Items of Interest: August 13

Tanzania preparing to host a summit of the Southern African Development Community, Zambia’s preliminary hearings to dissolve the Konkola Copper Mines partnership, and Zimbabwe’s political opposition preparing a national protest are actions from August 12 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Tanzania: The government of Tanzania will host a summit of the Southern African Development Community on August 17-18. 

Significance: Top of the official agenda for the heads of state and government from southern Africa planning to gather in Tanzania is creating conditions for the private sector in the region’s member states to flourish. The idea of the private sector certainly varies from country to country, with some governments effective advocates for a high performing private sector and others placing the private sector into a secondary and supportive role of the liberation-era party in power. Asserting internal political imperatives that trump economic concerns is generally consistent across the southern African region.  

Zambia: The Lusaka High Court held preliminary arguments to dissolve the Konkola Copper Mines partnership.  

Significance: The Zambian judiciary is asserting primacy of jurisdiction in proceedings to comply with the Lungu administration’s bid to dissolve and replace the existing ownership structure of Konkola Copper Mines. While the Zambian government has called on other foreign mining operators to maintain operations and especially employment levels, and has also accommodated itself somewhat to domestic and foreign business concerns with regards to delaying the implementation of the proposed new non-refundable sales tax, the Lungu administration hasn’t signaled any direction other than to seek new foreign investor partners in place of Vedanta Resources.    

Zimbabwe: The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is in final preparations to hold a national protest rally on August 16.

Significance: The significance of the opposition rally is in how and whether the Emerson Mnangagwa administration and Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) ruling party provide democratic space for the Movement for Democratic Change to conduct a meaningful protest. The national protest, over degraded socioeconomic livelihoods and lingering accusations of fraudulent elections behavior on the part of the ZANU-PF-led government, will be the opposition party’s first in the context of the Zimbabwean government preparing the passage of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill, which is intended to provide for greater democratic space for protest behavior that is relatively free from security force interference. Should Zimbabwean security forces interfere with and impede the MDC rally, Western donor partners would interpret this to mean the Zimbabwean government is not credible in effecting democratic reforms and as a result would be a set back for diplomatic efforts aimed to lift sanctions on Zimbabwean officials.

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