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Africa

African press review 14 January 2015

media DR

Tanzania's economy is doing very nicely, thank you, mainly due to a construction and mining boom. Zimbabwean officials say President Robert Mugabe is doing very well too, despite recent rumours of his impending demise. The South African alliance between the ANC and the trade union group Cosatu is another case entirely.

The East African this morning gives pride of place to Tanzania, reporting that booming construction and mining sectors saw the national economy grow by well over six per cent in the third quarter of last year.

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Less good is the news on the same front page that overall African exports to China plummeted nearly 40 per cent in 2015.

The slowdown in the Chinese economy and low commodity prices are the main factors in the collapse.

Chinese exports to Africa rose by about four per cent in the course of the year.

South African financial paper BusinessDay does report an improvement in Chinese trade data, reporting that exports declined just 1.4 per cent year-on-year and imports fell by 7.6 per cent, both those figures much smaller than analysts had feared.

The experts warn, however, that even though the panic has quietened on world markets the bad news is that more figures are due from China next week, including gross domestic product details.

On its African news pages, BusinessDay says that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson yesterday declined to comment on rumours that the 91-year-old leader had suffered a heart attack.

The online Zimbabwe news website Zim Eye published a letter on Tuesday by an anonymous author saying Mugabe had collapsed after suffering a heart attack while on holiday with his family.

The letter, which did not disclose the source of its information, added that Mugabe was in a critical condition and that his family had been told to expect the worst.

It did not say where he had suffered the heart attack or where he was being treated.

The government-alligned Zimbabwe Herald in Harare carries a denial from presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who says the media chorus about Mugabe's illness and imminent death was an annual event, coinciding with the president's holidays.

BusinessDay's main story looks at a rift between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), one of the ruling party's chief allies.

Cosatu plans to launch a "massive campaign" against a law which will come into force on 1 March and will make it illegal for provident fund members to withdraw all their accumulated savings as a lump sum.

Workers have tended to use this facility to make major purchases.

The government says this practice has led to the impoverishment of pensioners and their dependence on state handouts.

Slideshow Mandela

The federation warned yesterday that the government’s refusal to hear its objections to the law had weakened the alliance and would "complicate" Cosatu’s campaigning for the ANC in upcoming local government elections.

The Cairo-based Egypt Independent reports that the International Criminal Court has postponed a pretrial hearing for an alleged Islamic radical charged with involvement in the 2012 destruction of historic tombs and a mosque in Timbuktu.

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who was sent to the court in September, had been due to attend a hearing starting on 18 January at which judges were to assess whether evidence against him is strong enough to merit a trial. The hearing was postponed yesterday until 1 March to give his defence more time to prepare.

Al Mahdi is the first suspect in the court's custody charged with the war crime of deliberately attacking religious or historical monuments.

Islamic radicals overran the Malian city in 2012 and destroyed 14 of Timbuktu's 16 World Heritage-listed mausoleums.

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