African press review 9 October 2012
Problems with South Africa's national airline, anger at secret bonuses for MPs in Kenya and analysis of the state of the Great Lakes countries 50 years after independence, all feature in today's African papers.
The Sowetan and BusinessDay both lead with more bad news for South African Airways.
Yesterday, the company's Chief Executive Officer, Siza Mzimela, ended weeks of speculation by announcing that she was quitting her post after nearly three years. The bosses of the corporate affairs and legal divisions at the airline have also resigned.
South African Airways lost 1.25 billion rand last year, that's about 110 million euros, and a pile of money in any language.
Mzimela’s departure comes barely two weeks after the resignation of most of the airline’s board.
It is estimated in a BusinessDay editorial that, since 1997, the South African taxpayer has stumped up nearly a billion and a half euros to keep the national carrier aloft.
But, says the writer cheerfully, it could be worse. In Argentina, state carrier Aerolineas Argentinas loses a whopping 1,5 million euros every day, making its annualised losses about five times those of South African Airways.
A different sort of money problem dominates the front pages in Kenya. According to the main story in the Nairobi Standard, "Fury rises over MPs’ Sh2 billion award".
The story goes on to explain that outrage against the nocturnal conspiracy through which Members of Parliament awarded themselves a 200,000 euro bonus package has been rising, and it now looks certain the dispute is headed to the courts.
But even as the fury soared with street demonstrations against the sweetheart deal expected to start today, national attention is on President Kibaki, with the question of the day being whether he will append his signature to the Bill doling out about 80 thousand euros to each MP.
The Standard article continues: With the economy struggling to get a foothold, waves of national strikes by public workers over poor pay, rising public expenditure because of posts created by the Constitution and Devolution plan, and the general rise in the cost of living, the MPs’ winding-up allowance conspiracy could not have come at a more inappropriate time.
President Kibaki stuck to what The Standard calls his trademark silence, and on Monday left the country for a two-day bilateral meeting with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala.
The Daily Nation is no happier about the MPs' departure bonuses, its front page headline angrily explaining "How Kenyans will pay for MPs’ secret bonus".
Kenyans will pay tax to cash a cheque at the bank, use an ATM or surf the Internet in a new round of taxes to raise cash for public sector pay rises, including the secret deal for MPs.
You will now be charged a tax for sending or receiving money on your cellphone. You will also be taxed when you withdraw money from your account, apply for a loan or do business at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Lamenting the ever widening tax net ensnaring Kenyans, The Nation says this organised looting is not to raise money to invest in the economy, buy medicines for hospitals or feed the poor, but to indulge the appetite for higher pay in the public sector.
The government already spends 60 per cent of its budget on recurrent expenditure, the bulk of which is salaries.
One e-mail to The Daily Nation in reaction to this story, explains that the government needs the extra money to fund post-election violence.
In Uganda, The Daily Monitor reports that Forum for Democratic Change president Kizza Besigye yesterday accused police of flouting a court ruling, which declared his detention under a colonial era “preventive arrest” ordinance unlawful.
At a press conference attended by senior opposition officials, Besigye, who for the second week remains restricted to his Kasangati home by the police, said he had not yet run out of tricks to get him into the city centre.
The leader of the main opposition party twice evaded a police cordon around his home and appeared in the city centre last week before being arrested.
Kizza Besigye has vowed to continue his campaign of civil disobedience until president Yoweri Museveni has been forced from office.
An opinion piece in the Rwandan NewTimes offers sobering thoughts on the fact that, today, Uganda marks fifty years of independence – three months after Rwanda and Burundi celebrated theirs. But if you think the end of colonial rule signaled the end of foreign control, says the writer, you might have to think again. Events in Africa today are uncomfortably similar to what happened here just over a century and a half ago.
In the Great Lakes, the DRC is currently in a crisis of governance and security that threatens to undermine the stability of the whole region.
The big international players are not interested in a solution because it does not fit into their geo-political calculations. And so, Congo is once again, as it was in 1884, at the centre of attempts to control Africa. The reason for that today is as it was in the nineteenth century – unfettered exploitation of natural resources.
Troublesome leaders are removed from the scene and replaced with more pliant ones. But in an age when democracy and the rule of law are on everyone’s lips, this sort of interference must be dressed in legal garb. So, the International Criminal Court is created to legalise unlawful regime change, exile and punishment for recalcitrant leaders.
The struggle for African freedom, the writer concludes, is far from over.