French press review 12 August 2015

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU/PF party faces an implosion as the battle to succeed 91-year-old Robert Mugabe looms. And the French press also focuses on a large-scale hunt in France for VIP patients, as well as a late night deal cut by Greece and its European Union creditors.


The rescue package worth 85 billion euros is the third international bailout agreement to save the stricken Greek economy from collapse.

Le Monde reports that the measures are in exchange for Greece cutting its budget deficit within a three-year deadline, and to implement 35 very painful structural reforms. The package lays down the fiscal and other policy measures to be implemented, including a gas market overhaul, the removal of most early retirement schemes, the elimination of fuel price benefits for farmers and an increase in some taxes.

According to the evening publication, the ball is now in the court of the Greek Parliament which must ratify the 400-page document approved by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras before Athens can get any funds to service its debts. Greece and its creditors   the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund   are under pressure to finalise the deal by 20 August when Athens must repay some 3.4 billion euros to the European Central Bank.

Le Figaro argues in this morning’s editorial that Greece and its European creditors are able at last to close the hysterical bracket that almost pushed them over the cliff. By agreeing to the terms, it says, Athens has at least spared the eurozone a financial storm, yet as it puts it, “now begins the hardest part" – getting it ratified by parliament.

The populists and leftists of all trades may say what they like about this so-called austerity imposed from abroad, warns Le Figaro, but from its point of view the package is Greece’s sole lifeline against mismanagement.

L’Humanité differs, arguing that the package is not about rescuing the Greek economy but aimed at enriching Germany on the back of the Greeks. To make its point the Communist party daily brings out a study by the respected German economic research institute Leibnitz, showing that Berlin made a budget surplus of up to 100 billion euros since 2010 thanks to profits accruing from the privatisation of Greece that saw German loan sharks who invested a record 90 billion euros into the beleaguered economy over the past five years.

La Croix says France has some catching up to do in becoming an attractive medical tourism destination. The Catholic newspaper’s interest in the issue follows the announcement early this month by the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and his health colleague Marisol Touraine, who set up a task force to boost the reception of financially viable patients in the country’s hospitals.

La Croix is not surprised that the two ministers are launching a large-scale hunt for VIP patients who are enriching countries like the United States, Germany, India, Thailand and Turkey. The Americans charge 104,000 euros for a bypass, a heart operation carried out in French hospitals for just 21,400 euros. US cardiologists charge 135,000 euros for a valve replacement as opposed to 28,600 euros in France and 42,400 euros for hip replacements carried out in France for just 9,600 euros.

La Croix reports that  241,000 foreign tycoons flocked to Germany in 2013, where hospitals not only offer luxury suites but also apartments for family members and Halal (Muslim-prepared) foods. The medical tourism market currently generates 60 billion euros in revenue worldwide, up from 7.5 million euros in 2007, according to the Catholic newspaper.

The publication however urges advocates of the new business to guard against the whims, caprices and greed of the rich and powerful. As it puts it, some may want to reserve entire hospitals to themselves, like the tycoon who for a full weekend booked all the wards of the orthopaedic service at the Paris-based Ambroise-Paré Hospital where he was being treated.

And Libération comments about the succession battle taking place in Zimbabwe to replace the long-serving President Robert Mugabe who has ruled the country since independence. Mugabe, aged 91, steps down in 2018 after 35 years in power and is still the one pulling the strings, according to the left-leaning newspaper.

Libé says the succession saga being played out inside the ruling ZANU/PF party in power since independence is marked by treachery, paranoia and conspiracy charges involving Mugabe’s wife Grace, the disgraced vice president Joice Mujuru and her successor, the former justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, tipped to be Mugabe’s most-likely heir.

Pedzisai Ruhany, former news editor for banned Zimbabwean independent newspaper Daily News and head of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, warns of a looming implosion of the ruling party once Mugabe is gone   the trigger being that one faction will try to take power by force. 

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