African press review 7 November 2016
Issued on: Modified:
Is South Africa's finance minister to face new charges before the end of the year? And how is that case related to the struggles of President Jacob Zuma to stay in power? Why are armed Islamists suddenly making progress in Somalia? And how many Egyptian pounds are needed to buy one US dollar?
BusinessDay reports that Sunday paper City Press yesterday claimed that South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will face new charges before the end of the year.
Last week fraud charges against Gordhan were withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority.
According to the City Press story, the charges will again bear on alleged wrongdoing dating from 2007, when Gordhan was commissioner of the South African Revenue Service.
A police spokesman yesterday denied that new charges are imminent, stressing that the investigation has still to be concluded.
Other key figures face investigation, or not
Also yesterday, the South African Sunday Times reported that the special police unit the Hawks are pursuing another cabinet minister and two senior ANC officials for issues related to the wealthy and influential Gupta family.
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and party treasurer Zweli Mkhize are set to become the latest targets in the saga in which it is alleged that the Guptas interfered in the running of the state.
The three are reportedly being investigated for failing to inform the authorities that one of the Gupta brothers offered Jonas a massive bribe and the finance minister post.
The move is seen as part of a fightback strategy by President Jacob Zuma’s supporters, who are resisting growing calls for the president to step down following the release of the damning so-called State Capture report which details executive decisions allegedly made by non-elected individuals.
Zuma last week told the ANC top six that he will not resign.
According to the main story in this morning's BusinessDay, the Hawks say they are not investigating either Mantashe‚ Mkhize or Mcebisi Jonas.
Ethiopian withdrawal helps Somali militants regroup
Regional newspaper the East African reports that Somali Islamist militias al-Shebab are becoming increasingly emboldened following the systematic withdrawal of Ethiopian troops, a development that is threatening to reverse the recent gains in the war against terror in east Africa.
Al Shabab have not only retaken nine towns in the central region along the border with Ethiopia, but have also threatened to disrupt the presidential election scheduled for 30 November.
In the wake of the ongoing domestic political troubles in Ethiopia over the past month, Addis has been withdrawing troops that are not part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) but who have been instrumental in containing Al-Shebab in the central region.
An Amisom spokesman told The East African that the Ethiopian withdrawal is leaving a vacuum that is encouraging the reemergence of al-Shebab in areas where they were previously contained.
Is the Egypt pound floating or sinking?
The Cairo-based Egypt Independent looks at the impact of last week's decision by the Egyptian central bank to float the pound. Egyptian banks are offering market rates for US dollars as they try to build their reserves before interbank trading begins in earnest this week.
There have been warnings that a backlog of demand from businesses could revive the black market if the central bank does not inject dollars into the system to help smooth the transition to a floating currency.
One of the reasons for abandoning the Egyptian pound's peg to the US dollar was to close a black market for dollars that had boomed after the central bank imposed capital controls last year. The pound had slid to a record low of 18 per dollar on the unofficial market before last week's change of policy.
Egypt allowed its currency to fall from 8.8 to the dollar to 14.7 in a single day on Thursday, ditching the peg that had drained the central bank's foreign exchange reserves and forced it to ration dollar supplies.
It's not clear that the policy is working. The Egyptian pound was officially trading at 16 to the dollar yesterday, just short of the old blackmarket rate.
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