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African press review 12 August 2011

South Africans start discussion on a national health scheme. Ghana's politicians swap insults , prompting disapproval in the press.



In South Africa the papers examine a new national health insurance plan unveiled on Thursday.
The Mail and Guardian reports that the green paper unveiled by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi seeks to provide "universal healthcare coverage" for all South Africans , regardless of their financial situation.

The NHI presented to cabinet on Wednesday would be implemented over 14 years, according to the minister The draft legislation is being published this Friday. The Mail and Guardian says South Africans will have three months to comment on the document before it is tabled in parliament.

The Sowetan expresses concern about the high cost of the planned health scheme. According to the newspaper, it will require 12 billion euros in 2012 and 20 billion by 2020 to implement the programme. It explains that, despite about 8 5 per cent of South Africa’s GDP being spent on public healthcare, the standard of service remains poor.

Business Day recalls that universal health coverage was one of President Jacob Zuma’s campaign promises. The paper explains that he wants the NHI contributions to provide a defined basket of care for all citizens and legal long-term residents .The economic daily notes that private healthcare provider will be free to chose whether or not to contract with the state.

In Ghana, opinion leaders examine the politics of insult that have gripped the country ahead of next year’s general elections. The reactions follow last week’s comments by an activist of the opposition New Patriotic Party, who suggested in a radio programme that President John Atta-Mills might be a homosexual.

The Chronicle, describes the tendency  to insult each other as one of the “ugliest aspects of Ghanaian politics”.

The man who made the remarks, John Kumah, was arrested and then released after an intervention by the president.

The painful truth, the paper argues, is that  he described his arrest as an “honour”, a position upheld as such, by many within the NPP. The Chronicle says a “Heroes' Fund” is already in place to reward those willing to “bend” the rules and warns Ghanaians to expect violence in the build up to the 2012 elections, Ghanaians.

The ruling National Democratic Congress is also accused of hurling gratuitous and wild insults at the main NPP opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo. Attack dogs of the ruling party have often branded Akufo-Addo in the press as a drugs dealer and the NPP leadership as thieves and murderers.

Last week, President John Atta-Mills urged church leaders to speak up against the “culture of insults”, which has taken control of the country. But the NPP says he has benefited repeatedly from having his opponents insulted and attacked.
Ghana Mail faults the press for pouring fuel on every little fire of insult that they find.
The paper explains in a comment that “a noxious air of insults, abusive language and insecurity”, has become the order in Ghana since the criminal libel section of the country’s criminal code was expunged some 10 years ago.

The newspaper says some tabloids and radio stations seem to have been established simply to purvey insults and bad manners. It points to the so-called “serial callers” groups of “cacophonous individuals” who call into radio programmes to hold forth “often stridently partisan and ill-informed discourse”.

Ghana Mail warns that a nation whose “people cannot keep civil tongues cannot also expect national cohesion”, hence the need to cut out insults and “jaw-jaw” more on ideas of creativity productivity and development.




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