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African press review 8 August 2017


Tax avoidance in Nigeria, political chaos in South Africa and electoral violence in Kenya make for some bleak reading in this morning's African press.


Punch is raising some alarming points about Nigeria's tax revenue this morning.

Writer Tayo Oke opens with a sardonic quote by Benjamin Franklin, "In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Oke says that the National Tax Policy review committee has revealed that only 10 million Nigerians actually pay tax.

According to Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun, only 20 percent of the 70 million workforce in Nigeria pay tax.

Behind the slight discrepancy in these two figures, Oke says there is a considerable gap between citizens’ earnings and the government tax intake.

Why is tax avoidance rife in Nigeria?

Oke says it's a vicious circle - many citizens refuse to pay tax when they see the appalling level of public service in Nigeria, especially in the areas of security and welfare.

When they have to provide their own energy and security, what do they have to gain?

But the state cannot fully function until it has enough tax revenue to meet its obligations.

"So, which one do you think comes first?" Oke asks at the end of his piece. "The chicken, or the egg?"

Chaotic governance in South Africa

South Africa's Business Day is running an editorial on the "chaos and instability" at the heart of President Jacob Zuma's cabinet.

A report by the Institute of Race Relations measures how long cabinet posts are occupied by the same person, as well as the length of time the same minister and head of department will, on average, spend working together.

Business Day says the findings are shocking. From May 2009 to July 2017 the average national department was subject to a cabinet reshuffle every nine months.

The average director-general served 22 months before their contract ended, or they were fired or redeployed.

Ministers and directors-general worked together only 14 months on average, before a change was made.

"In the government, where most programmes are multiyear and may even have a longer lead time than the five-year term of the government itself, this is seriously destabilising", Business Day argues.

According the paper, Zuma alone is to blame. "Zuma has never been serious about government or governance; he chooses the cabinet on the basis of political patronage," it judges.

The editorial ends in an implicit call for Zuma to be impeached, saying, "It is urgent that integrity and stability return to the cabinet and the public service."

What's eating Gitau Warigi?

Tanzania's Citizen is running a doomsday piece by veteran Kenyan journalist Gitau Warigi, who has some harsh words for his fellow countrymen.

On the subject of the general election, which is due to take place today, he says,  "We Kenyans have an annoying conceit that we are a special people: the best in hospitality, the best sports runners, the framers of the best constitution in Africa. [...] In truth, we are not."

Warigi goes on to describe Kenya as "a problematic country with a bad reputation due to our inability to manage our emotions when it comes to elections."

he believes that nothing has changed since the violence of the 2007 election and that Kenya's "tribal warriors are ready for round two".

In what must surely be the darkest editorial of the year, Warigi predicts that this election too will end in some kind of bloodbath and that it will take the "helping hand of the Almighty" for everything to go right.

To read RFI's reports of Kenya's 2017 election click here


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