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African press review 16 November 2018

The constitutional court in Gabon does not expect President Ali Bongo to be back at work any day soon. South Africa's former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has resigned from parliament. The government in Kampala is considering cancelling the refugee status of thousands of Rwandans living in Uganda.


Gabon’s top court has intervened in the crisis concerning the country's hospitalised President Ali Bongo, deciding to modify the constitution to address what they are calling the president's “temporary incapacity”.

The 59-year-old president was taken to hospital in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, on 24 October.

After initially saying Bongo had been admitted for “severe fatigue”, his office last weekend admitted he had undergone surgery.

Officials say his condition had “greatly improved” and that he has recovered most of his functions but gave no details about his illness or when he would return.

Yesterday the Gabonese constitutional court modified the constitution to allow certain functions to be carried out either by the vice-president or the prime minister.

Opposition figures and civil society groups have reacted furiously to the move, accusing the court of breaking the law.

South African former minister resigns his parliamentary seat

South Africa's former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has resigned from parliament.

This follows his resignation as minister on Tuesday.

Gigaba was found by the courts to have lied under oath, a charge which he continues to deny.

While Gigaba has now stepped down from public office, he remains a member of the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee.

Parliamentary committee OKs land expropriation

Meanwhile, the South African parliament’s joint constitutional review committee yesterday formally resolved to recommend the amendment of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

Expropriation in this case basically means taking farms from the current white owners and giving the land to black farmers.

The move is presented as one of the means that can be used to address unfair land ownership patterns dating back to the colonial and apartheid eras.

Despite strong objections by various opposition parties, who have indicated that they will launch a legal challenge to block the amendment, the ruling ANC, supported by the Economic Freedom Fighters (the third-largest party in Parliament) and the centre-left United Democratic Movement forced the committee to accept the contentious recommendation.

Some commentators have warned that wholesale expropriation without compensation will threaten food security and negatively affect economic activity and job creation as the country battles with high unemployment.

A total of 12 MPs voted in favour of the motion to amend the constitution with four opposing it.

The committee’s final report and recommendations will now be presented to the National Assembly for debate.

Uganda wants Rwandan refugees to go home

The government in Kampala is considering cancelling the refugee status of thousands of Rwandans living in Uganda.

According to the Daily Monitor, the announcement was made yesterday by the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hillary Onek.

He says the government is considering cancelling the refugee status of the Rwandans and instead issuing them with temporary permits.

Despite over two decades of peace in Rwanda, there are still 14,000 Rwandans living in Uganda as refugees.

Nigerian unions clash with state governors

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and pensioners union have advised President Muhammadu Buhari to beware of members of Nigeria's Governors’ Forum. The unions accuse the governors of being anti-worker.

They allege that some governors are working to frustrate the national labour congress agreement with the Federal Government on the payment of 30,000 naira (72 euros) as the new minimum wage.

The governors met earlier this week and said states would have to downsize their workforce to be able pay the new minimum.

But reacting to that claim, the NLC accuses some of the governors of deliberately pauperising civil servants in their states, alleging that 21 state governors had earlier indicated that they could pay the new minimum wage.

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