Sunday, December 17, 2017

Meets address African security, economic challenges as ANC poll D-day looms

By Ciugu Mwagiru

The long-awaited African National Congress elective conference finally opened with a bang yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa, and will end on Wednesday.

The ongoing ANC party event follows an earlier one in Luanda, Angola’s capital, on December 14, when the main opposition party Unita held its third Political Commission ordinary meeting.

Among the main agenda of the Luanda meeting was the election of a new leader of the opposition party to replace the retiring president, Mr Isaías Samakuva.

In October the latter announced his intention to retire as the party boss after having led Unita since 2003, when he replaced Unita founder, the late Dr Jonas Savimbi,  during the party's ninth congress.

Last month Mr Rafael Massanga Savimbi, the son of the party’s founding leader, expressed his desire to run for Unita’s presidency and is viewed as a likely successor to Mr Samakuva.

The two gatherings in southern Africa are the latest in a long series of riveting electoral events, whether party or national that have become the hallmark of the ending year.

The electoral activities have in recent times practically up-staged major non-political African developments, practically hogging the limelight.

However, political activities have not totally sidelined other continental and global events aimed at resolving Africa’s most daunting problems, claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

In fact as the developments in South Africa and Angola unfolded other African concerns were being addressed in a flurry of end-of-year meetings taking place in different countries.

For instance, a number of important meets have been held in the past few weeks, convened in different locations, from Addis Ababa to Paris and Brussels, to address important security and economic issues relating to Africa.

Among the most important meeting focusing on African matters was a summit held in Paris on December 13 to discuss continental and global security in the era of widespread extremist violence.

 

The well-attended Paris summit was specifically aimed at discussing the security situation in the volatile Sahel region, which traverses Central and West Africa.

 

For long considered a hotbed of lawlessness, insecurity and impoverishment, the region has over the years virtually come under the control of extremist rebel groups such as Al-Qaeda and the notorious IS.

 

Because of the violent activities of the terrorist groups, the inhabitants of the region have reportedly been living in a permanent state of neglect. 

 

The Sahel crisis has in recent times been compounded by spreading drought, with millions of people left at the mercy of climatic factors even as the non-state armed groups have become more and more brazen.

Despite the presence of peacekeepers, including French troops, the rebel groups have been taking advantage of porous borders and ungoverned areas.

The recent summit held in Paris and was therefore supposed to discuss the strengthening of the so-called G5 Sahel force, which is meant to fight armed groups and transnational crime.

 

The force was formed in February this year at the instigation of President Macron, and is made up of forces from the main countries that are victims of the Sahel chaos.

 

The countries are Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania, and were well represented at Wednesday’s summit in Paris, which was to be followed by a donor conference in Brussels on December 14.

 

The Paris summit, which was attended by a good number of Western and African leaders, was hostel by French president Emmanuel Macron and came just over a week after the holding of the 12th edition of the African Economic Conference.

 

The latter, which took place in Addis Ababa between December 4 and 6, was attended by leading global economists and focused on the importance of good governance in the structural transformation of Africa.

 

Regarding South Africa, the ongoing ANC electoral conference is reportedly replete with intrigues as lobbying reaches fever pitch.

 

Over the weekend, as the conference picks up pace, current party president Jacob Zuma is expected to formally step down, although all things being equal he will remain the country’s president until elections are held in 2019.

The delegates at the conference are therefore expected to elect Zuma’s replacement as ANC boss before the event closes next Wednesday.

Among the top contenders is Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will be battling for the party’s top job with, among others, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The latter, a veteran woman politician and former African Union commission chief, is President Zuma’s ex-wife and the mother of four of his children.

Mr Ramaphosa has reportedly surged ahead of his main challenger, but the party leadership race is still considered too close to call.

Meanwhile, the supporters of the two top candidates have reportedly pulled all stops as D-day looms.

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