African press review 17 January 2013
Mining and farming issues feature widely in today's African papers....
Mining stories once again dominate the front page of South African financial paper, BusinessDay.
It's a good news, bad news situation, but even the good news is not great.
Under the headline "Wildcat strike over proposed Amplats layoffs ends", BusinessDay reports that workers at Anglo American Platinum decided to report for duty last night after a 24-hour strike over the company's proposal to sack 14,000 employees in what Anglo calls a "reorganisation".
Amplats, which is due to report a heavy financial loss, was on Tuesday criticised by the government, the African National Congress and the trade unions for plans to suspend work at some shafts, close plants and sell a mine.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions on Wednesday announced that the Western Cape farm workers’ strike would be suspended in most towns in the province for a week to "give negotiations a chance".
However, the union said the strike action would continue in De Doorns, as workers there were "still standing by" their daily wage demand of 12 euros. The farm strike, which started last October, has already been suspended twice.
The really bad news is that planned changes to South Africa's mining laws could scare away investors.
According to BusinessDay, the Draft Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill would further damage investor confidence in the mining industry because it fails to guarantee security.
The bill, which the Cabinet approved on 7 December, is intended to remove ambiguities in existing legislation. It further aims to streamline administrative processes and to improve the regulatory system.
The Department of Mineral Resources has given interested parties until 8 February to comment on the bill.
In Kenya, The Standard reports that civil society activists yesterday conducted a mock funeral to bury excesses associated with members of the out-going Tenth Parliament.
On the eve of party nominations to pick candidates to contest the 4 March vote, protestors sang dirges and wailed as they marched towards Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, carrying 222 mock coffins, symbolising the former MPs’ attempts to legislate hefty sendoff perks for themselves, including getting the State to guarantee their funeral expenses.
Sister paper The Daily Nation reports that President Mwai Kibaki arrived in Malawi yesterday at the start of a three-day official visit during which he is expected to hold trade and bilateral talks with his counterpart, Joyce Banda.
The two presidents are also expected to discuss the reopening of the Malawi High Commission in Kenya, which was closed a decade ago.
President Banda recently announced plans to reopen her high commission in Nairobi. The offices were closed 10 years ago for financial reasons but the property and structures are intact.
Regional newspaper The East African reports that the government in Uganda is in the final stages of drafting a constitutional amendment that would not only clip the wings of parliament but also hand the president more powers.
The amended law would allow for the expulsion of vocal and critical lawmakers from parliament, effectively thwarting the Legislature’s efforts to assert its authority and oversight function, and rendering it submissive to the president.
The ruling National Resistance Movement is expected to propose amendments that would give the president power to dissolve the House should a deadlock between parliament and the Executive arise.