African press review 24 April 2015

The Nigerian press offers hectic coverage of the transition of power at Aso Rock Palace as President-elect Muhammadu Buhari consults his party on the cabinet pen picks and fine-tunes his act ahead of his inauguration on 29 May. And in xenophobia-rocked South Africa, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela confronts questions about her conspicuous silence with tears.


Punch reports that leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to reach a decision on the zoning of political offices after meeting in Abuja all through Wednesday night and the early hours of Thursday. According to the paper, the APC leaders   including Buhari, the vice-president-elect, Yomi Osinbajo and former vice president Atiku Abubakar   adjourned agreeing that more consultations were needed before a final decision could be taken on position sharing.

The Nigerian Tribune also headlines on the inconclusive APC executive council conclave pointing to differences on the zoning arrangement as the cause of the stalemate.
The Tribune is also following preparation for the 29 May handover and presidential inauguration, as a joint committee of the outgoing and incoming governments met on Thursday to discuss issues that will ensure a smooth transition.

The paper reports that the latest session was co-chaired by the current federal government secretary, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and former Bayelsa state governor Timipre Sylva, who leads the delegation of the incoming government. The dialogue, according to the Tribune, focused on the budget and programme of activities for the inauguration ceremony, as well as the guest list and accommodation of local and foreign dignitaries.

The Nation newspaper is also covering the hectic transition process underway in Abuja reporting that Buhari has started operating from a government-owned complex following the allocation of the Defence House for his use.

Buhari moved into the presidential guest house on Tuesday on arrival in Abuja from Kaduna and his hometown Daura.

The journal says it is at this residence that the president-elect hosted ECOWAS chairman and President of Ghana John Mahama on Tuesday before leaving for his campaign headquarters where he received delegations from Kogi and Kwara states.

According to the paper, he is expected to use the facility until 28 March before relocating to the official presidential Aso Rock Villa, currently undergoing renovation.

TheGuardian looks forward to Buhari’s inauguration with a stinging editorial about the high demand for change in Nigeria. According to the paper it is both unconscionable and unsustainable that three-quarters of the budget is devoted to recurrent expenditure largely consumed by people in government.

Public office, the paper points out, has become so rewarding that more and more people are abandoning their thriving private businesses to make a career of it. It warns that Nigeria is held in low esteem by other nations because of the incomparable rapacity of its politicians. This must change, it concludes.

In South Africa, the focus is on Thursday’s mass rallies against xenophobic attacks on foreigners which left 60 people dead, and efforts by the country’s leaders to stop the violence. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is one of the personalities whose role is being subjected to scrutiny.

The Johannesburg Star says she had been due to address a joint media briefing on xenophobia, convened by the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum in Braamfontein, but didn't show up. The Star says she missed the appointment because of a visit she paid to a makeshift camp sheltering about 300 foreigners at the local police station in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg.

According to the paper, she was moved to tears as a man cried out asking her to help them. It reports Madikizela-Mandela turned around and saw an "abandoned bundle” of foreign migrants huddled together and dressed in the little clothes and chattels they managed to salvage ahead of the advancing mob. The Star says that beneath her silence laid a troubled soul, bewildered by the inclination of some of her countrymen to stoke the fires of hatred against foreign migrants.

Mail and Guardian discussed the crisis with Loren Landau, a research chair at the African Centre for Migration and Society. He attributes the xenophobic instincts of South Africans to their inability to choose their leaders. Ward councillors are the only officials who get to meet face-to-face with their constituents before getting elected.

Landau told the journal that while they face the firing line of popular discontent, they remain poorly empowered to address their voters’ gripes. That is why they are more inclined to abet the “scapegoating” and appropriation of foreign-owned shops, houses or goods, he explains.

The respected South African research director told Mail and Guardian that tighter immigration control, which the government has begun implementing, will only drive people further underground, making them more exploitable. Furthermore, he said, shutting off trade and traffic between South Africa and its neighbours will weaken the regional economy, which depends heavily on remittances.

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