African press review 21 September 2012
The decision to scrap the introduction of a controversial 5000 naira banknote in Nigeria and Kenya's national teachers' strike are both stories covered in the African press today.
We start in South Africa where the papers are reacting to President Jacob Zuma’s decision to deploy the army in the strike-rocked mining town of Marikana.
The Star newspaper reported on Thursday that a backdated notice had been issued by the ministry of defence to legalise the deployment of soldiers which came into effect on 14 September. The notice was published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday and signed by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Business Day says temperatures are rising at the Anglo American Platinum plant in Marikana as thousands of miners return to work, ending a six-week strike in which 46 people died.
The Johannesburg newspaper reports that workers say ‘police violence’ will be met with petrol bombs. It is being reported by several papers that police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse an illegal strike by 15,000 workers at the Gold Fields KDC West mine where residents reacted by barricading the road, leading up to the Jabula shaft with burning tyres and rocks.
Friday’s South African press is also buzzing with comments about the latest crime statistics published by the South African Police Service. Mail and Guardian underlines that 15,600 murders were recorded during the past year, equating to 43 murders a day, down from 331 crime-related deaths, the previous year.
Booze is to blame for most murders, reports The Sowetan, citing Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa who underlined that 65 per cent of the murders started off as assaults resulting from arguments, stimulated by alcohol and drug abuse. Another worrying aspect of the statistics underlined by the papers is the substantial increase in business robbery over the years.
Business Day says that while hijacking and house robberies declined by 11.9 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively, business robberies increased by 7.5 per cent over the past year. It quotes Lizette Lancaster, head of the Crime and Justice hub at the Institute for Security Studies, as saying that the broader picture is much starker.
A spokesperson for the main opposition Democratic Alliance party told The Cape Times the miniscule decrease in crime is no indication that the government is doing everything it can to keep South Africans safe.
The party official noted that besides the distinct lack of progress in these serious crime categories, they had grave concerns about “the manipulation of statistics to paint a rosy picture”.
In Nigeria, the papers take up the ordeal facing thousands of mobile phone users in the north of the country. This is after Boko Haram operatives torched 37 GSM firm antennas in the region. The Nigerian Tribune reports that cellular phone and internet users in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi and Adamawa states have been out of network coverage for seven days now, since Boko Haram launched the sabotage campaign.
The Islamist insurgents are in an all out war against GSM providers who are helping security forces to trace members of the terrorist organization.
Most Nigerian papers are bidding goodbye to the planned introduction of a 5000 Naira bank note which had attracted a huge outcry in the country. Punch says that President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday directed the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, to scrap the project.
According to Vanguard, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed separate resolutions calling on the President to end the “anti-people” currency reform immediately. Several newspapers claim that opponents of the fat Naira note hinged their position on the fact that the big note would kill production, affect small businesses negatively and worsen inflation in the country.
In Kenya the big story is a crippling strike being staged by teachers nationwide to press demands for salary increases. The Standard reports that police engaged students in running battles along Nairobi’s Uhuru Highway as the protest started biting harder.
The Nairobi-based paper says that several motorists were caught unawares and missed appointments as they were held in traffic jams for long hours. Security was finally restored when heavily armed officers were deployed at highways, after hours of skirmishes, according to the paper.
The Nation highlights a threat issued by the government on Thursday to sack the teachers and replace them with 100,000 fresh graduates. It notes that they are being asked to accept an offer of 121 million euros and to resume work, or they will lose their jobs.