African press review 27 July 2012
Is reconciliation over in South Africa? Does the country need to define blackness? And how many medals will it win at the Olympics? Can Swaziland afford King Mswati III? And a group of Kenyan schoolgirls win the right to shorten their skirts.
In South Africa the papers have been reacting to a warning by former president Frederick W de Klerk that the “Mandela and Mbeki era of reconciliation is over”.
The remarks made in a speech in Johannesburg came in reaction to the ANC’s policy conference decision to give the state powers over economic decision-making, especially land reform and the mining sector. The Mail and Guardian highlights de Klerk’s description of the so-called new rapid economic transformation policy as an attempt to make South Africa a communist state.
The newspaper reports that de Klerk is particularly disturbed by what he sees as “increasingly hostile rhetoric against white South Africans” after the ANC “blamed white males for the continuing triple crisis of unemployment, inequality and poverty”. De Klerk accused the ANC of using racism as a smokescreen to hide its failures in management and governance, according to the Mail and Guardian.
Business Day samples the reaction of ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza to de Klerk’s remarks. He told the paper that the ex-president has never been a specialist on the ANC and does not understand the party.
The Johannesburg Star takes up a debate that has broken out in South Africa about “blackness”.
It is being fuelled by some intellectuals working under the so-called Midrand group. According to The Star, they are all opposed to President Jacob Zuma’s policies and their main thesis is that “social cohesion cannot be attained in SA without an examination of South Africa’s state of blackness”.
According to The Star, advocates of the new gospel believe that South Africa’s racist past is partly to blame for the poor level of cohesion in black communities. The paper argues that in the post-Mandela, post-apartheid and non-racial society, this “blackness” referred to is a distortion of the black consciousness philosophy of Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist tortured to death while in police custody in 1977.
According to The Star, Biko’s dream was not about rallying around skin colour and physical appearance but about a fusion of different classes, backgrounds, languages, cultures, ethnic groups and political orientations.
The African papers have their eyes all set on London today as the Olympics roll-off this evening.
“Let the games begin!” shouts the Cape Times on a front page full of flags flying at the Olympic Stadium where South Africa will be gunning for at least 12 gold medals, according to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Mail and Guardian picks out the presence of Swaziland’s King Mswati III among some 120 national leaders already in London for the event. The paper reports that the extravagant monarch from one of Africa’s poorest nations has “sparked renewed criticism as three of his wives prepare to jet off for a holiday in the US gambling mecca Las Vegas”.
In Kenya The Standard lines up “the Olympians to watch” as 53 African countries will be going for gold at the Games. The newspaper profiles Nigerian table tennis player Segun Toriola, participating in his sixth Olympics, as one of the stars to watch.
The Nation brings out the champagne - not in anticipation of Kenya’s expected medal sweep in athletics but for a schoolgirls’ victory in a war of skirts waged at Rwathia Secondary School in Murang’a.
The paper reports that the girls went on strike to press demands for shorter and more comfortable skirts. Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo has ruled in their favour and the girls will now put on near-knee-length skirts, as opposed to those that almost touched their ankles proposed by the school administration, according to the Daily Nation.