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African press review 27 February 2018


Is South Africa's new cabinet a catalyst for change or another out-of-tune blast on the same old trumpet? Is Kenya transporting arms to the South Sudan government? What really happened at the technical college in Dapchi, in Nigeria's Yobe State, when 110 schoolgirls were abducted?

South Africa's new cabinet is a compromise, according to this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

To appease a deeply divided ANC after the ruling party’s elective battle last December, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a mixed bag of ministers from the two main factions in the party, says BusinessDay's analysis.

Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan both make comebacks: Nene as finance minister, Gordhan at public enterprise.

The reshuffle sees 10 ministers fired and 10 new appointments in a cabinet which is set to remain in place until the general election in 2019.

Compromised compromise

Over at the Mail & Guardian the main headline ironically welcomes "Cyril's compromised compromise cabinet", with the report saying the president has made some bold changes with his new government line-up while retaining some dead wood for the sake of unity within the ANC.

As opposed to last week's state of the nation address which was widely praised, Ramaphosa's "new dawn" has been ridiculed by opposition parties, who say that the new cabinet has retained several compromised figures.

Opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said the ANC had served its own interests with the new cabinet instead of the interests of the country.

"The cabinet remains filled with compromised ministers, Gupta loyalists and corruption accused," Maimane said in a statement.

The opposition leader said Ramaphosa's decision to retain Mabuza, Dlamini, Gigaba and Dlamini-Zuma showed that Jacob Zuma's removal had done nothing to change the ruling party.

Kenya denies UN claim on South Sudan conflict

Kenya has denied claims by a United Nations official that it is playing a negative role in the conflict in South Sudan, regional daily the East African reports.

Foreign Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma yesterday criticised the UN Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, over his claims that Kenya and Uganda are aiding the transportation of arms to the Juba government.

Juma says such claims are unfortunate and misleading.

Overseas competition undermining East African Community

Cheaper imports from Asia, Europe and the US are eating into east Africa’s intra-regional trade, the regional daily also tells us. Kenya, for example, which used to supply 90 percent of medicine in the East African Community (EAC), is now losing out to India.

According to the 2017 report on EAC’s competitiveness, India is exporting mainly heavy petroleum and medicine to the region while China is selling a wide range of manufactured goods including clothes, footwear and telecommunications equipment.

China, Japan, South Africa and India have taken up a higher market share in the region for iron and steel products than the EAC partner states put together.

Uganda has been the top export destination for Kenyan goods, followed by the Netherlands, US, UK, Pakistan and Tanzania. However, latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of statistic shows that Pakistan has taken the top position, followed by Uganda.

What really happened in Dapchi?

According to the Nigerian Guardian, the Peoples Democratic Party yesterday urged the National Assembly to immediately investigate the circumstances surrounding the abduction of 110 schoolgirls from a technical college in Dapchi in Yobe State.

The opposition party said the probe became imperative in the face of “rising speculations and conspiracy theories in the public space, fuelled by conflicting reports, attempts at cover-up and disagreements among government officials and agencies regarding the incident”.

The opposition statement drew particular attention to the allegation by Yobe State governor Ibrahim Geidam that the abduction was preceded by the withdrawal of troops safeguarding the troubled area.

On the same topic, the top story in Nigerian daily paper Punch reports that the national army has admitted withdrawing troops from the Dapchi area before the abduction of the girls.

A spokesman said the military should not be blamed for the abduction of the schoolgirls as the troops handed over a “peaceful and calm situation” to the police.

The troops were redeployed in Kanama, on the Nigeria-Niger border, to combat Boko Haram Islamists who were attacking a military location in the area.