African press review 1 April 2014

A donkey, minibuses, Jacob's Zuma's private farm and Uganda's anti-gay law all make the newspapers around Africa today ..

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The front page honours in this morning's Cairo-based Egypt Independent go to 31-year-old farmer, Omar Abul Maged.

The Qena Misdemeanor Court yesterday sentenced Abul Maged to a year in jail for “humiliating the military”. This is because he named his donkey “Sisi", after the recently- resigned military chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is favourite to win Egypt's upcoming presidential election.

Not only donkeys, but also social media are being used by Sisi opponents. One Twitter user is quoted by the Egypt Independent as writing: "From now on, ridiculing Sisi is not an insult to the military institution, as he has resigned. Insulting him is a national duty.”

A number of leaders of the political alliance supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi have said that the group will boycott the presidential elections to be held next month, though an official decision has yet to be reached.

Mohamed Abu Samra, secretary general of the Islamic Party, the political arm of Islamic Jihad, said the decision to boycott the elections is "final" and not "initial" as claimed by some alliance members. “As Jihadists, we have no intention to back any presidential candidate. As for rumours about the possibility to support Hamdeen Sabbahi, we believe that Sabbahi is far worse than Abdel Fattah al-Sisi”, said Abu Samra.

In South Africa, financial paper BusinessDay reports that the ruling African National Congress appears to have taken a step backwards on the controversy surrounding the public protector’s report into the multi-million rand upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla.

The party remains defensive about Zuma, its presidential candidate in elections due in just a few weeks, but the ANC is clearly seeking to put distance between itself and damning revelations of soaring costs and unwarranted expenditure by the government in the project.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Monday said the Congress could not pre-empt Zuma’s response on the report, which he is expected to present to Parliament this week.

Recently, the independent Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa wrote an open letter to Mantashe urging the ANC to reconsider the status of Zuma as its presidential candidate.

In Uganda, the Kampala-based Monitor newspaper reports that President Yoweri Museveni yesterday told a rally of supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that he endorsed the law to reaffirm Uganda’s sovereignty. The President said he did not approve of agitation by foreign powers against the new law.

Museveni said the West has a wrong justification of homosexuality. He explained that besides the Bible being against the act, even long ago among African cultures homosexuals were referred to as the "walking dead".

President Museveni will land in “hot soup” if people around him do not follow the precedent set by Jacqueline Mbabazi in telling him that he has “crossed the boundary of reason”, the former opposition Forum for Democratic Change president, Kizza Besigye, has warned.

The prime minister's wife accused the national police chief, General Kalé Kayihura, of using the force to fight partisan wars.

Mbabazi singled out the 2011 attack on Besigye that left him partially blind, and the recent arrests of NRM youth leaders opposed to Museveni’s 2016 sole candidature, as some of the excesses orchestrated by General Kayihura.

In an e-mail response to the Daily Monitor, the General insisted that his actions are guided by the law.

In Kenya, the main story in the Standard reports that only a handful of the mini-buses known as matatus are on the roads across the country this morning as the new rules aimed at reducing road deaths and streamline public transport come into effect. By Monday, only 7,000 matatus out of the 100,000 had been approved by the motor vehicle inspection unit to operate countrywide.

The Director of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit blamed the operators for the confusion, saying they had been given enough time to ensure their vehicles complied with the new rules, most of them had waited until the last minute to rush for compliance.

In Garissa Town this morning, says the Standard, only two matatus have been approved to operate. The city has an estimated 80,000 inhabitants.

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