South Africa's stimulus package shows power is finely balanced in the ANC

1 week ago
Cyril Ramaphosa's economic stimulus package shows that he and his political allies are in charge of economic policy. GCIS

The economic stimulus package announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa shows that he and his political allies are, contrary to much analysis in recent months, in charge of economic policy.

Ramaphosa insists that it is a ‘bold’ attempt to initiate economic change which will particularly benefit youth, women and small businesses . It rests partly, he adds, on ‘significant regulatory reform’.

But the package is more interesting for what it says about the politics of economic decision-making in South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) than for its likely impact on the economy.

Certainly, it does not signal readiness by Ramaphosa and his allies to use their power to introduce much-needed reforms. In an article in the financial press explaining the thinking behind the package, Ramaphosa acknowledged that it rested not on new ideas but on trying to get the government to do what it has already said it will do. He wrote that it was “tempting to unleash novel policy directions” but it was far more important “to build a track record of successful implementation.”

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Cameroon presidential poll underscores the need for term limits

1 week 1 day ago
Cameroonian President Paul Biya votes in the presidential elections in the capital Yaounde. He has been in power for 36 years. EFE/EPA/Nic Bothma

The official results of Cameroon’s October 7, 2018 presidential election are due in two weeks. But they’re not expected to yield any surprises. Paul Biya (85), who became president in 1982, is almost certain to retain power for a seventh term. If he wins and stays in power until 2025 – the end of his next term – he would have run the country for a whopping 43 years. His overextended rule has been marked by corruption, patronage politics, and a largely absent president.

The election has taken place amid a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity. Municipal and legislative elections were postponed by a year because of too volatile a space, though government cited more technical reasons. Only senatorial elections were held in March 2018.

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How the Ugandan media has borne the brunt of censorship for decades

1 week 2 days ago
Uganda has a long history of media censorship under President Yoweri Museveni. Ian Langsdon/EPA

The world watched in outrage recently as Reuters photojournalist, James Akena, was clobbered by three soldiers on the streets of Uganda’s capital Kampala in full view of television cameras. Akena was covering the demonstrations for the release of Robert Kyagulanyi, a member of parliament and pop singer also known as Bobi Wine.

Yoweri Museveni, who has been the East African country’s president for the past 32 years, tried to explain away the attack. He said he’d been informed that it was a case of mistaken identity – Akena had been mistaken for a camera thief.

But for many in the media this was nothing new, as intimidation and violence is an almost daily threat. Uganda is now ranked 117th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2017.

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