People to watch: Southern Africa
Namibia: Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah – Presidential contender
Namibia’s personable deputy prime minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, will be in pole position to become the country’s next head of state following her expected election as vice-president of the ruling SWAPO party in November 2017. Every party vice-president has gone on to be SWAPO candidate for national president, including current head of state Hage Geingob, whose second five-year term of office will end in 2024. Popular both within the party and outside, Nandi-Ndaitwah joined the cabinet as minister of women’s affairs and child welfare in 2000. She was appointed foreign affairs minister in 2012 and became deputy prime minister in March 2015.
Mozambique: Rogerio Lucas Zandamela – Head of the clean-up crew
Zandamela was plucked from the IMF by President Filipe Nyusi in September 2016 and appointed as central bank governor with a mandate to restore international credibility for a government that had badly misled donors. The economy’s dire challenges have included collapsing foreign reserves, a balance of payments crunch, a sovereign default and cleaning up bad loans in the domestic banking sector. Zandamela has let an overvalued exchange rate float, tightened monetary policy and brought in higher capital requirements that are driving a wave of consolidation among banks. One year on, the exchange rate and inflation have stabilised, foreign reserves are recovering and the governor is continuing to hold on to his job amid much squawking from the ruling elite.
Angola: José Massano – A reformer returns
Having been fired amidst claims that he was too reform-minded for the previous government of José Eduardo Dos Santos, José Massano is now back as head of Angola’s central bank. President João Lourenço reinstated Massano in October, showing with this and several other appointments and announcements that he intends to fight corruption and limit the influence of the Dos Santos family. Massano has a big job on his hands to restore confidence in the financial sector and bring back correspondent banking relationships, many of which have ended over graft fears. Stabilising the exchange rate and stemming inflation are other top priorities.
This article first appeared in the December-January 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine