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African press review 11 August 2018


Did top Kenyan barons bribe MPs into shelving an explosive report on toxic sugar imports? Meanwhile, press freedom is in danger in South Africa as the country's prison chief orders the probe of an explosive telephone interview granted by a controversial criminal from his cell.

We begin in Kenya, a nation reportedly outraged by allegations that MPs were paid to shoot down a report on imported "toxic" sugar that cost Kenyans 87 million euros in lost taxes, and which exposed consumers to health hazards.

According to Daily Nation, the multimillion-euro bribery scheme came to light on Wednesday when its reporters in parliament saw what they called "wads of crisp 1,000 Kenyan shilling notes stashed in a blue envelope". The money was allegedly from some top government officials and sugar barons unhappy with the findings of the report prepared by a joint parliamentary committee.

The publication says that parliament finally rejected the report, ostensibly because the team ignored its terms of reference and did not consider witness statements.

According to the Nation, one lawmaker describes the scheming in parliament as a blow to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-corruption crusade.

Guns and press freedom in South Africa

In South Africa, Mail and Guardian examines a proposal by Police Minister Bheki Cele to give illegal firearms owners a six-month amnesty so they can hand over their weapons to the police.

The paper reports that the idea follows a June Constitutional Court ruling, which ordered gun owners whose licenses had expired to immediately surrender their weapons to police or face arrest.

According to the paper, a lobby group of gun owners known as GOSA describes the offer as unrealistic.

One of its leaders told M&G that police don't have the capacity to collect an estimated 437,000 firearms and 60 million rounds of ammunition circulating in the country.

Also in South Africa, press freedom will be tested in an investigation launched by the country's prison services. The probe is examining how a big-mouthed inmate, who has denounced a conspiracy to keep him behind bars, managed to speak to the press.

The Sowetan reports that Radovan Krejcir -- jailed for kidnapping and attempted murder -- told Eyewitness News in a phone interview that he paid 2.5 million rand in 2011 to the son of a high-profile politician who had promised to help get him asylum papers.

But as he told the investigative publication, the relationship soured. This led several people‚ including police officials‚ to "frame" him for crimes he did not commit.

According to the Sowetan, a spokesperson for South Africa's correctional services warned on Friday that the interview was a serious transgression of the law banning the interviewing of inmates without permission from relevant authorities.

Mrs Mugabe back in court

And in Zimbabwe, the state-owned Herald leads with a judicial case filed against former first lady Grace Mugabe after a 1.2-million-dollar diamond ring deal with a Lebanese businessman turned sour.

The paper says the lawyers filing the case -- who had represented her in the past while her husband was in power -- accuse Mugabe of refusing to pay their previous legal fees. The sum amounts to 278,000 dollars.

According to the Herald, the lawyers helped her grab three properties belonging to Lebanese businessman Jamal Ahmed, after he failed to produce either the ring or the money.

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