African press review 27 March 2017

South Sudan has turned down a United Nations request to legalise same-sex marriage.

According to the front page of regional paper the East African, Justice Minister Paulino Wanawila told the media in Juba yesterday that the nation would live up to its traditional laws.

The UN Human Rights Council recently asked South Sudan to legalise gay marriage and abolish the death sentence.

Wanawila said the concerns raised by the UN were in conflict with national laws and culture.

With the exception of South Africa, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Africa are limited in comparison with many other areas of the world.

Same-sex relations are outlawed in 34 of the 55 African nations.

Kenya wants its Somali refugees to go back home

Speaking at the weekend, according to the East African, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed for action to bring Somalia back into the fold of the international community.

Kenyatta said the recent presidential election in Somalia was the latest indication that the country was on the right track, thanks to the determination of its people, the commitment by the African Union and the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

The Kenyan leader was speaking in Nairobi at a special summit on the refugee problem.

More than 400,000 refugees from Somalia have been crammed into the Dadaab refugee camp for more than two decades. The camp was originally established to accommodate 90,000 people.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also the chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, said the search for a lasting solution to the Somali refugee problem must be placed at the centre of peace and security efforts in the region.

Sharp criticism of South Africa’s ruling party

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party is suffering from poor leadership and a failure to move with the times.

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That’s the verdict of party veteran Khulu Mbatha in a new book entitled Unmasked: Why the ANC Failed to Govern. It features in today’s Johanesburg-based paper BusinessDay.

Mbatha is one of 101 ANC veterans who recently called for a consultative conference to deal with the crises besetting the party. He also served as special adviser to former president and deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Mbatha’s book delivers a brutal assessment of the party’s shortcomings‚ arguing that the ANC’s troubles are far from new. It was never really ready to rule in 1994.

Since then‚ the ANC’s undoing has to a large extent stemmed from its failure to address the country’s economic challenges. Mbatha says that a series of economic strategies‚ including the most recent National Development Plan‚ have left some ministers’ heads spinning.

“There are ministers serving today who have no idea as to what policies are being implemented,” he writes. “They simply do not understand which direction we are going in and how this economy can ever perform.” .

Mbatha concludes that the ANC has not come to terms with its status as a ruling party but wrong-headedly insists on defining itself as a liberation movement.

The Tripartite Alliance is referred to in the book as one of the “impediments to nation building”.

The alliance‚ made up of the ANC‚ the South African Communist Party and trade union federation Cosatu‚ served a purpose during the struggle against apartheid but is no longer relevant‚ Mbatha suggests.

Egyptians sentenced over Mediterranean migrant drownings

An Egyptian court yesterday sentenced 56 people to prison over the capsizing of a migrant boat that resulted in 202 deaths last year.

The defendants were sentenced to at least seven years in jail, with some terms extending to 13 or 14 years. One woman was acquitted. The story is in the Cairo-based Egypt Independent newspaper.

The boat capsized off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast on 21 September. Rescue workers and fishermen saved at least 169 people but a further 202 died.

Charges against the 57 included causing the accidental death of 202 passengers, not providing sufficient safety equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding suspects from the authorities, and using a vessel without a licence.

At least 5,000 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last year, according to aid agencies. In the worst known incident, around 500 African migrants and their children died when a fishing boat capsized off Egypt’s coast in April.

Source: rfi afrique