African press review 25 April 2014

Campaigning for South Africa’s general elections on 7 May and Nigeria’s desperate struggle against political and religious violence dominate comments in the African press.

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With more than three weeks since over 100 girls were abducted from a Borno State secondary school by Boko Haram insurgents, Punch reports that the rescue operation has become a deep embarrassment to Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan.

Dossier: Rwanda remembers genocide 20 years later

According to the paper, he has been blasted for gross incompetence by Borno women who have vowed to storm the Samisa forest stronghold of the insurgents to take their daughters back. Punch says that Jonathan chaired a seven-hour security council meeting on Thursday to discuss the military’s rescue effort but it was marked instead by angry exchanges, including charges by Adamawa governor Murtala Nyako that the federal government was committing genocide in his state.

The Sun highlights a desperate appeal issued by Nigeria’s Senate President David Mark to Boko Haram to free the girls. He reportedly described the abductions in Chibok as embarrassingly sacrilegious, de¬grading, and devaluing for Nigerians.

Former army chief General Salihu Ibrahim advocates in the Vanguard for greater communal cooperation with security forces as the most efficient strategy to curb the terrorism problem. He told Vanguard that residents must give useful information about strangers and unusual activities around their communities to the security agencies in order to stop the destruction of lives and property, especially in the north-eastern part of the country.

The hunt for the Abacha billions is still a major preoccupation of the federal government, according to the Vanguard. The paper reports that Abuja has now reached out to the World Bank to facilitate the return of 185 million euros blocked in Liechtenstein by court acting at the request of the family of the former president.

Slideshow Mandela

In South Africa, the Mail and Guardian looks back at two decades of democracy as the rainbow nation prepares to mark its 20th National Freedom Day on Sunday. The anniversary comes at a tough time for the ruling ANC, which is preparing for its toughest electoral battle yet come the 7 May general elections.

M&G runs a speech delivered by President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday to the ANC diversity group at the Woortekker Monument in Pretoria in which he describes freedom as the door to South Africa’s future. Zuma admits in the address that democracy has also brought his nation great inequalities. The paper reports that Zwelinzima Vavi, the head of the powerful trade union federation, Cosatu, recently stated disapproval of the party's direction but is now being forced to campaign for the ANC.

The Maverick questions Zuma’s claims that the ANC has a good story to tell about its 20 years in power despite criticism of corruption, crime, poverty and inequality.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi is in today’s City Press after he opposed the ballot-spoiling campaign by ANC veterans Ronnie Kasrils and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, appealing on South Africans not to waste votes needed to get rid of bad leaders.

The Star closes in on the boos, catcalls and hard talk about devils and witches coming from the election war rooms. The paper claims that words uttered in the heat of the vote-seeking moment, or by shrewd political calculation, should not be underestimated. It notes that claims about walking with God or ruling until Jesus returns must also be given adequate attention considering that four out of five South African citizens are religious, according to StatisticsSA cited by the Star.
 

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