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Mozambique also is heavily dependent on imports from South Africa, which have become more expensive in recent months as the South African rand currency has strengthened.

BENIN

Ponzi scheme tied to presidency

COTONOU | More than 100,000 people in the tiny West African nation of Benin have lost their savings in a Ponzi scheme run by a now-defunct company that appeared to be publicly endorsed by the country’s president.

The government said in a statement last month that more than 130,000 people had given their savings to Investment Consultancy and Computering Services. Together, they lost more than $130 million, the statement said.

The corporation was registered as a nonprofit computer service company and was operating illegally as a banking institution. The company was forced to close July 1, and more than a dozen of its employees were jailed.

But the reverberations have echoed to the top of Benin’s power pyramid and now threaten President Boni Yayi, who appeared in television, print and radio ads with company managers.

SOUTH AFRICA

Civil servants in talks to end 15-day walkout

JOHANNESBURG | Striking South African civil servants were in pivotal talks Wednesday over a fresh government wage offer to end a 15-day walkout as the key mining sector shelved sympathy protests.

Unions were discussing the improved deal after President Jacob Zuma ordered ministers to go back to the bargaining table in an effort to end the crippling strike, which has shut down schools and hit hospitals.

“The unions are still consulting,” said Chris Klopper, chairman of the Independent Labor Caucus, one of the striking labor umbrellas that represent more than 1 million civil servants. “I doubt there will be an announcement today as unions have not completed their internal processes.”

Mr. Zuma issued the order to break the deadlock amid mounting pressure over the walkout, which is now in its third week, as fresh stoppages hit the private auto industry on Wednesday.

Sympathy strikes planned for Thursday, including at the country’s mines, were called off to give civil servants time to vote on the new deal.

NIGERIA

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