African press review 12 April 2016
Today, newspapers in South Africa are again focused on the elusive Gupta brothers at the centre of Zuma's Nkandla row. The papers ask if the brothes have, in fact, left the country, while former president Thabo Mbeki denies even knowing them, let alone introducing them to the beleaguered Zuma.
According to the Afrikaans-language weekly newspaper Rapport Atul and Varun Gupt have resigned from their positions in several businesses and left the country.
This follows allegations by senior officials of the ruling African National Congress that the Guptas offered them cabinet posts in exchange for business concessions.
Elsewhere, the Mail and Guardian says it is able to confirm the claims following investigations by the ruling party and the public prosecutor.
Meanwhile, Business Day explains that the Gupta family’s businesses span media, technology mining and engineering and points out that some 7500 jobs are threatened by the ongoing controversy.
Questions about the family's influence over President Zuma prompted two of South Africa's biggest banks to distance themselves from the Guptas Oakbay investments empire and to close the Gupta accounts.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has wasted no time in distancing himself from the Gupta family after claims that he introduced the family to Zuma. "They are not my friends", stated Mbeki in a communique published by the newspaper.
The former South African leader also lashed out at what he called "people who lied to cover their own actions" in an apparent attempt to extract revenge for his controversial ouster from power by Zuma cronies.
In what appeared to be a serves-you-right message addressed to South Africans, Mbeki suggested that his compatriots should "elect a President who is competent and upholds the law" – and he was only being just a little bit sarcastic.
The ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, meanwhile, admitted that there is bad blood in the party over the Nkandla affair.
He adds that the ruling party's leadership may be facing “a watershed” moment as debates among senior leaders on the current issues become heated. Mantashe was speaking at the 23rd commemoration of the killing of former SACP general secretary Chris Hani in Boksburg.
Elsewhere in Africa, the Nigerian papers are all about the tug-of-war pitting President Buhari's office against the National Assembly. Punch claims that Buhari has refused to sign the 2016 fiscal bill, on the grounds that it was doctored to sabotage his “plan of action”.
Buhari has been fighting with MPs over his decision to remain neutral in the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false declaration of assets.
The sticking point remains the decision by Parliament to slash funds allocated to the Calabar – Lagos rail project, one Buhari's 36 capital projects reportedly removed from the finance bill by the appropriations committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The presidency has launched an investigation to determine if the heads of some government agencies teamed up with MPs to "mutilate" the funds. A presidential source told the paper that heads may roll, because they see it as sabotage”.
Finally today, the Vanguard claims that lawmakers gave what the paper describes as "a final warning to the presidency on Monday, and said that they would no longer tolerate Buhari blaming the legislature for his "failures".
According to the paper, the Senate, issued a sternly worded statement on Sunday night, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the budget bill and not to distract Nigerians with "acts of blackmail on the part of the executive arm".
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