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African Press Review 21 December 2017
The new President of Zimbabwe's first State of the Nation address. "Walking the talk." The butcher's bill from election violence in Kenya. And, how to explain poor exam results.
Zimbabwe's new President - Emmerson M'nangagwa - delivered his first State of the Nation address yesterday - and - naturally - the papers comment on what he had to say.
The government-owned Herald is complimentary - of course.
"Members of Parliament across the political divide and development partners yesterday commended the Address delivered by President Mnangagwa saying it captured the socio-economic situation prevailing in the country and reflected on measures Government was taking to address the challenges," the paper says.
"M'nangagwa put forward measures to resuscitate the economy, shun corruption, re-engagement with the international community as well as the holding of credible, free and fair elections.
The Herald quotes opposition MDC-T House of Assembly chief whip Innocent Gonese as saying “In the past we had a lot of flowery language and good sound bites - but in terms of actual implementation, it was found to be lacking."
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said.
The Chronicle in Bulawayo - also government owned - tells readers that the government has "walked the talk" by implementing some of the measures to reduce the wages bill by retiring more than 500 civil servants who lack the requisite qualifications.
Other measures include retiring staff over the age of 65 and a freeze on recruitment, the paper says.
Not everyone is persuaded that M'nangagwa will deliver.
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesperson, told privately owned NewsDay that "although (former President Robert) Mugabe was a dictator prices of basic commodities were much lower than what they are a few “days” after Mnangagwa snatched power."
“In fact, the situation is now worse than it was during the Mugabe regime. Life is getting very tough for the majority of Zimbabweans and the government appears at sixes and sevens regarding what to do in order to arrest the economic implosion,”Gutu said.
Gutu told the paper the opposition did not see Mnangagwa reviving the economy .
I'm tempted to say - give the man a break - he's only been in office for 5 minutes!
In a story headline "Ten out of 92 killed in poll chaos were kids;" the Star in Kenya has an update on the human cost of the violence that followed voting in the first Presidential election in August and the re-run in October.
"The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights report released yesterday reveals that ninety-two Kenyans were killed and 247 injured or tortured in the aftermath of the chaotic presidential polls," the Star reports.
The 111-page report, entitled Still a Mirage, says the victims were not only street protesters, but also residents whose homes were raided.
Eighty-six cases of sexual and gender-based violence - particularly rape - were recorded in the capital Nairobi alone - the report says.
Along with other Kenyan papers, the Star considers the results in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination.
Under the headline "Girls top KCSE as 90 per cent fail to qualify for university."
That girls are outperforming boys is as intriguing as the global picture.
Nearly nine out of every 10 students scored grade C and below, says the Star.
"The results show massive under-performance compared with 2016," the paper notes.
The Daily Nation seeks to understand how this has happened.
In a story headlined "Examiners disclose cause of low KCSE test scores," the paper says "The mass failure by candidates has been attributed to misunderstanding of questions."
The paper quotes Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang as saying "Examiners noted that most answers to questions requiring elaborate responses were inadequate."
"Many candidates relied heavily on sketchy revision books and past papers."
The Nations tells us that the Education ministry is determined to ensure that every child accesses relevant reading and learning materials.
The ministry has come up with a direct-to-school policy on book distribution to eliminate middle men who collude with corrupt school officials to steal from the government and our children.
Matiang said textbooks will bear the “Not-for-Sale” label to help curb piracy, which has cost the government billions of shillings in revenue.
Hmm. A Grade C for those answers I'd say.