African Press Review 20 May 2014

Strike in the South African platinum sector claimed its first jobs casualties, nationwide student demonstrations in Nairobi and Ugandan HIV-positive nurse sentenced to three years in prison are all topics in today's African papers.

BusinessDay in South Africa reports that the strike in the platinum sector has claimed its first jobs casualties.

The mining company Lonmin yesterday confirmed that it had dismissed 235 essential services workers who had failed to report to work, in violation of the recognition agreement with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

A company spokeswoman said the job conditions of the affected workers did not permit them to strike, adding the the 235 had not reported for work since January 23.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

These are the first employees to lose their jobs in the 17-week strike over basic pay levels.

Today, a South African court will hear an application by the striking union which is seeking an order to prevent employers from communicating directly with employees to urge them to return to work. All three platinum companies have been sending mobile phone messages to individual workers, explaining their wage offer.

On its labour analysis pages, BusinessDay reports that investment bank JPMorgan Cazenove has warned that unless South Africa's platinum producers restructure the cheap-labour model, industrial strife will not abate and the industry will continue on a journey to "self-destruction".

At today's platinum prices, even current levels of remuneration are unaffordable for most mines, whose cash flows can barely cover the capital expenditure needed to continue mining, the report says, going on to suggest that the only way out of the impasse is to "remodel the labour-intensive industry in such a way that labour is more productive and therefore can be better paid, with a lesser risk of putting the mines out of business".

On the front page of the Kenyan Standard, a warning from University of Nairobi student leaders to motorists, telling those with cars to keep off major roads leading to the city centre due to today's planned nationwide student demonstrations.

Student leaders say said the nationwide demonstrations at Kenya's seven public universities will continue until the Government addresses their grievances. The students want fees cut by half, and an increase in state grants and loans.

Also in the Standard, news that Kenyan security chiefs have complained that their budgets have been cut at a time of increasing demand for their services.

The Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo yesterday told MPs that efforts to fight crime were floundering and the situation is likely to get worse because of budget cuts.

The front page of the Kenyan Daily Nation features former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who accuses the police of treating as trivial the claims of an assassination plot against him.

Earlier this month, the former premier's younger brother alleged that there was an East African Community conspiracy to eliminate Raila Odinga. Last week, the brother, who is a sitting Member of the Kenyan Parliament, presented himself at the CID headquarters in Nairobi to record a statement. He says he was turned away.

Raila Odinga says the claim is based on reliable information, but that he has no idea why anyone would want to kill him.

A presidential spokesman at State House dismissed the allegations as unfounded.

In Uganda, the papers all carry the news that Rosemary Namubiru, the HIV-positive nurse accused of pricking a baby with a needle that had already pricked her own hand, has been found guilty of professional negligence and sentenced to three years in prison.

The Monitor points out that the section of penal code under which the nurse was charged carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.

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