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African press review 4 January 2018


Lots of different news in today's African press. From Ethiopia to Kenya and South Africa, topics range from politics to football.

The East African has more on yesterday's announcement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that all politicians currently jailed will be released and a notorious detention centre will be closed.

"The move is designed to allow political dialogue," explains the website.

This, of course, follows years of protests. "A state of emergency was declared back in 2016," the paper reminds us.

Now, according to The East African, the detention centre will become a modern museum. But is this a genuine gesture towards more democracy?

In today's New York Times, Girma Seifu, who was the only opposition MP until 2015, said this could be a sign of political reform.

"I'm really surprised," says Seifu. "Even if the release of all of the country’s political prisoners does not come to pass, it means the status quo is no more".

A new cabinet, but when?

Today's Standard says the current government is feeling anxious, as President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to announce his new cabinet at any moment.

"At least five cabinet secretaries are facing the sack," writes the paper, which explains that their names "were missing from a list of nominees dispatched to security agencies for background checks".

You'll remember that Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have "in principal agreed on an expanded executive of 22 cabinet secretaries - 12 politicians and 10 technocrats".

Now, explains the Standard, it's not clear why the five were not included in the list but apparently "two of them were not keen on reappointment". So who knows who will be appointed? Well according to the paper, no one apart from the Kenyan president.

If you think this process is taking a long time, think again. According to Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Muraithe, "There is no hurry," because there is a current "cabinet and they are doing their work".

"Miracle team"

The Egypt Independent has an interesting sports story this morning. According to the paper "a group of Egyptian soccer players have formed a team for one-legged players".

They hope to start a league for disabled players in the country and have chosen a great name to call themselves.... The Miracle team. While the 25 team members are training in freestyle soccer, they plan to play soccer soon.

"They hope to inspire other disabled Egyptians to take up the sport and eventually establish a federation which could regulate a domestic league for the disabled," explains the paper.

But "despite their enthusiasm, the team faces a raft of challenges", writes The Egypt Independent. Namely, "a lack of funding", "a paucity of special playing crutches and difficulties finding a regular pitch for training".

"Bye Jacob Zuma"

The Mail and Guardian is wondering how to save South Africa's ANC party. It's no secret that the National African Congress isn't in great shape after numerous scandals hit President Jacob Zuma.

But the newspaper has several recommendations on how the party could make sure to win the 2019 elections.

The first step, even though it's probably the hardest, would be "to release Zuma from office". Then, says the paper, the ANC "should appoint men and women of integrity" and "follow legal processes to their end".

But really, the best option for the party is "to reconnect with the urban working class". After all, "the country’s economic (and increasingly, political) heartland" explains The Mail and Guardian. Then, and only then, the ANC might stand a chance to form a new coalition.