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African press review 8 September 2014


The main headline in the Lesotho Times is the fairly low-key "SADC has let Lesotho down," but the article that goes with it is venomous.

The Southern African Development Community, we read, and its so-called Organ on Politics Defence and Security have once again proven what ineffectual, inconsequential and comatose institutions they are.

In fact, SADC has taken two fatal decisions in the past two weeks that have proven beyond doubt that the regional body is out of sync with reality and cannot be trusted to act as a custodian of regional peace, security and democracy.

First, SADC decided to elevate Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to become its chairman. Here, according to the Maseru newspaper, is a brutal, murderous dictator who has clung to power through systematic murder, torture and destruction of his once prosperous country. The mayhem Mr Mugabe has inflicted on his own people has made him an international pariah.

Second, SADC’s decision last week not to send peacekeepers to Lesotho at the height of the military coup is daft and unacceptable, says the Lesotho Times.

Despite the appearance of calm, warns the paper, the Americans have closed their embassy in Maseru. They have also sent their citizens into South Africa and let their local employees work from home. When the Americans take such drastic steps, inevitably informed by their excellent and unparalleled intelligence networks, then it’s ample evidence that they know something the rest of us don’t. There's trouble in the air. But the Southern African Development Community doesn't want to know.

There are two eye-catching headlines on the front page of South African financial paper, BusinessDay.

One reads "South African citrus growers halt fruit exports to EU". The small print explains that the problem is a fungal infection know as citrus black spot. The disease is unsightly, but is not dangerous to humans.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

The EU recently notified the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of four consignments of CBS-infected fruit, and threatened a permanent ban if another contaminated consignment were found. South Africa has decided to suspend all citrus exports to Europe until next year.

South Africa is the third-largest citrus exporter to world markets after Spain and Turkey. The sector directly employs 60,000 people, with about 100,000 employed during the peak harvesting and export season from May to the end of October.

The other striking headline in BusinessDay reads "Catastrophe looms as mines are left in the dumps".

The article says that most South African gold mines are set to close in the next 25 years.

Gold mining, once the backbone of the economy, has fallen on dire times, says BusinessDay, and the legal framework is making it impossible to close mines. This has plunged communities living around those mines into economic, social and environmental crisis.

At several recently closed mine sites large-scale asset stripping has left any potentially valuable assets in ruins. Violence between security and groups of illegal miners has led to many deaths.

Due to costs, efforts to deal with acid mine water and other issues such as dust from the dumps were largely abandoned when the mines went into liquidation.

In Kenya, the Daily Nation reports the inspector-general of national police, David Kimaiyo, as saying that al-Shebab and the Mombasa Republican Council are now one organisation. At least, that's what the headline says. The actual small print, which quotes Kimaiyo, says that the two orgainisations have established links, which is not quite the same thing.

The Mombasa Republican Council is a militant group working for the independence of Kenya's predominantly muslim Coast Province. Al-Shebab is fighting to establish a Taliban-style state in Somalia.

The two organisations are now working closely, according to David Kimaiyo.

His statement comes just days after East African and Indian Ocean countries agreed to pass laws to criminalise the radicalisation of youth in an effort to fight the spread of terrorism in the region.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Seychelles have agreed to share security institutions and intelligence in the face of new threats posed by terrorist organisations.

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