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African press review 15 November 2018

Summits are big news in Africa today: an African Union summit on reform, an Igad summit on peace in South Sudan.


African Union leaders are set to gather this weekend for a special summit aimed at pushing through long-debated reforms to their pan-continental body, the main story in this morning's Kenyan Daily Nation tells us.

The proposed reforms are intended to streamline and empower the African Union, an ambitious effort for an organisation often seen as toothless and donor-dependent, and analysts say time for forging a deal is short.

Egypt, which will assume the chairmanship of the AU early next year, has little interest in the reforms, according to the International Crisis Group.

The special summit is being held at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa this Saturday and Sunday at the insistence of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the current AU Chairman and pioneer of the reforms.

So far South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Comoros, Togo and Ghana have confirmed they will be sending their presidents.

Nigeria and Mozambique will be sending foreign ministers to the two-day summit.

SABC funds parties, fleeces workers

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is under fire on the front page of the tabloid Sowetan.

"SABC spends millions on parties and bonuses, while sacking workers," the headline reads.

The SABC board and its senior executives appeared before the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts yesterday, to account for irregular expenditure incurred by the public broadcaster in the past year.

One MP from the opposition Democratic Alliance asked how it was possible for the company to sack workers while squandering 14 million rand (900,000 euros) on an awards ceremony and party.

The top three executives at the troubled broadcaster earn more than 800,000 euros each year between them. Yet the corporation has appealed to the government for a three-billion-rand bailout (185 million euros) just so it can continue to pay salaries.

What happened Sierra Leone's Ebola money?

The alleged misuse of funds intended to fight Ebola is back in the spotlight in Sierra Leone.

The story makes the front page of this morning's regional paper the East African.

According to the report, the national Anti-Corruption Commission has reopened files in an unspecified number of cases.

The Ebola epidemic, which erupted in early 2014 in Guinea and spread to Liberia and then Sierra Leone, claimed nearly 12,000 lives.

Hundreds of millions of US dollars were poured into the fight from both foreign and local sources.

The Sierra Leone government itself allocated 10 million euros to fight the disease. A report from the auditor general said at least one-third of that amount remained unaccounted for.

There have been reports that much of the money in the three countries was diverted into the personal accounts of officials in charge of the battle against the virus.

South Sudan peace deal for review

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development will meet in Addis Ababa tomorrow to discuss the peace progress in South Sudan.

A brief email released to the media yesterday afternoon indicated that the regional bloc's Council of Ministers will meet in the Ethiopian capital.

On the agenda are the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, and progress in Somalia.

Press freedom in Gabon endangered

Press freedom is being eroded in Gabon according to the international action organisation, Reporters Without Borders.

This follows the suspension of a newspaper for commenting on the hospitalisation of President Ali Bongo.

Gabon's media regulator, the High Authority for Communications, on Friday handed a three-month suspension to local newspaper L'Aube, slapping a six-month suspension on its editor.

The daily had run an article saying the country had been put on "very dangerous autopilot" in Bongo's absence.

It called on Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet to name the Speaker of the Senate, Lucie Milebou Mboussou, as interim president to fill the power vacuum.

RSF's Africa representative Arnaud Froger called for the immediate lifting of the suspension, "the latest act in a worrying erosion of freedom of the press in Gabon in recent months".

Ali Bongo was hospitalised in Saudi Arabia last month while attending an investment forum. He is believed to have suffered a stroke.

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