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African press review 12 February 2016


South African president Jacob Zuma had to wait a while for Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters to stop chanting, but Zuma did get to deliver his State of the Nation address last night. Accelerated growth is the answer to South Africa's ills; how to achieve it remains a big question.


South Africa needs an effective plan to address its challenges and put its economy on an accelerated growth path, President Jacob Zuma said in his state of the nation address in Parliament yesterday evening.

Zuma emphasised the global circumstances that are affecting other emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia, which are suffering economic contraction this year, and China, where growth will be lower than predicted.

The president did not provide details of his plan, except to say that red tape had to be removed, and legislative and regulatory blockages that inhibited investment had to be addressed.

He also announced that a framework agreement was being finalised in the national economic development and labour council to reduce the length and violence of strikes.

The president started his speech about 20 minutes late because of noisy objections by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs to the suspension of the normal rules of parliamentary procedure by the National Assembly Speaker.

The Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay says Zuma staged a last-minute bid to save his own and the nation’s credibility in a speech clearly aimed at staving off another credit ratings downgrade.

The paper says the seriousness of government intent will become clear only after the budget speech on February 24.

The South African currency, the rand, slipped to less than 16 to the US dollar following last night's presidential address.

On its African pages, BusinessDay reports that more than three million Zimbabweans have fled violence in their country, according to a member of the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) in Zimbabwe.

Speaking in Harare earlier this week, the Reverend Ray Motsi said the legacy of violence had endured for more than three decades and had become a knee-jerk response to any conflict in Zimbabwe.

This, he said, was because the sins of the past had neither been forgiven nor forgotten, mainly because of a defective government policy on reconciliation.

Regional paper The East African reports that senior US officials have warned that the Democratic Republic of Congo could be hit by violence worse than that in Burundi if DRC President Joseph Kabila does not surrender power later this year.

The DRC’s constitution states that a president cannot serve for more than two terms. But President Kabila, who took office in 2001, has not indicated whether he will respect that provision.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield says a political confrontation over the DRC’s constitution could carry “potentially disastrous results for the people of the DRC and the region.”

The East African also warns that Somalia militants of the Al Shabaab terrorist group are planning to attack liberated areas disguised in uniforms stolen from the African peacekeepers.

Some of the uniforms were obtained during the attack on the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) camp in El-Adde, Gedo region in January, in which an unknown number of Kenyan soldiers lost their lives.

In Cairo, The Egypt Independent reports that jihadist attacks have brought the country's tourist industry to its knees.

Since Egypt's then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013, an insurgency led by the Islamic State jihadist group has kept away millions of tourists.

Tourism in Egypt was dealt a body blow when a Russian airliner blew up mid-air over the Sinai Peninsula last October, killing all 224 people on board, most of them Russian tourists.

The number of tourist arrivals, already dwindling in the turmoil triggered by the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, plummeted after the Sinai crash.

The tourism ministry in Cairo admits a 15 per cent slump in revenues last year, with the shortfall compared to 2014 reaching 300 million euros per month in November and December.

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