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African press review 16 April 2018

There's more trouble on the economic front for South Africa. Could there be a conflict of interest at the head of the Kenyan electoral commission? And can poetry land you in jail?


There's more bad news for the South African economy.

According to the top story in this morning's financial paper BusinessDay, the World Bank has warned that the National Development Plan won't work unless there's a significant increase in economic growth.

The global lender expects South Africa’s growth to accelerate to 1.4 percent this year, that's up from a previous estimate of 1.1 percent, but the World Bank does not expect economic growth to rise beyond 2.0 percent in the medium term.

To achieve the goals set out in the National Development Plan, South Africa would need growth of 8.0 percent.

Election dispute at Nairobi university

There's trouble at the University of Nairobi but none of the Nairobi-based papers seems interested.

The main story in regional daily the East African reports that police yesterday afternoon fought students who were protesting against the swearing-in of a student leader.

The demonstrators burned tyres, destroyed facilities and stoned cars before police officers dispersed them.

The protesters claim that the college administration imposed the new leaders of the University of Nairobi Students Association before an election could be held.

The constitution of the University of Nairobi Students Association stipulates that the chairman should be elected by delegates chosen by the students.

Another cloud over Kenyan electoral commission

In Kenya itself the Daily Nation reports another spot of bother for the electoral commission.

According to the story, the legal firm founded by the electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati has been linked to a tender for legal services, suggesting a possible conflict of interest.

The Daily Nation reports that Cootow and Associates, founded by Chebukati in 2006, has represented the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in at least six election petitions.

Three of those cases concerned National Assembly seats.

While neither Chebukati nor the firm is accused of wrongdoing, says the Nation, the case does raise the question whether it was prudent for the legal firm to seek business from a public institution headed by the company founder.

Some of Israel's detained Africans to be released

Over at the Nairobi-based Standard, there's a front-page story headlined "Israel to free 200 African migrants awaiting deportation".

The report says Israel will release about 200 jailed African migrants in the absence of a final deal to deport them and thousands more Eritrean and Sudanese nationals who entered Israel illegally, the interior ministry said yesterday.

The government has been trying to finalise an agreement with Uganda to take in the migrants, who have entered Israel on foot across the Egyptian border over the past decade.

Most of the 200 men set for release were sent to a desert prison in recent months to await deportation to Uganda.

But with negotiations continuing over that deal with Uganda, Israel’s interior ministry, which has faced court challenges by rights groups over the detentions, issued a statement yesterday saying it would begin releasing the migrants.

Poet behind bars for disparaging Somaliland

A court in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has sentenced a young poet to three years in jail.

Nacima Qorane was found guilty of bringing the state into contempt by allegedly calling for Somaliland to reunite with Somalia.

Pressure groups in Somaliland said Qorane's human rights have been violated.

Somaliland declared independence in 1991 but is not recognised as an independent nation internationally.

The poet was arrested in January after returning from the Somali capital Mogadishu, where prosecutors said she had recited poetry calling for Somali unity.

The prosecution said that she had labelled the self-declared Republic of Somaliland a "region" and "insulted and defamed" its government.

North-west Somalia broke away from the rest of the country after a civil war.

The territory is home to about 3.5 million people.

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