16 October 2012

Tanzania: African Press Review 16 October 2012

The worsening relations between Tanzania and Malawi is one of the subjects in today's African papers..

According to the Kenyan Standard, Omar Hamisi Mwamnwadzi, the leader of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council and his wife, arrested yesterday, have been charged with possession of firearms and incitement to violence. The pair have been remanded in custody until a bail hearing scheduled for next week. Thirty-five other people arrested at the same time have also been remanded.

State counsel argued that the 37 accused should be denied bail for their own safety because of tensions following the killing of a local official soon after their arrest.

The regional police chief has described the killing of the official as a revenge attack, saying it was the work of MRC supporters.

On its international pages, The Standard reports a worsening of relations between Tanzania and Malawi.

Yesterday, the Tanzanian ambassador to Malawi was given 48 hours to pack his bags. The two countries are in dispute over the waters of Lake Nyasa, or Lake Malawi, depending on which side you take.

Malawi claims sovereignty over the entirety of Africa's third largest lake, while Tanzania says 50 percent of the lake is Tanzanian territory. The row is likely to worsen if significant oil and gas discoveries are made.

Malawi last year awarded oil exploration licences for the lake to an international company. Drilling has not yet begun.

An oil story of a different flavour is making front-page news in The Daily Nation.

According to the Nairobi-based paper, a error in the tendering process could have led to Kenyans paying a higher price for their petrol.

The Nation reports that overpricing of freight charges resulted in the doubling of the tender price.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya now wants Parliament to give the Energy Regulatory Commission a wider mandate in the procurement process. This, says the federation, will make it more difficult for oil marketeers to inflate import costs at the expense of consumers.

In Uganda, The Monitor reports police confusion over the criminal status of opposition leader, Kizza Besigye.

Late last week, the Inspector General of Police claimed that Besigye was facing charges of theft. Yesterday, says The Monitor, that claim drew reactions of surprise at the station where the file is supposed to have been opened.

A senior police officer at Kasangati Police Station, who refused to be named, saying he is not the Force's spokesperson, yesterday told The Daily Monitor that, to the best of his knowledge, no such file has been opened against the leader of the country's largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change.

On Friday, police chief Kale Kayihura, told journalists in Kampala that Besigye had stolen a tyre-shredding road barrier and had threatened police officers.

And Kizza Besigye's sister has her own problems with the law.

According to a separate story in today's Monitor, Olive Kobusingye, a younger sister of the Forum for Democratic Change president, has been sued for allegedly publishing defamatory matter in her book, The Correct Line?. The book is critical of President Museveni's government.

A senior army officer is suing Mrs Kobusingye for libel because of her depiction of the officer's part in the deaths of three civilians in a joint police and army raid in 2010.

In South Africa, financial paper BusinessDay reports that tens of thousands of gold miners face the threat of dismissal after talks broke down at the Chamber of Mines on Monday without resolving the unofficial strikes that have cost the sector billions of rand in lost revenue.

The protracted strikes at South Africa's three largest gold companies could result in marginal shafts being closed, affecting 28,000 full-time jobs and 49,000 contractor and service provider jobs, says BusinessDay.

The companies represented at the talks - AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony - said the demand for a one thousand, one hundred euro-a-month wage for entry-level employees was unaffordable.

BusinessDay also reports that construction and engineering companies say they stand to lose what little traction they had regained recently following the downgrading of South Africa by the ratings agencies, Moody's and Standard & Poor's.

The downgrades are likely to increase the cost of government borrowing and may slow down South Africa's multitrillion-rand infrastructure programme.

This will further damage an industry which has been reeling since the South African housing markets collapsed in mid-2007, followed by the slowdown in state spending at the end of South Africa's hosting of the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

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