Southern Africa | People to watch in 2019
SOUTH AFRICA | Sisi Ntombela
Free State firefighter
Free State premier Sisi Ntombela has a tough time ahead – not only to clean up years of maladministration and corruption in the province but also to turn around bankrupt municipalities, deal with service delivery problems and then mend relations between different African National Congress (ANC) factions ahead of the 2019 election. As a former ANC Women’s League deputy president, Ntombela, 61, has been close to controversial ANC leaders like the disgraced former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini and former Free State premier Ace Magashule, who now runs the ANC party headquarters.
ByCrystal OrdersonPhoto: F. DLANGAMANDLA/FOTO24/GALLO/GETTY
ANGOLA | Manuel Vicente
After the fall
The former vice-president and one-time Sonangol boss appeared to have been sidelined after being charged with corruption in Portugal in 2017. But insiders say that Manuel Vicente is actually running the oil sector and may get a new position in government. Widely regarded as a loyal soldier for ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos, it has emerged Vicente was playing a longer game, discreetly putting his weight behind João Lourenço, who succeeded Dos Santos in 2017. The oilman’s fall from grace is understood to have been engineered by Dos Santos. The rehabilitation of Vicente may affect the credibility of Lourenço’s anti-corruption campaign.
By Louise Redvers
SOUTH AFRICA | Job Mokgoro
Head of the clean-up crew
Job Mokgoro, 70, has been involved in government administration since 1994 and was the first director-general of the North West. He had the huge task of integrating three former homeland government administrations into one. More than 20 years later, as the province’s premier, he has got the tough job of cleaning up years of corruption. In May, the North West became the first province in the country to be placed under administration, with the national government running the province. The governing African National Congress believes that the government veteran will be able to clean up the mess left behind by former premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Photo: THAPELO MOREBUDI/SUNDAY TIMES/GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES
MOZAMBIQUE | Ossufo Momade
After the fall
Opposition party Renamo’s new leader will assume a pivotal peace-building role in 2019 over whether an accord to end civil conflict can be implemented, despite government cheating in the last municipal elections that are a forerunner for national polls in October. Ossufo Momade is trying to balance Renamo’s interest in securing gains promised by the peace agreement – elected opposition control of provincial governorships, integration of personnel into the security services – versus pushback against pro-regime irregularities and provocation from government hardliners.
Photo: ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP
MALAWI |Saulos Chilima
Young gun turns on the old guard
Promising to “save the country from destruction and corruption”, it was surprising how long this young businessman-turned-politician lasted in the government of President Peter Mutharika, 76. Fearing the popularity of his deputy and his intentions to run in presidential elections planned for 2019, Mutharika sacked the vice-president Saulos Chilima in October. The 46-year-old former Airtel Malawi managing director has formed the United Transformation Movement, which is organising hugely popular rallies criticising Mutharika’s administration.
Photo: All rights Reserved
ZAMBIA | Laura Miti
Waste not, want not
Laura Miti is a fearless activist on the subject of accountability in the spending of public resources, which has earned her the ire of the government. She told Amnesty International in October that “dictatorial regimes only give as much as is demanded by citizens.” The leader of the Alliance for Community Action, a non-governmental organisation for public resource accountability, helped to oversee two recent demonstrations against President Edgar Lungu’s government. She is now in court after being arrested for having questioned and protested against expenditures of $42m on ambulances.
By Nandi Geloo
Photo: SALIM DAWOOD/AFP
This article first appeared in December-January 2019 print edition of The Africa Report