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African Press Review 8 January 2018

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The cost of bread and press freedom in Sudan. Corruption in Kenya. And, South Africa as the 'Garden of Eden.'


I had in mind this morning to explore what the Sudanese press is saying about increasing bread prices there and the violent street protests in Khartoum and elsewhere that have followed.

No chance, I'm sorry to say. All of their on-line websites are inaccessible this morning.

I had more luck in nearby Uganda, where the Daily Monitor covers the story at length.

"Sudanese security agents on Sunday seized all copies of six newspapers after they criticised the government over soaring bread prices that have almost doubled this week," the paper reports.

"Several newspapers have criticised the decision," the Monitor explained.

Yesterday, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service confiscated the entire print runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Mustagilla, Al-Karar, Al-Midan, Al-Assayha and Akhbar Al-Watan newspapers.

Some of the papers support the opposition, others are independent journals sometimes critical of the government.

"No reason was given for confiscating copies of our newspaper but I think it was due to our transparent coverage of the food price rise," Hanadi Al-Sidiq, editor of Akhbar Al-Watan, is quoted as saying..

It will come as no surprise to learn that Sudan regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings.

*******

There might be coverage in the Kenyan press but I couldn't find it.

As ever, there are acres of navel gazing.

The editorial in the Standard is coruscating.

"Corruption remains the biggest canker eating away at the fabric of the Kenyan society today, yet despite all the resources at its disposal, the Government has done little, if anything, to rein in the vice other than playing to the public gallery and paying lip service," the paper complains.

"Other than the arraignment of a few individuals in court, nothing further has been done to manifest seriousness in ending corruption," says the Standard.

In an effort to look on the bright side, the paper concludes "With new blood, new ideas and new approaches, the war on corruption could be renewed to achieve tangible results."

I dare say similar editorials have appeared in the past and will appear again in the future in Kenya and elsewhere on the African continent.

Still,  let's look on the bright side. At least the Standard's comments have not been stifled by the Secret Police.

*******

In South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly elected leader of the ruling African National Congress, is also looking on the bright side.

He's quoted in the Mail and Guardian as saying "Taking land will turn South Africa into the Garden of Eden," an irresistible hook for the story.

"'South Africa could turn into the ultimate paradise with the implementation of the policy of expropriation of land without compensation,' Ramaphosa said in Kwazulu-Natal on Sunday," the paper tells its readers.

The new ANC boss was speaking at a meeting to introduce the ANC’s new top six leaders to the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini at his Osuthu Palace.

"There was a jovial atmosphere," the paper reports. "Ramaphosa was seen dancing with the King and gifts of cattle were exchanged."

One wonders if the King's land might be expropriated without compensation.

Probably not.