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African press review 26 November 2014

Eskom plans to shed jobs. Suspected Ugandan rebels go on a killing spree in DRC. Nigeria devalues. A charity bike is stolen in Egypt. Kenyans get angry about security failures. And Wole Soyinka tells how he overcame prostate cancer.

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South African electricity company Eskom is making the headlines again this morning.

According to the main story in Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, Eskom last month asked its 46,000 workers if they would accept voluntary redundancy as part of a bid to reduce spiralling operational costs.

The state-owned company, which is facing rising costs, lower-than-expected revenue and a diminishing ability to keep the lights on, hopes the scheme will stave off further credit-rating downgrades and bridge its funding shortfall over the next four years.

On its African news pages BusinessDay reports that suspected rebels from Uganda killed as many as 100 people in a spate of attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in recent days.

According to the deputy provincial governor, machete-and gun-wielding attackers   some dressed in Congolese army uniforms   targeted several villages near the gold-trading town of Beni, about 241km north of the regional capital, Goma, between Thursday and Saturday.

Congolese officials and aid agencies have blamed this and other recent attacks on the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group founded by a Ugandan radical Islamist sect in the 1990s.

Congo army units, backed by UN peacekeepers, were yesterday pursuing the rebels in a jungle region about 48km from the Ugandan border.

Nigeria’s central bank devalued the naira and raised interest rates on Tuesday in an effort to stem losses to foreign reserves which are being used to defend the currency hit by weaker oil prices.

The bank moved the target band of the naira to 160-176 to the US dollar, compared with 150-160 naira previously.

The Nigerian central bank also raised interest rates to 13 per cent yesterday from 12 per cent.

There's no mention of the visit to France of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on the front page of the Cairo-based Egypt Independent.

But there is a story about the governor of the north-eastern city of Ismailia, who had his bike stolen after he took part in a two-kilometre ride along the banks of the Suez Canal. The cycle event was organised by the Egyptian Family Planning Association, to protest against the sexual harassment of women.

In fact the governor was not the owner of the stolen bike, which was rented by the family planning association for the event. Anyone with any information concerning the current whereabouts of the missing machine should contact the police in Ismailia.

Yesterday's protests against security failures dominate the Kenyan front pages.

According to the Nairobi-based Standard, the uproar over the government’s handling of national security moved off the capital's tear-gas-clouded streets and into Parliament, where lawmakers declared that President Uhuru Kenyatta had to take ultimate responsibility.

The National Assembly and Senate yesterday evening suspended normal business to discuss insecurity following Saturday’s massacre of 28 people in Mandera by al-Shebab gunmen.

Some MPs repeated calls for the sacking of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.

Across Nairobi at the Daily Nation, majority leader Aden Duale is quoted as saying that the problem is bigger than Lenku and Kimaiyo and is the result of corruption at local level.

The Daily Nation also reports that the government yesterday refused to evacuate terrified civil servants and their families camping at a military airstrip with their belongings after al-Shebab killed 28 of their colleagues last Saturday.

Instead, the government wants them to go back to work and assured them that their security was guaranteed.

But the workers stood their ground and maintained that they feared for their lives and would not leave the military compound.

In a stinging indictment of local police, they said those who volunteered information to the authorities were routinely killed and that police bosses were doing business with the town’s tycoons, apparently known to sponsor terrorism.

Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka is on several Nigerian front pages, following his disclosure that he contracted and was cured of prostate cancer earlier this year.

Soyinka made the disclosure yesterday while addressing journalists at a press conference on the theme “Beyond Ebola”, intended to boost public awareness of cancer.

The literary giant said he decided to make his health status public so as to encourage cancer victims to go for medical treatment.

Soyinka pointed out that cancer should no longer be regarded as a death sentence.

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