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African press review 19 April 2012

The mooted return to frontline politics of a familiar face in South Africa, and news of allegations and denials in Kenya about witness-tampering, are some of the topics in today's African press.


The opinion pages of South Africa's BusinessDay suggest that Cyril Ramaphosa could be on his way back to the centre of the political stage.

According to the financial daily, suspended African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema’s disciplinary hearings have thrust Ramaphosa into the political spotlight again, at an interesting time in the party’s leadership race.

Ramaphosa is widely considered one of the ANC’s most credible senior leaders, and a possible future president. However, he has kept a low profile since being squeezed out of the race to replace Nelson Mandela as ANC president in the late 1990s.

Ramaphosa has been suggested as a possible deputy president of the ANC, with President Jacob Zuma at the top. But there has been no indication that this is what Zuma wants, or if Ramaphosa would accept such a role.

What is clear is that Malema’s supporters in the youth league will not be placing Ramaphosa on any of their lists. As chairman of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of appeals, Ramaphosa has already ruled twice against Malema.

Cyril Ramaphosa is a former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Also inBusinessDay, news that inflation in South Africa last month fell to its lowest level since last October, even if a strong rise in retail sales in February suggests that the latest decline may be short-lived.

Inflation retreated to 6 per cent from 6.1 per cent in February, a modest dip which nonetheless took the indicator back to the top of the official 3-6 per cent target range. It was the second decline in a row.

The Reserve Bank had predicted inflation would average 6.5 per cent during the second quarter   an estimate which is starting to look unrealistically high and a situation which may help to keep interest rates steady for the rest of the year, says BusinessDay.

In Kenya, a prominent law professor and human rights activist has refuted police claims that he interfered with International Criminal Court witnesses.

Professor Makau Mutua, one of the founders of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and dean of a leading American law school, accused police of trying to gag him.

The Criminal Investigations Department has asked Mutua and Maina Kiai, former chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, to record statements over claims of witness tampering.

Also required for questioning is a former spokesman of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, Dr David Matsanga.

Matsanga claims that articles written by Makau and Kiai in the Sunday Nation and Daily Nation had put undue pressure on one witness.

Regional newspaper The East African reports that the trial of the Rwandan opposition figure Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire has taken a new twist with the accused refusing to appear before the Kigali High Court, almost 8 months after the start of her trial.

Ingabire is accused of threatening state security, denying the genocide, and promoting ethnic division. She cited the absence of judicial independence in explaining her refusal to appear before the court. She has been in detention since October 2010.

Ingabire is accused of forming alliances with four co-accused, all former members of the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Rwanda, to create an armed wing of her political organisation FDU-Inkingi, with the aim of causing insecurity in Rwanda.

She denies all charges.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Le Potentiel salutes the nomination of Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon as Prime Minister. The daily says that it has taken president Joseph Kabila more than four months to find a suitable candidate for the task of heading government, but that he has done a good job.

Ponyo is a former Finance Minister, a technocrat, shaped by his experiences with the Central Bank, well liked in the corridors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and presisely the calibre of individual to lead Kabila's drive to modernise the Congolese economy.

Wheter he can modernise the Congolese parliamentary system is another, arguably tougher. question.

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