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African press review 22 May 2015

The row over high heels at the Cannes Film Festival features in the African papers. More constraints on NGOs operating in Kenya; a call for Burundi's president to postpone planned elections; and Nigeria's incoming president criticises his predecessor and the mystery of the oil producing country's fuel shortage. Plus, "thuggery"  and a purge of members in Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party in Friday's African press.


In South Africa, the Star leads with the earth-trembling controversy over high heels at the Cannes Film Festival currently underway on the Cote d'Azur.

The paper runs a piece from Valeria Richter, the Danish film producer who was stopped four times as she tried to make her way to a film premiere wearing flat shoes.

Part of her left foot is amputated and she is unable to keep her balance in heels.

It made no difference to the goons policing the festival, she says.

So what is this Cannes Film Festival story on dress codes really about, Richter wonders?

It's disappointing that this even needs to be discussed in 2015, she says. Heels are like any other limiting form of attire and should not be required anywhere, not for stewardesses and not in any other workplace.

It is sexist. Silly. Stupid. Outdated, she concludes.

Film and fashion walk alongside each other at the Cannes Film Festival and fashions change, so the authorities should come forward and simply state the logical and right answer: Thanks for supporting our festival and the films - wear flats, wear heels, wear what you like! Just come and join the celebration!

As you'd expect - Business Day's focus is less glamorous.

The paper headlines the news that the disciplinary inquiry into Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride was postponed yesterday after his lawyers applied for a stay of the proceedings.

This means it is unlikely the dispute between McBride and the police ministry will be finalised before the end of July, at the very earliest.

McBride was suspended by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who said he had allegedly covered up details of the unlawful rendition of six Zimbabweans.

On balance, the fuss over high heels in Cannes is more engaging.

In Kenya, the Daily Nation reports that a taskforce looking into the behaviour of NGOs has recommended a ban on those supporting gay rights.

The team suggests that a law be passed to ban organisations involved in indecency, espionage or terrorism.

It also suggested that public benefit organisations hand over a percentage of their donations to an authority to be established for “regulation.”

The paper tells readers that Civil Society Reference, a lobby group that opposed the initial amendments to the PBO Act, said the current law has sufficient regulations on how NGOs conduct themselves.

The most popular story in the daily Star is the seizure of 500 million shilling (4.6 million euro) cache of Kenyan ivory in Singapore.

Second most popular: President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Burundi’s president to postpone elections for the sake of stability.

One wonders if it's welcome advice.

In Nigeria, Vanguard reports that President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari has lamented that the out-going administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to provide the incoming government with all the necessary information needed for a smooth take-off next week, particularly on how to tackle the current fuel scarcity in the country.

The president-elect spoke on a day the Senate directed its committees on petroleum resources to immediately begin an investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the fuel crisis in the country.

Nigeria is one of the world's major oil producers. Doubtless, many ordinary Nigerians will await with interest an honest explanation of why the country is suffering a fuel crisis at all.

Punch meanwhile says there are strong indications that government workers in 18 states may start an indefinite strike over unpaid salaries.

The strike has already started in Plateau State and workers in Cross River State and others are expected to follow suit on Monday.

A report by the National Administrative Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress showed that 19 states owe salaries and pensions.

Last but not least, Newsday in Zimbabwe predicts that more heads are set to roll in Zanu PF, with the party’s political commissar warning that more purges are looming, as a new wave of factionalism threatens to ravage the former liberation movement.

Addressing a rally in Harare, Commissar Saviour Kasukuwere described himself as "one of the biggest political thugs in Zanu PF and some of these people are small thugs.”

It's the clearest sign yet that all was not well in the ruling party, opines Newsday.

Without mentioning names, Commissar Kasukuwere hinted that those opposed to him were on the verge of being purged.

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