South Africa: African Press Review 14 January 2013

A platinum mining deal in South Africa, small arms in Kenya and the railway system in East Africa are all subjects in the continent's papers today.

The main story in South African financial paper BusinessDay looks at the weekend deal signed by the platinum mining company, Impala and the authorities in Zimbabwe. Everybody seems as happy as Larry.

Impala says it is confident about its multibillion-rand expansion projects in Zimbabwe, having signed the 800 million euro deal with the Harare government to sell a 51 per cent stake in its three mines to black Zimbabweans, as part of Robert Mugabe's indigenisation programme.

Analysts say the arrangement ends two years of uncertainty, and finally puts the group on a growth trajectory. Zimplats, as the Zimbabwe arm of the company is known, is the first major mining group to enter into an indigenisation agreement with Harare.

Under the terms of the deal, a community trust has been given 10 per cent of Zimplats shares, a separate trust for 4,000 employees holds another 10 per cent, with 31 per cent going to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment fund.

Labour unrest that closed major platinum mines in South Africa last year at a cost of billions of rand in lost revenue makes Zimbabwe - which has the second-largest known platinum reserves outside South Africa - a desirable investment destination for platinum miners.

The main story in today's Nairobi-based Daily Nation says police are investigating a report that claims armed bandits and cattle-rustlers in Turkana, Samburu and other parts of northern Kenya may be using ammunition initially imported for use by government security forces.

The Kenya Police recently lost more than 40 officers in a botched operation against cattle-rustlers in the Suguta Valley.

A report published last month by Conflict Armament Research claims that armed militias in northern Kenya and adjacent parts of neighbouring countries are using ammunition imported from Iran for Kenyan security forces.

These assertions could prove particularly embarrassing to the government, says The Daily Nation, because of the leading role Kenya has played at the UN in efforts to establish a global treaty regulating the transfer of small arms.

Also in the Nation, news that President Kibaki has declined to sign the Retirement Benefits Bill under which each MP in the out-going Tenth Parliament would have been entitled to a sendoff package of Sh9.3 million (around 80,000 euros), a state funeral, diplomatic passport and lifelong state security among other benefits. The president remained silent on the fate of a second Bill touching his own benefits.

Under that second piece of legislation, Kibaki will pocket a lumpsum of 215,000 euros for the two terms served. He will also receive a lifetime monthly pension of nearly 5,000 euros, an entertainment allowance of 2,400 euros and numerous other perks.

He will also be entitled to two housekeepers, two gardeners, two laundry persons, four house cleaners, office maintenance, maintenance expenses of vehicles and a diplomatic passport for himself and the First Lady.

Regional paper The East African reports that there is hope that plans to revamp the East African railway network, which is in poor shape after decades of neglect, could kick off this year.

The regional bloc, the East African Community, has approved the budget for the East Africa Railway Authority - a secretariat expected to take office this year and oversee related projects - setting the stage for repair works and the construction of new lines, at a projected cost of 23 billion euros.

Presently, only 6,334km of the total railway system's 7,363km is in use.

While governments in the East African Community have set aside millions of dollars over the years to revamp the railway system, politics, indecisiveness and bureaucracy have frustrated key projects.

The regional authority, set up by the EAC at a cost of 1.5 million euros, is now expected to implement a 2009 East African Railway Master Plan to ensure that the region is fully inter-linked within the next decade.

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