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African press review 19 March 2015

This morning in South Africa, the big story is the ongoing saga of expenditure on Jacob Zuma's Nkandla personal residence, which cost R246-million - this pesky issue just won't go away for the president.


The main story in the Mail and Guardian is on a proposed vote of no confidence against Zuma. During a debate in parliament, the opposition DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane called the President a thief.

He said that he knew that many on his side of the house will vote against their consciences. He added  “You will vote to keep a man in office who is doing everything possible to evade 783 counts of fraud, corruption, and racketeering."

The ANC chief whip Stone Sizani has objected to the remarks, saying that he Zuma has not been convicted in a court of law of any of the charges.

The other story rumbling in South Africa surrounds the national electrical company. Business Day has the latest developments as its top story, explaining that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected suggestions that Eskom will be laying off staff.

This is in response to a report published last week by trade union Solidarity, saying that Eskom was planning to "retrench" (euphemism) 3,400 white workers as part of a cost-savings measure. Answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said: "The race is now on to get skilled people for Eskom - not on skin colour, but on skill."

The Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper leads with the story that aid agency World Relief Canada is to close its Kenya office at the end of this month. The aid agency has simply said that it's realigning its international operations and not added further details.

But, the daily points out that there has been a crackdown on charities operating within the country. Hundreds of other charities have been blacklisted and their accounts frozen, and the work permits of some expatriates working for NGOs have been rescinded. The shutdown of World Relief appears to be related to the government ordering 12 international charities to account for their finances or be shut down.

Also in the Daily Nation is the news that former deputy culture minister Grace Ogot has died. Ogot was a writer, who had published a novel and many short stories before she became a delegate to the UN. She also held a position with Unesco and in 1985 was appointed assistant minister for Culture. President Kenyatta praised Grace Ogot as "an extraordinary woman who demonstrated service to her country through her immense talent and unwavering patriotism".

Some bad news from Nigeria, where it appears that despite the liberation of some towns and villages in Borno State, troops have not been able to find kidnapped schoolgirls, this according to the Vanguard newspaper. The Chief of Army Staff did express to parliament the hope that as more areas were liberated, the Chibok girls might be found.

Better news about another Nigerian woman: Remi Sonaiya is the first woman to run for president in Nigeria’s history. And the Vanguard reports on her speech delivered to the Cosmopolitan Women’s Club, where she received a round of applause that lasted several minutes when she first took the floor.

In her address, she pointed out that there were many women at the head of businesses in Nigeria but that politics remains for the most part a man’s world.

The daily points out that in reality, she has no chance of beating the two main candidates in the upcoming elections - President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. But the paper also acknowledges that she has brought a welcome fresh voice to the campaign.

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