African press review 3 September 2012
Worries in South Africa about police competence following last month's mining tragedy, and calls in Nigeria for a more diverse economy are both stories in today's papers.
The news analysis pages of South African financial paper, BusinessDay, carry an article looking at the tragic events at the Marikana platinum mine in which 44 people died last month.
The article says that the volatile standoff involving poor and angry miners, coupled with widespread anxiety among police officers over the murder of two of their colleagues, should have set off alarm bells.
The fact that police were unable to gauge the extent of this threat has placed the spotlight squarely on the public order policing unit, which was at the forefront of the clash.
While experts say the volatility of the protest could have caught the crowd control units off-guard, questions remain about whether the police failed to adhere to their own protocols and whether they had the skills to deal with such an explosive situation.
Police management have been aware of shortcomings in the capabilities of the public order police for some time and have tried to put in place processes to prevent a tragedy such as the one that unfolded at Marikana. With the benefit of hindsight, however, these measures have proven woefully inadequate, says BusinessDay.
The front page of BusinessDay is frankly bleak . . . the main headline reads "IMF issues stern warning on SA’s unemployment rate," with the small print explaining that global lender, the International Monetary Fund, has warned the South African authorities to address unemployment or risk facing political and social instability.
The other main stories concern falling gold prices and their impact on the South African economy . . . and then there's platinum, with the recent six-week strike at the Implats mine reducing production by 21 per cent, with profits down 37 per cent. The only good news seems to be that labour relations in the platinum sector now appear to be stable.
How long that continues to be the case will largely depend on how seriously the judicial inquiry into Marikana is seen to be doing its job. President Zuma has promised that all parties to the tragedy . . . the police, the company itself and the trade unions . . . will be held accountable.
The commission of inquiry will be chaired by Ian Farlam, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Things are not great in Nigeria, either.
According to this morning's Guardian, published in Lagos, Nigeria’s revenue from oil is still rising, but key players in the economy have expressed concern over the nation’s increased dependence on oil and have called for an immediate diversification of the economy.
In their appraisal of President Goodluck Jonathan’s economic policies at the weekend, the experts claimed that nothing serious had been done to diversify the economy.
According to them, opportunities in the agriculture sector remain untapped .
In the past decade, Nigeria’s level of dependence on crude oil for government spendings has been hovering around 76 per cent.
Crude oil exports accounted for 90 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings in 2010 and rose to 95 per cent last year.
The main story on the front page of the Kenyan Standard reads "Teachers resolve to begin strike despite court injunction."
Teachers begin their strike on Monday in defiance of a court order obtained by the Teachers Service Commission late last week to keep them in class.
The TSC Secretary told The Standard that they would follow the law and withhold pay for teachers who fail to report to work on Monday.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers called the strike to demand payment of overdue allowances.
Also in Kenya, The Daily Nation reports that Said Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, alias Makaburi, who is wanted in connection with the Mombasa riots has claimed he is a target of a police hit squad.
Last week, police obtained a warrant of arrest for Ahmed, who they blame for the violence that followed the killing of al Shebab suspect Aboud Rogo.
Four people, including three security agents, were killed in two days of chaos last week in which four churches were looted and torched.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Nation from his hideout in Mombasa, Ahmed claimed there is a plot by Kenyan security agencies supported by outside forces to assassinate him.
He admitted that Sheikh Rogo, who was accused by the United Nations and the US of being Al-Shabaab’s chief agent in Kenya, was his close associate and best friend.
He also appeared to suggest that he had links with the Somalia terror group by saying that youths in Mombasa had asked him how they could get help from the rebels to avenge Sheikh Rogo’s killing.