African press review 26 June 2017

We begin in Nigeria where there is raging controversy over a recorded audio message from President Muhammadu Buhari wishing Nigerians well during the Aid-el Fitr Ramadan fast.

The minute-long audio clip, in Hausa, is the first message Nigerians have received from Buhari since he left the country 50 days ago for treatment in the United Kingdom.

The Nigerian Tribune says the voice message was released to debunk reports that the President was suffering from speech impairment.

This was the first time in Nigeria’s history that a Nigeria leader addressed the nation in a language other than the official language which is English, observes Vanguard.

Punch reports that ethnic group leaders are wondering how the rest of the country would have felt had the likes of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan delivered a Christmas broadcast to Nigerians in their Yoruba or Ogbia languages.

Also in Nigeria, Premium Times leads with revelations by the Interior Minister that up to 70 percent of inmates in the country’s prisons are awaiting trial.

According to the newspaper, Abdulrahman Dambazau released the statistics after a visit to Kano central prison on Sunday.

Dambazau reportedly told newsmen that some of the inmates who were supposed to be jailed for a few years ended up staying for up to 15 years while waiting for their trial.

In Kenya the papers relish the start of a hectic week of politics as the arch-rivals in the August 8 general elections prepare to unveil their election manifestos.

The Star says President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to announce an eight-key pillar plan for Kenya this Monday in an aggressive scramble for the 19 million voters against NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

According to the paper, Kenyatta will be buoyed by what his strategists call “a four-year Jubilee success story”.

The Star says the key proposals in Jubilee’s reelection plank include the creation of 100,000 jobs annually for young people, free Secondary Education starting January next year, free medical cover to all Kenyans above 70 years of age, more electricity for rural areas and the expansion of the Standard Gauge Railway from Naivasha to Malaba.

The Presidential candidate of the NASA coalition Raila Odinga is expected to unveil his election blueprint on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Standard Digital says Kenya’s electoral agency has started printing ballot papers for the elections, despite a case filed by the opposition challenging the award of the Sh2.5 billion tender.

The body’s chairman Wafula Chebukati is quoted by the paper as saying that while the case is pending they decided to start printing the 120 million ballot papers because of the limited time left before the polls.

According Daily Nation, Kenya’s Chief Justice appointed three judges on Friday to hear arguments filed by Raila Odinga’s backers that the Doha-based printing company which won the tender could rig the election in favour of President Kenyatta’s party.

In South Africa, Mail and Guardian says there are no signs that Pretoria plans to pressure DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila into holding the elections that would mark the end of his final term in office.

The DRC elections originally schedule in December are long overdue. The publication gave its opinion about the DCR crisis as Kabila pays an official visit to Pretoria to attend a bi-National Council between the two countries.

Mail and Guardian says remarks by Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane at the opening of the conference on Sunday have laid to rest any further speculation on the issue.

This, when she likened international calls on the DRC to organize timely elections, to the pressure being piled on the African National Congress, ahead of its elective conference in December. 

Finally in South Africa, City Press is covering an uproar over a monument in honour of President Jacob Zuma that is nearing completion on a site in the north west where the former head of the ANC’s armed wing was arrested 54 years ago while trying to skip the country into Botswana, together with 45 others.

The paper reports that the provincial government had come under pressure from the main opposition Democratic Alliance which brands the statue as “a monument to corruption and unemployment”.

City Press says the Economic Freedom Fighters party has warned that “even if they name a toilet after Zuma, they will destroy it”.

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