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African press review 11 November 2014


In Burkina Faso, the independent daily paper Le Pays welcomes the arrival yesterday of the Mauritanian leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. He is current president of the African Union, and his mission is to ensure a rapid return to constitutional order following last month's popular revolution which ousted long-term Burkinabé president, Blaise Compaoré.

But Le Pays wonders what is really behind the African Union chief's visit, especially since the military have indicated their willingness to hand back power to a civilian government.

There are two possibilities, according to Le Pays.

Either the panAfrican organisation is trying to make up for its earlier failures to act with a view to averting the Burkinabé crisis. Or the lads at the African Union simply don't believe the army's assurances that they will hand over control once a civilian government is in place.

In either case, says Le Pays, it's no harm having the African Union around.

According to the front page of the Cairo-based Independent, the latest report by the Egypt-based International Development Center shows that there were 643 protests in the country in the course of last month. That's an average of 21 protests per day, or nearly one protest every hour. October was a bad month, with an increase of 130 demonstrations over September.

The report shows that students topped the protesting categories with one third of the total demonstrations in October. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood came next Egypt's pensioners organised four protests in October.

The Egypt Independent also reports the weekend arrest of a student in front of the main gate of Cairo University. The man was seen carrying a copy of George Orwell's novel 1984.

In Johannesburg, financial paper BusinessDay reports that seven Congress of South African Trade Union affiliates have suspended their participation in the federation’s central executive committee - Cosatu's top decision making structure.

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The country’s largest trade union federation is thus headed toward a split after the weekend expulsion of its largest member, the National Union of Metalworkers.

In a joint press briefing yesterday, the seven unions said it was the duty of all trade unionists to defend the metalworkers.

The 350,000-strong National Union of Metalworker was expelled for calling for an end to Cosatu's traditional alliance with the ruling ANC, and for attempting to organise workers in other sectors.

South African police are investigating President Jacob Zuma over an 18 million euro taxpayer-funded refurbishment project at his rural homestead, according to parliamentary papers.

In a written response to legislators published yesterday, police confirmed that an investigation into spending at Zuma’s Nkandla home is under way.

Zuma has insisted that he had no knowledge of the work on his home, including the construction of a swimming pool, private clinic and amphitheatre.

His government has insisted that all the refurbishments were security related.

In a related story, BusinessDay reports that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) should know their fate later today or on Wednesday.

Party leader Julius Malema and 19 of his fellow MPs have been found guilty by the powers and privileges committee of bringing Parliament into disrepute for the uproar caused in the National Assembly on 21 August when they started chanting "pay back the money" as Jacob Zuma spoke during a presidential question and answer session.

The EFF MPs did not take part in the disciplinary hearing saying it was a "kangaroo court" with their political opponents, the ANC, acting as judge, jury and executioner.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, whose MPs face a 30-day ban from Parliament and the docking of a month’s salary each, have expressed their intention to take Parliament to court over the findings and sentences.

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