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African press review 09 October 2014

Kenyatta returns home after ICC trip, Nigeria accuses South Africa of blocking a legal arms purchase and uncertainty over South Africa's mining laws dominate the front page stories of African dailies.

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No prizes for guessing who's at the top of the Kenyan front pages this morning.

According to the Standard, judges at the International Criminal Court have retired to make a critical decision that will determine the fate of President Uhuru Kenyatta, accused of crimes against humanity.

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After arguments by defence and prosecution teams yesterday in The Hague-based court, the judges have five options to consider.

The crucial decision will be between the request by Uhuru’s lawyers to terminate the case against the Kenyan president and the prosecution’s plea for an indefinite adjournment that would leave Uhuru an accused person.

The Standard says the court must now decide either to terminate of the case, acquiting Uhuru; or they could suspend the trial indefinitely or conditionally; they could order the prosecution to withdraw the charges temporarily; they could find that Kenya has not complied with court requests; or they could dump the whole affair in the laps of the Assembly of State parties, the governing body of the international court.

Over at the Daily Nation, the main story reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived back in Kenya earlier this morning.

The main report in South African financial paper, BusinessDay, says that the recent spate of mining companies selling off their South African assets is an "issue that must be dealt with". That's according to the country's Mineral Resources Minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi. He was speaking at the opening of the mining indaba, or gab fest, in Johannesburg yesterday.

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The minister accepts that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, currently awaiting a presidential signature to become law, was rushed and problematic. He conceded there was uncertainty over the country’s mining laws and accepted that there was a clear policy of disinvestment as a result.

Further down the same front page, we learn that production at platinum company Lonmin has recovered from the five-month strike earlier this year.

And over at Amplats, also affected by the same strike, the company chairman says bringing employees in as shareholders and making them privy to business decisions is inevitable if the industry is to achieve stability and calm investors’ fears about the future of the South African mining sector.

BusinessDay also reports that Nigeria on Wednesday accused Pretoria of blocking a legal arms purchase and threatened retaliation against major South African companies.

An official in the office of Nigeria’s National Security Agency said the country had an agreement to buy military hardware worth five million euros from a South African firm.

The official claims Pretoria had frozen the cash which Nigeria paid to the South African firm’s account.

The alleged asset freeze has been widely reported in both Nigerian and South African media.

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had called his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, to inform him about the purchase and Abuja was therefore surprised to learn that the deal was subsequently blocked.

The development comes roughly three weeks after South African customs officials seized eight million euros in cash stashed in the luggage of two Nigerians and an Israeli.

SA’s prosecution authority said there was evidence that those funds were intended to purchase armaments to be used in Nigeria.

The Nigerian security official declined to comment on whether the cash found last month was part of a weapons purchase, but insisted the deal frozen by SA was a legal arms transaction through normal bank channels.

Nigerian legislators last month approved a request from President Jonathan for a billion-euro loan to equip the Nigerian army to fight Boko Haram extremists.

NewsDay in Harare reports that the free-fall in Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector continues.

The Confederation for Zimbabwe Industries says the Purchasing Managers Index stand's at 43,5% this year, signalling that there has been no respite to the economic decline, according to statistics released yesterday. Once the index drops below 50% that means the manufacturing sector is contracting.

This is the first time that Zimbabwe has published a Purchasing Managers Index. They probably wish they hadn't bothered.

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