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Africa African press review Press review

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African press review 8 April 2017


More bad news for the South African economy. Rwanda's president says he wants reconciliation, not compensation, from states and institutions who failed to save lives during the 1994 genocide. And Somalia's new leader offers a sixty-day amnesty to Al Shabaab terrorist fighters.

South Africa's got the downgrade blues this morning . . .

Fitch is the latest sovereign debt ratings agency to downgrade South Africa to junk status.

Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay says the downgrade reflects the view that recent political events, including the major cabinet reshuffle, will weaken standards of governance and impair public finances.

The only good news is that Fitch has put the new rating on "stable" outlook, meaning it has no further downgrade plans for the moment, in contrast to Standard & Poor's which put a negative outlook on its new rating.

This latest downgrade will almost certainly lead to a rise in government debt-servicing costs, says BusinessDay, and this will mean less money for critical services such as housing, education and sanitation. The business paper predicts more protests over service delivery.

The rand weakened on the news, to an intraday worst level of 13.84 to the US dollar.

The National Treasury and the Banking Association of South Africa have reacted very differently to the Fitch Ratings downgrade.

The Treasury said it was a "setback" but urged South Africans to remain positive.

The Banking Association said the latest downgrade was "devastating".

The association's statement went on to say that the fact that Fitch has directly attributed its downgrade to the actions of the president demonstrates in no uncertain terms that last week's Cabinet reshuffle was not in the national interest.

Rwanda wants reconciliation, not compensation

The top story in regional paper the East African says Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame has put to rest rumours that Rwanda is demanding compensation from the international community and the Roman Catholic Church for their failure to intervene during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

At a recent event to mark the 23rd anniversary of the genocide, President Kagame said that Rwanda is not looking for money or any form of compensation but is willing to listen to those who are ready to take responsibility for their actions and forge new relationships.

Without naming names, President Kagame alluded to "powerful countries" that were found to have played a role in the genocide but have failed to acknowledge their failures 23 years on, and still want to cause problems for Rwanda.

A recent meeting between President Kagame and Pope Francis at the Vatican triggered the discussion around the need for compensation for genocide survivors and the families of victims, with critics arguing that acknowledging failure and apologising is not enough.

There has been debate about whether a statement released by the Vatican amounts to an apology. Pope Francis has admitted that the church failed in the 1994 Genocide.

As South Sudan's famine deepens, Salva Kiir sends out a call for help

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has declared the famine in the country a national disaster as the young nation runs out of cash to buy food for its starving population.

President Kiir expressed deep concern over the famine and appealed for support from home and abroad to save the starving citizens.

In February, the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan with at least 100,000 people severely food insecure in Unity State alone.

The UN has blamed the famine on the ongoing war in South Sudan between government forces and rebels.

Somalia offers amnesty to defectors from Al Shabaab

Somalia's new president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has declared war against Al Shabaab and extended the offer of amnesty to all who leave the terrorist group over the next 60 days.

"Fighters who renounce their extremist ideologies will be welcomed, demobilised and reintegrated into society,” said President Farmajo. He said that the Horn of Africa country faces the triple threat of terrorism, corruption and poverty, and asked for concerted efforts from all sectors to help tackle those problems.