School of Economics scoop awards


Double Honour Student Shaheen Seedat adds another award to his trophy cabinet this week as he is awarded best Economic Honours Thesis in the country from the Economic Society of South Africa (ESSA).

The School of Economics and Business won another award in the Masters Category; Professor Kenneth Creamer was awarded the Founders Medal for his dissertation.

The Founders Medal is awarded each year to the candidate with the best essay submitted by a university.

The essay for the honours category has to be 6000 words long and both analytical and logical. Each university is allowed to submit one students work per category.

Seedat won a bronze medal for his thesis titled Asset Price Bubble: Extension to Continuous- Time Spaces and General Classes of Dividend Payments. He explains that his “thesis proves that all types of financial assets (whether they are corporate bonds, stocks, houses, short-term assets etc) can suffer a ‘price bubble’ and an eventual steep decline in price. It provides a theoretic explanation for the events we have recently observed in the global financial crisis”

Prof. Creamer was awarded a silver medal for his short dissertation titled, Price setting conduct in South Africa 2002 to 2007: Implications for Monetary Policy.  Creamer said he used over 5 million price records form Stats SA to established price setting conduct. His findings suggest that “based on such conduct, the interest rates policy of the SA Reserve Bank should be less aggressive and more persistent than existing macroeconomic models imply”.

According to Associate Professor at the School, Neil Rankin, the school of economics has won twice in different categories in the past. The 2009 Founders medal for master’s dissertation went to Witsie Maria Fatima Fiandeiro for her dissertation titled, Trade liberalisation and wages in South Africa.

ESSA is a society that “promotes the discussion of and research into economic matters, in particular those affecting South Africa.”According to their website, the society has been established in 1925 and they boast members that have played leading roles in government, business world as well as academia. The winners each receive a medal as well as cash prizes.







State-sponsored homophobia

“It degrades human dignity, it’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people [homosexuals] to behave worse than dogs and pigs.”

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, made this shocking declaration a few years ago and said gays and lesbians should be handed over to the police. Even in these times he is not a lonely voice.

Africa is the continent with the least liberal laws regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights. Over 30 countries criminalise homosexuality, and there are many cases of state-sponsored homophobia.

In most countries where homosexuality is illegal the law establishes penalties that range from a fine to years in prison – life imprisonment in Uganda.

In Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria, the punishment is the death penalty.

In most African countries there is not even anti-discrimination legislation on sexual orientation or gender identity basis specifically, and South Africa is the exception.

Homosexuality on the African continent has often been blamed on colonialism. The notion that homosexuality is not African is widely spread.

“[That] is just a defence tactic and a prejudice driving tool,” says third year LLB student Motlatsi Motseoile, who is gay. He claims people usually base their “lack of knowledge and understanding on tradition and ‘Africanness’”.

Motseoile adds: “You know certain things are not of African origin by whether there is an African term for it, and there is one in Zulu [for homosexuality].”

He says he has read a lot on the subject, and the readings suggest “same-sex sexual relations have been around on the African continent for ages. They just have not been widely recorded… and perhaps not as spread or understood in its current form”.

Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) archivist Gabriel Khan says: “GALA is the best place to stop on campus if one is interested in both the history and contemporary experience of LGBTI people in South Africa and also Africa.”

The core of the organisation is a unique archive of LGBTI materials. According to Khan, GALA also offers programmes and activities that aim to educate the public, create dialogue and inspire action.

Even though the legal system ensures equality, social acceptance is still a concern in South Africa.

South Africans, say cheese

Statistics South Africa and the government are calling upon the nation to participate in the upcoming census, an effort to count everyone within national borders.

Census 2011 starts on October 10, and data related to 14-million households will be collected over 21 days. With the slogan “You count”, it aims to produce a snapshot of the population, although many people still don’t know what the census is about.

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said: “Participation in the census, apart from being a statutory obligation, is directly and unashamedly in [South Africans’] own interest.”

According to Stats SA, which conducts the census, the information collected will give government and private sector an accurate picture of South African living conditions. This will tell them what resources people need.

“A census is the only source for community level data on issues such as migration patterns, education, persons with disabilities, employment and unemployment, fertility, mortality and service delivery, all of which are critical for planning,” states the agency website.

Political parties have shown their full support for Census 2011, and public representatives are being urged to help encourage the population to participate.

Even though people are afraid of disclosing personal information, Stats SA guarantees confidentiality. The agency’s employees are legally bound never to reveal individual information they gather though the census.

People will be counted according to where they are on the night of October 9. A census attendant told Vuvuzela that residence officers will hand out questionnaires for students who live on campus.

Institutions such as hospitals and prisons will be counted using administrative records supplied by the person in charge, so everyone will get a chance to be enumerated.

The census is conducted every 10 years and this will be the third time the entire South African population is counted. Results are expected to be available in March 2013.

Fieldworkers will be wearing a yellow bib and carrying a satchel with the Census and Stats SA logos, an ID card and a book with a map of the area.


Wits venue packs a punch

Wits University is the venue of choice for a professional
boxing bonanza to be televised by SuperSport and highlighting a South African
national title fight.

After Gauteng boxing promoter Pat Molefe attended a Wits Boxing
Club tournament in August at the Old Mutual Sports Hall (OMSH) he enquired about the

Molefe, director of Rainbow Boxing Promotions, says: “My choice
this time round was to host it at Wits, a learning institution. I’m very excited
to be part of it because a tournament of this magnitude being showcased by
SuperSport nationally and internationally will also bring Wits into the

Wits Boxing Club
chairperson Bakholise Mabuyane says: “After the tournament they asked me what
they have to do to host a boxing event at OMSH so I gave them the [Wits] sports
administration contacts and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The Eastern Cape’s Good Man Djwili and Balemo Weliya will battle
it out for the South African middleweight title. The undercut fight is an
international bout which will see light heavyweight Alex Mbayo (Congo) and
Johnny Muller (SA) touch gloves. Six more bouts will also be featured at the bonanza.

Molefe is regularly involved with amateur boxing and says he wants
to showcase professional boxing at various tertiary institutions in Gauteng.

This past week Witsies were
invited to apply to the Wits Sports Council to be ring girls for the event.
Four girls were chosen and will be paid, receive a SuperSport shirt and appear
on Supersport5.

The Wits Boxing Club will run a tuck shop to raise funds for the

The event takes place on October 9 at OMSH and starts at
2pm. Tickets will be sold at the door and are R50.

COSATU not allowed air time

THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) cannot
broadcast as a national radio station from its newly built studio because it
will not be granted a licence to do so.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
will not grant Cosatu the licence because the law does not allow political
parties to own a broadcast licence.

Even though Cosatu is a trade union it is seen as a
political party because of its alliance with the ANC and SACP. A potential
hiccup the party says it knew it would be faced with from the concept of the
radio station.

The studio which plans to start airing in October will try
to get the law amended but in the meantime will broadcast via satellite and
link to community radio stations such as Alex FM. It will also be broadcast on
the internet and mobile phones; its conceptual broadcast name is Cosatu waves.

Since Cosatu already has a resource and archive centre, the
union has planned an expansion project which includes radio broadcasting and
production, video and television production, a photo archive and digital
documentation, all of which is to be accessed on the internet.

“The project focused on radio [first] because of the
availability of funds for it and the need expressed by workers to tell their
own story,” says Nandipha Miti, Cosatu digital hub’s project manager.

Miti, who attended the Wits radio course in July, will be
managing the expansion project and will also assist with news production. The
station plans on hiring presenters and wants to broadcast news programmes,
interviews, information, drama and political debates “and thus give Cosatu and
its affiliates [unions] an opportunity to speak to its members and society as a

Mike Smurthwaite, station manager at VOW FM, says a person
would just need a recorder and a laptop to broadcast over the internet. He also
found it puzzling how Cosatu would reach its members and the people they

“Members are based all over the spectrum, it’s not an
in-house radio station like Pick ‘n Pay,” he says,

“They [Cosatu] are fighting for a liveable wage of R4500 for
its members, where are they going to listen and how – while they are working?
The cost of data streaming on your mobile is high, is it affordable for its

Political science honours student, Mncedisi Mvelase says he
thinks it is a “great move from them to bring about their message”.

“Right now they feel marginalised by the ANC and, within the
current debate in Cosatu, they are dissatisfied with the ANC, it could be a
move to show their independence,” says Mvelase.

Witsies doing it for charity

For Wits students, Sibongile Zwane and Karen Tuiton, volunteering work is about giving back to the community and assisting those who are less fortunate.

The two are volunteers at the Holy Trinity church and they help with preparing food, washing dishes and serving food to homeless people.

Zwane, 1st year quantity surveying student said volunteering and community development are important, “they are more about helping my fellow people.”

Working with homeless people has taught Zwane tolerance, “I was a judgemental person but I now learnt not to judge a book by its cover.”

Yvonne Moloelang, who has been working as a project manager at the Holy Trinity church for 32 years said homeless people are like her own children.

She said taking care of the less privileged makes her happy and she hopes they could all get jobs to live better lives.

Forty-two year old Thabo, who did not want his surname to be known, said he started living on the streets after his parents passed on at the age of 12.

He said he is grateful to the Wits students who assist them at the church.  Because most Wits students treat them like dirt, they don’t even greet them or offer assistance.

“Mam Yvonne (Moloelang) is like a mother to us, I stay somewhere in a bridge at Hillbrow but I come to the church everyday knowing I will get food.”

Zwane said people never attach a face or voice to homeless people, and forget that these people have stories to tell.

Third year BSc student Tuiton said volunteering is better than sitting at home and doing nothing. She said people shouldn’t look down on homeless people, “we should treat them with dignity as we are all equal before the law.”

The soup kitchen is the Wits Volunteering programme initiative, its student volunteer manager Isabelle Mphahle, said anyone who wants to donate clothes or food to the homeless must bring them to Holy Trinity church at corner Jorrissen and Bertha Street.

A hijacker speaks from a cell

“The couple was traumatised, we could see. We took the car and drove off. After three blocks my partner and I realised there was a baby in the back seat. I told my partner to take the car and I took the baby and drove [in the backup car] to the police station to leave it there.”

Vuvuzela spoke to a hijacker who is serving his sixth year of a 25-year sentence in a Johannesburg prison. He says he was dubbed by the media as the “Mastermind” and prefers not to be named. The Mastermind spoke to us about the hijacking business in South Africa and what it’s like holding a gun to a driver’s head.

He grew up in a township where his family owned a scrap yard and sold spare car parts. By 16 he started stealing cars and says he knows more about cars than anything else.  After a while he ventured into stealing bigger cars and made a name for himself. He was good at starting any car – without its key. Later he got into hijacking because it was quick cash.

 “There is a difference between hijacking and stealing,” he says, “When you steal a car you aren’t afraid of the car you[‘ve] stolen. When you jack a car, you take it when the owners are at hand. You are in power; there is this adrenaline that controls you.”

Hijacking has become a profession with people occupying specific positions.  Finger men spot cars that are on order and after days of watching their target and taking in their routine, the operation is then carried out. Most hijackings are carried out by two to three people – who play specific roles of intimidator, driver, tracker system detector, watcher and drop off driver.

The Mastermind – who has lost count of how many people he has hijacked – says syndicates do not want Japanese-made cars. German luxury cars such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen Golf 4, 5 and 6 and Polo Vivos are mostly on order. The bigger the car, the bigger it’s fetching price which can go up to R80 000 a car.

Once a car is taken, the hijacker “drives like a mad person to a particular spot” to find the tracker and throws it away. Cars are then sometimes dismantled and their parts go back to car dealers and then to its manufacturers where it is repolished for use in new cars. They are sold locally or taken across the border to be sold.

The Mastermind says women are not mostly targeted. He advises motorists to keep a distance from other cars, not to speak to strangers through your window, not to park in deserted areas and if in a hijacking situation not to make sudden moves.