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African press review 31 January 2018

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Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday had himself sworn in as the "people's president". Police units sent to prevent the ceremony were finally withdrawn. But the authorities did impose a near-total media blackout on the event. What is really going on?


Kenyan opposition leader and officially defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga was yesterday sworn in as the "people’s president" at a ceremony in front of supporters in Uhuru Park.

But he was left on his own by his alliance partners, according to the top story in this morning's Nairobi-based Daily Nation.

According to the report, National Super Alliance (Nasa) principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula skipped the “swearing-in” of their alliance candidate, to the disappointment of thousands of supporters.

The report describes Nasa leader Raila as being like a bride at the altar rails, deserted by her bridesmaids. Given the four individuals involved, it's an interesting image.

Why were there no police at Uhuru Park?

Accross the city, the Standard looks at the security situation at Uhuru Park.

The authorities had made it clear that the proposed swearing-in was illegal and warned that police would be deployed to keep opposition supporters away from the Nairobi venue.

Finally, police units were withdrawn. The Standard says this came as no surprise

Word that the police would allow yesterday's ceremony to go ahead had been on the streets since Monday afternoon.

This followed what insiders said was pressure from various quarters to allow the event to go ahead to avoid chaos similar to that experienced in November 2017, when Raila returned to the country from a trip to the US and hundreds of his supporters attempted to gain entry to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to welcome him.

This led to violent confrontations between opposition supporters and anti-riot police that left several people injured.

Media blackout causes outrage

In a related story, the Standard reports that Kenyans were yesterday outraged by the government's decision to block live TV coverage of Raila Odinga’s ceremony, saying this eroded major gains in media freedoms and access to information.

Dozens of radio stations were also barred from covering the event.

Yesterday’s shutdown of media outlets confirmed earlier threats by the authorities to interrupt operations and, in a more extreme measure, withdraw licences.

Millions of television viewers were left in the dark for several hours as the state took the unprecedented step of blocking all transmission on the most popular free-to-air channels.

The Kenya section of the International Commission of Jurists condemned the shutdown, describing the act as an infringement of the independence of media guaranteed by the constitution.

Cape Town's water deadline recedes by four days

The deadline for turning off the taps in the drought-stricken South African city of Cape Town has been pushed back by four days.

Day zero, when the urban water supply completely dries up, is now expected to fall on 16 April.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance which has a majority on the city council, thanked residents for their efforts to save water.

The four-day extension is based on a cut in average daily consumption of 40 million litres.

When day zero arrives, Cape Town residents will be rationed to 25 litres of water a day, which they will have to obtain at designated collection points.

Grace Mugabe fails PhD exam

Grace Mugabe’s thesis does not meet minimum academic requirements, the South African Mail & Guardian reports.

You might remember that back in 2014, Grace Mugabe, then First Lady of Zimbabwe, was awarded a doctorate in sociology by the University of Zimbabwe. She had been enrolled at the university for only two months and her thesis was not made public   until now.

The Mail & Guardian has obtained a copy of Mrs Mugabe's thesis and submitted it to the scrutiny of Kirk Helliker, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Rhodes University, where he is the director of the Unit of Zimbabwean Studies.

His verdict is simple and damning: the "thesis" is shallow, makes no original research contribution, shows an insecure grasp of basic theory, does not contain a critical bibliography and is based on out-of-date information.