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Kenya Press review Uganda South Africa

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African press review 3 October 2017


Kenyan presidential elections, riots and a warning from international diplomats are making the news in Nairobi. There's bad news for East African school kids. And South Africa's black economic empowerment scheme is simply wrong.

There's more trouble on the Kenyan election front.

According to the top story in regional paper the East African, diplomats have asked Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition National Super Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga to stop playing political games and undermining the electoral commission ahead of this month's repeat presidential elections.

The foreign representatives also warned that hardliners and inciters on both sides of the political divide could be sanctioned by their home countries, including travel bans and the denial of visas, if they are seen to be advocating violence or spreading hate speech.

The group of 14 ambassadors also criticised attempts to change Kenya's electoral laws, and demands for staff changes at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Violence as opposition takes to the streets

Things are even worse on the front pages of the local papers...

"Violent protests mark Nasa's quest for reforms," reads the main headline in the Nairobi-based Daily Nation.

The report says at least one person died yesterday as opposition supporters took to the streets to push for reforms in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission before the 26 October repeat poll.

The death occurred in Siaya where a 41-year-old man died after he was caught up in the melee, with local leaders accusing the police of using excessive force to thwart the protests.

Demonstrations were staged in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, with violence reported from several other counties.

Opposition leaders promise more trouble

Over at the Standard, the main headline reads "One dead and several injured as anti-IEBC protests rock cities." The IEBC is, of course, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, blamed by the opposition for the shortcomings which led to the annulation of the August presidential election.

Opposition leaders insist demonstrations will be organised every Monday and Friday until their demands are met.

The Standard says the dead man appeared to have been choked by tear gas fumes. Police say he collapsed on leaving the local hospital and had no involvement in the demonstrations.

Bad marks for Ugandan primary school system

Kids may be wasting their time going to school in Uganda.

According to today's Kampala-based Daily Monitor, a report from the World Bank says at least 80 percent of pupils in Primary Two in Uganda cannot perform a two-digit subtraction, and 61 percent cannot read a single word of a short sentence.

The situation is not much better in Kenya and Tanzania.

The study, commissioned by the global lender and other partners, covered education in sub-Saharan Africa. It suggests that children learn very little in current education systems with millions of them lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills even after spending several years in school.

Many leave without the skills for calculating the correct change from a transaction, reading a doctor’s instruction or interpreting a campaign promise – let alone building a fulfilling career or educating their own children, the report says.

Why black economic empowerment is failing blacks

There's a harrowing piece on the opinion pages of the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

The writer, William Gumede, associate professor in the School of Governance at Wits University, says the South African black economic empowerment model is simply wrong.

Empowerment was intended to create a generation of black industrialists, but has, according to Gumede, degenerated into a mechanism for making political capitalists with connections to the ANC leadership fabulously rich.

Gumede goes on to say that the aim of black economic empowerment should be to change business and society. Enriching only a few well-connected profiteers clearly won't do this.

The empowerment effort has to involve as many black people as possible, create new products, services and technologies that the country needs, foster the new skills demanded by the global economy, and stimulate new kinds of industries.

A change in political attitude is required, Gumede concludes. An empowerment programme based on small and medium enterprises needs to be carefully nurtured through industrial policy, supporting institutions and accessible finance and training.

And the corrupt vultures within the ruling party have got to be beaten off.