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Africa Press review

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African press review 28 March 2018


There's mixed news for the South African economy from the international ratings agency Standard & Poor's. Witches are getting radio stations closed down in Uganda. And South Sudan's former vice-president turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, can leave his life of exile in South Africa.

It's not all about Jacob Zuma in South Africa.

While the former president prepares for his court date next month on fraud charges, the international ratings agency Standard & Poor's yesterday gave a mixed message on the South African economy.

Financial paper BusinessDay says the agency injected a note of reality into recent ratings optimism, reminding South Africa that, though February’s budget was much better than October’s medium-term effort, the deficit and debt projections are still worse than in 2017.

The agency, which in November junked South Africa’s local currency rating, also said the country’s economy was not growing nearly fast enough to justify an upgrade   even though Standard & Poor's has doubled its growth estimate for 2018 from 1 per cent to 2 per cent, with even better predicted for next year.

These projections are higher than the forecasts used by the Treasury as the basis for February’s budget.

Witch-hunt closes radio stations in Uganda

It's not all sunshine working for the radio.

Regional paper, The East African reports that Uganda’s communications regulator, the UCC, has ordered nearly two dozen radio stations to be taken off the air over what it calls “lack of minimum broadcasting standards.”

The directive to shut down 23 stations has sent shockwaves through the broadcast industry.

Pamela Ankunda, a spokeswoman for the UCC, told the East African that the decision was taken after the stations ignored repeated warnings against advertising and promoting witchcraft.

The commission has ordered the closures under section 2 of the witchcraft act.

The regulator also accused the stations of aiding and abetting fraud by allowing swindlers to use their airwaves to con people through the promotion of healing powers.

Uganda has a vibrant FM radio segment, with more than 270 stations competing for advertising revenue, not all of it from reputable service-providers.

Chadema officials behind bars in Dar es Salam

Top officials of Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, have been arrested in the capital Dar es Salam.

The party's national chairman Freeman Mbowe and other senior officials are being detained.

The opposition officials were taken into custody after reporting at central police station for questioning in connection with demonstrations in the city in the middle of last month.

The arrests come in the wake of a warning by the influential Lutheran church last Sunday about the shrinking democratic space in Tanzania and the muzzling of media by the state.

Arrest warrant for Riek Machar withdrawn by Juba

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar no longer faces arrest if he returns to the country.

The East African reports that the South Sudanese government has accepted the decision taken by the regional bloc, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) to set Machar free.

The Igad council of ministers announced yesterday that the house arrest of Dr Machar, former vice-president turned rebel leader, should be lifted on condition that he repudiates violence.

The council further said it would take responsibility for relocating Machar from South Africa to a country not neighbouring South Sudan.

Machar has been under effective house arrest in South Africa following clashes between his bodyguards and those of President Salva Kiir in Juba in July 2016.

South Sudan stays on US emergency status list

And the US administration yesterday extended South Sudan's national emergency status.

This is the top story in the Sudan Tribune.

The state of national emergency was first declared by former US president, Barrack Obama on 3 April 2014, and gives Washington the option of additional sanctions against the South Sudanese government.

Renewing the emergency status for 12 months yesterday, the White House said the four-year South Sudan conflict threatens peace, security and stability for the nation and the surrounding region, including widespread violence and atrocities, human rights abuses, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, attacks on peacekeepers and humanitarian aid workers, and obstruction of humanitarian operations.