African press review 23 August 2011

Text by: Carla Westerheide
4 min

Not surprisingly, the events in the Libyan capital Tripoli, where rebels and loyalist forces are fighting for control of the city grab the headlines in the African media.

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The Herald in Zimbabwe leads with: “Kadhafi a hunted man, son captured.” The paper published a rather factual story on the situation in Tripoli Monday night. It also quotes Mikhail Margelov, the Russian special envoy to Africa who remained rather cautious.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

He said that it’s always easier to seize power than to retain it. The paper also says that more likely than not, Russia will no longer be able to compete with Nato countries for oil contracts.

The reason, it says, is that Libyan rebels are, or should be thankful, for Nato’s help and will therefore give priority to Nato countries when redistributing energy contracts.

The Daily Nation in Kenya headlines “Kadhafi: the end of an era.” Again, the article itself is very factual. But on top of that, it mentions “The House of Traditional Elders of Kenya,” a group led by a Kenyan architect that condemned the NATO intervention.

They are quoted as saying that they think “Kadhafi is a great ruler.” In January, the group even crowned him “The King of Africa.”

What’s interesting here is that the conflict in Libya has been under-reported in the African press since it began six months ago.

Many African nations have remained critical of the international military campaign and the African Union had continued to try and seek dialogue with the embattled Libyan leader. One  reasons is that many of the countries had a lot more at stake.

There were issues of immigration, but also of mercenaries. Kadhafi had been accused of “employing” foreign soldiers from other African nations to fight the rebels, knowing the chance they would turn against him was much smaller since there were fighting in return for a salary. But there was also a question of oil exports that some African nations feared would dry up.

Moving on, The Standard in Kenya reports that “all eyes are on the banking industry.” Investors are worried about how the sector will perform for the rest of the year, as the Kenyan shilling continues to fall against the dollar, This in turn is pushing up food prices and that of every day commodities such as petrol.

And since the Kenyan Central Bank shut off all “liquidity avenues,” it has become expensive for banks to lend to the government. But the government needs money! If they can’t raise the money to pay their debt, inflation will continue to rise.

A never-ending, vicious cycle that worries banks, investors and the population.

In Namibia, The Namibian says that diamond giant Namdeb is looking into suing workers for losses suffered because of a three-day strike.

On top of that, the company says it will simply lock-out all those who took part in the strike and will only let employees come back to work if they signed an “acceptance on the issue.”

The strike began after the company announced there were no more diamonds in the current mine and that workers would be moved to another mine.

But with the move, they would lose their housing allowance, something they say is unacceptable. The reason the company says this is legal is because the workers all live in company housing and that they cannot have both - company housing and a housing allowance.

Protestors want the company’s general manager to be removed and said they will stay put until he’s out of office, even if they find a compromise on the housing issue.

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