20 August 2012

South Africa: African Press Review 20 August 2012

South African headlines claim Africa's lives are cheap as ever and looks at what lessons can be learned from the recent shootings of miners and Nigeria headlines look at President Jonathan's calls for unity and peace on the festival of Eid.

"Africa's lives are as cheap as ever", proclaims The Sowetan in its editorial. A passionate comment doubts the country's commitment to uphold the constitution, "were South Africa a normal country...a calamity of the proportions of Marikana would have led to drastic measures being taken by the government".

The article calls South Africa "abnormal" saying the value of human life continues to be meaningless.

The paper goes on to say, "the life of an African is expendable" and it says black people are being treated like objects, just as they were under the apartheid regime.

"Africans are pitted against each other over who is the rightful representative of workers it says. They are also fighting for a bigger slice of the mineral wealth of their own country. In the end, it is the poorest Africans who are once again the victims", laments The Sowetan.

The paper says the tragedy also calls into question the capacity of those who run the country. It says, "something drastic must be done - lest we see a snowball effect of this massacre."

The Business Daily's editorial also examines lessons to be learned from the recent shootings of miniers. It calls them "a failure of society". It goes on to examine the company at the heart of the strike, Lonmin, and its handling of the catastrophe.

"Lonmin ... has wide and deep duties that it is spectacularly failing to fulfil. It has a duty to its shareholders, to its customers, to its staff, to the mining industry in South Africa generally and, ultimately, to all South Africans", charges the business daily.

Another lesson concerns the black elites, "Thursday's strike and tragedy are prime examples of the inability of the majority black establishment .... to come to terms with the majority of black, marginalised, poor and desperate people."

The editorial concludes by saying that the tragedy represents a new challenge to President Zuma as he tries to resolve the crisis with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Unions.

The author describes the unions' representatives as a "fearless group of displaced, disempowered and discontented men...driven by antiquated beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery. They believe in the powers of "sangomas" to make them invincible. Try reasoning with that, it says.

This is a test for Mr Zuma, writes the paper and ends by saying everyone has a real interest in him passing such an exam.

Nigeria's papers are celebrating the end of Ramadan.

The Vanguard leads with President Jonathan's call for unity and peace in order for the country to advance.

According to the article, the President describes the Eid celebration as "a great day, it is a moment not just for muslims but all Nigerians to reflect on the unity of Nigeria".

The country's Guardian looks into the lessons to be learned from Ramadan. While some of the country celebrates the end of Ramadan, elsewhere "the celebration is curtailed by the big security challenges posed by the Boko Haram sect who incidentally, claim to be Muslims."

"Isn't it ironically sad that perhaps for the first time in history, Muslims in Kano will observe the Eid-el-Fitri strictly in the privacy of their homes, instead of the usual large congregation in which the festival is normally marked?", asks the paper.

The editorial laments the general state of life in Nigeria. "...daily killings, assassinations, kidnapping, robbery, repressions and unjust dealings are rampart in all parts of the country it says. Even more inimical to the nation's interest is the corruption in high public places - and by top government functionaries - which have deeply negated development."

The author concludes by the call on politicians to fear God and remember that they are there to serve citizens and not to enrich themselves. As for Boko Haram, "If they really believe that they are Muslims...they should have a change of heart and practice the religion with due deference to the rights of other people."

And we end on a rather light note.

The Sowetan reveals an incredible story of a Bloemfontein priest who advised engaged couples to run naked through city parks.

According to the article, the so-called ritual was a part of marriage counselling to young couples who were apparently told to strip naked and run through city parks.

Photographs were apparently taken of one couple. "The minister apparently kept copies of the pictures," says the paper which notes that after the revelations, he was fired by the Church.

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