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African press review 7 November 2018

The Zuma corruption trial saga sizzles on. South African Airways is too broke to sell. Opposition figures in the DRC are meeting to choose a single candidate for next month's presidential election. And there's more evidence of cheating in the Kenyan secondary school exams.


There are two big stories on the front page of the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay:

  • Jacob Zuma can pay his own legal fees.
  • South African Airways won't be closing down anytime soon.

We can thank the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) for the first assurance. Zuma, former South African president, faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering, crimes allegedly committed during his time in office.

Yesterday the Democratic Alliance legal team told the high court in Pretoria that the state should not pay Zuma's legal fees. This on the grounds that he has bucketloads of money (his salary averaged nearly two million euros each year between 1999 and 2017) and is being charged as a private individual, not as a public servant. The DA wants Zuma to pay.

The legal bill for fighting Zuma’s charges is officially put at about one million euros, but the lawyer for another opposition group, the Economic Freedom Fighters says the final bill could well be on the steep side of two million.

South African Airways not grounded yet

There's less doubt about the future of the hugely loss-making national carrier, South African Airways (SAA).

Recently Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said that the airline, which has lost the bulk of one billion euros over the past four years and survives only on government handouts, should be closed down.

Yesterday the ruling party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule, said Mboweni was talking through his hat and that the airline issue was being dealt with by ministers and the cabinet.

“I can confirm that there is not any intention to close down SAA,” said the steely Ace. So that's that. There's a parachute under every seat.

The Mail & Guardian also has news of the struggling airline, quoting President Cyril Ramaphosa as telling parliament yesterday that South African Airways is so debt-laden that selling it now would make its debt payable immediately and that could be sufficient to cause the collapse of the entire South African economy.

DRC opposition meet in search of united front

Leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo's divided opposition are to meet in Switzerland tomorrow to choose a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

The meeting is expected to last three days and will involve leaders of all opposition parties.

The elections are due to take place on 23 December, with 21 candidates currently registered to compete.

Zambian row over alleged sale of national forests

The Zambian government has denied selling a state-owned forestry company to China.

Earlier this week police arrested over 100 people in a crackdown in the northern Copperbelt Province against rioters protesting the alleged sale of the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation.

The government says it has not sold a single state asset.

The riots took place while President Edgar Lungu was on a “working visit” to the region to inspect the new Ndola International Airport, being constructed by a Chinese firm.

The government alleged that the Copperbelt Province riots are “xenophobic” in nature, trageting the local Chinese community, and are being incited by the political opposition.

Kenyan police examine exam cheating suspects

There may have been more attempted cheating in the Kenyan school exams.

This morning's Nairobi-based Daily Nation reports that police have arrested at least 31 people suspected of involvement in examination irregularities countrywide.

According to the report, those in custody include 24 teachers, four police officers, a bursar and two photocopiers.

Fifteen people have already appeared in court to answer charges related to alleged exam malpractice.

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