26 July 2012

African Press Review 26 July 2012

How come Jackie Selebi's out of jail? What happened to Limpopo's textbook money? Is Lesotho copying Zimbabwe? And a Kenyan court lifts the ban on Mombasa Republican Council ... but for how long?

South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance wants to know who approved the release of convicted former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi on medical parole.

Selebi, who was convicted of corruption in 2010, was released from Pretoria Central Prison on medical parole last week, after serving just 229 days of a 15-year sentence.

According to the front page of this morning's Sowetan, the Democratic Alliance believes that neither the correctional services minister, nor the national police commissioner, nor the Medical Parole Advisory Board, has properly answered the public's questions on Selebi's release.

The minister responsible for prisons last week announced that Selebi was one of 12 terminally ill prisoners whose applications had been reviewed by the Medical Parole Advisory Board. The Democratic Alliance wants to know if the decision was motivated by medical or political considerations.

There are not enough textbooks in junior schools in Limpopo, where the provincial education department has gone bankrupt and is now under administration. That's bad news for the thousands of children struggling in the province's schools.

But, according to the main story in this morning's edition of The Star, published in Johannesburg, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was warned about the potential crisis last July, nearly 13 months ago.

The Star claims that much of the money allocated for textbooks was used to pay staff salaries.

Lesotho's new, left-of-centre coalition government is considering proposals to transform the economy by obliging foreign companies to sell 51 per cent of shares to local investors, in what is being seen as an echo of Robert Mugabe's controversial policy in Zimbabwe.

Political tension is palpable in the capital, Maseru, according to the South African financial paper, BusinessDay, with the defeated Lesotho Congress for Democracy of former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili complaining that it is being muzzled by the new authorities and that the media are unable to report freely on opposition politics.

According to the Kenyan Standard, the High Court in Nairobi has lifted a ban imposed on Mombasa Republican Council two years ago.

In lifting the ban, the court declared that no evidence has been adduced to prove Mombasa Republican Council's connection to violent crimes and added the group must promote its agenda through political and legal means.

The separatist group, which wants independence for the Coast Province, was warned that its chants, slogans and agitation for secession might constitute hate speech, propaganda for war, incitement to violence or advocacy for hatred, all of which is unconstitutional and criminal.

Mombasa Republican Council secretary general Hamza Randu immediately denounced the ruling, declaring that the group will continue to push for secession. He described the suggestion that the group register and operate as a political party as unacceptable.

That same story makes the front page of sister paper, The Daily Nation, under the headline "Crisis security talks over MRC decision".

According to the Nation, top security officials are to meet today in an emergency session to discuss the court ruling that lifted the ban on the secessionist group.

The meeting was called against a background of fears that the ruling could embolden other outlawed movements to regroup and cause chaos.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

Yesterday's ruling drew immediate condemnation from police, government and politicians. They warned that it imperiled national peace and stability. It is feared the decision could pave the way for other illegal groups, including armed Islamists Al-Shebab, to challenge the order that banned 32 armed groups in 2010.

Those groups include Mungiki in Central, Angola Msumbiji and Sabaot Land Defence Force in Western and Chinkororo in Nyanza.

Also in The Daily Nation, the helicopter that crashed last month, claiming the lives of Internal Security minister George Saitoti, his assistant Orwa Ojodeh and four police officers was shipped into the country without spares or maintenance equipment, a commission of inquiry investigating the air crash was told on Wednesday.

Defence lawyers said the aircraft would have been serviced locally.

The inquest continues.

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