News Column

African Press Review 17 July 2014

July 17, 2014

Michael Fitzpatrick



Rail track theft in South Africa, Kenyan politics, and Nigeria's president asks his parliament for an urgent loan to help fight Boko Haram - all in today's papers.

The Star in Johannesburg reports on the theft in South Africa of nearly ten kilometres of railway track, weighing an estimated 960 tons and worth several million rand on the scrap metal market.

The stolen track could cost the rand equivalent of two million euros to rebuild.

Five men have been arrested and are to appear in court today. The Star says the theft threatens hundreds of jobs and could force a repair depot - which repairs Metrorail carriages, but is now completely cut off from the rail network - to close its doors.

Across the city, at financial paper BusinessDay, the main story reports that South African Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant met unions and employers in the metals and engineering industry last night in a bid to end the wage strike now into its third week.

Wednesday night's meeting took place as the National Union of Metalworkers said it would intensify the strike through lunchtime pickets in other sectors in which it organised. These included the car, tyre, rubber and mining sectors, and also its members at national electricity supplier Eskom.

Nissan yesterday joined Ford and Toyota in halting motor assembly operations because of a shortage of spare parts.

The parties are today to return to the Metals and Engineering Industry Bargaining Council for facilitated discussions.

The current offer from the employers is a three-year agreement including a 10% increase in the first year, 9% in 2015 and 8% in 2016. The union's demands include a double-digit increase in each of the next three years, a housing allowance and the scrapping of labour brokers, South Africa's employment agencies.

The main story in The Sowetan says the Israeli ambassador to South Africa has been called in by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, to explain Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

During the meeting, the South African government called on the State of Israel to end the air strikes, allow safe and free passage of civilians and make it possible for humanitarian organisations to work on alleviating the suffering of victims of the violence.

South Africa also made it clear that Pretoria strongly opposed any threat of ground invasion and urged the State of Israel to refrain from making utterances that may worsen the situation.

The main story in this morning's Kenyan Standard is headlined "CORD alleges plot to arrest leaders".

The small print explains that Raila Odinga's opposition party claims that President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration are planning to have opposition leaders arrested and charged with treason.

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy base their claim on a letter allegedly written by the President's Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. According to CORD, the letter suggested that some of them may be arrested and charged with treason over claims that the opposition is plotting to take over power unconstitutionally.

Yesterday, the Kenyan Solicitor General said he could not comment on the letter since he had not seen it. CORD claim the letter was addressed to the Soilcitor General.

The Ugandan Daily Monitor gives pride of place to yesterday's opening of the Bundibugyo Court Martial.

The court accused 125 people on ten grounds, including murder, attempted murder and the illegal possession of firearms.

The accused allegedly took part in the attacks on military installations and a bank in Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts on July 5.

The main story in the Nigerian Guardian reports that President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday forwarded a request to the National Assembly, seeking urgent approval of an external loan of about one billion euros to combat the Boko Haram insurgent group.

On Tuesday, gunmen suspected of being members of Boko Haram attacked Sabon Gari village in Borno State, killing 27 people and injuring 18 others.

Sabon Gari village is 150 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital.


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Source: AllAfrica


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