Africa Blog Roundup: Jacob Zuma Portrait, Joseph Kabila, Nigeria’s Economy, and More

The Economist‘s Baobab:

Unlike Britain’s queen, President Jacob Zuma does not often have his portrait painted. But a new likeness by a South African artist, Brett Murray, now showing at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, has the nation agog and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) frothing at the mouth.

In truth, hardly anyone had heard about the painting until the ANC issued a statement on May 17th expressing its “outrage” over the “disgusting” depiction of its revered leader and demanding its immediate removal from the gallery and the website of the only newspaper until then to give it any coverage. The portrait, the ANC thundered, was a violation of Mr Zuma’s constitutional right to dignity and therefore illegal.

At African Arguments, William Townsend writes that President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has begun to “turn on his friends”:

As the rumour mill turns and suspicion runs rife, conflict is unfolding in eastern Congo’s Kivu provinces once again, following three years of relative calm. The most recent chapter of violence can be traced back to March this year, pitting Congo’s socially and politically maladroit president against some of the very people who helped him achieve electoral victory less than seven months ago.

Having been compelled to accept the outcome of a conspicuously fraudulent ballot last November combined with the conviction in March of another Congolese war lord, Thomas Lubanga, the West appeared keen to stress-test its relationship with President Joseph Kabila over his protection of another indicted war lord, Bosco Ntaganda. The decision to crack down on Bosco, by launching operation Amani Kamilifu or ‘Perfect Peace’, has led to a mutiny and a spate of violent clashes in the east of the country that has seen tens-of-thousands of civilians flee and left NGOs unable to dispense aid.

Lesley Anne Warner expresses concern about human rights issues within the armed forces of South Sudan.

The Moor Next Door analyzes an Al Akhbar video featuring a man who said, before his death, that he had spied in Mali, on Mauritania’s behalf, on Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The al-Akhbar report places the video in the context of AQIM’s leaders’ reported purges of Mauritanians accused of spying for the Mauritanian intelligence service, which has been reported on in the Mauritanian and Algerian press; in late 2010 and early 2012 Algerian papers began reporting on paranoia in the AQIM command (mainly Abu Zaid’s katiba) about penetration by Mauritanian intelligence and more recently there are reports that there has been an effort to diversify the southern katibas’ ranks which for some time were dominated by Mauritanians (estimates are that at as many as 70% of AQIM recruits/fighters to particular katibas in the Sahel were or have been Mauritanian).

Rosebell Kagumire, writing about African films at the Cannes Film Festival, uses a Senegalese film on African immigrants to Europe to discuss larger issues regarding migration.

Amb. John Campbell, “The State of Nigeria’s Economy.”

Dibussi Tande, “An Overview of Cameroon Prison Literature.”

Lee Crawfurd on evaluating Millennium Villages.

Sophia Azeb on the death of the singer Warda al Jazairia.

What are you reading today?