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African press review 10 February 2017

There was more violence in the South African parliament last night as the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters tried to disrupt President Jacon Zuma's State of the Nation address. There's criticism of South Sudan's Salva Kiir. And has anybody spotted about 700 reformed rebels, formerly of the M23 group, current whereabouts unknown?


South African opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters promised fireworks last night at President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address to parliament, and they didn't let us down.

"Chaos as MPs and security trade blows," reads the main headline in tabloid daily the Sowetan.

"Punch up, smoke in Parliament, violence outside," is how the Mail & Guardian summarises events, with the report referring to a "massive brawl" involving Economic Freedom Fighters members and parliamentary security.

On its analysis pages, the Mail & Guardian says the president's speech was, once again, marred by a show of force against dissenting voices.

So, what did the president have to say, when he finally got to speak, nearly two hours later than scheduled?

BusinessDay reports that Zuma emphasised economic transformation as one of the government's key priorities in the coming year.

He told MPs that political freedom is not enough; it needs to be supported by economic freedom as well to have any meaning.

Fundamental change is needed in the ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans - but especially the poor, who are mostly African, he said.

The majority of blacks remain economically disempowered and the racial disparities in household income remain "shockingly huge".

The pace of transformation in the workplace and the implementation of affirmative action policies remain very slow, with white males still dominating the top echelons. These patterns need to be corrected, Zuma stressed.

Rwanda to adopt Kiswahili as a new official language

Kiswahili is to be made compulsory in Rwandan schools. This is the top story in regional paper the East African.

According to the report, Rwanda plans to introduce Kiswahili in its school curriculum by next year, as the government moves to adopt it as an official language.

English, French and Kinyarwanda are the three current official languages in Rwanda.

Article 119 of the East African Community Treaty calls for the promotion of indigenous languages, especially Kiswahili, as the main language to be used when dealing with regional issues.

Kiswahili is spoken by nearly 50 percent of the general public in Rwanda and 70 percent in Burundi.

Rwanda becomes the third country in the six-member East African Community to adopt Kiswahili as an official language. The others are Tanzania and Kenya.

Does Kiir really want South Sudan's war to end?

And South Sudan's Salva Kiir comes in for some harsh criticism in the same East African.

Under the headline "Top UN official says President Kiir not committed to peace", the report says the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has condemned Kiir for his lack of commitment to end violence in South Sudan.

Dieng said the peace process has yet to be accompanied by a complete cessation of hostilities, undermining the likelihood that the national dialogue proposed by the government will be seen as credible.

More than 52,000 South Sudanese are reported to have fled to Uganda in January alone, most of them fleeing violence in the south-west region.

The strange case of the missing M23 former rebels

The Monitor in Uganda is wondering what happened to more than 700 former rebels of the M23 group, who are supposed to be undergoing demobilisation.

In December 2013 a total of 1,374 ex-M23 combatants were transferred from Kavera in Kasese district to Bihanga.

Currently the UPDF can account for only about 300 of them.

The news of their disappearance comes at a time when there are reports that the former rebels are planning an attack on the Democratic Republic of Congo government three years after they were defeated by the United Nations Intervention Brigade.

At its peak M23 controlled North Kivu's capital Goma but was driven out by the UN and Congolese forces. Since then the fighters have been scattered in camps in neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda awaiting amnesty.

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