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African press review 23 May 2012

The papers in Egypt are, understandably, dominated by election-related news. Voters go to the polls in the first round of the process to elect a new president today and tomorrow.

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The weekly Al Ahram says that, while the first free vote in Egyptian history is obviously important, the election alone will not be enough to restore stability.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Al Ahram hopes that voter turnout will be as high as predicted but warns that the results are likely to disappoint the millions of Egyptians who took part in the January revolution against the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Supporters of the January revolution accuse the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of indirectly backing former Mubarak regime politicians in an attempt to preserve their own status. Egypt's de facto rulers, it is alleged, have deliberately allowed the security and economic situation to deteriorate in the hope that worsening conditions will turn voters against the revolution and its demands to build a true democracy in which all institutions, including the military, will be held accountable.

The article ends by pointing out that simply electing a president will not solve Egypt's problems. The constitution remains unwritten and no one knows under what conditions the military will relinquish power. The economy and security situation continue to deteriorate and the chances of any result being announced without accompanying allegations of vote-rigging are nil.

BusinessDay in Johannesburg reports that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development believes that the pace of South Africa’s economic growth will accelerate.

In its latest outlook for leading global economies released yesterday, the Paris-based OECD says it expects South Africa’s growth to tick up to 3.3 per cent this year from 3.1 per cent in 2011.

That estimate contrasts sharply with the SA treasury’s expectation that growth will slow to 2.7 per cent, mainly due to the crisis in Europe, one of South Africa’s main trade partners. Market consensus forecasts see growth moderating to 2.8 per cent.

The Sowetan carries the news that Chris Mahlangu was found guilty of the 2010 murder of right-wing leader Eugene Terre'Blanche by the High Court sitting in Ventersdorp yesterday.

The co-accused, Patrick Ndlovu, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of house-breaking with intent to steal.

And we couldn't leave South Africa without some mention of President Jacob Zuma's credentials.

As the world knows by now, a painting of the president was defaced on Tuesday morning in the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

The painting, by artist Brett Murray, is called The Spear and is based on a Soviet-era poster of Vladimir Lenin striking a dramatic pose. It shows the president with his genitals exposed.

The artwork was defaced by two men, gallery staff said. One man painted a red X across Zuma’s face and the second covered the painting with black paint.

A university professor and a 15-year-old boy were in custody at the Rosebank police station. An attorney said the gallery planned to charge those responsible with destroying private property.

A third person was arrested while trying to spray-paint the word "Respect" on a gallery wall. He only managed to get as far as "Res" before he was stopped by a security guard and also taken to the Rosebank police station.

A court challenge by the African National Congress to have the painting removed from the Goodman Gallery will be broadcast live on television on Thursday.

According to an opinion piece in the South African financial daily, BusinessDay, it is not Brett Murray’s portrait that tarnishes the image of the president, it is the conduct it symbolises that does so. The writer goes on to explain that Zuma’s sex life and sexuality are surely fair game, what with several wives, illegitimate children, the rape trial and the unambiguous gestures which are part of his signature song-and-dance routine.

The Daily Nation in Kenya reports that the education ministry wants the treasury to set aside funds to recruit a record 40,000 teachers by June of next year. If approved, it will be the biggest single recruitment since the government adopted a needs-based employment policy in the 1990s.

And the main story in the Ugandan Daily Monitor is headlined "New poll says Museveni should hand over power in 2016".

Survey results released yesterday by Research World International show that 56 per cent of respondents say Museveni should not stand again in 2016 while 35 per cent say he should.

The survey also shows that only 45 per cent of respondents want Kizza Besigye of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change to run for the presidency again in 2016.

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