African press review 2 May 2018

4 min

US steel and aluminium tariffs put thousands of South African jobs at risk. The official campaign for a referendum on constitutional change in Burundi opened yesterday. Should Kenya waste the talents of President Uhuru Kenyatta when he reaches the end of his second mandate?


A decision by the United States to reject South Africa’s application for exemption from President Donald Trump’s import duties on steel and aluminium has put 7,500 South African jobs under threat, this morning's BusinessDay tells us.

The report reminds us that Trump this week signed proclamations granting permanent exemptions to a select number of countries and extended steel and aluminium tariff duty exemptions for some others. South Africa was not among them.

South African steel and aluminium products are likely to be priced out of the US market by the exempted countries because the South African metals will be less competitive, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

South African steel a threat to US security

The Mail & Guardian leads with the same story, saying that the US has imposed steel and aluminium tariff hikes on South Africa because it believes imports of these products could “impair” its national security.

South African officials have pointed out that the country is not a cause of any national security concerns in the US nor a threat to American industry's interests and is not the cause of the current global steel glut.

Burundi presidential referendum campaign under way

Burundi yesterday saw the start of the official campaign for a referendum on constitutional change that could enable President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in power for another 16 years.

Twenty-six parties, most of them aligned with the ruling CNDD-FDD party, have been authorised to campaign for the vote to be held on 17 May.

The leaders of parties which advise electors to abstain   rather than cast a Yes or No ballot   risk up to three years in jail.

Burundi's exiled opposition has called for a boycott of the referendum, which it describes as the "death knell" to the Arusha agreement in 2000 that helped end a 12-year civil war.

Nkurunziza, a 54-year-old former rebel leader, has ruled the central African nation since 2005.

According to the Arusha peace agreement, no president can govern Burundi for more than 10 years.

Bid to keep Kenyatta beyond term limit

The Daily Nation in Kenya gives the main story to criticism of a proposal to allow President Uhuru Kenyatta serve longer than the 10 years allotted under the constitution.

Speaking yesterday, the trade union confederation leader Francis Atwoli told workers in Nairobi that it would be logical to extend Kenyatta’s role after the end of his fixed 10-year term “because he is young”.

Atwoli said that letting Kenyatta, who will be 60 when he retires in 2022, leave office without any well-defined role in his retirement would be an exercise in futility. He also warned that presidential supporters will not accept such a departure.

The trade union leader called for the amendment of the Kenyan constitution.

Critics have described the suggestion as “warped” saying it is clearly the brainchild of “hardliners” within and around State House, the president's official residence.

Bio puts prof in top job

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has sparked controversy by appointing his doctoral programme supervisor to the cabinet.

In the second instalment of ministerial appointments, announced yesterday, Professor David Francis of Bradford University was named to the new post of Chief Minister.

Francis is the head of the Presidential Transition Team set up to review the activities of the former regime of Ernest Bai Koroma.

President Bio also named his campaign manager in the March election, Dr Alie Kabba, as Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister.

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