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African press review 9 November 2015

The water crisis gets really serious in South Africa with a threat to national food security. Burundi could be refused the chairmanship of the East African Community next month because of worries about the legitimacy of President Nkurunziza. And Kenyan MPs plan a protest at the International Criminal Court.


There's a sombre story in South African financial paper BusinessDay, headlined "Drought could cost country billions in crop imports".

According to the report, crop failure caused by drought could burn a multibillion-rand hole in the economy.

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In a normal year South Africa typically records a two-million-tonne maize surplus, from which it generates several billion rand in export revenue. But Grain SA estimates that the country will have to import 770,000 tonnes of maize until the end of April next year. The country will also need wheat imports to make up for shortfalls triggered by drought conditions.

South Africa normally supplies 70 per cent of its Southern African Development Community neighbours’ maize imports. Despite the domestic shortfall, South Africa is committed to exporting 630,000 tonnes of maize to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

In separate stories, retailers are warning of a nationwide shortage of fruit and vegetables. The BusinessDay editorial warns that the water crisis poses a real threat to food security.

The drought could have consequences for South Africa’s balance of payments, cutting exports of wine, while increasing the need for food imports.

The country has already started to import maize and a weak rand could make food imports very costly.

The main story in The East African says the prevailing insecurity and uncertainty in Burundi following controversial elections could cost the country the chairmanship of the East African Community, which comes up for rotation at the end of this month.

The chair, currently held by Tanzania’s former president Jakaya Kikwete, is supposed to go to Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza at the Heads of State Summit later this month.

However, officials were not even sure President Nkurunziza would travel to the summit in Arusha, Tanzania. The last time he left the country to attend an EAC meeting in Tanzania, soldiers attempted to overthrow his government.

The Nairobi-based Daily Nation reports that Kenya has conceded before Africa’s top human rights body that corruption is a major problem in upholding human rights and dignity in the country.

The admission came just a day after the country was put on the spot over violation of human rights during the ongoing 57th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul, The Gambia.

Senior Deputy Solicitor General, Maryann Njau Kimani, presenting Kenya’s report at the forum, said inadequate resources and terrorism were also hindering the implementation of the constitutional, legal and administrative measures to guarantee rights.

Non-governmental organisations at the conference argued that very little has been done to address the issues of extrajudicial execution, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance.

Later today the Kenyan delegation will answer questions on the country's human rights record from participants.

Over at The Standard, the main story says members of the Kenyan ruling Jubilee coalition plan to camp in The Hague during the Assembly of State Parties conference that opens on 18 November. The Assembly of State Parties is basically the administrative council of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This, they say, is in a bid to press for the Hague-based court to drop the criminal cases facing Deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang. The two are accused of complicity in the violence which followed the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections.

The Standard says 43 MPs and Senators have vowed to face ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and demand the dropping of the case which they claim is politically motivated.

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