African press review 11 February 2017

Kenya faces a national disaster as a result of widespread drought. The president has called for international assistance. Today marks 69 days of the strike by hospital doctors in Kenya, with no hint of an end to the dispute. How far off the mark was Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address? And why is Cyril Ramaphosa no longer on speaking terms with the South African president?


The drought in Kenya has been declared a national disaster.

According to the front page of regional paper the East African, President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday declared the ongoing water shortage affecting many parts of northern, coast, and eastern regions of Kenya a national disaster.

The president called on all stakeholders to support the government by upscaling drought mitigation programmes.

He also sought help from local and international partners in containing the situation affecting the people, their livestock and the country's wildlife.

President Kenyatta also issued a stern warning to those involved in food distribution saying the government would take action against anyone using the current shortages for personal enrichment.

The government has allocated 110 million euros in the second phase of drought intervention covering the months of February to April.

Kenyan hospital doctors's strike hits 69 days

In Kenya itself, Nairobi-based daily the Standard is more concerned about the ongoing strike by hospital doctors.

Today marks 69 days of the standoff between the government and doctors. The strike has deprived many Kenyans the the right to quality health care, exposing many to extreme physical discomfort and financial strain, says the report.

The government has chosen the wrong approach to end the strike, according to the Standard.

The authorities have attempted to coerce doctors to resume work by withholding salaries, issuing sacking letters and threatening to import foreign doctors from countries such as Cuba and India. Union leaders have also been threatened with jail sentences for contempt of court.

These coercive machinations were intended to force the doctors back to work. Instead they have strengthened their resolve.

The answer, says the Standard, lies in implementing the 2013 collective bargaining agreement which meets the strikers' demands for better pay and conditions.

Zuma's State of Nation speech under fire

Papers in South Africa continue to sift through President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address, delivered after scenes of chaos in parliament as the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters attempted to prevent the president from speaking.

The protesting MPs were eventually thrown out and another opposition group, the Democratic Alliance, staged a walkout in protest at the presence of military personnel in the parliament building.

Zuma eventually got to say his few words but, according to this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay, no one is particularly pleased.

"Radical rhetoric from a flayed Zuma, but little of substance," reads one BusinessDay headline.

"Cosatu very unhappy with content of Zuma’s address," reads another, referring to the Congress of South African Trade Unions, one of the ruling ANC's key allies.

Cosatu is concerned that the president made no mention of the investment strike by major South African businesses, alleged to be sitting on cash surpluses of over one trillion rand.

Zuma and Ramaphosa in major political row

Meanwhile, the top story at the Mail & Guardian has moved on, reporting that relations between Zuma and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, have hit rock bottom. The paper speaks of a lack of trust and a complete breakdown of communications between the two men, signs of all-out political warfare between the two leaders as tension builds in the race to choose Zuma's successor at the head of the ANC.

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