The following items from May 16 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:
Côte d’Ivoire: Three have been killed and forty wounded during clashes informed by ethnic affinities near the central city of Bouaké in the Gbêkê region.
Significance: Fighting remains ongoing between Baoulé and Malinké communities of the area, with witnesses citing tensions over who is indigenous versus non-indigenous to the community. The Baoulé and Malinké are principal ethnic groups in Côte d’Ivoire, and also form the basis for the respective constituencies making up the opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) and the ruling Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). Bouaké is a strategic city in central Côte d’Ivoire that acts as a gateway between the country’s northern and southern halves, and fighting in it and for it was persistent during Ivoirian civil wars of the 2000s. In the absence of political reconciliation between their patrons, ethnic identity and rivalry will inflame as Côte d’Ivoire prepares for a presidential election in 2020, which to date places the PDCI’s Henri Konan Bédié (who served as Ivoirian president from 1993-1999) against incumbent President Alassane Ouattara.
Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company senior management team was fired.
Significance: The firing of seven senior executives, including the chief executive officer, the chief financial officer, and the chief security officer, at the state-owned enterprise follows efforts by the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration to recruit foreign investment in the country’s diamond sector (as well as other mineral resource sectors). The ZCDC board chairman cited a need to rebuild public and market confidence in the parastatal as the reason for the change in executive leadership. Apart from preliminary agreements with China’s Anjin Investments and Russia’s ALROSA, the Zimbabwean government under Mnangagwa’s leadership has not obtained meaningful foreign investment in its diamond sector. There will surely be political fallout within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) over the management change and the consequential disruption to patterns of insider diamond trading that Zimbabwean officials, notably from the defense and security forces, have conventionally benefitted from. But for the Mnangagwa administration to be successful at effecting compelling political and economic reforms sufficient to see Western sanctions on Zimbabwean officials and institutions lifted, solving for entrenched securocrat behavior that constrains reforms from proceeding is a necessary (and risky) action to take.