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African press review 20 January 2018


How much longer can Jacob Zuma hold on to his job as South African president? Will Uganda reintroduce the death penalty in a bid to stop the current wave of crime? Are journalists hampering the return of peace to South Sudan? And how can Nigeria's herder-farmer clashes be resolved?

It looks as if Jacob Zuma's days as South African president are numbered.

Last night, according to the top story in this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, the National Executive Committee of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) agreed that Zuma should be removed from office.

The meeting agreed that the removal of the president should be managed by the newly elected ANC officials.

BusinessDay says there was a push to have the ANC’s top six officials "manage"  Zuma’s early departure, rather than have the 80-strong national executive committee handle the matter.

BusinessDay understands the top six managing the matter would allow it to be done "sensitively".

Zuma handed the new leadership a poisoned chalice when he announced free higher education on the eve of the ANC’s national conference, a move which will cost cash-strapped South Africa billions of euros to implement, the paper says.

A view has emerged among party members supporting new ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa that Zuma should be left to deal with the fallout of this decision.

"Let him see the consequences of his actions," said a source close to the talks.

There's a slightly different view of the situation on offer over at the Mail & Guardian.

According to their report, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is unlikely to support calls by his supporters to remove Zuma from office with immediate effect as that could compromise efforts to unite the party before the 2019 general elections.

Will hanging return to Uganda?

Uganda could see a return of the death penalty.

That's on the front page of regional paper the East African, which reports that Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni may resume signing death sentences after a long gap to help stem a crime wave.

The president said he felt the increase in criminal activity was linked to the problem of leniency.

"We need to hang a few of them," he is quoted as saying.

Death remains the maximum sentence in Uganda for a range of crimes including murder and treason but no executions have taken place since 1999. A prisons service spokesman said there are currently 278 inmates on death row.

The president's comments were quickly denounced by rights activists opposed to capital punishment.

Journalists "assassinating" South Sudan

The South Sudanese media regulator has warned journalists against what he called the "assassination of the country and its government".

Speaking at a forum on freedom of expression and journalists' safety held in Juba this week, the director of media compliance at the South Sudan Media Authority, Sapana Lado, accused reporters of fuelling the crisis in the country through biased reporting.

He said local journalists lacked patriotism and were acting as foreign agents.

Last year South Sudan's media regulatory body banned 20 foreign journalists from entering the country because of what it described as “unfounded reporting that could incite violence”.

Fulani herders keep Benue in state of siege

Benue State in Nigeria is still under siege by Fulani herdsmen, according to state governor Samuel Ortom who is quoted in a report in the Nigerian Guardian telling a delegation of All Progressives Congress governors that people in Benue are living in fear, despite the relative recent calm.

More than 80,000 people are in refugees camps in Benue following weeks of clashes between Fulani herders and farming communities.