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African press review Press review South Africa Egypt Nigeria

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African press review 6 April 2017


Some pressure might be off South African President Jacob Zuma, but the turmoil at the top of the ANC continues to make headlines in the African press.

South Africa's BusinessDay definitely did not let the pressure off, however, with a walloping editorial from Toby Shapshak called "How Pharaoh Zuma destroyed our promised land."

"The tragedy is that our leaders, quite simply, have forgotten where they come from," Shapshak says. "They have forgotten their people. They have forgotten us."

Shapshak goes into an eleaborate metaphor, in which Nelson Mandela is the old pharoah from the Bible, who welcomes the Israelites into Egypt. The Israelites represent South Africa's new democracy after apartheid, and President Jacob Zuma is the evil new pharoah who enslaves the Israelites while sitting pretty in the palace.

The op-ed continues: "Just over 20 years later we discovered we are now virtual slaves to an out-of-touch elite who have fostered a kleptocracy. They might as well be Pharaohs ... oblivious to the suffering of the ordinary South African, living large while their own people starve."

It sounds like a bit of a stretch, but Passover and Easter are coming up, so maybe Shapshak was just looking at the calendar.

'Public dissonance was a mistake'

The Mail and Guardian moves the spotlight away from Zuma for a bit -- but not from the turmoil at the top of the ANC.

Mail and Guardian's top story focuses on ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte. She confirmed that top ANC leaders have known since last November that Zuma wanted to fire his finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Duarte told the paper that Zuma had been consulting with them since November about how to remove Gordhan.

In the same story, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe seems to backtrack on his criticism of Zuma last Friday. “The public dissonance was a mistake that should not be committed again,” he's quoted as saying.

Their next story gives the floor to Fikile Mbalula, who is police minister and another top ANC member. According to the Mail and Guardian, Mbalula "lashed out" at former finance minister Gordhan, blaming him for the downgrading of South Africa's credit rating to junk status. He also disapproves of Gordhan's "Hollywood style" for addressing meetings and mobilising the public.

Bellydancing scandal

The Egypt Independent has a top story about an English-language university professor in Cairo who is taking heat for posting a video of herself bellydancing on Facebook.

The video got around on social media, students complained that it was immoral, and now Suez University is investigating the professor, whose name is Mona Prince.

The university argues that Prince's behavior violates Article 94 of Egypt's code of conduct for universities, and that the video damages the university's reputation.

Prince, meanwhile, says that she has freedom of expression: the video was posted on a personal page and she is free to do whatever she wants away from the university campus. She went on a popular Egyptian talk show to defend her actions.

The video shows a woman in ordinary clothes dancing for about 60 seconds at what looks like maybe a backyard party.

And despite the controversy, the Egypt Independent did decide to share the video on their homepage -- which may just show that bellydancing sells.

'Tied to the apron strings of their godfathers'

In a similar tone to the BusinessDay editorial about Jacob Zuma and the pharaohs, Nigeria's Guardian had an interesting letter to the editor about privilege and inequality from Victor Emejuiwe, called "Between the connected and the nobodies".

"In our society today, one can hardly get anything without knowing anybody in position" the author writes.

"Connections are needed to gain admission into the university", politicians are "tied to the apron strings of their godfathers", and thousands of people apply for government jobs that end up being given to people who don't even sit for the exams.

Emejuiwe points out that Nigeria has legislation to prevent favoritism, but that the government needs to enforce it.