Africa

Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:09 pm

The coup in Zimbabwe

The army sidelines Robert Mugabe, Africa’s great dictator

The world should learn from his misrule, and help Zimbabwe recover from it

CALIGULA wanted to make his horse consul. Robert Mugabe wanted his wife, Grace, to take over from him as president of Zimbabwe. The comparison is a bit unfair. Caligula’s horse did not go on lavish shopping trips while Romans starved; nor was it accused of assaulting anyone with an electric cable in a hotel room.

Grace Mugabe’s only qualification for high office was her marriage to Mr Mugabe, a man 41 years her senior with whom she began an affair while his first wife was dying.

Her ambitions were thwarted this week when the army seized power, insisting that this was not a coup while making it perfectly clear that it was (see article).

Thus, sordidly, ends the era of one of Africa’s great dictators. Mr Mugabe has misruled Zimbabwe for 37 years. As The Economist went to press, he was in detention but unharmed. Even if he is allowed to keep his title, his power is gone.

At 93, frail and forgetful, he has finally lost control of the country he ruined. The wonder—and the shame—is that he lasted so long. There is much to learn from the failure of his revolution.

Coup de Grace

Mr Mugabe was once widely admired (and still is, among those who think anti-imperialist rhetoric matters more than competence). He fought against white rule in the 1970s, in what was then called Rhodesia, and legitimately won an election in 1980.

He preached reconciliation with the white former oppressors. Buoyed by aid, global goodwill and good harvests, the new country of Zimbabwe prospered for a while.

But like so many revolutionaries, Mr Mugabe could not tolerate any challenge to his rule. Viewing the second-largest ethnic group, the Ndebele, as disloyal, he used a minor insurrection as an excuse to crush them.

In 1983 he unleashed his special forces (trained by North Korea) on the Ndebele, raping, torturing and murdering thousands of civilians. Survivors of village massacres were forced to dance on their neighbours’ mass graves, singing praise to the ruling party, Zanu-PF, in the language of the Shona majority.

Unlike, say, Saddam Hussein or Idi Amin, Mr Mugabe did not particularly enjoy violence, but he never hesitated to use enough of it to stay in power.

His grasp of economics was revolutionary in the worst sense. He liked the language of socialism because it let him boss people around while posing as a champion of the poor. He spent public money wildly—some of it on good things like education, but much of it on patronage.

When he ran out of cash, he started seizing things, such as white-owned commercial farms, and giving them to his supporters. His disregard for property rights scared off investors. He printed money to pay the army and the civil service, sparking hyperinflation so severe that, at one point, Z$1trn would not buy a boiled sweet. He tried to fight inflation with price controls, causing shops to run out of basic goods.

All the while his cronies gleefully looted the country’s public purse and diamond mines. After nearly four decades of Mr Mugabe, Zimbabweans are on average a fifth poorer. This year a quarter of the population were short of food; perhaps 3m-5m out of 17m have emigrated in despair.

Will the coup improve matters? It is hard to be optimistic. Coups are never legal and usually spread misery. The generals and ruling-party old guard who engineered this one are not reformers; they are part of the grubby system Mr Mugabe created.

Many have profited handsomely from it, and intervened this week not out of principle but to stop Mrs Mugabe and her younger supporters from taking their places at the trough.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 75-year-old man who may end up in charge, is a longtime Mugabe loyalist and every bit as nasty as his ex-boss. (He was security minister during the Ndebele massacres; during an election campaign in 2000 his supporters burned his opponent’s home down.) This bloodstained crew of plotters make unlikely national saviours.

A big ditch to climb out of

Nonetheless, there is a sliver of hope. Zimbabwe’s ruling elite have long honoured the forms of democracy, and have occasionally lost elections despite cheating on a grand scale. Mr Mnangagwa may be a thug, but he is a pragmatic one, free of the Messiah complex that caused Mr Mugabe to lose touch with reality. He knows that the treasury is empty, and that Zimbabwe needs urgent help from donors such as the IMF. He has put out feelers to the opposition.

He talks of ending some of Mr Mugabe’s woeful policies, such as the law requiring all companies above a certain size to be majority-owned by black Zimbabweans (in practice, ruling-party fat cats).

An election is due to be held by the middle of next year. Any aid to a new, transitional government should be conditional on a free and fair ballot. Exiles, whose remittances have saved countless Zimbabweans from destitution, should be allowed to vote. The polls should be monitored by neutral observers such as the UN and the EU.

South Africa will no doubt play a role in the transition, but it may not be a constructive one under Jacob Zuma—another ruler who tolerates grotesque corruption and wants to put his former wife on the throne. China, which propped up Mr Mugabe for a while but then decided he was a deadbeat, has not made its intentions known.

There are two morals to draw from Mr Mugabe’s long, ignominious career. The first is that bad policies, corruptly implemented, can wreck a country with alarming speed and go on wrecking it long after you would have thought there was nothing left.

Venezuela has little in common with Zimbabwe culturally, but has also achieved disastrous results by embracing a Latin version of Mugabenomics. By contrast, Botswana, Zimbabwe’s culturally similar but well-governed neighbour, was roughly as rich in 1980 but is now seven times richer.

The second moral is that, for all its disappointments, democracy remains the best antidote for bad rulers. Had Zimbabweans been allowed to choose, they would have tossed Mr Mugabe and his henchmen out long ago. Were there an honest vote now, his successor would start out with real legitimacy.

The world has abandoned Zimbabwe to its fate too many times before. This time, outsiders should offer a hand to help it climb out of the ditch into which Mr Mugabe drove it.

Source: The Economist
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Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:44 pm

Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa gives key cabinet jobs to military figures
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42190457
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Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:13 pm

The choice that could save South Africa, or wreck it

To avoid a dire, two-decade dynasty of dysfunction, South Africa’s ruling ANC should ditch the Zumas

SOUTH AFRICA’S Constitutional Court may be the world’s most emotionally powerful building. The courtroom is built with the bricks of the Old Fort prison, where both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were held. A glass strip around the courtroom, allowing passers-by to see in, represents transparency.

Above the entrance, the values of the constitution are set in concrete in the handwriting of the first constitutional judges after apartheid—including the childlike script of Albie Sachs, who had to learn to write with his left hand after the white regime’s security services blew off his right arm.

In painful contrast with its uplifting setting, a recent conversation between an Economist journalist and an official working in the building was, at the official’s request, conducted outside and, as a further precaution against surveillance by today’s security services, the journalist was asked to leave her phone inside.

It is a measure of how far South Africa has fallen from the ideals it embraced when it was reborn after apartheid.

Under President Jacob Zuma, the state is failing. Contracts are awarded through bribes and connections; ruling-party members murder each other over lucrative government jobs; crooks operate with impunity.

Next week comes a moment that may determine whether South Africa slides further into this mire or starts to recover. At a conference that starts on December 16th the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is due to choose the successor to Mr Zuma as its leader, and thus its candidate for presidency of the country.

The front-runners are Mr Zuma’s ex-wife and preferred candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa. For South Africa and for the whole African continent, Mr Ramaphosa needs to win.

Mandela weeps

South Africa is no longer in the forefront of the world’s consciousness, as it was in the 1990s when it made its miraculously peaceful transition from a racist regime to a modern democracy. But it still matters, and not just to its 57m people.

With its superior financial and physical infrastructure, it is Africa’s economic hub. Its diplomatic and moral authority shapes southern Africa, for worse as well as better: without its support,
Robert Mugabe would have lost power in Zimbabwe long ago. And, at the moment, it is the site of the most visible battle in the world between good and bad government.

Alarmed South Africans have watched the progress of “state capture”, whereby private actors subvert the state to steal public money (see article). In a report in 2016 the former public protector detailed allegations that the Guptas, business associates of Mr Zuma’s family, offered the finance ministry to a politician they hoped would be pliable and used political influence to loot state-owned enterprises. She called for a judicial inquiry.

Mr Zuma says he has no knowledge of the job offer, and will establish an inquiry, but he claims that the public protector’s demand that the judge in charge must be appointed by the chief justice is unconstitutional. He did not comment on the matter of looting from state-owned enterprises.

What is unusual about South Africa is not that corruption thrives, but that it does so in plain sight. Thanks to a history of civic activism, a free press and a robust judiciary, South Africans are aware of the wholesale theft. Investigative journalists have catalogued corruption at all levels of government.

Week after week, activists and opposition parties challenge the government in court. A former finance minister estimates that 150bn-200bn ($11bn-15bn) rand, 5% of GDP, has been filched.

The ANC leadership election offers what ought to be an easy choice. Ms Dlamini-Zuma is expected to protect her ex-husband, who faces 783 counts of corruption. She, like him, espouses “radical economic transformation”, which involves fiscal indiscipline and expropriation.

She, like him, employs racially charged rhetoric to deflect criticism. A victory for her would undermine the economy, jeopardise social harmony—fragile, in a country with the fifth highest murder rate in the world—and entrench state capture.

Cyril v cynicism

Mr Ramaphosa’s election would not on its own ensure a swift return to clean government. Corruption runs deep, at all levels of the party. It did not help that a pre-Zuma ANC policy of “empowering ” black tycoons by encouraging the transfer of large stakes in white-owned firms to them made a handful of ANC bigwigs effortlessly rich.

This set a precedent that politics in the new South Africa can be a shortcut to vast wealth. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Mr Ramaphosa himself, which complicates his campaign to purge the party of rent-seeking.

Nonetheless, there is no suggestion that he broke the law, and he is outspoken in his condemnation of those who now brazenly do so. He is also pragmatic in his plans to boost economic growth and provide South Africans with jobs and education.

The numbers suggest Mr Ramaphosa is in the lead, yet he is not a shoo-in. The stakes are high for Mr Zuma and his political skills are consummate. Those who bet against him tend to lose. His compatriots await the result nervously.

Some well-intentioned South Africans think it would be better if Ms Dlamini-Zuma won, because the country has become too much like a one-party state, and an ANC run by her would be more likely to lose the election in 2019. That is a dangerous argument.

The multiracial, centrist Democratic Alliance would indeed be better than the ANC, and is gaining in popularity: it now governs the country’s three most important cities. But the hard-left Economic Freedom Fighters, who might be worse than the ANC, are gaining ground, too.

And the ANC, with its liberationist credentials, might win in 2019 even under Ms Dlamini-Zuma, who as president would cement the Zuma clan’s grip on the levers of power. South Africa would start to look uncomfortably like a hereditary kleptocracy.

Its people deserve better. The rainbow nation still has the potential to be a beacon of prosperity and good governance in Africa, but memories of its hopeful birth are a melancholy counterpoint to its dark present. The best chance for recovering that optimism is a victory for Mr Ramaphosa.

Source: The Economist
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Videoclips (General) 06 (Aug 16 - Jul 18)

Postby behappyalways » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:40 am

DR Congo crisis: On Kasai's hunger road
http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa ... unger-road
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Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:45 pm

How Djibouti Became China's Gateway To Africa
http://www.spiegel.de/international/wor ... 91441.html
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Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:51 pm

South Africa: ANC 'decides Zuma must go'
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43039928
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Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:23 pm

Africa’s broken heart

Congo is sliding back to bloodshed

How to stop a catastrophe

NO CONFLICT since the 1940s has been bloodier, yet few have been more completely ignored. Estimates of the death toll in Congo between 1998 and 2003 range from roughly 1m to more than 5m—no one counted the corpses.

Taking the midpoint, the cost in lives was higher than that in Syria, Iraq, Vietnam or Korea. Yet scarcely any outsider has a clue what the fighting was about or who was killing whom. Which is a tragedy, because the great war at the heart of Africa might be about to start again.

The cause of the carnage

To understand the original war, consider this outrageously oversimplified analogy. Imagine a giant house whose timbers are rotten. That was the Congolese state under Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic tyrant who ruled from 1965 to 1997.

Next, imagine a cannonball that brings the house crashing down. That cannonball was fired from Rwanda, Congo’s tiny, turbulent neighbour. Now imagine that every local gang of armed criminals comes rushing in to steal the family jewels, and the looting turns violent. Finally, imagine that you are a young, unarmed woman who lives alone in the shattered house. It is not a pleasant thought, is it?

Mobutu and his underlings looted the Congolese state until it could barely stand. When a shock struck, it collapsed. The shock was the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The perpetrators of that abomination, defeated at home, fled into Congo. Rwanda invaded Congo to eliminate them.

Meeting almost no resistance, since no one wanted to die for Mobutu, the highly disciplined Rwandans overthrew him and replaced him with their local ally, Laurent Kabila. Then Kabila switched sides and armed the génocidaires, so Rwanda tried to overthrow him, too. Angola and Zimbabwe saved him. The war degenerated into a bloody tussle for plunder.

Eight foreign countries became embroiled, along with dozens of local militias. Congo’s mineral wealth fuelled the mayhem, as men with guns grabbed diamond, gold and coltan mines. Warlords stoked ethnic divisions, urging young men to take up arms to defend their tribe—and rob the one next door—because the state could not protect anyone. Rape spread like a forest fire.

The war ended eventually when all sides were exhausted, and under pressure from donors on the governments involved. The world’s biggest force of UN blue helmets arrived. Kabila’s son, Joseph, has been president since his father was shot in 2001. He has failed to build a state that does not prey on its people.

Bigwigs still embezzle; soldiers mug peasants; public services barely exist. The law counts for little. When a judge recently refused to rule against an opposition leader, thugs broke into his home and raped his wife and daughter.

Mr Kabila was elected for a final five-year term in 2011. His mandate ran out in 2016, but he clings to the throne. He is pathetically unpopular—no more than 10% of Congolese back him. His authority is fading. He can still scatter protests in the capital, Kinshasa, with tear gas and live bullets. And few Congolese can afford to take a whole day off to protest, in any case.

But in the rest of this vast country, he is losing control (see Briefing). Ten of 26 provinces are suffering armed conflict. Dozens of militias are once again spilling blood. Some 2m Congolese fled their homes last year, bringing the total still displaced to around 4.3m. The state is tottering, the president is illegitimate, ethnic militias are proliferating and one of the world’s richest supplies of minerals is available to loot. There is ample evidence that countries which have suffered a recent civil war are more likely to suffer another. In Congo the slide back to carnage has already begun.

Beyond Africa, why should the world care? Congo is far away and has no discernible effect on global stockmarkets. Besides, its woes seem too complex and intractable for outsiders to fix. It has long had predatory rulers, from the slave-dealing pre-colonial kings of Kongo to the Kabila family.

Intrusive outsiders have often made matters worse, from the rapacious Belgian King Leopold II in the 19th century to the American cold warriors who propped up Mobutu for being anti-Soviet.

Nonetheless, the world should care and it can help. Congo matters mainly because its people are people, and deserve better. It also matters because it is huge—two-thirds the size of India—and when it burns, the flames spread. Violence has raged back and forth across its borders with Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Studies find that civil wars cause grave economic harm to neighbouring states, which in Congo’s case are home to 200m people. Put another way, if Congo were peaceful and functional, it could be the crossroads of an entire continent, and power every country south of it with dams on its mighty river.

If outsiders engage now, the slide back to war may yet be held in check. First, cuts to the UN peacekeepers’ budget, made partly at President Donald Trump’s behest, should be reversed. The blue helmets are not perfect, and cannot protect remote villages. But they can protect cities and are the only force that Congolese trust not to slaughter and pillage.

Second, Mr Trump’s welcome sanctions against Mr Kabila’s moneymen—building on earlier embargoes on conflict minerals—should be extended. Donors should press Mr Kabila to keep his promise to hold elections by the end of the year, and not to flout the constitution by running again. In this, they should make common cause with sensible African leaders. The Congolese opposition should take part in the vote, instead of boycotting it.

A flicker of hope

The omens are not all bad. South Africa has just dumped Jacob Zuma (see article), who indulged Mr Kabila’s claim that Western pleas to uphold Congolese law were imperialism. (Mr Zuma’s nephew reportedly has oil interests in Congo.) Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Zuma’s successor, is honest and pragmatic.

Just as Nelson Mandela was repelled by Mobutu, and hastened his departure, so Mr Ramaphosa is surely repelled by Mr Kabila. He has experience negotiating the end of bad things, including apartheid, Northern Ireland’s troubles and Mr Zuma’s presidency. He must not let Congo go back to hell.

Source: The Economist
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Re: Africa

Postby behappyalways » Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:23 pm

Algeria turns off internet for high school exams
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44557028
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