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African press review 20 November 2012


Nairobi officials appeal for calm after the Eastleigh matatu attack. Kibaki leads the way in voter-registration but millions of Kenyans may not be able to follow. A row brews between Kenya and Somalia. Where are Zuma's chickens roosting?  Was the Marikana massacre predicatble? Have ANC councillors been up to no good?

The trouble in Nairobi continues to dominate the Kenyan front pages.

The suburb of Eastleigh on Monday exploded into chaos following the weekend grenade attack on a bus, as the Kenya Defence Forces shut down Garissa town following the killing of three of its officers by suspected al-Shebab militia.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

The death toll from Sunday's blast has reached at least eight, with some reports saying 10, and 21 victims still hospitalised.

According to The Daily Nation, local leaders have called for peace and calm as rioting mobs went on the rampage following the Sunday bomb attack on a matatu minibus in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb.

The leaders warned that Eastleigh residents should not fall into the terrorists' trap and start fighting each other.

Nairobi Peace Commissioner James Waweru urged Muslims and Christians in the area not to attack each other. Security officers have arrested five people on suspicion of looting.

In The Standard the other big story is the race to register the country's estimated 20 million voters.

According to the Nairobi-based daily, President Mwai Kibaki yesterday became the first Kenyan to register to vote using the new electronic system. But, laments the newspaper, four million adults look set to be locked out of next year’s elections.

This follows the news that only a small percentage of the four million Kenyans lacking valid national identity cards have actually applied for them, despite the state waiving the application fee. An identity card is essential to enable registration under the new system.

The head of state yesterday urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission not to extend the biometric voter-registration scheme beyond the 18 December deadline. The elections themselves, the first under the new constitution, are due to be held on 4 March 2013.

According to the regional paper, The East African, Kenya could soon find itself on a collision course with Somalia’s newly installed government over reports that Nairobi is influencing the establishment of a local administration in Kismayu, claims which Kenya’s defence ministry has denied.

A group of Somali Members of Parliament is planning to table a motion in parliament to expel Kenyan forces from Kismayu.

Press Review Prize for Headline of the Day goes to South Africa's financial paper BusinessDay for the remarkable "Zuma’s chickens are roosting at his personal ‘gates of hell’".

The story that goes with it is a bit of a disappointment, an opinion piece by Paul Hoffman saying thet the opposition Democratic Alliance is prepared to ‘go to the gates of hell’ - via the Constitutional Court, if necessary - to get hold of the so-called Zuma ‘spy tapes’.

The tapes date from 2007 and record 35 conversations between the chief of the Scorpions police unit and senior ANC figures, allegedly including details of interference by the government of former president Thabo Mbeki in the prosecution of former top cop Jackie Selebi.

The tapes are back in the news now because more details about their content have been leaked by a Sunday paper and because of speculation that they contain embarrassing elements that could jeopardise current president Jacob Zuma's chances of being reelected as ANC leader next month.

Also in BusinessDay news from the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana killings that, 11 months before the August clashes at Lonmin’s platinum mine, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa expressed concern about the force's capacity for public order policing.

During cross-examination of police training co-ordinator Brigadier Petrus Breytenbach on Monday, the lawyers for some of the families of those who died read out large portions of a document on the policing of public protest, issued by the minister in August 2011.

In the document Mthethwa questioned whether training in public order policing was sufficient and said the South African police service urgently needed to review its operational approach.

The Farlam commission was established to look into the events that led to the deaths of 44 people during the six-week strike at the mine near Rustenburg.

BusinessDay also has more bad news for the ruling African National Congress, reporting that the ANC may have to fire some of its local government councillors after a high-level probe discovered manipulation and fraud in the processes that nominated them.

This raises the prospect of by-elections — and the ANC has not been performing well in recent municipal polls.

The report of a task team chaired by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was tabled and endorsed at a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee at the weekend. It investigated 416 complaints about councillors who did not have the support of their communities.

The team was established ahead of last year’s municipal elections to quell tensions after some candidates were rejected.

President Jacob Zuma promised last year that councillors found to have been fraudulently put into their positions would be removed.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe downplayed the extent of the problem on Monday.

"The task team investigated 419 complaints," he told a press conference yesterday, going on to say that this confirms that the majority of the 4,016 wards of the ANC adhered to party guidelines. The 419 wards that reported problems constitute just 10 per cent of South Africa's local government divisions.

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