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African press review 10 February 2016


Ugandan police have been stocking up on the anti-riot gear, which might be a bit worrying with presidential elections just around the corner. Rwanda has once again denied any interest in destabilising the regime of Pierre Nkurunziza in neighbouring Burundi. And Jacob Zuma says he will pay back the money!


There's a worrying headline on the front page of regional paper The East African. It reads "Uganda police buy anti-riot gear ahead of elections".

Those elections are due on 18 February, and the police says their latest acquisitions including protective clothing, truncheons, water cannon, armoured trucks are intended to bolster security. That's good. However, critics say the point of all the new hardware is to intimidate opponents of President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 30-year rule.

In the Kampala-based Daily Monitor, President Yoweri Museveni defends his long stay in power and his campaign to extend his 30-year presidency for another five years, saying he needs to help east African countries achieve a federation.

Museveni said a single sovereign state of East Africa, which would include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, is his target and must be achieved.

Museveni's two major rivals, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi, have both attracted large crowds on the campaign trail. Analysts say the incumbent faces his toughest challenge yet.

Last month Uganda's police chief Kale Kayihura was quoted in a local newspaper as telling a civilian anti-crime force to prepare for "war" after the election.

Also in The East African, there's a report that Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo has once again denied accusations that her government recruited and trained Burundian refugees to fight and oust President Pierre Nkurunziza. She said the unfounded allegations were based on the fact that Rwanda has been hosting refugees considered hostile to Bujumbura. Mushikiwabo said Rwanda could not send them back unless their safety was guaranteed.

A confidential United Nations report made public earlier this week accused Rwandan of secretly training rebels to overthrow President Nkurunziza.

Not surprisingly, there's a lot about South African president Jacob Zuma on the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay.

"Zuma tries to sidestep fallout with climbdown," reads the main headline, in an intriguing image.

The report says Zuma’s lawyers yesterday asked judges at the Constitutional Court to avoid issuing an order that could be used as the basis for impeachment after a huge climbdown on the Nkandla scandal.

The lawyers conceded that Zuma is, indeed, bound by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive that he pay back some of the 14 million euros of public money spent unnecessarily on upgrades to his private home at Nkandla.

By making the concession, Zuma has, according to BusinessDay, wiped out the work of several official investigations and two parliamentary ad hoc committees that had exonerated him.

The president’s lawyers sought to contain the potential political fallout of the court case, saying the highest court should not be "inveigled" into giving orders that could be used by opposition parties to call for Zuma’s impeachment.

Julius Malema has promised that his Economic Freedom Fighters party will not relent in its fight to have the South African president impeached, even if it means going back to the Constitutional Court. Malema was speaking in Johannesburg yesterday afternoon.

Counsel for the Economic Freedom Fighters asked the court to order that Zuma’s initial stance towards the public protector’s report was a violation of his duty to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.

The opposition party has asked the court to declare Zuma in breach of his oath of office.

There's more trouble brewing for Kenyan schools, according to the main story in this morning's Daily Nation.

The Nairobi-based daily says the Kenya National Union of Teachers has said it will not sign a collective bargaining agreement unless it gets a 60 percent salary increase.

The two main Kenyan teaching unions have until 18 February to sign the deal with the Teachers Service Commission.

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