18 February 2013

Kenya: African Press Review 18 February 2013

Kenya's teachers end their strike but non-teaching staff may not turn up to work because they're not being paid. Will the country's election be rigged? Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder. South Africa gets a new political party. Is Rupiah Banda seeking political asylum in SA? And Kenya and SA cooperate on rhino-poaching.

There is not going to be a teachers strike in Kenya this morning.

According to the main story in the Nairobi-based Standard newspaper, the Kenya National Union of Teachers has suspended the nationwide strike scheduled to have begun today.

The union signed a return-to-work formula with the Teachers Service Commission yesterday.

The dispute is centred on teachers' housing, medical and commuter allowances.

Sister paper, The Daily Nation, reports that some Kenyan schools could still be forced to close because they have run out of money.

Many of the schools have huge debts with their suppliers while non-teaching staff have threatened to stay away from work in protest over the non-payment of salaries.

Also in Kenya, presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged that his government will ensure justice for all and equal opportunities for development.

The deputy prime minister at the same time tore into rival Raila Odinga, the current prime minister, over claims the elections may be rigged.

Uhuru said such irresponsible statements were likely to raise tensions, adding that nobody wants a repeat of the chaos that was witnessed after the 2007 elections.

Uhuru dismissed Odinga's claims that there were plans to rig the forthcoming election, saying Kenya has a credible electoral body that has the ability to conduct a fair and transparent election.

That's the main story in the Kenyan Daily Nation, where the electoral commission says it has sealed all loopholes for rigging elections and presidential candidates have nothing to fear.

This was in response to claims by Odinga's campaign manager that the heads of the military, the intelligence service and the civil service were part of a plot to defeat Odinga.

Oscar Pistorius and Mamphela Ramphele are the names dominating the front pages in South Africa, though for very different reasons.

Paralympic and Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius's murder case has been postponed to tomorrow in the Pretoria magistrate's court. The state intends to charge Pistorius with premeditated murder following the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The athlete will remain in police custody at the Brooklyn police station until his appearance on Tuesday.

Mamphela Ramphele is a South African former activist against apartheid, a doctor, academic and a successful businesswoman. She was a close friend of murdered anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, a former director of human development at the World Bank and one time vice-chancellor at the University of Cape Town. And, later today, she's going to launch a new political party.

According to BusinessDay, opposition politicians are already warming up to the idea of a possible coalition. Congress of the People leaders say they are mulling ways to work with Ramphele's party when it is formed.

The party is expected to influence the opposition landscape and give the ruling African National Congress some additional headaches

BusinessDay also reports that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation has been unable to confirm or deny claims that former Zambian president Rupiah Banda was seeking political asylum in South Africa.

Current Zambian President Michael Sata claimed late last week that Banda was trying to attain asylum in South Africa with the purpose of avoiding corruption charges in Zambia.

Last week, four Zambian opposition parties held a briefing in Johannesburg at which they claimed that democracy in Zambia was under siege.They were prohibited from gathering in Zambia because of the Public Order Act.

Kenya and South Africa have agreed to vote as a bloc during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) conference in Bangkok next month.

The two countries are fast-tracking their cooperation in wildlife management matters as poachers expand the killing of elephants and rhinos to supply markets in Asia.

Kenya has been able to increase its rhino herd from 300 in the early 1990s to an estimated 700 rhinos now. Last year South Africa lost 668 rhinos to poachers, about the entire population of rhinos in Kenya, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

A delegation from South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs has been in Kenya since late last week on an official working visit for final discussions on the proposed areas of cooperation.

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