South African National Defence Force (SANDF) peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have had 93 cases of misconduct brought against them. Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has lamented the ill-discipline of the South African troops serving in the Congo, but there is more to this than just the criminality of South African troops; it points to fault lines in the UN peacekeeping apparatus in the DRC. By KHADIJA PATEL.
Zimbabwe has a way of turning things on their head. The latest news is no exception: Comrade Bob, the dictator’s dictator, wants elections, while the pro-democracy crowd is telling him to back off. If you’re confused, you should be, but fortunately SIMON ALLISON is on hand to explain that it all makes more sense than you think.
Stars in his eyes, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is urging his country’s budding space industry onto new heights – an initiative he thinks is going to fix all kinds of other problems. Is this the beginning of a glorious new era of space exploration, or is Jonathan just taking advantage of the romance of space to keep his own dreams alive? By SIMON ALLISON.
From being the world’s archetypal basket case for so long, suddenly Somalia is on the “road to stability” while donors and diplomats sing the praises of its new, untested government. The extensive African intervention in Somalia may have helped the country turn a corner, but it’s still too soon to tell for sure – and, in the meantime, the country’s myriad complexities (including the little-appreciated fact that Al Shabaab is down but certainly not out) risk being lost in the hype. By SIMON ALLISON.
An extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community originally scheduled for last weekend to deliberate on matters related to the Zimbabwean election was postponed. Rumour holds that it was Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe who refused to attend. With no new date set for the summit, the jury’s out on whether SADC can play good cop for elections to take place without too much ado. By KHADIJA PATEL.
By handing down stiff prison sentences to international NGO workers, Egypt has only succeeded in angering civil society and making the new government look alarmingly like the old. Which is a pity, because the problem underlying this debacle – the overt politicisation of international civil society – is a real one. By SIMON ALLISON.
When it’s completed in 2017, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be one of Africa’s flagship infrastructure projects with the potential to kick-start both power and agriculture development in Ethiopia. But downstream countries are worried that putting a massive dam on the Nile will affect their own precious water supply. Don’t worry, says SIMON ALLISON – managed properly, there’s plenty of water to go round.
African leaders aren’t interested in justice. They’re interested in immunity. Forget that lofty talk of victimisation and pan-African solidarity; in voting to protect Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto against the ICC, Africa’s presidents and heads of state are just protecting themselves – a protection that does not extend to the rest of us. By SIMON ALLISON.
In Addis Ababa, Africa’s leaders are gathering once again to munch on cocktail snacks and figure out solutions to the continent’s many and varied problems. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, tasked with shepherding this unruly bunch, wants them to talk about poverty alleviation, gender equality and socio-economic rights: all vital for Africa’s continued development. Chances are, however, these issues will take a backseat as conflict and pageantry once again dominate the agenda. By SIMON ALLISON.
On Monday, 50 armed police stormed into the building that houses Uganda’s Daily Monitor. They shut down the printing press, unplugged computers and forced work to halt as they searched for an already-published document that casts Museveni’s government in a very bad light. Another newspaper and two radio stations were also raided in what looks like a brazen attempt to intimidate the press. By SIMON ALLISON.
Giving up once and for all on a political solution, Nigeria’s embattled government has ordered a major military offensive against Islamist militants Boko Haram, even sending in the fighter jets. It is a sign that President Goodluck Jonathan has run out of patience – but it also shows he hasn’t learned much from Nigeria’s very recent history. By SIMON ALLISON.
It hasn’t been long since Kenyan voters transformed Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto from nasty politicians into the country’s leading statesmen, nevermind that both have been charged with crimes against humanity. But as their trials loom larger, so do the dirty tactics. It’s a fight the International Criminal Court will struggle to win. By SIMON ALLISON.
Many readers will probably remember the old Hans Christian Anderson children’s tale of the poverty-stricken match seller who, starving, stares through a window at a restaurant banquet table overflowing with food as she lights one match after another of the ones she is supposed to sell so as to keep warm enough to stay alive. This 170- year-old cautionary tale, along with the Charles Dickens story of the nearly as unfortunate Little Nell, another hungry Victorian Age waif, swam into mind while attending the recent World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. By J BROOKS SPECTOR.
Negotiations between the M23 rebel group and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo have stalled in Uganda. With neither side willing to compromise, a push for a political solution to the conflict appears doomed to fail. And as South African boots ready themselves for combat against M23, the warning of sexual violence in war – and as a tactic of war – is being brought into sharp focus. By KHADIJA PATEL.
Exactly why the World Economic Forum on Africa invited King Mswati III of Swaziland to sit on a panel is a slight mystery. Throughout the WEF, the values of transparency, accountability, good governance and anti-corruption have been highlighted over and over again as essential to Africa’s growth. These values are the antithesis of what King Mswati’s rule has meant to Swaziland. But he insisted on Thursday that the Swazi people are very happy with their feudal status quo. By REBECCA DAVIS.
A point frequently returned to throughout the World Economic Forum on Africa has been the inescapability of the fact that Africa’s economy will be shaped by its reserves of natural resources for the foreseeable future. Introducing the 2013 Africa Progress Report on Friday, Kofi Annan and his colleagues said that Africa’s mineral wealth has the potential to transform the continent, but resource-rich countries are leaving their poor behind. He also hit out at “shady deals” between mining houses and countries. By REBECCA DAVIS.
It’s been a bad few months for gay rights in Zambia, with virulent anti-gay rhetoric from public figures being matched by the arrests of a gay rights activist and two men accused of “unnatural” and illegal sex. Ironically, the negative international headlines generated by all this might force the Zambian government to rethink its views. By SIMON ALLISON.
It’s taken as axiomatic that Africa cannot prosper without good governance. At a panel discussion held to round off Thursday’s sitting of the World Economic Forum on Africa, certain key themes were returned to repeatedly: the need to stamp out corruption; the need for greater openness about the disposal of a country’s natural resources; the role of civil society and the private sector; and the importance of transparency. But as several speakers made clear, the beloved buzzword “transparency” is nowhere near sufficient on its own. By REBECCA DAVIS.
At a small discussion at Thursday’s World Economic Forum on Africa, the issue of gender equality in African politics took centre stage. While all panelists agreed on the need for more women in positions of leadership, Malawian President Joyce Banda was on hand to remind the audience that sometimes getting to the top is just the beginning of the struggle. By REBECCA DAVIS.
President Jacob Zuma took the stage at the World Economic Forum on Africa on Thursday to participate in a panel discussion on the relationship between Brics and Africa. Zuma strongly stressed that a Brics bank is necessary to deal with African financing challenges that the “older” financial institutions have been too slow to deal with. But, as has been the case with all previous discussions of the bank, details of what it would look like were in short supply. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The Africa Competitiveness Report, released annually by the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Denmark Foreign Affairs Ministry, reflects both good and bad news. For South Africa, things are looking relatively peachy: we’re one of only two African countries sitting in the top half of the Global Competitiveness Index. But the report also shows that 14 out of 20 of the world’s least competitive economies are in Africa, and the continent remains the lowest-performing region globally. By REBECCA DAVIS at the World Economic Forum (Africa).
It was always an awkward marriage, and never a permanent solution, but Zimbabwe’s government of national unity has just about managed to keep the peace and revive the country’s moribund economy. But with its mandate set to expire in just two months, the unity government is looking as divided as ever, and no one can agree on what comes next. By SIMON ALLISON.
So Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott doesn’t like South Africa, or South Africans. In an otherwise hilarious interview with the Guardian, Scott flouted the rules of diplomacy to launch a full-fronted assault on our foreign policy, our president and our general disposition (arrogant and overbearing, apparently). Should we be insulted? Absolutely – but only because, like all the best insults, Scott’s are very close to the bone. By SIMON ALLISON
Rebels in Sudan are getting stronger and bolder, last week extending their fight against Khartoum to a whole new province. They’re now in striking range of El Obaid, a small, otherwise forgettable Sudanese town that just happens to be the centre of the world’s gum arabic industry. And gum arabic just happens to be in nearly every fizzy drink you’ve ever had. By SIMON ALLISON.
Ethiopia doesn’t really want to keep its troops in Somalia much longer. It’s an expensive business, and they’ve got other engagements to deal with. But who will replace them, and make sure that those hard-won conquests don’t fall back into Al-Shabaab hands? No one’s particularly keen, which is why Ethiopia has had to resort to an empty threat. By SIMON ALLISON.
This is Bayelsa State, heart of the Niger Delta, and “glory of all lands”, according to the official state tagline. Under the care of His Excellency the Honourable Seriake Dickson, what was once a restive kidnapping zone has mellowed considerably. But Nigeria’s oil-rich region still has some way to go before it reaches the New African Ideal: a knowledge economy overrun by tourists from the East carrying Louis Vuitton luggage sets and golfing under an equatorial sun. By RICHARD POPLAK.