African press review 14 April 2011

5 min

Transports issues in Uganda and Zimbabwe, court cases in both South Africa and Kenya and protests against Swaziland's King Mswate III fill the newspapers across the African continent.


Uganda first, and the main story in today's Daily Monitor in Kampala is the on-going war over whether or not it is legal to walk to work.

Opposition leaders have promised that the ‘walk to work’ protest will continue today as planned, despite a warning from police that the campaign is a procession and a demonstration.

Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye told the Monitor last night he would be walking to his Najjanankumbi office this morning, more than 20 kilometres from his home in Kasangati. He insists that he has a constitutional right to move freely in Uganda.

Democratic Party president Norbert Mao will also walk to work in Gulu.

Both men were arrested and briefly detained earlier this week when they tried to walk to work as part of an opposition campaign to draw attention to the sharp rise in the price of living.

The Daily Monitor also reports that the Uganda Law Society yesterday said Monday's clamp-down on the walk-to-work campaigners was inhumane, brutal, and that restrictions on constitutional freedoms were turning Uganda into a police state.

The Herald in Harare reports on the on-going pilots' strike at Air Zimbabwe. The pilots have called for the dismissal of some of the national airline's top managers and board members, saying they lack the requisite aviation expertise to turn around the company's fortunes.

The pilots also allege that the airline is overstaffed. They say Air Zimbabwe is top heavy, with an unusually high number of unjustified supporting staff. The current industry staffing ratios are, one aircraft: 85 employees. Air Zimbabwe's current aircraft to employee ratios is one aircraft: 280 employees, according to the striking pilots.

When operational, Air Zimbabwe loses 3.5 million dollars every month, and has an accumulated debt of more than 100 million dollars.

The Herald also carries a story on divisions inside the Tsvangarai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC-T, reeling from serious intra-party violence that marred recent provincial elections, says it can not guarantee peace to delegates during its national congress due to take place in Bulawayo next week.

Young party members set upon mourners at Warren Hills Cemetery during the unveiling of tombstones for MDC-T activists and damaged police and private vehicles.

They also fought in the streets of Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru during the provincial elections.

The MDC has confirmed that Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, had confirmed that he will attend the party congress as guest of honour.

I haven't been able to find an English-language newspaper in Swaziland, but the Zimbabwe Herald and The Star in South Africa both report that Swazi unions yesterday called off mass protests against King Mswati III, as police cracked down on leaders and activists for a second day in the country's main city, Manzini.

The protesters want Mswati to loosen his grip on power and allow multi-party democracy, but are also angry at government proposals to slash salaries for civil servants as part of an attempt to redress a budget crisis. The demonstrations were meant to run for three days, but police used teargas, water cannons and batons to break up the protest on Tuesday.

The Johannesburg Star's main local story, once again, concerns ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema. Malema assured supporters outside the High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday that he was going to win the hate speech case against him. The case against Malema stems from his singing a song with the lyrics "shoot the boer". Lobby group Afriforum want the lyrics prohibited. They say the song is harmful to Afrikaners and farmers.

The case continues today.

The Standard in Nairobi reports that lawyers representing the Ocampo Six at the International Criminal Court will begin challenging the court prosecutor tomorrow.

Six Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister, Uhuru Kenyata and two other cabinet ministers, are accused of masterminding the post-election violence in 2008, in which 1,500 people lost their lives.

Hearings to determine whether the cases against the six should proceed to trial begin on September 1st.

The Kenyan Daily Nation is also leading with a legal story. And it also involves one of the Ocampo Six, the Eldoret North MP, William Ruto. But this is a completely different case.

Questions are being raised about the handling of the fraud case against Ruto. The police and the State Law Office, the government’s prosecution arm, traded accusations on Wednesday over who was responsible for losing the case.

Ruto and two others were accused of fraudulently selling state forest land to the Kenya Pipeline Company.

Of the witnesses that the prosecution had lined up, 13 could not be found and five died while the case was going on. Those who made it to the court became hostile to the prosecution, according to Chief Public Prosecutor.

Ruto was acquitted on Tuesday for lack of evidence.

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