- Simon Allison
Rwanda and South Africa are still on speaking terms, but only barely – and if Dirco gets its way even this tenuous relationship will be terminated in the next few days. South Africa, finally, has had enough of Rwanda doing its dirty business on South African soil and has expelled three diplomats, with the ambassador to follow shortly. It’s a bold move, but have we thought it through? By SIMON ALLISON.
Saadi al-Gaddafi – playboy, would-be pro-footballer and third son of Brother Leader himself – is back in Libya after an uncomfortable exile in Niger. It’s a diplomatic victory for the new Tripoli administration, and a very welcome public relations coup at a time when they really need one. By SIMON ALLISON.
There’s no easy fix for the Central African Republic. Even once the bloodshed stops, someone has to figure out how to rebuild a state which no longer exists, and prevent it from falling apart again. Only the United Nations has the skills and experience to confront all the country’s problems simultaneously. The good news is that Ban-Ki Moon is finally getting his act together, proposing a solid intervention plan to the Security Council. The bad news is that the UN is a slow-moving bureaucracy, even at the best of times – and it’s far from the best of times. By SIMON ALLISON.
There aren’t many people who can raise enough money to build a $9 billion oil refinery in Nigeria. Fortunately, Aliko Dangote is one of them. His new project, when it gets off the ground, could revolutionise the Nigerian economy – and, for the first time, allow oil-rich Nigeria to stop importing all its petrol. By SIMON ALLISON.
Home affairs minister Naledi Pandor is talking tough on economic migrants, whom she claims are abusing South Africa’s generous refugee laws. She wants to close the loopholes that let them stay. Does she have a point, or is this a standard dose of campaign trail xenophobia? Either way, there’s good news – there is a solution, as long as Home Affairs is prepared to take a good hard look at itself in the mirror. By SIMON ALLISON.
On 24 February 2014, Uganda passed legislation that criminalises homosexuality. Paul Semugoma, a gay Ugandan activist who recently gained temporary residence in South Africa, says that the legislation’s impact will be extensive among all Ugandan society. The legislation, according to Paul, is more about consolidating President Yoweri Museveni’s power ahead of the 2016 Ugandan elections than about dealing with any meaningful social ill. By Jonathan Dockney for GROUNDUP.
With a stroke of a pen, President Yoweri Museveni made it even more illegal to be gay in Uganda. And don’t even think about “promoting homosexuality”, whatever that might mean. Condemnation of the harsh new measures from western leaders has been swift and categorical. From African leaders, on the other hand, there’s been an ominous silence. By SIMON ALLISON.
For those nervous about Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi was a comforting, reassuring presence at the helm of the central bank. He is the country’s Trevor Manuel – a steady pair of hands implementing much-needed banking reforms and fighting corruption. But now he’s gone, sacrificed by a president more intent on consolidating his own power than protecting the Nigerian economy. It’s not a good sign. By SIMON ALLISON.
Apparently, Nigeria is winning the war against Boko Haram. So, at least, say the spin doctors. But the mounting corpses give the lie to this delusion, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan might be better served by acknowledging that his military crackdown isn’t working. After all, the first step on any road to recovery is to admit you have a problem. By SIMON ALLISON.
The European Union has lifted almost all its sanctions against Zimbabwe’s political and business elite. With one rather significant exception: Mugabe is still on the blacklist (no pun intended, although it might just be appropriate), and he would be well within his rights to wonder what he’s done to deserve this special attention. Sure, he’s a brutal, oppressive autocrat, but he’s not the only one. By SIMON ALLISON.
The noises coming out of the Central African Republic are becoming louder and increasingly frantic. From the chaos, the message is clear: the country’s Muslim population is no longer safe. Unless somebody does something, a devastating exodus – or worse, a genocide – appears unavoidable. Is it time the United Nations intervened in force? By SIMON ALLISON.
Bowing to popular pressure, Uganda’s president has said he will sign into law a bill that specifies harsh new punishments for the “abnormality” of homosexuality and those who “promote” it. It’s a huge step backwards for gay rights in Africa. But for President Museveni, that’s not really the issue. He’s just trying to keep himself in power. By SIMON ALLISON.
In May, just a few weeks after South Africa, Malawi will go to the polls. Despite never having won an election before, President Joyce Banda is hoping to remain in charge – this time with a real mandate from the people. But it won’t be easy. Although her presidency began brightly, she’s falling into some of the same traps as her notoriously corrupt predecessor, and people are beginning to notice. By SIMON ALLISON.
Uganda was the first country to respond as South Sudan threatened to slide into full-blown civil war late last year. Their intervention helped prop up the government, securing a vital market for Ugandan exports in the process. But now their presence is sabotaging peace talks. The rebels, furious with the foreign intervention, want them out. Uganda should listen. By SIMON ALLISON.
Somaliland, the self-declared republic, is desperate for someone to find vast mineral reserves under its soil. But without international recognition – and the probability of legal battles in the future – it’s a big risk for any company to take. Somaliland too should be careful. Having dodged the aid curse, will it fall victim to the resource curse instead? By SIMON ALLISON.
Next year, the African Growth and Opportunity Act will expire, unless the US Congress decides to renew it or pass a revised version of the law. Designed to promote exports from Africa to America by removing tariffs on thousands of potential exports, the act has been especially helpful to South Africa since it became US law. What’s at stake? J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a quick look.
In late December, three Al Jazeera journalists were dumped in an Egyptian prison. Accused of terrorism, there they joined dozens of other victims of the Egyptian military regime’s crackdown on free speech. Publicising their plight, on its own, won’t be enough to save them – but it might just make Egypt think twice before arresting the next journalist. By SIMON ALLISON.
Out of the goodness of its big heart, the ANC is sending Cyril Ramaphosa to fix the mess that South Sudan has got itself into. The party’s deputy president has a decent track record of negotiating his way out of tricky situations, even if he is a bit late to the party on this one. In the process, though, he’ll also give Thabo Mbeki a bloody nose and polish his minimal credentials as an international statesman and future president. By SIMON ALLISON.
Nigeria has an undeniable entrepreneurial energy that is easy to see. By contrast, South Africa seems stuck with the idea that entrepreneurial behaviour is something difficult and hard to manage – and virtually impossible to encourage. As the economic news in South Africa continues to throw up sobering numbers and as the educational system sends hundreds of thousands of ill-trained, ill-educated young people out into the world, is it time for a real rethink on this? J. BROOKS SPECTOR, who spent a few months in Lagos, contemplates these questions.
Just months after celebrating victory over rebels in the eastern DRC, the United Nations is warning that the resource-rich southern province of Katanga is on the brink of a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’. To blame is yet another rebel movement, which flourished while everyone’s attention was elsewhere. The head of the UN mission admitted feeling guilty, but the truth is that no one can solve all of the country’s problems at once. By SIMON ALLISON.
Current events in Egypt can’t help but inspire a nasty sense of déjà vu. As Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepares for his coronation as president, the echoes of the old regime are too loud to ignore. Sisi is a man moulded in the image of Mubarak, and fluent in his authoritarian methods. His election will reset the clock on the revolution – and weary Egyptians might just be grateful for it. By SIMON ALLISON.