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Economy Kenya Press review Burundi Tanzania

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African press review 15 May 2018

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Burundi warns against foreign interference in this week's referendum. Wheat farmers are worried in Kenya and Tanzania. South Africa is suffering because of the resumption of US sanctions against Iran. And money is missing from the coffers of the Kenyan National Youth Service.


"Burundi warns against foreign meddling ahead of referendum" is this morning's top headline in regional paper the East African.

Campaigning for Thursday's referendum on amending the constitution came to an end yesterday, with the ruling party warning that foreign countries should not meddle in the country’s affairs.

Among the elements of Burundian basic law facing amendment is the clause on presidential term limits, which was at the centre of the 2015 political crisis after the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza vied for a controversial third term in office.

Opposition leader and deputy speaker of parliament Agathon Rwasa says he doubts the referendum will be free and fair. Rwasa has campaigned for a “no” vote.

The European Union and the United States have denounced persistent intimidation, repression, violence and harassment of the opposition.

Last week the authorities in Burundi suspended radio programmes from international networks the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America.

More than five million Burundians are expected to vote on 17 May.

Kenyan wheat producers worried

Kenya and Tanzania have stepped up wheat imports to meet growing demand against a background of declining regional production.

The East African reports that wheat has been among the leading bulk commodities imported through the port of Mombasa in the past few months and this despite a 35 percent import tariff.

The East African says the increase in imports is being driven by oversupply on the international market, particularly by Russia, the world’s leading wheat producer.

Kenyan wheat growers are concerned that the stocks of imported grain being accumulated by millers will make it impossible for local producers to access the market in July when they harvest.

US-Iran sanctions hit South Africa

Today's editorial in South African financial paper BusinessDay looks at the implications for South Africa of US President Donald Trump's recent decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran and those who do business with the Islamic Republic.

Apart from the international ramifications of the American decision to exit the seven-nation nuclear deal, BusinessDay points out that South Africa will be directly affected because of the resumption of oil imports from Iran, mostly because the quality of Iranian crude oil suits South Africa’s refineries.

In addition, MTN is a major player in the Iranian cellphone market. A calculation by Bloomberg Economics suggests that South Africa is the country that will suffer most from Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear accord.

The US decision has already had an impact in forcing crude oil prices upwards.

How the American withdrawal from the deal will affect the international foreign policy environment is also a huge problem, according to BusinessDay. Trump’s act increases the risk of violence in the region.

The editorial ends with a reminder that when the US tried to enforce its trade embargo against Cuba on third parties, European governments retaliated. This latest move by Trump creates an opportunity for South Africa to reject the decision but still stay within the parameters of international consensus by partnering with Europe and other nations on the African continent and elsewhere.

In the long run, says BusinessDay, it is possible that the US will find itself more isolated than the nation it hopes to isolate.

Suspicions of fraud at Kenyan Youth Service

The Kenyan National Youth Service is making headlines in the Nairobi papers.

The Standard says investigators are trying to establish what role the national treasury might have played in suspected fraud at the youth service, from which organisation's books nearly nine billion shillings (75 million euros) are missing.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti says the probe is progressing well. He has called for patience.

The Daily Nation reminds readers that the last change of management at the National Youth Service was forced by an earlier scandal involving millions of shillings of missing funds.

The Nation warns that several renowned business figures are set to be arrested in the coming weeks.