African press review 28 September 2012
South Africa's government bond ratings are at the top of the African press, with the latest on money laundering charges against former ANC youth leader Julius Malema. A look at the deportation of Nigerian women from Haj, as well as that country's flooding woes.
We begin in South Africa, where the papers are commenting on Moody's downgrade of the government’s bond rating on Thursday.
Business Day reports that the credit rating agency’s investor’s service demoted the government’s institutional strength by one notch, to Baa1 from A 3, pointing to socio-economic stress and the resulting diminished capacity to manage the growth and competitiveness risks.
“Rand falls after Moody’s downgrade” headlines Cape Times. The paper underlines that the currency dipped by 0.6 percent, 24 hours ahead of its inclusion into Citigroup's World Government Bond Index. According to the Cape Town-based newspaper, the revision reflects Moody's view of the South African authorities' reduced capacity to handle the current political and economic situation, and to implement effective strategies that could place the economy on a path to faster and more inclusive growth.
The papers are commenting about the latest twist in the ruling ANC’s war against the expelled youth leader Julius Malema, charged for money laundering on Thursday by a Polokwane court. Mail and Guardian takes up the latest salvo: the Economic Freedom Fighters group supporting Malema and branding ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu as a drunk.
According to the paper, the blistering attack was in response to Mthembu’s criticism of Malema in a television interview on Wednesday. “Malema for President, God help us,” the ANC official is quoted as saying.
The Afrikaans newspaper Beeld also reported on Thursday that the ANC spokesman suggested in the interview that Malema should never have been an ANC member because he was a bad person.
Legal experts told The Star that the axed ANC youth league leader faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty. Malema remained defiant as he was released on a 941 euro bail, pending reappearance in court on 30 November. He told newsmen gathered outside the Polokwane court that he didn’t intend to be like Jacob Zuma, who runs away from the court and succeeded in getting multiple charges of fraud and corruption against him dropped.
The Sowetan underlines that relatives danced outside the Polokwane courtroom after learning that the expelled ANC youth leader would face only one charge. The public SABC radio on Thursday identified Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale as one of Malema’s key backers, after he expressed confidence that the charges against Malema would be dropped.
Daily News breaks the story about a large-scale police hunt for 11 kidnapped women being held in a container, where they are being repeatedly raped by a group of men in South Africa's northern Ka-Zulu Natal province. The paper reports that security officials learned about the crime from a woman rescued during a ransom trap at a Durban bank. She told the police that a lady who had put up a fight had been shot dead by her captors.
In Nigeria, the papers are reacting to the deportation by Saudi Arabia of over 500 women on pilgrimage to Mecca, despite protests by the Federal government in Abuja. The Punch reports that 171 more candidates for the 2012 Haj were already sent back home on Wednesday, the Saudi government arguing that the women were not accompanied by male relations. Up to 1,500 more women remain stranded at the Jeddah and Median airports while officials of the two governments try to defuse the crisis, according to The Nation.
The Nigerian papers continue their coverage of unprecedented flooding that has devastated the country from the north right across to the south. Vanguard reports that the death toll in north-central Nigeria reached 104 on Thursday, with 50,000 people displaced.
Punch newspaper says hundreds of houses and farmlands across several communities in Bayelsa state have also been submerged by heavy rain water, causing the overthrow of the paramount rulers of two important kingdoms.
And The Nation reports that the Federal Government of Nigeria has promised to set up a committee to study a resolution passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly. It calls on Nigeria to appeal the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment on the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon.
The paper says the move constitutes a shift from the government’s position, which earlier stated that there was no going back on the judgment delivered in 2001. This followed an agreement signed between Nigeria and Cameroon to implement the ICJ’s decisions.