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African press review 4 December 2012


Egypt's politics and a strike by South Africa's farmworkers are two stories in today's African newspapers.


The situation in Egypt is changing, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's getting any easier to understand.

Yesterday, you may remember, we had Muslim Brothers in favour of the new constitution, Salafi Jihadi dudes very much against (too much democracy, not enough God, seemed to be the burden of their complaint), and various elements of the judiciary either for, against or not too sure. Those who are against have threatened not to oversee the vote on 15 December.

According to today's the Cairo-based Independent, the Special Council, which is the highest administrative authority of the State Council, has now agreed to supervise the referendum on Egypt’s draft constitution.

The council also reviewed a request submitted to it by the head of the State Council’s Judges Club, calling for general assemblies to discuss the legitimacy of president Morsey's constitutional declaration which extends the president's powers and shields his decisions from judicial review.

The council earlier said it could not comment on the constitutional declaration as it was being challenged before the Administrative Court.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

In a separate story, the Independent says “infiltrators” may try to disrupt protests later today, according to a warning issued by the Interior Ministry.

A security source said that the police would protect state institutions and public and private property in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and the law.

The source pledged that security forces would not approach the demonstrators as long as they protest peacefully.

Several marches will start at different parts of Cairo this afternoon and they're expected to converge at the presidential palace at Heliopolis to protest the final draft of the new constitution, which is widely criticized over human rights issues, the electoral system and the absence of protection for women’s rights.

In South Africa, financial paper BusinessDay reports that platinum mining company Lonmin on Monday confirmed at the Farlam inquiry that it had spoken with rock-drill operators about wages - outside established collective-bargaining structures.

The statement by Karee mine’s vice-president is significant because the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa, last week criticised the company for negotiating with workers outside structures and said this had set a precedent, which the striking workers then relied on when they tried to negotiate further.

The statement also cast doubt over Lonmin’s contention throughout Mathunjwa’s evidence that its attitude to the striking workers was consistently that it would not bargain outside trade union structures.

The Farlam inquiry into the events at Marikana in August in which at least 46 people lost their lives continues.

Also in BusinessDay, last-ditch attempt to avert the farm workers’ strike failed on Monday.

The wage strike suspended two weeks ago will resume today in De Doorns, Robertson and other farming towns in the Western Cape. Pickets are planned across the towns and the police and farmers are taking steps to protect property.

Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the unions had proposed a settlement offer of a new minimum wage of R100 a day (that's less than 9 euros) plus a bonus based on harvest profits, but employers had rejected it. Farm workers currently earn 70 rand or six euros per day.

Despite the uncertainty in some sectors, South Africa has been the target for investors in half of the top 10 African merger and acquisition deals so far this year, and is set to be the busiest sub-Saharan country for cross-border deals next year.

A report released on Monday by data provider mergermarket, said contrary to the belief that South African companies were unwilling to invest their excess cash, they are actively searching for opportunities in the rest of Africa.

The report canvassed 100 mergers and acquisitions experts in Africa, including corporate executives, private equity investors, legal advisers and investment bankers.

South African companies are estimated by bankers to be hoarding more than 50 billion euros in cash, which they are unwilling to invest locally because of economic uncertainty.

This compares with the 70 billion euros in excess cash held by large Indian companies which have become some of the most active investors in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, The Standard reports that perennial political rivals Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka will later today sign a pre-election pact in which Raila Odinga is likely to be the presidential candidate and the current VP (that's Kalonzo) his running mate.

Last night, a confidant of Kalonzo intimated that the VP had spoken of the possibility of a nomination face-off with Raila to decide which of them would be the prime candidate.

The source, however, added that Kalonzo was willing to take the minor position. He explained that both Raila and Kalonzo will be at today’s signing ceremony to make clear who will take which job, provided the pair win.

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