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The crisis of the party-state in South Africa
August 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

Image by Paul Saad. Via

Image by Paul Saad. Via

Left critics often cast South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) as an organization under the thrall of a homogenous elite, wedded to neoliberalism and the old economic structure.  Recent events have blown this interpretation open. The ANC elite is in fact sharply divided, and one faction seems largely impervious to corporate South Africa’s immense economic power.

A better understanding of the ANC’s incumbency can be gleaned from political scientist Roger Southall’s notion of a “party-state” which pinpoints how the ANC’s tenure in government has transformed it into a sort of machine through which different class forces and interest groups attempt to secure access to public sector jobs, contracts and other resources.

The party-state has empowered a ‘state elite’ who occupy cabinet positions and directorships in SOEs (State-Owned Enterprises, like ESKOM, Transnet, Denel and PetroSA), but it also been the vehicle for a much wider process of class formation, argues South in his book, “Liberation Movements in Power” (now also available in paperback).  Equity stipulations adopted by the public sector and the ANC’s fulsome embrace of political rather than merit-based appointment have turned it into the primary site for the creation of a new black middle class.

Two other groups have gained most from the ANC’s time in government. The first Southall terms the “corporate black bourgeoisie”–black businesspeople who succeeded in penetrating the boardrooms and share structures of corporate South Africa, many rising up in the initial waves of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in which white business energetically sought to recruit political allies.

The second are a more diffuse class of capitalists who don’t enjoy such strong connections with the corporate economy. They are reliant instead on the ever burgeoning procurement spend of the state, which now comprises 42% of the total public budget ($372,9 billion) according to one report.

The current conflict is defined by the principal opposition of these two groups, with the rest of the party-state aligning according to different interests, ideologies and contingencies. The faction formed around current President Jacob Zuma is stronger in the provinces, where former Bantustan administrations that were sequestered into the new state have continued uninterrupted traditions of clientelism and cronyism.

But Zuma also draws wide support from individuals defending little fiefs of patronage throughout the party-state as well as middle class elements that are most alienated from the white dominated corporate sector and receptive to radical transformation.

The biggest drawcard for the camp of Zuma’s main rival, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, meanwhile is a generalized fear of electoral defeat which would jeopardize the viability of the party-state altogether. This is most felt in areas where patronage politics is less ingrained, although even the Zuma faction is not immune – witness the recent vacillation and possible defection of David Mabuza, premier of Mpumalanga province and formerly a key backer of the president.

Ramaphosa’s main support is rooted in regions of the party-state that have preserved credible institutions and elements of the Alliance where at least a measure of grassroots pressure is still felt, but he is also joined by individuals motivated by principle and wanting to arrest the decline of a once-proud organization.

Debating Anti-Corruption Politics 

Two positions on how civil society and the left should engage these developments, and the wider crisis of state capture, have dominated. One argues that working people simply have no dog in inter-elite conflicts: we lose with whichever faction is in power, so we’re better off not getting involved at all.

A second sees the fight against corruption as preeminent, and urges us to forge as broad a coalition as possible by suppressing our separate demands: making the fight solely about corruption and nothing else.

The veteran activist Zackie Achmat, on behalf of the #UniteBehind campaign, has defined a different, and I think more sensible approach. He acknowledges that different elites stand to win whichever way the conflict pans out, but doesn’t view the result as neutral for workers. Among other things, the Zuma faction is the far greater threat to democracy, and its perseverance promises a renewed slide towards the securitization of politics and abuse of the judicial independence.

Achmat is right – if the Zuma and the Guptas are unimpeded, the political environment will become much more hostile to efforts to build countervailing power against whichever faction of the elite happens to hold sway.

However, I think #UniteBehind was mistaken to have given the main platform to former Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas, at its march Monday ahead of the no-confidence vote in Parliament today.  The left should work with all who oppose state capture, but we urgently need to imprint our own politics on the movement – we can’t afford to allow corporate South Africa and its allies to continue to pose as the main enemies of corruption.

The policies pursued by the National Treasury and strongly supported by large-scale capital haven’t just been bad for working people because they destroy jobs and lower wages. They also produce the conditions in which patronage has taken root.

Patronage and Transformation

The party-state thesis encourages us to see the ANC and its 1,2 million members not as a narrow organization welded to one or another ideology, but as a larger social field shaped by the cleavages of a post-colonial society.

We need to emphasize this: cronyism and parasitism haven’t beset the ANC simply as a corollary of its own arrogance or through the influence of one or many nefarious individuals. They are intimately a product of the social landscape in which the party is embedded, and have festered most where the wounds of colonialism and its successors are deepest.

When the formal economy has most failed to create avenues for social mobility, the demands on the party-state—and the returns to patronage—have been greatest. This is so in areas left largely untouched by the corporate sector: destitute rural communities and townships where an incredible scarcity of employment intensifies the pressure on public functionaries to distribute jobs and resources to personal networks, greatly enriching those willing to do so.

It’s so in areas where the corporate economy is very much present, yet closed to new entrants. When black professionals experience an inability to advance because of a hostile corporate culture, because of old-boy networks, or simply because of a lack of new openings, they harden their attachment to the party-state. They become more sympathetic to any project that widens the domain of the state or directs its resources more forcefully to enrichment.

More widely, when new entrepreneurs experience an inability to grow because of entrenched monopolies or a poor economic outlook, they are more likely to pursue expansion through tenders and to invest in political relationships rather than innovation. They are more likely to excuse corruption as “transformation” and less likely to share large-scale capital’s concern with delimiting the authority of the state and guarding the independence of its institutions.

Patronage, in other words, flourishes where transformation flounders.

Conversely of course, new middle and upper classes are more likely to espouse capitalism’s supposed affinity for Weberian bureaucracy and state neutrality when they have a greater stake in the formal economy. When the corporate sector is not a world closed to them, when they share in its wealth and gain from its growth, they will root for a state that husbands enterprise and defends itself from takeover by sectional interests.

White capitalists understood this on some level – that’s why they worked so quickly to inculcate a network of political allies through share transfers as democracy was dawning. Ultimately this was an elitist strategy designed to forestall real transformation rather than further it.

It was transformation on the cheap. New black capitalists grew fabulously wealthy but remained few in number. Many slipped the leash somewhat by pushing for a slightly more assertive BEE policy, but ultimately they acted faithfully to defend big businesses’ core concern of keeping capital mobile and state regulation and spending confined.

The Treasury provided the greatest service to capital’s ability to resist transformation by exposing South Africa to the full discipline of financial markets. So whenever the transformation agenda threatened to escape the bounds of a gradualist and market driven framework, capital responded vociferously – like in 2002 when R2 billion was wiped off mining shares following the leak of a draft charter on mining transformation.

The Rise of the Patronage Faction

As Southall’s extensive scholarship shows, for all its various amendments, BEE has been tethered to the pace of the market. It spurts when asset markets and growth go up and reverses when they come down.

Thus the stock market boom of the late 1990s created the first tranche of black millionaires, then subsequently wiped many of them out when the East Asian crisis triggered a collapse. Most indexes of transformation floundered for several years after, but then lit up as SA experienced its only brief phase of high growth on the back of the global headwinds that ultimately ended in the 2008 crash.

The data on transformation since then is scandalous and under remarked in public debates. The one figure which has received wide circulation is share ownership, which the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) puts around 17% and Zuma puts around 3%, with the difference largely made up of indirect share ownership through pension funds.

Data from a black empowerment consultancy shows that black directorships on the JSE grew by 48% between 2006 and 2008 from 485 to 714 during BEE’s short bull phase. Between 2009 and 2012 they grew by less than 10%. In the four following years, according to the consultancy Who Owns Whom, there was virtually zero net growth in number of black directorships on the JSE – which numbered only 1043 in 2016 (the number of actual individuals who hold directorships is smaller since many hold more than one). Only around 15% of these directors have held executive positions in any given year.

The Commission for Employment Equity’s 2008 report found that non-white South Africans comprised only 23,3% of top management positions in the private sector (blacks made up 12,5%). In 2016 non-whites comprised 24,4% (with the black share shrinking to 10,7%).

There has been, in other words, virtually no diversification at the highest level of the private sector over the last eight years, and the trend in other managerial occupational grades is more or less the same.

Static proportions can always conceal changing absolutes, but in this case they mostly don’t. The reason that transformation has stagnated is that South African conglomerates have largely directed their attention abroad since the 2008 crash ended our debt and housing-driven growth spurt.

The meager growth that was sustained came only because the state was willing to pick up some of the slack, running constant deficits of around 3,4% of GDP and continuing to create jobs where the private sector has retreated. At a macroeconomic level the consequence has been a looming public debt crisis, a grave threat to the party-state machine which the new finance minister Malusi Gigaba is desperately trying to head off with (radically transformative) firesales of public assets.

At a political level the consequence has been a revanchist patrimonialism, aggrandizing those in the party-state who have no truck with the private sector, who support any project to use state power to crack open white dominance of the economy, no matter how dubious its protagonists. Lobbyists of black professionals and tenderpreneurs made their split with white business early when the Black Management Forum left the Business Unity South Africa in 2011 – since then they have become important backers of Zuma and Gupterization.

Other sections of the alliance that brought Zuma to power on the other hand, those with a popular base, have been weathered by the effects of the economic crisis and the contradictions of fighting for working class gains within a party beholden to middle- and upper-class interests. The famous slogan of Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of the country’s largest trade union (in an alliance with the ANC), of a “Lula Moment” demanded that Zuma ditch his business backers and pivot to the workers and communists that brought him to power. Instead, he’s done the opposite.

The Treasury’s macroeconomic policies shaped the context in which these shifts occurred. That’s why we can’t afford to stave our critiques of them and other groups even as we march in the same demonstrations.

Fighting corruption is a precondition for improving socio-economic conditions, as Achmat points out. But improving socio-economic conditions may also be a precondition for fighting corruption. We need a movement that builds power for both struggles at the same time. The #UniteBehind initiative seems as good a place to start as any.

*Culled from Africa is a country

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Zimbabwe’s bond notes being smuggled to neighbouring SADC countries
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Dr Caleb Fundanga

Dr Caleb Fundanga

Zimbabwe’s bond notes are being smuggled to neighbouring
countries like Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa, where informaltraders are reported to be accepting them, despite their official need for domestic use, according to Dr Caleb Fundanga, ExecutiveDirector of theMacro-economic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) whose regional office is in Harare.

Fundanga, who was key note speaker at the Zimbabwe quoted
companies 2017 awards held in Harare, said that the pegging of the
Zimbabwe current bonds notes at par with the United States (US$)
dollar has generated strong demand for the currency even out of the
country’s borders.

The situation has generated speculative tendencies with a parallel
market trading in currencies emerging unlike in the past 2008-09
period where the local bond faced rejection even beyond the country’s borders. Fundanga said that bond notes are trading at a discount of 15 to 20% per US$100.He also added that the central bank in Zimbabwe has up to now not reached the $200 million bond equivalent threshold which it had announced that it had bargained for creating severe shortages in the financial market.

Fundanga said that it is critical to note that the economy of
Zimbabwe has undergone various phases since independence in 1980.The phases include the hyper-inflationary period of 2000 to 2008, multi-currency system adopted in February 2009 and most recently, the era of bond notes.

“In each of the economic phases that the Zimbabwean economy has gone though, new opportunities have emerged and new challenges have been faced which require new solutions. In each phase, economic agents are affected in different ways and also devise different measures, good and bad, to cope with the situation at hand. Both positive and negative outcomes have emerged,” Fundanga said.

He said since the coming of the bond notes, the Zimbabwe economy has been facing new challenges, requiring new solutions.Fundanga said bond notes in circulation are limited and the US dollars have become scarce, resulting in stringent daily bankwithdrawal limits.

Currency deposits have also dwindled and the use of plastic money has increased significantly. He says that some amount of cash is still required for transacting in the informal sector where plastic money devises are not available.

“Traders are finding it hard to get customers due to cash shortages.
Long bank queues are now the order of the day, once again. Domestic demand for commodities has declined significantly, as a result.

Production is also going down, in tandem,” Fundanga said.
It is also reported that in the advent of bond notes, a new
three-tier market pricing system has emerged in the country.

Retailers are reported to be now giving discounts to purchases using US dollars in cash and no discounts for swiping using a bank debit card or bond notes.

The three-tier pricing system is reported to have resulted in an
increase in average market prices.

“At the same time, however, it is a boon for those who have large sumsof US dollar cash as they are able to reap the 15 to 20% premiums in selling US dollars. While it is lucrative business, it discourages productive sectors or long term projects where gains take time to berealised,” Fundanga added.

He adds that the current era of bond notes presents more serious
policy challenges. He says that to a large extent, the current cash
shortages reflect the deep seated structural challenges in the real
economy, which policy makers are seized with.

Fundanga adds that from a policy perspective, it is critical that
the policy agenda promulgated in the key policy blue prints, which
include the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic
Transformation (ZIMASSET) running from 2013 to 2018 is implemented in full.

He says that the economic environment in which ZIMASSET was based on has changed. He adds that for example, the bond notes that are currently in use were not envisaged.

Fundanga says that given the fast changing economic environment, it is critical and timely that the government of Zimbabwe makes a clear and final decision on how to proceed regarding the currency options.He says deeper dialogue on currency options has to be opened.

“Government needs to make a bold decision by pronouncing the optimal policy choice given the alternative options that have come out of dialogue so far. The optimal choice should be to hault the prevailing currency crisis. Closer engagement with the Zimbabwe diaspora community is also advisable given the critical nature of this group regarding investments and remittances,” he said.

Fundanga said that much talk has centred on Zimbabwe adopting the rand currency, but for the currency option to be agreed on, there
should be national consensus by all key stakeholders as to how to move forward.

“It is however, important to emphasise that if the currency option
chosen is to succeed, it should be accompanied by strong fiscal
discipline,” he said.

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Rihanna is giving bikes to girls in Malawi to help their education
August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Rihanna is giving bikes to girls in Malawi to help them get an education.

It’s part of a new partnership between the singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation and Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo.

The campaign called 1 Km Action will fund scholarships to help hundreds of girls attend secondary schools in Malawi.

Those who qualify for a scholarship will receive bikes to make sure they get to school.

According to the foundation, there are approximately 4.6 million students across Malawi but only 8% of students complete secondary school.

One of the reasons for this is because of the poor transport links.

“I’m so happy about the Clara Lionel Foundation’s new partnership with Ofo because it will help so many young people around the world receive a quality education,” Rihanna said.

“And also help the young girls of Malawi get to school safely, cutting down those very long walks they make to and from school all alone.”

Rihanna has a reputation for being a humanitarian.

Through her foundation, which is named after her grandparents, she has focused on providing children with access to education in over 60 developing countries, giving priority to girls.

Her efforts helped win her Harvard University’s Humanitarian of the Year award.



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August 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
CFA President Melvin Foote  with Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, the  African Union Ambassador to the United States.

CFA President Melvin Foote with Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, the African Union Ambassador to the United States.

WASHINGTON, DC (August 3, 2017) – The Constituency for Africa (CFA) announces its collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University for the 2017 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series. This year’s Series will be held from September 18th through September 23rd in Washington, DC.

“I am excited about CFA’s partnership with the African Union and George Washington University,” stated Mr. Melvin P. Foote, CFA’s Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with both institutions in previous years, and our collaboration this year affords CFA the opportunity to more closely align our efforts with the AU and George Washington University to engage the Diaspora on meaningful policy issues that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.”

The theme of the 2017 Ronald H. Brown Series is “Mobilizing the Diaspora in Support of the U.S.-Africa Agenda.” The purpose of the Series will be to bring together stakeholders from the U.S., Africa, and throughout the Diaspora to assess the U.S. Administration’s Africa policy, and to identify challenges and opportunities. Participants in the Ronald H. Brown Series will discuss critical issues in a number of key areas, including Healthcare Infrastructure, Democracy & Governance, Trade & Investment, Next Generation Leadership, Agriculture, and Diaspora Engagement. Based on these discussions, CFA and its partners will produce a Diaspora strategy to include policy recommendations for the U.S. Administration and the AU.

Over the first three days of the Ronald H. Brown Series, CFA will convene several policy roundtables at the AU Mission in Washington, DC. “The AU looks forward to hosting CFA and its participants. Over the years, we have followed CFA’s work closely, and believe that CFA is having tremendous impact on U.S.-Africa policy. Additionally – and just as important – CFA’s work to educate and mobilize the African Diaspora is consistent with one of our key activities at the AU Mission. The AU is fully aware that sustainable development in Africa must involve the African Diaspora,” said H.E. Arikana Chihombori, the AU’s Permanent Representative to the U.S.

After the conclusion of the policy roundtables, CFA will convene a U.S.-Africa Policy Forum hosted by the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. In 2016, this Policy Forum was Co-Chaired by the Honorable Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia; and His Excellency Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia.  “Last year’s U.S.-Africa Policy Forum was a tremendous success,” said Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA), who hosted and moderated the Forum. “Based on our experience last year, ESIA expects the upcoming U.S.-Africa Policy Forum to provide a platform for a robust and productive policy discussion. I look forward to an exchange of ideas, and the development of substantive policy recommendations for the U.S. Government and the African Union.” ESIA will also host the CFA Chairman’s Reception on the evening of Wednesday, September 20th.

For more information on this year’s Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series and to register for events, please visit

For over 26 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading, non-partisan organizations focused on educating and mobilizing the American public and the African Diaspora in the U.S. on U.S.-Africa policy.  As a result, CFA has helped to increase the level of cooperation and coordination among a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations committed to the progress, development, and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide.

The African Union Representational Mission to the U.S. is the first bilateral diplomatic mission of the African Union. Officially launched on July 11, 2007 in Washington, DC, its mandate is to undertake, develop, and maintain constructive and productive institutional relationships between the African Union and the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government, the African Diplomatic Corps, the Africans in the Diaspora, and the Bretton Woods Institutions.


About the Elliott School of International Affairs

The George Washington University has educated generations of international leaders and advanced the understanding of important global issues since 1821. The Elliott School of International Affairs, named in honor of former GW President Lloyd H. Elliott and his wife Evelyn, is dedicated to this mission. ESIA trains its students in the theory and practice of international affairs, offering them in-depth analysis of international economic, political, scientific and cultural issues. The School’s widely respected faculty prepares Elliott School students for global careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

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Heads of State and business leaders to gather once again in Sharm El Sheikh for Africa 2017
August 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Over 1,000 delegates expected during the three-day forum to discuss and collaborate on African trade and investment

CAIRO, Egypt, August 2, 2017/ — The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and COMESA Regional Investment Agency announced today the holding of Africa 2017 (, a high-level forum offering participants an unparalleled platform for promoting trade and investment within Africa. The Forum will be held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt on 7-9 December 2017, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The three-day conference will convene high-level delegations of leaders in business and policy from across Africa and worldwide, including heads of state and some of the most important CEOs of the continent.

Africa 2017 will kick-off with a Young Entrepreneurs Day (YED) that will bring together emerging entrepreneurs with more established ones, in addition to mentors, start-up hubs, angel investors and venture capital firms, to share ideas, network and help drive further the business ideas of tomorrow. The Africa 2017 YED has partnered with top-notch incubators, entrepreneurship programmes and VC funds. Egypt is known across Africa and the Middle East to have developed pro-innovation ecosystems where emerging entrepreneurs have been able to flourish.

In 2015, Egypt hosted the Tripartite Summit where a free trade agreement was signed, bringing together three regional economic communities, SADC, EAC and COMESA, effectively creating, with its 26 Member States, the largest trading block on the continent. This ‘borderless economy’ would rank as 15th in the world in terms of GDP.

Speaking on the Forum, H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, reiterated the African opportunity based on business-minded reforms taking place across the continent: “The Forum has the objective of promoting investments into our continent, and especially cross-border investments. In Egypt, we have undertaken an ambitious economic reform programme, of which a key ingredient is improving the business environment and overall country competitiveness. Such efforts go hand-in-hand with our commitment to serve as a strategic gateway for Africa and the world.”

As part of the Forum, Egypt will be showcasing its flagship mega-projects including the construction of a new capital city 45km outside of Cairo, and a number of industrial and special economic zone projects along the Suez Canal, among others.

This Forum reinforces Egypt’s commitment to support and enhance the economic and cultural integration of Africa and to spur investment into what is still one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

Commenting on the sustained investor confidence with regards to Africa and the Forum, Heba Salama, COMESA Regional Investment Agency Director, says that “Africa, and in particular the COMESA Region, continues to offer some of the best returns on investment in the world. Africa 2017 will be an unparalleled occasion to gather the architects of Africa’s future and drive further the transformative investment projects of tomorrow”.

The Forum is by invitation only. Interested parties can apply for an invitation through the event website

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Why Madonna’s Children’s Hospital in Malawi Is a Complete Game Changer
August 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Madonna’s relationship with Malawi began when she adopted her son David Banda from the country in 2006 and daughter Mercy James in 2009. She also adopted twins Esther and Stella earlier this year. But Madonna wasn’t content merely growing her family; she wanted to give back to Malawi in a bigger way — hence, the Mercy James Centre, named after her 11-year-old daughter. Getting here, however, was a very bumpy road.

The 45-bed facility, centrally located in the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) compound, is dedicated to children’s surgery and includes the country’s first pediatric intensive care unit. Mercy herself spoke at the opening ceremony on July 12, thanking her mother and all of the partners involved in the construction of the hospital. Malawi President Peter Mutharika also took the podium and officially adopted Madonna as the “daughter of Malawi” in appreciation of her “motherly heart.”

Malawi’s infant mortality rate is incredibly high (44.80 per 1,000 births, versus 5.8 per 1,000 in the United States) due to a lack of sophisticated equipment and medicine, not to mention the long distances families must travel to receive care. According to Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi, the new facility will help the QECH double the number of surgeries performed on children each year, as well as provide preoperative and postoperative care. It is, in the words of pediatric surgeon Dr. Eric Borgstein, “a game changer for Malawi.”

Since its opening less than three weeks ago, the MJC has already treated 313 patients, and a remarkable 73 children have undergone successful operations, according to hospital director Venancio Kapalamula. He also reports that patients are traveling to the new facility from all over the country, and of the more than 300 treated, 238 were admitted into the hospital and 75 were treated as outpatients.

The pediatric hospital is even more remarkable when you consider Madonna’s previous charity projects in Malawi, which have been blighted with controversies, including a very public row with former President Joyce Banda and court battles with previous employees.

An Obstacle Course to Adoption

Madonna’s Malawi obstacles started with the adoptions of David and Mercy, which were challenging due to Malawi’s archaic adoption laws that date back to the pre-independence colonial period in 1949. In the case of David, the law in Malawi did not allow someone who was not living in Malawi to adopt a child, and Madonna had to appeal the case before the adoption was granted.

The second adoption, too, faced legal huddles. At the time Madonna applied to adopt Mercy James, she had just divorced from Guy Ritchie. The court in Malawi turned her down on grounds that she was a divorcee and therefore unfit to raise a family as a single parent. Again, she had to appeal the case before she was granted adoption.

The adoption of the twins has been a smoother affair because of the remarkable growth of David and Mercy. This, coupled with the successful completion of the MJC hospital, has renewed confidence that Madonna only means well for the children and the country. Meanwhile, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked government to expedite amendments to the adoption law in order to protect children.

Raising Malawi’s Bumpy Road

Madonna’s first project in Malawi was the Raising Malawi Academy For Girls, a $15 million school outside of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, that planned to enroll 500 girls annually. However, in 2011, one year after laying the foundation stone, Madonna abandoned the project and let all of her employees go — including CEO Anjimile Oponyo-Mtila, the sister of Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda.

The controversy began when the New York Times reported that Raising Malawi Inc. had spent $3.8 million on the project — with very little to show for it.

This revelation did not go down well with the ex-employees, who alleged in Malawi’s The Nationnewspaper that the $3.8 million figure was wildly inaccurate. The ex-employees claimed only $654,630 had been transferred to the project, not $3.8 million, and that the sum had mostly been spent on two events involving Madonna during her visits.

That same year, seven ex-employees filed a court case demanding compensation from Raising Malawi. Court documents obtained at the labor court in Blantyre indicate that Raising Malawi settled, paying out a total of $129,533 in compensation to the six ex-employees in 2011. However, Joyce Banda’s sister, Oponyo, refused to accept the $88,515 she was offered, instead demanding $395,223 in compensation. As of April of last year, the court case was still on, but we do not know the outcome of the case or whether or not it has been settled. Raising Malawi did not respond to our requests for comment on the matter.

A National Controversy

In 2013, Madonna announced that she was shifting her focus from the girls’ academy to building primary schools across Malawi. She partnered with an organization called BuildOn, which adds classrooms to existing schools that have large student populations and not enough space; in rural Malawi, students are often forced to hold class outside. Admirably, Raising Malawi partnered with BuildOn to fund the construction of 10 new classrooms, but when Madonna claimed that she had “built 10 new schools,” it ignited a public row with then-president Banda.

Joyce Banda released an extraordinary statement to the press, accusing Madonna of lacking the decency to tell the truth: “This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can’t be lying to the world at our expense . . . . For her to tell the whole world that she is building schools in Malawi when she has actually only contributed to the construction of classrooms is not compatible with manners of someone who thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur.”

“This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can’t be lying to the world at our expense.”

The withering statement from Banda’s office also condemned Madonna for trying to use her celebrity to get special treatment. “Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician, but that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government under whose territory Madonna finds herself, including Malawi, to give her state treatment.”

Adding an unorthodox turn of phrase, the statement said Malawi had played host to other international stars, including Chuck Norris and Bono, “who have never demanded state attention or decorum despite their equally dazzling stature.” In an absurd final blow, the government even denied Madonna use of the VIP lounge at the airport as she was leaving the country. (It should be noted that, in an unrelated story, the Malawi government this week issued a warrant for Banda’s arrest in relation to allegations of corruption.)

Celebrity and Charity in Harmony

But with the hospital project, Madonna has finally found her cause — and acceptance in Malawi. At the opening ceremony, Madonna thanked the partners who helped the hospital project happen. “What started out as a dream for Malawi and her children has become a reality, and we couldn’t have done it without your support,” she said in a press release. Madonna’s team did not respond to requests for comment regarding the actual cost of the hospital, saying only that Raising Malawi provided the bulk of the funding to build and equip the hospital. The MJC will continue to operate the facility in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

In Malawi, the Mercy James Center’s impact could be far-reaching. Just a month ago, the nation woke up to the sad news that two mothers had given birth to two stillborn babies because there were no anesthetists to attend to them seven hours after their scheduled Caesarean operations at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. In the aftermath, QECH Chief Hospital Administrator Charles Mhango told the nation that the hospital has an acute shortage of anesthetists; the hospital has 20 operating theaters but only eight anesthetists to attend to patients.

A shortage of medical personnel is just a small portion of the mammoth challenges besetting the QECH. Chronic shortages of medicine, congestion in the wards, rising cases of gross negligence, and a lack of sophisticated equipment for diagnosis and treatment all cast a shadow of gloom over the patients at QECH. But with the opening of the Mercy James hospital, there are now three extra theater rooms to perform life-saving sophisticated surgeries.

Not only that, but the MJC has a classroom to teach more doctors the science of surgery. Alongside Raising Malawi, QECH surgeon Dr. Borgstein developed a training program for doctors, which recently produced the first Malawi-born pediatric surgeon. To further improve the quality of service at the center, 20 nurses received specialized training from experts flown in from South Africa, which is aimed to reduce the cases of negligence, according to Raising Malawi’s Facebook posts.

In a recent interview, former Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume urged Madonna to do more, noting that there are still gaps in the health system that require urgent attention. “Currently the Ministry of Health has 247 patients on the waiting list that require specialized treatment abroad,” he said. “Out of these, 76 are children, and 68 of these children are suffering from heart-related diseases. These children should not be on the waiting list. The MJC should start offering cardiac operations for these children. I appeal to you to open cardiac surgery as well at the MJC.”

The Mercy James Center is more than just a clinic for medical treatment. It is also a place where the healing process is accompanied by fun and where children can come to be inspired. The reception area features a mural of a giant tree giving shelter to birds, while the walls of the wards feature paintings of renowned statesmen, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. In Mercy James’s words, the center is a place for healing and fun, and the art sends a strong message to the patients that tough times will not remain forever.

* Source POPSUGAR ,Photography / Kandani Ngwira


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Ex-Malawi leader on corruption case: ‘I am innocent’
August 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

Former President Joyce Banda will return to Malawi for first time since 2014 to defend herself in the Cashgate scandal.

Former President of Malawi Joyce Banda (C) has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2014 [File photo: Reuters]

Former President of Malawi Joyce Banda (C) has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2014 [File photo: Reuters]

Malawi’s former president denied on Tuesday any wrongdoing in a corruption scandal that erupted when she was in office, saying she will return to the southern African nation to prove her innocence.

Joyce Banda is wanted for arrest over alleged abuse of office and money-laundering offences, police said on Monday.

More than 70 entrepreneurs, officials and civil servants have been charged in connection with the embezzlement of what is thought to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars from state coffers between 2009 and 2013.

Banda, who was Malawi’s president for two years from 2012, left the country when she lost in an election to Peter Mutharika. She has not returned since 2014.

Banda has been living in the United States, serving as a distinguished fellow at Woodrow Wilson Center and the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.

“I will be coming back because I never did anything wrong and I am innocent,” Banda told Reuters news agency in a telephone interview from South Africa, where she had arrived from the US.

“I am the only president who got to the bottom of corruption and instituted the first-ever commission of inquiry into corruption,” she added.

She was expected to proceed to Malawi after carrying out some charity work in South Africa.

James Kadadzera, a police public relations officer, said authorities had obtained an arrest warrant for Banda.

“The evidence gathered raises reasonable suspicion that the former president committed offences relating to abuse of office and money laundering,” he said in a statement.

While president, Banda ordered an independent audit of the corruption revelations, which was conducted by British firm Baker Tilly. The findings were released in 2014.

“Baker Tilly never linked me to any corruption and the rest is what everyone knows, that even some of my cabinet members were arrested. I never shielded anyone who was found to have been part of this,” she said.

A former justice minister and attorney general was convicted over “cashgate”, as the scandal came to be known, and is in jail, along with a number of former high-ranking government officials and business persons.

The corruption scandal led to international donors halting aid to Malawi.

*Al Jazeera/Reuters

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Mozambique’s First Deepwater gas field Development To Undergo Implementation
August 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire*
The announcement last month from Eni and the Mozambican Government on signing the Coral South floating LNG facility became the first of its kind for the African nation.

It is reported to mark the beginning of the implementation phase for the gas industry of Mozambique, with more such deals expected to move from planning phase into fruition and the economy is expected to see the benefits from the new business in the country, according to Catalina Zuliani,Marketing Manager.

The Mozambique Gas Summit and Exhibition taking place in October 2017
is expected to extensively cover the latest developments in
Mozambique’s gas industry.
It is reported that the event will be organized by acclaimed oil and
gas events company, the CWC Group in partnership with Mozambique’s
national hydrocarbon’s company ENH.
“Participants can expect to get the full update on the Coral South
FLNG project from the country’s senior decision makers,” Zuliani said.

It is added that the summit, to be held over three days in October,
is widely supported by industry stakeholders including ExxonMobil,
Anadarko & Mozambique LNG, BP, TechnipFMC, SASOL, Siemens and Alugas
providing an opportunity to access and do business with key companies
under one roof.

The CWC Group has a 19 year track record in oil, gas and energy events
and training globally. Headquartered in London, CWC has won the
Queen’s Award for Enterprise, twice.

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Discovery Channel announces its top 10 finalists for the “Don’t Stop Wondering” Award at the Jozi Film Festival.
August 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 31 July 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The search for the winner of Discovery Channel’s brand new award category at the sixth annual Jozi Film Festival has heated up. After receiving over 200 entries from across the continent, Discovery Channel is proud to announce the Top 10 finalists for the Discovery Channel ‘Don’t Stop Wondering’ Award.

From today and throughout August, each film will be broadcast on Discovery Channel and it will be up to viewers to decide which film should be chosen as the overall winner. Voting closes on Monday 28 August and each filmmaker stands the chance of winning a cash prize of $5,000 from Discovery Channel to go towards their next filming project.

“While this was Discovery’s first category in the Jozi Film Festival, we were thrilled with the quality and diversity of entries that we received,” says Dilek Doyran, VP of Commercial Development and Country Manager of Africa and the Mediterranean. “Our hope was to find films which captured the ethos of curiosity and celebrated the uniqueness that the African continent has to offer, and with films from Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa and Uganda, we are confident the shortlist represents this. We look forward to broadcasting the Top 10 films on Discovery Channel, and showcasing the many different ways of celebrating Africanism.”

The Top 10 Films:

“DISCOVERY”, by Manqoba Shongwe from Swaziland
We explore every day but neglect to learn. In this film, Manqoba took the time to pay attention to some of the things he saw in his everyday explorations and shares what he gathered. Manqoba said, “It’s a great honour to be selected as a finalist in the Discovery Channel ‘Don’t Stop Wondering’ category of the Jozi Film Festival. Not only is it validating for my work to be recognised in this manner, but it is also really cool for my voice to be heard on such a platform.” From Monday 31 July, 13:35

“PUPPETSULA”, by Michael Rodrigues and Shaun James from South Africa
Puppetsula follows Jabu, a puppeteer who travels to instill joy in all those that witness his fiery performances of traditional dances. Michael and Shaun said, “Coming from hardship and still having a passion to give joy to others is truly remarkable. We applaud Jabulani Simango and can’t wait to share his amazing talent with our country. Thank you to Discovery for providing a platform for his story to be seen.” From Monday 31 July, 20:00

This film follows Sithaidi’s journey to work every day: a scenic 6-hour trek in rural Transkei. The story showcases how creativity overcomes seeming human adversity, old age and a lifelong polio condition, and how creativity ultimately inspires us to live. Caley said, “As a first time film maker, I am simply delighted our film has progressed to the Top 10. I am thrilled that Thaidi’s story is finally being seen by the world – she is a woman of great strength and her simple philosophy, cocky nature and tenacity is a continual source of inspiration to me. In her own words, she is number 1. I hope to report back to her that her film is number 1 too!” From Tuesday 1 August, 13:35

“THE ASCENSION”, by Dieter Du Plessis from South Africa
This short documentary follows the journal of a trail runner, with a voice-over that relates life to mountain climbing. Dieter said, “It feels like a door being opened after years of knocking!” From Tuesday 1 August, 20:00

“THE TRAGEDY OF AFRICA”, by Dusty Van Niekerk from South Africa
The Tragedy of Africa looks at Africa’s beauty inside and out, following the sad reality behind the harsh rhino poaching crisis which South Africa faces. Dusty said, “I am so grateful and excited to be a part of this amazing opportunity to share my film with everyone” From Wednesday 2 August, 13:35

“MR ABILITY”, by Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce from Uganda
This is a story of Simon Peter Lubega, a physically impaired, creative artist who wakes up early every morning and works against all odds on his art pieces to raise money to support himself and his family. Okuyo said, “I am highly honoured to be set apart for this prestigious moment, amongst creative minds, by a world class channel. My first work as a director to be selected and aired on discovery channel is indescribable.”From Wednesday 2 August, 20:00

“EGG SLAP”, by Pressilla Nanyange from Uganda
Egg Slap explores a childhood game, football, but with a twist. Pressilla said, “I am beyond excited to be selected among the top ten; I’m feeling blessed.” From Thursday 3 August, 13:35

“SJANGALALA: THE NEW ERA”, by Siphiwe Phiri from South Africa
This is a documentary about a pastor who is breaking the stereotype surrounding the art of spinning cars. Siphiwe said, “I have been in the TV industry for over 8 years now and this is by far the biggest acknowledgement I have ever received for my work. Thank You to Discovery Channel Africa, Jozi Film Festival and ALL its sponsors for creating such a platform for young creatives like us! SIYABONGA!” From Thursday 3 August, 20:00

“NON-PEOPLE”, by Wesley Rhode from South Africa
This documentary celebrates the trials and tribulations of South Africa’s informal recyclers – people that are over looked and ignored. Wesley said, “Myself and my team who put this film together are extremely excited and feel blessed to be chosen as part of the top 10 films, we are happy that our hard work has paid off and that our vision and our story has been recognized.” From Friday 4 August, 13:35

“ANOTHER SUNNY DAY”, by Tim Huebschle from Namibia
This film tells the story of how life must be for someone whose skin has no protection from the sun, living in a country that averages over 80% sunshine during any given year. Welcome to Paulus’s life in Namibia. Tim said, “To have Another Sunny Day selected as one of the Top 10 finalists is one of those magical moments that rarely happen. I’m humbled by the opportunity and look forward to viewing the other nine magical works from across our continent.” From Friday 4 August, 20:00

Each film will be broadcast on Discovery Channel four times throughout the voting period. Voting opens at 10am on Monday, 31 July on the Discovery website and closes at 10am on Monday, 28 August. The winning filmmaker will be flown to Johannesburg to receive their prize at the Jozi Film Festival awards ceremony on 24 September 2017.

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) satisfies curiosity and engages superfans with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, sports and kids programming brands. Reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers across pay-TV and free-to-air platforms in more than 220 countries and territories, Discovery’s portfolio includes the global brands Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports content across Europe. Discovery reaches audiences across screens through digital-first programming from Discovery VR, over-the-top offerings Eurosport Player and Dplay, as well as TV Everywhere products comprising the GO portfolio of TVE apps and Discovery K!ds Play. For more information, please visit

The Jozi Film Festival was initially created to provide a platform for local filmmakers in Johannesburg, and to develop an audience for South African films. While still prioritizing local film, JFF now accept films from around the world – features, short films, documentaries and student films. We are the longest running multi-genre festival in the City of Gold and our motto remains the same from Day One: We Love Jozi. We Love Film.
The Jozi Film Festival strongly supports independent films.
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How much have development strategies changed in Africa since independence?
July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments


Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki (left), former prime minister of Niger; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (center), former South African minister of health; and Carlos Lopes, former executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, during a 2013 working breakfast of the 29th Session of the New Partnerships for Africa’s Development at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (GCIS/Flickr)

Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki (left), former prime minister of Niger; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (center), former South African minister of health; and Carlos Lopes, former executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, during a 2013 working breakfast of the 29th Session of the New Partnerships for Africa’s Development at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (GCIS/Flickr)

This week in the African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular, we talk about economic development in Africa. In a broad study of nine African countries, Landry Signé examines innovation in development in his book, “Innovating Development Strategies in Africa: The Role of International, Regional and National Actors.” Signé kindly answered my questions about the book.

Kim Yi Dionne: As you observe in your book, both African and international development leaders invoke innovation in describing their development strategies. But how much have development strategies in Africa actually changed over the decades since independence?

Landry Signé: It depends on the way you think about innovation. In identifying innovation, most scholars focus on the content of development policy. They ask if a new development strategy is just “old wine in a new bottle,” usually on their way to explaining why a policy is doomed to fail. This substantive perspective often overlooks the slow-moving processes of some development innovations.

Most scholars have taken little interest in explaining development strategies in a procedural sense, at least when focusing on Africa. By procedural, I mean the forms, processes and mechanisms by which development strategies emerge, change and impact development outcomes over the long term.

My book examines both perspectives on innovation — substantive and procedural — and pays special attention to the lesser-explored one: procedural. Much of the research by scholars working from a substantive perspective find a lot of continuity in development strategies in Africa. But I find in my work that there are innovations — often incremental ones — which lead in the long run to much more substantial and often overlooked economic and institutional transformation.

After independence, African countries shifted from state-led development to various levels of state withdrawal in the 1980s, combined with strategies for economic integration and development. In the 1990s, states continued to disengage, but added social protection measures. In the 2000s, the emergence of the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) have marked a return to a more significant role for public institutions and continentwide development strategies in promoting economic development in a more market-friendly context. Only looking at the content of strategies, and not taking into account the process of emergence and the long-term impact of policies would miss this incredible transformation over the last few decades.

KYD: An important point you make in your book is that development strategies can be considered innovations even if they fail. Is there a failure you think is a good example of innovation in African development strategy?

LS: New development policies, whether substantially or procedurally innovative, could lead to poor outcomes over the short run, but can also contribute to a much more important dynamic of change. For example, although structural adjustment programs (SAPs) have broadly been considered a failure, they have defined new rules of the game and practices resulting in better macroeconomic management, increased accountability and governance effectiveness. Together with debt relief and a favorable international context, SAPs thus contributed to the transformation and overall good economic performance of African economies in the beginning of the 21st century. When scholars only focus on short-term impacts, they overlook more transformational changes brought by apparently failed policies.

KYD: Your book examines development in nine French-speaking countries formerly colonized by France. Why did you focus on these countries?

LS: I aimed to explain the overall transformation of African economies since the 1960s, providing a big picture of the changes which have taken place in development strategies. To make the study manageable, I first constructed a continental puzzle inspired by Paul Collier and Stephen O’Connell’s classification of African countries by economic structure and economic policy orientation. I wanted the sample of countries I studied to be a mix of low and middle-income countries, oil producers and non-oil producers, landlocked and poor in natural resources and landlocked and rich in natural resources, those that are coastal and poor in natural resources and those that are coastal and rich in resources, and those with socialist-leaning economies and those that are liberal-leaning.

After finalizing the continental classification, I realized that enough former French colonies were well represented in all the relevant categories to cover the full range of criteria for the continental analysis. I ultimately chose Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo for many reasons.

First, as members of the CFA franc zone, they have similar monetary policies. At the same time, these countries had contrasting economic structures, economic policy orientations and development outcomes. These important contrasts, despite the countries’ similarities, were more important in my decision to choose Francophone countries, than their former belonging to the French colonial empire, even if both are intertwined.

Second, I wanted to look at countries that shared the same colonial power as part of a growing effort among African scholars to dismantle the myth that colonial heritage is the main driver of contemporary development strategies in Africa. More and more work shows that domestic political economies interacted with international influence to shape development outcomes.

KYD: How might we take what we learn from your study to examine development in — for example — former British colonies or former Portuguese colonies?

LS: My book’s goal was to better understand how economic development strategies emerge and transform economies in sub-Saharan Africa — not only in Francophone Africa. I offer a theory explaining change over time in African development policies that applies broadly to African countries that underwent structural adjustment, whether former French, British, Portuguese, Belgian or Spain colonies.

I focus on the dynamics of domestic political economies in African countries and on their interactions with external actors. Despite the asymmetry in power relations with their international counterparts, African governments still have agency in making decisions about their development. My book offers a framework for understanding these interacting dynamics in the emergence and evolution of economic policies and development institutions in Africa.

Finally, I’ll say that one takeaway from my book is that we should take a broader view. While we researchers witness institutional and political continuities in the short run, even minor innovations can give rise to great political, economic and social innovations and transformations in the long run.

*Source Washington Post.Landry Signé is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, professor and senior adviser to the chancellor on international affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow, Tutu Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Follow him on Twitter @landrysigne.

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Africa: Third Trump Try to Fill Senior Africa Policy Post
July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Reed Kramer*

Two Africa posts to be filled by Trump administration? Cyril Sartor (far left) from the CIA may be picked to direct Africa at the National Security Council in the White House. J. Peter Pham from the Atlantic Council may be named Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.

Two Africa posts to be filled by Trump administration? Cyril Sartor (far left) from the CIA may be picked to direct Africa at the National Security Council in the White House. J. Peter Pham from the Atlantic Council may be named Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.

After two abandoned attempts to fill the highest Africa position in the White House, the Trump team is considering a career intelligence officer.

No announcement has been made, but sources with access to the selection process say Cyril Sartor, deputy assistant director for Africa at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is the front runner to be senior director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC).

On April 1, AllAfrica was the first to report the choice of Air Force veteran and former Pentagon Africa counter-terrorism director Rudolf Atallah for the NSC Africa job. Buzz Feed, which wrote about the Atallah selection 12 days later,  reported on June 23  that the offer to Atallah had been “yanked” – after he had been introduced at an ‘all-hands’ NSC meeting and had been actively working on African issues for the administration.

No reason has been advanced for the reversal on Atallah, who was the second person named to direct Africa at NSC. The first, Robin Townley, was blocked from taking the job after his security clearance reportedly was rejected by the CIA.

Among the positions Sartor has held, according to a brief biography posted online by the Aspen Security Forum in July 2016, are serving as briefer for two National Security Advisors and as acting intelligence officer for Africa at the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which produces strategic forecasts for the U.S. government. The bio says he earned an MA in African History from Boston University in 1984.

Sartor is among the small group of African Americans at senior level in the intelligence community. No official government biography is available online.

The information posted by Aspen accompanied Sartor’s participation in a public panel on terrorism in Africa at the Aspen forum in July 2016, a relatively rare appearance by an intelligence analyst. “It feels a little weird for a CIA officer to be live streaming on YouTube,” Sartor joked, as he began his prepared remarks.

“Violent Islamic ideology is a foreign import to sub-Saharan Africa and as such it only thrives where it can co-opt local grievances,” Sartor said, citing complaints among nomadic Tuareg people in Mali and “clan frustrations” that spur the insurgency in Somalia.

The socioeconomic roots of popular grievances must be addressed, he told the Forum, adding, “I sincerely believe the international community can defeat terrorism in sub Saharan Africa with a robust mix of long-term development and security assistance.” He said defeating terrorism in Africa “will take a long time” – in part because insurgencies typically last “more than a dozen years” and also because the youth population across Africa is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.

Top Africa Job at State Could Have Nominee Soon

Africa director at NSC is one of two high-level Africa jobs that remain unfilled more than five months into the Trump administration. No formal nomination has been put forward to head the Africa Bureau at the State Department, a front-line position tasked with managing U.S. diplomatic relations with the continent.

Africa experts who track policy developments believe a nomination for the senior Africa post at State could be nearing. The choice for Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian was announced on July 19 – only the third nomination to date for one of the 22 assistant secretary positions in the department.

After several names were discussed within the administration to be nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, well-connected sources say that J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, is being vetted and that his name could be one of the next submitted by the White House to the Senate for confirmation.

That these key posts remain empty is widely seen as part of the reason for the U.S. response to the ‘Compact for Africa’ put forward by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 Summit earlier this month. Riva Levinson, a Republican and a Washington DC-based government relations consultant with extensive African experience, writing in The Hill, labeled as “utterly tone-deaf” President Trump’s decision to leave the Summit during the session on ‘Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health’, the focus of which was “the well-being of Africa’s 1.6 billion people.” His daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, took his place at the table with the Summit principals, primarily heads of state and of international organizations,

Grant T. Harris, who was senior director for African Affairs in the Obama White House, sees ‘de-prioritization’ of Africa by the Trump administration as creating an opening In Africa for other powers. “Chinese leaders must be salivating” – the country now takes in $50 billion a year or more from African investments, he wrote in The Hill. “North Korea has sold weapons to African countries, in violation of UN sanctions, to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs, and Russia is looking to Africa to hedge against U.S. sanctions,” he wrote.

Peter Pham, the presumed nominee to head the Africa Bureau at the State Department,  is a prolific author of analytical essays and books whose work has focused on African security issues. He prepared a strategy paper published by the Council and submitted to the Trump transition team in December, which advocated – among other recommendations -reassigning four north African nations (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) to the Africa Bureau at the State Department, where they currently fall under the Bureau of of Near Eastern Affairs. This reorganization took place at the NSC soon after Trump assumed office.

 In a blog he wrote in January, Pham gave this assessment of how the U.S. needs to respond to the proposed German ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. “If the United States is to pursue a foreign policy of America First, then there is a lot of catching up to be done in bringing the public and private sectors together to forge a robust US approach to the new Africa, whose rising geopolitical importance and burgeoning economic dynamism ought to make it a strategic priority in the new administration.”

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Women Advancing Africa placing women at the centre stage of Africa’s Economic Advancement
July 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Women Advancing Africa Forum is set to bring some of the continent’s best and brightest minds together to shape a common agenda to accelerate the economic advancement of women in Africa
Graca Machel

Graca Machel

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, July 28, 2017/ — The inaugural Women Advancing Africa (WAA) Forum is a new Pan-African flagship initiative launched by the Graça Machel Trust to acknowledge and celebrate the central role women play in shaping Africa’s development agenda and by driving social and economic transformation. The Forum will take place from 9-12 August in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania at the Hyatt Kilimanjaro.
Mrs. Graça Machel says, “Africa has experienced tremendous development in the last few decades, however a significant gap in the economic advancement of women remains a huge challenge.

Africa is in a second liberation era – the economic liberation. Women can no longer be secondary or marginal, and through Women Advancing Africa the Trust wants to enable women to take centre stage in the economic advancement of Africa. The Trust is establishing a platform for women to claim their right to sit at the table where the decisions are made and to shape the policies, plans and strategies for our futures and those of the generations to come.”

The Trust is honoured to have H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment join the WAA Forum to share her insights on issues that will be discussed over the four days. The Forum will consist of interactive sessions organised around three core pillars: Financial Inclusion, Market Access and Social Change.
Inter-generational and inter-sectoral mix of participants attending WAA Forum

With an estimated attendance of 200 participants from across the continent, the WAA Forum will play host to a diverse mix of women and youth representing thought leaders and influencers from the private sector, philanthropy, academia, civil society, government, development agencies and the media who will bring their voices, experiences and ideas to strategize, set priorities and craft a common agenda to drive Africa’s social and economic transformation.
A number of speakers from key economic sectors such as mining & extractives, agri-business, banking, telecommunications, media, healthcare, goods and services will bring their knowledge and expertise to the Forum. Notable speakers include Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission; Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Vice Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda; and Sheila Khama, Practice Manager at World Bank’s Energy and Extractive Industries Global Practice.

A Social Progress Agenda
A series of side events will also be held alongside the WAA Forum on variety of issues including Food and Nutrition, Education and Child Marriage, Leadership and Wellness, to drive home the importance of social change as an integral part of addressing women holistically.

We are honoured to be joined by Gertrude Mongella, former President of the Pan African Parliament who will be joined by some of Africa’s leading women giants who have shaped the women’s movement in the past and will bring legacy and the future face to face in a gathering at the side of the Forum.

The WAA Forum will also celebrate the diversity of African culture and creativity in all its forms, from language, to design and fashion, to movie making and dance.  This year’s Forum will celebrate African female writers and storytellers who are challenging the status quo, reshaping narratives and developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the creative industries and their role in driving social progress.

Research looking at the Narrative and Economic participation of Women in Africa
A number of reports will also be launched during the Forum. Together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Graça Machel Trust will be launching a study on “The Female Economy in Africa”.  The study analyses the participation of the women’s work in Africa focussing on gender gaps in the economy, participating in national politics, financial inclusion and sectoral segregation.  The study provides a baseline to track and measure the progress in women’s economic activity and advancement, with regular updates on the Index being shared.

The Graça Machel Trust’s Women in Media Network will also launch a research report on the coverage and portrayal of women in media entitled: “Women in Media – What is the Narrative?” The session will be broadcast as a Facebook Live event with interactive participation in the post launch In Conversation series to stimulate a broader conversation about the narrative of women in media as well as other storytelling formats and platforms.

Announcements will be made on the WAA website www.WomenAdvancingAfrica and the WAA Facebook page www.Women Advancing Africa – WAA, closer to the time.
Another highlight of this year’s inaugural WAA Forum will be the launch of a coffee table book entitled “Women Creating Wealth: A Collection of Stories of Female Entrepreneurs from Across Africa”. The anthology celebrates women trailblazers in business with a collection of inspirational stories from Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The book features a number of enterprising women from the Trust’s women’s networks and a foreword by Mrs. Machel.  The book can be pre-ordered here (

A movement of women focused on economic advancement
What makes WAA unique? Mrs. Machel explains, “Women Advancing Africa provides a space to bring together the energy, innovation and creativity of women from all parts of the continent to share solutions to make us stronger, united and unstoppable. The Forum is really the catalyst to creating a much larger movement of women centred around the economic advancement of women who will collectively shape and drive a development agenda that is measurable and sustainable.” With a Pan-African footprint spanning 20 countries, the Graça Machel Trust will leverage our women’s networks in Agribusiness, Business and Entrepreneurship, Finance and the Media to work with the larger WAA movement to catalyse the Forum’s agenda into actions with measurable and sustainable outcomes.
To be part of this exciting initiative, you can register here ( or take up one of the available exhibition or side event options available.

The Trust would like to thank our generous partners who have helped make our vision a reality. Special thanks to The UPS Foundation, the Intel Foundation, American Tower Corporation, and UN Women.  Media partners include: the ABN360 Group, incorporating CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa; the Nation Group and locally based Azam Media Group. The WAA Forum’s convening partner, APCO Worldwide has worked closely with the Graça Machel Trust, providing expertise and insights to develop this one-of-a-kind women’s network.  These partners share the Trust’s belief that advancing women economically is crucial to the health and prosperity of African families, communities and nations.


The Graça Machel Trust is an organisation that works across the continent to drive positive change across women’s and children’s rights, as well as governance and leadership. Through our support of local initiatives and connecting key stakeholders at a regional, national and sub-national level, we help to catalyse action where it is needed.  By using our convening power the Trust seeks to: amplify the voices of women and children in Africa; influence governance; promote women’s contributions and leadership in the economic social and political development of Africa.

The Network of African Business Women (NABW) provides women with opportunities to freely and effectively participate in the economic development of their countries through the establishment of sustainable business ventures. Through training, mentorship and capacity building, the Network supports business women’s associations and existing business women generating a much needed upsurge of growth-oriented, African women entrepreneurs.

The African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAB) addresses challenges in food security and identifies opportunities for women in the agricultural sector. The network advocates for initiatives that enhance women’s competitiveness in local and global markets. AWAB also seeks to foster market linkages for women, connecting them to projects in the agricultural sector that can improve their access to resources, knowledge and training.

New Faces New Voices (NFNV)

New Faces New Voices (NFNV) advocates for women’s access to finance and financial services. The network aims to bridge the funding gap in financing women-owned businesses in Africa and to lobby for policy and legislative changes. The overall objective of the network is to advance the financial inclusion of women by bringing more women into the formal financial system.

The Women in Media Network (WIMN) is the latest Pan-African network established by the Trust.  It comprises a network of African women journalists who individually and collectively use their influence and voice to help shape and disseminate empowering storylines about Africa’s women and children.

Founded in 1984, APCO Worldwide is an independent global communication, stakeholder engagement and business strategy firm with offices in more than 30 major cities throughout the world. We challenge conventional thinking and inspire movements to help our clients succeed in an ever-changing world. Stakeholders are at the core of all we do. We turn the insights that come from our deep stakeholder relationships into forward-looking, creative solutions that always push the boundaries. APCO clients include large multinational companies, trade associations, governments, NGOs and educational institutions. The firm is a majority women-owned business

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