Items of Interest: May 23

The following items from May 23 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Côte d’Ivoire: The general secretary of the Ivoirian Popular Front met in Daoukro with former President Henri Konan Bédié of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire.

Significance: The meeting at the headquarters of former President Bédié marks the second engagement between the country’s two principal opposition parties in as many weeks, following the May 7 meeting in Brussels between Bédié’s executive secretary Maurice Guikahué and former President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivoirian Popular Front. The meeting in Daoukro resulted in pledges to work together for national reconciliation and for cooperation to ensure a peaceful political environment for the country’s presidential election to be held in 2020. An electoral alliance has not yet been agreed to, however, and is likely subject to additional negotiations over terms of power sharing between the rival opposition parties. A subsequent inclusion of the political movements supporting former president of the Ivoirian national assembly Guillaume Soro would establish for Bédié, Gbagbo, and Soro an alliance of sufficient ethno-political constituencies to displace the incumbent government of President Alassane Ouattara.    

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Prime Minister-nominee Sylvester Ilunga Ilunkamba is liaising with members of the Common Front for Congo and the Coalition for Change to form a consensus cabinet.

Significance: Ilunkamba was nominated May 20 to become the Congo’s new prime minister. He has stated his policy priorities will focus on education, health, security, and peace building. So as to form a new government of consensus structure and composition, Ilunkamba is consulting with political coalition partners the Common Front for Congo, whose members are loyal to former President Joseph Kabila, and the Coalition for Change, which is loyal to incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi. Ilunkamba’s compliance with an understanding of political cohabitation between Kabila loyalists and Tshisekedi loyalists means an outlook of continuity insofar as policy is concerned. Though neither Tshisekedi nor Ilunkamba enjoy a mandate to introduce dramatic reforms, the adjustment with some policies to moderate the adverse consequences to some sectors, notably with the Mining Code, is a reasonable expectation once the Tshisekedi administration, now four months into presidential office, moves from personnel decisions and settles into matters of policy governance. 

Eritrea: The country is holding meaningful celebrations at home and abroad in honor of independence from Ethiopia.

Significance: Celebrations have been underway for a couple of weeks and will peak on May 24 to recognize the country’s Independence Day that was achieved on 1991. Independence from Ethiopia fosters a deep sense of pride and unity for most Eritreans, though the state of peace that was reached in 2018 between Eritrea and Ethiopia has raised expectations among the Eritrean citizenry for a peace dividend that provides for greater socioeconomic and political freedoms. Much political goodwill has been achieved between the Eritrea and Ethiopian governments since the state of peace, but the slow pace of concrete economic outcomes resulting from cooperation between the neighboring countries is an understated frustration expressed in Asmara.

South Africa: Following his swearing in as president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa is liaising with African National Congress stakeholders to form a consensus cabinet.

Significance: Ramaphosa will be inaugurated in Pretoria on May 25 and over the subsequent days will continue presiding over intra-party negotiations to establish a streamlined cabinet that accommodates expectations for improved economic performance. On the level of political optics, personnel decisions are informed by concerns to minimize the representation of those accused of corruption. But the African National Congress leader must also ensure his cabinet reflects the broad-based constituencies that comprise the ruling party, and which include labor unions, communist party, provincial, tribal, and other stakeholder leagues. Achieving policy consensus beyond requiring improved service delivery performance is the deeper level challenge facing the reelected South African government.

Tanzania: The government stated that Acacia Mining is persona non grata in the country.

Significance: Citing disdain of the government and its laws, Acacia Mining is no longer welcome in the country and Barrick Gold has been advised to solve for it if the parent company wants to see its gold mining operations in Tanzania restored. Acacia Mining and the Tanzanian government have unresolved fiscal and regulatory disputes and a satisfactory outcome likely requires Barrick Gold to fully acquire Acacia Mining. While a resolution between the Tanzanian government and Barrick Gold is likely, Tanzania as a friendly destination for foreign mining investments is not an outlook to be restored soon. The Magufuli administration has adjusted to hesitant foreign direct investment commitments by electing to self-finance economic development projects of national priority, to include the country’s standard gauge railway and the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power project.   

Zambia: The government is hosting Egyptian President El-Sisi for a two-day state visit.

Significance: Preserving the Egyptian president’s visit means the Lungu administration is not concentrating efforts to resolve the controversial dissolution of the Vedanta Resources-operated Konkola Copper Mines partnership. Though the Zambian government is hearing out concerns for adverse economic fallout that could result from it’s ordering of the dissolution of Konkola Copper Mines, the Edgar Lungu-led Patriotic Front ruling party has not suffered a political price for the economic controversy, and conversely may safeguard political support from those applauding the assertion of Zambia’s economic imperatives. Zambian political parties are eyeing the country’s presidential election scheduled for 2021, of which Lungu is eligible to stand and enjoys the advantage given the divided positions the Zambian opposition currently hold.  

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