We start with another election ruling by Kenya's High Court which is pitting the Chief Justice David Maraga against President Uhuru Kenyatta. Then we look at the row in Zimbabwe over a US$120 million maize subsidy scheme and the latest multinational company to get embroiled in scandals around President Jacob Zuma in South Africa. Finally, to Algiers where President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is trying to garner backing for economic reforms and Kinshasa where the head of the electoral commission says he thinks it will be impossible to organise presidential elections this year.
KENYA: Row between President Kenyatta and judges heats
up after election ballot ruling
The governing Jubilee party has reacted with fury after
the High Court in Nairobi's decision to 7 July to nullify the electoral
commission's award of 2.5 billion-shilling ($24 million) contract to
print ballot papers for next month's national elections to Dubai-based
firm Al Ghurair. The court said the Independent Electoral and
Boundaries Commission's (IEBC)'s award broke the new rules on contract
Complaining it was not consulted about the procurement of
ballot papers for the 8 August elections, Raila Odinga's
opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) launched a legal case to
block the contract award. Several newspapers claim that there are
business links between President Uhuru Kenyatta's family and the Al
Ghurair company. Websites which carried photographs of Al Ghurair
officials visiting State House were told by government lawyers to
This is the second court major legal victory for the
opposition in the past month and it leaves less than a month for the
electoral commission to find a new supplier to print the ballots.
Officials in the Jubilee government insist there is no question about
delaying the election.
This latest court ruling prompted any angry outburst from
President Kenyatta: 'I want to tell those in courts, we have respected
you. But do not think respect is cowardice. And we will not allow our
opponents to use the courts and to intimidate the IEBC, thinking they
will win using the back door.' A few hours after Kenyatta spoke on 9
July, Chief Justice David Maraga shot back with a statement on the
implications of the President's remarks: 'When political leaders cast
aspersions on the administration of justice based on a
misinterpretation of my statements, it has the potential to impair
public confidence in our courts, and this concerns me a great deal.'
ZIMBABWE: Opposition lambasts government on Command
Agriculture and maize subsidy scheme
A politically-loaded plan to subsidise the country's
maize farmers could cost the treasury almost US$120 million, say
independent agricultural experts and opposition politicians. President Robert
Mugabe, currently in Singapore for medical treatment, says the
scheme will make the country self-sufficient in its key staple and
boost local farmers. Mugabe faces a tough election next year against
the backdrop of mounting economic woes.
Opposition politicians argue that the subsidy scheme is a
blatant attempt to shore up support for the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front from small-scale farmers, its key
support base in the countryside. It adds that previous subsidy schemes
have been undermined by corruption and turned into mechanisms to enrich
local party officials.
SOUTH AFRICA: McKinsey is latest multinational to get
embroiled Gupta saga
One by one, leading multinational companies have been
dragged into the growing political scandal over the business
links between President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family.
The pattern is similar each time. At first, there is a blanket
denial of any wrongdoing or any improper dealings with Gupta family or
Zuma's other allies.
Then the company expresses concern about the possibility that
some mistakes were made, and accordingly launches an investigation.
Details of the investigation then emerge in the media after which some
of the multinational company's local directors are suspended or resign.
International lobbying firm Bell Pottinger, which had a
contract with the Guptas has now made a formal apology for its
operations in South Africa. International auditors KPMG, which had also
been hired by the Guptas, are being probed by South African regulators
for failing to sound warnings over the company's management of a
massive agricultural subsidy from the Free State provincial government.
The latest company going through this drama is McKinsey, one
of the most high-profile global consultancy companies, which has
specialised in advising governments how to boost efficiency and cut
corruption and mismanagement. The matter turns on McKinsey's
relationship with the Trillian group of companies, which are in turn
close to the Gupta family.
Outgoing Chairman of Trillian Tokyo Sexwale
appointed top South African lawyer Geoff Budlender to
look at whether Trillian may have commercially benefitted from insider
information about government decisions, such as President Zuma's
sacking of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December
2015. McKinsey was advising the state power company Eskom which had
been paying tens of millions of rand to Trillian without following
procurement rules. After Budlender concluded that McKinsey had made
misleading statements about its dealings with Trillian, the consultancy
company has launched its own investigation into the matter, helped by
an outside law firm, Norton Rose Fuller.
ALGERIA: President Bouteflika tries to clear way for
tough economic reforms and subsidy cuts
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika used
his Independence Day speech on 6 July to try to rally support for
economic reforms as the government tries to adjust to an era of lower
oil and gas prices. In a rare public statement, the ailing 80-year-old
whose current term expires in 2019, told Algerians that the reforms
were not being imposed from outside but were in the country's
Until now the government has been using a system of social
grants to help the poorest. It fears widespread unrest if subsidies on
basic consumer products are cut back. The reform plan envisages a much
closer targeting of the subsidies.
Over the past three years, the country's foreign reserves have
dropped to $108 billion from $178 bn. and state officials said the
government's current dependence on oil and gas exports for 60% of state
revenues is unsustainable. Much of the implementation work for the
reforms will be carried out by a team under Prime Minister Abdelmadjid
Tebboune who plans a series of consultation meetings with
local people and political parties.
CONGO-KINSHASA: Presidential vote not possible this year says election chief
Opposition parties in Kinshasa have denounced as
a 'declaration of war' a statement from Chairman of the electoral
commission Corneille Nangaa suggesting
presidential elections cannot be held this year. Nangaa's statement
flies in the face of an agreement signed between President Joseph
Kabila's government and the opposition
on 31 December.
Should the commission be unable to organise elections this
year, this will add to the climate of crisis in the country. Opposition
politicians believe there is a conspiracy between the commission and
the government to find a way to extend President Kabila's term in
office. His second term formally expired at the end of last year.