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African Press Review 3 September 2018

China's courtship of Africa continues. South African spies spills the beans on Zuma and the Guptas. And graft and campaign financing in Nigeria.


BusinessDay in South Africa leads on the state visit to China of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking yesterday ahead of the two-day Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit, Ramaphosa told South African business leaders a breakfast meeting in the Chinese capital city of Beijing "We’re recalibrating in many ways‚ we’re sharpening our messages to enhance investment to come our way."

"Recalibrating", eh? Explanations on a postcard, please.

Ramaphosa is one of dozens of African leaders are in Beijing for the summit at which, BusinessDay tells readers, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to stress growth in Sino-African trade partnerships.

It tells us that Xi was in South Africa in June and Pretoria and Beijing are due sign new trade deals that would see more Chinese investments.

Ramaphosa said yesterday he would be presenting to the Chinese "a book of investable projects".

The paper reminds readers, as if they've forgotten, that the South African economy was battered as the previous Zuma-lead administration dithered on issues affecting important sectors such as mining and energy while state-owned companies were plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Spies warned of Guptas risk

As ever, there's coverage of the interminable drama of the Guptas, the wealthy family of Indian origin who are accused of what's being called "state capture".

BusinessDay reports that "South African spies who tracked the Guptas warned their grip on Jacob Zuma was a national security risk."

The paper say the spies tried to caution the former president. Evidently, Zuma wasn't listening.

Cement cartel

In a related story, BusinessDay reports that "McKinsey & Co has been cast into the centre of the probe into cartel conduct in the cement industry, with evidence emerging that the global consultancy advised cement producers to undermine competitors by secretly conspiring.

The firm is already under fire for allegedly facilitating corrupt deals between the Gupta family and state-owned entities. McKinsey denied that it had advised its clients to collude.

Warning over Bobi Wine

Trouble and strife also in Uganda - where the privately owned daily the Monitor warns "We must step back from the precipice."

"The political events of the last two weeks revolving around the Arua byelection have left the country breathless and hurting," the paper says in its editorial. "We did not have to come to this point where political suspects are arrested, tortured and taken to court limping and in pain. That is injustice and inhuman!"

At centre stage in this affair, of course, is pop star-turned-opposition politician Bobi Wine. The paper reminds us that "Bobi Wine was last week been delivered to court in pain and on crutches . . . another ailing MP Betty Nambooze was wheeled into court in a wheelchair and charged with inciting violence amid tears."

"We must quickly step back from the precipice," the Monitor urges, "or else the road downhill will be long, tortuous and uncertain. The country could easily end up in flames or in a bloodbath which is totally unnecessary. The onus is on government to uphold the constitutional guarantees of life, health and dignity for all Ugandans. This means accepting gracefully when it loses a political contest."

Nigeria's money politics

In Nigeria more than a few papers focus on the all-too-familiar issue of politics and money.

The editorial in Punch is headlined "Anti-graft war and campaign financing."

"With the 2019 general election a few months away, the pervasive use of money to influence poll outcome remains an albatross in national politics . . . To curb this perfidy, the anti-graft agencies should collaborate with INEC [the electoral commission] to bring those guilty of this abuse to book," the paper declares.

"The system has in-built mechanisms that can tame the phenomenon," the Vanguard notes. "Nevertheless, by refusing to subject preelection spending to any limits, wily politicians manipulate the system to their advantage."

Punch suggests that a section of Nigeria's 1999 constitution gives the INEC the chance to sanitise the electoral system. It obliges parties to submit their financial statements, including the sources of funding, to the electoral body on an annual basis.

"To stamp out the malaise, therefore, INEC should enforce the law," the paper says.

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