Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Op-ed Round-up: Healthcare Battles, Bored Teachers, E-tolling, and Cheeky Cartoons

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A cheeky cartoon depicting President Robert Mugabe from Zimbabwe's paper Sokwanele.

Kenya's battle for universal healthcare

Kenya's bold attempt to introduce universal health care was always going to be a battle. The Daily Nation is surprised that opposition has come not from insurance companies but from the trade unions. They object to the compulsory deductions from workers' payments. The editorial calls for pragmatism: “an economy like Kenya’s simply cannot afford universal medical cover where the beneficiaries pay not a cent”. A fourteen day strike notice will be sure to test the government's mettle.

Botswana's bored teachers

It's rare to see ground-level public servants being given a voice in the African press. This made The Monitor's piece on education, co-written by three Batswana teachers, particularly intriguing. The piece's message is blunt: “We are bored. We are taken for granted.” The authors bemoan the culture of mediocrity within the sector and call for, amongst other things, a review of the curriculum and an adoption of international best practice.

Judge halts South Africa's e-tolling debate…for now

Gauteng's High Court has taken the decision to halt the province's controversial e-tolling scheme. The editorial in South Africa's Business Day notes the anger of politicians at this intervention from the judiciary. The article goes on to argue that mounting costs and congestion mean some form of tolling scheme remains inevitable. It does, however, sense a compromise: “a revised toll plan that includes a toll collection process and rates that are more acceptable to the public, in conjunction with an improved public transport system.”

Drawing the President

The government-owned Zimbabwe Herald discusses editorial cartoons. It suggests that they should be seen as comparable to editorial pieces. It analyses the various portrayals of President Mugabe: “the private media’s rendering of the President in editorial cartoons exaggerate his age while the public media’s depictions of the Prime Minister show that he is not the most good looking guy around by overstating his facial features.” The piece concludes indignantly by suggesting that many cartoons are nothing more than “an extension of a lie”.

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