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The East African : Sep 5th 2015
32 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK SEPTEMBER 5-11,2015 ARO U N D AF R ICA South Af≥ica seeks to ≥egulate guns By PETER DUBE Special Correspondent DAYS AFTER five heavily armed men broke two “dangerous” crime suspects out of a van transporting them to the cells, South Africa is now pondering recalling guns held by civilians. Thefive gunmen, armed with three 9mm pistols, an AK47 and an R5 rifle, blocked a police van transporting suspects awaiting trial and demanded the keys to its backdoor. The (movie style) incident Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja just after elections. Picture: File Buhari’s job gets tougher as Nigerian budget draws near The p≥esident is tasked with delive≥ing a budget that could make o≥ b≥eak his c≥edibility with vote≥s By DANIEL MAGNOWSKI Bloomberg News tougher. Having seen the price of oil P collapse and Africa’s biggest economy grow at the slowest pace in at least five years, he now has to deliver a budget that may make or break his credibility with voters and investors. “The budget is a very im- portant test for Buhari. People will be looking at where the cuts come,” Manji Cheto, vice president at Teneo Intelligence, a risk advisory company, said by phone from London. “Even if they manage $100 million in savings, that will be just enough to send the right signal to markets that he is doing something.” In May, 72-year-old Bu- hari became the first opposition leader to win power in Nigeria, riding on a wave of optimism that he would fix an ailing economy, end an insurgency by Boko Haram in the northeast and combat rampant corruption. After three months in office and with no Cabinet yet appointed, Buhari is at risk of losing that goodwill. Key to his budget chal- lenges will be cutting back on a bloated bureaucracy, which swallows up two-thirds of government spending through salaries, allowances resident Muhammadu Buhari’s job keeps getting and running costs for officials, civil servants and functionaries. Only 12 per cent of Nigeria’s 4.493 trillion naira ($22.6 billion) budget this year was allocated to capital projects. The amount of recurrent spending is “a huge worry for a developing country like Nigeria,” Stanley Achonu, the head of operations at BudgIT, an organisation that works to bring transparency to public spending, said by phone from Lagos. While the country can make some savings in the budget, “we can’t halve it,” he said. The government of Africa’s biggest crude producer earns about two-thirds of its revenue from the export of oil, the price of which has plunged by more than half in the past year, to below $50 a barrel. The last budget passed by President Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, was based on an oil price of $53 a barrel. President Buhari “expects a budget with much lower recurrent spending than currently and where there will be more for capital expenditure,” his spokesman Femi Adesina said two weeks ago. “The budget is a very important test for Buhari. People will be looking at where the cuts come.” Savings will come through cutting waste, rather than sacking workers or reducing pay-cheques, he said. The budget is due to make its way through lawmakers’ committees in the final quarter of the year. Plunging oil revenue slowed economic growth to 2.4 per cent in the second quarter from 4 per cent in the previous three months, and prompted the central bank to impose foreign-exchange restrictions to shore up the currency as reserves dwindled. The naira has dropped 7.8 per cent against the dollar on the interbank market this year and has been trading in a range of 197 to 199.75 per dollar since the end of March. It was at 199.25 as of 11:10 am last Monday in Lagos, the commercial capital. “The budget is something President Buhari has to get right, and he has to move swiftly on, but as there are still no ministers, it’s going to be difficult,” Laura Barber, an intelligence analyst at AKE Group, said by phone from London. “Beyond security and his anti-corruption campaign, his policy statements are very vague, which causes concern.” In the absence of a Cabi- net, analysts are looking at President Buhari’s previous term in power, from 1983 to 1985, for clues on how he will proceed. During that period, he cut the budget, imposed a public- sector recruitment freeze, and tried to nurture Nigerian manufacturing by raising import duties and restricting some purchases. This import-substitution THE ISSUES Recurrent spending is huge: Buhari inherits a bloated bureaucracy, which swallows up two-thirds of government spending through salaries, allowances and running costs for officials, civil servants and functionaries. Only 12 per cent of Nigeria’s 4.493 trillion naira ($22.6 billion) budget this year was allocated to capital projects. Low cost of oil: The government earns about two-thirds of its revenue from the export of oil, the price of which has plunged by more than half in the past year, to below $50 a barrel. drive failed to kickstart domestic production, with many businesses forced to close as a result of the rules. Key to his credibility this time around is President Buhari’s selection of finance minister, said Teneo’s Cheto. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who held the position in Jonathan’s administration, was a former World Bank managing director and largely respected by international investors for helping to reduce Nigeria’s debt burden. The finance minister must be a strong candidate, who “can say: I will cut the recurrent spending because there are poor people in this country,” Ben Murray-Bruce, a Nigerian senator from the oilproducing Bayelsa state, said. “The money saved can go to education, the power sector, the infrastructure deficit.” Washington Post-Bloomberg There are too many small arms in the country . Picture: File came right after two police officers were shot dead in different incidents six hours apart in Gauteng Province. The two deaths bring the police death toll at the hands of criminals to 56 so far this year. Countless gun-related crimes have been recorded in the Southern African country, which currently has 1.8 million licensed gun owners. According to some, the high crime rate in the country, popularly known as Mzansi, is fuelled by the illegal trade in firearms. In light of that, President Jacob Zuma has called on the public to assist the government in coming up with a solution to the seemingly out-of-control access to firearms in the country. President Zuma called on the nation to consider making South Africa a gun-free country. Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) says SA’s gun law, the Firearms Control Act of 2001, has halved the country’s gun-related death rate. However, gun violence re- mains high, with 18 people shot and killed every day. Between 18 and 72 survive an incident of gun violence daily often with severe dis- abilities. GFSA official Adele Kirst- en said, “The mere presence of a firearm in a household can elevate the level of violence in South Africa.” In contrast, John Welch of the South African Gun Association (Saga), says the choice to have more than one firearm is legal. The sharply contrasted views of the two firearm associations are a perfect reflection of divided opinion on the matter across the nation. Background checks Anderson Ncube, a Jo- hannesburg resident, believes the stronger the gun laws, the lower the rate of deaths. “The law requires serious background checks before giving licences to prospective purchasers of guns; the challenge we have is that unlicensed ‘private’ sellers are probably far more than legitimate ones. We need to tighten our laws and limit unlicensed sellers,” he said. Unconfirmed figures are that two out of every five guns in the country change hands without a background check. S’dumiso Mthethwa who blames corrupt ex-police and army officers for promoting an illegal trade in guns. Several countries includ- ing France, South Korea, Indonesia, China, Germany and the UK have strict gun regulations. South Africa, the Czech Republic and the US allow greater access and have high gun-related crime levels. Western Cape Community Safety Minister, Dan Plato, has called for a period of firearm amnesty to reduce the circulation of illegally owned firearms in the province.
Aug 29th 2015
Sep 12th 2015