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African press review 7 November 2017

The outcome of the Kenyan presidential election is back before the country's Supreme Court. The judges have two weeks to make a decision. Ugandan hospital doctors are on strike for the first time in two decades. And how a South African sugar company escaped paying three million euros to the Zambian government.


The outcome of Kenya's presidential election saga will be decided by the country's Supreme Court.

Nairobi-based daily the Standard reports that the nation's top judges have 14 days to decide whether President Uhuru Kenyatta was validly elected on 26 October.

Last night former Kilome MP Harun Mwau petitioned the Supreme Court to invalidate the repeat presidential election, arguing that the poll did not comply with the constitution.

This prolongs the suspense over the presidency that has dragged on since 1 September, when the Supreme Court nullified Uhuru's win in the 8 August presidential poll.

Following the successful petition by opposition leader Raila Odinga, the court ordered a fresh election but the National Super Alliance presidential candidate boycotted the poll that Uhuru won with 98 percent of votes cast.

Last night's petition means that preparations for Kenyatta’s swearing-in for a second term in office will be put on hold for the next 14 days to await the petition’s outcome. And were the judges to nullify the vote again the political crisis would stretch to January next year, when a repeat vote would be expected.

Ugandan medics on strike over pay and conditions

Doctors in Uganda have gone on strike for the first time in over 20 years.

The dispute concerns medical staff in Ugandan public hospitals and is in protest against low salaries and shortages of essential supplies.

A spokesman for the Uganda Medical Association says his members are forced to work without basic necessities like gloves, painkillers and disinfectant.

The union wants entry-level pay for doctors in public healthcare in Uganda increased from about 300 euros per month to 2,300 euros.

Regional newspaper the East African says the strike will fuel public disillusionment with President Yoweri Museveni’s government, already facing anger over a plan to extend his 31-year rule.

the 73-year-old is currently barred from running in the next polls in 2021 because the constitution imposes an age ceiling of 75 for candidates.

The ruling party is working to scrap that age limit.

Bashir tells Darfur refugees to go home

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says it is time to close the refugee camps in Darfur.

Bashir yesterday told a youth convention in Khartoum that the Darfur conflict was now over and it was time for the hundreds of thousands of those displaced by the war to return home.

Last month, the UN estimated that about three million people in Darfur needed aid, with nearly 1.6 million living in the region's 60 camps.

Bashir alleged that the camps have become business ventures for foreign aid groups.

"They come and offer humanitarian aid, take pictures of our people to get donations and then take 80 percent of these donations themselves," the president said yesterday, without naming any aid organisation.

South Africans in Paradise Papers hell

Johannesburg financial paper BusinessDay says many South African companies and individuals appear in the "Paradise Papers", the leak of tax avoidance details from the Bermuda-based legal firm Appleby.

BusinessDay says the documents highlight damning cases of tax abuse and questionable practices involving multinational companies, politicians, celebrities, wealthy executives and royals.

The long list of Appleby's international clients include companies and high-net-worth individuals with links to South Africa, such as the largest Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed commodities company, Glencore, and the country’s largest financial institution, Standard Bank.

The Paradise Papers include references to Shanduka   the company in which Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa held a stake until 2014   and a number of Glencore’s South African-born executives including Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg.

BusinessDay points out that, in a brochure for potential clients, Appleby brags about its role in advising Standard Bank on a 70 million loan for the purpose of refinancing Zambia Sugar, a subsidiary of South Africa's Illovo Sugar.

The non-governmental organisation ActionAid has already exposed how Illovo used artificial structuring to dodge Zambian taxes. This meant the South African company paid an effective tax rate of 0.5 percent when Zambia's corporate tax rate is 35 percent. ActionAid estimates that Illovo deprived the Zambian government of up to three million euros in taxes – 14 times more than the amount of British food aid. Legally speaking, they did nothing wrong.

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