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African press review 22 January 2013


The huge gap between the rich and the poor in South Africa one of the big story in today's papers...

Two legal stories dominate the front page of this morning's South African financial paper, BusinessDay.

Yesterday, Niger Delta militant leader Henry Okah was convicted on 13 charges of terrorist activities by the North Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for masterminding two car bombs that killed twelve people in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, at an independence day ceremony in 2010.

Dossier: Africa Cup of Nations 2013

The trial was seen as a test of whether a South African court could hear a case involving alleged perpetrators of terrorist activities committed elsewhere. The Nigerian authorities never applied for Okah's extradition.

Henry Okah denies any involvement in the blasts and says the charges against him were politically motivated.

Sentencing procedures are expected to start on 31 January. South African legislation provides for a minimum sentence of life imprisonment for Okah’s crimes.

At the Marikana inquiry, the commission set up to investigate the deaths of 44 people during a strike at a Lonmin platinum mine last August, a lawyer yesterday alleged that South African police had either failed to comply with their own rules, or had deliberately suppressed evidence that should have been made available to the commission.

According to police standards, a review of the action taken at a crime scene must always be conducted by an officer who was not part of the action. Video footage of the events is among the materials required for this process to be conducted.

However, the commission heard last year that no video evidence exists of the events during which 34 mine workers were shot dead.

Yesterday, a lawyer representing the families of the dead workers urged a senior police officer to disclose "the truth" on the absence of the video footage, even if it was uncomfortable or prejudicial to him or the police. The lawyer suggested that it was possible the video evidence existed but had been destroyed or deleted.

The police officer said he had nothing to hide and was not concealing evidence. The hearing continues.

BusinessDay also reports that South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal societies, with a so-called Gini coefficient of 0,63 in 2011 — a coefficient of zero means a country has complete equality with all households earning exactly the same.

According to the charity Oxfam, inequality has increased in South Africa over the past 20 years, despite government efforts to reverse the trend.

Oxfam says the World Economic Forum has highlighted inequality as one of the top global risks in 2013, and the International Monetary Fund terms inequality dangerous, divisive and a possible route to civil unrest.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

And, just in case you think it's all bad news, BusinessDay reports that confidence in the state of the global economy is due to register a slight recovery in the current quarter, according to a World Economic Forum index published yesterday, supporting views that South Africa’s economic prospects are likely to brighten this year given its close links to the world economy.

In Kenya, The Standard reports that the national electoral body yesterday extended the deadline for political parties to submit their final list of candidates by seven hours as disputes continued over just who was going to represent who.

At the end of a turbulent day yesterday, only the National Rainbow Coalition had submitted its final list and circulated a copy to media houses as required by law.

In the Orange Democratic Movement, there was a standoff over whether to give the Siaya Governor ticket to Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s brother Dr Oburu Oginga, or newcomer William Oduol, who is believed to have won the nomination contest.

Early in the day, Raila’s sister, Ruth Odinga stood down in the contest for Kisumu Governor seat ostensibly for the sake of peace and unity.

United Republican Party leaders were still in meetings as the original 5pm deadline passed yesterday. They were due to finalise their lists by midnight under the revised timetable.

The big story in Uganda's Daily Monitor is that 83,993 pupils failed the recent primary school exams, and will thus have to repeat a year before they can register to start their secondary education.

Education Minister Jessica Alupo yesterday expressed concern that the government was spending money on pupils only for them to leave school before completing the cycle.

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