African Press Review 22 November 2012

South Africa's problems fill many columns in today's papers...

These are not happy days for South Africa's ruling African National Congress, according to the Johannesburg-based financial paper, BusinessDay.

This morning's main front-page story reports that the ANC buckled under pressure in Parliament on Wednesday as it backtracked on blocking a proposed motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

Earlier this month, the ANC's parliamentary group said it would not allow the motion by opposition parties to be debated because it was "frivolous" and based on "allegations".

But on Wednesday, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said the motion was "serious in nature and could have far-reaching implications for Parliament, this country and our democracy".

He said the ANC would agree to the debate on the motion, but it won't be tabled before next year.

Opposition parties including the Democratic Alliance, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Congress of the People, brought the motion on the grounds that under president Zuma, "the justice system has been politicised and weakened; corruption has spiralled out of control; unemployment continues to increase; the economy is weakening and the right of access to quality education has been violated".

The South African constitution stipulates that a no-confidence motion can be brought against the president and, if it is supported by the majority of the National Assembly, the president and his Cabinet must step down.

In a separate story, BusinessDay reports that more than half of the African National Congress leadership in the Northern Cape was arrested on Wednesday, following a Hawks investigation into alleged kickbacks related to the award of government tenders.

While the ANC has previously backed its officials on trial, this is the first time that three of the "top five" of a provincial executive committee have been arrested.

Those arrested yesterday were released on bail having been charged with fraud, corruption and money-laundering.

An opinion piece in BusinessDay reflects on the statistics revealed by last year's South African census.

It would appear to confirm opposition criticism of the education sector. The 2011 population count confirmed that South Africa is a young country - half the population is younger than 25 and two-thirds are under the age of 35.

But, says BusinessDay, the potential of many of these young people is being wasted.

Of the 9 million South Africans between the ages of 15 and 25, 3.2 million are unemployed.

One reason for this is the crisis in schooling, as indicated by the fact that the system, which took in more than 1 million pupils in the year 2000, generated fewer than 350,000 qualified school-leavers 12 years later.

That's a 65% failure rate. The article goes on to say that many of South Africa's young feel trapped in their circumstances.

Many of the most serious of their problems are not of their own making: most live in poor neighbourhoods and go to dysfunctional schools.

On leaving school, they confront an economy that generates too few jobs for those with limited skills while also providing too little access to training that could increase their chances of employment.

What is required, the article concludes, are reforms that create an environment where investors are encouraged to start businesses that require lots of labour, coupled with the political will to make the reforms necessary to start improving the quality of schooling for the majority of young people.

The Standard in Nairobi reports more woe from the voter registration front in Kenya.

According to this morning's paper, password expiry on the biometric kits being used by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has caused delays in the ongoing struggle to register the nation's estimated 20 million voters.

Apparently, the passwords on the kits were supposed to be renewed 40 days after the date they left the factory but this did not happen because of delays in the shipment of the equipment.

The commission says technicians are now updating the passwords.

Apart from the password expiry, cloudy skies in some areas limited the sunlight available to power solar batteries in the kits, while transportation problems hampered registration in many parts of the country.

In sister paper The Daily Nation, The Electoral Commissioner is quoted as recognising various minor problems but he says the listing is going well.

Registration is supposed to be completed by December 16.

On the political front, according to the main story in The Daily Nation, the fight to succeed President Mwai Kibaki appears to be shaping up into a contest between three big alliances and a plethora of independent parties.

William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta were on Wednesday reported to be on course to seal a final agreement to run under a coalition of their parties, The National Alliance and the United Republican Party.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi of the United Democratic Forum and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka are deep in negotiations likely to produce a second bloc.

The third major alliance remains to take shape around the candidacy of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The main story in the Kampala-based Daily Monitor looks to Rwanda.

Following hours of face-to-face talks, the presidents of Uganda, the DRC and Rwanda yesterday said M23 rebels must withdraw from Goma, the Congolese town which fell to the fighters on Tuesday.

Congo's Joseph Kabila, however, refused to say whether his government would consider talks with the rebels.

At yesterday's press briefing, journalists brought to the attention of the host president that reports were filtering in that the rebels were marching out of Goma and advancing towards Bukavu in South Kivu, even as the three leaders were putting up a show of unanimity over the crisis.

Unruffled, Museveni said: "No matter how far they have advanced we are going to ask them to withdraw. I can assure you they will go back."

At least 10 presidents from the Great Lakes region are expected in Kampala this Saturday to discuss the hostilities in the eastern DRC.

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