The last week of May the Africa program hosted this year's annual Southern Voices Network Conference. Representatives of many different members of the Southern Voices Network gathered for four days at the Wilson Center to engage in discussion on contemporary issues in Africa as well as the work of each of their respective organizations.
After two terms, Jakaya Kikwete will conclude his time as President of Tanzania later this year. He Visited the Wilson Center for a conversation that included reflection on his time in office, thoughts on Tanzania's progress and challenges, and that also provided a preview of his post-presidency plans. That's the focus of this edition of REWIND.
"Hundreds of thousands living in violence-prone regions defied extremists and voted. The professionalism, transparency and independence demonstrated by Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission (INEC) provided credibility, in a country where it is usually lacking, and galvanized a fractured country," writes Monde Muyangwa and Raymond Gilpin.
"Corruption helps drive inequality. Over 60% of Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, despite Nigeria having Africa’s largest gross domestic product (nearly $510 billion). Unemployment figures are disputed, but a 2013 estimate puts unemployment at 22% and youth unemployment at 38%. As some Nigerians enrich themselves, and as a middle class grows in parts of the country, millions of Nigerians still have no livelihood." writes Alex Thurston.
"Responsible, committed, honest leadership is rare in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, good leadership establishes good governance in the many parts of the developing world (like most of Africa) that do not yet possess fully formed functional political institutions. In too many countries the persons (nearly all men) who preside largely run the show and brush democratic procedures and pieties aside." writes Robert Rotberg.
"Zimbabwe is expiring, again. More banks are failing, beer sales – a key indicator – have slumped dramatically since 2013, tourist arrivals are down, and the business confidence index is at lowest ebb since the wildly inflationary days of 2008. Most tellingly, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe in January told civil servants to be patient - he “hoped” that they would soon be paid their monthly wages on a regular basis (something which had not happened often in 2014)" writes Dr. Robert Rotberg, about the plight of Zimbabwe under Mugabe's presidency.
"Zimbabwe’s autocratic president is a dreadful role model. His party has been charged with intimidation, vote-rigging, or other forms of fraud in every election since it first won in 1980," writes Robin Wright.
When it comes to falling oil prices, good news at the pump could be very bad news when it comes to geopolitics. Many oil exporting nations could be facing fiscal and political calamity if prices were to drop and remain at levels lower than $100 per barrel. A panel of topic and regional experts discussed the situation during a recent Wilson Center event. That’s the focus of this edition of REWIND.
"As the world focuses on the atrocities of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a far more brutal scenario has been unfolding some 2,500 miles directly south of Damascus," writes Steve McDonald.
The southern African strong man was greeted by President Xi Jinping in a full state visit to China. But did Mugabe put up all his minerals and ore for a badly needed loan?