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African press review 02 January 2014

The youth wage subsidy in South Africa,  indigenisation laws in Zimbabwe and a grenade attack in Kenya are all topics in today's African papers.

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In South Africa, the Johannesburg Sowetan gives pride of place to the fact that the Employment Tax Incentive Act, commonly known as the youth wage subsidy, came into effect at midnight on Wednesday.

The subsidy is aimed at alleviating youth unemployment, estimated at 70 per cent, by offering employers incentives to hire young people. The Congress of SA Trade Unions opposed the legislation, saying it would lead to discrimination against older workers.

An economist interviewed by the tabloid Sowetan says the new legislation is unlikely to cause labour market instability in the short term. He warns that wage subsidies of this nature take up to nine or 12 months before they have an effect on the labour market.

South African financial paper BusinessDay looks across the border to Zimbabwe. The Johannesburg paper says Zimbabweans living in South Africa who returned home for the festive season, came face to face with their home country’s latest economic downturn.

They were greeted by long queues at banks and found businesses had closed during their absence.

President Robert Mugabe won elections last July against archrival Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change. Critics say Mugabe is struggling to prevent an imminent economic collapse.

In his New Year's message to supporters, Tsvangirai accused Mugabe and the ruling Zanu (PF) party of "stealing Christmas" from the people.

In Zimbabwe, the Harare-based Herald looks at the nation's newly effective indigenisation laws, operational since midnight on New Year's Day. According to Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Francis Nhema, no foreigner operating in sectors of the economy reserved for indigenous

Zimbabweans will be allowed to own more than 49 per cent of any business operation. According to the regulations, sectors reserved for indigenous Zimbabweans include agriculture, transportation, retail and wholesale trade, barbershops, hairdressing and beauty salons, employment and estate agencies, and grain milling.

The Herald reports that at least 800 companies have applied for indigenisation  compliance certificates.

The main story in Kenya this morning concerns the grenade attack in which at least eight people were injured at the beach resort of Diani, south of Mombasa. The Daily Nation quotes the regional police commander as saying that there were no deaths reported in the incident and investigations are underway.

Sister paper The Standard leads with the same story, saying 10 people were injured. The Standard says the attack will be a blow to the local tourism industry since Diani is one of busiest areas on the coast, attracting huge numbers of visitors.

Bomb experts have arrived at the scene. Officials have not yet given details on the nature of the device used. Grenade attacks have been increasingly frequent since Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia to fight Al-Shabaab militants.

The Standard in Nairobi notes that East Africa Community yesterday started implementing the Single Customs Territory. Under the new trading system each of the 5 member countries will have customs officials stationed at points of entry into the community to collect duty.

There are no longer any subsequent controls at border crossings between member countries. Businesses have welcomed the initiative, saying it will reduce the cost of doing business in the region by between 15 and 30 per cent.

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