Torture the numbers and get results

Statistics in African countries cannot be trusted, claims Morten Jerven in his book Poor Numbers.

Jerven, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, presented a seminar via Skype to the Power Reporting Conference in Johannesburg, based on his latest book which claims that the statistics sub-Saharan countries use to calculate gross domestic product (GDP) and national income (NI) are “inaccurate” and full of “discrepancies” and thus cannot be used to give a clear indication of actual African development.

[pullquote]When you get statistics [in Africa], you aren’t getting facts but a mere image of state statistics that tell you the political priorities of a country[/pullquote]The book was the main point of contention at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in September where South Africa’s statistician-general Pali Lehohla demanded Jerven’s keynote address be cancelled. “We are misled by African development statistics. It is important to show African statistics are of a dubious nature,” Jerven said.

“When you get statistics [in Africa], you aren’t getting facts but a mere image of state statistics that tell you about the political priorities of a country.” Jerven based these claims on qualitative studies that included general surveys, in-depth interviews at statistical offices, interviews with central banks and donors’ missions in countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania.

He did not carry out any statistical analysis and neglected to use quantitative methodology in his research. This neglect gained him his harshest critic yet, Lehohla.  In an interview with the Daily Maverick on September 26, Lehohla said Jerven failed to read and acknowledge the work that had already been done on the subject within Africa. Lehohla also said Jerven failed to make a comparative analysis with countries outside Africa, making his conclusions “invalid” and “unscholarly”.

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EFF triggers PYA exodus

EFF triggers PYA exodus

SOME SRC members, who are also ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members, have dropped their black, green and gold T-shirts in favour of the red berets of Julius Malema’s new party.

SRC vice president internal, Tokelo Nhlapo, joined the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Tuesday after what he says was “a long time of introspection” and consultations with people he looks up to and admires.

“Joining the EFF is like jumping from a hot pot into a frying pan, but the EFF questions how the hell are white people living comfortably in this country while their people are suffering.”

In an article published in Wits Vuvuzela on July 19, Nhlapo said there was no difference between the ANCYL and the EFF, but accused the EFF executive of being “dodgy characters”.

“Julius was expelled from the ANCYL. Floyd [Shivambu] was expelled from the ANCYL,” he said at the time

NOT EFF’ing AROUND: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo campaigning at Barnato Hall. He tells potential members “we should not fear to exist from white people”.  Photo: Thuletho Zwane

NOT EFF’ing AROUND: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo campaigning at Barnato Hall. He tells potential members “we should not fear to exist from white people”. Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Nhlapo said he decided to join the EFF because the ANC betrayed the Freedom Charter and legitimised the poverty of black people while protecting white wealth.

Nhlapo’s sudden jump from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which includes the Wits ANCYL, to an opposition party comes at a time when the EFF is starting a branch on campus.

Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo, said he had been elected to help launch the EFF branch on campus. “We are launching this month but the date hasn’t been set yet.”

PYA and South African Students Congress (Sasco) member Mbe Mbhele has also jumped ship and was seen campaigning for the EFF at Barnato residence on Tuesday night. “I am a member of Sasco but I campaign for the revolution,” Mbhele said.

Wits ANCYL secretary Yamkela Fanini said “such individuals [PYA members who are also EFF members] are termed as agents. But bazoba strong wethu those people [the EFF].”

Pambo said EFF had aligned itself with the Workers’ Solidarity Committee (WSC) and claimed most of workers had joined the EFF. “By Thursday we will have 200 members.”

Pambo said Wits EFF was in sensitive deliberations with members of the PYA, Young Communist League and Sasco but could not give their names because these individuals “hold positions in the SRC” and other ANC-aligned movements.

 

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Wits senior staff tap out

Thuletho Zwane and Dineo Bendile


The sudden resignation by yet another dean has left Wits staff and students reeling. Questions are now being asked about what is going on: are they real resignations or have they been pushed?

Dean of Commerce, Law and Management Prof Nqosa Mahao’s abrupt resignation on Tuesday left some staff members “puzzled”.Academic Staff Association of Wits University president, Prof David Dickinson, said there were rumours regarding the departure of Mahao and said “the notice issued yesterday [on Tuesday] comes without warning and will therefore inevitably disrupt the smooth running of the faculty.”

Members of the student community expressed concern at the high turnover of senior staff members at the university recently – within the last month. Mahao’s resignation follows the recent resignation of the director of the Wits Business School, Prof Wendy Ngoma, who resigned in August.

[pullquote]”I don’t want to say racism is an issue, the VC [Habib] could be trying to remedy those issues, but it seems suspect that all the deans that have been dealt with are black.”[/pullquote]

 

More resignations
Director of Transformation, Nazeema Mohamed, resigned last month and the dean of students, Prem Coopoo, has been placed on special leave with no indication of when she will return. No official reasons have been given.
The Dean of Health Sciences Professor Ahmed Wadee left his post after being “recalled” by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). It is believed that Wadee has been suspended.
SRC President Sibulele Mgudlwa said it was still too early for the new vice chancellor, Prof Adam Habib, to be restructuring senior posts.  Habib has been in office for less than 200 days – two months officially and five months unofficially.“You can’t be talking about performance if you haven’t sat down the dean and said ‘these are the performance targets I expect from you, I am giving you until December to implement those changes,’” Mgudlwa said.

 

Concerns around the Vice Chancellor’s “vision”
He added that the reshuffling could be Habib’s way of asserting his new-found power.  He felt that even though poor performance, instability and the high turnover of staff could have contributed to Mahao’s resignation, Mgudlwa claimed there was a racial pattern regarding the resignations. “I don’t want to say racism is an issue, the VC [Habib] could be trying to remedy those issues, but it seems suspect that all the deans that have been dealt with are black,” Mgudlwa said.
In an email to Wits Vuvuzela, Habib dismissed these claims and said “none of my decisions are made on the basis of race”. He added that “some of the appointments currently being made are of black and/or African staff.” Habib said he was paid to implement the vision and plans of the university.“If I cannot make firm decisions after five months of engagements, then I am not up to doing the job.”

 

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Wits loses another Dean

EXCLUSIVE: Wits loses another Dean

By Thuletho Zwane and Dineo Bendile

Wits University has lost yet another senior member of staff after the Dean of Commerce, Law and Management, Professor Nqosa Mahao, gave Wits Vuvuzela exclusive notice of his resignation.

Mahao was appointed as Dean in February 2012, and will leave the university after just under two years in his position.

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela Mahao said he was not being driven out of his position as Dean, but made the decision to resign in order to broaden his horizons.

“Yes I have resigned from the university. I am going to explore other interests. Period,” Mahao said.

GOING, GOING, GONE!: Professor Nqosa Mahao has announced his resignation as the dean of Commerce Law and Management.

GOING, GOING, GONE!: Professor Nqosa Mahao has announced his resignation as the Dean of Commerce Law and Management. Photo: Provided

 

However, Oliver Seale, the director of special projects at Wits, said there had been a general review of the Commerce, Law and Management faculty earlier in the year on the basis of particular challenges that were raised about the faculty’s leadership, management and administration.

“Out of that [review] process there were certain recommendations that were made with regard to leadership, the management of the faculty and administration. What that has resulted in is that negotiations have started with the Dean of the faculty in terms of his future at the university,” Seale said in an interview with Wits Vuvuzela last week. In an email from the vice-chancellor’s office minutes ago, Prof Adam Habib confirmed the resignation.

“I take this opportunity to thank Prof Mahao for his undeterred service to the university.”

Mahao’s resignation, follows the recent resignation of the director of the Wits Business School, Professor Wendy Ngoma, who announced her resignation in August. The business school forms part of the Commerce Law and Management portfolio that had been placed under Mahao’s responsibility.

In less than 200 days since Habib has been in office, there have been other senior members of staff who have left or been removed from their positions. The Director of Transformation, Nazeema Mohamed, has also recently resigned and the Dean of Student Affairs, Prem Coopoo, has been placed on special leave with no indication of when she will return. The Dean of Health Sciences Professor Ahmed Wadee left his post after being recalled by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).

Mahao said he will leave the university at the end November, after serving a two-month notice period.

 

 

SRC election battle escalates to legal war

SRC election battle escalates to legal war

By Thuletho Zwane and Nomatter Ndebele

The SRC elections could soon become a legal battle as the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) and Project W take legal action against each other. Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice president internal, has laid an official complaint with the Wits Legal Office following a confrontation with Jamie Mighti, Project W candidate and former debating union chairperson.

The incident that led to the complaint.

[pullquote align=”right”]“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.”[/pullquote]

Nhlapo alleges that Mighti told him to be careful and watch his ways.“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.This happened when Nhlapo and Mighti had a political debate about an article Mighti had written about “blacks being lazy”. “My contestation with him is that he can’t say blacks are lazy because of our history,” Nhlapo said.

Nhlapo said he was also uncomfortable with the sexist remarks Mighti made a few months ago on the Wits Debating Union facebook page. Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela that he had lodged the complaint in fear of his life. “What I want from him is that he must stay away from me… he’s violent.”

Project W responds.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku  may have legal action taken against him.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku may have legal action taken against him.

[pullquote align=”left”]“He [Mighti]] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,” [/pullquote]

During an interview with the Project W campaign manager, Cebo Gila, a female student approached him and said, “Guys, please control Jamie… he can’t go around picking fights”. Gila said Project W needed to “protect” rather than control Mighti. “He [Mighti] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,”

Gila said the opposition was preoccupied with personal attacks against Mighti for allegedly being violent and sexist , using his “history” to undermine Project W instead of engaging with the manifesto of the student action group.

“When he is being provoked on a daily basis to the point that he is being crucified, he is going to react,” Gila said. Gila said that members of Project W were being intimidated to the point where “I feel uncomfortable wearing this T-shirt”.“Do you understand that we have been bullied, we have been forced to change strategy, we have been victimized, our volunteers are told we are puppets,” he said.Gila also raised concern that Project W posters were being torn down.

Project W allegedly receives financial assistance from management.

[pullquote] “completely false

accusations” [/pullquote]made against it.

SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, claimed that Project W had received R500 000 from Wits management. He said Project W misled the students because it presented itself as humanitarian.“They ran it [Project W] as a charity campaign but it has a political agenda,” Nkomo said. “They are collecting cans [of food] now; were people not starving in March and April?”

Project W is considering seeking legal avenues to deal with the“completely false accusations” made against it. Gila said that Project W never misrepresented itself. “The misconception is an incompletion of how they [the PYA] understand Project W,” Gila said.

Mighti declined to comment on the incident with Nhlapo and referred Wits Vuvuzela to Gila. Gila said the incident was “regrettable, from both parties”. Wits Vuvuzela was not able to reach the Wits Legal Office for comment.

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