Issued on • Modified
African Press Review 29 December 2017
Football in Nigeria on "killer artificial pitches." And, a diamond studded retirement package for Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and their family.
Naturally, the election of football legend George Weah as President of Liberia receives widespread coverage, as much because Africa is football mad as a welcome triumph for democracy on the continent after free and fair elections.
So, let's start with football..
In Nigeria, the Lagos based Daily Sun carries a Special Report headlined "Playing football on killer artificial turfs", with the sub-head "the travails of Nigerian professional footballers."
"In the last couple of years, one thing that has become a big issue in Nigerian football is the venue where the Super Eagles would host their opponents," the paper says. "The Eagles have had to criss-cross the country, playing in different cities with no place that can be called the home of the team."
Elsewhere in Africa, indeed worldwide, there are national stadiums to host the national teams.
"In Nigeria," - the Sun laments - the Abuja National Stadium has been reduced to a grazing ground, which can only host the game of Polo.
While the Federal Government-owned national stadia in Abuja and Lagos rot away, state governments are pumping millions of naira to “upgrade” the stadia in their domains by replacing the natural grass pitches with artificial turfs, which on television appear very nice," says the paper.
"However, unknown to many of the players and coaches, they are plying their trade on killer pitches."
The Sun's investigations revealed that "it is easy to get career-threatening injuries on the “China made” brand of artificial turfs in the country. As if that is not enough, experts have revealed that the kind of artificial turfs that dot the country are killer brands that could expose the players and coaches to cancer because of their toxic nature."
What's more, "the artificial turfs in Nigeria today are first generation synthetic pitches, 1960 and early ’70s technology which has been phased out in Europe and other parts of the world, thanks to scientific research findings that proved they were dangerous."
"Those who award the contracts do not care. All they are interested in is lining their pockets. What is happening right now in pitch construction in the country is a big scam that needs to be checked,” one informed source told the paper.
On the subject of scams, South Africa's Business Day is among several papers with a story headlined - "Mugabe’s generous ‘retirement’ package is revealed." Do you detect a little tongue in cheek understatement there? Me too!
Generous to say the least.
"Mugabe, who quit last month following a military take-over, will be given a residence, a fleet of cars plus fuel and private air travel, elements of a government-funded retirement package for former leaders," says the paper, citing Zimbabwean state media as the source.
The 93 years old will be entitled to at least 20 staffers including six personal security guards.
Mugabe and his wife Grace will be entitled to diplomatic passports. The couple can have four first-class air or train trips within Zimbabwe and four trips abroad on a private jet.
The measures were unveiled on Wednesday by new President Emmerson Mnangagwa Mugabe's former deputy.
Henceforth, an ex-President is entitled to a pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting President. So that's Mnangagwa feather bedded also.
In addition to the settlement of bills and entertainment allowances, health insurance for the former President, his spouse and dependants is included in the raft of benefits.
Local independent media reported last month that Mugabe was granted a $10m retirement bonus as part of a deal to persuade him to, eventually, resign. The Harare government has denied the claims, says Business Day.
You couldn't make it up.