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African press review 27 June 2013

In African newspapers today: analysis of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's first year in office; concerns over mine worker demands in South Africa; and a major mining company suspends coal exports from Mozambique because of political tensions.

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The main story in this morning's Egyptian Gazette is headlined "Presidential year draws motley reactions".

The article begins with the thought-provoking observation that: "Mixed reactions are running high ahead of June 30, the first anniversary of President Mohamed Morsi’s taking office".

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Supporters argue that President Morsi has inherited a very heavy burden from the former regime, where corruption was endemic.

They stress that no one could be expected to handle such a mess in such a relatively short span of time.

The opposition parties have, meanwhile, announced plans to stage a huge march to the presidential palace in Cairo on 30 June and to demand that President Morsi step down.

Morsi supporters say that the most important positives achieved during the first year of the president is solving the bread and butane problems as well as increasing basic salaries and the establishment of the Board of Grievances, to which petitioners can submit their complaints.

The editorial in this morning's South African financial paper, BusinessDay, is headlined "Amcu’s unreasonable wage demands".

The small print goes on to explain that Amcu, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, is sowing the seeds of its own demise with its demand for a 100% salary hike for certain categories of mineworkers in the gold sector.

There is no possibility that the union can attain its record-high demand, the editorial continues. Even if there was any chance of success, it would just lead to further mine closures and the loss of thousands of jobs - the jobs of the very members whose interests the union is supposed to represent.

The National Union of Mineworkers’ demand for a 60% increase is just as shortsighted, says BusinessDay. It is even more disappointing that the NUM has demanded such a steep increase as the union should have a far better understanding of not only the mining sector but also what is involved in wage negotiations. It is almost as if the union has thrown away the 31 years of history and knowledge it has gained in representing mineworkers’ interests.

The demands of the two unions appear to be more about outdoing each other in the militancy stakes.

The real problem for both unions will come when they report back to their members and have to explain why they have not lived up to the unrealistic expectations they created.

Also in BusinessDay, news that mining giant Rio Tinto has suspended coal exports from Mozambique’s northwest Tete province after the opposition Renamo party threatened to disrupt the Sena railway line that carries coal to the port, according to a provincial official.

Mozambique’s economic revival is under threat as former guerrillas take up arms more than two decades after the civil war ended. Many say they have not benefited from the rush of oil and gas discoveries in recent years.

Sena is the only railway leading from the large coal fields of Tete to the Indian Ocean port of Beira.

Renamo, a former guerrilla movement that waged a civil war between 1975 and 1992, has threatened to renew hostilities against the ruling Frelimo party in an attempt to wring political concessions out of the government.

Last week it made a public threat to disrupt major roads and the Sena line.

In Uganda, The Daily Monitor reports that opposition figure Kizza Besigye, who's been having a bit of trouble recently getting from his Kasangati home to the centre of Kampala, has been arrested following his continued attempt to move to the city.

Dr Besigye, who is currently being held at Kira Division Police Station, had earlier been put under house arrest.

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