13 Dec

ANC Will Lose Power With Wrong Leaders, Makhura Says

The premier of South Africa’s richest province warned the ruling African National Congress will lose its majority and extend an economic slump if it elects the wrong leaders this weekend.

“If it doesn’t give South Africa the leadership that will win public confidence, not only is the ANC going to lose 2019 elections, but the country will be in a much longer protracted economic disaster, with deep pain for ordinary people,” David Makhura, the 49-year-old premier of Gauteng, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg offices on Tuesday. “We have got to get a team of leaders who understand that South Africans are fed up with corruption and also fed up with an economy that is not performing.”

While Makhura didn’t directly name his preferred candidate, the overwhelming majority of ANC branches in Gauteng, which includes the capital, Pretoria, and the nation’s financial hub, Johannesburg, back Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, for party leader. Makhura said he has confidence in the province’s choice for leaders.

More than 5,000 ANC delegates, including Makhura, will converge in Johannesburg from Dec. 16 to elect a successor for President Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC and to be its presidential candidate for the 2019 elections. The party faces a critical moment to regain public and business confidence and pull Africa’s most-industrialized economy back from a downturn that has seen unemployment surge to 28 percent and poverty increase, Makhura said.

Branch Support

The majority of Gauteng delegates are pinning their hopes on Ramaphosa to restore confidence in an economy that was downgraded to junk this year amid political and policy uncertainty under Zuma. Former African Union Commission Chairwoman and Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, is his main rival.

While Ramaphosa has spoken of the need to stamp out corruption and boost the economy through “inclusive growth,” Dlamini-Zuma is supported by senior party officials who propose policies that include expropriating land without compensation and increasing the share of mines that need to be owned by black South Africans. Ramaphosa is preferred by most investors.

To read the full article, click here.

08 Dec

Ramaphosa Says S. Africa’s ANC in Challenge to Unite Party

Cyril Ramaphosa, one of two leading candidates contesting for the presidency of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, said its leaders must unite the party after this month’s elective conference.

 “Our movement is divided and there are factions,” Ramaphosa, the country’s deputy president, said in a Thursday late-night program on Johannesburg-based 702 Talk Radio. “The challenge that we face, particularly going into this conference, is how we are going to unite the ANC and how we will emerge out of this conference united.”
The winner from the Dec. 16-20 conference to pick a successor to President Jacob Zuma as the party’s head will be its presidential candidate in the 2019 elections that are set to be the toughest since Nelson Mandela led the party to power at the end of apartheid in 1994. The election has caused deep rifts within the 105-year-old ANC, weighed on the rand and nation’s bonds and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.
Ramaphosa’s strongest rival for the position is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. Ramaphosa didn’t give an explicit answer during Thursday’s broadcast when asked whether he would, if defeated in the leadership contest, accept the position of Dlamini-Zuma’s deputy.
“If for instance, I am not successful to become president, I will have to reflect on whether I should be deployed elsewhere or deployed in the same position,” he said. “So, it is going to be a matter in which I am going to want to reflect.”
Ramaphosa said the South African economy could grow at a faster pace and that the government had been diverted by self-interest and state capture, a local term for the undue influence over the state by private interests. The ANC should never allow its policy to be up for sale and he wouldn’t “sell his soul for any interest,” Ramaphosa said.
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07 Dec

Investors Are Looking at Zimbabwe’s Budget: Post-Mugabe World

When Patrick Chinamasa marks the start of his second stint as Zimbabwe’s finance minister by presenting the budget on Thursday, investors will be looking for policy changes in addition to fiscal plans in the post-Robert Mugabe era.

While the government needs to rein in runaway spending, end cash shortages and recapitalize banks, signals that it plans to revise or repeal contentious policies such as forcing companies to transfer 51 percent stakes to black Zimbabweans could be a game-changer. It could lure back investors and smooth engagement with lenders like the International Monetary Fundand the World Bank.

Chinamasa, a lawyer, was reappointed last week by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, less than two months after former leader Mugabe moved him to another portfolio. Mugabe resigned two weeks ago after an army-led coup ended his 37-year rule. During his tenure, agricultural output collapsed due to forced repossessions of commercially productive, mainly white-owned farmland, Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 due to hyperinflation and the economy has halved in size since 2000.

A half-hearted attempt at solving expropriation, taming inflation and curbing the country’s massive import bills would be a continuation of Mugabe’s “insular budgetary policies,” said Charles Laurie, head of country risk at Bath, England-based Verisk Maplecroft. There will be “intense scrutiny” of Chinamasa’s plans by investors who expect “business-friendly budgetary policy,” though the focus would mostly be on the empowerment law.

“Repealing or gutting the law will be an essential step in signaling to foreign businesses that Zimbabwe is serious about fostering a viable business environment,” Laurie said. “It’s nearly impossible to imagine a revival of Western investor appetite should this politically motivated law remain on the books.”

Leading Efforts

Chinamasa has led efforts to revive the struggling economy and tap fresh credit. While Zimbabwe has paid $110 million of arrears to the IMF, it’s still saddled with $1.7 billion arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank and external debt exceeds 70 percent of gross domestic product.

To read the full article, click here. 

07 Dec

It’s Only Been Two Months, But Angola Leader’s a Bond-Market Hit

He’s only led Angola for a couple of months, but bond investors already like what they’ve seen from Joao Lourenco.

Angola’s $1.5 billion of bonds due in 2025 have returned 8 percent since Lourenco was sworn in as president on Sept. 26, replacing Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who had ruled the OPEC member and former Portuguese colony since 1979. That’s a better performance than any other country in the Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets USD Sovereign Bond Index, which includes debt from more than 70 nations.

It’s not just down to oil prices rising about 5 percent in the period — the bonds of other major producers such as Mexico, Russia and Saudi Arabia have barely budged. Overall, Eurobonds issued by emerging-market governments returned an average of 0.3 percent.

Lourenco, 63, has moved fast to assert his authority in Angola, which relies on crude for about 90 percent of exports and ranks among the 15 most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International. He has replaced the heads of the central bank, state oil company Sonangol and diamond firm Endiama, and started opening up the telecommunications sector to more competition.

The central bank, under new Governor Jose Massano, raised the main interest rate by 200 basis points to 18 percent last week as it looked to combat inflation of almost 30 percent. It may be a precursor to a weakening of the kwanza, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd., which says the currency is overvalued.

“While one could point to market ebullience due to elevated oil prices as a factor underpinning these bonds, the market might be getting more constructive on the policy outlook,” Dmitry Shishkin, the head of quantitative strategy at Standard Bank in London, said in a Nov. 28 note. The government has “hit some of the right notes, pointing to a desire to improve debt sustainability, cut some expenses, issue another Eurobond and continue with the reform of Sonangol.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-06/it-s-only-2-months-but-angolan-leader-a-hit-with-bond-investors

04 Dec

Kenyans hit out at State over ‘arrest’ of David Ndii in Kwale

Kenyans have taken to social media to react to news of the alleged arrest of National Super Alliance (Nasa) strategist David Ndii.

Dr Ndii, a global economist and popular Saturday Nation columnist, was allegedly arrested at Leopard Beach Hotel in Diani, where he was with his wife, on Sunday evening.

DENIALS

Police have denied Nasa claims that they are holding him at the Diani Police Station.

Dr Ndii is an ardent user of social media, particularly Twitter, with a legion of over 200,000 followers.

Known for his witty and sometimes humorous tweets, the economist has been one of the government’s harshest critics. That he was a likely target of the Jubilee government’s crackdown on dissent, was an open secret.

And as Nasa leaders on the ground followed up and demanded the reason for his alleged arrest, Kenyans took to social media to express their shock and disappointment.

Dr Ndii received an avalanche of support particularly from Kenyans on Twitter (KoT). Using the hashtag #FreeNdii, KoT called for the immediate release of the self-proclaimed ‘public intellectual’.

Even those who do not entirely agree with Dr Ndii condemned the government’s move to arrest the opposition leader. Activists, prominent lawyers, bloggers and average social media users sent out tweets in Dr Ndii’s, with the majority praising him for his apparent “courage” and “patriotism.”

For this reason, “David Ndii” immediately topped Twitter’s trending topics in Kenya, with over 20,000 tweets sent about the topic as at Monday morning.

One of the most popular tweet was posted by activist Boniface Mwangi who said; “David Ndii is a patriot. A patriot is a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.”

MAATHAI

Lawyer Donald B. Kipkorir, in an equally popular tweet, said; “For many years, Prof Wangari Maathai kept being harassed; the World celebrated & gave her Nobel Prize; the highest global award … Kenya celebrated her only after she died … Now we are arresting Prof David Ndii, a highly respected global Economist … Kenya harasses its BEST!”

To read the full article, click here.

01 Dec

Kenya: Striking Kenya Airways Engineers to Sue Over Dismissal

Striking technicians and engineers of national carrier Kenya Airways will move to court to protest their dismissal. The workers announced on Thursday they have engaged their lawyers over the matter.

Court

At a press conference, the more than 160 workers stated, through a seven-member committee, that they have resolved to take up the matter in court.

“We will not negotiate again with the employer. The courts will now give the way forward on this matter,” said Mr Joseph Oyuga, a certified engineer who spoke on their behalf.

The workers, who include technical assistants, technicians and engineers, have boycotted work since Tuesday evening to demand higher salaries.

They want their pay to match those of their counterparts in Middle East countries.

Aircraft Safety

Mr Oyuga also raised serious concerns over the safety of aircrafts and passengers, saying normal but critical maintenance procedures could be affected.

The committee member said those currently supervising and signing off aircrafts are not properly qualified to do so.

“Some of them are our managers who last undertook such technical procedures a long time ago. As of now, the safety of those planes and the passengers cannot be guaranteed,” he said.

The workers, who vowed to continue with the strike until their demands are addressed, demanded an audit of the work done since the boycott began.

This should be done by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, they said.

Mr Shem Onyango, another engineer and a member of the committee selected to represent the staff, lamented that their employer, KQ, has been unwilling to meet them and discuss the concerns they have raised.

Pay Hike

KQ boss Sebastian Mikosz told the striking employees that the boycott was against the company’s efforts at financial restructuring.

He said the airline will not be held at ransom by striking workers

KQ, which is financially constrained, said a technical assistant used to earn Sh120,000 and this was increased to Sh200,000 in April after a review; but add that the workers are now demanding Sh340,000.

To read the full article, please click here.

30 Nov

EU Pledges Increased African Investments to Slow Migration

European Union leaders pledged to increase investments in Africa to assist development and help stem the arrival of thousands of migrants who are desperate to flee poverty.

Speaking at a gathering of heads of states of the continents in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan, European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday the bloc was “ready to do more” to create jobs and economic opportunities for Africa and its people.

“We have to be ambitious,” Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, said at the same gathering. “There needs to be a true Marshall Plan for Africa.”

The two-day meeting in Ivory Coast takes place as the EU plans to make 8 billion euros ($9.5 billion) available to improve migration control from the Middle East and Africa. In September, the European Parliament adopted a separate 4.1 billion euro plan for Africa that’s meant to generate 44 billion euro in investment and address root causes of migration.

Solutions to Africa’s problems “require significant financial resources, much more than what African resources alone can afford,” Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said. “Our appeal will be for the growth of investments from Europe, public and private.”

Europe is grappling to stem the biggest wave of asylum seekers since World War II, as anxiety over the issue is stoking populism and drives electoral gains by far-right parties from France to Hungary.

Libya Slaves

The plight of African migrants was highlighted this month by videos of what the International Organization for Migration described as slave markets in Libya, scenes that are dominating the summit’s talks.

Leaders and officials of the EU, AU and United Nations met Wednesday with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa Al-Sarraj to find solutions for this “atrocious and unbearable situation,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters.

Libya agreed to allow access to its territory for the parties to evacuate the camps “where these barbaric scenes” have been identified and to speed up the repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin, he said.

Governments across the two continents will reinforce cooperation to dismantle trafficking networks and their funding mechanisms while the EU may help to pay for the repatriation of migrants to their countries of origin.

A lasting solution to illegal migration will require that Libya solve its political crisis, Macron said. “It is indispensable to reconstitute a durable state and a political balance as part of the roadmap that has been decided,” he said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/eu-pledges-increased-african-investments-to-slow-migration

30 Nov

Buhari’s Graft War Stumbles as Nigeria Security Chiefs Feud

When agents of Nigeria’s financial crimes body arrived this month to arrest a former intelligence chief fired by President Muhammadu Buhari for stashing $43 million in cash in his wife’s apartment, they were stopped by armed secret policemen.

After a 10-hour standoff, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission backed down in the upscale Asokoro district of the capital, Abuja, with its boss, Ibrahim Magu, vowing his agents would be back to arrest former National Intelligence Agency boss Ayodele Oke.

It was the latest in a string of incidents that have dented the credibility of Buhari’s war on graft. Propelled by pledges to tackle corruption, the 74-year-old former military ruler became in 2015 the first opposition candidate in Nigerian history to defeat an incumbent at the ballot box. The West African nation ranked 136 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2016, the same as the year before.

Inter-agency rivalry has been a consistent feature of Buhari’s graft war. Twice he sent the nomination of Magu as head of the financial crimes commission, known as the EFCC, to lawmakers for approval, and on both occasions they rejected him based on state security police reports of alleged prior wrongdoing. That’s left the president’s anti-corruption czar in a weakened, acting capacity more than halfway into his tenure.

Lack of Clarity

“This clearly shows the lack of tactics and strategy in the approach of fighting corruption by the current administration,” said Oluseun Onigbinde, head of Lagos-based BudgIT, a civic group that lobbies for government transparency. “There’s no clarity on who’s directly responsible for arresting or prosecuting people.”

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said he couldn’t comment on the clash between the two security agencies over the attempted arrest of Oke when contacted by phone, saying he hadn’t been briefed on the matter. Buhari says his administration is making progress.

To read the full article, click here.

30 Nov

Chaos Threatens Key Leadership Vote for South Africa’s ANC

Leadership disputes have ended up in court in three of the nine provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and North West — while the party’s national officials stepped in to avert a lawsuit challenging the outcome of its internal election in the Eastern Cape province.

Court challenges, allegations of vote rigging and outbreaks of violence — South Africa’s ruling party is in disarray less than three weeks before it’s scheduled to choose a new leader to replace President Jacob Zuma.

The struggle for power has spawned such disorder that some analysts question whether the African National Congress can hold a credible election at the Dec. 16-20 conference in Johannesburg in what’s shaping up to be the most hotly contested internal vote since Nelson Mandela led the party to power in 1994.

“If all these legal disputes are not sorted out by the time the conference takes place, they will be transferred to the conference itself,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of Pretoria’s Center of Governance Innovation. “There is a risk that after the conference, some people challenge its legality and the decisions that have been taken.”

Seven candidates are vying to replace Zuma as ANC leader and become the party’s presidential candidate in 2019. Only Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife, appear to have a realistic chance of winning.

Most party branches in the Northern Cape and Western Cape nominated Ramaphosa for the post, while Dlamini-Zuma received overwhelming backing in the Free State. The other six provinces will announce their preferences over the next few days.

On Wednesday, the high court in Bloemfontein in the Free State ordered that the province’s conference, which was due to take place this weekend, can’t be held until 29 branch meetings are rerun. The court said 29 of these meetings were irregular and unconstitutional.

To read the full article, please click here. 

29 Nov

Africa Seeks Investment to Stem Migration as EU Summit Begins

European and African leaders gathering in Ivory Coast have an opportunity to confront one of the biggest sore points between the two continents: migration.

The two-day African Union-European Union summit begins Wednesday as Europe is grappling to stem the biggest wave of asylum seekers since World War II, with more people arriving by sea from African countries this year than from war-torn Syria. Anxiety over migration has stoked populism in Europe and driven electoral gains by far-right parties from France to Hungary.

“For the Europeans, it’s a priority because it’s also a domestic political issue and their electorate is very sensitive to this question,” said Gilles Yabi, head of policy group Wathi in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.

Yet few African leaders want to be seen as curbing migration in a region where going overseas is often considered a rite of passage and remittances are vital for economic survival. That’s why African Union member states favor talks that touch on broader issues such as economic development, security and trade relations, according to Yabi.

‘Concrete Projects’

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to attend the summit in Abidjan. Among African leaders to join the talks are Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Jacob Zuma.

Africa will only persuade its young people to stay if there are prospects for economic development on the continent, Moussa Faki Mahamat, president of the African Union Commission, told Radio France Internationale last week.

“We have to start at the root of the problem, with development, with concrete projects,” Mahamat said.

The views of African and European leaders on migration are fundamentally at odds, the International Crisis Group said in a report last month. “The European Union is doggedly focused on trying to prevent irregular migration, whereas the African Union is looking for ways to increase legal flows,” the Brussels-based research group said.

To read the full article, click here.

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