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African press review 30 September 2011


The funeral of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai in Kenya, conflict at the ICC in The Hague, bad news for job-seekers in South Africa and the ongoing saga of whether the Dalai Lama will be given a visa to enter the country dominate the headlines in the Africa press.

Our review of the African press begins in Kenya as the country prepares a state funeral for Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, after two days of national mourning.

Professor Maathai died at a Nairobi hospital on Sunday at the age of 71, after a long bout with ovarian cancer.

The Nation quotes the government spokesman Alfred Mutua, saying that her State funeral will be similar to that of former Vice President Kijana Wamalwa, who got a gun salute as flags flew at half-mast.

The paper reports that the funeral committee has set 11 October as the tentative burial date. Consequently, the government has nominated representatives to be incorporated in the family funeral committee, to help in the elaborate preparations of a state funeral for the conservation icon and Nobel laureate.

The Standard reports of a face-off at The Hague between Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. Kenyatta appeared before the pre-trial chamber on Thursday, at the start of confirmation charges filed against him.

The Standard says Uhuru’s defence team tore into evidence provided by two key prosecution witnesses, who they said had abandoned their client’s camp.

The two witnesses, alleged to be Mungiki sect members, changed their minds about defending Kenyatta and joined the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s camp after failing to extort close to 18,000 euros from the politician, according to the defence.

South Africa’s Business Day reports that economic researchers have handed the country’s job target a reality shock.

Government is targeting five million jobs in a decade, but chief economists at Absa, the country’s largest financial services group, announced that South Africa will not make any meaningful dent in its unemployment rate until well-into 2013.

Absa experts say they are seeing fewer and fewer employment opportunities and companies are busier with retrenchment exercises than in previous years.

Mail and Guardian has a birthday wish for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, explaining in an editorial that the current state of South Africa's democracy causes the holy man to feel a worrying sadness.

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian this week, Tutu delivers a penetrating analysis of much that has gone wrong - psychologically, philosophically and materially - in South Africa.

The interview is set against the backdrop of the planned visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is still waiting to hear if he will be granted a visa to enter South Africa.

Mail and Guardian says Pretoria is prevaricating and obfuscating on the delay, and it appears likely that the Dalai Lama will not be allowed to attend Tutu’s 80th birthday on 7 October.

It is now trite to state that this is a morally bankrupt decision aimed squarely at appeasing the emerging economic superpower, China.

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