21 August 2017

African Press Review 21 August 2017

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President Buhari vows to defend Nigeria's unity come what may, in first address to the nation after after returning from a 103-day sick leave in London with South Africa defends decision to spare Grace Mugabe a humiliating arrest and trial for beating up a Johannesburg woman hanging out with her sons.

We begin in Nigeria where President Muhammadu Buhari's return to the country from a 103-day sick leave in London is the major splash in the papers.

The Nation reports that a reinvigorated Buhari resumed business by issuing a stern warning to separatists that Nigeria's unity was not negotiable.

According to the newspaper, Buhari restated the right of every Nigerian to live anywhere he pleases in his first nation-wide address since returning to the country on Saturday.

The Nation underlines that the message was addressed to Moslem youths grouped under AREWA Consultative Forum who had set an October 1 ultimatum to South Western Nigerian living in the north to quit or face eviction, but also to southern separatists clamouring for break-away states.

"We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad, they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood", Buhari is quoted as saying.

The Nation also picked out an excerpt of the Nigerian leader's address in which he reassured his countrymen there will be no denial of the legitimate concerns of people. Buhari reportedly explained that the beauty and attraction of a federation like NIgeria i that it allows different groups to air their grievances and to work out a mode of co-existence".

Vanguard publishes video clips featuring a string of officials and large crowds that stormed the Abuja's international airport to welcome the 74 year-old leader back home.

According to the Nation, the massive turnout pointed to the fact that Buhari is still very highly rated by many Nigerians.

President Buhari's return to Abuja on Saturday foiled a campaign by activists grouped under the 'Resume or Resign Campaign' who had taken to the streets to demand his resignation in the wake of wild rumours about the health condition of the 74 year-old leader.

Punch relays an appeal from the ruling Mega Progressive People's Party to politicians and civil rights activists to guard against utterances capable of heating up the polity in the future.

According to the paper, the PPP says that while it recognizes the right of Nigerians to know the health status of their president, taking to the streets to demand his resignation was unnecessary and in bad taste.

In South Africa, some papers leads with a statement from foreign Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane why her department decided to grant Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

This despite the fact that she faced charges for beating up a young woman found in the company of her two sons at a Johannesburg hotel.

According to Mail and Guardian Nkoana-Mashabane spoke about the imperative to maintain good inter-governmental relations within the SADC region, as the incident coincided with South Africa's hosting of the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.

She reportedly also mentioned what she called 'legal considerations and the serious risks that the affair could spark a diplomatic rift between the two neighboring countries, which have strong political and economic ties.

According to News 24, the 20 year-old model Gabriella Engels had registered a case with the police alleging "assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm".

City Press meanwhile spoke to Engels who reiterated her claims that Grace Mugabe whipped her with the extension cord "for what looked like forever", forcing her to rush to hospital for stitches to the front and back of her head and her legs full of bruises".

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