African press review 27 January 2015


The Sowetan reports that the South African National Defence Forces yesterday said they were unaware of former South African soldiers being deployed to Nigeria to help fight the terrorist group Boko Haram.

That denial followed an earlier report in the Africaans daily newspaper, Beeld, claiming that former soldiers of the SA Defence Force were part of a multinational team of private military experts on their way to Nigeria.

Beeld reported that the initiative was at the request of the Nigerian government, and that the team of about 100 members would train Nigerian soldiers.

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There are likely to be more power cuts in South Africa in the course of today.

According to the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay, the national electricity company, Eskom has warned that Monday's cuts would be followed by further supply difficulties today. This is because of unusually high demand and urgent maintenance being performed at certain power stations.

Consumers have been asked to turn off air conditioners, pool pumps and all non-essential appliances throughout the day to reduce electricity demand.

On its African news pages, BusinessDay reports that Zambia is to maintain a new mineral royalty tax despite fears that it could lead to mine closures. This was announced by President Edgar Lungu on Sunday as he was inaugurated in Lusaka.

Africa’s second biggest copper producer hiked open pit mining royalties to 20% from 6% and underground royalties to 8% from 6% in its 2015 budget, a move mining companies have said could cost 12,000 jobs.

The Democratic Republic of Congo's parliament has voted in favour of a new election law, despite protests sparked by opposition charges that the new legislation would extend President Joseph Kabila’s term in office.

The bill was approved in both houses after MPs agreed to remove a contentious provision making elections contingent on a new electoral roll to be drawn up after a national census set to begin this year.

Opposition leaders complained that the proposed census would take up to three years to finish, which would allow Kabila to stay in power beyond 2016, despite being constitutionally barred from running again.

The main story in the Cairo-based Egypt Independent says that the international rights organisation, Freedom House, has deplored the Egyptian authorities for their recent violence against unarmed demonstrators commemorating the fourth anniversary of the January Revolution and protesting the current government’s authoritarian measures.

The statement from Freedom House says the Egyptian authorities should focus their energies on instituting urgently needed political reforms rather than killing and detaining those who exercise their rights to call for democratic change.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

At least 20 people were killed in the recent disturbances, and 516 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested, according to the Egyptian Interior Minister.

In an unusually critical column, Egypt's state-run daily Al-Ahram newspaper has specifically named the country's president as being responsible for protecting the public after the shooting death of a protester.

The front-page piece, published yesterday, reacts to the killing of Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, shot dead Saturday on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Witness testimony and online video strongly suggest police shot the woman dead. Authorities say they are investigating.

The editorial blamed overzealous police, empowered by wide-ranging laws criminalizing protests, for the death of the protester. It also said the search for justice in the wake of el-Sabbagh's death primarily "rests on the shoulders" of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a rare, direct criticism of a man normally lionized in Egyptian media.

In Kenya, the Standard reports that the authorities have threatened to replace teachers working in the north-eastern counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa if they do not reported back to work by 2 February.

The teachers have been refusing to return to their schools following a spate of terror attacks that rocked the region late last year, leaving several people dead.

Education also dominate the front page of the Kenyan Daily Nation, where we learn that the teachers’ employer has disowned the deal which it signed two weeks ago to end the teachers strike, and has now challenged a court-brokered agreement signed with unions.

The Teachers Service Commission now wants the salary dispute with the unions left to the government's Salaries and Remuneration Commission instead of the courts.

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