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African press review 16 May 2012

4 min

Is the ICC trial over Kenya's 2007 post-poll violence going to start before the end of the year? Is al-Shebab getting strict in central Somalia? What are SA bosses ready to sacrifice? Why are Cosatu and Democratic Alliance members throwing stones at each other? And why are there unlikely to be any Ugandans in the east African parliament?

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The Kenyan Daily Nation reports that Eldoret North MP William Ruto and former Civil Service head Francis Muthaura will skip next month’s meeting at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The meeting, known as a status conference, is the occasion to set ground rules for their trial.

Four people, including Ruto and Muthaura, are accused of planning, financing and executing the 2007 post-election violence.

It was not clear whether Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also facing charges of crimes against humanity, will be present.

The fourth accused, radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang, will attend the meeting.

According to The Daily Nation, the timing of the status conference suggests that the trial of the four accused is likely to start before the end of the year. The ICC has promised to announce the trial dates next month.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

The Daily Nation also reports that al-Shebab militants in central Somalia have ordered all men to grow their beards and trim their moustaches.

The radical Islamist group also instructed residents to attend prayers at mosques, warning that persons moving around or engaged in businesses after the call to prayer would be punished.

Usually failure to comply with al-Shebab orders leads to a public flogging .

The main headline in South Africa's financial daily, BusinessDay, is a real shocker: it reads "Big business moves to cut bosses’ pay, boost jobs".

The article goes on to explain that the group Business Leadership   whose members include the bosses of South Africa's largest corporations and multinationals   says it is committed to devising a code of conduct on remuneration and labour practices for its members that will include "sacrifices by management".

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has repeatedly raised the issue of high executive pay, arguing that it is excessive, has risen disproportionately and cannot be justified. It is a key argument in Cosatu’s refusal to countenance its members considering wage restraint.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has called for pay restraint from workers and executives to help fight inflation.

BusinessDay also reports that there were violent clashes yesterday in Johannesburg, between Cosatu members and supporters of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

The Alliance and Cosatu have recently been at loggerheads, with the opposition party criticising the African National Congress for its stance on labour broking and the youth wage subsidy. The implementation of the subsidy, announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last year, was put on ice because of Cosatu’s opposition to it.

Yesterday's march by the Democratic Alliance to Cosatu headquarters was called in protest at the confederation's opposition to the youth wage subsidy.

According to BusinessDay, the march began at Beyers Naudé Square in central Johannesburg and was largely peaceful until DA members came face to face with Cosatu supporters. Rocks were thrown by both sides and the police intervened, firing tear gas.

As DA and Cosatu supporters faced off on opposite sides of the street, DA leader Helen Zille told the crowd of about 2,000 young people that Cosatu had lied to South Africans. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi accused the DA of taking advantage of jobless young people.

The Star's front page is dominated by pictures of badly injured protestors, under the headline "Blood on the streets".

The Johannesburg-based daily says the DA believes the youth wage subsidy will create at least 423,000 jobs for young, unemployed South Africans. The DA says Cosatu does not want the wage subsidy because it will threaten the job security of its older members. Cosatu and its affiliate unions claim the subsidy constitutes a form of slave labour and will lead to class warfare.

The top story in today's Daily Monitor in Uganda reports that opposition MPs yesterday said they will boycott the election of Uganda’s representatives to the east African parliament.

A late-night session failed to agree on how various parties in the house would share Uganda’s seats in the regional community’s legislative assembly.

If the opposition refuses to take part in next week's election, says the Daily Monitor, Uganda will not be able to send representatives to the regional parliament.

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