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African press review 18 July 2013

The end of the teachers strike in Kenya, Mandela's birthday and a potential trade war between South Africa and the European Union.


The teachers strike in Kenya is over. The main story in this morning's Standard attempts to explain why.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

According to the Nairobi-based daily, the prospect of striking teachers going without pay for three months, after the government, earlier this week closed down primary schools indefinitely, may have prompted Wednesday’s about-turn by the majority union, the Kenya National Union of Teachers. The strike lasted 24 days and was called in support of demands for allowances agreed in 1997 but never paid.

With teachers’ June salaries withheld, the early closure of schools meant the pay freeze would have extended to August. That and fears among the union leadership that the Industrial Court could find top leaders in contempt of court would appear to have forced the union’s hand.

The government will announce the date of re-opening of primary schools and publish a new calendar to take into account the time lost during the strike.

The Daily Nation's main headline reads "Strike over, schools shut" and that just about says it all.

The Nation says teachers on Wednesday ended their 24-day work boycott, hours after public primary schools were closed indefinitely.

The teachers will return to class, having accepted the deal on commuter, responsibility and reader allowances agreed earlier between them and the government.

The payout will see the lowest paid teachers take home the shilling equivalent of 35 euros every month in commuter allowances.

The agreement also stipulates that the Teachers Service Commission will pay the teachers’ June salaries today.

The Commission will also withdraw the contempt of court case against Kenya National Union of Teachers officials.

There's a 95th birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela on the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based BusinessDay. It's written by George Bizos, the human rights lawyer and anti-apartheid campaigner who has been Mandela's friend for more than 65 years.

Bizos defended Mandela in the 1960s, saving him from the death sentence. When Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Price, he asked Bizos to travel with him to collect it. The former South African president introduced his friend to the King of Norway. "This is George Bizos, my lawyer," he said. "I don’t know why I brought him with me. He sent me to prison for 27 years."

Bizos continues: "If he were in better health, I imagine he would be disappointed by the family disputes that are playing out for the world to see. He did not expect any privilege for himself and I know he would appeal to them now to follow his example."

George Bizos writes that Mandela doesn’t fear death. Madiba once said that when he eventually departs, he will look for the nearest ANC branch in heaven and become a member.

Also in BusinessDay, news of a potential trade war between South Africa and the European Union.

European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht yestersday delivered a blunt warning to South Africa about the future of its relationship with the European Union, South Africa’s single largest trade partner.

Speaking at the the South Africa-EU Business Forum, hosted by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation in Pretoria, de Gucht said European investors were "watching developments in South Africa very carefully" after the country "unilaterally" cut investment treaties with EU member states Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain.

This means there is no longer a predictable framework for investment.

A spokesman for the South African Department of Trade and Industry, said the joint bilateral agreement between Belgium and Luxembourg, and another with Spain, had not been cancelled, but had "expired". The agreements remained protected for 10 years after expiry, he said.

Dossier:  DRC elects a president

In Zimbabwe, a legal effort by the Movement for Democratic Change to nullify last weekend's special early voting by police officers will be heard in a Harare court later today.

The special vote was intended to allow those who will be on official duty on election day to cast their ballots. The MDC is challenging the 69,000 ballot papers prepared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the special vote, comparing it with the figure of 44,000 provided by the Treasury for the number of police officers paid a monthly salary.

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