African press review 19 September 2013

5 min

Ruto's ICC trial runs into trouble. Uganda's schools are closed by a teachers' strike. Sudan is furious with the US over a visa. Tsvangirai promises to keep Mugabe on his toes. And SA's free-marketeers aren't happy.

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The trial of Kenyan Deputy President Willian Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is in deep trouble.

The main story in the Nairobi-based Standard reports that concerns that the cover of the first witness to take the stand at the ICC trial of Deputy President William Ruto had been blown on Wednesday forced the court to go into an emergency private session to discuss the security of witnesses.

The unscheduled closed-door session that took up the morning hours pushed submissions on Kenya’s relationship with the ICC to the afternoon, meaning Witness 536, who first took the stand on Tuesday, did not continue with her testimony yesterday.

The court has taken measures to conceal the identity of the witness by concealing her face and distorting her voice but reports indicated that both the prosecution and the witness were concerned about attempts to reveal her identity.

Yesterday, the ICC's presiding judge, Chile Eboe Osuji, warned that the court would investigate any attempts to reveal witness identities and would prosecute the culprits.

A woman whose picture has been circulating on social media identifying her as prosecution witness number 536 has denied she is the one who testified at The Hague on Tuesday.

Rahab Muthoni said she was disturbed that her picture was being circulated on various websites identifying her as the first witness to take to the stand at The Hague.

The Standard also reports that the man who was yesterday accused by witness 536 of torching the church at Kiambaa on New Year's Day 2008, killing 30 women and children, has maintained that he is innocent.

Stephen Chemalan Leting, who was yesterday accused of hurling a blue jerrycan containing petrol onto the roof and setting the church on fire, said he was acquitted by the High Court in Kenya on murder charges arising from the arson attack on the church.

He is angry that he was named as a murderer in a court in which he is not on trial and in a case which a Kenyan judge rejected for lack of evidence.

In Uganda the Daily Monitor reports that most public schools across the country locked out learners yesterday as teachers failed to turn up for the third day due to industrial action. In parliament ruling party MPs rejected proposal by the opposition to cut State House and defence expenditure in a bid to find money to pay the teachers the 20 per cent increase for which they are striking.

Regional paper the East African reports that Sudan has threatened to brak off relations with the United States following refusal by President Barack Obama's administration to grant President Omar al-Bashir a visa to travel to New York to attend the UN General Assembly

The Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs condemned the US position, describing it as a gesture of contempt to Africa leaders and warning that the country will expel the US envoy to Khartoum if Washington continues with its hostile policy.

The director for US affairs in the Sudanese foreign ministry also warned that Sudan will stop the flow of South Sudan's oil through its territories in line with the sanctions, which do not permit foreign exports through its territory.

In Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, on Wednesday announced a shadow cabinet that he said would keep President Robert Mugabe’s government on its toes.

Tsvangirai said the shadow cabinet will periodically review the performance of Mugabe’s government through various forums in and outside parliament. It would also work with MPs and local authorities throughout the country to ensure the delivery of services and development assistance.

South Africa ranks an unchanged 88th out of 152 nations in the latest world economic freedom report released on Wednesday by the Free Market Foundation.

Top of the rankings are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Switzerland. South Africa was found to be below the global average score.

The report, which collates data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum, among others, follows a slew of negative surveys that put South Africa low on the list of economic efficiencies.

Apart from the country’s remaining capital controls, business regulation and centralised collective bargaining, South Africa suffers from policy uncertainty, the threat of fixed pricing and the effects of infrastructure deficits, the report says.

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