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African press review 18 July 2012

A Kenyan prime ministerial aide (ex) is on the run. The UK admits to torture during the 1950s. Kenyan cops are accused of carrying on the practise today. As SA celebrates Nelson Mandela's birtdhay, are impostors trying to muscle in on his legacy?

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Lots happening in Kenya this morning. On the front page of The Standard, for example, we have a fleeing former prime ministerial aide and a current minister who is suing said aide. The British government admits Mau Mau fighters were tortured in the 1950s, and the United Nations wants to know why Kenya continues to ignore court orders to prosecute police officers currently engaged in torture.

First things first. Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s former aide Miguna Miguna published a book last weekend and has since left Kenya for Canada. Two hundred people demonstrated in Miguna’s hometown, Ahero, in Kisumu County, claiming he had betrayed them. They later burnt his effigy in the street.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko wants Miguna questioned on claims that he has crucial evidence concerning the 2008 post-election violence.

Launching his book entitled Peeling Back the Mask on Saturday, Miguna said he was privy to Orange Democratic Movement campaign strategies and was present when the party declared the 2007 General Election to be a contest of 41 tribes against one. He claims to have evidence that would send several key figures on the Kenyan political scene to jail forever.

It is not clear if, or when, Miguna plans to return to Kenya.

Meanwhile, Roads Minister Franklin Bett says he will institute a private criminal prosecution against the runaway over claims that Bett was one of a group of plotters who wanted to assassinate Miguna.

In January, Miguna announced that Bett, Higher Education Minister Margret Kamar and Energy assistant minister Magerer Langat had plotted to have him killed.

Yesterday Bett said Miguna was a coward and a liar, saying he fled the country because he could not substantiate the wild allegations in his book.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday described Miguna as a man operating in a “dense cloud of self-delusion”.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday asked why the Kenyan government continues to breach court orders to prosecute police officers engaged in torture.

The commission asked for data on the number of police torture victims and those who had been brought before the courts, details which Nairobi said it could not provide because of delays in reforming the judicial system.

It has also demanded information on extra-judicial executions by Kenyan law enforcement officers.

Britain yesterday publicly admitted that Mau Mau fighters were tortured during the anti-colonial uprising between 1952 and 1960 in what could be the turning point in the legal battle by three elderly Kenyans to seek restitution from the former colonial power.

The three claimants, now aged 84, 85 and 72, are seeking to have the UK government admit and apologise for the severe torture and sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of British military forces.

Yesterday the lawyer representing the British government said that the defendant did not dispute that each of the claimants suffered torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.

Britain contends it is not legally liable for the abuses, saying responsibility was transferred to the Kenyan government at the time of independence in 1963.

The Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay, reports that telecommunications company Nokia Siemens is to slash about 28 per cent of its workforce in South Africa, as part of a global strategy to reduce costs.

Nokia Siemens is to cut about 17,000 jobs out of its 74,000 workforce. In South Africa 160 workers will lose their jobs.

On its analysis pages, BusinessDay says that, as South Africa celebrates the 94th birthday of former president Nelson Mandela, a fierce fight rages among politicians over Mandela's legacy.

Last week South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande complained that certain groups who had no connection with the anti-apartheid struggle were trying to steal the former president's legacy.

This is seen as a reference to the opposition Democratic Alliance in particular. The party has made several attempts to claim that it has inherited the non-racialism that Mandela promoted.

But there have also been attempts by certain ANC leaders to claim Mandela’s legacy for themselves.

In 2009 the elderly statesman was driven around Ellis Park during an election rally. In 2010 he attended the state of the nation address in Parliament. This would have been to the benefit of President Jacob Zuma, who was claiming to be Mandela's natural heir, at the expense of Thabo Mbeki.

Today, incidentally, fashionistas in the US will be able to wear a little piece of Africa and celebrate former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday by doing volunteer work for 67 minutes to benefit charity as the 46,664 clothing line hits the shelves abroad.

We wish Madiba a very happy birthday.

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