African press review 19 September 2012
The Marikana strike ends. Will it encourage other miners to demand wage rises? Why did South Africans die in Afghanistan? Why has Kenya banned the press from visiting mass graves? Will Kenyan pupils be able to sit their exams? And isSouth Sudan fit to join the East African Community?
There's good news and bad news from the South African mining sector this morning.
The good news, as carried on the front page of BusinessDay, is that workers at the Marikana platinum mine yesterday accepted a 22 per cent wage increase and will return to work tomorrow.
The bad news is that analysts are warning that other mineworkers may now be encouraged to strike for wage hikes outside negotiated agreements with the trade unions. Some commentators say such large increases not only destabilise the sector but could lead to job losses.
The mining industry will have trouble supporting such hefty increases in labour costs, says one industry strategist. Wages already account for over 60 per cent of costs at Lonmin, the company that runs Marikana.
Platinum prices are down in the wake of the settlerment, the rand has lost ground against the dollar, and short-term South African bonds are being shunned by investors.
Of course, there's really bad news for some South African families this morning, news that pushes the mine strike deal to the sidelines.
The main headline in the Johannesburg Star reads "Collateral damage", a reference to the tragic events in the Afghan capital, Kabul, yesterday in which eight South Africans lost their lives in a suicide attack. They were, according to The Star, "victims of the fury sparked by the anti-Muslim movie Innocence of Islam.
The Standard in Kenya reports that the Nairobi government has blocked access to two mass graves discovered in Tana River County, the scene of recent violence between farmers and herders.
Security teams unearthed what they said appeared to be bodies packed into two graves but because they barred journalists from entering the remote area it was not possible, by the time of going to press, to determine how many bodies were found.
The Kenya Red Cross confirms that it had received reports of the alleged mass graves at Ozi but was unable to reach the village because of a police blockade.
The discovery is already stoking suspicion of killings prior to the ones first reported three weeks ago following skirmishes involving rival communities. The official death toll from the clashes suggests that at least 100 people lost their lives.
The Standard also reports that the police confiscated 10 cellphones from suspects in Tana River County.
Examination of the Sim cards suggests that the suspects had been communicating and even receiving funds from suspected operatives of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council and other personalities from outside the area.
Sister paper, The Daily Nation, reports that an examinations crisis is looming if the teachers’ strike continues for too long. This, according to a warning issued yesterday by the Kenya National Examinations Council.
The administration of tests, marking and release of results is done under a strict timetable, which cannot be extended to next year, says the council's chief executive.
Serious concern is also being raised about the preparation of candidates for exams.
Teachers in Kenyan schools and universities have been on strike for three weeks in support of a wage and conditions claim.
The main story in regional paper The East African is headlined "Conflict may hurt Juba’s bid to join the East African Community".
The article explains that a volatile currency and rampant insecurity could hamper South Sudan’s bid to join the east African trading bloc.
The country, which seceded from Sudan last year, hopes to tap into the potential of the east African common market, which has 133 million people.
But sporadic cases of violent conflict between Juba and Khartoum over oil resources and their common border threaten this dream.
Oil exports account for 98 per cent of South Sudan's national income.