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 Vuvuzela. Juju recruits comrades at Wits. August 2, 2013

Israel apartheid concert round two

Israel apartheid concert round two

SRC vice president-internal Tokelo Nhlapo, promised that they (SRC), would give Wits Vice-chancellor a “political baptism”. Photo: Nolwazi Mjwara

SRC vice president-internal Tokelo Nhlapo, promised that they (SRC), would give Wits Vice-chancellor a “political baptism”. Photo: Nolwazi Mjwara

 

By Emelia Motsai, Thuletho Zwane and Ray Mahlaka

Wits has arranged for another Israeli musician to perform at the university to make up for the concert that was disrupted in March.
After a concert was disrupted on March 12, the university asked the organisers how they could make up for the disruption “for those who had bought tickets but were not able to enjoy the concert”, according to Vice Chancellor Adam Habib.
A group of about 50 students, including at least nine SRC members, disrupted a concert by Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshef in March. The concert happened during Israel Apartheid Week. Eleven students were later charged by the university for contravening the university’s code of conduct. Habib said the university and the SRC were meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.

Not on Our watch

[pullquote align=”right”]Habib said if he listened to everything the SRC had to say, his role as a vice chancellor would mean nothing[/pullquote]
SRC internal vice president Tokelo Nhlapo said they are “going to debate them. If they fail to debate us, we will use civil non-violent protest to show that the university is being used to cleanse the bloody image of Israel.”
Nhlapo said the concert would not happen on their watch. “We are not going to be silenced by the charges.”
Habib said that, even though the SRC was chosen to represent students, they should realise they did not represent the student body on all issues. “I have in my office a whole range of petitions saying they do not agree with what the SRC did and that I must continue to prosecute.”
Habib said if he listened to everything the SRC had to say, his role as a vice chancellor would mean nothing: “They would just tell me what to do.” University management wanted to “make sure the reputation of the university is not impugned”.

Sitting one the fence

Habib said the music department had been tasked with organising the new concert. They could not secure Reshef so another Israeli musician had been invited.
Habib denied the university had “taken sides” on the Israel-Palestine issue: “You can’t be a free space for ideas and say that one side is allowed and the other is not.”
Nhlapo disagrees. “We think it is hypocritical that the university will fight for the Dalai Lama but refuses to stand up to Israel.” He said they would not allow Habib to go against the values that Wits stood for.
“We are going to give Habib a political baptism.”
The concert will take place on August 28 at the Great Hall. The South African Zionist Federation said it would be open to everyone. The students who were charged are now facing disciplinary hearings, which will resume on September 25.
“If we are going to be expelled for protesting, then I don’t want to be a part of this university,”
said Nhlapo.

 

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Caught between gender roles

Caught between gender roles

 

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA: ‘Sthe’ regresses to his unhappy childhood state.          Photo: Mia Swart

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA: ‘Sthe’ regresses to his unhappy childhood state. Photo: Mia Swart

By Thuletho Zwane and Mia Swart

Torn pieces of paper filled the stage. Crumpled clothing and ties surrounded wine and beer bottles.

Sithembiso Khalishwayo, simply known as ‘Sthe’, appears and screams in anger: “As a child, I thought like a child, I spoke as a child. As a child I spoke of ignorance, ignorance is bliss”.

Sthe crawls under a chair, places his hands over his ears and face, shakes and cries uncontrollably – yelling nursery rhymes in an attempt to shut out the voices in his head: “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb…Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall…”

Water Glasses covered in Packets of Salt is a physical theatre production, with elements of dance, about gender roles and sexuality. It asks if sex remains a sacred bond between two people, or if it has transformed into something that happens when it’s desired or taken by force, leaving a path of emptiness, guilt and fear.

“The play deals with sex. The idea of being a man, of being a female. What defines the roles of the mother figure and the father figure and how it affects the child?” said Sthe.

He wanted people to experience the same emotions he felt when he performed, he said. The play has a mixed bag of emotions – “emotions we as human beings don’t want to feel but we have to feel them at a certain point in time.”

Sthe said [pullquote align=”right”]The play came from a very personal space. It encapsulated his stories and stories of other people. “I wanted to show a side of me that I haven’t shown in a while, who I am, how I view the world.[/pullquote]

“If you want to see theatre at its core, people should come watch it. It is an emotional rollercoaster.”

Sthe is an actor, teacher, writer, dancer and choreographer who studied at the Wits School of Arts, majoring in physical theatre and performance.

The play is one of a series of plays in the Drama for Life Sex Actually festival, which will run from August 20 to 31 at the Wits Theatre. Water Glasses covered in Packets of Salt will be performed August 23 at 6pm and on August 29 at 1.15pm at the Wits Downstairs Theatre.

Cosatu under attack, who’s next?

Cosatu under attack, who’s next?

Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), gave his lawyers instruction to challenge the CEC’s (Central Executive Committee), decision to place him on special leave after he was found guilty of having improper relations with a junior Cosatu employee.

Vavi claims that Sdumo Dlamini, Cosatu president, handed an intelligence report to the CEC members to discredit him and force him out of Cosatu. Dlamini has denied the allegations.

The report claims that Vavi and other prominent members of South Africa want to overthrow the government of South Africa.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim said they have lost all confidence in Sdumo Dlamini and that there was a concerted effort by forces within and outside Cosatu to turn it from being a fighting Federation to a “toothless”, “labour desk” organisation.

Numsa said there was a “political conspiracy” to discredit Vavi and that state organs were being abused to spy on Vavi,