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I have been paying particular attention this past week to the following:
African National Congress (ANC) youth leader Julius Malema is once again throwing down the gauntlet to the Zuma government and the multi-racial South African establishment by calling for radical land reform. He is saying aloud what many in South Africa only whisper. Similarly, the government and business reply that his comments are irresponsible because they will "discourage investment" is predictable—and beside the point among the poor in South Africa. Is Malema positioning himself as a successor to Winnie Mandela by becoming the voice of the townships and uttering the unutterable?
Alassane Ouattara was officially sworn in as Ivory Coast’s president today, marking a political milestone in a country still reeling from post-election violence. Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Court backed Ouattara’s election victory—an achievement, considering it was the Court’s rejection of the voting results that marked renewed violence last December. While recent reports suggest that government forces have control in Abidjan, the overall security situation nation-wide is still tenuous. Residents of Duékoué, the site of large scale bloodshed on March 30, describe unclear boundaries among formal and informal security forces. The humanitarian situation is still dire. While much of the international attention today was directed toward Ouattara’s ceremony at the presidential palace in Abidjan, the rest of the country ought not to be ignored.
Uganda’s walk-to-work demonstrations against the Museveni government continued this week, albeit without their leader Kizza Besigye. This opposition figure who was detained again last week suffered numerous injuries during his latest arrest, and he is now receiving treatment at Nairobi Hospital. In the meantime, retired general and opposition figure Mugisha Muntu has returned to Kampala, walking yesterday and stating that the opposition needs to be “psychologically prepared for the long haul.” The Museveni government has also claimed that food prices will decrease next month. While it is possible that inflation may abate at some point, the politics of food and fuel prices—and the opposition’s decision to "walk to work" coupled with Museveni’s crackdown—show no signs of diminishing.
Today marks exactly one year since southerner Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as Nigeria’s president. In an oped for the International Herald Tribune this week, I discuss Nigeria’s 2011 election results and the end of the country’s informal powersharing system known as zoning. Yesterday, former military ruler and northern political figure Ibrahim Babangida expressed optimism that powersharing may return by the 2015 presidential election. While it’s too early to predict the future of zoning, the North’s current alienation from the Jonathan administration deserves immediate attention.