African press review 21 February 2017

Hundreds of thousands face starvation in South Sudan's famine, a direct result of the three-year civil war. The question of food security is becoming serious in neighbouring countries too. South Africa's finance minister needs to plug a two-billion-euro hole in the budget. And the world's heaviest woman loses 40 kilos in slightly over a week.


The famine in South Sudan is manmade, according to a story in this morning's South African paper, BusinessDay.

Five million people, nearly 40 percent of the population of South Sudan, are hungry, some of them dangerously so.

Aid groups say the tragedy is the direct result of the past three years of war. The long-term effects of the conflict coupled with high food prices, economic crisis, low agricultural production and depleted livelihood options mean that more people will starve to death than have died in the civil war between supporters of President Salva Kiir and those of his rival Riek Machar.

A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger. A statement from the World Food Programme says 100,000 people are affected by the famine, with another million at risk in the coming months.

East African pastoralists on the move in search of food and water

And there's a food security problem in Uganda as well.

According to regional paper the East African, Uganda is already grappling with food insecurity of near-crisis levels and is also dealing with an influx of cattle herding nomads searching for water and pasture for their livestock in northern Uganda.

Internally, pastoralists from the cattle corridor, spanning the western Uganda and Karamoja subregions, have crossed into several districts in northern Uganda since late last year. An estimated 5,000 pastoralists entered the north with over 10,000 livestock from Karamoja alone.

Externally, northern Uganda has experienced an influx of pastoral communities from South Sudan and Kenya, across the West Nile and Karamoja borders.

South African income tax set to rise

South Africa's budget will be announced tomorrow.

BusinessDay says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is unlikely to announce increases in value added tax for political reasons and will probably leave corporate taxes alone to boost the manufacturing sector and attract foreign investment. That means the only option is for personal income tax rates to go up.

The minister needs to fill a revenue shortfall of 28 billion rand, that's about two billion euros.

Tanzanian opposition leader jailed in drug investigation

The chairman of Tanzania's main opposition party is in jail.

The East African reports that Chadema party chairman Freeman Mbowe was arrested yesterday in Dar es Salaam, apparently after he failed to respond to a police summons.

The report says Mbowe was supposed to report to the Central Police Station in Dar for questioning on his alleged links with drug abuse and trafficking.

Chadema officials claim that Mbowe had decided to turn himself in to the police in the afternoon before officers intercepted his car to arrest him.

Poll puts Kenyatta ahead of Odinga

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta is still ahead of his main opposition rival Raila Odinga, according to a new opinion poll published on the front page of this morning's Standard newspaper.

With a preference of 47 percent from all Kenyans across 42 counties, Kenyatta would win the election if polling took place today says the report. The election is not until August.

Museveni and Besigye agree to talk

It looks as if peace might be about to break out in Uganda.

According to the main story in the Daily Monitor, the government and the largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change, have agreed on a foreign mediator and blueprint for talks to resolve the country’s political problems.

Both President Yoweri Museveni and former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye are reported to have bought into the process.

The talks are expected to last six months and will involve the government, opposition political parties, religious leaders and civil society.

World's heaviest woman responding well to treatment

The world's heaviest woman has lost 40 kilos in slightly over a week.

According to the Egypt Independent, Egyptian Eman Ahmed lost the weight since she was admitted to an Indian hospital over a week ago and is now able to move her limbs and hands.

She was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai weighing over 500 kilos and is said to be responding well to bariatric surgery which slows her body's intake of calories.

Eman has suffered from obesity since she was a child, due to a hormone imbalance and glandular problems.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app