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African press review Agriculture Elections Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Kenya Liberia Nigeria Science

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African press review 16 November 2011


A mixed bag today. But plenty of politics, as ever.

In Nairobi, a Daily Nation editorial reflects on what it calls "the tough task ahead for the new electoral body".

Nine members of a new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission took office pledging to uphold the constitution and to supervise the next general election.

Last time, the Nation recalls, an electoral dispute triggered what it calls "atavistic bloodletting".

Kenya’s future as a stable, peaceful and united country will depend very much on the outcome of the next elections, the paper says.

This will depend on an electoral process that is professionally managed, fair, open, transparent and seen by all players to be so. That is the challenge for the new commission.

Its editorialist delights in the fact that the swearing-in unfolded beneath a framed cartoon from - you guessed it - the Daily Nation.

The sketch shows Kenya's new Chief Justice declaring : "I, Willy Mutunga, solemnly swear to uphold, protect and defend the Cconstitution . . . and not to swear in anybody at night”.

In Nigeria the Daily Trust considers what it calls "Honours - not so well deserved. The comment focuses on the annual National Nigerian Awards - the presenting of gongs and high-sounding titles to deserving citizens. This year, there are 365 recipients.

The paper says the awards once again open debate over the usefulness of the ritual - when over 80 per cent of them are serving public office-holders and politicians of indeterminate contribution to national development.

In the last decade or so, the paper notes, embarrassing episodes of having national awardees handcuffed and hauled into waiting security vehicles like common criminals after leaving office have been standard fare in the country.

The Daily Trust concludes that "If this trend continues, the awards would lose their meaning."

The South African paper Business Day explores the subject of land ownership, a contentious issue in and beyond South Africa.

On the one hand, land ownership patterns are frighteningly skewed. It’s obvious the racial breakdown of land ownership is dangerously unfair, says Business Day.

On the other hand, farmers in South Africa are a valuable and valued resource. The farming sector is well developed and harming it would be to shoot oneself in the foot.

The paper examines proposals for change in the National Development plan and finds them "more realistic than many of the hotheaded interventions we have seen so far."

The plan suggests agriculture has the potential to create close to a million new jobs by 2030. This is all important, but the crunch issue is the redistribution problem.

From white South African to black South Africans, one assumes.

It’s easy to see how badly this will go down in small-town bars, says Business Day.

Commercial farmers are being asked to pay 10 per cent of the value of their existing land to fund their competitors.

Do they have that financial facility? In some areas they might, but in others they won’t. Farmers are generally much less well off than many believe.

Yet most commercial farmers do appreciate the need to settle the land question, especially if they could be sure the goalposts will not be moved ever again.

Following last week's presidential election in Liberia - a divisive run-off in which the incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the only candidate - the New Dawn carries what it calls "an original letter to God."

It appears that the Old Lady is going to get another six-year term. She needs to swallow the bitter pills to reach out to those who have vowed that we will not live in peace and make them to see reasons.

They say the Old Lady is willing and ready and I think it will help heal some of the divisive wounds, says New Dawn.

Me, Father, the only people I am feeling for are those who are used to free money and have lost their seats.

Is there such a thing as "free money"? I'd heard there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Also on a religious note, in Khartoum, Sudan Vision has a message for the Nobel Physics Award Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy for Science which this month rewarded three scientists for their amazing discovery of an accelerated expansion of the Universe.

In a piece headlined "The Universe in a state of continuous expansion",  a fact discovered by Islam centuries before Nobel Laureates did, the paper says, those scientists will be surprised to know that this discovery is not new.

Almighty God said in the Holy Koran, the paper reminds its readers, “With power and skill did we construct the firmament: for it is We who create the vastness of space."

The phrase "We who create the vastness of space" implies "that this immense vast Universe continuously expands till God wills", it says.

We live and learn.