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African press review 19 March 2018

4 min

What is the truth about Jacob Zuma's fraud charges? Why are the authorities in South Sudan angry at the continuing presence of 17,000 UN peacekeepers? And can a Kenyan police officer survive on a salary of less than one euro per month?


Former South African president Jacob Zuma is a deeply misunderstood person. That's the lesson of the top story in today's Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay.

The report says Zuma's lawyers will argue that the former president had no intention of committing a crime when he and his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik met with French arms manufacturer Thales. The then-president was simply following ANC policy to support black business.

Zuma's legal team is preparing a multipronged approach to keep their client out of jail, including making another attempt to have the case struck off on the basis that Zuma is unlikely to get a fair trial.

Zuma faces 16 charges of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering in relation to payments he received from Thales.

The French arms manufacturer is facing two counts of corruption in connection with a bribe allegedly paid to Zuma to protect the company in the arms-deal probe.

South Sudan wants UN troops to go

South Sudan has protested about the renewal of the mandate of United Nations
peacekeepers in the country.

Information minister and government official spokesperson Michael Makuei said last Thursday's decision by the Security Council to extend the United Nations Mission in South Sudan's (Unmiss) mandate was unfair and totally unacceptable.

Makuei said Juba had not been consulted on the matter.

The UN Security Council last Thursday renewed the peacekeeping mission's mandate until March 15, 2019.

There are currently 17,000 UN troops in South Sudan.

Kenyan police officers angry at pay cuts

The Kenyan police are in trouble, according to the top story in this morning's Nairobi-based Daily Nation.

Under the headline "Police Service faces mass exit after salary cuts," the report says over 1,000 graduate police officers resigned after the National Police Service Commission reduced their salaries by as much as half last week.

Salary notifications to a number of law enforcement officers show that some will earn as little as Sh20 (0.16 euro) this month while others will get nothing.

The Central Organisation of Kenyan Trade Unions said the reduction in pay went against the International Labour Organisation’s convention on the protection of wages.

The National Police Service Commission justified the cuts saying they were intended to correct previous anomalies under which trainee officers had been overpaid.

Tax changes to force up Kenyan cost of living

The Standard warns that the cost of living is going to go up for Kenyans in July.

This is because the government has given in to the International Monetary Fund’s demands and will have to impose higher taxes.

The sectors to be hit include agriculture, manufacturing, education, health, tourism, finance, social work and energy.

The treasury has indicated that petroleum products, which have been exempted from tax, will attract 16 percent VAT from September in a move aimed at complying with a deal Kenya made with the IMF in 2015.

The Nairobi government hopes to squeeze the shilling equivalent of an extra 320 million euros in taxes from previously tax-exempt sectors. This is likely to have a ripple effect by pushing up the cost of goods and services currently enjoyed at a discounted level.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya has warned that the Treasury proposals will hurt the ordinary shopper, especially through VAT increases on basic commodities like food and fuel.

EgyptAir denies snake stowaway story

And the Cairo-based Egypt Independent says that the national air company has denied reports that there was a cobra on board one of its flights at the weekend.

EgyptAir denied news reports about a snake allegedly being on board one of its passenger planes heading from Cairo to Kuwait on Saturday.

The company denounced the reports as “baseless”.

According to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa, a snake was found on board the EgyptAir plane heading from Cairo International Airport to Kuwait, adding that the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing one hour after takeoff to get treatment for a passenger injured in efforts to kill the reptile.

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