Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Activists often say that the world is not paying enough attention to Sudan’s Darfur crisis. But could the opposite be true — that Darfur is actually getting too much attention, from too many organisations, all at the same time?
A rough count shows at least 10 international and local initiatives searching for a solution to the region’s festering conflict. Many of them are at least nominally coordinated by the United Nation and the African Union. But with so many parallel programmes in play, the opportunities for duplication, competition and confusion are legion.
Top of the bill on the international stage is the double act between the United Nations and the African Union. Their joint Darfur mediator — Burkina Faso’s low-profile former security minister Djibril Bassole — spends much of his time shuttling between capitals, holding closed-session discussions with rebels, regional powers, Darfuri intellectuals and civilian groups.
The most high-profile initiative is a project launched at the Arab League for peace talks between Sudan’s government and rebels hosted in Qatar. Those talks, currently stalled, are hosted “in coordination” with Bassole but their have their own separate identity — Qatar has made its own statements and has held its own meetings with rebels.
An expectant crowd packed the room on the 11th floor of London’s City Hall, which has a spectacular view over Tower Bridge, for the announcement of the winner of this year’s $5 million Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership.
The prize committee, including Mary Robinson, former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and Salim Ahmed Salim, one-time secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity, files in.
South Africa’s national elections last week have reshaped the contours of the country’s political landscape. It has almost certainly killed off the careers of many opposition leaders who have become institutions and their parties with them. It virtually obliterated the peer parties of the ANC, with their roots as liberation movements, such as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Azanian Peoples’ Organisation (Azapo). It is clear the electorate believes these parties are irrelevant, outdated and under poor leadership. The Inkatha Freedom Party, whose founder, Mangosuthu Buthelezi also professed that it has its origins in liberation movement politics has also been brought down to size.
The IFP has dominated the KwaZulu Natal province since the 1960s, but embarrassingly lost out to the ANC now. ANC President Jacob Zuma’s overt appeal to Zulu speakers in the province who have supported the IFP in the past, by arguing that is better to support him (Zuma) for the presidency, and have a Zulu-speaker in the presidency, has evidently worked. Many IFP supporters have voted for Zuma merely on the basis of ethnic affinity, rather than his record in government.
South Africa votes on 22 April with not only its globally admired efforts to build democracy in tatters, but against the backdrop of many other promising attempts to build viable democracies across Africa now backsliding.
A court ruling that effectively reinstates corruption charges against African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma could hardly have come at a worse moment for him and the party that has dominated South Africa since the end of apartheid.
There appears little doubt that Zuma will be the party’s presidential candidate ahead of elections expected around April, but the ANC now faces its toughest electoral test yet with hefty graft charges hanging over its man.
Given that the leaders of the world’s most firmly capitalist countries are splashing around unprecedented billions to nationalise banks, prop up industry and try to get economies moving, it might seem churlish for anyone to question South Africa’s ruling ANC for planning to spend a bit more freely.
This weekend, the African National Congress set out its election manifesto priorities of creating jobs and improving education and health – promises interpreted by many as marking a generally leftward shift under the leadership of president in waiting Jacob Zuma.
Is 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.
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.
Keith Gottschalk, The University of the Western Cape
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.
Zimbabwe 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.
Can President Robert Mugabe be trusted to implement the resolution of the African Union summit calling for dialogue and a government of national unity to end Zimbabwe’s long-running crisis? According to Mugabe’s camp, he can. “The AU resolution is in conformity to what President Mugabe said at his inauguration, when he said we are prepared to talk in order to resolve our problems,” his Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told Reuters a day after the AU passed the resolution on July 1.
While opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Demoratic Change (MDC) say they have kept the door open for negotiations, he says conditions are not yet right for talks. The MDC also makes clear its objective is a transitional arrangement leading to fresh elections rather than a unity government. The crisis could conceivably be stuck on that difference.