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African press review 29 April 2014

ANC election canvassers attacked in South Africa, reports of further infighting within Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party and a hunger strike among Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood prisoners ... all in today's papers.

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The main story in this morning's South African financial paper, BusinessDay, reports that tensions escalated on the platinum belt at the weekend as African National Congress election canvassers were attacked by groups of people throwing stones, the homes of ANC councillors were set alight and a National Union of Mineworkers meeting due to be addressed by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had to be abandoned.

Striking mine workers also marched around informal settlements to rally support for their continuing action. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members’ feedback to leaders indicated yesterday that workers would not accept a revised wage offer.

An official said the union had not yet concluded a series of planned meetings with members to decide on the offer, and may only formally reject it next week.

However, he said with regard to the meetings held at the weekend, "so far our members are rejecting the offer".

The collapse of wage talks between Amcu and platinum producers Lonmin, Anglo American and Impala last week has reignited anger among mine-worker communities around Rustenburg.

The strike is in support of a union demand for a basic wage of about 850 euros per month within four years.

The other main story in BusinessDay says the ruling African National Congress yesterday effectively quashed the parliamentary committee established to scrutinise President Jacob Zuma’s response to the public protector’s findings on the multi-million rand upgrades to his Nkandla farm.

The committee stalled on just its second day of work. Opposition parties had been concerned about the outcome, given that a report was supposed to be produced by the end of this month, in other words, by tomorrow.

Six of the committee’s seven ANC members, along with one Inkatha Freedom Party MP, voted to stop the committee’s work in order to refer it to the next Parliament that will be formed after the elections.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

BusinessDay says it will take a majority vote in the next Parliament to resurrect the issue. The Nkandla scandal is history.

In Zimbabwe, government paper The Herald says today is D-Day for suspended opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. According to the Harare-based paper, Tsvangirai will today expel all members who instigated his suspension from the party last Saturday, along with those supporting the move. This comes as Chitungwiza province yesterday threw its weight behind Tsvangirai, describing him as the only party leader.

The decision to fire secretary general Tendai Biti and his group was taken by the party’s nine standing committee members yesterday and is set to be ratified at today’s national executive and council meetings.

According to this morning's Egypt Independent newspaper, 16,000 Muslim Brotherhood prisoners are to start a hunger strike in 11 prisons across Egypt later today to protest against their alleged mistreatment.

A statement from an organisation calling itself the “Freedom Detainees in Egyptian Prisons” said that the aim of the strike is to pressure the regime to stop torturing prisoners and to release the innocent.

The organisation alleges that many of Egypt's 30,000 political detainees are children, and can not legally be held in prison.

The Freedom and Justice Party, that's the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, says that its detained members are deprived of food, water and medicine, that they are allowed to go to the toilets only once a day for five minutes, and that their relatives are insulted when they visit them.

In an e-mail response to the story, one reader of the Egypt Independent welcomes the news saying the hunger strike will help the prison authorities to save money in economically harsh times for Egypt. The message ends: "Thanks to the Freedom and Justice Party for their first ever patriotic gesture."

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