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African press review 4 March 2015

6 min

SA's unions are split over scandal allegations. The Mugabes' alleged dairy debts leave a bitter taste in Zimbabwe. Nigeria is accused of preventing Chad pursuing Boko Haram on its territory. Kenya gets a new police chief, despite some MPs' doubts. SADC advises Lesotho to let the law takes its course over last year's coup attempt.


The crisis in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) deepened yesterday, with fresh allegations of procurement irregularities levied at general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, along with revelations that the federation is running out of money. This story is making all South African front pages.

Cosatu’s three-day central executive committee meeting ends today. According to financial paper BusinessDay, the meeting is expected to receive a report by auditors alleging that Vavi did not follow tender procedures in awarding a contract to a service provider.

This is the latest in a string of allegations levelled at the federation's general secretary, whose relationship with most of the union bosses on the committee appears to have broken down irrevocably.

Vavi and seven unions boycotted the meeting from its start on Monday.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

Over at the Sowetan, Zwelinzima Vavi is the top story, with the federation chief saying he has no regrets about his decision to stay away from this week's meeting.

Vavi says he is relaxed and his conscience is clear.

The trade union federation is divided, with member unions supporting either Vavi or Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

Vavi yesterday said the power struggle had been "going on for too long" and that workers' issues were being ignored as a result.

"Grace Mugabe to start making chocolate and ice-cream." That's the headline to one of the front-page stories in this morning's South African daily, the Sowetan.

Quoting yesterday's edition of the Harare-based government paper, the Herald, the story explains that Zimbabwe's first lady will start making confectionary at her state-of-the-art dairy near the capital this month.

Then the story gets interesting.

Grace Mugabe took over the dairy farm after its former white owner was evicted early in President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms.

Last month opposition MPs said in parliament that part of the Zimbabwe central bank's debt of over one billion euros was money borrowed from the institution - and never repaid - by the Mugabes to start the dairy.

The president's wife is reported to be taking over a game park on a site near her dairy farm from which people were recently evicted to make way for animals.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

On its African pages, BusinessDay reports that Chadian military advances against Boko Haram Islamists are being deliberately stalled by the Nigerian government.

According to the report, when Chadian troops overran a Boko Haram camp in northern Nigeria last week they wanted to press deep into territory controlled by the Islamist group but Nigeria refused to let them.

With presidential elections due in Nigeria later this month, diplomats say it would be an embarrassment to President Goodluck Jonathan as he seeks reelection, for a smaller nation to play a major role in solving Nigeria’s security problems.

Nigeria’s spokesman for operations in the northeast said co-operation between Chadian and Nigerian forces had brought some major military successes and any issues would be resolved via existing command structures.

But the Chadians say there have been no joint operations between the two forces. Chad’s offer to join a Nigerian offensive to capture Baga, site of one of Boko Haram’s worst atrocities in January, was refused.

Officials from Chad, Niger and Cameroon say a lack of cooperation from Nigeria has for months hampered efforts to put together a regional taskforce against Boko Haram.

The top story in this morning's Kenyan Standard reports that a joint committee of the Senate and the National Assembly yesterday approved Joseph Boinett's nomination as inspector general of police.

Seven MPs did not sign the report because of doubts about Boinett's academic qualifications.

According to the report, 26 out of the 37 members of the Joint Committee on National Security approved Boinett's appointment. There were, obviously, a number of absentees.

Boinett will replace David Kimaiyo who resigned his job as police chief following last year's killings by al Shebab in the Kenyan border town of Mandera.

According to the Lesotho Times, the Southern African Development Community has advised the incoming government to allow the law to take its course in the cases of soldiers and officers linked to Lesotho’s attempted coup last year.

SADC’ s electoral observer mission head, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, offered this advice as efforts continue to forge a coalition following last weekend's election.

The polling on Saturday came two years ahead of a scheduled election after Prime Minister Tom Thabane fled to South Africa as military leaders tried to overthrow him last September.

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