African press review 3 August 2012
Nigeria's Finance minister denies that the country is broke. South Africa's economic policy marginally improves its unemployment rate. And Hilary Clintons's visit to seven countries in Africa is seen as a way for the US to indirectly criticize its rival China.
We begin in Nigeria where the papers have been reacting to the denial that the country has gone broke by Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Okonjo-Iweala was speaking before a special Senatorial joint committee on Thursday in an attempt to douse the controversy set off by the government’s poor implementation of the 2012 budget.
“Nigeria not broke, only has cash flow problems”. That’s the front page story in The Guardian, as it gave pride of place to the finance minister’s appearance before the Senate committee.
The Punch highlights the minister’s explanation that 56 per cent of resources allocated to ministries and public agencies known as MDAs had been released since the financial law was passed four months ago.
“Okonjo begs Tambuwal to stop budget crisis” headlines The Nation. Aminu Tambuwal is the President of Nigeria’s Senate. This Day says the grilling lasted three hours while Vanguard underlines flaring tempers in the Senate as lawmakers were determined not to become the scapegoats of public anger over the budget implementation issue.
On its part, The Sun welcomes the apology presented to the Senate by Okonjo-Iweala for failing to honour a previous invitation to appear before the panel. The paper says the deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, had directed the chairman of the Appropriations committee to issue a warrant of arrest for Okonjo-Iweala if she failed to appear before the commission on Thursday.
Last month the House of Representatives gave President Goodluck Jonathan a 18 September deadline to achieve 100 per cent performance of the budget or face impeachment proceedings
In South Africa, Mail and Guardian headlines with "Jobs fizzling as ANC fiddles with economic policy”, as news emerged this week that the ANC would be investigating the possibility of a job seeker's grant. According to the paper economists are decrying the government's lack of a clear vision for the South African economy.
It reports that while South Africa's official unemployment rate fell marginally to 24.9% from 25.2% in the first quarter of 2012, there are no indications that even this modest downward trend will continue, with extraneous factors weighing in on the figures.
Mail and Guardian notes that Hilary Clinton launched an eleven day, seven nation tour of Africa, by contrasting the US's commitment to democracy to that of its rival powers' focus on exploitation. According to the paper, while she did not mention any country by name, her remarks will be widely interpreted as a swipe at China, who eclipsed the US as Africa's biggest trading partner three years ago.
The true dimension of Africa’s institutional weakness in the face of the Chinese invasion is eloquently examined in a column posted in Ghana’s Chronicle this Friday.
The author voices deep disappointment over the "government’s inability to place the security and economic well-being of our citizens above the interest of certain Chinese who had come to the country purposely to engage in illegal mining” popularly known as "Galamsey”.
The article comes in reaction to the reported exchange of gunshots between young people in the Ashanti region and alleged illegal Chinese “Galamsey operators”.
“How these Chinese managed to acquire a vast track of land in the hinterland to begin their destructive illegal activities, is what is beating the imagination of the good people of this country”, laments The Chronicle.
According to the Accra-based newspaper, “our authorities have perhaps sold our destiny to the Chinese and bargaining from a position of strength they have acquired a certain percentage of our minerals resources including Gold and Oil to siphon off and send to their country”.
And in Kenya, the Daily Nation reports that the pilot of the helicopter that killed two ministers and four police officers in the Ngong crash in June was not assessed by a qualified examiner. The paper is quoting the commission of inquiry who was heard on Thursday and is currently investigationg the accident.