African Press Review 21 January 2013

Farmworkers strikes in South Africa, a loud condemnation of the use of food crops to make ethanol from a food industry leader and confusion on Kenya's political scene - all stories in today's African papers...

Farm strikes in South Africa's Western Cape are losing momentum because of the mixed messages workers have been receiving, according to the Food and Allied Workers Union general secretary Katishi Masemola.

The story is on the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay. Masemola says he wants a mandate to suspend or even lift the strike completely in some areas. Other unions claim workers want to continue with the strike until they get a definite answer from farmers on the new minimum daily wage.

Workers are demanding an increase in their minimum daily wage from the rand equivalent of six euros to about 13 euros.

There's bad news in BusinessDay for anyone who thinks ethanol is the answer to the fuel crisis.

Biofuel output from agricultural commodities has contributed to surging world food prices in the past decade, according to the Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

World food prices tracked by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation have more than doubled in the past 10 years, while the US price of maize - a raw material for ethanol - has more than tripled.

Blaming the escalation of the price of some food products on speculation was "completely wrong" and politicians have failed to consider the link with energy markets, Brabeck-Letmathe said at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin Sunday. "It is really unbelievable that when we have insufficient food in our world that we give it to cars.

"Financial speculation is not responsible for the increase in food prices, it's responsible for the volatility of food prices, but not the initial increase."

Mr Brabeck-Letmathe described making biofuels from food crops as "nonsense".

Some mining companies operating in South Africa are behaving recklessly, according to African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, quoted in BusinessDay.

The mining sector is on the brink of major disinvestment, which would lead to huge job losses.

The ANC summoned mining industry bosses to a meeting last week, in the wake of the announcement of changes to Anglo American Platinum's business in South Africa, including the loss of 14,000 jobs.

The party and the government have threatened to withdraw the mining rights of companies considering pulling out of money-losing operations. These rights would be auctioned off to interested buyers.

There's a lot of confusion on the Kenyan political scene this morning, according to both The Standard and The Daily Nation.

Dossier: Africa Cup of Nations 2013

Today is the deadline for filing party nomination lists with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, exactly 45 days before the 4 March polls.

According to the Nation, the National Alliance was on Sunday night locked in a meeting aimed at resolving no fewer than170 disputes arising from the nominations conducted last Friday.

The Orange Democratic Movement has also established a panel to look into the complaints raised by several would-be candidates.

In Kisumu, violence erupted after gubernatorial aspirant Jack Ranguma's supporters took to the streets following reports that Prime Minister Raila Odinga's sister, Ruth Adhiambo Odinga, had been given the ODM ticket.

The Standard gives the story pride of place, under the headline "Aspirants scramble for party tickets". The small print explains that Sunday was marked by sporadic violence, street protests, the destruction of property and confrontations among supporters over party nomination tickets in many parts of the country.

Worst hit by the wrangles were Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement and William Ruto's United Republican Party.

In a separate story in The Standard, Eagle Coalition presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth has called on Kenyans to learn from the nomination chaos being witnessed in some parties, as they prepare for March elections.

Kenneth said politics should not be just for personal convenience but should help to move the country forward.

According to regional paper The East African, the political tensions that have built up in President Yoweri Museveni's ruling party over the past month have seen the Ugandan leader weather probably the toughest 30 days of his long presidency.

At the National Resistance Movement's review of the party's manifesto earlier this month, one rebel MP told president Museveni to reinstate term limits, fold his tent and leave.

In reply, President Museveni warned that the army would take over "if the confusion in parliament persists."

Museveni's chairmanship of the East African Community also faces a legitimacy test as two years of troubled domestic politics spill over into the regional bloc.

One member of the East African Legislative Assembly says he is going to petition the assembly at its next sitting, which opened in Bujumbura yesterday, to declare Museveni's recent actions in Uganda as incompatible with his status as the bloc's chairman.

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