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African press review 17 December 2016

South Africa's National Union of Metalworkers wants President Jacob Zuma to be tried on 783 charges of fraud‚ racketeering and corruption. And they say Zuma should go to jail if he's found guilty. Is Uganda going to leave the International Criminal Court, just weeks after the case initiated by Kampala against a Lord's Resistance Army leader opens in The Hague?


There's more trouble for South African President Jacob Zuma on the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

"Numsa calls for Zuma to face charges," reads the headline.

The report explains that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is calling for the president to face the 783 charges brought against him by the National Prosecuting Authority in 2007.

Union general secretary Irvin Jim says the union's annual conference this week resolved that Zuma should face the charges and be sent to jail if he is found guilty.

In April the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the 783 fraud‚ racketeering and corruption charges against Zuma should be reinstated after an application was launched by the opposition Democratic Alliance.

Zuma is still appealing that decision.

Zuma to decide fate of Marikana police commissioner

A separate story in BusinessDay says Zuma has received the final report by the board of inquiry investigating suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office and allegations of misconduct against her.

The board concluded its work in November.

City Press has reported that the board has found that Phiyega was not fit to hold office after her role in the 2012 Marikana massacre when police killed 34 mineworkers.

The judicial report by Judge Ian Farlam on the Marikana massacre implicated Phiyega and other senior police officers in the deaths.

Zuma suspended Phiyega in 2015.

Uganda confused on International Criminal Court

Regional paper the East African says Uganda will officially announce its position on the International Criminal Court next month.

However, the country's use of the court, as demonstrated by the part played by Kampala in initiating the trial of former Lord's Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen, shows a country caught between criticism and compliance.

Burundi, South Africa and Gambia have all notified the United Nations of their intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute. Kenya has been harshly critical of the international tribunal, while Uganda remains unclear whether it will join those pulling out or not.

Under the Rome Statute full withdrawal comes into effect one year after notification to the UN treaty office.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has dismissed the court as “useless” and urged his colleagues on the continent to withdraw.

Tanzania supports Kenyan candidate for top AU job

The East African also reports that Tanzania has agreed to support Kenya’s Amina Mohamed in the race for the job of chairperson of the African Union Commission.

However, the report adds that Tanzania's support for Amina Mohamed, who has been endorsed by the East Africa Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, could shift after the first round of voting in elections scheduled for late January when countries start horse-trading.

Human Rights Watch critical of Egyptian migrant legislation

The main story in the Cairo-based Egypt Independent says the international organisation Human Rights Watch has praised Egypt’s first law on irregular migration, at the same time warning that the legislation “fails to affirm important refugee rights”.

The law imposes prison sentences and fines up to half a million Egyptian pounds on anyone directly involved in smuggling migrants.

Human Rights Watch says punishing human smugglers is an important element for protecting asylum seekers and migrants against abuses. But the organisation insists that refugees remain vulnerable unless their fundamental rights are protected.

The new law is ambiguous on the question of punishing the migrants themselves, since crossing Egyptian borders without permission can be considered a crime.

Human Rights Watch also criticised the law for not affirming the right of refugees or asylum seekers to refuse being forcibly returned to a country where they would face a risk of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, or a threat to life.


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