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The East African : March 3rd 2014
The EastAfrican 30 OUTLOOK MARCH 1-7,2014 By LEE MWITI The EastAfrican Conflicts in S Sudan, CAR, DR Congo dis T s he past two months have not been good ones for the Africa Rising narrative. South Sudan has imploded and in Central Africa, a genocide of sorts is taking place, with Muslims now targeted in revenge for the atrocities of a short-lived regime that seized power last year. These two stories, together with the DR Congo’s tribula- tions, have unfortunately hogged headlines from the continent this year, but other things have been happening in Africa. The manoeuvring ahead of South Africa’s election, while still yet to come off the boil, has been high-profile, especially with the collapse of the negotiations between Democratic Alliance leader Hellen Zille, and Agang stalwart Mamphela Ramphele. The push to unseat Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan is definitely on. The decibels on the Kenya-ICC story have also been quite high, as has been the surprisingly vociferous debate over homosexuality on the continent. But here we give you a rundown of the stories that have flown under the radar: 1: Gambia’s Jammeh wields the axe did, as the sackings are always explained away “as acting under the provisions of section 71(4) b of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.” Earlier last month, Presi- dent Jammeh had sacked Ghanaian-born Chief Justice Mabel Yamoa Agyemang, and again gave no reason. Her replacement was a Nigerian. Her predecessor was another Nigerian. While President Jammeh did not take over as Chief Justice, there is little else he does not run, including the Defence and Religious Affairs Ministries. Since he came to power in a coup in 1994, President Jammeh has hired and fired close to 200 Cabinet ministers and top officials. He said he does not delight President Yahya Jammeh (pictured above) has just sacked his energy minister Teneng Mba Jaiteh and taken over her duties. We are not sure what she in being so decisive: “I have never had any wish to appoint anyone that I know I would end up dismissing because I will then be wasting our time and slowing down our progress.” 2: Libya- Law of the brigands Since Gaddafi’s ignominious end in October 2011 and a colourless election in July 2012 — the first “free” polls — little of substance has come out of the oil-rich North African country, with sensational stories such as opening of presidential sex dens popping up once in a while in tabloids. Of all the Arab Spring ben- eficiaries, only Egypt can lay claim to a more chaotic transition. But Libya has been slowly moving to prise itself out of the grip of militia groups that essentially run the country. So powerful are the brigands that they last October briefly abducted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. But last week, Libyans went to the polls to elect a new transitional authority, after forcing the current interim General National Congress to back down on a plan to extend its mandate by a year. A new constitution has also been in the works, with the 60-member assembly that will be elected expected to finalise the charter. The biggest challenge how- ever is to restore the rule of law to a country given over to widespread lawlessness. Botswana is widely regarded as the standard that Africa should aspire to. The country is an “oddity” on a continent where the “African solutions to African problems” mantra involves turning a blind eye to governance infractions. The Southern African coun- try’s strong pro-governance approach to issues has won it mainly admirers, but also some foes. Headed by “Africa’s most eligible bachelor” Lieutenant General Seretse Ian Khama, the country is by most African standards prosperous, aided by minerals and its em- 3: Botswana’s Mr Teflon brace of the rule of law. Gaborone has just cut diplomatic ties with North Korea following a damning UN report; it is a safe bet that not too many African countries will follow its lead. President Khama, for ex- ample, held off on the Kenya-driven AU demand that African countries storm out of the International Criminal Court en masse, while he was the only leader to question Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s re-election, threatening to stop observer missions to fraudulent African elections. The country was in Decem- ber 2013 ranked Africa’s least corrupt state by Transparency International, while it has the fifth highest per capita income on the continent. Even international PR nightmares such as its controversial treatment of the Basarwa — Bushmen — have not dented its image, with tourists still trooping to its game parks. The country will in Octo- ber go to the polls and while the opposition have in recent months sought to put up a united front against President Khama, it is an initiative that has struggled to gain traction. Only the most optimistic see the president being denied a second term in office. 4: Zimbabwe gets sanctions relief The European Union — that great target of Robert Mugabe — has finally come through on plans to ease sanctions on Zimbabwe, following the election in July that finally got rid of coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai. Given that the First Family are still blacklisted, Harare has termed the détente a “non-event.” Secretly, however, it will have been pleased, with the country said to be courting China for an urgent economic bailout package. This comes as agriculture and manufacturing have all but collapsed, while mining proceeds regularly end up in the pockets of top officials. The country has retired its muchmaligned currency, and has announced it will use up to nine foreign currencies. President Mugabe, who turned 90 this month, is unperturbed by all this. Expected to run again at the next election, he insists he is not due for retirement any time soon. He will, however, have been keenly watching the EU’s recent moves, with the bloc expected to resume direct development aid disbursements through the government for the first time since 2002. The US, however, remains distinctly unimpressed. President Mugabe will not be among the 47 out of 54 African leaders invited to President Barack Obama’s US-Africa Leaders Summit in August.
February 24th 2014
March 10th 2014