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African press review 5 April 2017


The chaos at the top of South Africa's ANC in the wake of President Jacob Zuma's controversial cabinet reshuffle last week continues to dominate headlines today.

In South Africa's BusinessDay, it's all doom and gloom and finger-pointing.

The top story is headlined "Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile is planning an early exit."

Fuzile is asking to leave his post at the end of this month, a year before his contract runs out, the paper reports.

According to BusinessDay, "Fuzile’s plans could spark concerns of an exodus of technocrats in one of South Africa's best-run government departments."

In another top story, a big ANC ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu, is calling for Zuma to step down.

A BusinessDay opinion piece calls the Cosatu move "immensely important".

"Zuma's world is closing in," is the headline of the op-ed and it argues that between Cosatu and the South Africa Communist Party (SACP), which also called on the president to resign last week, a significant portion of the ANC is now turning against him.

'Teflon Don'

However, it's a different story over at South Africa's Mail and Guardian.

"Teflon Don gets his way: Zuma emerges victorious again," reads the top headline there. Zuma has been called the Teflon president because of his ability to come through unscathed from many scandals over the years

But "The Teflon Don" was originally the nickname for John Gotti Jr, an American mafia boss who was acquitted in several famous trials. So the Mail and Guardian is sending mixed messages.

The paper reports that Zuma "emerged victorious" after the ANC's extended national working committee rejected another recommendation for him to step down Tuesday, this time from the ANC’s Integrity Commission.

Plus, according this story, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe were both forced to apologise to Zuma for criticising him in public after his decision to remove Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and several other cabinet members.

An editorial in the Sowetan argues Zuma should not be blamed for Standard and Poor's downgrading of South Africa's credit rating to junk status yesterday: slow economic growth‚ growing government debt‚ a shaky financial situation, and lack of corporate investment were also to blame, says an opinion piece from Katharine Child.

Call to end anti-immigrant rhetoric

In an op-ed for Rwanda's New Times, Joseph Rwagatare argues that some African leaders have not spoken up enough against anti-immigrant rhetoric.

"Trump alone not to blame for anti-migrant hysteria," is Rwagatare's headline. He points out that many people have taken US President Donald Trump to task for his anti-immigrant rhetoric. But, Rwagatare says, there is a lot of distrust of migrants across Africa, and not enough political leaders are speaking out against it -- sometimes for fear of crossing the US, which is a big donor to many African nations.

"Obviously no sensible person goes around poking fingers into the eyes of a giant who also happens to be a benefactor," Rwagatare writes.

Rwagatare offers a second explanation for people's fears: "The prospect of the loss of identity arising from the thought of being swamped by hordes of people who do not share the same culture or values."

Rwagatare encourages readers -- and political leaders -- to keep open minds about the positive effects of migration: economic revitalisation and an influx of brains and skills.