Tue,23Dec2014

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Country Profile 2014: ZIMBABWE

 The nonagenarian's world of dreams

President Robert Mugabe will be celebrating his 90th birthday in February with perhaps part of his brain focused on how torepair Zimbabwe’s battered economy, as well as his own bruised image. He at least has the comfort of knowing that he and his party can rule once again without the need for awkward political partners,thanks to the result of the 31 July general elections, whereby he personally took 61% of votes as president and his Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won 160 of the 209 seats being contested.

 

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Country Profile 2014: ZAMBIA

Flag ZambiaMining giants feel the heat

While copper-based economic growth wil l continue to tempt the Zambian authorities to indulge in uncontrolled spending, it is at the same time encouraging tighter regulation of the large mining investors than seemed possible a few years ago. Government efforts to force companies to be more transparent about their tax affairs and to undertake more welfare-oriented activities have not always succeeded, but persistence could yet produce positive results.

 

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Country Profile 2014: SWAZILAND

More squeeze on Mswati

The lack of opportunity for meaningful political change could become a matter of secondary concern if the economic outlook does not improve soon.There even remains a possibility that, as Swaziland’s chronic joblessness increases and local prices soar, South Africa could yet choose to pull the plugon King Mswati’s outdated system of government and start to exert meaningful leverage rather than the soft threats it has issued so far.

 

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Country Profile 2014: SOUTH AFRICA

The going gets tougher for Zuma

Although the imminent electoral test of May 2014 is likely to prove the toughest yet for
the ruling African National Congress (ANC) since 1994, no one realistically expects the party to lose
power. The ANC says it is confident of a crushingvictory, but other assessments predict a sharp fall in the ANC’s share of the vote. Global financial services group Nomura forecasts a drop from 65.9% in 2009 to a little over 55%, with the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), increasing its share from 12.4% to 27%.

 

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Country Profile 2014: NAMIBIA

altSWAPO frontrunner on probation

As Namibia enters its 24th year as an entirely stable though rather stage-managed democracy, the signs are that the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) presidential hopeful Hage Geingob may not have as easy a ride to power as his two predecessors did. The former liberation movement is starting toshowits cracks now that the iconic Sam Nujoma is no longer at the helm or keeping a lid on dissent.

 

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Country Profile 2014: MOZAMBIQUE

altThe lure of new wealth stirs old tensions

Could appetites whetted by the promise of a resources bonanza derail the fragile peace and prosperity that Mozambique has carved out of its difficult recent past? High-quality coal reserves of 35bn tonnes, and offshore natural gas deposits that may largely exceed 100trn cubic feet have certainly changed the complexion of the political and economic environment.

 

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Country Profile 2014: MAURITIUS

Flag MauritiusOld partners for the next waltz

A new round of political alignments will edge into place in 2014 ahead of the 2015 parliamentary elections, testing the popularity and coalition-building abilities of Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam.
With his slim majority in parliament, he hopes the election will shore up his Labour Party, which has ruled since 2011 with the help of the Parti Mauricien Social Démocrate of finance minister Xavier-Luc
Duval; its previous partner, the Jugnauth political family’s Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM), left government after a corruption scandal.

 

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Country Profile 2014: MALAWI

Flag MalawiBanda’s Augean challenge

Initially welcomed as “a breath of fresh air” after her unexpected riseto power in 2012,President Joyce Banda will have to face the biggest fight of herpolitical life when she tries to renew her mandate in the elections due in May 2014.Thee mergence of a damaging corruption scandal in September 2013 cast
such a shadowof doubt on the honesty of those at the heart of her government that she herself now risks being tainted by association.

 

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Country Profile 2014: MADAGASCAR

Flag MadagascarMake or break elections

Madagascar may bebetter set for recovery in 2014, after a calm poll poured oil on troubled waters. The first round of presidential elections on 25 October saw Jean-Louis Robinson win the first round (with 21.1% of the vote) followed by Hery Rajaonarimampianina (15.9%). The two should face off on 20 December.

 

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Country Profile 2014: LESOTHO

 Flag LesothoTurning water into good news

With major agreements in place for work to start on the second phase of the giant Lesotho Highlands
Water Project (LHWP), this mountainous country’s fragile economic prospects could yet be transformed. For the foreseeable future, Lesotho is set to keep expanding its supply of much needed hydroelectric power and water to South Africa.

 

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Country Profile 2014: BOTSWANA

 

Flag BotswanaDiamonds sparkle now, but not forever

As elections approach in the secondhalf of 2014, the main campaigning issues can be expected to concern Botswana’s stubbornly high level ofunemployment – still at 17% despite decades of strong
economic growth – and its uncomfortably wide income inequality. However, withboth the opposition and unions divided, President Ian Khamashould face few problems winning a second term.

 

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Country Profile 2014: ANGOLA

Flag Angola Locked in a wealth trap

Angola’s next elections are not due until 2017, but the coming year will provecrucial for the ruling Movimen to Popularde Libertação de Angola (MPLA) if it is to maintain political and economic dominance in this oil-richcountry. Pressure on the government will increase in 2014 to start rollingout substantial public infrastructure works in time for the next vote. Expectations are high, given the economic recovery witnessed in 2013 after relatively slow growth in the wake of the global financial crisis.

 

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