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Africa Press review

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African press review 7 June 2017


South Africa's economy in "official" recession after posting negative growth in two consecutive quarters while Nigerian lawmakers denounce widespread graft in contract awards, threaten to prosecute officials involved in the scam.

We begin in South Africa, where the papers lead with breaking news about the slump of the economy into recession.

BusinessDay reports that South Africa's GDP had contracted by 0.7% with negative growth contracted in the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, citing a statement from the official Statistics South Africa agency.

BusinessDay says the agency lists trade, catering and accommodation industries which slumped by 5.9% as the largest contributors to the negative growth. The other low performing sectors listed are the manufacturing sector which contracted by 3.7% and household consumption expenditure reportedly down 2.3% over the lest two quarters.

The official economic statistics agency also stated that the Rand weakened over one percent against major trading currencies, such as the dollar, the euro and against the pound.

BusinessDay quotes Statistics SA's deputy director-general as saying that government debt had almost doubled since 2009, warning that there was now a real risk that South African tax revenue collection would under-perform eputting the fiscal authorities under significant pressure.

Also in South Africa, Times Live investigates the explosive decision by a school principal‚ who refused Muslim students the right to wear the religious "hijab" attire during Ramadan.

The paper reports that the head teacher at the Special Needs School in the Western Cape had allegedly called the girl into his office for violating the school's dress code. But as Times reports that the decision was later overturned by the Province's Education department after the girl's mother brought the case to their attention.

The Department of Education‚ took advantage of the case to reiterate that the school Principal's decision "violated both department and constitutional policy"‚ which allows for religious expression.

According to Times Live, the Western Cape Education Department however decided not to sanction him on grounds that he was new in the province.

In Nigeria, Vanguard takes up threats by lawmakers to file corruption charges against companies which violate procurements act. This, after being apparently frustration over the award of a plethora of contracts to tenders with underestimated and ‘doctored’ tax certificates.

The paper reports that the House of Representatives Committee has been investigating alleged abuse and breach of the Public Procurement Act of 2007 after reports that one firm awarded a contract of 106 million euros , paid only N20,000 (56 euros) as taxes.

Vanguard says that the lawmakers have summoned former Ministers of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, all permanent secretaries of Ministry of Finance from 1999 till date and other key treasury players for a hearing on the graft-tainted deals.

And in Kenya, Daily Nation says that Kenya's government on Tuesday made public its decision to seek parliamentary approval for a plan to increase state shares in the debt-ridden Kenya Airways to the tune of SH75 billion (644 million euros) in order atofacilitate its recovery from a failed expansion strategy.

Kenyan Airways reportedly netted losses of 229 million euros for in 2016. This, as its results were hit by a series of one-off items including charges linked to a poor fuel hedging policy.

Daily Nation says the Cabinet's decision to intervene in the airline's budget is the latest signal by the Kenyatta administration's determination to consolidate the status of Kenyan Airways as a national asset.