High profile land sales to foreigners are putting the government’s lack of progress on land reform in the spotlight just four months before national elections. While the government is not expected to be voted out, the ruling party will face a new challenge from an emerging leftist opposition that may impact succession politics within the ruling party. Meanwhile, the economy will make a tentative recovery this year, as the government seeks more external financing to plug its budget deficit and boost infrastructure development, especially from Chinese lending partners.
The risk of violent protests by opposition supporters over reports of electoral manipulation poses a higher threat of commercial disruption than the northern insurgency, which might even simmer around the October elections. However, any threats by the main armed opposition to suspend the peace agreement are unlikely to be implemented and a resumption of conflict seems unlikely.
The Kenyan government will again raise spending over the next year, deriving new funding from taxes on businesses and increased borrowing, while refusing to cut wasteful expenditure. Combined with unsustainably high debt servicing costs and a need to pay rapidly maturing commercial debt and Chinese infrastructure loans, Kenya may soon face a debt crisis. EXX Africa assesses that a booming economy, record foreign reserves, and a strong external position may hold off a repayment crisis until next year, although accumulating non-performing loans in the local banking sector may augur a more immediate weakness.
A former ethnic Arab militia accused of war crimes in Darfur and now integrated into the Sudanese security forces and armed with new weapons from the Gulf has seized control of the capital Khartoum in recent weeks. These hard-line militia forces are increasingly likely to clash with the military, which is seeking to create an Egypt-style post-coup political order and to repair Sudan’s international reputation.
In his second term, President Muhammadu Buhari will again oversee expansive debt-fuelled spending to develop Nigeria’s infrastructure, while seeking a dilution of the government’s stake in the oil sector. He may even consider joining Africa’s free trade pact that came into force in May. However, any firm decisions will take many months before being confirmed, starting with the appointment of a new cabinet and perhaps a reshuffle of the security forces command.
President Mutharika will continue debt-financed infrastructure development projects in his second term, especially benefitting those rural communities in southern regions that supported his re-election bid in May. Under an IMF programme, the economic outlook looks strong and inflation is under control, although a key test for the incoming government will be improving transparency and tempering politically motivated corruption investigations.
As negotiations on the political transition continue to falter, opposition forces will renew its civil disobedience campaign, including a general strike and mass demonstrations. Hard-line paramilitary forces that control the post-coup junta are likely to respond with heavy-handed force at home, while seeking financial lifelines and diplomatic cover from regional allies. The prospect of violence in Khartoum and other cities will rise in coming weeks.
President Weah is facing a backlash against his government over a failing economy and spiralling inflation, while mounting perceptions of graft and mismanagement are undermining his administration’s credibility. The political opposition is galvanising around a protest movement that may force a reshuffle of Weah’s closest aides and political supporters, although firm policy changes are unlikely unless foreign donor pressure intensifies.
Cyril Ramaphosa has achieved a reversal of his party’s electoral decline in May’s elections. In fact, he faced a greater challenge from rivals within his own party than from South Africa’s weak political opposition. His next challenge will be to balance fractious interests in the next cabinet to avoid a permanent party split, while building a platform for restructuring cash-strapped state-owned enterprises that could trigger a backlash from labour unions and other allies. Much of the ANC’s actual election manifesto will be shelved to ensure fiscal discipline.
As negotiations between the military leadership and the protest movement falter, the prospect of political violence will increase in coming weeks, while the loose alliance of armed groups and security forces risks fragmenting as Sudan’s patronage networks unravel. Meanwhile, Gulf financial aid may provide some short-term economic relief, but such assistance is politically unpopular and does not stimulate much-needed reform of the bloated Sudanese security sector and unaffordable state subsidies that lie at the heart of the economic crisis.
- BENIN: TRADE DISPUTE AND POLITICAL TENSIONS DESTABILISE COUNTRY’S EXEMPLARY MODEL
- MOZAMBIQUE: ELECTION MANIPULATION IS UNLIKELY TO TRIGGER RETURN TO CIVIL WAR
- NIGERIA: TRADE RESTRICTIONS DRIVE UP NIGERIAN INFLATION AND BOOST FUEL SMUGGLING
- KENYA: PRESIDENT STEPS UP PRESSURE TO LIFT THE LENDING RATE CAP TO APPEASE THE IMF
- BOTSWANA: POLITICAL TRANSITION WILL DRIVE MUCH-NEEDED ECONOMIC REFORMS