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African press review 1 March 2016


Are Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye going to contest the outcome of last month's Ugandan presidential election in the courts? Is South African President Jacob Zuma planning to sack Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan? And why is an Egyptian TV presenter going to spend the next six months behind bars?


In Uganda the main story in The Daily Monitor reminds us that this is the final day for court petitions contesting the outcome of last month's presidential election.

By close of business yesterday neither Amama Mbabazi nor Kizza Besigye had confirmed if they will petition the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the 18 February presidential elections whose outcome both men continue to dispute.

Incumbent president Yoweri Museveni was reelected for a fifth time with 61 per cent of the vote.

Today is the 10th day since the elections results were announced and the last day under law for any candidate to dispute the results in court.

Yesterday, according to the Monitor, the two opposition figures were trying to reach a final conclusion on court action but no positive signs had emerged by press time.

International observers noted in their reports that the election fell short of meeting acceptable standards of fairness and transparancy.

The top story in South African financial paper BusinessDay says President Jacob Zuma has denied reports that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s position is in jeopardy.

This follows statements by Gordhan and African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, indicating that there was a concerted effort to discredit the finance minister and the Treasury.

Gordhan received a letter from a special police investigating unit last week, questioning him about his knowledge of dubious dealings at the South African Revenue Service, days before he had to deliver last week’s all-important budget address.

The presidency has tried to play down the tensions, which BusinessDay warns could seriously weaken Zuma's position and further damage South Africa's struggling economy.

The president has other problems . . .

BusinessDay also reports that opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) contends that the dropping of more than 700 charges of fraud and corruption against Zuma by then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe, was born out of irrational political considerations not based in law or due process.

This led the DA to embark on a marathon court challenge six years ago to have the action, which is known as the "spy tapes", challenged. The hearing of the matter begins in the High Court in Pretoria later today.

The chairman of the DA’s federal executive, James Selfe, told a media conference yesterday that the opposition party wants to have the decision to drop the charges declared invalid, irrational and set aside by the court, a decision which could lead to the reinstatement of the charges against Zuma.

And South Africa's platinum mining sector could be facing a new strike.

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BusinessDay reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is mobilising for a strike at Sibanye Gold if the company fails to yield to the union’s wage demand.

This does not bode well for wage negotiations in the platinum sector scheduled for next month.

In 2014 Amcu’s 100,000 members embarked on a five-month strike in the platinum sector, causing huge financial losses.

The front page of regional newspaper The East African reports that suspected Ugandan rebels killed 13 civilians in an overnight raid on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to an army statement released yesterday.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are being blamed for the killings in three small isolated villages in North Kivu province.

Earlier an army spokesmperson said "terrorists" killed six people with machetes and three others were missing, while a local official spoke of two people decapitated in the village of Ntombi, where the local health centre "was completely looted."

Ntombi lies about 40 kilometres north-east of Beni in a part of North Kivu where the rebels from neighbouring Uganda are blamed for attacks and sometimes massacres.

The Allied Democratic Forces launched a rebellion against Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni more than 20 years ago but were forced to pull back into the DRC.

An Egyptian TV presenter is going to spend the next six months in jail.

The top story in the Cairo-based Egypt Independent reports that the Misdemeanor Court in the Cairo suburb of Giza yesterday sentenced television presenter Riham Saeed to six months in prison and fined her for defaming a woman who claimed she was sexually harassed at a shopping mall.

The court also gave Saeed a suspended one-year sentence for attacking the woman’s personal freedom.

The victim was slapped in the face by a young man whom she accused of harassing her on her way out of a Cairo mall.

Saeed invited the victim to her show so that she could tell her version of the story but the victim accused the presenter of taking personal photos from her cell phone without her permission and airing them on screen.

After showing the pictures, Saeed suggested that the clothing the victim was wearing at the time of the attack was improper, further suggesting that her account of the harassment incident was questionable.


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