African press review 26 March 2018

All smiles as Rwanda's Kagame meets Uganda's Museveni. How meaningful is the African Continental Free Trade Treaty, given that Nigeria and South Africa have failed to sign? Why have the authorities in the DRC turned down an offer of 1.5 billion euros in humanitarian aid?

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrived in Uganda yesterday for talks with his Kampala counterpart Yoweri Museveni.

Regional paper the East African says the talks are intended to ease relations between the two neighbours and members of the East African Community.

President Museveni last week called off his trip to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where he was down to attend the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area Treaty.

President Kagame skipped the East African Heads of State Summit held in Kampala on 22 February.

The two governments have at different times accused each other of supporting dissident groups.

The Kampala-based Daily Monitor says President Museveni has downplayed reports of tension between Uganda and Rwanda.

A continental trade deal without Nigeria, South Africa?

The East African is not sure how much of a success that free trade deal is likely to be.

The regional paper's headline salutes "Africa’s most ambitious joint venture'" saying the project is worth nearly four trillion euros.

But the report underlines the absence of Africa’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, from the Kigali agreement.

More than 40 countries signed the protocol to the treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

But Africa’s leading economies, Nigeria and South Africa, have chosen to stay on the sidelines. South Africa has the backing of the Southern African Development community member states, including Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Zambia, who have also rejected the deal. Burundi, Benin, Sierra Leone, Eritrea and Guinea Bissau also refused to sign.

“It would have been great if the two biggest economies on the continent had signed," a Ghanaian analyst told the Reuters news agency, adding that the rest of the continent is sending the message to these two economies that everyone else is moving ahead without them.

DRC refuses 1.5 billion euro international aid package

The EU is “extremely concerned” about the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This follows an announcement by the authorities in the DRC declining a 1.5 billion euro international aid package.

According to the East African, a war of words broke out between the United Nations and the DRC government after Kinshasa said on Friday it would not attend a donor conference in Geneva aimed at tackling a humanitarian crisis which the Congolese authorities say has been vastly exaggerated by aid workers.

At least 13 million Congolese are in need of humanitarian aid, including 8 million who are severely food insecure, according to the UN Security Council.

The UN children’s agency says 400,000 children risk dying in the central diamond-rich Kasai region, which has been ravaged by conflict.

Zuma will have his day in court

Jacob Zuma has a court date in the next two weeks.

BusinessDay reports that the South African former president is due to appear before judges on corruption charges at some stage in the next fourteen days.

BusinessDay understands the date has been set but the summons has not yet been issued. This is in relation to 783 questionable payments connected with an arms deal for which Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was jailed for corruption.

Sister paper the Mail & Guardian says that the date for Zuma's appearance before the High Court in Durban is 6 April.

The Sowetan is also sure, the tabloid's treport beginning "Former president Jacob Zuma will appear in court on corruption charges on 6 April."

The charges were dropped against Zuma by the National Prosecuting Authority in 2009.

After a lengthy legal action by the opposition Democratic Alliance, the Supreme Court of Appeal last year upheld a judgment by the Pretoria High Court that the decision to drop the charges was irrational.

Zuma will face 16 charges   for racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud.

Pressure builds on South Sudan's Salva Kiir

South Sudan's president Salva Kiir is under pressure as the country’s economy teeters on the brink of collapse while the civil war continues.

On the domestic front, according to the East African, Kiir faces defiance from some of his ministers and military personnel, forcing him to sack a number of them. Since the beginning of the year, Kiir has sacked several ministers, governors, top army and police officers.

Internationally, the United States and the European Union are piling even more pressure on him to end the four-year civil war or face sanctions and an arms embargo.

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