Items of Interest: August 26

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s new government, final preparations for the Japan-Africa summit, and Zimbabwe civil service wage demands are actions from August 26 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Prime Minister Sylvester Ilunga Ilunkamba named a 65-member cabinet. 

Significance: The formation of the Félix Tshisekedi administration is the product of seven months of consultations between the incumbent president’s political allies and the political alliance of former President Joseph Kabila. The composition of the new Congo government is heavily represented by members of Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) and reflects a similar make-up found in the country’s National Assembly. The intent of the appointments and distribution of portfolios is to introduce new officials into government (and not merely recycle Kabila-era appointees) but at the same time safeguard an understanding of policy and power-sharing continuity from the old to new regimes. To be clear, no debate over policy preferences or directionality accompanied the selection of the Ilunkamba-led government. As for his part following the naming of his administration, President Tshisekedi immediately left the country to prepare to participate in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development that the Japanese government will host in Yokohama from August 28-30.    

Japan/Africa: Heads of state and government are arriving in Japan to participate in the 7th summit of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Significance: The Japan-Africa summit will be held in Yokohama from August 28-30 and complies with geostrategic as well as economic interests held in common between the Japanese and African governments. Japan’s Abe administration is seeking to facilitate outward investment as part of a reflationary economic priority. Host governments in Africa will clearly seek Japanese investment to balance their trade partnerships and constrain dependency on any single region or critical stakeholder, such as Europe or China. 

Zimbabwe: Civil servants rejected the government’s latest salary increase offer.   

Significance: The Zimbabwean government and the country’s roughly 350,000 public sector workers are far apart on wage and benefit negotiations. Given hyperinflationary effects experienced in Zimbabwe (which have rose to such an extent the government recently cancelled publishing inflation statistics), civil servants are seeking starting wages of roughly US$475/month, up from roughly US$50 currently. Members of the public sector Apex Council have throughout 2019 threatened to go on strike to achieve their wage demands, but have not consistently followed though. The Zimbabwean treasury lacks the resources to satisfy the wage demands of the country’s civil service, and the outlook for improved economic conditions is not bright as a result of the adverse security force clampdowns on political opposition demonstrations against socioeconomic conditions and political governance.  

Other items of note:

-A Henri Konan Bédié and Guillaume Soro joint ticket for Côte d’Ivoire’s president election of 2020 was called for by a member of the Ivoirian national assembly. 

-Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated the country’s first export shipment of crude oil. 

-Zambian Agriculture Minister Michael Katamba announced a maximum threshold for the price of maize. 

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