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African press review 13 March 2015

Boko Haram, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and South Africa's Jacob Zuma make headlines today.


Lagos-based Vanguard is reporting on the use of mercenaries in the fight against the Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The paper quotes security and diplomatic sources saying the additional fighters are being paid 400 dollars a day. What remains murkier, however, is where exactly they have come from. Now President Goodluck Jonathan has confirmed that two companies were lending “trainers and technicians” but he hasn't revealed the names of the companies, the nationalities of those involved or even the numbers.

This has led Vanguard to speculate. Apparently a west African security source and a South African defense source told Reuters news agency that the foreign troops were linked to the bosses of former South African private military firm Executive Outcomes.

This company is best-known for its involvement in Angola’s 1975-2002 civil war and in an internal conflict in Sierra Leone in 1995. But it was disbanded in 1998, under pressure from the post-apartheid government in Pretoria to curtail mercenary activities.

This is all rather questionable in terms of transparency and democracy. But of course Jonathan has been under pressure to do something, particularly in the run-up to the elections this month.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Lagos-based daily This Day is more focused on the upcoming elections and, more specifically, Jonathan's visit to the Awujale people of Ijebu land where he was told that Yoruba leaders cannot campaign for any candidate.King Oba Adetona received the president in his palace and pointedly told him that it was wrong for any oba to campaign for any politician in his domain.

Meanwhile, also reported in This Day, the national leader of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) alleges that Jonathan and the presidency tried to silence him ahead of the elections due to take place at the end of this month. Senator Bola Tinubu said that the plan to silence him ahead of the next elections was designed to throw the opposition party into disarray, which he said, was premised on the belief that an APC without him “will not stand”.

The APC national leader disclosed that the presidency had hatched two different options, noting that the first  “is to employ trained snipers to attack Tinubu or assassinate him".

Another country, another president in trouble...

South African President Jacob Zuma is in hot water again. He has been summoned by lawmakers to answer questions in parliament at the beginning of April, according to the Mail and Guardian's lead story. He himself had wanted to waggle his way out of facing some pretty awkward questions until November.

This session is meant for Zuma to mop up unanswered questions left over from a special session from August last year. This session you may recall ended prematurely when Economic Freedom Fighters MPs demanded that Zuma promise parliament when he is going to pay back a portion of the taxpayers’ money used to upgrade his Nkandla home.

This issue will be paramount in the minds of his questioners next month. But, given the repeated delays in getting answers, Zuma will now also face questions about what the Mail and Guardian call his "dodging of parliament".

During his first oral question session of the year in the National Assembly on Wednesday "gone was the normally amicable, giggly and laid-back President Jacob Zuma as the head of state took members of parliament to task for howling and interrupting him", the Mail and Guardian remarks .

Kenya's Daily Nation leads with the story of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee worrying that his life is in danger. Ababu Namwamba handed over a 15-minute recording on Wednesday in which an MP confessed to being bribed by Defence Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo. Namwamba is now worried he wil be threatened due to the influences at play.

In the recording he handed over, Namwamba identified the man as Samuel Arama, MP for Nakuru Town West.

His audience in the recording are allegedly Junet Mohammed, Cord party leader Raila Odinga and Namwamba himself. He, however, did not divulge who made the recording, nor where and when.

Arama details the meeting the defence secretary allegedly hosted at the Silver Springs Hotel in Nairobi, where 1.5 million Kenyan shillings (15,420 euros) were handed over to corrupt MPs.

The committee, which yesterday heard the recording, is to decide whether it can be admitted as evidence.

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