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African press review 1 September 2018

Xenopobia in South Africa. "Startling revelations" about "state capture" by the wealthy Gupta family. And Uganda's pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine en route to the United States for medical treatment.


In South Africa the Sowetan reflects on the violence around Johannesburg in which four people are known to have died.

In an opinion piece headlined "Hesitance by state feeds xenophobia", the paper says "Yet another sad episode of random attacks on shops owned by immigrants took place in our townships yesterday."

The killing of a young man suspected of attempting to rob a stall owned by an immigrant seems to have sparked the violence, it reports.

The paper says anger among local residents turned to fury over "fake goods" and "poisonous" food and beverages allegedly sold to the poor in townships by immigrant shopkeepers.

The paper reports that shops belonging to Pakistanis and Somalis were looted in parts of Soweto, saying "the unrest quickly threatened to become yet another shameful chapter in our country's history of xenophobia".

The Sowetan notes that there have been complaints about an illicit food market targeting township customers and residents of other working-class areas.

The paper hold the government partly responsible, saying it has ignored complaints and done little to investigate.

"This failure to intervene by the authorities has opened a gap for opportunists who use the community's complaints for their xenophobic ends," the Sowetan says.

It believes the solution is to work closely with immigrant traders to make sure that goods sold to consumers in townships meet the same health and safety standards we expect in affluent and middle-class suburbs.

The Gupta machine

BusinessDay interests itself into the Commission enquiring into  "state capture" citing "10 things we have learnt so far".

The paper says witnesses have "revealed the inner workings of the Gupta machine, with some startling revelations".

For those who didn't know, the Guptas are wealthy Indian-born South African family with a business empire spanning computer equipment, media and mining. It's been the focus of scrutiny because of its close ties to Jacob Zuma during his presidency.

The ties have led to claims of corruption, undue influence and of state capture; that's to say government decisions taken to benefit the Guptas, Zuma and other influential friends.

The lead revelation headlined by BusinessDay is "Jacob Zuma gave the orders." The paper says "former government spokesperson Themba Maseko disclosed that former President Zuma had personally called him and told him to give the Guptas what they wanted."

Another witness told the commission that "in early 2010, the Guptas were already 'running things'."

Among other claims:

  • the Guptas could get you fired from your government job;
  • they admitted they collected intelligence on political figures they wished to influence:
  • they bragged that they controlled the investigative and prosecutorial parts of the criminal justice system;
  • they bragged that they earned six billion rand from the government:
  • they threatened to kill a former deputy finance minister;
  • the ruling ANC knew about the Gupta state capture plan as early as 2010;
  • last but not least; the Guptas bragged that they had made Duduzane Zuma a billionaire. He's the son of Jacob Zuma by the way.

It's exaggeration to describe the revelations as startling.

Bon voyage

The lead story in the Monitor in Uganda is "Bobi Wine cleared to travel for treatment." The front page story yesterday was "Bobi blocked from leaving country."

Wine, a pop star-turned-opposition politician, claims to have been severely beaten while in military custody, allegations denied by the army.

Last week he and 32 opposition politicians were charged with treason over the alleged stoning of a vehicle carrying President Yoweri Museveni.

The Monitor quotes Wine's brother as saying "Bobi has been cleared and we want him to travel tonight. We are heading to Entebbe to book the next flight to USA."

"Africa's last dictator"

In neighbouring Kenya, the Daily Nation tells readers that "The Orange Democratic Movement party [led by Raila Odinga] has joined calls to hold the Ugandan government accountable for the inhumane treatment of Bobi Wine and others."

The Nation reports that Kenyan Human rights activists held peaceful demonstrations in solidarity with the MP and his colleagues.

One protester told the paper "President Museveni's time is up. He is the last of Africa's dictators and he must go. Bobi Wine is innocent, they are using him as a scapegoat. He is not just a person but an idea."

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