African press review 27 October 2017


With preliminary results showing outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta currently leading Kenya’s election rerun with more than 87 percent of votes and the necessary 25 percent in 32 counties, the Nairobi-based Daily Nation reports that Kenyatta yesterday promised to sit down with his arch-rival Raila Odinga in a bid to unify the country.

Kenyatta acknowledged that the country is grappling with tribalism but said he intends to reach out to the opposition leader in a bid to heal the nation and bring the factions together.

The Kenyan Standard says the fresh presidential election exposes two sides of a country: peaceful voting went on in some areas while chaos reigned in others, with police clashing with protesters. In central Kenya and Rift Valley, low voter turnout in the morning gradually improved as the day wore on.

Low voter turnout was also reported at the Coast and in western Kenya. Calls for boycott by opposition supporters, heavy rainfall, threats, general voter apathy given that most felt the vote was a no-contest and the absence of competition for local seats were cited among the reasons for the low turnout.

In the opposition strongholds of Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, and Migori, protesters blocked polling stations, prompting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to postpone the election and call a repeat vote tomorrow.

Mid-term budget in South Africa shakes ratings analysts

There’s nothing but bad news for South Africa this morning.

This week’s medium-term budget policy statement has shaken the confidence of the international credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.

The Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay says many economists fear that Wednesday’s “candid” statement from Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba did little to boost the confidence of investors or the rating agencies and could lead to another credit-rating downgrade in November.

Analysts at Fitch said yesterday that the interim budget points to a sharp fall in government revenue, but proposes no measures to contain the impact on deficits and debt.

The agency also says that disagreements within the ruling African National Congress have made it difficult to agree on savings measures. Fitch also believe that the divisions in the ANC will persist beyond the party’s electoral conference in December.

BusinessDay‘s editorial has only one good thing to say about the minister’s budget speech on Wednesday: at least he was honest.

There was no sad attempt to sugar-coat the pill, says the editorial. Gigaba set out the situation in all its gory detail.

Government revenue is now forecast to come in nearly 51 billion rand short of estimates, the worst miss since 2009. That means the budget deficit will widen to 4.3 percent of what the country can hope to produce, against the 3.1 percent forecast.

That means that gross national debt will reach more than 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2022, with debt service costs reaching 15 percent of government spending. BusinessDay says a full-blown downgrade is no longer a probability. It is now a certainty.

Bubonic plague warning for eight African nations

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, BusinessDay reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned eight countries with trade and travel ties to the island state of Madagascar to take precautions against bubonic plague.

South Africa is on the list.

The disease has claimed 124 lives in Madagascar since 1 August‚ according to reports‚ and about 1,200 suspected‚ probable or confirmed cases have been recorded so far.

The Department of Health has advised travellers to Madagascar to avoid densely populated areas and to wear surgical masks while in transit.

Ethiopia‚ Kenya‚ Mauritius‚ Mozambique‚ the island of Réunion‚ Seychelles and Tanzania are the other countries concerned by the WHO warning.

Burundi approves change to presidential limit

The government of Burundi earlier this week approved changes to the constitution that could pave the way to a potential 14-year extension to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s stay in office, according to regional paper the East African.

The Arusha accords, which ended Burundi’s 12-year civil war, clearly stipulate that no president can govern the country for more than 10 years.

Nkurunziza is already serving his third five-year term.

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