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African press review 10 October 2018


A look at the new man at the helm in South Africa's finance ministry, and at some of the old problems he'll have to resolve. Why have Rwandan police been questioning opposition politician Victoire Ingabire? Were Nigeria's recent ruling party primaries free and fair?

South Africa has a new finance minister.

Former reserve bank governor Tito Mboweni has been appointed to the job after President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday accepted Nhlanhla Nene’s letter of resignation.

On Monday, BusinessDay reported that Nene had asked Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties following public pressure over the minister's testimony at the state capture inquiry, at which Nene admitted to meeting the Gupta family on numerous occasions.

Nene's request came after some political parties rejected his apology for the previously undisclosed meetings with the family which took place while he was serving as deputy minister and minister of finance.

Announcing his decision yesterday, Ramaphosa said Tito Mboweni would provide the strong leadership needed at this time.

Born in 1959, Mboweni was a leader of the exiled ANC. He was appointed labour minister in 1994 and oversaw sweeping reforms to the labour market. He became the first black governor of the South African Reserve Bank in August 1999 and served for 10 years until November 2009.

Mboweni has since served as an adviser to the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and has been a director at the New Development Bank established by the so-call Brics emerging economies.

A tough task ahead for new boy Mboweni

Mboweni has it all to do.

He's the fifth South African finance minister in five years, and he has exactly two weeks to get ready for the presentation of the medium-term budget on 24 October.

The signs are not good, even if the local currency, the rand, did strengthen significantly against the dollar on the news of Mboweni's appointment.

Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund warned that South Africa's prospects remain uncertain in the lead up to the 2019 elections, and has slashed the county’s growth forecast almost in half.

Following a similar revision issued by the World Bank last week, the IMF's growth predictions for the remainder of this year and all of 2019 are down on earlier forecasts.

The IMF has welcomed recent measures to tackle corruption and has praised government determination to eliminate wasteful expenditure.

However, according to the global lender's monthly report, further reforms are needed to increase policy certainty, improve the efficiency of state-owned enterprises, enhance flexibility in the labour market, improve basic education, and align training with business needs.

The IMF also revised global growth down from 3.9 percent to 3.7 percent.

South Africa's land reform plan is failing

And the black chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, Patrice Motsepe, says the Pretoria government has failed in the area of land reform‚ leading to unhappiness in the black community.

Speaking at the farming forum in the legislative capital yesterday, Motsepe told delegates that too many black South Africans feel excluded from the land reform process.

“Some of that," he explained, "has very little to do with the land but it has to do with the fact that many of our people are unemployed‚ they are poor‚ they are marginalised‚ they are excluded."

Motsepe went on to say that the most successful countries were those where government had created an environment in which the private sector can grow and has confidence in the future.

Ingabire questioned by Rwandan police

Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire is back in the news.

According to this morning's regional paper the East African, Ingabire was yesterday questioned by detectives over what they said was her reference to herself and others as "political prisoners".

Ingabire, who is president of the unregistered opposition FDU-Inkingi party, and who herself recently benefited from a presidential pardon after serving six years of a 15-year jail sentence, was summoned by the Rwanda Investigations Bureau on Monday, just hours after report that two prisoners, one of them her party's deputy, had escaped from custody.

Boniface Twagirimana, FDU-Inkingi's first vice president, and Aimable Murenzi were reported missing from prison on Monday.

The party has questioned the escape story and says it fears foul play by the authorities.

“We call on the Rwandan government to inform the family, the party FDU-Inkingi and the general public about the circumstances of the disappearance of Boniface Twagirimana. He was in the custody of the state which is accountable for his safety,” a party statement reads.

Twagirimana was arrested in September 2017 along with seven other FDU-Inkingi members on charges of forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow the government.

Aimable Murenzi was serving a life sentence for aggravated assault with intention to kill and had served more than 10 years.

Women will be welcome on Egyptian State Council

The president of Egypt’s top court, the State Council, Ahmed Abou Al-Azm, says there is no constitutional prohibition to appointing women as judges on the State Council, adding that the council itself has no objection to such appointments. However, Al-Azm said the entire process was a “matter of time”, as there are protocols that have to be followed to appoint women as state council judges, and positions have to become vacant.

The Al-Sisi government has made the improvement of the professional status of women a priority, according to the Cairo-based Egypt Independent.

The current government has eight female ministers. There are 80 women sitting as judges in Egyptian courts.

Were Nigeria's APC primaries free and fair?

In Nigeria, pressure is mounting on the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, over the party’s handling of recent primaries across the country.

The exercise has been dogged by a series of complaints that the vote for the leadership of the party was not fair.

During a protest in Calabar yesterday, according to an article in th Nigerian Guardian, a faction of the party loyal to Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Usani Usani called for Oshiomhole’s resignation.