African press review 18 July 2016
Issued on: Modified:
Scientists warn on lack of tuberculosis drug research as international Aidsconference gets underway in TB-ridden South Africa. The African Union Commission launches an Africa-wide passport. And South Africa hires “tax hounds” to recover one billion euros of unpaid taxes.
The South African Business Day opens with a headline warning "No time to wait: Lack of funding for tuberculosis drug research threatens projects."
The alarm bell from scientists ties in with the opening of the 21st International Aids conference, which gets underway today in the coastal city of Durban.
The paper reports that TB is the world’s biggest infectious killer, killing 1.5 million people in 2014. The disease has spread in countries such as South Africa fuelled by HIV, which makes people more vulnerable to infection.
South Africa has the world’s second highest TB infection rate, with an estimated 380,000 cases in 2014, making it the ninth most afflicted country in the world.
More TB drug research needed
On the eve of the Aids conference, scientists say research into desperately needed new TB drugs is flagging because governments and pharmaceutical companies are not investing enough in the field.
Deputy South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the chairman of the South African National Aids Council, will officially open the conference this evening on behalf of President Jacob Zuma who is attending the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali‚ Rwanda.
African ticket to travel freedom
Rwanda’s New Times reports an African passport has been launched at the Kigali summit in order to fast-track integration across the continent. The African Union Commission introduced the passport so that citizens can travel across the continent without having to first apply for visas.
The outgoing chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, issued the first two copies of the passport to AU chairperson and Chadian president Idris Deby Itno and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
South Africa unleashes tax hounds
"Taxpayers beware!" heeds the Zimbabwean Mail & Guardian. "Sars has unleashed the tax hounds".
The paper says that in a bid to recover more than 15 billion rand (one million euros) of debt the South African Revenue Service has hired third-party debt collectors.
Administrators have handed confidential taxpayer information to 11 private agencies with the hope of recuperating at least 10 percent of that debt.
The firms will collect unpaid taxes, outstanding for longer than four years, by private companies and individuals.
This is the first time in more than a decade that the collection of outstanding taxes is being outsourced and it is hoped that 10 percent of the tax debt will be recovered.
A major concern, the paper says, is how the tax collecting can be done without compromising confidential taxpayer information by sharing it with third parties.
Taxpayers hiding overseas will not be safe - there’s a special collecting team assigned to that case.
Tanzania dreams of China-backed industrialisation
The East African claims Tanzania plans to dodge trade deals with the European Union and go full steam ahead instead with an industrialisation plan brokered with China.
The paper says Tanzania may never sign the Economic Partnership Agreements, legally binding bilateral contracts between the EU and individual African countries, so it can pursue its own economic agenda and safeguard its national budget.
The paper cites sources close to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment as confirming that Tanzania's major port city of Dar es Salaam has declined to sign the deal, aimed at turning the country into a source of raw material for European industries.
Tanzania it feels will opt instead to implement another development plan, if it can get funding from the Chinese government.
South Sudan strife prompts evacuations
The Sudan Tribune reports that the Sudanese government has so far evacuated 1,473 South Sudanese following the recent bloody clashes in the newborn state.
The committee tasked with monitoring the conditions of Sudanese citizens in conflict areas says 1,473 out of 3,000 persons who wished to return to Sudan from South Sudan have been evacuated so far.
On 7 July fighting erupted in the capital Juba between followers of President Salva Kiir and those of former rebel leader Riek Machar, who became vice-president under a deal to end a two-year civil war.
The violence broke out as the world’s newest nation prepared to mark five years of independence from Sudan on 9 July.