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Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria Press review South Africa South Sudan Japan United Nations

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African press review 11 March 2017

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Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari returned home after nearly two months medical leave yesterday and says the vice president will remain in charge for the next few days. Is South Africa's president serious about the social grants issue? And how does UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres propose to punish countries whose peace-keepers are guilty of sex abuse?


Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the vice president will remain in charge for the next few days as the president continues to rest.

President Buhari returned home on Friday after almost two months of medical leave in the United Kingdom.

The Lagos-based Guardian newspaper reports that the president says he has never been so weighed down by sickness at any stage in his life, either as a young man or as a serving officer in the Nigerian Army.

President Buhari went on to say he may have to return for London for further treatment in the next few weeks.

President Jacob Zuma thinks South Africans are idiots

President Jacob Zuma thinks South Africans are idiots. That's according to an opinion piece in today's Mail & Guardian newspaper.

The writer, Eusebius McKaiser, says the president has shown no leadership on the social grants issue, yesterday pleading with concerned citizens to simply wait until 1 April to see whether or not the monthly grants are actually paid to those poor South Africans who rely on them. Seventeen million South Africans receive social grants.

Zuma went a step further, says the article, telling Cabinet ministers and public servants not to worsen the situation by discussing the issue with critics. “The less we talk, the better,” the president is reported as saying.

At stake is a decision by South Africa's Constitutional Court that the tender to pay social grants, awarded to a company called Cash Paymaster Services, is invalid. It is not clear how or if grants will be paid after the current contract runs out at the end of this month.

The state has shown disdain for the Constitutional Court, says the article, despite the fact that constitutional supremacy is the foundation of South African society.

The writer ends by saying that there is a simple explanation for government resistance to the court decision: someone powerful is benefiting from the deal with Cash Paymaster Services.

The top story in the Sowetan tabloid says the Confederation of South African Trade Unions has slammed Social Development Minister‚ Bathabile Dlamini‚ for her part in the mess, saying she is not taking the welfare of citizens seriously on the social grants issue. The union group has called for a protest march on parliament tomorrow.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela kept in hospital overnight

BusinessDay reports that African National Congress veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela spent the night in hospital in Johannesburg. Admitted yesterday for a routine check-up, she was kept overnight for additional observation.

In December last year‚ 80-year-old Madikizela-Mandela was rushed to hospital for reasons not made known to the public.

Last April she spent time in hospital following back surgery.

Japan to pull out of South Sudan peace-keeping operation

Japan is to withdraw peace-keeping troops from South Sudan.

This is reported on the front page of regional paper the East African.

The Japanese military contingent's primary mission for the past five years has been to build infrastructure in South Sudan.

However, in a move that stoked controversy in Japan, the contingent was allowed from November last to mount rescue missions and escort UN staff and personnel of non-governmental bodies, in line with a 2015 security law that expanded the overseas role of the Self Defence Force, as the Japanese military is known.

UN may cut payments to countries of sex abusers

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has proposed cutting payments to countries that fail to investigate sex abuse accusations against their troops deployed on peacekeeping missions.

The United Nations has been badly shaken by several waves of allegations of sex abuse by troops it deploys in missions with a mandate to protect civilians.

The UN's annual report indicates that there had been 145 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving troops and civilians across all UN peace missions in 2016, up from 99 in 2015.

Under UN rules, it is up to troop-contributing countries to take action against their nationals who face allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation while serving under the UN flag.