African press review 8 December 2015
East Africa is replanting trees as the Cop21 conference unfolds in Paris. Kenyan local leaders accuse the army of being responsible for mass graves. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is to fight a social media bill, while in South Africa the press is out for President Jacob Zuma after rating agencies downgraded the country's debt level.
Just because the ongoing Cop21 UN climate conference is happening here in Paris, doesn't mean that African readers aren't interested in it. The East African has extensive coverage of the conference that aims to slow down global warming.
Here’s some good news: according to the regional paper, 10 African countries have pledged to restore 31 million hectares of degraded and deforested land.The AFR100 scheme was launched from Paris this weekend and should make 100 million hectares productive again by 2030.
Kenya, Liberia or Rwanda are amongst the countries taking part in the scheme.
According to the East African, restoration is already happening across the continent. “In Niger, farmers have increased the number of trees across five million hectares,” it says.
The scheme will be backed by one billion dollars from the World Bank, half a billion from the private sector, and additional funds from Germany.
Kenyan police yesterday exhumed 12 bodies from a mass grave in the north of the country, according to the Daily Nation.
The Kenyan newspaper explains that officers are expecting to see more bodies be dug up from the graves, which were found by herders. Local leaders of the Mandera County are blaming the army and security services, explaining “the bodies were victims of extra-judicial exactions” in the fight against armed group al-Shebab.
And that wouldn’t be surprising, the Daily Nation explains, “Mandera has been the scene of two terrorists attacks and had possibly been the theatre of anti-terrorism operations.”
Local Police also indicated many residents had been reported missing in recent months. The Kenyan Defensce Forces, however, have so far denied any wrongdoing.
South African President Jacob Zuma is under fire from Business Day because rating agencies Standard and Poor’s and Fitch both downgraded the country's debt, with Fitch putting it just one level ahead of the junk level.
According to the South African paper, both companies share the same diagnosis for the country's economic turmoil, "government policies that are denting business confidence and the likelihood of state funding (...) that will further strain the budget".
This is partly due to the fact that the country's reserve bank is "struggling to keep the weakening rand from fuelling inflation at a time when interest rates at their highest level in five years have left gross domestic product growing at its slowest pace since 2009".
And this should worry President Zuma says Business Day in an editorial.
The downgrade "should serve as a sharp reminder that the economic mediocrity that SA has been sliding into is not just disappointing, but dangerous", it says.
Finally, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is distancing himself from a controversial Social Media Bill., according to today's Vanguard.
The so called Social Media Bill is currently being debated in the Nigerian Senate and, according to the newspaper, seeks to restrict Nigerians from criticising political and public office holders.
Buhari, says the article, "stated that the principle of the bill was inconsistent with democratic ideals of free speech enshrined in the constitution of the land".
The bill just passed second reading in the Senate but the Vanguard seems to suggest the timing of this is not a coincidence.
The United Nations is now considering an appeal against the bill from rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.
The proposed bill would see "anybody or group of persons who send any alleged false text message or post false message on the social media against another person" face jail for two years and a fine.
Buhari warned he wouldn't accept any bill "inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria", says the paper.
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