African press review 1 October 2012
Arrogance, impunity and insensitivity are undermining Ugandans confidence in the government, a top spy claims ... and the cops are a bit on the pudgy side. Was Sunday's Nairobi school bombing al-Shebab's revenge? Thousands of Kenyans lose the use of their mobiles. And will the fallout from the massacre of striking South African miners frighten off foreign investors?
Uganda's inspector general of police has given overweight police officers six months to lose weight.
But the country faces more serious problems than fat policemen.
According to the coordinator of the security services, the wonderfully named Tinyefusa Sejusa, lawlessness, impunity, primitive arrogance and insensitive behaviour are undermining public faith and confidence in the government.
General Tinyefusa should know, since he's Uganda's spy chief, an army Member of Parliament and one of the country's highest-ranking military officers. He's on the front page of this morning's Kampala Monitor.
Tinyefusa's comments come on the back of an increase in urban crime, white-collar nastiness, public corruption, and controversial evictions and demolitions, especially in Kampala.
He says violence against the population by those obliged by the law to protect the people must stop. The poor who are being beaten and flogged are the ones whose parents fought the war of liberation.
The general fell out with the government in the mid-1990s when he unsuccessfully tried to quit the military through the courts.
He later made up with the regime and was appointed senior military adviser to President Yoweri Museveni and later coordinator of the intelligence agencies. He told The Daily Monitor yesterday that his statement did not represent a falling out with the regime but a warning about the need for urgent reforms.
Tinyefusa doesn't mention the weight problems of some members of the security forces even once.
The Sunday school bombing in Nairobi dominates the Kenya front pages. The Daily Nation notes that the police on Saturday warned that the islamist insurgents of al-Shebab was planning retaliatory attacks following last week's capture of Kismayo port by the Kenya Defence Forces in southern Somalia.
Also in The Nation, news that more than 800,000 Kenyans will today face a communications black-out in a mobile phone shutdown scheduled to end this afternoon.
The switch-off of fake phones, confirmed by all four operators, follows a directive from the Communications Commission of Kenya and aims to combat illegal trade, the infringement of intellectual property rights and security threats. To say nothing of the massive rip-off of user fees.
Similar sim card shutdowns have been promised three times in the past but have always been postponed.
The director of the Communications Commission of Kenya is categorical that, this time, it's going to happen.
Safaricom, which has the largest number of fake handsets, is, at this very momernt, if all is going to plan, switching off an estimated 670,000 fake handsets, and will continue to do so over a period of 15 hours.
One irate reader of The Nation says in an email that "this is big brother madness at its worst. Talk aboout the misplaced priorities of a monster government." Instead of penalising poor Kenyans who can not afford "branded electronics" like mobile phones, the writer suggests, the authorities should instead focus on real issues like strengthening the Kenya inland revenue and bringing in experts to help tackle tax evision, an evil that is costing the country far more than the so-called phone cheats.
In South Africa, the focus is on the Marikana hearings, which open today. In a piece headlined "Marikana’s shadow will engulf whole economy", the financial paper BusinessDay warns that the strikes across the mine sector that inevitably followed the wage settlement at Marikana have important implications for the economy and for the future of South African mining.
Lost production from strikes comes as the economy is already running a very large current account deficit. South Africa relies on foreign portfolio purchases of bonds and equities to fund this deficit. Foreign investors are major owners of South African mining shares. The risk is growing, says BusinessDay, that they will take fright and sell their shares just as exports shrink.
The combination of a high current account deficit and sudden capital outflows would be devastating for the rand and for local asset prices, it says. This could push South Africa’s feeble economy back into recession.
The unions are struggling to restore their credibility among workers and the government seems determined to increase its operational role in an industry under severe pressure. The stage is set, warns BusinessDay, for trade-offs whose hidden costs will be born by all South Africans.