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African press review 12 March 2015

Zuma faces the Economic Freedom Fighters in parliament. Kenya gets a new police chief. A Cairo court sets the date for a crucial verdict. And a Ugandan activist faces trial for holding an unauthorised meeting.


It was supposed to be the rematch of the millennium, round two of the great face-off between Jacob Zuma and the Economic Freedom Fighters. It happened yesterday and, sadly, it turned out to be a damp squib.

For those who came in late, Zuma and the Julius Malema-led Freedom Fighters have been tooth-and-nailing it for months now over when the South African president is going to pay back the money spent on upgrading his private home in KwaZulu-Natal. The last time the sides met, there was an almighty row with fisticuffs and the suspension of MPs.

Yesterday Zuma showed up in parliament for one of his statutory question and answer sessions and the Economic Freedom Fighters duly popped the question.

Zuma was waiting for them. He said he would not pay back any money spent on his Nkandla residence until a "determination" was made on the matter.

The president described the question as "premature" and ahead of the parliamentary process dealing with the matter.

"The public protector has not said pay back the money," according to Zuma. "The public protector has said [...] where there is undue benefit to the family or myself, she thinks this money might be paid back. But this should be determined by the minister of police.

"That determination has not been made. Why do you say I should pay back the money? You don’t even know how much," the president said, to loud applause from ruling party benches.

Well, in case it helps Mr President, we can tell you that a total of 17 million euros of public money was used to build your swimming pool, theatre, cattle enclosure and chicken coop. All as part of a security upgrade. Which may make Jacob Zuma's chickens the safest beasts on the planet. But won't, in the long run, save them from the pot.

The Kenyan Standard reports that Joseph Boinett was sworn in as the second inspector general of police in Kenya’s history yesterday

Boinett pledged to serve Kenyans without discrimination.

Elsewhere in the Standard, news that a state-of-the-art database will leave Kenyans with nowhere to hide.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday launched the Integrated Population Registration System.

According to the Standard, the system will capture critical data of all Kenyans and foreigners residing in Kenya, including refugees.

Through the platform all crucial documents such as birth certificates, national identity cards, passports, Kenya Revenue Authority tax status, National Health Insurance Fund and National Social Security Fund information will be accessible at the click of a button.

The main story in the Daily News in Egypt reports that a Cairo court yesterday set 31 March as the date for a verdict in the case of the 68 protesters arrested in downtown Cairo on the fourth anniversary of the January revolution.

Defence lawyers told the court that police procedures had not been followed during the protests and that several of the arrests were illegal. No police records exist which would allow lawyers, prosecution authorities or even the court to identify the security officials who made the arrests. Police statements are contradictory regarding the time and location of arrests.

Charges in the case include illegal public assembly, thuggery and violence and assaulting security officers.

One of the accused is Mohamed Douma, a leading figure in the revolution that forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down.

The Ugandan Daily Monitor reports that an American was yesterday charged in Lira Magistrate’s court with holding an illegal public meeting contrary to provisions of the Public Order Management Act.

The accused, Phil Wilmot, is the founder of Solidarity Uganda, a human rights and peace organisation.

The prosecution claims that on 6 December 2014 Wilmot and others still at large, without notifying the inspector general of police, organised a public meeting at Upcountry Guest House in Lira municipality, where they allegedly recruited people into activism.

Phil Wilmot denies the charges and is to appear in court again on 24 March.

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