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African press review 30 March 2016

media DR

Europe could stop paying Burundian peacekeepers serving in Somalia unless President Pierre Nkurunziza starts talking to his political opponents. Tanzania also faces huge foreign aid losses. South Africa's Constitutional Court will announce its decision on the Nkandla scandal tomorrow. And Egypt's top auditor gets the sack for denouncing bribery.

The main story in regional paper The East African reports that the European Union intends to cut back its funding for Burundi's peacekeeping contingent in Somalia in an effort to force President Pierre Nkurunziza into talks with his political opponents.

Nkurunziza's government has brushed off other cuts in aid from Western donors seeking to pressure the government to end the year-long political crisis provoked by the president's decision to stand for a controversial third term.

Bujumbura’s 5,400-strong contingent in Somalia's Amisom force earns the state roughly 10 million euros each year while Burundian soldiers collect 50 million euros. The East African reminds readers that leading military figures attempted a coup last May and says the government needs to keep its fractious army happy with the extra pay troops earn from peacekeeping.

Cutting all EU funding would leave the African Union, which oversees Amisom's 22,000-strong force, having to find another donor to pay Burundi's troops.

Belt-tightening in Tanzania

The East African also reports that Tanzania has lost more than 400 million euros in development support after a United States agency suspended an aid deal over governance concerns including the Zanzibar elections re-run.

The decision, which comes days before Parliament in Dodoma discusses budget proposals, is likely to affect rural electrification, water and infrastructure projects.

There has been widespread negative reaction to the decision to nullify Zanzibar's election results and later to proceed with the re-run without the main opposition party.

The US agency stance has sparked fears that other development partners would take similar positions in the coming days, creating financing uncertainties for the government which relies on donors for 30 per cent of its budget.

Who will pay for Nkandla, and how much?

South African financial paper BusinessDay reports that the Constitutional Court will hand down judgment in the Nkandla affair tomorrow.

The outcome will be significant as opposition parties are set to use a possible damning outcome to heighten calls for President Jacob Zuma’s removal from office, as local government elections approach.

The judgment follows an application to the court by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), joined by the Democratic Alliance and others, to compel Zuma to pay back money for security upgrades to his private residence, Nkandla.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in her report into the security upgrades that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the upgrades, and that he should pay back the money spent on these.

The judgment comes against the background of fierce debate about Zuma’s relationship with the powerful Gupta family. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has begun an investigation to determine the nature of their influence and reach into the corridors of state power, after confirmation by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas that members of the family offered him the position of finance minister before the axing of Nhlanhla Nene late last year.

The Gupta saga has led to some within the ANC calling for Zuma’s removal, and a negative finding in the Nkandla matter is likely to intensify negative sentiment toward him says BusinessDay.

Corruption, what corruption?

The front page of the Cairo-based Egypt Independent reports that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sacked Egypt's top auditor. This is the man who stirred controversy by publicly concluding that government corruption had cost the country billions of dollars.

Hesham Geneina came under heavy fire from senior officials and pro-government media after he alleged widespread graft.

Sisi appointed a presidential commission that quickly concluded that Geneina had misled the public by saying corruption had cost 600 billion Egyptian pounds (about 70 billion euros) over a four-year period.

The presidency did not say why Geneina was dismissed but the move came hours after the State Security Prosecution said his findings were inaccurate.

Sisi, a former army chief who ousted Egypt's first freely-elected president in 2013, has made fighting corruption a top priority for the government.

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