CW 18/2021: Of division and rapprochement
Press Review 1 May 2021 to 7 May 2021

South Africa: Suspension of ANC Secretary General

In the wake of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to expose and fight corruption networks in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule was suspended on Monday. The suspension follows Magashule’s refusal to resign voluntarily. In fact, the ANC‘s national executive committee, led by Ramaphosa, had in late March asked all party members facing charges of corruption or other crimes to resign from their posts within 30 days. Magashule, as one of the six most powerful party members, is the highest-ranking person in the ANC currently facing trial for corruption. The 61-year-old is accused of embezzling public funds in 2014 during his tenure as premier of Free State, one of South Africa’s nine provinces. He is one of the supporters of former President Jacob Zuma, who ruled the republic from 2009 to 2018, and is also one of Ramaphosa’s strongest opponents within the party. On Wednesday, he called the suspension letter signed by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte unconstitutional. He has since appealed his suspension. This means that, in terms of the ANC constitution, his suspension is on hold for the time being until the appeal is heard and a final outcome announced. In addition, Magashule, for his part, demanded the temporary resignation of acting president Ramaphosa. The dispute reflects the ongoing power struggle between Ramaphosa and Zuma’s supporters within the ANC. While Ramaphosa appears eager to push for the renewal of the ANC after years of mismanagement, Zuma continues to be the focus of the so-called Zondo Commission, which is due to conclude its investigation into serious allegations of corruption in the “state capture” at the end of June.


Kenya and Tanzania: All signs point to a new beginning

With the aim of re-strengthening relations between the two countries again after years of strained relations, Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, travelled for two days  to Kenya this week. There, she met with her Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday and addressed the Kenyan parliament on Wednesday. This visit marks another important step in the normalisation of Tanzania’s relations with its East African neighbours, following Suluhu Hassan’s trip to Uganda. Under Suluhu Hassan’s predecessor, the late John Magufuli, the country had increasingly distanced itself from the rest of the East African Community. Relations with Kenya in particular had suffered from mutual accusations of unfair trade practices and economic rivalry. Differences over the handling of the Corona pandemic had caused further disgruntlement between the two neighbors during the tenure of Magufuli, who visited Kenya officially only once in five years, and led to an interim border closure. Against this background, the results of Suluhu’s visit to Nairobi are considered a great success: As part of the current negotiations, it was agreed to build a pipeline for liquefied natural gas between the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The $1 billion project is said to be just the beginning of a long-term plan to share energy resources between the two countries. In addition, passenger and goods traffic on Lake Victoria, which connects the two East African countries, is to be resumed. It was also agreed to mutually lift work visa requirements, which is expected to boost trade and economic relations in particular. While Kenya remains the largest investor in Tanzania, with 513 projects totaling $1.7 billion, trade between the two nations has recently been on the decline. Ultimately, the two nations agreed to cooperate on fighting the Corona pandemic, in addition to further infrastructure projects and increased cultural exchange. Thus, Suluhu Hassan’s visit can also be seen as another sign of a departure from her predecessor’s policies.


In other news

Since Thursday this week, the eighth edition of the Nigerian film festival Nollywood Week has been taking place – but this time, for the first time, the event is completely virtual. Online tickets can be purchased from €20, giving access to various films and events. Under the motto #blackstoriesmatter, around 30 short and feature films by filmmakers from Nigeria and eleven other countries will be screened for four days to speak out against racism and discrimination. At the end of the week, the film with the highest audience rating will receive the audience award: a professional camera equipment for future projects. The festival also aims to raise awareness of the need to support the cultural sector, which has been severely affected by the pandemic. After last year’s festival had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, this year’s event gives hope again. Those who still want to get their hands on a ticket can do so here.



On Wednesday, the podcast 55Countries was launched. Once a month, a new episode will be released in which Julian Hilgers, a freelance journalist from Cologne, aims to contribute to a more differentiated picture of the African continent in a constructive way. The first episode deals with the way the German media reports on Africa. If you want to listen, you can do so on Spotify, Apple or other podcast providers.

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