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African press review 11 March 2015

Côte d'Ivoire's former First Lady Simone Gbagbo, Jacob Zuma in South Africa and Zambia's President Edgar Lungu's health make headlines today.

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For the second day in succession, Simone Gbagbo tops the front page at the Kenyan Daily Nation.

This morning's headline reads "Pardon possible for Ivory Coast's former First Lady".

The story says that Côte d'Ivoire may pardon the former first lady in a gesture of national reconciliation. Critics have described Gbagbo's 20-year jail sentence for her part in the post-election violence in 2010-11 as an example of "winner's justice". Simone's husband, former president Laurent Gbagbo, is the only other suspect awaiting trial in connection with the same violence, in which as many as 3,000 people lost their lives. No rival politicians have been investigated.

Côte d'Ivoire's president Alassane Ouattara raised the possibility of a pardon in January, as the Gbagbo trial on charges of "undermining state security" began.

Discussions have already taken place between the government and the pro-Gbagbo Ivorian Popular Front about granting the former first lady some type of amnesty, according to Ivorian Popular Front leader Alphonse Douati.

In Kenya itself, the Standard warns that as many as 100,000 teachers may lose their jobs as a result of proposed cuts to school fees.

Secondary school head teachers have warned that cutbacks demanded by the government will send home over 100,000 teachers employed by boards of management in the institutions. Teachers officially employed by the Teachers Service Commission are not sufficiently numerous, and the management of many public secondary schools are forced to hire teachers to bridge the gap.

Now the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association has warned that schools will not have enough money to pay such teachers.

The association also fears that schools may be dragged to court by suppliers claiming breach of contract if bills for existing orders are not paid..

Under the headline, "Opposition parties gear up to grill Zuma," South African paper Business Day reports that President Jacob Zuma will return to the National Assembly today to answer questions for the first time since the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters "pay back the money" fracas caused the abandonment of his last such session.

Speculation is rife, says the Johannesburg daily, that there could be further drama, with opposition parties adamant that Zuma can not simply answer a new set of questions but has to address the issues raised in the last, abandonned, question and answer session.

The Presidency recently issued a statement saying the questions of the previous session on 21 August last year had indeed been dealth with as written answers were submitted to Parliament the same day.

However, conflict could arise because parliamentary rules pertaining to presidential oral replies stipulate that an abandoned session must be completed the next time the president meets Parliament to answer questions.

South African tabloid theSowetan reports that a Mpumalanga police constable is in a pickle after punching his new boss.

According to the story, Lt-Gen Mark Magadlela, newly appointed police commissioner in the province, was on surprise visits to police stations as part of his project to tackle corruption and improve discipline.

During a plainclothes tour, he spotted an officer transporting a child in a police vehicle. That's illegal. The commissioner approached the vehicle and attempted to remove the keys, only to find himself in the thick of a fist-fight.

Boxing match over, the constable drove back to his police station to report the incident, only to discover that the man he clobbered was the new provincial commissioner.

The officer is to face an internal investigation.

The media in Zambia seem fairly happy with the state of President Edgar Lungu's health.

The Lusaka Times reports that Lungu has left for South Africa for specialist treatment. This follows recommendations by the team of doctors that attended the president when he became ill on Sunday during commemorations in Lusaka marking International Women’s Day.

The president is expected to undergo a high-tech medical procedure, currently unavailable in Zambia. The president suffers from a condition known as achalasia, which involves the narrowing of the food pipe.

President Lungu has appointed Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula to act on his behalf during his absence.

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