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African press review 29 June 2011

4 min

Is South Africa's education system failing its children? SA unions tell Zuma to get his house in order. No more free power for Sowetans. A Zimbabwe minister is cleared of abuse of power charges. SADC gives Zimbabwe the security all-clear. And Uganda's shilling in trouble.


"Many of our kids can't read or write" laments the main headline on page one of this morning's South African Star. "Study shows pathetic state of primary education," reads the small print.

The Star reports that pupils from state schools cannot read or count, and the Johannesburg daily bases that assertion on the results of the Annual National Assessment tests.

The tests were taken in February by over six million pupils from all nine provinces. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday announced that literacy levels stand at 35 per cent among Grade 3 pupils, the seven- or eight-year-olds. This group scored 28 per cent in numeracy.

Grade 6 pupils, who are 11 years of age on average, scored 28 per cent for languages and 30 per cent for maths.

The tests, which looked at numeracy and literacy levels among primary school pupils, were not used to grade the children but to give the department and the education sector as a whole, insight into whether the pupils know what they are meant to have studied in their previous grades.

The tests also suggest how far the education department is from reaching its target to push numeracy and literacy levels of grade three and six pupils to 60 per cent by 2014. This group’s numeracy and literacy levels currently stand between 27 and 38 per cent.

The other story on the front page of this morning's Star is a warning to Jacob Zuma. "Cosatu puts the president on notice" reads the headline.

The paper says that the labour confederation wants more decisive action from Zuma, particularly to tackle corruption within government, and indiscipline within ANC ranks, with particular reference to the recent antics of Youth League president, Julius Malema.

Yesterday, The Star reports, Cosatu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, told journalists on the second day of the union group's four-day central committee meeting, that members wanted to see "more decisive leadership" in the run up to the ANC's elective congress, which is less than 18 months away.

Less than a quarter of Soweto residents pay their Eskom electricity bills – and the debt is growing all the time.

With the Johannesburg township reckoned to be responsible for most of the three billion rand owed to Eksom in unpaid bills, Soweto customers now face the installation of prepaid and tamper-proof meters.

Meanwhile, Chiawelo residents are planning a protest march on Friday at the Protea magistrate’s court in support of five residents charged with public violence.

The five were arrested after the residents started illegally reconnecting their prepaid electricity meters at the weekend.

About 90 residents had bypassed the meters, prompting Eskom officials to disconnect them last week. The community threatened the Eskom employees with violence and chased them out of the area.

Residents claim that prepaid electricity is too expensive.

In Harare, Zimbabwe, The Herald reports that Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma - who was accused of illegally directing the purchase of five million litres of diesel from a South African company without putting the contract out to tender - was yesterday acquitted on charges of abuse of office.

The case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

The Herald also announces that Zimbabwe has been removed from the agenda of the Southern African Development Community's Defence Committee because the political and security situation in the country has normalised.

For the past three years, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar have been on the agenda of the ministerial committee because of political and security concerns posed by their situations.

Following meetings of the ministerial committee in Maputo, Mozambique last year and in Lusaka, Zambia, last week, Zimbabwe has been removed from the list of countries whose political and security situations continue to worry the Southern African Development Community.

In Uganda, the Daily Monitor reports that the value of the shilling fell to its lowest against the dollar in a decade as the Bank of Uganda dismissed rumours that governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile had resigned. As the rumours spread, a dollar was costing as much as Shs2,615 between banks and swung to Shs2,590 on the retail market, up from Shs2,525 on Monday.

Faisal Bukenya, the head of market making at Barclays Uganda, attributed the depreciation of the shilling to heavy demand for the dollar by commercial banks.

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