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African press review 15 January 2014

Capers in Kampala. SA wine doing well but worried about its image. Class war between SA's cities. Zimbabwe's government taxes platinum to raise cash. Kenyans' fuel bills rise. M23 denies it is preparing to fight again.


What happened in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, yesterday? 

You'll remember that the capital's lord mayor, Erias Lukwago, was planning to leave home with a view to walking into the centre of the city and reclaiming the office from which he has been barred since the Kampala Capital City Authority voted to impeach him on 25 November last, in defiance of a court order stopping the impeachment process.

Well, he's now under house arrest. According to the Daily Monitor, police at daybreak surrounded Lukwago's home with heavily armed anti-riot personnel, effectively holding him hostage for the entire day. All access roads to his home were blocked, causing a major traffic jam on the Mengo-Nateete road.

Slideshow Mandela

Speaking to journalists from inside his home, Lukwago said he planned to force his way to his office, accompanied by opposition supporters, in a move intended to “perform rituals to cleanse the office that was desecrated by an illegal impeachment”. Despite those fighting words, he never got out the gate of his own front garden.

Opposition MPs were scheduled to convene a late-evening meeting to devise other means of returning Lukwago to office but they were held up by a parliamentary session discussing the UPDF deployment in South Sudan.

On the trade and industry pages of the Johannesburg-based finacial paper BusinessDay, a headline announcing that South Africa last year shattered previous records for wine exports.

Thanks to shortages in Europe and a weak rand, the local wine industry saw exports boosted by 26 per cent in 2013.

But it's not all good news. According to one industry expert, further export growth is likely in 2014 thanks to exchange rates but the South African industry should be concerned about being branded as a supplier of cheap wines.

A separate story in BusinessDay reports that Johannesburg is home to 48 per cent of the country’s wealthiest individuals. That is nearly three times Cape Town’s millionaire population. And only tiny numbers of South Africa’s super-rich own a primary abode in Durban or Pretoria. The article is headlined "Joburg has the cash, Cape Town the class".

On the mining pages, news that the price of shares in Impala Platinum has dropped 10 per cent over the past week because of plans to establish smelting facilities in Zimbabwe, although the situation may not be as dire as the headlines suggest.

Dossier: Independence for South Sudan

Implats' Zimbabwean operations have repeatedly shown the group’s highest profit margins.

The Harare government is desperate for cash, which it is trying to raise through a host of new, punitive tax measures such as the proposed 15 per cent export levy on unprocessed platinum.

Industry analysts say there are financial, economic and technical realities in refining platinum that Zimbabwe’s politicians cannot simply remove by decree.

Kenyans are paying more for fuel since midnight.

According to this morning's Nairobi-based Standard newspaper, the Energy Regulatory Commission has increased retail prices of fuel following an increase in the price of crude oil in December.

Kerosene prices are up by Sh2 per litre. Super petrol is up Sh1.31 while diesel prices have increased by 21 cents.

The front page of the Kenyan Daily Nation is completely dominated by international stories:

The main story is headlined "M23 rebels deny UN accusations of fresh recruitment".

That's followed by "Boko Haram blamed for deadly market blast".

Then there's "NGOs pledge $400m for Syrians affected by war" and "US set to unfreeze aid to Egypt".

Dossier:  DRC elects a president

The story from the DRC reports that the M23 rebel movement yesterday denied UN accusations that it was seeking to rebuild from the ashes of its defeat in November.

The UN mission chief in the DRC, Martin Kobler, said on Monday there were "credible reports that the military recruitment of the M23 did not cease" after a December peace pact.

The M23, an ethnic Tutsi rebel group described as a Rwandan proxy force, officially laid down its arms after suffering a crushing military defeat at the hands of the UN-backed Congolese army in November.

Yesterday representatives of the group denied Kobler's claim that they had relocated north of their old bases in North Kivu to rebuild in Ituri province. The same statement says that M23 remains committed to the peace documents it signed in December.


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