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Press review South Africa

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African press review 10 March 2018


Communications difficulties in Uganda, radio stations facing closure in South Sudan, the ongoing debate about who owns South Africa's farmland. That's what interests the African papers today.

There's not a lot of cheerful news on the front page of regional daily the East African.

The top story is headlined "We don't call Kabul all that often nowadays, to be honets

There's a lot more Africa

But I'll remind people

orders a freeze on sale of new Sim cards", with the report explaining that the Uganda Communications Commission yesterday instructed all telecom operators to recall Sim cards held in stock by street vendors, agents and hawkers.

The sale of the cards will now be restricted to businesses that have access to the National Identification and Registration Authority database, so that they can electronically confirm the authenticity of any buyer's identity card.

The new directive follows revelations that criminals involved in a recent murder case used 17 separate Sim cards in a bid to beat attempts to trace their true identities.

UN radio told to close in South Sudan

The South Sudan Media Authority has ordered the closure of the United Nations-owned Radio Miraya citing failure to comply with broadcasting regulations.

The media regulator claimed the station failed to acquire a new operating licence despite having been notified four times between June 2017 and February this year.

The directive ordered the radio to stop broadcasting with immediate effect.

A spokesman for the UN mission in South Sudan said the station will stay on air pending talks with government.

Lake Albert drownings linked to DRC ethnic crisis

Seven people fleeing violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo drowned when their boat capsized during a bid to reach Uganda across Lake Albert, Congolese sources announced yesterday.

Tens of thousands of people have crossed the lake from Ituri province to flee violence between the Hema and Lendu ethic groups   cattle herders and farmers who have a long history of fighting over land.

More than a hundred have died in the unrest since mid-December, and as many as 200,000 have fled their homes, according to estimates by humanitarian workers. Several dozen have died of cholera on the Ugandan side of the lake.

Who owns South Africa's farmland?

Things are not much brighter on South African front pages, with BusinessDay lamenting that the "Land debate is clouded by misrepresentation and lack of data".

Parliament has passed a resolution to amend the constitution and allow expropriation without compensation. That means land can be taken back from white farmers for redistribution to black South Africans. The decision has generated a storm of gigantic proportions as political parties, citizens, white farmers and commentators anticipate either the moment of salvation or complete disaster.

Businessday is so worked up about the measure that it mangles its metaphors: "Land policy, at the centre of the storm, is flailing around in the dark," the Johannesburg-based paper assures us.

One problem is that nobody knows precisely how much agricultural land has been privately purchased by black farmers and how much has been acquired via land reform.

A land audit carried out last year by the agricultural lobby group AgriSA suggested that the initial target of transferring 30 percent of agricultural land via land reform is close to being met.

But BusinessDay says the market is not redistributing land to black people to the extent AgriSA claims.

The government’s latest land audit is not particularly useful either. It provides some evidence of continuing patterns of racial inequality in land ownership but it can’t specify the racial, gender and national identity of the 320,000 companies, trust and community-based organisations that own 61 percent of South Africa's land.

Zuma wants school-skippers jailed

And Jacob Zuma wants school students who play truant arrested and forced to finish their studies, the front page of the Sowetan tabloid tells us.

The former president suggested that loitering school children should be arrested, in addition to saying free school education must now be made compulsory.

Zuma stopped short of calling for the reinstatement of corporal punishment‚ which was abolished by the Schools Act of 1996‚ but he insisted that the system was failing because children were not being punished when they were wrong.