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Kenya Press review South Africa Jacob Zuma

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African press review 8 February 2018


Jacob Zuma hangs on by the skin of his teeth and digs his heels in. The South African leader is still smiling. So is Kenyan businessman and opposition activist Jimi Wanjigi who was surprised to read his own obituary in a Nairobi newspaper yesterday. And Miguna Miguna, another Kenyan opposition figure, promises to punish the people he claims forced him to leave the country earlier this week.

What does the immediate future hold for South African president Jacob Zuma?

The top story in this morning's BusinessDay says the embattled leader's fate will be known once what the paper calls “pertinent matters” are finalised between himself and Cyril Ramaphosa, the recently elected president of the ruling African National Congress.

Uncertainty abounds as talks between Zuma and Ramaphosa continue after the unprecedented decision to postpone the State of the Nation address and the shifting of a key national executive committee meeting in which Zuma’s recall was set to be discussed.

"Recall," I remind you, is a polite word for "sacking".

In a vague statement yesterday, Ramaphosa admitted this is a “challenging time” for the country.

“Both President Zuma and myself are aware that our people want and deserve closure. The constructive process we have embarked on offers the greatest opportunity to conclude this matter without discord and division,” he said in what BusinessDay sees as a possible confirmation that Zuma is digging his heels in.

ANC planned to dump Zuma

The Sowetan reports that the ANC had planned to dump Zuma as the head of state after Wednesday night’s now-cancelled national executive committee meeting.

This is according to newly-elected ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.

He says the party’s top brass intended to oust Zuma from office if he didn’t resign.

But those plans were scuppered by a last-minute deal reached between Zuma and Ramaphosa – a deal that resulted in Wednesday’s scheduled meeting of the ruling party chiefs being called off - but which has not yet shifted Zuma.

Mashatile says the president is standing firm and will not step down voluntarily.

Smile, though your heart is breaking . . .

And we'll close the Zuma chapter for this morning with the top story from the Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian.

The headline reads "Zuma puts on brave face at Cape Town cabinet meeting," with the report saying the president appeared to be in jovial mood as he waved at journalists after a day of meetings at the parliamentary precinct in Cape Town.

Zuma continued with “business as usual” on Wednesday, with one minister saying he was doing his job as president, that he was in a good mood and was smiling.

Rumours of my death are . . . in the paper!

The top story in regional paper the East African says Kenya has been harshly criticised for the recent crackdown against the media and some opposition figures.

In the latest twist to the media blackout of last week's symbolic inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as the "people's president", a top Kenyan newspaper yesterday published a fake death notice of a prominent opposition financier, a bizarre error that rights groups have interpreted as another sign of an anti-democratic slide.

The Daily Nation apologised by mid-morning for publishing the funeral announcement for businessman Jimi Wanjigi, whose picture, history and family details were featured. The paper said the notice was a paid advertisement that was published in error and it was working with police to discover who placed it.

After a week of arrests of opposition politicians and a crackdown on independent media, prominent rights campaigner George Kegoro, executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, said the announcement amounted to a death threat to Wanjigi, who funded opposition leader Raila Odinga’s election campaign last year and whose house was raided by police in October.

Wanjigi was unavailable for comment.

And there's no mention of the story in this morning's edition of the Daily Nation.

Miguna promises action against purveyors of impunity

The Kenyan Standard continues to rake over the coals of the Miguna Miguna deportation story.

Opposition figure Miguna claims he was forcibly placed on a late-night flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam on Tuesday in flagrant violation of his constitutional rights, five court orders and "common decency".

In a statement issued from the Netherlands during a stopover, Miguna said he intended to challenge the illegal actions by the despots in court.

"I have instructed a battery of competent advocates to ensure that the ongoing rogue purveyors of impunity are brought to book. They are not above the law, even though they behave as if they are," his statement says.