African press review 31 March 2016


The global recession and the collapse of commodity prices could force many African nations back into the debt trap. Tanzania says it can survive without US agency handouts. Gender-based and domestic violence remains a serious problem in South Africa‚ and the conviction rate for such crimes is low. And what will Uganda's Supreme Court decide about Uganda's last presidential election?


Regional paper The East African reports that sub-Saharan nations once again face the spectre of high debt levels.

The return of debt troubles in Africa has caught some by surprise, analysts say, 20 years after a global campaign was mounted to offer debt relief to the world's most impoverished nations.

An IMF-World Bank programme launched in 1996 has to date approved 68 billion euros in external debt relief for 36 of the world's heavily indebted poor nations, of which 30 are in Africa.

For some of those countries, however, debt levels are rising again as commodity prices remain low.

We don't need your money!

The Tanzanian government has said the decision by American agency the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to cancel 450 million euros in funding to the country did not come as a surprise.

Finance Minister Philip Mpango told The Citizen yesterday that the government had anticipated the move and was prepared with alternative funding.

The MCC funding was to have financed various development projects in the energy, road and water sectors.

The MCC board of directors on Monday voted to suspend the agency’s partnership with the government of Tanzania, mainly because of concerns over the Zanzibar election which was first nullified, then rerun without the participation of the main opposition party.

Domestic violence in South Africa

Police‚ nurses and doctors must be better trained to deal with widespread domestic and gender-based violence across South Africa. This is one of the key findings of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s assessment of the country’s commitment to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. And the story is on the front page of the Johannesburg-based BusinessDay.

South Africa   which became a signatory of the Civil and Political Rights covenant in 1998   was reviewed for the first time by the UN committee during hearings in Geneva earlier this month. The findings were released yesterday.

The committee said it is concerned that gender-based violence and domestic violence remains a serious problem in South Africa‚ and that the conviction rate for such acts is low.

Other concerns raised by the committee include the government disobeying a court order and allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country in June last year‚ discrimination against people living with HIV/Aids‚ and "harmful cultural traditions and practices" including virginity testing of young women‚ "witchcraft" and often fatal traditional circumcision.

Missiles, not negotiations

The Cairo-based Egypt Independent reports yesterday's statement by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the effect that missiles are the key to the Islamic Republic's future.

Khamenei supported last year's nuclear deal with world powers but has since called for Iran to avoid further rapprochement with the United States and its allies, and maintain its economic and military strength.

His comments may have been directed at former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, leader of a moderate political alliance, who last week said "the future is in dialogue, not missiles".

Iran's Revolutionary Guards conducted ballistic missile tests earlier this month, in what they said was a demonstration of Iran's non-nuclear deterrent power.

And the winner is . . .

And this is D-Day in Uganda, with the Supreme Court expected to deliver the much-awaited judgment in the presidential election petition filed by former prime minister and defeated presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi.

The Kampala-based Daily Monitor says today's announcement will be a summary verdict and it could take months to produce the full decision.

Whatever the court announces today cannot be appealed since the Supreme Court is both the first and last forum for the handling of presidential election petitions.

Mbabazi claims the election was unfair. He accuses the president of having bribed some voters and restraining others.

The Monitor says the judges have a number of options. They can dismiss Mbabazi’s petition and this will mean that President Museveni was validly elected president. They could name another of the defeated candidates as the effective winner. Or they could annul the election of President Museveni and order fresh elections that must be conducted within 20 days from today.

The decision of the nine judges will be read out at the Kololo-based court at nine o'clock this morning.

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