Jacob Zuma leaves his political woes at home and leads a big delegation to Abuja today [March 6], aiming to improve relations with Nigeria, which two years ago overtook South Africa as the biggest economy south of the Sahara.
For Muhammadu Buhari it is the first visit by a fellow African head of state since his inauguration in May. His election victory raised hopes that the two regional powerhouses would get on better: under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, ties frayed over visas, yellow-fever vaccination cards and South Africa’s seizure of the cash-laden suitcases which Nigeria was using to buy arms.
More recently, South African companies have complained of unfair scrutiny; MTN, a mobile-phone giant, has been negotiating over a $3.9 billion fine for failing to deactivate unregistered SIM cards. Stronger trade ties would be welcome—but even better would be a lot more co-operation between Africa’s heavyweights on security and protecting human rights.
Mailing address: Friends of Nigeria, c/o Warren Keller, PO Box 8032, Berkeley, CA 94707