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African press review 7 April 2018

The outcome of court appearances for Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema in South Africa. A warning that Zimbabwe's former first lady, Grace Mugabe, could soon find herself in the dock. And the Ethiopian dam talks collapse again.


Former South African president Jacob Zuma has once again claimed that the corruption charges against him are politically motivated.

This is the main story in most South African dailies this morning.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters outside the High Court in Durban, Zuma also took a swipe at those whom he said he trusted but did now not support him, according to BusinessDay.

This, says the Johannesburg-based financial paper, could be seen as a veiled reference to the ruling ANC following a decision by the party's national executive committee that party structures are not to support anyone facing allegations of corruption. ANC members are allowed to show support in their personal capacity, but not when representing the ruling party.

The Mail & Guardian counted 5,000 supporters outside the Durban courthouse. Zuma told them he is being targeted because of his stance on radical economic transformation.

The Sowetan describes the former president as tired but quotes him as saying he was "doing okay".

After his brief court appearance, Zuma said he was being treated like a prisoner, even by people he had trusted. He also said that just because he had been charged did not mean he was guilty. He urged the country to listen to the so-called "spy tapes", saying that would show he had done nothing wrong and was innocent.

The spy tapes are recordings of phone conversations that apparently show political interference in the decision to charge Zuma 13 years ago.

Zuma's trial, on 16 counts of corruption and fraud connected to an arms deal in the 1990s, is scheduled to resume on 8 June.

Malema also gets off the hook, for now

Opposition Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was also in court yesterday, and also saw his case postponed.

Malema is accused of contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act for allegedly telling his supporters to occupy farmland.

When he appeared in Bloemfontein Regional Court yesterday, the prosecution asked for a postponement.

Malema had brought an application in the High Court in Pretoria, saying he intends to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation under which he is charged. The Riotous Assemblies Act is an apartheid-era law.

Grace Mugabe suspected of ivory-smuggling role

Continuing what reads very much like a legal gazette this morning, news that Zimbabwean police investigating an ivory-smuggling racket will soon question former ruler Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, who is accused of arranging shipments abroad.

The Herald newspaper, once the mouthpiece of the Mugabe regime, says police are making progress in their probe into Grace's role in allegedly smuggling ivory to China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Documents from the Zimbabwe parks authority allegedly accuse the former first lady of ordering officials to grant her permits to export millions of dollars of ivory as gifts to foreign leaders.

Once outside Zimbabwe, the ivory was rerouted to black markets.

Dam talks damned?

Negotiations on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project remain blocked. That's the main story in this morning's Egypt Independent.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke yesterday in the wake of a meeting held in Sudan to reach a compromise between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. He said that the consultations had not produced significant results.

All outstanding issues were discussed, Shoukry said in a press statement after the 16-hour meeting, including ways to implement the instructions issued by the leaders of the three countries regarding a path out of the stalemate in negotiations on the technical impact of the project, notably its effect on downstream users of Nile water.

Shoukry stressed that the discussions had been transparent and frank, but unfruitful.

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