Politics

Wed,17Oct2018

Politics

Ghana: The harsh realities after the closest vote

 

Setting up the framework for oil production and sharing out its benefits will be among the top priorities for the newly elected team headed by President John Atta Mills

 

It is the hangover after the election party. Two rounds of voting, four weeks of knife-edge politics and almost a year of campaigning. The election posters are still flapping in the breeze, and the giant billboards proudly proclaiming that this party will move Ghana forwards, or that this candidate was the better man for Ghana, are bedraggled but still standing. And the paeans of international praise for a close-fought but well-run election are still ringing in Ghanaians’ ears.

 

?There was little respite for the candidates. The victor in the presidential elections with 50.1% of the vote, Professor John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), had just four days after the announcement of the result on 3 January to set up his transition team before the inauguration on 7 January.?

Interview with John
Evans Atta Mills
President of Ghana

 

Alongside his ministerial team – he has promised that 40% of them will be women, although his party has just five women MPs in parliament – he will have to immediately do battle with Ghana’s economy, where the budget and current account deficits are spinning out of control.?

 

Mills also wants to establish his own style of government, quite distinct from the lofty promises of his immediate predecessor John Agyekum Kufuor’s ‘golden age for business’ or the rule of the NDC’s first President, the charismatic Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings.?

 

On the campaign trail in Accra, Mills told The Africa Report about his political style: “I want to be seen as one of the people. I will not be in a 40-car convoy; I will not be ostentatious or given to profligate spending. I will be somebody simple who follows the rules, who will not be vindictive and who would be a unifier.”?

 

The jaws of defeat?

 

The defeated candidate, with 49.8% of the vote, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party set off on a nationwide tour after the results were announced to thank his supporters and shore up the party in the face of its unexpected defeat. Akufo-Addo lost by some 40,000 votes out of the more than 9m cast in the second round of the presidential elections, which Ghanaian historians claim makes it the closest African election ever. ?

 

“The closeness of this election…makes it certain that even the smallest irregularities had significant effects on the results that have been announced,” said Akufo-Addo. But his lawyers abandoned a bid to secure an injunction to postpone the release of the results, and a possible constitutional crisis was averted.

 

?African and world leaders such as Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy heaped accolades on both candidates for their performance. ?

 

Ghanaians are more circumspect about the elections. There was rancour, plenty of cases of attempted rigging and ballot- box snatching, especially in the second round of the vote, and some people lost their lives in clashes during the campaign. ?

 

However, the institutions held up. The security services closely but discreetly monitored 21,000 polling stations and quickly moved in at the first sign of trouble.?

 

Most importantly, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, which includes most of Ghana’s civic groups, sent their monitors across the country armed with cell phones from which they would text details of any irregularities and the results as counted in each polling centre to an office at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping centre in Accra. ?


Rough and tumble amid the cocoa boom

 

Chocolate politics in Côte d'Ivoire. Read more.

The redoubtable head of the Electoral Commission, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, also won plaudits for his management of the count, even if journalists were frustrated at the lack of information or regular briefings from the commission in that tense period between voting and the announcement of the results. ?

 

As the election hangover wears off, President Mills will have to stitch the country back together again after the close political combat. “Our country is polarised,” Mills said, “and someone who can make the best use of the human resources we have, irrespective of political persuasion, is needed.” ?

 

Mills’s promise to be a unifier also has a practical purpose, as he will have to govern with an almost-deadlocked parliament. His NDC party won 114 seats in parliament to the rival NPP’s 107 seats, with a further seven seats held by the smaller parties. Indeed one of the key MPs will be Samira Nkrumah, the daughter of Ghana’s founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, and she has promised to vote in parliament according to her principles. Both parties have energetically courted her.?

 

Casting a long shadow?

 

The NPP is also closely watching the ties between former President Rawlings and Mills; it spent much of its campaign arguing that a Mills presidency would take orders from the mercurial Rawlings. Two of Rawlings’s former security chiefs – Brigadier General (retired) Joseph Nunoo-Mensah and Vice-Admiral (retired) E.O. Owusu-Ansah – have been appointed national security advisor and acting defence minister, respectively.?

 

Most of Mills’s 99-member transition team was drawn from the last Rawlings NDC government, which handed over to the NPP in 2000. The chair of the transition team is Rawlings’s prime minister P. V. Obeng, and several of his ministers, such as Kwame Peprah, have jobs on the transition team.?

 

Yao Graham, who heads the development lobby Third World Network in Accra, says the Rawlings influence is being overplayed: “The NDC is a highly factionalised party, and the Rawlings group is just one among many. All the factions are going to be lobbying Mills for positions.”?

 

The appointment of John Henry Martey Newman as chief of staff in the presidency is an important sign, according to Graham. “This is someone outside politics, with a record for efficiency and honesty as director of the Cocoa Board and who is regarded as an independent thinker.”?

 

Alongside the party politics, Mills’s priority will be the economy. He might be helped by a strongly-worded letter from the World Bank country director, Ishac Diwan, warning that Ghana faces a year of socially- painful adjustment as access to external finance dries up.

 

?The 2008 fiscal and balance- of-payments deficit was plugged with proceeds from its $750m Eurobond floated in 2007 and by the sale of a majority stake in state-owned Ghana Telecom to Britain’s Vodafone. Such funds, Diwan warns, will not be available in 2009.?

 

One of Mills’s first appointments was the three-member economic team led by Togbe Afede XIV, paramount chief of the Ho Asogli state in the Volta region. Other members are former governor of the central Bank of Ghana, Kwabena Duffour, and Moses Asaga, who was deputy finance minister in the last NDC government. ?

 

They have to work out how to pay for one of outgoing President Kufuor’s valedictory acts: the award of a 34% pay rise for public servants, a 16% increase in pensions and 200 promotions in the military’s top ranks. This year’s budget deficit was likely to be over 10% of GDP, even without such increases. ?

 

Ghanaians voted for the NDC’s “change” slogan as against the NPP’s “moving forward” campaign message. In Ghana’s political vocabulary, “change” is a code for putting more money into the pockets of ordinary people. Mills has promised to cut taxes on petroleum products, which he hopes should cut the cost of food transported from the countryside to the towns.?

 

President Mills will have to manage expectations carefully until the first revenues from the offshore oil find begin to flow in the second half of 2010. Marshalling those earnings for sustainable development projects as promised and preventing their diversion or hijacking by corrupt cliques, as has happened in Nigeria and Cameroon, will be a key challenge.?

 

The new team is also hoping that the global slowdown does not clip the prices of Ghana’s two main exports – gold and cocoa – both of which are currently at near-record highs.

Conakry against the world

 

It was a popular putsch. Within seven hours of the announcement of the death of President Lansana Conté on 22 December, little known Captain Moussa Dadis Camara had emerged as the new head of state with substantial support from the military. Even the long-time oppositionist Alpha Condé gave the junta conditional support.?

 

“Far from being adventurers, we are serious men,” Captain Camara told weekly magazine Jeune Afrique and added, “The risks of this country tipping into an ethnic war compelled us to act.”

 

?Camara said that he had no choice but to act: “The military had to live up to its reponsibilities and put an end to the years of drift.” Within days the junta had won over Conté’s premier, Ahmed Souare, and the speaker of the Assemblée Nationale Aboubacar Somparé. Captain Camara’s first plan was to organise “free and transparent” elections and hand over by December 2010, and he appointed Kabiné Komara as the new prime minister charged with reorganising the governent. But after facing threats of sanctions from both the African Union and the European Union, Camara agreed on 9 January to hand over within six months.

 

?The stakes are high. Guinea has more than half the world’s bauxite reserves, and an abundance of gold, diamonds and iron ore. It also has some of the most valued hardwood forests in the world. Guinea’s cornucopia has drawn promises of billion dollar investments from western multinationals such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, South Africa’s Anglold Ashanti, Russia’s RUSAL and several Chinese mining companies. Boardrooms are now buzzing with speculation about the significance of Capt. Camara’s decision to review all the mining contracts signed under the Conté regime. ?

 

In the end, everything depends on the politics. Camara heads the Comité National pour le Développement et la Démocratie which is dominated by junior officers: 26 military officers and 6 civilians. Its name suggests a lengthier project than the six months to which its leader has now agreed. ?

 

Born in Nzérékoré in Forestière region, Camara, 44, is from the minority Guerzé ethnic group. He is popular among his fellow officers and speaks French, German (he trained at the infantry school in Hamburg), Kpelle, Soussou and Malinké. Camara served with the UN in neighbouring Sierra Leone and saw at first hand the sort of civil war he says he’s determined to avoid in Guinea. For now, the junta is popular and enjoys credibility, but that will evaporate very quickly should it outstay its welcome.

 

Back to The crescent of crisis faces a critical year 

The crescent of crisis faces a critical year

 

As Liberia and Sierra Leone attempt to overcome the impacts of years of civil war, the military coup in Guinea shows that peace and stability are yet to reign in this part of Africa

 

The putsch by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and his military allies in Guinea on 23 December has propelled leaders into emergency summits to hammer out a response to this latest crisis in one of Africa’s most war-torn regions. Both the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union condemned the coup on principle, but some leaders want Camara’s regime to be recognised.?

 

Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade said of Camara: “The Captain told me he will go back to barracks…he does not have the capacity to keep power,” then he added that the putschists “deserved to be supported. We will not throw stones at them.”

Conakry against the world

 

Guinea's popular putsch.
Read more.

 

?Libya’s President Muammar Gadaffi is also urging African support for Camara’s junta, having held meetings with Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.?

 

Liberia talks about “constructive engagement” – but emphatically not “support” – as a way of helping Capt. Camara’s regime return the country to constitutional rule. It worries that the putsch could trigger a new round of instability in a region still devastated by conflict.?

 

The big question is how the putsch will affect regional stability. “The threat to our countries has diminished but it’s not over,” Liberia’s President Sirleaf told The Africa Report, and she added “Our regional war was not ethnic, religious or political – it was an economic war fuelled by criminal interests. We have to be very careful not to lose the momentum of change.”

 

?The governments in Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have both come to power through credible multiparty elections, are trying to jumpstart their economies into life to counter growing social discontent. ?

 

For much of the 1990s and the first half of this decade, a crescent of countries stretching from Guinea-Bissau in the west to Côte d’Ivoire in the east was engulfed either in deep political crisis or in devastating civil wars.?

 

Rebel militias recruited alienated youth along the crescent promising to overthrow corrupt and oppressive regimes; those that seized the reins of power were far worse than their predecessors. Carpet-bagging companies and mercenaries of all stripes rushed in to pillage diamonds, gold, rutile, bauxite, iron ore and hardwoods. ?

 

The sheer horror of these wars – press-ganged youth militias amputating arms and legs, and committing mass rapes – and a death toll of over 100,000 eventually compelled the international system to act. The UN committed more than 50,000 peacekeepers to the region, but it is now gradually winding down its presence.

 

?Britain, the EU, US and World Bank sent in the economists and the sociologists, turning the region into something of a laboratory. Britain had some success with security reform, focusing attention on rebuilding police services and armed forces after the prolonged civil wars. They financed the demobilisation of militias and training programmes for the new model armies that were meant to emerge in Sierra Leone and Liberia. ?

 

Then the militia recruits picked up their $100 demob grants, along with a few farming tools, and tried to join the new post-war social order. However, unemployment rates are still running around 50%.?

 

“The key is jobs,” said President Sirleaf, “unemployed youth are vulnerable to recruitment by any groups – that risk increases if you don’t get the mines and plantations working again.”?

 

Liberia has had some successes: the world’s largest steelmaker Arcelor Mittal is spending $1.5bn on an iron ore mining and railway project in north-eastern Liberia and in December, China Union announced that it would invest $2.5bn to rehabilite the Bong iron ore mines, to build a hydro-power plant to supply the capital and to renovate the capital’s port. And after three years of negotiations, Liberia has finally secured some relief on its more than $1bn of foreign debt.

 West Africa map

?President Sirleaf remains a highly effective ambassador for her country but alongside those economic successes have come accusations of corruption against senior government officials.

 

?On 7 January a special commission chaired by US-based Liberian Professor Elwood Dunn delivered its detailed report on claims that some Monrovia officials had solicited bribes from the Israeli businessman, Yoram Cohen, who runs the Liberian International Shipping & Corporate Registry.

 

?Investment has been slower to come to Sierra Leone, although President Koroma has adopted the same free-market policies as Liberia’s Sirleaf. Koroma promises to run government “like a business” and has ordered all his ministers and senior civil servants to sign performance contracts. He talks about a “social contract” under which government supplies services such as electricity and water, and responsible citizens pay for them. ?

 

But so far Koroma’s biggest impact has been his backing for the establishment of a new Anti-Corruption Commission. Headed by the energetic lawyer Abdul Tejan Cole, the Commission can initiate prosecutions independently of the attorney general. The new act has created several more offences such as corrupt enrichment, abuse and misuse of office, while providing protection for whistleblowers.

 

?The new anti-corruption act makes it compulsory for public officers to declare their assets. Koroma said he was one of the first officers to do so. When asked if he would make the declaration public, he said that was up to the commission. “If something’s happening with a public officer’s income, the Anti-Corruption Commission has all the sworn declarations of assets, so they can start an investigation.”?

 

With just 100 staff and shortages of computers, Tejan Cole is pleased with the Commission’s progress so far. It is supervising some 20,000 declarations of assets and has completed investigations into an over-priced electrification contract and the landing of 700kg of cocaine at Freetown international airport. At least, when Sierra Leone does start to attract the big ticket investment it will have the means to monitor how much of the new money is going astray.

Sierra Leone: Struggling to rebuild the healthcare system

 

Sierra Leone’s health services have not recovered from the years of civil war. Maternal mortality rates – 1,800 out of 100,000 women dying during childbirth – are the highest in the world, the UN reports. One in four children die before reaching five years of age.

 

The average life expectancy is 42 years, just under half the figure in rich Western countries. President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government is developing a new maternal and child health strategy in coordination with the United Nations and the African Development Bank, using new local councils to channel health services to the grassroots.

 

Health workers say that poor people are not able to use state clinics because of the user fees charged.

 

Back to an interview with Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone

Interview: Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone

The Africa Report: Have you delivered the new style of government and economic improvements you promised last year?

 PRESIDENT ERNEST BAI KOROMA: I centred my campaign on changing how government was run in the country. Taking over government, I inherited an economy that was very weak. The donor community was putting on hold almost all support for the country and the electricity situation was deplorable. We had then just 5 MW power generation capacity and launched the emergency power programme. We increased it during our first 90-100 days to a level of 25 MW. We are limited to 25 MW because of our restricted distribution capacity. We also want to complete the Bumbuna hydro-electric programme. I had a meeting with the donors and the $42m that was outstanding has been pledged. We are now on track in terms of completing the hydro project and the transmission lines.

What do Sierra Leoneans and foreigners say about your performance?

We have regained the confidence of the donor community and we are on track in terms of budgetary support. The World Bank and the IMF are now reviewing our poverty reduction programme. These are all signs of progress within the short period we have been in office. Now, we have not succeeded yet in terms of creating as many jobs as we had hoped, but this is as a result of the circumstances we inherited.??

 Struggling to rebuild

 

A healthcare system not
yet recovered. Read more. 

How are you dealing with the urgent need for jobs?

We are looking at the agricultural sector, improving the road infrastructure, ensuring that farmers have access to inputs and encouraging the private sector to go into farming and to commercialise it. We are also reviewing the mining laws to ensure the mining companies will work in a manner that will increase overall economic activity and jobs. We’re restarting all the road building programmes that were on hold. So in early 2009 the construction of these major roads will start and this will help us create employment for our young people.

In 2009 growth is forecast to slow to 4.8% and tax revenues are falling. How worried are you about the world financial crisis?

We are trying to become more efficient in revenue collection. We are trying to close leakages. Our plan is get the economy moving faster, adding value to our agricultural exports, trying to get mining projects working as quickly as possible, developing tourism, an area where there’s a huge potential.

Our economy wasn’t too integrated with the international economy, so the direct impact was limited, but of course we’ll be affected indirectly – some of our development partners may have to review their stance to take account of what has happened internationally.

Recent reports point to the poor state of health and education, and the lack of jobs. Do you worry that the country hasn’t moved on and war could break out again? ?

Well that is the assessment given out. But I believe the people know there’s a lot a difference with conditions in the past. The government is more transparent, it is more accountable, there is a lot of goodwill, it is a process that is gradual. This is appreciated by the Sierra Leonean people. We are trying to run an inclusive government, we are trying to be open in what we do. For us to get through the food and fuel price hikes without any trouble is an indication that the people still have trust and confidence. 

You live in a dangerous region – there have been civil wars in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, and there are political ructions in Guinea. That must make your job harder. ?

What happens beyond the borders of the country, we don’t have much control over. That’s why we are strong in our engagement with the countries in the region, the Mano River Union and ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] – this is the most we can do to ensure that we stay together as a region and maintain good relations with our neighbours. We know that anything that happens in one country will affect another. We are asking for everyone to take measures that will consolidate a peace around the issues of the youth, education and jobs. We have natural resources that we want to develop at a national and a subregional level. Of course, we are not yet out of the woods. In another 36 months, there will be some visible signs of an effective change.

Do you have any clear targets to achieve such as free healthcare??

 No, I cannot deliver free healthcare. I can only say that the terrible indicators that we have had – the worst in the UN Human Development Index – will improve. We will not be anywhere near the bottom five countries in the Index at the end of my first five years in power.

There is free primary education, there is free education for girls… We are going to lay emphasis on the quality of education. We are going to ensure that by the time I finish my first five-year term we will have universities in all the regions of the country.

Your government launched a commission of inquiry into your predecessor, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s government. What are its conclusions? ?

Bai Koroma timeline
1953 Born in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone??
1978 Began work for the Sierra Leone National
Insurance Company and worked in insurance
until getting into politics??
2002 Chosen as leader of the opposition
All People’s Congress
2007 Elected president after a run-off
against Solomon Berewa

 They are still working. They have just looked at the support given to the Ministry of Education for a $42m programme from the World Bank and other institutions to support the revitalisation of education, providing support for children in primary schools. The object is to examine the use to which public funds are put – we are of the view that we had support for the period but there is hardly anything to show for it. We want the commission to look into how the funds were managed and to come out with recommendations, not only punitive ones but reforms for the better management of funds.

Your country has spent tens of millions of dollars on trials and reconciliation efforts after the war – has it been worth it?

 We have taken the position that we need to consolidate peace and that we must implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We are adopting practical methods to ensure that everybody feels part of this country and that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. There will be economic development. When there is growth in the country, people feel engaged and happier.

What about the value of the trial of former Liberian warlord and president Charles Taylor which is currently taking place in the Hague?

I’d say it ensures the cycle of impunity comes to an end, that no one can just get up and shoot his way to power, because there are consequences. That’s the deterrent value that it will have with regard to people who want to acquire power through undemocratic means.

Zimbabwe: Ways out of the crisis

 

'Comprehensive Economic Recovery ?in Zimbabwe’?
UN Development Programme, New York

 

This report reckons it will take Zimbabwe at least a decade to return to living standards of 1990. It argues that the economy will need more than a revival of commercial farming and manufacturing to recover and proposes a new business model which would focus on mining, tourism and service industries. The authors, who are all Zimbabweans, say the recovery would need at least $5bn over the next five years, of which half would be used for debt relief.

 

‘Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe’?
Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations, New York

 

Michelle Gavin was co-chair of President Barack Obama’s working group on Africa policy, so her recommendation that the West should spend much more effort drawing together funding for a recovery plan will carry political weight. She advocates the establishment of a trust fund for Zimbabwe that will both encourage reformers within Zimbabwe and galvanise external funds in readiness to back a new government. Gavin also argues for a closer engagement with those of Zimbabwe’s neighbours who would be willing to promote regional reform.

 

SADC’s Global Political Agreement?
Mediated by South Africa’s former ?President Thabo Mbeki

 

The power-sharing agreement signed in September 2008 by Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara was intended to be the prelude to a new coalition government in which the the Movement for Democratic Change and the ruling ZANU-PF would have equal weight. To make this work, nominated prime minister Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe have to agree on the balance of power between their respective offices and on an equitable division of the ministerial portfolios. This proposal depends heavily on political goodwill to pass reforming legislation.

 

‘Ending Zimbabwe’s Nightmare: A Possible Way Forward’
?International Crisis Group, Brussels

 

ICG’s team, led by Zimbabwean journalist and writer Sydney Masamvu, proposes a transitional administration, in which neither Robert Mugabe nor Morgan Tsvangirai has a role, which would be run by non-partisan technocrats and mandated by parliament to implement fundamental economic and political reforms. It would also prepare for a fresh presidential election within 18 months. President Mugabe and his military allies would be given guarantees against domestic prosecution or extradition. Donors should agree to offer financing to the transitional administration under strict conditions of accountability.

 

Back to Zimbabwe, The enemies who could yet rescue each other

Zimbabwe: The enemies who could yet rescue each other

 

Despite their troubled relationship, President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have little option but ?to try again for a deal

 

Short of a political cataclysm, President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai will have to consummate their awkward marriage this year and attempt to run a power-sharing government. Out of desperation, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) still need each other.

 

?Tsvangirai knows that the MDC lacks the military might and regional support to topple Mugabe’s regime. Equally, Mugabe knows that the country will get no outside help to stop the economic free-fall that is undermining the foundations of his regime. ?

Ways out of the crisis

 

From the UN, Council on Foreign Relations,
SADC and International Crisis Group.
Read more.

 

Knox Chitiyo, head of the Africa programme at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said: “The MDC has no alternative. They have precious little African traction within the AU and SADC [Southern African Development Community] and won’t get it unless they agree to join an inclusive government, so they will.”?

 

Even some committed opposition supporters are urging Tsvangirai to join the power-sharing government and end the stalemate for fear of even more economic devastation and political violence by ZANU-PF’s militias.?

 

The sticking points in the deal are the allocation of ministerial portfolios and the relative power between Tsvangirai as the nominated prime minister and Mugabe, who insists he will remain executive president. Tsvangirai wants control of the internal affairs ministry and the police; Mugabe has offered a complex but probably unworkable system of dual control.

 

Annoying the neighbours

 

?Tsvangirai’s main source of hope is that SADC will pressure Mugabe to yield. This year six SADC countries – Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa – are holding national elections and for the first time the effects of Zimbabwe’s meltdown will be an issue for many voters. It will be difficult for SADC to stand by while Zimbabwe plunges further into chaos that is beginning to spread beyond its borders.?

 

South Africa’s presidential candidate Jacob Zuma has already signalled the need for tougher action. South Africa has strong reasons to act as xenophobia among its own people rises in the face of yet more Zimbabwean migration across the Limpopo.?

 

One South African initiative under discussion is to allow Zimbabwe to use the rand currency, if it agrees to fulfil some specific economic policy and political conditions. Although this would be a huge economic risk for South Africa in the short term if it helped to stabilise Zimbabwe, South Africa would benefit hugely from playing a leading role in the country’s recovery in the medium term.?

 

For the hard-line nationalists of ZANU-PF, such an option would be unspeakable, tantamount to Zimbabwe becoming South Africa’s tenth province. They are urging Mugabe to go for the ‘year zero’ option: refuse to make any concessions to Tsvangirai and continue to bludgeon his supporters, then form a minority government and earn a living by selling mining rights to China and Russia.?

 

ZANU-PF is divided over such strategies. The main split is between supporters of vice-president Joyce Mujuru and her husband, former army commander Solomon Mujuru, on the one hand, and former security minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and air force commander Perence Shiri on the other. Other fissures have emerged which seem to be linked to an attempt on Shiri’s life in December. Earlier that month, ZANU-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika was killed in a suspicious road accident.

 

No shortage of discontent?

 

According to John Makombe, politics professor at the University of Zimbabwe, disenchantment within the party is running so high that there could be “an attempt on [Mugabe’s] life”. Makombe dismisses the prospect of Mugabe calling fresh elections in 2009 because of the damage to his own weakening position.?

 

Another problem for ZANU-PF is that former home affairs minister and liberation war intelligence chief Dumiso Dabengwa has stormed out of the party and revived the old Zimbabwe African People’s Union grouping, which would be likely to win the Matabeleland provinces in another election – thus forcing ZANU-PF and MDC to fight it out for the rest of the country. ?

 

As important as the politics is the state of the military. After last year’s riots over soldiers’ wages, several officers were promoted to the senior levels of brigadier general and lieutenant colonel. The same has happened in the police and prison service. ?

 

Some believe that as long as Mugabe continues to buy off the colonels and the generals, the discontent in the ranks is unimportant. But as Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono sends truckloads of freshly-printed Zimbabwean dollars to the barracks, others say that the military’s anger at the national crisis is ready to boil over with unforeseeable consequences. That may be the most pressing reason for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to finally get together.

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