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African press review 13 June 2015

There's a promise on company tax and mining royalties from South Africa's finance minister in today's papers, Standard & Poor's says the South African economic outlook is stable, African editors take a critical look at the Kenyan budget, the biggest in the country's history, with a huge chunk going on security spending.

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The government in South Africa has promised not to act "unilaterally" on tax.

According to the top story in this morning's Johannesburg-based BusinessDay, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene yesterday promised that changes to the tax system, particularly those like the proposed carbon tax and mining royalties, would be made only after consultation with the businesses concerned.

Slideshow Mandela

Elsewhere in BusinessDay, news that South Africa's sovereign credit and currency ratings have both been left unchanged by the international agency Standard & Poor's, with the outlook estimated as "stable". The agency report says real GDP growth is likely to be 2.1 per cent in 2015, rising to 2.8 per cent by 2017, based on increases in electricity generation capacity, rising consumer demand and a slight rebound in net exports.

South Africa has been warned to avoid strikes in crucial sectors.

BusinessDay also takes a critical look at the Kenyan budget, announced on Thursday.

Nairobi will spend the shilling equivalent of nearly 20 billion euros in the fiscal year ending in June 2016, one-tenth of that money going to buy equipment and hire security personnel to bolster forces fighting the Somali-based Islamic insurgents of Al-Shebab.

The rest of Kenya’s budget is aimed at addressing education and infrastructure deficits.

The figures are based on the belief that Kenya's economy will grow by seven per cent in the coming year, higher than the World Bank has forecast.

Mali's parliament yesterday voted to adopt new Prime Minister Modibo Keita’s government programme.

The west African nation remains divided among rival armed factions, plagued by drug trafficking and infiltrated by jihadist groups but the main Tuareg-led rebel faction is due to sign a peace deal next week.

Dossier: War in Mali

Keita’s programme, which focuses on the safety of people and goods, improving living conditions and pushing for justice, was approved by 116 MPs, with just 16 voting against.

Opposition leader Soumaila Cissé said he was sceptical of Keita’s programme, alleging that it contained "inaccuracies".

The Standard in Nairobi reports that the Kenyan government is once again seeking the intervention of the African Union in its bid to have the trial of Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) terminated.

Ruto faces charges linked to the 2008 post-election violence.

The Nairobi government will take up the matter with the regional body at the on-going 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to the Kenyan Daily Nation, Turkana North MP Christopher Nakuleu yesterday said security officers are to blame for not stopping the flow of guns into the country from South Sudan.

The parliamentarian said the guns were fuelling conflicts among Kenyan pastoralists.

Nakuleu blamed the recurrent attacks involving the Turkana and their counterparts from Ethiopia and South Sudan on the growing number of illegal guns.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

Also in the Daily Nation, news that two Kenyan human rights groups have suffered setbacks after the High Court declined to issue an order stopping the freezing of their bank accounts.

The rights groups, Muslims for Human Rights and Haki Africa got a reprieve when the Nairobi court stopped the Inspector-General of Police from recommending that they be declared terrorist groups. In April, the two organisations were listed as suspected of being associated with Al-Shebab.

Kenya also dominates the front page of regional paper The East African.

The main story reports that the number of visitors to Kenya fell by 25 per cent in the first five months of 2015, according to tourism board figures.

Insecurity is blamed for the fall in visitor numbers.

The East African also reports a dispute between the United Nations and Sudan over the extension of the mandate of UN peacekeepers in the western Darfur region.

Khartoum has reacted strongly to a recent UN report on Darfur, which it described as biased.

The UN has asked the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Darfur peacekeeping mission for a further year, despite Khartoum's repeated calls for an end to the operation.

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