African press review 22 January 2014
South African business gets the jitters ahead of a gold and platinum miners's strike. Kenyatta is reported to have Washington invite. Odinga riles Kenya's government.
With the threathened strike in South Africa's platinum and gold sectors now less than 24 hours away, it's not surprising that mining stories dominate the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.
The main headline reads "State offers to facilitate last-ditch mining wage talks," with the story explaining that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Tuesday said the government was prepared to mediate between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and platinum companies today to stave off the strike.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has offered to facilitate discussions between the trade union and the platinum companies today.
The union plans to stop work at the world’s three leading platinum companies and South Africa’s largest gold miners tomorrow in what BusinessDay says could be a protracted strike over wages. The union is demanding the doubling of entry-level wages for underground workers.
An analysis piece in BusinessDay looks at the remarkable recent rise of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, saying that, despite its new-found wealth and surge in membership, the union is still run by five men from an office in Witbank. Although the union now has a membership of more than 100,000, there are no regional structures or regional office-bearers. Decision-making depends on the union’s president, Joseph
This absence of democracy in the union led to claims by some workers that Mathunjwa is abusing his power and will be unable to deliver on their demands in the strike that begins in Rustenburg tomorrow.
While Thursday’s strike will undoubtedly receive mass support as not even the dissidents are against a strike on principle, says BusinessDay, workers have been left asking how long the dispute can be expected to last and what the game plan of the union is with regard to a settlement.
On a brighter note, a 29.6-carat blue diamond, one of the rarest and most coveted in the world, has been discovered at a South African mine.
The "exceptional" acorn-sized diamond, small enough to fit into the palm of a hand, was unearthed at the Cullinan mine near Pretoria.
Current market indicators suggest a price tag of two million euros per carat, valuing the latest find at around 60 million euros.
The main story in the Kenyan Daily Nation says that President Uhuru Kenyatta is among leaders to be invited to this summer's US-Africa summit in Washington.
The White House announced yesterday that President Barack Obama will hold the summit in August and that Kenyatta is said to be on the invitation list.
The reported inclusion of the Kenyan head of state among 47 African leaders marks a decisive turn for the better in relations between the Obama and Kenyatta administrations.
Obama's former chief diplomat for Africa warned a year ago that Kenyatta's election would have negative consequences for ties between the two longstanding allies.
The US president then snubbed Kenya during his three-nation Africa tour in June and July.
Kenyatta's indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity was acknowledged by the White House as the chief reason why Obama skipped a visit to his father's homeland.
The list of those invited is said to exclude the leaders of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau.
The row between opposition politician Raila Odinga and the Kenyan Electoral Commission continues to make front-page news in Nairobi.
According to the main story in this morning's Standard newspaper, Cabinet Secretary Francis Kimemia has lashed out at Raila Odinga over his remarks that the military helped Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto win the 4 March 2013 polls.
Kimemia told Raila to stop “inciting Kenyans through his creative, inflammatory and false allegations.” Kimemia is the chairman of the National Security Advisory Committee. That committee has called for an immediate apology from Odinga.
Raila claims that his party’s agents were kicked out of the national counting centre by soldiers during the tallying process.
Also in the Standard, a report from yesterday's session of the trial of Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court in the Dutch city of The Hague.
The ninth prosecution witness yesterday claimed that the Kalenjin community had forced Ruto to support the candidature of Cord leader Odinga in the 2007 presidential race.
The witness said prominent Rift Valley politicians attended a meeting at which Ruto was told that Kalenjins would support Raila rather than former president Mwai Kibaki.
The witness told the court that Ruto made a tremendous effort to convince the Kalenjin community that Raila was not the right candidate.
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