15th-century Chinese sailors have a lesson for Trump about climate policy

Disruptive technology, Ming Dynasty-style. Vmenkov/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Dave Frame, Victoria University of Wellington In the early 15th century the Ming Dynasty in China undertook a series of expensive oceangoing expeditions called the Treasure Voyages. Despite the voyages’ success, elements of the elite opposed them. “These voyages are bad, very bad,” we can imagine them tweeting….

Africa’s elderly leaders get no prizes for hanging on

Stephen Chan, SOAS, University of London The Mo Ibrahim Foundation recently announced that once again, no-one had earned its annual prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The prize is meant to recognise probity and commitment to democracy and, crucially, it is awarded to people who have relinquished power with grace rather than outstaying their welcome….

Africa offers a point of cooperation for Xi and Trump

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the recent Asian-African Conference in Jakarta. Reuters/Darren Whiteside John J Stremlau, University of the Witwatersrand Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump will meet for the first time at Trump’s opulent Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida on April 6-7. There’s no indication yet that they will discuss Africa….

Namibia: grown up after a generation into independence, but not yet mature

Swapo supporters celebrated victory in the UN supervised November 1989 election. Henning Melber Henning Melber, University of Pretoria Visitors to “the land of wide open spaces”, as Namibia is successfully promoted to tourists, will be impressed by what they see. Besides the beauty of the nature and abundant wildlife, the urban face of inner cities…

Morocco reaps rewards of major changes in its diplomatic strategy

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, (L) walks with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Reuters/Tiksa Negeri Keith Gottschalk, University of the Western Cape At a time when the European Union is bemoaning the loss of the United Kingdom, Morocco has rejoined the African Union, ensuring that every African country is again a member. Morocco has also…

Jacob Zuma’s brazen venality may be exhausting even his ANC allies

Stephen Chan, SOAS, University of London After months of trying, South Africa’s President Zuma finally fired his finance minister, Pravin Gordhan. The move was met with huge disquiet within the ANC, and a predictably sharp drop in the value of the Rand. Gordhan and his deputy were replaced by two Zuma loyalists, both from the…

Why efforts to secure a deal on banning all nuclear weapons are so important

Reuters Joelien Pretorius, University of the Western Cape Last week negotiations to ban nuclear weapons started in New York. The talks came as a result of United Nations General Assembly resolution adopted in December last year. The resolution takes forward multilateral negotiations on complete nuclear disarmament. States started negotiations on nuclear disarmament in 1946, a…

Integrating radical fighters who return home isn’t easy, but can be done

Tunisians demonstrate against the return of jihadists fighting for extremist groups abroad Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi Moha Ennaji, International Institute for Languages and Cultures Thousands of youths have been recruited by terrorist groups from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and America. Between 2011 and 2016 the number of “foreign fighters” rose to more than 42,000 –…

South Africa’s ANC can stay a liberation movement and govern well

Reuters/Mike Hutchings Siphamandla Zondi, University of Pretoria The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s governing party, is weakening. It has recently committed some terrible mistakes in government. High on the list of errors is its decision to close ranks in defence of President Jacob Zuma during the Nkandla debacle where public money was used on…

Southern African politics roiled by distortions, junk bonds and road rage

Stephen Chan, SOAS, University of London I was in Zimbabwe when news came through of a clash of motorcades in neighbouring Zambia. One motorcade was carrying the president, Edgar Lungu, and the other the opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema. It seemed neither would give way to the other. There is little love lost between the two…