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Africa

African press review 28 October 2016

media

Burundi officialy confirms its departure from the International Criminal Court. The rate of inflation of food prices in South Africa begins to slow down, but remains high. An Egyptian former government minister is cleared of all wrongdoing in connection with a deal to sell cut-price gas to Israel.

The main story in regional paper the East African reports that Burundi yesterday formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

Burundi's Justice Minister Aimée Laurentine personally delivered the formal letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office.

The withdrawal takes effect one year after the letter is received.

The UN has called on Burundi to reverse its decision to leave the ICC, a move prompted by the opening, earlier this year, of a preliminary investigation into allegations of killings, torture and other rights abuses.

A report by UN rights experts has blamed President Pierre Nkurunziza's security forces and police for much of the violence since Nkurunziza stood for a contested third term in office in 2015.

South Africa's food price inflation slowing

South Africa's BusinessDay reports that the inflation of food prices was over 13 percent in September, compared to the same month last year.

Overall South Africa's producer price index is down by nearly one percent.

The deceleration in producer inflation, particularly food products, is good news says BusinessDay, and suggests that consumer inflation could also ease in 2017 on a slower pace of increase in food prices.

This would support stable interest rates and possibly even a cut in the second half of 2017.

More good news, according to one analyst, is that planting for a number of crops was likely to increase substantially in 2017 on higher expected rainfalls, which should moderate food price inflation and help reduce both consumer and producer inflation.

Egyptian ex-minister off the hook for Israel gas deal

A Cairo court yesterday upheld the acquittal of former petroleum minister Sameh Fahmy and five others on charges of squandering public money and profiteering in relation to gas exports to Israel, the Egypt Independent reports.

The ruling is now final, meaning that Fahmy will not face any more trials or appeals in the case.

Fahmy was first arrested in April 2011, being convicted the following year and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The former minister was accused of helping arrange a 20-year deal with Israel whereby Egypt supplied gas at reduced rates, costing Egypt billions in lost revenue.

The deal was halted in 2012 after a series of explosions along the gas pipeline between the two nations.

In 2013 Fahmy was granted a retrial and released from prison. In February 2015 he and five other leaders of the petroleum sector were cleared of all charges by Cairo criminal court.

That aquittal was later challenged by the public prosecutor. However, Thursday's ruling confirms the aquittal.

Ugandan economy doing OK, government struggling

Uganda's economy is not in bad shape, according to the Kampala-based Monitor, but Finance minister Matia Kasaija yesterday said government is struggling to keep the country afloat.

In a joint press briefing with the International Monetary Fund yesterday, Kasaija said there has been a reduction in the growth of gross domestic product in the 2015/16 financial year, some shortfall in revenue collection, high level of non-performing loans in banks and suspension of development finance by the World Bank, which has caused pressure on the economy.

Kasaija dismissed claims that the Ugandan economy is in recession.

Plot thickens in Kenya health ministry scandal

In Kenya the Standard reports that the five million euro scandal at the health ministry has taken a new twist after it emerged that registration details of companies involved in suspect transactions have gone missing from the State Law Office.

Staff at the Companies Registry were yesterday unable to trace the files for Estama Investment and Life Care Medics.

The two companies were beneficiaries of cash meant for patients, expectant mothers and new-born babies. Records of a third supplier, Medafrica, were non-existent, raising questions about its identity. Without the files, it becomes impossible to unmask the people behind what may turn out to be the biggest scandal under the current administration.

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