From oil crisis, Zambia’s debt to Libya’s vote, what to look out for in June

By The Africa Report
Posted on Thursday, 19 May 2022 10:12

Tracey Rose, Lucie’s Fur Version 1:1:1 – The Messenger, 2003, Lambda photograph, 80 x 60 cm. Courtesy the artist and Dan Gunn, London.
Tracey Rose, Lucie’s Fur Version 1:1:1 – The Messenger, 2003, Lambda photograph, 80 x 60 cm. Courtesy the artist and Dan Gunn, London.

From art to oil, with some politics thrown in for good measure, we outline what to look out for in June.

Exhibition

Beware, Babylon

South African multimedia artist Tracey Rose inhabits the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town until 28 August.

The museum says: ‘This body of work is an important investigation around post-apartheid legacies and liberation movements, and uses the body – often Rose’s own body – as a site for protest, outrage, resistance and pertinent discourse.’

Named after Rose’s iconic 2015 installation Shooting Down Babylon (The Art of War), this retrospective runs the gamut of her film, performances and paintings investigating identity, rituals and violence over three decades. It includes ten new commissions and a programme of performative interventions by the artists.

In brief, the Zeitz MOCAA chief curator Koyo Kouoh calls this a “profound exhibition” that she is “thrilled” to finally present after it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Oil: A crisis boost?

June represents the end of the extended compensation period for underperforming countries agreed by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in December 2021. With the Republic of Congo holding OPEC’s rotating presidency and a Nigerian, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, as its secretary-general, Africa plays a critical role in the organisation’s response to the rapid rise in oil prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics

Africa CEO Forum

The postponed Africa CEO Forum takes place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 13-14 June. The business-focused event will debate economic challenges and opportunities for the continent.

Zambia: Debt distress

Zambia is on a long and painful road to economic recovery. The landlocked Southern African country was the only state in the continent to default on its debt during the Covid-19 crisis, which occurred despite a series of measures from international organisations to help developing countries deal with the economic disruptions of the pandemic. Zambia’s economic problems were a major factor in the August 2021 election victory of long-time oppositionist Hakainde Hichilema, who campaigned on his business experience and plans to fight the corruption that took hold under former president Edgar Lungu.

 

Source: IMF

 

The Lusaka government is counting on an aid programme from the IMF to help turn the economy around and convince investors that it means business. The two sides agreed on a $1.4bn deal in December, with finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane saying that he hopes to get the international financial institution’s approval by May or June.

The IMF says that Hichilema’s team has to get a grip on the country’s finances and come up with a plan to pay down the country’s debt. The previous government borrowed billions from China for road building and other projects.

IMF officials have not yet been able to complete their debt sustainability analysis for the country, which is a key step in the bailout process. Now the IMF insists that Lusaka must provide transparency about all of the loans and reschedule its debts to get some breathing space. The Zambian finance ministry hopes to have a deal on debt restructuring by June, but that process is complicated by having to negotiate with its various state and private-­sector lenders.

Musokotwane and his team are aiming to cut subsidies on ­electricity, fuel and agricultural inputs, but these budget cuts are likely to be politically unpopular. Removing fuel subsidies alone could save the government an estimated $800m per year. The IMF is currently predicting that the country will record weak growth over the next few years, with GDP rising by less than two per cent each year until at least 2026.

Libya: Vote uncertainty

With rival governments, warring parties and foreign mercenaries on the ground, holding elections in Libya is a major challenge for political, security and logistical reasons.

The presidential elections set for December 2021 did not take place due to disputes over the rules of candidature. Many of the Tripoli government’s international backers are pushing for the vote to be held by June, but the country’s weak institutions and unresolved conflicts suggest that, even if a vote is held, it will not put Libya onto a path to sustainable peace. Candidates for the June elections are likely to include Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar, interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

South Africa’s ANC

‘I will hear from the [ANC] leadership about stepping aside’, said Bathabile Dlamini. Convicted of perjury, the ANC Women’s League leader awaits her fate at the ANC June elections.

Appointments

Ruwayda Redfearn

Ruwayda Redfearn’s journey to the top post at professional services firm Deloitte Africa began with a trainee job at Deloitte in Durban in 1997. After chairing the Deloitte Africa Board, in June she will become the company’s first woman CEO.

Anne Muraya

With the promotion of Kenya’s Anne Muraya in June, Deloitte East Africa is also getting its first female chief executive. Like Redfearn (above), she also got her start with Deloitte in the 1990s. Her specialisations include auditing and responsible business practices.

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