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Africa

African press review 22 September 2018

media

Tanzania is in national mourning for the victims of Thursday's ferry disaster on Lake Victoria. There has been a mixed reaction to the economic stimulus plan announced by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. And South Sudan's ruling rivals are to meet in Khartoum.

The east African news is completely dominated by the on-going search for those still missing in Lake Victoria following Thursday's ferry disaster.

Regional daily the East African reports Tanzanian President John Magufuli's decision, announced yesterday, to declare four days of national mourning for the victims.

The president said 131 bodies have been recovered and many more could still be trapped in the capsized ferry.

He has ordered the arrest of officials involved in the management of the ferry.

According to the East African, the capsized vessel had a capacity of 100 passengers and 25 tonnes of cargo.

Mixed welcome for Ramaphosa's economic package

There has been a mixed reaction to yesterday's economic stimulus plan, announced by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa has promised that the government will reprioritise the rand equivalent of three billion euros within the existing budget to re-ignite economic growth and create jobs. He also announced the establishment of an infrastructure fund.

The package includes a new Mining Charter; major changes to visa requirements to boost the tourism sector; the development of industrial parks and township businesses; and reforms in the telecoms industry.

The opposition Democratic Alliance has said Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus and recovery plan is likely to have a “modest effect” on economic growth, but is likely to be compromised by “reckless” economic policy.

Another opposition group, the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Ramaphosa’s attempts to salvage South Africa’s economy was “based on the preservation of white monopoly interests”. They say the president has proposed nothing new.

Financial analysts have tended to be less harsh.

The Standard Bank said the content of Ramaphosa’s plan is constructive and contains many necessary elements.

NKC African Economics said their first impression of the stimulus package was “positive”.

South African land reform poses no problem, yet

The main story in South African financial paper BusinessDay says current proposals on land reform are too vague for the Reserve Bank to panic about them.

But the Bank's deputy governor, Kuben Naidoo, warned yesterday that a policy shift leading to more fundamental changes to property rights could pose a risk to the financial system.

The South African banking system has interests worth the rand equivalent of seven and a half billion euros in the agricultural sector.

Land reform has emerged as one of the most controversial issues of Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency, after he announced last July that the ANC would seek to change the constitution to make possible the expropriation of land without compensation. The announcement spooked markets, fueling a decline in the rand against a background of concern that property rights might be more broadly compromised, discouraging investment.

The concern for the commercial banks is that the policy, if mishandled, could lead to the value of properties against which they have lent money collapsing, causing defaults that would then threaten the banks' ability to fund themselves.

South Sudan sides to meet in Khartoum

The South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum for talks with his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir. The South Sudan leader will also meet oppsition leaders, including Riek Machar.

The Sudan Tribune says the two-day visit follows an invitation from President al-Bashir to thank Kiir and Machar for their efforts in recent peace negotiations.

The visiting leader will hold talks with the Sudanese president on bilateral relations and will also meet Machar, Lam Akol and Deng Alor.

Nigeria owes lots of people lots of naira

Nigeria's total foreign debt is now the naira equivalent of 19 billion euros, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Domestic debt stands at 3.84 trillion naira, that's 9 billion euros.

Most of the foreign borrowings have come from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, according to the Lagos-based daily paper the Guardian. The rest is commercial debt to banks in China, Japan and India.

Lagos State is the most endebted of Nigeria's 36 states, accounting for 34 percent of the federal total.

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