As the Mining Indaba, the massive annual exhibition in Cape Town that bills itself as the “biggest mining investment event”, winds to a close today, it is clear that the powerful overlords of Africa’s mining sector haven’t learnt any new songs since the jamboree started 25 years ago.

When that first Mining Indaba was held, its host country, in many ways Africa’s standard-bearer in all matters mining, derived 43% of its export earnings from minerals, and the mining sector alone was responsible for more than 500,000 jobs. Since then, the sector’s share of exports has dropped by 40% and its direct output of jobs is down by 10%. And as everyone knows, this has nothing to do with South Africa moving up the value chain. In fact, real “value added” in the South African mining sector has been contracting since 2015.

Even though the continued decline of the South African mining sector has been a matter of concern within South Africa for a while now, the festive air at the Indaba, and the rousing speeches celebrating the triumph of African mining, mirrors perfectly the general attitude among Africa’s elite regarding the sector.

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Judges in the ICC’s Appeals Chamber ordered the release on bail of former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, and his then Youth Minister, Charles Blé Goudé, this morning after a hearing in the Hague.

The two politicians are however barred from returning immediately to the Ivory Coast, averting a potential crisis in the West African state of 25 million people. They must stay in Belgium until an appeal lodged by the ICC Prosecutor against the stoppage of their trial last month (January 15th, 2019), even before they could open their defence, by Judges in the main ICC Chamber on grounds of “exceptionally weak prosecution evidence”.

The acquittal of Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé on a “no case to answer” basis has plunged the ICC – the International Criminal Court – into a crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, the Rome Statute (an international treaty) that set it up envisioned it as a sort of “forum of last resort” where exceptionally heinous crimes can be prosecuted when other mechanisms of individual criminal liability and accountability in the international system has failed. Its evidentiary procedures and standards are thus expected to be rigorous and nigh unimpeachable.

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