African press review 14 April 2014

SA power company employees may lose their biscuits. Finance minister Gordhan doesn't believe the pessimists. Kenya and Rwanda are under fire over press freedom. The Kenyan president's wife runs in the London Marathon. And Uganda's police chief is accused of interfering in politics.


The prize for headline of the day goes to South African financial paper, BusinessDay, for its "Biscuit blackout as Eskom hits crisis".

Eskom is the state-owned electricity company. According to BusinessDay, the Treasury and Department of Public Enterprises are locked in negotiations to bail out the embattled power utility that has struggled to keep the lights on and is now facing a devastating cash crunch.

Slideshow Mandela

Eskom management are to meet trade unions later today to discuss proposed cost-cutting measures, which include less overtime, a recruitment embargo and early retirement packages.

Informal consultations with trade unions began on Wednesday last week.

The massive drive aimed at saving the parastatal more than one billion rand anually over five years includes reviewing spending on event sponsorships, restricting flights and hotel accommodation for staff, and even ditching tea and biscuits at meetings, hence the headline.

The main story in BusinessDay says that the platinum miner Anglo American is seeking a buyer for its Rustenburg operations. The strike in the platinum sector is now into its third month.

The dispute shows no signs of ending, with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union demanding a 30 per cent increase in the basic, entry level salary over four years.

The companies are offering nine per cent in the first year.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan remains optimistic about South Africa’s economic outlook for this year, despite disappointing economic data pointing to slower growth in the first quarter.

There has been a recent string of downward revisions to economic growth forecasts for the country by several institutions, the latest being the International Monetary Fund.

Gordhan says the Treasury maintains its forecast for the economy to grow by 2.7 per cent this year despite the IMF last week significantly lowering the country’s economic growth outlook.

The global lender cited the platinum strike and power supply disruptions as factors contributing to the downward revision.

Dossier: Rwanda remembers genocide 20 years later

In Kenya the Daily Nation reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta was criticised at a world congress on media for signing into law legislation giving the state power to decide what journalists report.

Similar attention was given to Rwandan President Paul Kagame for limiting media freedom.

The criticisms came at the official opening of the International Press Institute's 43rd world congress in Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday.

The director of the International Press Institute says Kenya's recently passed Information and Communication Act could lea to state control of news and information during emergencies and gives the government the power to perform functions currently executed by the Media Council

The Nairobi Standard leads with a story from yesterday's London Marathon. Not the fact that Edna Kiplagat and Wilson Kipsang gave Kenya a memorable double. The Standard reports that Kenya's First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta also competed, running to help curb mother and child mortality.

She took over seven hours to complete the 42-kilometre course but has raised enough money for 10 mobile clinics out of the planned 47.

In Uganda the Daily Monitor looks at reaction to the release of recordings in which Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura talks to ruling party members about the alleged plot by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to challenge President Yoweri Museveni for the presidency.

According to opposition Forum for Democratic Change president, Mugisha Muntu, Kayihura is heard urging people to support Museveni. Muntu asks how Kayihua can now claim to be acting impartially.

Beti Kamya, the president of the opposition Uganda Federal Alliance, says Kayihura has wrongly defined the job of the police as making sure that Museveni does not lose power.

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