African Press wrap October 22, 2012

By IndepthAfrica
In News
Oct 22nd, 2012
By Michael Fitzpatrick

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s criticisms of his successor Jacob Zuma, and delays in preparations for Kenya’s March elections are two of the subjects covered in today’s African papers

On the opinion pages of South Africa’s BusinessDay, more trouble at the top of the political pile.

After years of silence on domestic politics, former president Thabo Mbeki has criticised Jacob Zuma’s leadership.

But, says BusinessDay, history shows that Mbeki’s views will be dismissed as irrelevant by a government that cannot live with criticism.

Mbeki gave the memorial lecture in honour of former African National Congress president, Oliver Tambo on Friday, and he spoke of a dangerous and unacceptable situation of directionless and unguided national drift..

Separately, Zuma said negative media coverage and over-the-top criticism by opposition parties harmed South Africa’s image as an investment destination.

In The Sowetan, Zuma is quoted as calling on opinion-makers and opposition parties to stop talking the country down. The president complained about the media coverage of the freezing of salary hikes and bonuses of high income earners. He said there was too much focus on salaries and disregard for other, more important, matters

According to BusinessDay, the recent downgrades of South Africa’s sovereign debt status by two ratings agencies in the past month can be blamed essentially on weak leadership.

The recent problems in the South African mining sector are proving to be good news for Zimbabwe.

The country, which together with South Africa accounts for 75 per cent of the world’s platinum reserves, has increased production of the white metal by 121 per cent since 2006, while overall southern African production has declined.

Hamstrung by violent labour unrest, rising costs and increasingly difficult underground conditions, South Africa’s platinum production is expected to fall by 607,000 ounces this year, costing mining companies an estimated eight hundred million euros in lost revenue at current prices. Zimbabwe’s output is expected to increase by seven per cent.

Should the political situation in Zimbabwe improve, says BusinessDay, the country will become a more attractive platinum investment destination than South Africa.

In Kenya, the exam season is set to start, with special problems in Coast Province.

According to the Nairobi Standard, state agencies say they have deployed sufficient security personnel and have issued shoot to kill orders to deter separatists who might try to disrupt the national examinations.

There is, says The Standard, growing concern over the administration of exams in Kwale and Kilifi where the separatist group, the Mombasa Republican Council, is very strong.

In Kwale, examiners and invigilators are reluctant to administer examinations without security guarantees in a region where a local official was murdered in broad daylight last week by anti-government militants.

The local education office disclosed on Sunday that fewer teachers have asked to be invigilators in Kwale compared to last year.

On The Standard’s political pages, news that Eldoret North MP William Ruto and The National Alliance leader Uhuru Kenyatta are in discussions over which presidential aspirants they should support if they are, themselves, finally barred from running.

Sources within their political camps reveal the two men are keen on making sure they have a ‘friendly’ president should they not be able to run.

The two men face charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the 2008 post-election violence.

The ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, arrives in Kenya this morning, and will hold a press conference in Nairobi later today.

Over at The Daily Nation, the Attorney-General was on Sunday accused of holding up preparations for the election by refusing to authorise payment to a French company.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said the registration of voters, which is two months behind schedule, remains in limbo until the AG gives Treasury the go-ahead to issue letters of credit.

Until he does so, Biometric Voter Registration equipment cannot be delivered and no date can be set for the registration to begin.

With only 133 days left to the 4 March election, it will take 60 days to complete a proper voter listing programme involving 18 million Kenyans, with 30 days being set aside for the actual registration and another 30 days for the verification process.

The main story in regional paper The East African is headlined “How Kenya election fever is slowing investment“.

According to the article, Kenya’s businesses face a bleak year-end as the government turns to the private sector in an effort to fill the empty public purse.

Confidence in the economy appears to be waning as business leaders struggle with economic uncertainty, higher taxes, costly funds and high cost of production. Moreover, as election fever grips the country, investment is said to be slowing down ahead of next year’s poll.

A survey released by audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed Kenyan business executives are worried by government regulations, economic uncertainty, exchange rate and rising energy costs.

Business leaders have as a result resorted to managing costs while delaying investments.

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