African press review 11 May 2018

3 min

The Kenyan dam disaster is the main story across all east African front pages.


"Forty-eight dead in dam horror," reads the main headline in the Nairobi-based daily Standard.

The report says the collapse of the Patel irrigation dam, one of seven on a privately-owned farm, released 20 million litres of water, enough to satisfy the demand of Nairobi and its suburbs for an entire day.

The Standard says that everything in the path of the flood was literally swept away.

The death toll ranges from 32 reported by the Kenya Red Cross, 44 according to Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mwongo Chemwanga, and 48 people according to area Chief Peter Mwangi.

At least 40 others are still missing.

"Patel Dam washes away sleepy village," in the Daily Nation's main headline.

The Nation says 70 million litres of water descended on the villagers' homes and at least 200 Kenya Defence Forces soldiers are taking part in the rescue mission.

Regional paper the East African also leads with the disaster, the headline there reading "Twenty children among 41 dead in Kenyan dam tragedy".

Most of the victims were asleep when the water came rushing down on two villages.

The search for survivors has been hampered by heavy rains.

Weeks of torrential rains in Kenya have led to flooding and mudslides countrywide.

The Red Cross appealed last week for millions to help those affected.

The deluge has had a devastating impact across large parts of east Africa, destroying crops and killing farm animals after a severe drought which sent food prices and inflation soaring and left millions in need of food aid.

Is Grace Mugabe entitled to immunity?

Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe is in danger of losing her diplomatic immunity, according to South African paper BusinessDay.

The Commission for Gender Equality says the move by the South African authorities to grant diplomatic immunity to Mugabe after her alleged assault on a young woman in Johannesburg in 2017 violated the country’s obligation to punish those suspected of violence against women.

The granting of diplomatic immunity to Mugabe meant that the National Prosecuting Authority could not investigate the case opened by Gabriella Engels‚ the woman allegedly assaulted by Mugabe at a hotel in Sandton in August 2017.

Yesterday, the Commission for Gender Equality reminded the High Court in Pretoria that the constitution obliged the state to take reasonable steps to protect women.

The commission said Engels‚ as a woman‚ formed part of a vulnerable group of society. Women were far too often the victims of assault, it argued. South Africa's international obligations meant the country had to ensure justice for victims of gender violence‚ to ensure that victims had access to effective remedies and that alleged perpetrators like Mugabe were investigated and prosecuted.

Engels, with the support of the opposition Democratic Alliance, is pursuing Grace Mugabe in a private prosecution.

Another step towards an African free trade area

The South African cabinet has given its go ahead for the discussion of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement in parliament.

The plan was announced in 2008 and negotiations started a few years later.

The agreement establishes a common market of 26 states in eastern and southern Africa, including members of the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

A trade law analyst interviewed by BusinessDay says the decision is an important step towards the finalisation of this new African commercial arrangement, which will liberalise trade between the states involved. It is also expected to provide additional impetus for the establishment of a continental free trade area.

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