African press review 19 January 2015

Kenyan teachers return to work after a court rules their strike illegal. A Liberian doctor battles Ebola. Military men squeeze out technocrats as leaders of African nations.

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Kenyan teachers are going back to school after a two-week strike today, the Daily Nation reports. They went on strike two weeks ago over the lack of increase in their salaries.The decision to end the strike came last week from the unions after a court said the teachers' movement was illegal.

According to the newspaper, union members were apparently sharply divided last Friday when they met to decide if they would go back to work. And the Daily Nation explains that up to 1,000 teachers working in the counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa could boycott school today.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

Knut, one of the main teachers' unions, told them "to stay away from the three counties due to terrorist attacks that hit parts of northern Kenya last month, leading to the deaths of at least 18 teachers". 

The teachers have requested to be transferred to other areas but so far the authorities have turned down their requests. According to the newspaper, the government says it has beefed up security in the three counties.

Front Page Africa meets Liberia's "miracle worker". The Liberian paper tells us more about Dr Jerry Brown, the head of the Elwa II Ebola Treatment Unit. And what's interesting now is that Brown has just discharged Gerald Williams, the last Ebola survivor at his unit.

Front Page Africa visited the unit and the article is quite interesting. The newspaper describes how Williams,a Monrovia hair stylist, "wore a smile on his face" after he "emerged from isolation" last weekend.

"Williams seems a hero in a long movie battling the enemy and emerging when everyone watching thought he could not make it," says the paper. "Nurses and doctors at the ETU say his case was challenging and no one thought he would survive."

Brown, described by the paper as Liberia's "miracle worker", says he hopes Williams will be the last patient discharged from the ETU.

Click to see the infographic

There’s been no new case recorded there since the beginning of December. A sign, says the paper, that the spread of Ebola is finally slowing down in the country.

In South Africa the Mail and Guardian headlines on the rise and fall of the African technocrat president. The newspaper says that 2012 saw the rise of technocrats to the position of head government all around Africa. For example no less than six countries, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Tunisia and Somalia, elected engineers to top political offices.

And this, according to the Mail and Guardian,  at the time gave hope that they would be better equipped "to tackle the continent's challenges".

But all of this will change soon, it warns its readers. 

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This year 10 countries are holding elections. And military men have already reclaimed their space. This, explains the paper, coincides "with the emergence of security - and not infrastructure - as the continent’s pressing concern". The start of the trend can be traced back to the elections of Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi in Egypt last May.

Lybia, Somalia, Angola, Nigeria and Ethiopia are now among the countries where an army man could climb to power. *

What happened to the technocrats?

First, they've failed to address the security issues of Africa. Plus, explains the Mail and Guardian, "Many of the 'traditional' leaders also have deep pockets, which few technocrats can match."

But all is not lost, because, as the newspaper puts its, "Most of the returning soldiers and veteran politicians have opted for the ballot box as the path of least resistance to power." And that's good news for democracy across the continent.

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