Items of Interest: August 30

Zimbabwe’s finance minister on the government’s external debt and the start of elections campaigning in Mozambique are actions from August 30 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Mozambique: Campaigning formally begins August 31 for the country’s presidential, parliamentary, and provincial assembly elections scheduled for October 15. 

Significance: Though there’s no real concern regarding the outcome of the presidential election (incumbent President Filipe Nyusi of the Mozambique Liberation Front will win reelection), the contests for membership in the Assembly of the Republic and among the country’s ten provincial parliaments will be far more competitive and largely pitting Nyusi’s FRELIMO against the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) opposition party. The military junta of the opposition RENAMO party has threatened violence against the elections should the Mozambique government ignore its generals in favor of civilian president Ossufo Momade, whom the junta views as illegitimate and a puppet of the Nyusi-led government. RENAMO is not the rebel force it was during the era of liberation, but its threat to obstruct political decentralization and other security sector reforms undermines confidence in efforts to stabilize and foster growth in central and northern Mozambique.   

Zimbabwe: Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is to address the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts by September 30. 

Significance: The parliamentary oversight committee wants the finance minister to speak to the state of the Zimbabwean government’s fiscal situation, as well as to the country’s economic conditions. Of specific concern is the government’s external debt levels, which Ncube pledged to reduce when he became finance minister on September 7, roughly one year ago. Citing figures released by the parliamentary oversight committee as well as by the Zimbabwean finance ministry, during Ncube’s tenure as finance minister Zimbabwe’s foreign debt has grown in 2019 by more than a third to roughly $7.7 billion, up from roughly $5.7 billion in 2018. Debt to the World Bank rose to $1.5 billion from $1.3 billion; to the African Development Bank, to $702 million from $605 million; to the European Investment Bank, to $309 million from $308 million; to Paris Club creditors, to $3.5 billion from $2.7 billion; to non-Paris Club creditors, to $1.6 billion from $700 million; other multilateral institutions, roughly $74 million holding steady. A lack of foreign investment and positive economic growth has constrained the Zimbabwean finance minister’s efforts at not only reducing external debt but resolving the government’s arrears with foreign lenders. In addition to the maintenance of sanctions on Zimbabwean government officials, arrears with international financial institutions limit the ability of the Zimbabwean government to access donor and preferential credit facilities.  

Other items of note:

-Former Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila met with Common Front for Congo ministers-designate and called for them to be loyal, disciplined, and supportive of incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi and Prime Minister Sylvester Ilunga Ilunkamba. 

-Guinean Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and for National Defense Mohamed Diané returned from a visit to Russia and addressed a political rally calling for full support for President Alpha Condé and the ruling Rally of the People of Guinea (RPG) party.  

-South Africa ruling alliance partners the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) opposed the National Treasury’s Economic Growth Strategy paper describing it inter alia as unilateralist and neoliberalist.   

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