African press review 5 November 2014
South Africa succeeds in reducing poverty. Its top court orders police to look into alleged atrocities in Zimbabwe. Zambia’s interim president gives in to riots. Malema and friends face punishment for heckling Zuma. Egyptian armed Islamists deny switching allegiance to IS. There’s pressure to rewrite Burkina’s constitution post-Compaoré. And a mullah and peace activist is shot dead in Mombasa.
It's all happening on the front page of South African financial paper BusinessDay.
The main story assures us the World Bank's economic update, released yesterday, found that South Africa’s fiscal policies are cutting the rates of poverty and inequality and that tax and social benefits are effectively redistributing income from rich to poor.
The report describes South Africa’s tax system as "slightly progressive", which might sound like faint praise but actually means that the rich pay a higher share than the poor in income tax and value-added tax.
The income inequality gap remains one of the world’s widest, mainly because top salaries are so spectacular.
BusinessDay also looks at the recent decision by the Constitutional Court in Pretoria, ordering South Africa’s police to investigate crimes against humanity, even though the crimes were allegedly committed in Zimbabwe.
Saluting the decision as an end to a foreign policy characterised by an attitude of see no evil, hear no evil, BusinessDay points out that the court decision does not mean that South African police can investigate on Zimbabwean territory. But where witnesses and documents are available in South Africa, they must be consulted.
BusinessDay says parliament and the courts have played their roles in providing model legislation. The article ends with the observation that it remains to be seen whether the executive will be equal to the other two branches of government.
And then there's Zambia, where acting president Guy Scott backed down yesterday after his attempt to sack the ruling party chief sparked riots and a rejection of his authority.
Scott reversed his decision to sack Patriotic Front Secretary General Edgar Lungu, just days after the death of president Michael Sata, following fierce criticism and a meeting with cabinet ministers.
Lungu is to remain in place at least until after Sata’s burial next week, after which the central committee of the Patriotic Front will be convened.
Hundreds of Lungu supporters rampaged overnight in the capital Lusaka, stoning motorists, burning tyres and singing anti-Scott songs before being dispersed by police firing teargas.
The South African parliament's powers and privileges committee decided late on Monday night that Julius Malema and 19 members of his Economic Freedom Fighters caucus were guilty of contempt of parliament for the "pay back the money" disruption of the National Assembly last August.
The 20 MPs will now be invited to give evidence in mitigation of their punishment. They face suspension for 30 days without pay and during that period they will be barred from entering the parliamentary precinct and not allowed to enter their offices.
In Cairo the Egypt Independent reports that Egypt's most active insurgents, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, denied in a Twitter message yesterday that it had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) armed group. The Egyptian group distanced itself from a statement that appeared in its name online.
A statement purporting to be from Ansar appeared late on Monday on two jihadist Twitter feeds, saying the group had pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria and is now facing US-led air strikes.
A senior commander from the Sinai-based Ansar, which has killed hundreds of members of the Egyptian security forces over the last year, said that IS had given the group advice on how to operate more effectively.
Le Pays in Burkina Faso says in its main story that the national constitution has to be rewritten. That's what Blaise Compaoré was saying as well but Le Pays’ point of view is more than slightly different from that of the ousted president.
Far too much of the Burkinabé constitution bears the marks of having being dictated by Compaoré, with a view to promoting and protecting his own interests, it says.
In Kenya the main story in the reports that a Muslim cleric was last night shot dead by unknown assailants outside a mosque in Likoni, Mombasa. Sheikh Salim Bakari Mwarangi was shot while leaving Bilal Mosque after prayers.
Mwarangi supported government efforts to stamp out radicalism among youth in the region.
Officials said the slain cleric was a peace activist and his killing may have been tied to his stand against extremism in Mombasa.
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