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African press review 7 December 2017


US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is criticised in Egypt. Zimbabwe signs a huge development deal with China. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni says he is in favour of seven-year terms for African leaders. South Sudan still owes neighbouring Sudan over one billion euros. And 78 percent of South Africa's 10-year-olds are unable to read.

Donald Trump is at the top of the front page of the Cairo-based Egypt Independent.

Yesterday the US president recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite warnings from around the world that the gesture further inflames relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel considers the city its true capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

Yesterday the Egyptian foreign ministry rejected the American move, saying that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital did not change the city’s legal status.

The Trump administration claims that the move reflects the reality of Jerusalem as the center of Jewish faith and the fact that the city is the seat of the Israeli government.

Zimbabwe signs huge development deal with China

Zimbabwe’s new government signed a 150-million euro loan agreement with China yesterday to expand and refurbish the international airport in Harare.

It is the first post-Mugabe deal with a foreign government.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was sworn in on 24 November after a military coup ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, has vowed to rebuild the country’s ravaged economy and reengage with the international community.

Two other deals signed yesterday involve 60 million euros for a new parliament building and for the expansion of a computing centre at the University of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe currently has two billion euros of debt arrears at the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Museveni calls for longer terms

Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni is in favour of seven-year terms for African leaders.

According to regional paper the East African, Museveni did not directly propose that term limits be stretched in Uganda but yesterday said extending the time between elections would give African presidents more opportunity to promote development because they would not be distracted by politics.

Museveni himself has been in power since 1986.

The Kampala government has proposed a change to the constitution that would enable the 73-year-old leader to stand in 2021 by scrapping the age limit for presidential candidates.

Uganda starts Somalia peace pullout

Uganda’s military says it has begun the withdrawal of 281 soldiers serving in the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

This is part of a UN plan that will see African Union soldier numbers reduced by 1,000 by the end of this year.

At the moment there are more than 20,000 soldiers serving in the AU mission in Somalia.

Uganda, which first sent troops to the country in 2007, is the biggest contributor with more than 6,000 soldiers in the force.

Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia are also expected to reduce their numbers by the end of this month.

South Sudan owes Khartoum one billion euros

South Sudan still owes neighbouring Sudan over one billion euros from the 2012 deal that ended a dispute over oil payments between the two nations, according to Juba's recently-sacked deputy finance minister.

Mou Ambrose Thiik was sacked at the end of last week. He says the money is outstanding from the 2012 agreement under which South Sudan agreed to pay three billion euros to Khartoum.

There has been no comment from the South Sudanese oil or finance ministries.

South Africa last in world reading rankings

There is no end to South Africa’s education crisis, according to BusinessDay.

Several studies reported by the Johannesburg-based daily show that a vast number of primary school teachers lack all three aspects of teaching: knowledge of the subject, the curriculum and how to teach.

It is perhaps not so surprising, if no less shocking, that 78 percent of South Africa's 10-year-olds are unable to read.

BusinessDay's editorial points out that the corresponding figures in the US and the UK are respectively four and three percent. South Africa is the bottom-ranked country of the 50 surveyed in this week's International Literacy Study.