Category: News

Kenya: IMF Cautions Over Debt Vulnerability

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cautioned that Kenya's rising debt levels need to be contained to cushion the economy from unplanned shocks. The international lender's Kenyan representative Jan Mikkelsen said while the economy had proved to be resilient to drought and a prolonged electioneering period this year, the rising public debt was a concern and needed to be checked to avoid any shocks to the economy in the future. Kenya's public debt has been on an upward trend in recent years, rising to Sh4.4 trillion by the end of September from less than a trillion shilling in mid-2014. Mikkelsen said the country required clear policies to address the "debt vulnerability", which could rise further if Treasury goes for another syndicated loan and a second Eurobond as indicated by Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich two weeks ago. "The fiscal deficit needs to be reduced a little bit to make more room for the private sector and also to reduce the public debt pressure," he told Business Daily on the sideline of an event hosted at Strathmore Business School. Political stability "We still do see growth in the Kenyan economy quite resilient. It will of course assume that political stability returns to the country." A Budget Review and Outlook Paper (BROP) released in September showed that the level of public debt to GDP ratio was expected to rise to 59.0 per cent this fiscal year, from a previous target of 51.8 per cent. The fiscal deficit was seen at 7.9 per cent from a previous forecast of 6.2 per cent. The representative said an IMF mission will be visiting Nairobi in mid-December to review its programmes with the government. The IMF has stand-by arrangement and a standby credit facility worth a total $1.5 billion that the Kenyan government can withdraw from in case of any significant external shocks. Mikkelsen said the government had not made any request to withdraw from these facilities so far this year. The programme ends in March 2018.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe resigns, ending 37-year rule

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has resigned, bringing an end to 37 years of rule and sparking jubilant celebrations in the nation's streets. A letter from Mr Mugabe read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power. The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him. The ruling Zanu-PF party says former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980. Mr Mnangagwa's sacking earlier this month triggered a political crisis. It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest. After the resignation announcement, lawmakers roared in jubilation. Resignation and reaction - as it happened Mr Mugabe, 93, was until his resignation the world's oldest leader. He had previously refused to quit despite last week's military takeover and days of protests. According to the constitution his successor should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe. But Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters news agency that Mr Mnangagwa would be in office "within 48 hours".  

Increased oil production lifts Nigeria’s GDP by 1.4% in Q3

Driven by increased crude oil production and sustained growth in agricultural output, Nigeria’s economy grew by 1.4 percent to N29 trillion in the third quarter of the year (Q: 3 2017), from 0.7 percent in the second quarter of the year (Q2: 20170). National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, disclosed this, yesterday, in its Gross Domestic Product, GDP, report for Q3 2017, which revealed that nation’s GDP grew by 1.4 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in real terms from the revised 0.7 per cent recorded in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017. The NBS stated: “The nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, grew in Q3 2017 by 1.40 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms, the second consecutive positive growth since the emergence of the economy from recession in Q2 2017. “This growth is 3.74 per cent points higher than the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2016 ( -2.34 percent) and higher by 0.68 percent points from the rate recorded in the preceding quarter, which was revised to 0.72 percent from 0.55 percent (Q2 was revised following revisions by NNPC to oil output and hence led to revisions to Oil GDP) . Quarter on quarter, real GDP growth was 8.97 per cent. “In the quarter under review, aggregate GDP stood at N29,451,303.99 million in nominal terms higher when compared to N26,537,651.01 million in Q3 2016, resulting in a Nominal GDP growth of 10.98 per cent. This growth is higher relative to growth recorded in Q3 2016 of 9.15 percent.” The report, however, showed that the nation’s economy is still exposed to the risk of sliding back into recession, as only two out of 10 sectors grew during the quarter. While the oil and gas sector grew by 25.89 percent, the non- oil sector contracted by 0.76 percent. According to the NBS, the growth in GDP in Q3 2017 was driven by 25.89 percent growth in the mining and quarrying sector and 3.06 percent growth in the agricultural sector. Economy still technically in recession Economiy experts, however, opined that the negative growth recorded in the non-oil sector in Q3 figures indicates that the economy is technically still in recession. Managing Director/Chief Executive, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane said: “If you take away petroleum, it means that all other sectors are actually technically in recession, therefore something has to happen, and the only way to make thing happen is to increase electricity output as well as to stimulating the nation’s economy. We need to do more as a country in improving access to electricity.” President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ACCI, Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye, similarly stated: “Aside from the oil sector that recorded a significant growth, agriculture grew by just by 3.6 percent while other sectors like manufacturing, real estate, education and financial institutions and insurance declined by 2.85, 4.12, 1.22, and 6.54 percent respectively. ” On his part, Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, said the report showed that government still needs to do a lot in creating enabling environment for businesses. He said: “We know that the main recovery is from agriculture and oil; manufacturing didn’t do quite well. And that underscore the fact that we still have quite a lot to do in the issue of enabling environment for manufacturing to thrive because manufacturing sector contracted going by that number and that means that we still have a lot to do in the areas of cost of fund, power, and logistics. Oil sector growth’ll enhance non-oil sector Reacting to the development, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, CEO, Cowry Asset Management Limited, a Lagos based investing banking firm, said: “The fact that the economy grew by 1.4 per cent is very positive in the sense it will further boost confidence of investors in the economy. Investors go to economies that grow, not economies that are shrinking because you don’t expect to have a robust business in an economy that is shrinking. So, the growth of 1.4 per cent from 0.72 per cent shows that the economy is actually on a continuous recovery trajectory. “For the investing community, the implication is that the opportunity for improvement in returns is better now in the sense that it will eventually translate into positive performance by corporates. “Although, if you look at the performance of the GDP on sectorial basis, the major growth was recorded in the oil and gas sector. The non-oil sector contracted by 0.70 per cent, which actually implies that the growth we are experiencing may not translate to creation of jobs because we know that the structure of the oil and gas sector is that value chain in the oil and gas sector is not domesticated. So, the impact of growth in the oil and gas sector does not translate to direct creation of jobs within the economy.’’

Gen Constantine Chiwenga: The army chief who took power from Mugabe

Gen Constantine Chiwenga, 61, is being hailed as a political saviour after he led the military takeover in Zimbabwe, however he is under sanctions from the European Union and the US - for his role in a brutal crackdown on the opposition, and over the seizure of white-owned farms. Zimbabweans took to the streets on Saturday to demand President Robert Mugabe's resignation, holding aloft placards which declared: "Zimbabwe army - the voice of the people." Pastor Patrick Mugadza, hounded by the police in January this year for predicting that the 93-year-old leader would die in nine months' time, went as far as to announce that he intended to name his son after the general. "My wife is very, very pregnant. When the boy comes, I will be naming him after you, General Chiwenga," Zimbabwe's privately owned NewsDay newspaper quoted him as saying in an audio message. Yet, Gen Chiwenga played a central role in keeping Mr Mugabe in power after he lost elections to his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in 2008, amid reports that Mr Mugabe was going to accept defeat. "He told Mugabe: 'We can't lose elections. We can't hand power to the MDC. We are going to obliterate them," UK-based Africa confidential magazine editor Patrick Smith told the BBC, adding that he carried out the operation with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man Gen Chiwenga is trying to install as Mr Mugabe's successor as president. "They are joined at the hip, with Mnangagwa the senior partner," Mr Smith said. After a long delay, the official results were announcing, saying that Mr Tsvangirai had not gained the 50% required for victory and so a second round was needed. Before the run-off, pro-Zanu-PF militias backed by the security forces attacked opposition supporters around the country, beating, raping and killing. Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round and Mr Mugabe remained in power. A woman cries during a press conference in Harare on April 29, 2008 as she gives her testimony of post-election violence.Image copyrightAFP Image caption This opposition supporter was one of thousands who said their homes were attacked by pro-Zanu-PF militias 'Caught cheating' Gen Chiwenga joined the guerrilla war against white minority rule in the then Rhodesia as a teenager and got military training in Mozambique and Tanzania. After independence, he received British training, as a new army, made up of ex-guerrillas and soldiers of the former white minority regime, was formed.  

Protesters gather near Libyan Embassy after CNN report on migrant auctions

Protesters gathered outside the Libyan Embassy in central Paris following an exclusive CNN investigation into migrant auctions in Libya. "We have to mobilize. We can't let this kind of thing happen," one protester told France 24 at the rally Saturday. "Did we really need to see such shocking pictures before taking a stand? I don't think so." After obtaining footage of an auction, CNN's Nima Elbagir and her crew went to Libya in October to investigate further. "How can it be that in the 21st century, we're selling human beings like merchandise?" one woman at the Paris protest said. "I cannot get my head around that!" Libyan authorities this week launched a formal investigation into the auctions, overseen by the government's Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency. "Priorities of the investigation are not only to convict those responsible for these inhumane acts, but also to identify the location of those who have been sold in order to bring them to safety and return them to their countries of origin," Anes Alazabi, an official with the agency, told CNN. During its investigation, CNN witnessed a dozen men being sold at an auction outside of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Some of them were auctioned off for as little as $400. Ultimately, CNN was told of auctions taking place at nine locations throughout Libya, but many more are believed to take place each month. A man holds a placard reading "No to slavery in Libya" during Saturday's march. Tens of thousands fleeing conflict or searching for economic opportunity cross into Libya each year, looking to be smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea. The United Nations estimates there are 700,000 migrants in Libya, and for years those who have crossed the Mediterranean have shared stories about beatings, kidnapping and enslavement. "It's not about color," the woman at the protest said. "This goes beyond color or religion. This is about humanity."

Kenya Supreme Court upholds Uhuru Kenyatta poll win

Kenya's Supreme Court has upheld President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory in last month's election re-run, which was boycotted by the main opposition. Judges dismissed two petitions challenging the poll, opening the way for Mr Kenyatta to be inaugurated for a second term next week. The opposition said the ruling had been given under "duress", and it would not recognise the new government. Mr Kenyatta won with 98% of the vote with turnout at 39%. Uhuru Kenyatta: Kenya's 'digital president' Raila Odinga - love him or loathe him The poll was held after the Supreme Court annulled elections held in August, saying the poll was marred by "irregularities and illegalities". ADVERTISEMENT Civil society groups wanted the new poll to be annulled as well, arguing that the electoral commission had violated the law by failing to call for fresh nominations. Handing down the verdict on behalf of six judges, Chief Justice David Maraga said: "The court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited" The aftermath of the poll has been fraught with tension. Last week, five people were killed as police tried to break up a convoy of the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) in the capital, Nairobi. Nasa candidate Raila Odinga refused to take part in the re-run, saying the electoral commission had failed to take steps to ensure that mistakes of the August election would not be repeated. "We in Nasa had repeatedly declared before this Supreme Court ruling today that we consider this government to be illegitimate and do not recognise it. This position has not been changed by the court ruling," Mr Odinga's adviser, Salim Lone, said in a statement.

With Mugabe’s Exit Imminent, Zimbabwe Will Need All the Help It Can Get

  A protester carried a posted calling on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down as the political crisis sharpened in Harare, Zimbabwe, on November 18. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) In light of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s widely-anticipated departure—whether through resignation or impeachment—the United States should be prepared to work with his likely successor, a man who is subject to US sanctions, the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham said on November 20. Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose ouster from the vice presidency by Mugabe early in November triggered the current political crisis in the first place, will likely be the next leader of Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa is the subject of US Treasury sanctions imposed in the early 2000s for his role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in the country. Noting that a prominent opposition leader and longtime Mugabe foe, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has embraced Mnangagwa, Pham, who is director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center, said: “We’re not saying whitewash the past, but it is in the interests of everyone that Zimbabwe is engaged at this critical time.” Mugabe has held power for nearly four decades, and his hold on authority has led to political and civil unrest throughout Zimbabwe. With not only the opposition, but also his own party calling for his departure from office, the country may begin to see a degree of political unity. “If Zimbabweans who bled for their country are willing to engage with [Mnangagwa] and if these erstwhile opponents are themselves, in turn, willing to hold out the olive branch of inclusivity, it behooves the international community to respect that decision,” Pham said. What is happening in Zimbabwe? Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the military on November 15 after he not only fired Mnangagwa—ostensibly clearing the path for his second wife, Grace, to succeed him—but apparently sought to have him killed and tried to arrest the chief of the defense staff, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga. Mugabe then stunned the nation by refusing to resign in a televised address despite massive protests and the fact this his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), ousted him as its leader. Party leaders are now seeking to impeach Mugabe. Who are the main players? Emmerson Mnangagwa: ZANU-PF’s new leader, Mnangagwa is supported by the military and the powerful war veterans. He headed an elite band of guerillas known as the Crocodile Fighters during Zimbabwe’s independence struggle. He has also served as minister of defense, minister of justice, speaker of parliament, and until November 6 as vice president of Zimbabwe. Gen. Constantino Chiwenga: He is Zimbabwe’s military leader who placed Mugabe under house arrest. He has refused to call his actions a coup and has, at least so far, shown no political ambitions beyond protecting the interests of the military and security services in general and those of their longtime patron Mnangagwa in particular. Grace Mugabe: The president’s second wife started her career as a typist in Mugabe’s office. She began an affair with the president while his widely respected first wife, Sally, was dying of cancer. She is deeply unpopular among war veterans, the military, and ZANU-PF, both because she did not participate in the national liberation struggle, but also because of her lavish spending (one of her nicknames is “Gucci Grace”). She is believed to have orchestrated Mnangagwa’s firing as a way to secure the path to assume the presidency from her husband. Grace Mugabe has not appeared in public since Nov. 15. What happens next? J. Peter Pham spoke in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from our interview. Q: Over the past week we have seen the army put Robert Mugabe under house arrest, his party oust him as its leader, and massive protests in the streets. How did the tide turn so rapidly against this longtime ruler? Pham: For Mugabe, it was a perfect storm. Although in this case it might be a storm that one could say is helping open the door to a new era in Zimbabwe by washing out some of the detritus that had accumulated over recent years in that country’s leadership. The military move against the attempts to install Grace Mugabe as the president’s successor was clearly a case of internal regime competition playing itself out, but it also opened the valves for a lot of long-repressed, pent up emotion on the part of Zimbabweans. The displays we saw over the weekend where crowds marched alongside and hugged soldiers sitting in tanks and armored personnel carriers were extraordinary. Seemingly for a moment the entire country came together: longtime opposition people, longtime cadres of the ZANU-PF, and the military expressing the common will of the Zimbabwean people. Everyone was expecting Mugabe’s resignation, but instead he talked about chairing ZANU-PF’s national congress. That shows how detached he is from reality. That the generals sat somewhat stony faced while this was going on shows that they are bending over backwards in trying to observe legal and constitutional formality. One opposition leader, Tendai Biti, the former finance minister whom we have hosted at the Atlantic Council on several occasions, expressed it best when he said that as eager as Zimbabweans were to get rid of Mugabe, they can’t simply short circuit constitutional processes. The generals are cognizant of that and it is heartening to see a longtime opposition leader, whom one could understand would be eager to get rid of Mugabe, speaking of processes. Q: What is the process for impeaching the president? Pham: This is not the first time that impeachment proceedings have been started against Mugabe. The opposition has tried before, but since they didn’t have the requisite numbers in parliament it never went anywhere. This time, with his own party producing the motions, the opposition certainly isn’t going to vote against impeachment. So, I don’t think it is going to require much to get the threshold of two-thirds. Whether it needs to go there or not is really up to Mugabe. He has already been removed as party leader, which is humiliating enough. Does he actually want to be removed constitutionally by parliament or does he want to gracefully walk out with his head held as high as it can be held under the circumstances? The big question is, we know Mugabe is ninety-three, [and] his wife exercises a great deal of influence on him, so how much is he really making his own decisions? How much is that decision-making process informed by the reality of what has happened in Zimbabwe? Q: What is the best-case outcome? Pham: There is no doubt that the outcome is going to be that Mugabe is no longer in control of Zimbabwe. The question is how this comes about. Under the Zimbabwean constitution, if Mugabe resigns or if parliament impeaches him, the ruling party gets to designate someone to take his place. That person fills out the remainder of the term. Now that ZANU-PF has chosen Emmerson Mnangagwa as its leader, presumably he will be designated to lead. Given the unity that the Zimbabwean people have shown, it will be a grand gesture as well as a significant step forward if Mnangagwa were to bring into his government—since the term left to serve is under a year—members of the opposition, civil society, and technocrats to give a broad coalition of Zimbabweans a stake in a smooth transition toward far more credible elections than they have had in years and a real democratic transition. To make that work, the international community has to find a way to engage the new leadership. That means not just SADC [Southern African Development Community] or the African Union, but also Zimbabwe’s other partners, including the European Union and the United States. Q: Has Mnangagwa shown any indication that he would be a more democratic leader than Mugabe? Pham: Mnangagwa certainly made his career as a loyalist of ZANU-PF. On the other hand, it is telling that since the disputed 2008 election, where he certainly played a significant role in the repression of the opposition, he has also developed a good personal rapport with Morgan Tsvangirai, the man who most people believe was cheated, if not out of the presidency, then a fair chance at the presidency in 2008.

Good news: Madagascar hasn’t seen a new plague case in 3 weeks

Of all the public health stories I’ve covered in the past few years, the plague epidemic that’s been brewing in Madagascar since the summer frightened me most. While the Indian Ocean island battles plague outbreaks every year, this one, which began about four months ago, was much larger than usual — spreading to more than 2,000 people in the capital and other cities. It also involved pneumonic plague, a rare and more dangerous form of the disease that attacks the lungs and passes from person to person through droplets from coughing. Untreated pneumonic plague is always deadly, typically within 24 hours of disease onset — unless you’re lucky enough to get antibiotics in time. But it now seems like Madagascar is turning a corner, according to the World Health Organization. “The number of new cases and hospitalizations of patients due to plague is declining in Madagascar,” the agency reported this week. A potential global health disaster appears to be averted, at least for now, thanks to basic public health measures — and a few lessons learned from the infamous 2013–’16 Ebola epidemic. Number of confirmed, probable, and suspected plague cases in Madagascar reported by date of illness onset from August 1 through November 10, 2017. World Health Organization The WHO was widely criticized for responding to the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa too slowly. But the agency changed course, rapidly helping Madagascar control what could have been a very deadly outbreak. As soon as it became clear Madagascar’s plague season was unusually forceful this year, the WHO delivered 1.2 million doses of free antibiotics to treat the infected and prevent disease in people who might have been exposed to the bacteria. From the beginning of this epidemic, the WHO along with health officials in Madagascar identified more than 7,000 potential plague cases — the friends, families, and contacts of people who were suspected of having the disease — and, incredibly, helped 95 percent of them follow a seven-day course of preventive antibiotics. “Only nine contacts developed symptoms and became suspected cases,” the WHO reported. The UN agency also supported the Ministry of Public Health of Madagascar in a response that included strategies like: Training more than 4,400 “contact tracers” who followed up with people who may have been exposed to someone infected with plague Boosting the epidemiological surveillance in all of Madagascar’s affected districts Controlling rodents and other vectors that carry plague bacteria Raising public awareness through campaigns about how to prevent the spread of plague Doing exit screening from the airport to make sure people with plague aren’t traveling to other countries Helping the nine countries and territories with travel and trade links to Madagascar prepare for potential plague cases by enhancing their surveillance for the disease, and getting supplies like antibiotics ready “We are now better equipped to work with countries to prepare for emergencies, to detect warning signs early and to respond quickly,” said WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic. For now, the public health response is working. The last confirmed bubonic case was reported on October 24, and the last confirmed pneumonic case was reported on October 28. So several weeks have passed with no new cases. That’s excellent news — both for the people of Madagascar and for the nine neighboring countries and territories that were at risk of outbreaks. Still, it’s early in Madagascar’s plague season, which typically runs to April, so the outbreak may not be snuffed out just yet.

Zimbabwe political crisis: Is ‘invisible’ China hand behind Robert Mugabe ouster?

Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old African leader who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years was fired by the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and his wife, Grace Mugabe, was expelled from the party for inciting division on Sunday. Mugabe has been replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa whose advent has brought a fresh breeze of emancipation and hope along with uncertainty about the political future of Zimbabwe. The Mugabe regime’s dismal record on human rights has been comparable to several contemporary despotic regimes in Africa, such as those of late Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) and Omar-al Bashir (Sudan). His ouster will also send a warning to entrenched authoritarian rulers such as Yoweri Museveni in Uganda and Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While people are busy celebrating the end of the oppressive regime in Zimbabwe, the new regime, with support from the army, will be constrained to manage transition towards durable civilian regime through the required democratic processes that offer due respect to judiciary, parliament, bureaucracy and other institutions in civil society. The army has vowed to remove criminals surrounding Mugabe along with G40 faction led by Grace Mugabe. Strangely, the military takeover was preceded by a meeting between Zimbabwe’s General Constantino Chiwenga and the Chinese defence minister Chang Wanquan which has raised suspicion about the possibility of China flexing its muscles in Zimbabwe’s internal matters. However, the exit of Mugabe has brought a tragic end to a career of a promising leader of the yesteryears. Indeed, Mugabe was a product of conflicting forces between an oppressive state dominated by the whites and black resistance movements in the then South Rhodesia. He was a part of a larger liberation movement that fought against invidious racial discrimination based on land-related laws. These laws allowed the minuscule European minority to control half of the productive land while forcing impoverished African peasants to stay in overcrowded townships in urban industrial centres. As a student at the Fort Hare College (1949-51) in South Cape, Mugabe virtually grew up in the breeding ground of freedom fighters of the black elites in South Africa. Obviously, he was under the influence of African National Congress’s Youth League known for producing famous leaders like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Robert Sobukwe. He also taught in Ghana in the 1950s while it was going through the last phase of its freedom struggle. Besides, Indian leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru had influenced him. Mugabe threw himself into the freedom struggle and was jailed in 1964. He escaped jail in 1975 to flee to Mozambique, where he gathered support for a guerrilla struggle that he was leading under ZANU. Eventually, after the formation of the Patriotic Front (PF) between ZANU and Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo, Zimbabwe earned its independence through a negotiated settlement and Mugabe was saddled in power as the PF won a massive victory in polls. Mugabe remained the prime minister from 1980-87 but due to differences with ZAPU; Nkomo had withdrawn support for Mugabe. Mugabe enjoyed a great deal of support from the Shona ethnic group that constituted seventy percent of the population and his regime was seldom under threat in those days in spite of several developmental problems. After 1987, as Mugabe became president, the ZANU regime turned increasingly oppressive, inefficient and corrupt. Mugabe’s militias were attacking white farms. Mugabe held a referendum on a new constitution in 2000, that envisaged a crackdown on white farms, without giving owners the requisite compensations. He lost in the referendum and a newly formed opposition group, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was born. In the 2008 elections, Mugabe came second in the first round but subsequently managed violent attacks on his opponents from the MDC and stayed on in power. In 2009, owing to hyperinflation and the overall dismal performance of the economy, Zimbabwe had to go for demonetisation. In 2016, Zimbabwe introduced bond notes due to a cash shortage. The Mugabes have allegedly amassed properties in South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Grace allegedly orchestrated the ouster of vice-president Joice Mujuru in 2014 and her successor Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017 as she was already entertaining dreams of succeeding Mugabe. In substance, economic chaos, social instability and ascent of corrupt and criminal elements in the corridors of power had led to political turmoil. In spite of this, the Mugabe regime could survive due to the supportive role played by China. China had supported ZANU-PF, militarily, since its freedom struggle. Owing to gross violation of human rights, when the United States and European Union (EU) imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe after the 2002 elections, China stepped in to support 100 development related projects in Zimbabwe. Beijing went ahead and blocked any move to impose arms embargo at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Zimbabwe. By 2015, China was the top trading partner of Zimbabwe, absorbing 28 percent of its export. China has had extensive investments in mining, agriculture, energy and construction sectors in Zimbabwe. China’s support for the construction of the Parliament building in Harare and purchase of European farms by the Chinese only underlines China’s overwhelming presence in the economy of Zimbabwe. Evidently, China is concerned about the ‘indigenisation law’ that aims at seizing foreign-owned businesses and companies. In view of its high stakes, China has been monitoring infighting in Zimbabwe. It has neither condemned nor opposed the removal of the Mugabe regime. Nevertheless, after the unceremonious ouster of Mugabe, the Mnangagwa regime will be compelled to clear the mess of the preceding régime by taking people of Zimbabwe as well as China into confidence. The author is president, GB Pant Social Science Institute, and founder vice-chancellor of the Central University of Allahabad.

Nigeria ranked 35th in governance

Nigeria has emerged 35th out of 54 African countries in overall governance ranking, according to a report released today in Dakar, Senegal by The Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Although the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), says Nigeria has shown significant improvement in governance in the last five years, it scores Nigeria 48.1 out of a possible 100.0, a score lower than the African average of 50.8 and the West African regional average of 53.8. Nigeria achieves its highest category score in Participation & Human Rights (52.5), and its lowest category score in Sustainable Economic Opportunity (42.3). Nigeria achieves its highest sub-category score in Rule of Law (63.1), and its lowest sub-category score in Accountability (32.7). Other highlights of the report show that: Nigeria registers an Overall Governance improvement over the decade at an annual average trend of +0.38, with the pace of improvement quickening in the last five years at an annual average trend of +0.83. Nigeria’s Overall Governance progress over the decade is driven by three of the four categories: Participation & Human Rights (annual average trend of +0.77), Sustainable Economic Opportunity (annual average trend of +0.46) and Human Development (annual average trend of +0.66). Overall, the report reveals that the continent’s Overall Governance trajectory remains positive on average, but in recent years has moved at a slower pace. As many countries struggle to build on recent progress or to reverse negative trends, and as concerns emerge in some key sectors, the Foundation is calling for vigilance on the continent’s future. The eleventh edition of the IIAG looks at both country and indicator trends over the last five years (2012-2016), within the context of the last decade (2007-2016). By evaluating more recent progress on governance alongside long-term performance, the 2017 IIAG provides the most nuanced assessment to date of the evolution and direction that countries, regions and specific dimensions of governance are taking. “Over the last ten years, 40 African countries have improved in Overall Governance. In the last five years, 18 of these – a third of the continent’s countries and home to 58% of African citizens – including Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria and Senegal, have even managed to accelerate their progress. In 2016, the continent achieved its highest Overall Governance score to date (50.8 out of 100.0),” the report says. However, over the same period, Africa’s annual average rate of improvement in Overall Governance has slowed. Of the 40 countries improving in Overall Governance during the last decade, 22 of them, including Rwanda and Ethiopia have either done so at a slower pace in the last five years or show decline as witnessed in Mauritius, Cameroon and Angola. Furthermore, eight of the 12 countries registering decline in Overall Governance over the past decade are showing no signs of turning things around, with scores decreasing at an even faster rate over the second half of the decade. This group includes Botswana, Ghana, Libya and Mozambique. The best performing category of the IIAG, Human Development, reaches its highest average score to date in 2016 (56.1 out of 100.0), with all three underlying governance dimensions – Welfare, Education and Health – improving over the last ten years. However, all register slowing progress over the second half of the decade. Worryingly, in a continent where 41% of the population is under 15 years old, progress in Education has nearly ground to halt. Africans are particularly dissatisfied with how governments are addressing changing educational needs, as reflected by the accelerated pace of decline in the Education Provision indicator over the last five years. Despite being the slowest improving category over the past decade and within the past five years, Sustainable Economic Opportunity has recorded progress since 2014. While the African average improvement has slowed over the last five years, 16 countries, representing 51% of the continent’s population and 54% of its GDP, have managed to accelerate their rate of improvement in this period. For 22 countries, however, progress is slackening (i.e. Mauritius and Rwanda) or even reversing to decline, as in Angola. The sub-category Infrastructure is a major driver of the continent’s overall performance in Sustainable Economic Opportunity, picking up momentum over the last five years, even if Electricity Infrastructure continues to register average decline. The deterioration in Africa’s Rural Sector over the last five years, which could threaten recent progress in this key area for the continent’s sustainable growth and wealth-creating potential, is a particular cause for concern. Participation & Human Rights is the only category picking up speed in the last five years, with the greatest number of countries (17) improving at an accelerated rate across all four categories of the IIAG. However, this masks some concerning trends in certain countries and dimensions. 18 countries show either a slower pace (i.e. Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda) or even display warning signs, declining in the second half of the decade (i.e. Egypt). The average positive trend is in fact mainly driven by the accelerated progress in Participation, led by a majority of countries improving in Free & Fair Elections. Worryingly, however, Political Participation shows a slight average decline over the last five years, which could threaten the progress made over the decade, while average deterioration in Civil Society Participation appears to worsen over the last five years. On a more positive note, the pace of deterioration in Safety & Rule of Law seen over the decade has slowed in the last five years. This is mainly driven by slowing decline in Personal Safety – although indicators such as Crime and Political Violence remain on concerning negative trajectories – and by progress appearing over the last five years in Rule of law. However, Accountability, already the lowest scoring sub-category in the IIAG, is lately registering even slower progress. Another concerning trend shows NationalSecurity deteriorating at an even faster pace over the second half of the decade, more than doubling its annual average decline. At category level, deterioration worsens over the second half of the decade for 15 countries, including Burundi, Cameroon, Libya, and Mozambique, while some countries, such as Angola and Mauritius, register a recent downturn despite improvement over ten years. Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: “As the index shows us, overall governance in Africa is improving. This is good news. However, the slowing and in some cases even reversing trends in a large number of countries, and in some key dimensions of governance, means that we must be vigilant. Without vigilance and sustained efforts, the progress of recent years could be in danger of vanishing.” Read more at: