African Press Review 31 December 2012

Troubles in Central African Republic, more on plans by Ghana's opposition to challenge recent election results and gloomy forecasts for South Africa all feature in today's African papers...

In the Central African Republic, the privately-owned daily Le Confident has no doubt about who is to blame for the current troubles.

An unsigned editorial, headlined "For Peace and Change", says that the ten-year regime of President François Bozizé has been a failure, and he has to go. Bozizé alone is responsible for the current military and political chaos, because he has refused all calls for real dialogue over the past decade. The president is, according to Le Confident, "incompetent, unpopular and belligerent". His indifference has led to the deaths of thousands of ordinary Central Africans.

Instead of opening meaningful talks with the opposition, Bozizé has resorted to threats, sneaky deals and self-serving nominations to key posts.

In Ghana, there's no sign that the post-election unhappiness of the opposition is mellowing. According to the front page of the privately-owned Chronicle, the controversies surrounding the credibility of the recent presidential elections are not likely to die any time soon, as other parties have joined voices with the largest opposition New Patriotic Party to point to gross abnormalities and fraud in the election results.

Yesterday, the National Democratic Party, led by former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, described the conduct and outcome of the elections as "419 Election 2012", 419 being Ghanaian slang for a massive confidence trick.

The Chronicle also carries an opinion piece headlined "Most Important Court Case In Ghana's History",

in which the opposition says every Ghanaian knows that foul play resulted in the Electorial Commission illegitimately declaring John Mahama as president-elect. And unlike previous years when allegations were tossed around without substantial proof, the "blue sheets" document exactly what happened. The blue sheets are the tallies from the individual polling stations, used to produce the collated results. The opposition claims that there are huge discrepancies between the original figures and the collated ones, all in favour of Mahama. So, the defeated candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, and the New Patriotic Party have decided to take the case to the nation's Supreme Court.

The NPP is fully committed to the legal process says the writer, claiming that all the evidence is available and incontrovertible, creating a rock solid case that will shock the nation and the world.

Whether it will be enough to unseat John Mahama is another question.

The mood is none too festive on the front page of South African financial daily BusinessDay.

The main headline reads "What lies in wait for us in 2013", that "lying in wait' suggesting strife and trouble. Illegal and violent strikes that held South Africa's economy hostage during the past year have dampened the glow of the country's economic prospects for 2013, and a degree of uncertainty prevails, says the article.

Most forecasts estimate that South Africa's economy could grow by 3% in 2013, following a difficult 2012 where growth estimates fell from about 4% to 2.4%, as world economies continued to struggle. South Africa also battled with increased socioeconomic unrest which led to the butchery at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.

Following the Marikana tragedy, analysts say the probability of South Africa turning into a failed state has risen from 10% to 25%, and warn that industrial turmoil, aggravated by the lack of service delivery, could escalate into a full-blown local version of the Arab Spring.

A South African lawyer has moved to file a class action suit against over 30 gold companies on behalf of 17,000 former miners who say they contracted silicosis, a debilitating lung disease, due to negligence in health and safety.

The companies include the third-largest global bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti, fourth-largest Gold Fields and Harmony Gold. Also named is Anglo American's South African unit, which owned gold assets in the past but no longer produces the metal.

The damages sought in what could be Africa's biggest class action suit to date have not been disclosed but could be huge at a time when South Africa's mining industry is battling with soaring power and wage costs as well as violent labour militancy.

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