburg High Court to dismiss a graft case against him that could stop him becoming president next year. If his application is rejected, a full corruption trial could follow later this year and South Africa could head into a protracted period of tension and uncertainty. Read the following insights from leading analysts and have your say on how the legal process could affect South Africa:

gottschalk_resized1.jpegKeith Gottschalk, the University of the Western Cape (see full analysis)

“Jacob Zuma’s Zuma’s legal team has already proved, year after year that, if you have a bottomless pocket such as taxpayers, you can protract litigation, U.S.-style for the better part of a decade.”

Markets shrug off Zuma case

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Adenaan Hadien, Cadiz Holdings

adenaan_resized.JPGPietermaritzburg may well have been brought to a standstill with the resumed corruption case of Jacob Zuma in the High Court, but I suspect the same would not be true for local markets.  Certainly, if last week’s market performances are anything to go by, then reactions are likely to be muted.  Last Thursday, the Constitutional Court dismissed all four of Zuma’s appeals to prevent the state from using potentially damaging evidence against him in his corruption trial.  On Monday, Zuma’s legal team submitted an application for a permanent stay of prosecution, arguing that his constitutional rights have been violated.  This application and the round of appeals which may follow if, as is expected, it was rejected, would again delay things.
On the week, the local currency gained over 4% against South Africa’s trading partners’ currencies and bonds enjoyed gains last seen in the late-1990s.  Equities put in a more mixed performance on the week, due to the oscillating woes of resources against financials and industrials.  The performances of bonds were even more impressive, given the higher-than-expected consumer inflation figures released on Wednesday.  Granted, Thursday’s producer inflation numbers were more encouraging.

Holding pattern dawns in Zuma saga

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 Raenette TaljaardHelen Suzman Foundation
 

taljaard_resized.jpgANC President Jacob Zuma’s quest for a pre-trial stay of prosecution looks certain to  perpetuate uncertainty and an uncomfortable ongoing holding pattern and turmoil inherent in these dramatic events.

These compounded uncertainties do not only affect the South African economy with perceptions of political risk ratcheting up as key members of the new ANC leadership step up the rhetoric as Zuma goes to court but also creates tremors for core constitutional institutions and the bench in South Africa. After upholding the search and seizure warrants used against Zuma and rebuking his legal team for what amounts to delaying tactics, the Court also discouraged pre-trial legal wrangles of the kind that started in Pietermaritzburg.

No quick end seen in Zuma case

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Keith Gottschalk, The University of the Western Cape

gottschalk_resized.jpegJacob Zuma’s legal team has already proved, year after year that, if you have a bottomless pocket such as taxpayers, you can protract litigation, U.S.-style for the better part of a decade.

    The Presidency currently has a line item budget of 10 million rand per year for Zuma’s legal expenses. By South African standards, this is a record. It will certainly enable his legal team to appeal every point of procedure, then if necessary the verdict, and sentence. Each appeal starts with a delay of six or nine months on the court rolls, repeated as it winds it way upwards through a full bench of the High Court, followed by the Supreme Court of Appeal, followed by the Constitutional Court.

Losing billions in Zimbabwe

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dollars.jpgZimbabwe may lose its status as the country with the world’s highest proportion of billionaires after the central bank’s decision to lop 10 zeroes from its dollar.

What it means for the currency is that 10,000,000,000 dollars will become just one - although it will still take 25 of the new dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

Mandela at 90: How should his legacy be preserved?

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mandela_90_poster_resized.jpgTributes poured in on Friday as anti-apartheid struggle icon and international statesman Nelson Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday.

Mandela is revered globally for using his personal charm to promote reconciliation in a racially divided country on the verge of a racial bloodbath after his release from 27 years in apartheid jails for battling white domination. The emerging multiracial or rainbow nation he moulded is seen as his greatest legacy. 

Zimbabwe election rage

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration in HararePresident Robert Mugabe’s re-election has sparked cries of outrage from Zimbabwean bloggers and demands for international intervention.

Mugabe’s victory in Friday’s one-candidate poll was condemned in the West and by all three African monitoring groups who said the vote was deeply flawed.

Has Mugabe out-foxed the African Union?

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It would be out of character for the African Union (AU) to order any tough sanctions against Zimbabwe’s strongman President Robert Mugabe at its summit in Egypt on Monday. But has his swearing-in on Sunday for a new five-year term after a widely condemned election further narrowed the AU’s latitude for action? Mugabe defied international calls to cancel a presidential election run-off and negotiate with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who defeated Mugabe in the first-round ballot on March 29 but fell short of an outright majority. Mugabe was the only candidate in the second round after Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic change pulled out because of widely reported government-backed violence and intimidation.

Mugabe was heading for the AU summit after Zimbabwe’s electoral commission declared him the winner as expected. He was immediately inaugurated in Harare, extending his 28-year rule. This could force the AU to deal with him as the legitimate head of state of Zimbabwe, in the face of calls from the likes of South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu for the pan-African body not to recognise his election.  A defiant Mugabe vowed to confront his critics at the summit. The wily Mugabe invited Tsvangirai to the inauguration ceremony and pledged at the event to talk to the opposition to solve the country’s political crisis. Tsvangirai rejected the invitation.

Has Zimbabwe’s Mugabe been bolstered or weakened by Tsvangirai’s decision to abandon poll?

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Morgan TsvangiraiOpposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to abandon a controversial run-off ballot against Zimbabwe’s strongman President Robert Mugabe would surprise few. Western governments and aid agencies have for weeks voiced the same accusations of violence and intimidation against the Mugabe camp which Tsvangirai cited in concluding that a run-off election stood no chance of being free or fair.

Hours before Tsvangirai’s decision, his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reported that its rally in the capital Harare had been broken up by pro-Mugabe youth militia, something Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party denied.

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