Items of Interest: September 5

Absent opposition affirmation of the cabinet reshuffle in Côte d’Ivoire, the Guinean president’s address to his nation, and an updated timeline to Zimbabwe’s arrears strategy are actions from September 5 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Côte d’Ivoire: An absence of oppositional affirmation followed the introduction of the new Ouattara administration.  

Significance: Forty-one ministers and seven secretaries of state were introduced and will gather at the presidency in Abidjan on September 5 following yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle. Ivoirian government spokesman Sidi Touré stated the mission of the new government, to be led by Amadou Gon Coulibaly who was retained in his position as prime minister by President Alassane Ouattara, is to accelerate measures to achieve national solitary through reinforced socioeconomic policymaking. None of Côte d’Ivoire’s principal political opposition parties, notably the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivoirian Popular Front, nor the movements supporting Guillaume Soro, commended the reshuffle, which will likely be the last reshuffle before the country holds a presidential election in October 2020. Reconciliation among rival Ivoirian political parties is increasingly distant.      

Guinea: President Alpha Condé addressed the nation and empowered Prime Minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana to guide inclusive political and social dialogue for a constitutional review.   

Significance: The Guinean president holds an undeclared interest in running for reelection in 2020, which to do so would require a constitutional amendment and the removal of the presidential term limit clause. Condé emphasized during his address that the Guinean citizenry holds the sole right and responsibility to make sovereign decisions, which is interpreted to mean any external (or internal) criticism of a constitution revision will be non-binding. Condé’s fairly regular foreign diplomatic activity, which includes a September 8-18 visit to the U.S. prior to the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, is likely to persuade foreign stakeholders of the merits of another term in office. For his part and since his appointment in May 2018 Fofana has held political mediation talks with the country’s principal opposition the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea led by Cellou Diallo. Talks have been inconclusive, but have also kept oppositional unrest from escalating to a level of strategic disruption. 

Zimbabwe: Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube conveyed an updated timeline that talks to resolve arrears with international financial institutions will now take place in the second quarter of 2020.

Significance: Ncube was appointed Zimbabwean finance minister in September 2018 and one of his first proposals was to accelerate plans to pay arrears owed to the World Bank and the African Development Bank. It is estimated that Zimbabwe’s foreign debt has grown from $5.7 billion at the time of Ncube’s appointment to approximately $7.7 billion currently, and despite pledges and plans to bring current the government’s arrears, timetables to do so are pushed back. The Zimbabwean government is expecting an evaluation team from the International Monetary Fund to visit in March 2020, following which new talks on an arrears strategy would take place.  

Other items of note:

-Julius Malema of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters political party stated the national treasury’s economic strategy paper was a direct declaration of war against the country’s working class. 

-Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are expected to meet in Dar es Salaam to strategize on how to proceed with constructing a crude oil export pipeline following the suspension of activities of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline by its commercial stakeholders Tullow Oil, Total, and CNOOC.

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