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Africa

African press review 5 February 2013

media

An increase in the minimum wage for South Africa's farm workers, as well as the timetable for results in Kenya's upcoming election are among stories covered in the African papers today...

South African financial paper BusinessDay looks at the implications of the decision to increase the minimum wage for farm workers by 50%.

They will now earn less than 9 euros per working day, and many of them are seasonal fruit-pickers, so working days are few and far between.

The farmers are not happy. Agri South Africa executive director Hans van der Merwe said the new minimum wage, which comes into effect on 1 March, was unaffordable to small and medium holdings.

"It will lead to major structural adjustment," he said, "which will mean more capital intensity and bigger units, which will in time take over from small and medium farmers."

The commission which decided the amount of the increase has warned that South African agriculture will experience what they called "structural adjustment," away from the cheap labour model to one that is more concentrated, more highly-mechanised and employs fewer but better-paid workers.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the Western Cape has warned farmers who claim they can't pay the new minimum wage that failure to comply could lead to them losing their land.

Still in South Africa, and still in BusinessDay, it's reported that the Planning Minister, Trevor Manuel, yesterday sought to calm rising tensions between the South African mining industry and the government, calling for improved dialogue.

Miners and the government had to be in a position to persuade each other, the minister said at the annual Mining Conference in Cape Town.

Dossier: Africa Cup of Nations 2013

Manuel’s comments follow a fractious year in which the Marikana massacre capped a period of extended labour unrest during which South African mining production declined substantially.

Nerves have remained frayed, culminating in a harsh exchange last month between Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and Anglo American Platinum following the company’s decision to slash 14,000 jobs at its mines.

Shabangu said at the time that Amplats had "betrayed the trust" of the government and raised the prospect of the company losing its mining licence.

By contrast, Manuel on Monday called for a lowering of the volume in exchanges between the two sides.

Also at the conference on Monday, Minister Shabangu said the government would be “mindful” of South Africa’s global competitiveness, when reviewing the mining sector’s taxes.

Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, said in Davos last month that changes to the South African mining tax regime were not imminent.

In Kenya, The Standard reports that a request by a Kenyan human rights watchdog to file observations in the two Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court in the Dutch city of The Hague has been rejected.

Judges at the ICC rejected the request by the Kenya Human Rights Commission, on the basis that submissions would not provide any new information and so would not assist in proper determination of the cases.

Last month, the Kenya Human Rights Commission filed a confidential request for leave to present evidence as a friend of the court, in the cases against four Kenyans including Jubilee coalition Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto.

The commission is particularly worried about the safety of certain key witnesses. The judges said the court is aware of the general risks that witnesses in an international criminal trial may face.

The main story in the Kenyan Daily Nation reports that Kenyans will start getting the results of the 4 March General Election one-and-a-half hours after voting closes at 5pm.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said on Monday it will start announcing the presidential results before those of the other five elective positions.

The polls body will use an Electronic Results Transmission System which will make it possible for the vote counts to be relayed directly from polling stations to three tallying centres located at the constituency, county and national levels.

With just 27 days to the elections, the IEBC yesterday demonstrated how presidential, governor and senate election results will be transmitted from the polling stations to the respective tallying centres where they will be compiled and announced.

The final outcome of the presidential race could be known 48 hours after the closure of polling stations.

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