press releaseBy Michael Fitzpatrick
Last night's final TV debate between the candidates in Kenya's upcoming elections, and weather predictions for the Horn of Africa are among the stories in today's African papers...
The National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa has decided to investigate allegations of rape committed by members of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's Zanu party in the run-up to Zimbabwe's presidential elections in 2008.
The South African authority has already been compelled by the courts to probe claims of torture by Zimbabwean authorities, after a 2007 raid on the Harare headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change. The new probe will be the first time that the authority has invoked "universal jurisdiction" in a rape investigation.
The international group AIDS-Free World, which brought the charges, on Monday hailed the National Prosecuting Authority for positioning South Africa as a "leader in confronting rape worldwide".
AIDS-Free World said on Monday that, with elections due in Zimbabwe later this year, repression of opposition organisations had already begun. The group fears that there is a great risk that the human rights violations of 2008 might be repeated.
Zimbabwe has not ratified the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court. However, South Africa has done so and has incorporated it into domestic law, allowing it to prosecute crossborder crimes against humanity.
The main story in South Africa's financial paper, BusinessDay, concerns Monday's arrest of a senior official of the ruling African National Party on murder charges.
North West provincial local government and traditional affairs councillor China Dodovu was arrested on Monday, in connection with the murder last December of Obuti Chika, who had been secretary of an ANC district.
Observers have warned that such rivalry could increase as the ruling party prepares candidate lists for next year's elections.
There was a spate of political murders last year, prompting the South African Communist Party in KwaZulu-Natal to speculate that there was a contract-killing industry in the province.
According to the front page of The Standard in Nairobi, candidates in last night's final televised debate were obliged to confront contentious economic issues, in particular the high cost of living, the minimum wage and the huge gap between rich and poor in Kenya.
The issue of land ownership generated the hottest debate as pressure piled on Jubilee flag bearer Uhuru Kenyatta to declare if it was true that the family of Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta indeed owns "half of the land" in Kenya.
The question of the day was how many acres the Kenyatta family actually owns. Uhuru initially avoided the question but later conceded that in the Taveta district of Coast Province alone, the family owns 30,000 acres.
Uhuru's main opponent, Raila Odinga, was also put on the spot over his family's acquisition of a formerly publicly-owned Kisumu Molasses Plant. Raila drew attention to the fact that Uhuru's running mate, William Ruto, is facing accusations that he grabbed land from an internally displaced person in his Eldoret North constituency.
Kenyan voters go to the polls next Monday.
Regional paper The East African reports that a second round run-off in the Kenyan presidential now looks inevitable, going by the results of recent opinion polls, which have consistently failed to give any candidate an outright win with more than 50% of the vote, as required by Kenya's new Constitution.
The latest opinion poll by Ipsos Synovate, published last Friday, rates Uhuru Kenyatta's popularity at 44.8 per cent, higher than that of his rival Raila Odinga's 44.4 per cent, in the race for the presidency.
Should the country go into a run-off, says The East African, the region will have to live with another month of frenzied campaigns, as the two candidates go for each other. Political analysts say that, with the six other candidates out of the way, the stakes will be higher and the campaign more likely to split along ethnic lines.
In Kampala, The Daily Monitor reports that climate experts are predicting above normal rainfall levels for Uganda between the months of March and May.
A statement from the just-ended 33rd Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum held in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, says Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, the lower parts of South Sudan, south western and central Ethiopia, western and central Kenya, as well as western half of Tanzania, should experience near normal to above normal rains.
It added that the same areas could also experience dry spells due to random weather events and cyclones that might evolve suddenly during the months of March and April.
A spokesman for the National Agricultural Research Organisation said weather information was slow in getting to farmers, mainly because a proposal to translate forecasts into local languages had never been implemented.