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Africa

African press review 7 February 2013

media

Who can stop the violence in Syria? Why are SA farmers firing their workers? How much should Kenyan politicians be paid? Will Kenyata and Ruto be banned from standing in the presidential race?

Tunisia's privately-owned French-language daily, Le Temps, carries a front-page editorial  simply headlined "Violence". The paper says political violence has become an everyday scourge which threatens not only the democratic transition but the very foundations of the state.

The problem is that the authorities are incapable of preventing violence against opposition politicians, journalists, intellectuals, civil society activists and the property of parties and associations.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

Le Temps asks whether it's a question of official incompetence or worse of a determined use of violence by the Ennahda Party with a view to intimidating opponents.

In a tragic coincidence, the Tunisian anti-islamist politician, Chokri Belaïd, assassinated yesterday, is quoted on the same front page of Le Temps,  condemning weekend attacks against a meeting organised by his United Democratic Patriots Party.

Chokri Belaïd categorically blames certain elements within the Ennahda Party who, he says, are afraid of elections and are determined to use violence until they can replace the security forces with their own paid militia.

It is, as the daily paper says, a dangerously depressing prospect.

The main story in South Africa's BusinessDay is a bit worrying. It reads "Labour axed as farmers face soaring wages, costs".

The small print explains that at least 2,000 farmworkers have been issued with sacking notices on Wednesday as the agricultural sector sheds jobs ahead of the implementation of the new minimum wage.

Agriculture has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs since minimum wages were first implemented in 2000. Analysts warn that thousands more will be lost when the new wage - increased earlier this week by 50 per cent by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant - comes into effect on 1 March.

Industry insiders warned on Wednesday that mechanisation on farms is picking up pace.

Farmers in Limpopo and Mpumalanga and milk producers were said to have started serving workers with redundancy notices but farms in the Western Cape, the epicentre of the recent wage strike, were ironically quiet with no reported threats of dismissal.

In Nairobi the Standard reports that Kenyans will for the first time and starting today have a one-week opportunity to say how much they want their president, cabinet members, elected representatives and other top officials to earn.

Under the new constitution proposed pay structures for public figures will be subject to presentations by members of the public at today’s forum in Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

Dossier: Africa Cup of Nations 2013

Next month a second phase of the public wage review will examine the salaries of teachers, doctors, university lecturers and nurses, all of whom have staged strikes protesting poor pay, and police officers who have engaged in a go-slow for similar reasons.

On the Kenyan election front the Standard also reports that the courts are soon expected to announce their decision on whether or not Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto can vie for the 4 March General Election.

This follows the conclusion of a case challenging the eligibility of the pair to contest the presidency in line with Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity because of the case before the International Criminal Court in which the pair are charged with crimes against humanity.

The Standard points out that the judges will certainly be keen not to make pronouncements that could affect the cases pending before the ICC.

The judges could follow the International Centre for Policy and Conflict’s position and hold that the petition is not about the candidature of Uhuru and Ruto but about whether or not anyone else facing such charges can hold state office when facing such charges.

They may then decide that a person facing heinous criminal charges cannot hold office, in which case the IEBC would have to accept that determination and revoke Uhuru and Ruto’s nomination for the Jubilee ticket.

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