African press review 30 May 2018
There's cautious optimism about the Ebola crisis in the DRC as a vaccination progamme ends successfully. Eleven African countries are on the verge of default as their foreign debt reaches unsustainable levels. And the South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters reject the minimum wage legislation, passed yesterday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is cautiously optimistic about the response to the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This follows the vaccination of 90 percent of people at risk in the city of Mbandaka according to a statement issued yesterday.
Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said more than 400 potential Ebola contacts had been vaccinated.
Although he could not say for certain the city had been safeguarded, he was cautiously optimistic, pointing out that there had been no explosive increase in the number of cases.
He also said he hoped to get government approval within days to use five experimental drugs to treat Ebola patients, in a clinical trial which could lay the groundwork for the more rapid treatment of future outbreaks.
Debt crisis rears its ugly head, again
Eleven African countries are in debt crisis, according to the international credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.
All 11 were part of the World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative of the early 1990s.
In its latest report, Standard & Poor’s lists Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia among the 11 countries where the debt initiative has failed.
It says that more than two decades after the Heavily Indebted Poor Country scheme, debt-servicing costs are now back to pre-crisis levels and have been increasing since 2011.
Uganda’s national debt has nearly trebled in the past three years to more than 50 percent of GDP, creating a risk of default, since nearly two-thirds of that borrowing is from external sources.
Standard & Poor's says the government debt across sub-Saharan Africa rose to 53 percent of GDP last year, compared with just 11 percent in 2011.
The agency report adds that, while Africa’s debt is not at the same level as the 1990s, debt servicing as a percentage of government revenues had returned to the crisis levels of that time.
Kenyan cybercrime law suspended by High Court
The High Court in Kenya has temporarily suspended sections of the recently-passed cybercrime law, due to come into effect today.
The Bloggers Association of Kenya sued the Attorney-General, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecution over the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act 2018.
The Kenya Union of Journalists and Article 19, a lobby that deals with freedom of expression and information, are listed as interested parties in the case.
According to the claimants, the disputed law contains provisions which deny, infringe and threaten freedom of expression.
They say millions of internet users are at risk of being arrested and prosecuted.
The bloggers claim that in 2016, at least 60 Kenyans were arrested for exercising their freedom of expression online while several journalists were silenced, intimidated, harassed or killed.
ANC vows to evict white farmers to test expropriation
The South African ruling party, the ANC, wants the government to start taking back white-owned farmland without compensation immediately.
Yesterday ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the party had asked its sub-committees to come up with a programme of action in the next two months to undertake "expropriation" in an orderly fashion.
Magashule said the party had adopted the report of the land summit, which discussed the matter two weeks ago. The aim now is to press ahead with the expropriation of land in order to test the argument that the constitution does permit such action without compensation.
Magashule said that should it be found that the South African constitution hinders expropriation‚ the party will begin the process of changing the constitution.
Mixed reception for minimum wage legislation
The South African Mail & Guardian reports that the controversial National Minimum Wage Bill was approved by the National Assembly yesterday.
However, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters opposed the proposals “with the contempt they deserve”.
The impact of the proposed national minimum wage means the rand equivalent of 1.36 euros an hour for most workers, 1.23 euros an hour for farm workers, one euro per hour for domestic employees and 75 cents for those in the Expanded Public Works Programme.