Zimbabwe's money problems and Kenya's upcoming election feature in today's African press....
According to BusinessDay, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti has rubbished reports that there was just 160 euros left in the governments coffers.
We mentioned the story yesterday.
Earlier this week, Biti was quoted as saying there was practically no money left after the payment of wages to civil servants. Now, he's changed his tune.
"All I said is that Zimbabwe doesn't have the money to fund the referendum and elections," says Biti in today's BusinessDay, going on to point out that "for any country, the strain of having a referendum and an election in the space of six months is too much. So we need help from the international community."
The Finance Ministry in Harare estimates that the referendum and constitution will require 162 million euros in external aid.
South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe and his family will contribute hundreds of millions of rand to the Motsepe Family Foundation to fund education, health and other initiatives.
Patrice and Precious Motsepe are the first non-Americans to join The Giving Pledge initiative started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and billionaire Warren Buffett. The initiative encourages wealthy people to donate at least half their cash to charities.
BusinessDay also reports that the US economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, suffering its first decline since the 2007-09 recession, as businesses scaled back on restocking and government spending plunged.
Gross domestic product fell at a 0.1 per cent annual rate after growing by 3.1 per cent in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.
That is the worst performance since the second quarter of 2009, when the recession ended, and showed the economy entering the new year with no momentum.
In Kenya, The Standard reports that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has cleared eight candidates for the presidential race in March.
This follows the clearance yesterday by the national electoral body of the final candidates, Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy and Uhuru Kenyatta, the flag bearer of Jubilee Alliance.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Kenyans not to worry about the possibility of sanctions being slapped on Kenya should he win the presidency.
Uhuru, who is facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court, said it would not be possible for the United Nations to slap sanctions on Kenya, as UN Security Council did not refer the cases to court based in The Hague.
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, has warned that Kenyans and Government institutions should brace themselves for a prolonged electoral process that could last until June.
The eight-country regional organisation maintains that the presidential contest could spill into a run-off or be subject to a petition.
Another Kenyan paper, The Daily Nation, reports that the main rebel group in the Central African Republic on Wednesday accused the president of not keeping his end of the peace deal that brought an end to their military offensive earlier this month.
The Seleka coalition, which was poised to advance on the capital, Bangui, before a power-sharing deal was struck under regional pressure on 11 January, claims that President François Bozize is clinging to the defence portfolio.
The Libreville negotiations that yielded a deal between the regime and the rebels provided for a member of the opposition to be appointed prime minister and a Seleka member to be handed the defence portfolio.
The main story in regional paper The East African is headlined "US warns regional armies on undermining democracy".
The story explains that the United States government has expressed concern that there could be a threat to democracy if some regional militaries abdicate their function of upholding the rule of law.
The comments were made by the U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Scott Delisi.