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African press review 10 September 2018

The collapse of the South African farming sector is not simply the result of policy uncertainty about land reform. East African governments have been warned that they could stifle their own economies if they overdo taxation. Yoweri Museveni thinks Uganda is doing swimmingly. And Sudan needs 21 new cabinet ministers. Any takers?

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South Africa is in recession, mainly because of poor results in the agricultural sector.

However, according to a story on the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, the alarming agriculture figures are not, or at least not simply, the result of policy uncertainty about land reform.

Instead the farming sector has been weighed down by drought and delayed harvests, with the statistician-general Risenga Maluleke last week blaming the decrease on a drop in the production of field crops and horticultural products.

South Africa’s agriculture output shrank by more than 29 percent in the second quarter of 2018, after a 24 percent contraction in the first three months of the year.

Taxing economies in decline

One of the top stories in regional paper the East African warns that higher taxes are going to stifle economic growth and further slow investment.

The report says east African families and businesses are feeling the heat of increased taxes as governments look for easy ways of raising money to finance persistent budget shortfalls and fund infrastructure projects.

Uganda is facing an estimated revenue shortfall of nearly four billion euros, almost half of the entire budget for the current fiscal year. Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are all grappling with massive budget deficits of their own.

Uganda hopes to collect an additional 3.5 billion euros from tax measures which came into effect in July.

In Kenya the government is under pressure to collect more taxes to fund the operation of the devolved system of governance and fulfil election pledges such as free primary and secondary education.

Economists at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have warned that the new path taken by regional governments to balance their books is dangerous as it could stifle economic activity, lead to more job losses, increase poverty levels and make east Africa uncompetitive in terms of attracting both local and foreign investments.

Uganda making "galloping" progress

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni last night addressed the nation on public television.

According to the Kampala-based Daily Monitor, the president's speech was mostly focused on the current spate of insecurity. Museveni also spoke about electricity supply, education, agriculture and infrastructure development.

He didn't say anything about the budget defecit.

The president claims that Uganda is making "galloping progress" in the areas of peace, health, education, regional integration and infrastructure.

But he warned that corruption among government officials is a weakness that remains to be addressed.

The president also spoke against what he called "indisciplined opposition politicians that are accused of terrorism against the population, conspiracy to commit arson or treason", saying that they "should be handled firmly by all concerned – the police, the prosecution and the courts".

Sack the cabinet, fix the country

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir yesterday sacked the country's entire cabinet. He went on to appoint a new prime minister, telling him to form a smaller government and sort out Sudan's growing economic crisis.

According to the Kenyan Daily Nation, Sudan suffers from an acute shortage of foreign currency and inflation of more than 65 percent.

The new man in the prime minister's ejector seat is Moutaz Mousa Abdallah, who was the irrigation minister in the outgoing government. The new cabinet has been tasked with nothing less than "bringing hope to the Sudanese people". We wish them luck.

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