Green party’s presidential candidate Peter Sinkamba is promising voters to cut country’s dependency on mining – by growing and exporting marijuana
For decades, Zambia has staked its economic fortunes on copper mining. But when voters in this southern African nation go to the polls in January to select a new president, at least one candidate will be looking to send that tradition up in smoke.
On Friday, Peter Sinkamba will announce his candidacy on the Green party ticket to replace the late President Michael Sata, who died on 29 October from an undisclosed illness. Sinkamba, regarded as Zambia’s leading environmentalist for his battles against the country’s big copper mines, is running on an unlikely platform, especially in this socially conservative nation: legalising marijuana.
His plan, first announced in April, calls for cannabis’ legalisation for medicinal use in Zambia, which would be a first in Africa. The surplus crop would be exported abroad, earning Zambia what Sinkamba claims could be billions of dollars.
At stake is an opportunity to diversify Zambia’s economy while beginning to clean up the environmental degradation left by close to a century of intensive opencast mining.
A quick note that I’ll be moving to Kinshasa next week to take up the Reuters DRC post. As my output of stories will naturally increase working for a wire service, I won’t be constantly updating the blog, but for those of you with a keen interest in the Congo, keep an eye on af.reuters.com for the latest news. I’ll still be freelancing on the side, including writing and producing the stories from my recent trip on resource boomtowns in Africa. Check back here for those in the coming weeks and months.
DURING the military intervention of France in Mali January 2013, officials in Paris were at pains to emphasise the exercise’s modest ambition. “France can intervene only in an exceptional moment, for an exceptional and limited period”, said President François Hollande, as French troops swept into the west African country to beat back a jihadist advance that was threatening Mali’s capital, Bamako. After stopping the rebels in their tracks, France, he insisted, would hand over the country’s security to African forces.
China’s President Xi Jinping and Zambia’s President Michael Sata
China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in AfricaHoward French
Alfred A. Knopf, pp.320, £22.50, ISBN: 9780307956989
Few subjects generate as much angst, or puzzlement, among Western policymakers in Africa as China’s presence on the continent. In his new book,China’s Second Continent, the American journalist Howard French recalls meeting US officials in Mali to sound them out on the matter. Instead, he finds himself barraged by questions. ‘It would really be useful for us to know what the Chinese are up to,’ one American official tells him. ‘So far we’ve been limited to speaking with them through translators. We’ve got very little idea about any of this.’
A PANEL of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague confirmed on June 12th that Laurent Gbagbo, a former president of the Ivory Coast, would stand trial on charges of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence. These were allegedly committed in his name during the six months between his defeat in a presidential election in November 2010 and his ousting by force the following April. Unless an appeal is successful, he will be the first head of state to be tried in person before the court. That means he will probably be behind bars during presidential elections slated for October next year.
Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer.By David Goldblatt.Nation Books; 320 pages; $16.99. Published in Britain by Penguin Press as “Futebol Nation: A Footballing History of Brazil”; £9.99. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil.By Roger Kittleson.University of California Press; 328 pages; $26.95 and £18.95. Buy fromAmazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Struggle for Democracy.By Dave Zirin.Haymarket Books; 246 pages; $16. Buy from Amazon.com,Amazon.co.uk
HOLDING the World Cup in Brazil, football’s spiritual home, sparked many fantasies of samba-infused spectacle. Those illusions were shattered last June when protests swept across the country during a warm-up tournament; a year on the discontent still simmers…