Zimbabwe recently announced it was moving ahead with plans to require foreign-owned banks to give 51 percent ownership to locals. In an email interview, Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, a professor in the department of development studies at the University of South Africa, discussed Zimbabwe’s indigenization program. WPR: What is the political and economic strategy behind Zimbabwe’s move to indigenize ownership in various sectors over the past few years? Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni: Over the past 10 years, Zimbabwe has consolidated itself into a typical nationalist state as opposed to a neo-colonial state. The leitmotif of this nationalist state has been the ideology […]

Ghanaian President John Atta Mills died Tuesday, three days after turning 68 years old and five-and-a-half months before the end of his first term in office. In other African countries, the death of political leaders has often led to political crises, including coups, such as Togo in 2005 and Guinea in 2008. But in Ghana, which has long been held up as a model of democracy for Africa, the peaceful transfer of power following the death of the president has only improved its reputation. “That John Dramani Mahama, Mills’ vice president, would be sworn in within hours of Mills’ death […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on South African President Jacob Zuma’s political prospects as leader of both the African National Congress and South Africa. Part I examined some of Zuma’s recent successes in consolidating his political position within the party. Part II examines his weaknesses and failures, which risk undermining his future prospects. At its June policy conference in Midrand, the African National Congress (ANC) took pains to make clear that its policy discussions were a separate matter from the broader question of the party’s future leadership. That argument, however, carried little weight with analysts […]

On July 7-8, Muslim Fulani herdsmen reportedly attacked Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state in Nigeria’s ethnically and religiously diverse Middle Belt. The violence claimed more than 100 lives, including those of two elected officials, and displaced an estimated 5,500 persons. On July 17, an apparent reprisal targeted a Muslim school in the state capital, Jos. The cycle of Muslim-Christian violence (.pdf) in Plateau dates back to 1994. And though Nigerian authorities have depicted the conflict as primarily local, it aggravates the tone of Muslim-Christian relations across the country and embarrasses the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, which is attempting […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on South African President Jacob Zuma’s political prospects as leader of both the African National Congress and South Africa. Part I examines some of Zuma’s recent successes in consolidating his political position within the party. Part II will examine his weaknesses and failures, which risk undermining his future prospects. The defining moment in South African politics this year will be the national conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Mangaung in December. The conference will chart the ANC’s future direction and will elect the leadership to guide both […]

The head of a Chinese military delegation visiting the Seychelles earlier this month said that his country was interested in developing closer military ties with the Indian Ocean nation. In an email interview, Jonathan Holslag, a researcher at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, discussed China’s relations with the Seychelles. WPR: What is the current state of China-Seychelles political, trade and military relations? Jonathan Holslag: The partnership is characterized more by great expectations on the part of the Seychelles rather than a great Chinese presence. China’s visibility is growing. More tourists are discovering the island states, and some private […]

MOMBASA, Kenya — Following a barrage of accusations that the Rwandan government is fueling conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the presidents of the two nations met Sunday to broker a deal authorizing an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in the conflict-prone region. Held on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, the face-to-face talks constitute a rarity for the central African neighbors. In recent years, each side has repeatedly blamed the other for arming various insurgencies in the mineral-rich and chronically chaotic territory of the eastern DRC. The U.N. released a report in June […]

Twenty Ethiopian journalists and opposition figures accused of trying to topple the government will now spend between eight years and the rest of their lives in prison. As the New York Times reported, these defendants, who were convicted on terrorism charges, were the victims of security concerns being used “as an excuse to crack down on dissent and media freedoms.” The Horn of Africa country, located between Sudan and Somalia, is seen by the U.S. as a source of stability and as a key regional partner in the war on terror, explained Claire Beston, the Ethiopia researcher at Amnesty International. […]

The International Criminal Court sentenced Thomas Lubanga, a former militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to 14 years in prison Tuesday. The sentence, which was the first imposed by the ICC since it was launched in The Hague 10 years ago, established the use of children in war as an international crime. “The verdict and sentence underscore the gravity of the crimes charged — the recruitment, enlistment and use of child soldiers — and the determination of the international community to hold accountable those who commit them,” James Goldston, founding executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, […]

Across the developing world, the revolution in mobile telecommunications technology is driving massive changes in access to financial services. Currently, there are 2.7 billion “unbanked” people in developing countries (.pdf). They have few effective ways to save money; accessing credit and transferring money is difficult and expensive; insurance is a dream. Yet, to break cycles of poverty, the poor need access to affordable and versatile financial services. The rapid uptake of mobile phones, even in remote areas and among the poorest of the poor, has the potential to significantly increase financial inclusion. The Grameen Foundation estimates that nearly 40 percent […]

NAIROBI, Kenya — In Kenya, a country with a history of institutionalized impunity for politicians, the attempt last week by parliament to pass legislation seemingly designed to safeguard incumbency might be considered par for the course. The proposed bill, which among other things mandated that members of parliament have university degrees, highlighted the challenges facing political reform efforts two years after the passage of what was hailed as arguably the most progressive constitution on the continent. Significantly, however, the move by parliament was greeted with popular outrage and criticized by media outlets and prominent officials alike. Sensing the political fallout, […]

With a number of African conflict zones in the spotlight recently, regional and global policymakers have increasingly turned their attention to the continent’s security landscape. In both long-standing conflict zones, such as Somalia and Central Africa, and emerging hot spots, like Mali and Nigeria, new developments and new actors have changed the features of African security. This World Politics Review special report examines conflict and security in Africa. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber?Try our subscription service free for two weeks. Sahel Algeria Moves to Boost Regional […]

On June 16, students at the University of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, began protesting against austerity measures enacted by the government of President Omar al-Bashir. Now staging near-daily protests, the students, along with their fellow demonstrators, are calling for the fall of Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, and his National Congress Party (NCP). Sudanese security forces have responded forcefully to the protests, drawing international concern. Observers inside and outside Sudan, meanwhile, wonder whether the protests might force Bashir to step down. Whether or not Bashir endures these protests, their intensity demonstrates the unsustainability of the political […]