analysisBy Vladimir Smekhov
Economic woes, education, Mali and Valentine's Day in the African papers today...
President Zuma's State of the Nation address dominates today's South African newspapers.
"The president needs to use this week's State of the Nation address to convince the country he deserves to be our president", says the Cape Times in its editorial.
The past four years of the Zuma presidency have not been inspiring, he has promised a lot but achieved little, notes the editorial.
Since this is his second and last term as ANC president, he does not need to pander to narrow interests. Tomorrow's address offers the president an opportunity to start afresh, concludes the author. He can unveil an achievable plan and implement it. His very legacy depends on it.
Is the hard bargaining about to begin? asks the Business Daily in anticipation of President Zuma's speech.
Last year convinced the ANC and the government that much more must be done about poverty and inequality. The obvious trigger was Marikana and the farm strikes that spilled into this year, says the editorial, but they were hardly the only sign that an economy that offers more to most South Africans must become a government priority.
The key challenge for the government since 1994 has been how to deal with inherited inequalities without losing the confidence of the wealthy and skilled. If Zuma's administration wants to succeed, it now has to concentrate not on policy change but on making the government work better for the poor, the government must become more accountable to citizens, concludes the editorial.
'Most African children are not applying what they learn', says Zambia's The Post on its front page.
The paper publishes the results of a survey on the quality of primary education in Africa.
Pupils at primary school level in most African countries fail to master basic reading and numeracy skills, observes a research group.
In an interview with the paper, Toziba Masalila, the acting director of the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), said the quality of education in most African countries had been compromised.
But, in an apparent nod to Zambia, Ms Masalila said she believed that the government had been taking the results of the studies seriously and trying to improve policies for better education in Zambia.
In Nigeria, the Peoples Daily is leading with an exclusive report. "US snubs Nigeria over rights abuses", says the paper.
According to the report, the United States is withholding material support for Nigerian troops in Mali, over alleged human rights abuses in parts of Nigeria where soldiers have been deployed on joint security operations to contain insurgency.
The journalist interviewed a "highly placed source among the Nigerian contingent in Mali", who said that that the US has named five west African countries including: Chad, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria as countries where there are violations of human rights by military personnel.
As a consequence, the US has refused to fund, kit and equip soldiers from countries in its list who are participating in AFISMA.
According to the article, Washington blacklisted Nigeria following reported cases of gross human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests, detentions and extra-judicial killings in Borno, Yobe, Kano and other parts of the country where soldiers are deployed on joint internal security operations.
Reacting to these and other allegations, the Ecowas field commander, Gen Abdulkadir, denied reports that Nigerian troops in Mali were starving and were being fed by the locals.
At the moment, Nigerian has deployed a total of 724 troops in Mali, made up of 300 Nigerian Air Force personnel and 424 Nigerian Army personnel, notes the article.
A corruption scandal is looming in Nigeria, according to The Guardian's front page which declares "Government verifies Nigeria's assets, uncovers 45,000 ghost workers".
President Goodluck Jonathan set up a special inter-ministerial committee to verify Nigeria's global assets on Wednesday.
And finally, happy Valentine's Day!
"Valentine's Day need not leave you in the red financially", says Kenya's The Nation, which looked at the impact of this special day on personal finances.
"Love is in the air, or at least that is what the advertisers want us to believe", notes the paper. "We are moving from flowers to figurines, chocolate to expensive jewellery, and dinners to exotic travel"
"Love is not love without chocolate, flowers, the sweet scent of perfume, a romantic candlelit dinner, and many other gifts that partners use to show their love for one another".
According to the article, Kenya is in a state of "Valentine's Day frenzy": almost all major restaurants in Nairobi have been booked since the beginning of the month, despite the fact that the prices have doubled.
Roses in most retail stores are selling for four or five times their usual price.
As a result, men, under financial strain, are complaining about the fact that although Valentine's Day is meant to be the most romantic day of the year, it is the exact opposite, as it has turned out to be all about money and what a man can buy for his woman.
But do they have a choice?