29 November 2012

South Africa: African Press Review 29 November 2012

The ANC is having difficulty choosing new leaders. Are US investors frightened of SA's workers? Will Kenya's new political marriages last? And what happened to Uganda's missing shillings?

The main story in the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay reports that some African National Congress (ANC) provincial branches are scrambling to hold leadership nomination conferences ahead of tomorrow's deadline.

The ANC's nomination process has encountered challenges at branch level since it started at the beginning of this month. Many branches have been unable to reach required quorums to nominate a new batch of leaders. Some have reported incidents of violence and intimidation.

Branches unable to hold proper nomination meetings will forfeit their right to nominate leadership candidates for the party's conference in Mangaung, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.

But he said they could hold general meetings after the nominations deadline, which would not be extended, to elect delegates for the conference and those delegates will have voting rights.

Only KwaZulu-Natal, ironically, the ANC's biggest province, had concluded its nomination conference with President Jacob Zuma overwhelmingly endorsed for a second term.

BusinessDay also reports that American investors are concerned about South Africa's spate of labour problems, including deaths in the recent mining protests. This according to Rebecca Blank, the acting US Secretary of Commerce, who yesterday launched the Obama administration's "Doing Business in Africa" campaign in the posh Johannesburg suburb of Sandton.

Blank was asked whether recent labour unrest in the mining and agricultural sectors was having a negative effect on American investors, the very constituency that her visits to South Africa and Kenya this week are aimed at attracting to Africa.

She said investment is strongly related to perceptions of political and economic stability and that South Africa is currently sending the wrong signals.

The commerce secretary did not specifically refer to the killings of 34 miners by police at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in August. But the incident and subsequent violent clashes at other mines and among farmworkers in the Western Cape have received global and damaging publicity.

Trade between Africa and the US has tripled over the past decade. Bilateral US-South Africa exchanges rose to nearly 15 billion euros in 2011, a 22 per cent increase on the previous year.

In Kenya the race to establish political alliances before next week's deadline is into the final straight.

The Standard reports that the pact between Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North legislator William Ruto will, indeed, be signed next week, but the deal has provoked sharp reactions from Ruto's Rift Valley heartland.

Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett, a trusted ally of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, led leaders from Rift Valley and Nyanza in cautioning Ruto to tread carefully in his election pact with Uhuru.

The Standard also reports a last-minute attempt by Ruto and Uhuru to lure Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to join their alliance. The Standard says the two met with Kalonzo at his Karen residence on Tuesday morning and offered him the position of majority leader in parliament, a position which he flatly refused.

The top story in the Kenyan Daily Nation is headlined "Inside the Uhuru-Ruto deal".

According to the Nairobi-based daily, the United Republican Party and The National Alliance are proposing to share the government down the middle in their pre-election agreement, expected to be unveiled at a joint rally on Sunday.

The highlights of the agreement are a 50-50 sharing of cabinet and civil service positions in a government with Kenyatta as president and William Ruto as deputy president. The National Alliance will name the speaker of the National Assembly, with the United Republican Party getting the Senate speaker slot.

Yesterday William Ruto told party supporters in the Rift Valley that pre-election pact with Kenyatta offered them a "realistic chance" of forming the next government, adding it would help them bring the case at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, where both Ruto and Uhuru are charged with crimes against humanity, back to Kenya.

He added that the alliance will foster peace and development in the country.

And the Daily Monitor in Kampala reports that Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has been dragged into the corruption saga rocking the Office of the Prime Minister.

It was revealed yesterday that billions of shillings were diverted from the northern Uganda post-war recovery programme to pay for one of the president's unfulfilled re-election campaign promises.

The Public Accounts Committee, which is investigatng the abuse of more than 50 billion shillings meant for the programme, heard that more than six billion shillings were used to supplement the procurement of a ferry Museveni had promised during his campaign.

Sources from the region where the ferry was supposed to be deployed, however, say that to date there is no proof it has ever been delivered.

You'd imagine that a six-billion-shilling ferry would be easy enough to spot?

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