Items of Interest: May 20

The following items from May 20 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Côte d’Ivoire: Baoulé and Malinké inter-ethnic clashes took place in the Toumoudi department south of the ceremonial capital of Yamoussoukro.

Significance: The clashes in the Lakes region outside of Yamoussoukro is the second instance in recent days of Baoulé and Malinké violence in the country, following last week’s altercations near the central city of Bouaké. Security forces were deployed from Yamoussoukro to intervene in the violence. The two ethnic groups form the largest political constituencies in Côte d’Ivoire and are roughly aligned with two leading political parties: the Baoulé with the opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, and the Malinké with the ruling Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). Rising inter-ethnic violence comes as the country prepares for a presidential election in 2020, an event that in recent cycles has triggered considerable national violence. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba was nominated the country’s new prime minister.

Significance: The nomination of a new prime minister, to succeed Bruno Tshibala who resigned earlier in the day on May 20, comes roughly four months after the inauguration of Félix Tshisekedi as the country’s new president. Ilunkamba, a career government official who has held multiple ministerial portfolios going back to the Mobutu Sese Seko regime, stated his mandate is to ensure a consensus cabinet is formed that prioritizes education, health, security, and peace building. Given his significant administrative experience in economic portfolios, the new Ilunkamba-led cabinet should be in steady hands, underscoring an outlook of continuity for major policy priorities notably the government’s Mining Code.

South Africa: Secretary General of the ruling African National Congress Ace Magashule addressed that the mandate for the reelected government is the struggle for economic freedom and the battle against white monopoly capital.

Significance: South Africa held general elections on May 8 and while the African National Congress was returned to power with another majority (albeit a reduced one), the mandate for the reelected government is less straight forward. Magashule, one of the top six African National Congress officials ultimately tasked with implementing the party’s policy priorities, elaborated that among the new government’s priorities are expropriating land without compensation, nationalizing the country’s Reserve Bank, asserting affirmative action and other transformative requirements on banks and financial institutions, and stopping the privatization of state-owned assets. Magashule’s comments will be controversial to some within the African National Congress, but on the other hand, so are comments by other members who take positions advocating for a reduction in the scope and role of the African National Congress in the country’s socio-political economy. At the very least, Magashule’s comments underscore the broad-based nature of the African National Congress that encompasses members of diverse political and economic outlook. Lastly, Magashule’s comments mirror those of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema who on May 8 saw their share of the parliamentary vote rise to 11%, up from 6% they earned in the previous general elections held in 2014. 

Zambia: President Edgar Lungu stated the Zambian government has initiated the process to disengage from its copper mining partnership with Vedanta Resources.

Significance: Lungu used the words divorce to describe their intentions with Vedanta Resources, the majority shareholder in the country’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM). Lungu added the government will seek a new investor to take a place in Konkola Copper Mines. The Zambian president’s comments follow a visit to the Copperbelt province where he held consultations with mining unions, civil society, and mining company representatives to assert Zambia’s interests against perceived threats by foreign mining companies concerned with the government’s new royalty and taxation regime. While Lungu’s approach will be fiscally costly, the Zambian president enjoys nationalistic political support to assert the country’s economic imperatives. 

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