African press review 24 October 2012
Did striking SA miners really kill their own comrades? Can the country's economy keep growing despite international crisis and strikes at home? Who would want to sabotage Kenya's election? How did George Saitoti and his deputy die? Will the government cooperate with the ICC? And are international investors thinking of ratting out of promises to buy Umémé shares?
The Marikana hearing is the main story in South Africa this morning. Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay reports yesterday's comments by the lawyer representing 272 striking workers who are charged with the murder of 34 fellow strikers.
He says police shot dead 16 people when miners first charged at the police but 18 others were shot 800m away as they attempted to flee the disturbances. The first deaths were "murder", the lawyer said; the second were extra-judicial killings, motivated by a desire for revenge on the part of police officers.
The inquiry continues.
South Africa’s leading indicator of business activity increased for the second consecutive month in August but at a lower rate than in July.
The indicator, which points to trends in the economy six to 12 months in advance, rose a marginal 0.1 per cent in August, figures from the Reserve Bank showed on Tuesday.
External factors such as the weakness in global demand and the recession in Europe, coupled with internal factors such as unofficial strikes, have negatively affected domestic economic growth prospects.
The South African economy’s pace of growth is expected to ease to about 2.5 per cent this year from 3.1 per cent last year.
Climate change activists who blocked the entrance to electricity supplier Eskom’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning were arrested by police.
The campaigners were protesting against the electricity company’s current management and its reliance on coal for energy.
Eskom had failed South Africans by "failing to deliver clean, affordable and accessible electricity by continuing to invest in coal", said Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaigner Melita Steele.
Greenpeace has challenged the government to cancel the construction of two new coal-fired power stations and focus on renewable energy.
The main story in the Kenyan Daily Nation is headlined "Justice Minister warns of plot to derail polls".
Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa yesterday claimed there was a plot to sabotage the next General Election by obstructing the timely procurement of voter registration equipment.
He spoke even as Finance Minister Robinson Githae said he had formally cleared the way for the processing of payment to the French supplier of the equipment.
There have been fears that the elections set for 4 March next year might be postponed because of the delays in purchase of the biometric voter registration kits.
The country has only 130 days in which to establish and verify a register for an estimated 18 million voters.
Wamalwa, whose ministry is in charge of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission, warned that the delay in the delivery of the voter registration kits was part of a wider conspiracy to push the process to a limit which would force the rescheduling of the election.
Also in The Daily Nation, a pathologist who examined the bodies of former Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his deputy Orwa Ojode a day after the crash has said the deaths may have occurred before the aircraft came down.
On Tuesday the commission investigating the accident was told that the ministers may have died from inhaling a poisonous gas before the helicopter crashed.
Autopsies on the six victims of the 10 June mishap, the commission was told, indicated that high levels of carbon monoxide were inhaled and the crash may not have been “a normal aviation accident”.
The pathologist said the gas may have been the result of a fire in the confined space of the helicopter cabin.
Staying with Kenya, The Standard reports that International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has sought assurances from President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that Kenya will co-operate with The Hague-based court.
The prosecutor also raised concerns over the protection of witnesses and pushed for the release by the government of confidential security information relevant to the two Kenya cases.
Last December ICC detectives failed to get critical statements from provincial commissioners, and senior police officers who served in areas affected by the 2008 post-election violence.
In Uganda the Daily Monitor reports that, with barely two weeks to the end of Umémé’s stock market launch, the power company may not raise the hoped-for 50 million euros.
So far fewer than half the shares have been sold, with only three per cent of the 20 per cent allocated to retail investors being taken up.
There are also reports that some international investors who bought shares are watching the performance of individual investors and might consider writing off their orders if the share offer fails to attract enough cash by Friday. The Monitor points out that such a refusal to honour a promise to buy would be illegal.