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African press review 30 May 2012

Zuma fails to impress SA youth. But his allies gain ground in the country's trade union movement. What to do about Syria? Was Al-Shebab behind Monday's bombing in Kenya? And di one of its chiefs travel through Uganda without being noticed by airport security?

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Jacob Zuma is no longer hanging out in a Johannesburg art gallery but that doesn't mean his problems are over.

According to the financial daily BusinessDay, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is twice as popular as President Zuma among South African youth as their choice for the next president, according to a social media survey published yesterday.

The survey is based on internet questions sent to 3,615 people under the age of 35.

Motlanthe got the most support, with 28,5 per cent of respondents indicating their preference for him as the next president.

Zuma scored 15,3 per cent and was the least popular.

Second choice for president was former African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema (19,8 per cent) followed by Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, with 18,7 per cent.

There is, however, better news for the South African president on BusinessDay's analysis pages.

There, we learn that the reelection of Frans Baleni as the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers has far-reaching implications for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), particularly for its own secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.

Baleni’s views are aligned more to those of Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini. As the general secretary leading the largest delegation to Cosatu’s national congress in September, Dlamini’s more diplomatic approach to issues such as leadership and alliance relations is likely to hold sway, suggests BusinessDay.

Baleni’s reelection means the group close to Dlamini will have more clout in the struggle to neutralise Vavi, who has been critical of Zuma ’s government.

While Vavi’s voice in the federation will not shrink, those in the Zuma camp within the unions have been boosted by Baleni's reelection.

On the international front, BusinessDay reports that the South African government sees no reason to condemn Syria over the Houla massacre.

Although 10 countries yesterday expelled Syrian diplomats in outrage at the massacre of 108 people, almost half of them children, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation could not see any reason to step up pressure against the Arab state.

South Africa was also out of step with Western nations on the Libyan transition, voting at the United Nations in support of a no-fly zone and then protesting vehemently when Moamer Kadhafi’s forces were attacked.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said yesterday the massacre was no reason to change the relationship between South Africa and Syria.

The department had encouraged "civilised discussion" with the Arab republic. The spokesperson said he did not see why the actions of Western nations should influence South Africa.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

In Kenya, The Standard reports that a fertiliser bomb made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil probably caused the deadly Monday blast that blew up a landmark building in the centre of Nairobi, injuring up to 33 people, five of them critically.

Fertiliser bombs are a signature of  Al-Qaeda, which has links with the Al-Shebab group fighting Kenyan troops in Somalia. Police are yet to link Al-Shebab to the blast officially.

Details of the possible nature of the device emerged as three agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation joined Kenyan bomb experts to sift through the debris at the site for evidence.

According to the Ugandan Daily Monitor, passports recovered from Al-Shebab hideouts in Al fitri, 12 kilometres north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, by the Ugandan Army show that one of the group’s commanders travelled through Entebbe International Airport without being detected by airport security.

The entry into the country by Abubaker Nur Hussein in July last year exposes a lack of vigilance by airport security.

The Internal Affairs Ministry yesterday said Abubaker Nur Hussein could have slipped through because his name was not on the list of wanted terror suspects available to security staff at the time.

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