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African press review 21 August 2018

Nigeria's political foes preach peace on the Eid-al-Adha Muslim holiday. And the arrest and detention of Uganda's rising politician sparks demonstrations in Kampala.


We begin in Nigeria, where the country's leaders have seized upon Tuesday’s Eid-al-Adha celebrations to send messages of peace and dialogue.

Their action comes after weeks of rising political tensions marked by massive defections from the ruling APC party by top lawmakers, including the Senate President Bukola Saraki, to join the opposition ahead of next year's general elections.

Premium Times reports that Saraki denounced on Monday the so-called actions by so-called selfish politicians undermining Nigeria’s democracy, and urged pilgrims performing this year’s hajj pilgrimage to pray for the country’s unity.

“Nigeria is passing through a difficult phase of nation-building occasioned by economic challenges, rising insecurity and threats to our corporate existence as a nation by the uncertain political atmosphere by actions of selfish politicians,” Saraki said in a statement.

In another message to Nigerians published by several newspapers, the former vice president Atiku Abubakar, along with the ruling APC, urge Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of love, sacrifice and peaceful coexistence.

Nigeria’s problems aren’t due to diversity but rather the attitude of citizens towards one another, Abubakar is quoted as saying.

For its part, the enlarged PDP opposition alliance appeals to Nigerians to join hands and pray that the nation gets the right leadership.

Polarising arrests

Several Nigerian papers also lead with the polarizing trial of 112 pro-Biafra women arrested over the weekend while staging a peaceful protest in Owerri.

Vanguard reports that one of the women, who is pregnant, broke down in court while recounting the beatings she allegedly received from police during the protest. She was then rushed to an undisclosed hospital.

According to the paper, the women stand accused of belonging to the outlawed separatist group IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and are charged of conspiring to commit treason.

Zuma trial opens

In South Africa, the big story making rounds in the papers is the opening of the highly anticipated judicial commission of inquiry into the “state capture scandal” that led to former President Jacob Zuma's removal from office.

Mail and Guardian reports that as the trial opened in Parktown on Monday, South Africa's deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo defined the scope of the inquiry as well as the officials he intended to call. He is heading the commission.

Acting chief procurement officer Willie Mathebula was expected to appear Tuesday before the commission as the first witness to give testimony, according to Pretoria News.

M and G reports that Mathebula‚ who has been at Treasury for the last 15 years‚ will give details about the government’s procurement systems.

The Sowetan reports that at the opening of the trial, Zuma’s lawyers and legal teams acting on behalf of those implicated in the scandal asked for more time to peruse documentation that will help them to prepare their defence.

In related news, Times Live says it is able to report that Zuma’s former trusted and powerful adviser Lakela Kaunda has been named as the fixer of a meeting between a state capture whistleblower and the infamous Gupta family.

Bobi Wine

The Ugandan Daily Monitor has an explosive interview with pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine about the circumstances surrounding his arrest and detention over the stoning of President Yuweri Museveni's convoy.

Bobi Wine told the newspaper that soldiers broke into his room on the night of the incident and hit him with an iron bar on the head, and “pulled his genitals until he lost consciousness”.

According to the Monitor, the lawmaker only woke up in Gulu and realised he was pissing blood as he waited to be airlifted to the Makindye Military Barracks in Kampala.

The newspaper reports that Museveni issued a statement yesterday saying Bobi Wine had no head and chest injuries and did not sustain any damages to his internal organs.

Meanwhile, Kenya's Standard leads with news that Ugandan police and soldiers closed off parts of Kampala for several hours on Monday firing teargas and gunshots into the air to break up protests over Bobi Wine's arrest.

The publication holds that the arrest and detention of the popular MP, a vocal critic of the long-serving president, has angered many in Uganda and led to protests in the capital.


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