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Africa

African press review 9 March 2016

media DR

South Africa's Jacob Zuma is on a two-day state visit to Nigeria, preaching the gospel of peace, reconciliation and smaller fines for Johannesburg-based phone companies. Rwanda is planning to leave the African Court of Human and People’s Rights. And the row over Uganda's presidential poll continues.

South African President Jacob Zuma starts the second day of his state visit to Nigeria this morning.

In South Africa, financial paper BusinessDay is presenting the trip as an attempt to mend fences between the continent’s largest economic powers.

Pretoria is putting a positive spin on the visit, talking up the pair’s "good bilateral political, economic and social relations" and potential new business opportunities.

But neither presidency made mention of tension between the two countries, including most recently the huge fine imposed by Nigeria on the South Africa-based company MTN.

MTN’s Nigeria operation was hit with a 3.5 billion euro penalty in October last year for failing to disconnect 5 million unregistered SIM cards.

The company, which is trying to negotiate a settlement, has so far paid out 250m.

Other South African firms in Nigeria have reportedly complained of being targeted. There have also been official criticisms of Nigeria’s response to a building collapse in Lagos in 2014.

Eighty-one of the 116 victims were South African nationals.

On the Nigerian side, there have been complaints about Pretoria's visa restrictions while in April last year the two countries got into a row in the wake of anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa.

In Nigeria, The Guardian reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has alleged that the failure of MTN Nigeria to disconnect millions of unregistered SIM cards fuelled the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east and led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians.

Buhari, speaking during a joint media briefing with the South African President , also indicated that MTN could continue negotiations on the amount of its fine with the Nigerian Communications Commission.

President Zuma promised that his government would return money seized from officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration who came to South Africa seeking to procure arms and ammunition.

Regional paper The East African reports that the authorities in Rwanda have not yet withdrawn from the African Court of Human and People’s Rights, but have applied to do so.

The government in Kigali is unhappy with a clause in the African Court Protocol which guarantees rights of access and hearing to any individual or NGO, which Rwanda fears could pave the way for genocide fugitives to drag the country to the Court.

Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire has called the Kigali government to answer a case before the Arusha-based court, accusing Rwanda of violating her rights and freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ingabire is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence imposed by the Supreme Court in 2013 after she was found guilty of inciting revolt, forming armed groups to destabilise the country, as well as denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The East African also wonders what difference will be made by the presidential election petition submitted earlier this week by Uganda's former prime minister Amama Mbabazi.

The defeated presidential candidate's petition is intended to compell the court to audit the results from 112 districts in general and 28,010 polling stations in particular. Mbabazi alleges widespread fraud, saying that had the votes in the more than 45 districts not been tampered with, the winner, Yoweri Museveni would not have scored 61 per cent while the former premier would have got more than 1.4 per cent of the votes cast.

The Egypt Independent reports that MP Kamal Ahmed has been banned from parliament for nine months for hitting another MP with a shoe.

Ahmed said he hit Tawfiq Okasha for receiving the Israeli ambassador at his home, a meeting which breached an unofficial boycott of Israel by Egyptian parliamentarians.

Okasha said his meeting with the Israeli diplomat was to discuss the issue of Palestine and negotiations over Ethiopia's controversial Rennaisance Dam project.

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