African press review 5 September 2017

Kenyans now know when they'll get to vote in the presidential rematch between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. But what about the other six losing candidates? Where will Egypt be in economic terms in 2030? And is there a cure for South Africa's current dose of bad democracy?


Kenyans will go back to the polling stations on 17 October to cast their votes in the rematch between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his arch-rival Raila Odinga.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission announced the date yesterday, just three days after the Supreme Court annulled its original declaration of Kenyatta as the validly elected president following a petition by opposition leader Odinga.

According to this morning's Nairobi-based Daily Nation, in choosing to have a straight fight between President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga and thus locking out the other six candidates, the commission is following an interpretation of what a fresh election means, as decided by the Kenyan Supreme Court in 2013.

Another defeated candidate, Ekuru Aukot of the Thirdway Alliance, is now threathening to go to court to contest the decision to limit the run-off to the top two finishers in the annulled election.

Amnesty for South Sudanese general-turned-rebel

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has granted amnesty to Thomas Cirilo Swaka, a former military general who quit the Juba government in March to form a rebel movement.

According to the top story in this morning's Sudan Tribune, the presidential adviser on military affairs, Daniel Awet Akot, said it was now up to Swaka to respond to the pardon.

The statement goes on to say that the rebel leader is free to rejoin the country’s ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, or form his own political group as provided for under the constitution.

Swaka, who now heads a group called the National Salvation Front, quit the military, accusing its leadership of running the army on ethnic lines.

Egypt's economy to grow and grow

Egypt will have the 19th most powerful economy in the world in 2030, according to a report published by global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report says emerging markets will start to dominate rankings of the world’s top economies about the same time.

The top five economies in 2030 will be China, the United States, India, Japan and Indonesia.

Nigeria is predicted to occupy 21st and last place on the list. South Africa is not mentioned at all.

How do you cure the evils of democracy?

There are some weighty issues on the opinion page of South African financial paper BusinessDay . . .

"If democracy itself is doomed, where are we headed?" wonders one headline.

The article which follows is not going to help too many people enjoy their morning coffee.

The world appears to be in more than its usual disorder, say the writer, a freelance journalist and London School of Economics graduate by the name of Paul Whelan. Religion is dividing societies and nations; where religion is not doing it, poverty and inequality are. Ask the Islamic State aremd group and economist Thomas Piketty.

Homeless millions are migrating, Whelan goes on. The globe is overpopulated as well as overheated. Plastic is choking our oceans, antibiotics barely work anymore and robots are about to steal our jobs.

With Donald Trump as president, the US is thought by liberals to be doomed. With Brexit scheduled, Britain is thought by liberals to be doomed. The EU is thought to be doomed by conservatives. With North Korea’s Kim Jong-un defiantly building his nuclear arsenal, most of the rest of us fear that the entire world is doomed.

And so on and so on. Until Whelan offers a glimmer of hope. Democracy, he tells us, is not a destination but a permanent work in progress whose values and institutions can be appreciated only when set against other forms and philosophies of government.

You see its worth only by comparison.

If South Africa’s democracy falls far short at the moment, he says, there is only one solution: "The cure for the evils of democracy," wrote American journalist and scholar HL Mencken, "is more democracy."

Grand. So, that's that sorted.

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