Mnangagwa's been wooing Zimbabwe's white sports heroes. Here's why

2 days 16 hours ago
Zimbabwean Olympic gold medallist swimmer, Kirsty Coventry, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa after taking the oath of office. Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Sport in general, and particularly gifted sports people, have been known to rouse feelings of national unity. In the process, they instil a sense of patriotism and pride in their countries. Good examples include George Weah, the soccer legend from Liberia now the president of his country and Imran Khan, the cricketing star from Pakistan, now its prime minister. Notable sports figures have managed, to some extent, to unify their troubled nations. In the process they have shown how powerful a force sport can be.

This salient observation has not escaped Zimbabwe’s newly elected president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. In a bid to restore and paper over the badly damaged relations between the governing Zanu-PF party and the country’s white community both inside and outside Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa has appointed the former swimming sensation, Kirsty Coventry as Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.

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South Africa's stimulus package shows power is finely balanced in the ANC

1 week 3 days ago
Cyril Ramaphosa's economic stimulus package shows that he and his political allies are in charge of economic policy. GCIS

The economic stimulus package announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shows that he and his political allies are, contrary to much analysis in recent months, in charge of economic policy.

Ramaphosa insists that it is a ‘bold’ attempt to initiate economic change which will particularly benefit youth, women and small businesses . It rests partly, he adds, on ‘significant regulatory reform’.

But the package is more interesting for what it says about the politics of economic decision-making in South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) than for its likely impact on the economy.

Certainly, it does not signal readiness by Ramaphosa and his allies to use their power to introduce much-needed reforms. In an article in the financial press explaining the thinking behind the package, Ramaphosa acknowledged that it rested not on new ideas but on trying to get the government to do what it has already said it will do. He wrote that it was “tempting to unleash novel policy directions” but it was far more important “to build a track record of successful implementation.”

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Cameroon presidential poll underscores the need for term limits

1 week 4 days ago
Cameroonian President Paul Biya votes in the presidential elections in the capital Yaounde. He has been in power for 36 years. EFE/EPA/Nic Bothma

The official results of Cameroon’s October 7, 2018 presidential election are due in two weeks. But they’re not expected to yield any surprises. Paul Biya (85), who became president in 1982, is almost certain to retain power for a seventh term. If he wins and stays in power until 2025 – the end of his next term – he would have run the country for a whopping 43 years. His overextended rule has been marked by corruption, patronage politics, and a largely absent president.

The election has taken place amid a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity. Municipal and legislative elections were postponed by a year because of too volatile a space, though government cited more technical reasons. Only senatorial elections were held in March 2018.

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How the Ugandan media has borne the brunt of censorship for decades

1 week 5 days ago
Uganda has a long history of media censorship under President Yoweri Museveni. Ian Langsdon/EPA

The world watched in outrage recently as Reuters photojournalist, James Akena, was clobbered by three soldiers on the streets of Uganda’s capital Kampala in full view of television cameras. Akena was covering the demonstrations for the release of Robert Kyagulanyi, a member of parliament and pop singer also known as Bobi Wine.

Yoweri Museveni, who has been the East African country’s president for the past 32 years, tried to explain away the attack. He said he’d been informed that it was a case of mistaken identity – Akena had been mistaken for a camera thief.

But for many in the media this was nothing new, as intimidation and violence is an almost daily threat. Uganda is now ranked 117th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2017.

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Nigeria must wake up to the changing role of state governments

3 weeks 1 day ago
Nigeria needs to review existing structures to drive growth. xtock/Shutterstock

There have been sustained efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy since the country returned to democratic civilian rule in 1999. Successive governments have made foreign direct investment a priority to achieve this aim.

Originally, the organised private sector was intended as the primary driver of investment-led economic reforms. But, in the process, the policy space was inadvertently opened up for state governments. Nigeria has three constitutionally recognised levels of government. These are the federal government, 36 state governments and 774 local governments. Each level of government has defined powers under the constitution. States are not meant to engage in foreign economic relations.

However, successive economic reforms have given impetus to Nigerian states to grow in stature as gatekeepers to foreign direct investment. It’s now common to hear of states introducing specialised agencies to facilitate and coordinate investment inflows. Examples include the Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency, the Lagos Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment and the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency.

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South Africa's ruling ANC can no longer count on union ally to win elections

3 weeks 1 day ago
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the 13th Cosatu conference. Sowetan/Thulani Mbele

South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), may have to fight next year’s general election without hundreds of thousands of votes which its trade union ally has delivered in the past. This isn’t because its alliance partner won’t organise votes for the ANC but because it can’t.

The ANC’s union ally, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), held its conference recently. In a now familiar ritual, it suggested it might not support the ANC next year. It then declared it would – but would expect policy concessions in exchange for support.

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Mali faces a turning point as the country prepares for legislative poll

3 weeks 5 days ago
Supporters of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the capital Bamako. Legnan Koula/EPA/EFE

How credible were the 2018 presidential elections in Mali? Going by the allegations of stuffed ballot boxes, theft of election materials, threats and attacks against election officials, arson at polling stations, vote-selling, and buying, it could be argued that the poll wasn’t credible at all.

As many had predicted, the incumbent, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, won in the second round.

That the African Union and the European Union called the vote credible and transparent came as something of a surprise given that violence and fear also curtailed voter turnout.

But the observers stopped short of a full endorsement. They used nuanced language, declaring the poll “credible if flawed”. This points to the challenges faced in holding elections under complex and troubling conditions.

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11 hours 44 minutes ago
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