SLICE: Politicians to the left; influencers, right! 

The hiring of influencers by political parties deprives voters of the opportunity to interrogate what politicians have to offer.  

With the 2024 elections around the corner, politicians can be expected to use celebrities and influencers to persuade South Africans to vote for their parties.  

Celebrities have become central figures in modern politics globally by using their influence to lead party campaigns and social awareness campaigns. South Africa is not a stranger to this kind of culture. In the 2019 elections, celebrities such as Bonang Matheba took to Instagram with the likes of Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC presidential candidate, telling followers to follow their lead and vote for the ANC

Four years after the success of Ramaphosa’s campaign, Matheba is singing a different tune about how the ANC has failed the country. This proves that she did not have the expertise to make any politically influential statements in the first place because now she is calling for Ramaphosa to resign. 

The fusion of politics and pop culture has not served our democracy well as thousands of people would have taken endorsement of politicians by Matheba, DJ Zinhle and the late Kiernan Forbes at face value rather than interrogating their utterances.  

Some celebrities even take the baton and run with it into politics, as proven by Donald Trump who moved from The Apprentice showto the White House as the US president. Media reports slammed his term in office because of a lack of expertise to make the right decisions that even saw him refusing intelligence briefings that were crucial for his position.

Brookings, a public policy organisation based in Washington, USA reported that his lack of understanding of the political space made Trump to shut down resources such as the global health security team that would have helped minimise the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. “Most American presidents fail when they cannot comprehend the government they inherit,” the organisation said. 

Recently in South Africa we have witnessed Kenny Kunene who became famous in 2014 for eating sushi off naked women become an acting mayor of Johannesburg for a day at the beginning of May. Questions of his capability to carry out the duties were raised because of his position as an entertainer. I was one of those who questioned what made him drop the chopsticks and move into politics and why he was entrusted with such responsibility.   

An article in the journal Political Psychology highlighted that “Research has shown that a politician’s involvement in a scandalous behaviour can severely damage candidate evaluations and may also decrease voting intentions.” This could cause voters to have mistrust when celebrities move from the entertainment industry to politics.  

This raises the issue whether politicians should stick to being public servants and celebrities remain influencers and entertainers. But what qualifies one to be a politician? In 2018 the Mail & Guardian reported  that “Many MPs insisted that educational qualifications are not the key to a seat in Parliament — being a good politician is what counts.”

The South African Constitution gives everyone the right to freedom of expression, but that right comes with responsibility. During the 2024 elections, I would like to see less of influencers in the political space and if we do see them, they should be aware that words have meaning. They should educate themselves about the parties they are endorsing to their followers.

I would like to see more politically present politicians with a focus on service delivery rather than those with a social media presence. South Africa is dealing with crises of water and electricity among many challenges. As a voter I would rather know what the different parties plan to do to solve these rather than listen to celebrities who see politics as the next paid campaign. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Aphelele Mbokotho. Photo: File


COOL KID: Lebogang Rampedi 

Wits TikTok star shares his beliefs on the power of content creation; and the responsibility that comes with it

BCom Economics Honours student at Wits University, Lebogang Rampedi has garnered success on the social media platform TikTok, with his lifestyle content, since posting his first video in November 2022.  

The 24-year-old rising star has only been creating content on social media for a year and four months, but has 83 600 followers on TikTok, with four million likes; and 52 600 subscribers on YouTube. 

Rampedi told Wits Vuvuzela that he chose to focus on lifestyle content — that tackles real life issues — because he is a human being that faces some of those challenges himself.  

He started producing his content on YouTube, but as TikTok became more popular, Rampedi shifted some of his content there.  

News24 reported in October 2022 that an estimation of around six million South Africans use TikTok daily and that the diversity and content creation was grabbing global attention. 

Seeing this, he explained that on the business side of things, TikTok was the next move and he worked to transform his content to be applicable to the platform. 

Lebo Rampedi shooting a video for his YouTube channel featuring Kudzai Mhlanga and Pabalo Maota. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

Rampedi understands that his peers spend a lot of their time on social media, and he wants his content to be relatable and have an impact on people’s lives.  

“I wanted people to understand that not everyone is okay, we have this perspective that people online are living it big, but I wanted to be one of the first people with a large social presence expressing how sometimes I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go, but still within the effects of making people smile,” said Rampedi on some of his content, which shows some of the harsh realities people are faced with in South Africa. 

“TikTok is a relatability app…The impact I was trying to make on TikTok is to have someone watch my video and be like ‘oh why do we all do this?’ And also, everything is bad news these days, so it felt good to make people happy,” he added. 

Rampedi started creating content in high school, where he was heavily involved in the writing of plays, directing, and acting. However, putting the content on social media was difficult for him because of the scrutiny that comes with it.  

His brother and fellow content creator, Thato Rampedi told to Wits Vuvuzela: “He is someone that is very creative, he is in touch with what makes audiences and viewers react, outside of his comedy, he is aware of what makes someone click on something, respond and engage; and I think he’s talented and unique in that.”  

Content creator and friend  Gontse Mohlatloe, mostly known as Justdaddyg said that Rampedi is a consistent TikToker, and that he loved his videos because they were relatable – and that outside of him being a content creator, Rampedi is an amazing person overall. 

Although his numbers are growing, and people can claim that he is successful, Rampedi feels he still has a long way to go. 

 “ TikTok is a great platform because anyone can be huge based on their views, but in terms of following and the community that you can build is what I define success…if you can build a community so great that they also push the same narrative into their own lives of making other people laugh , that is what I see as success,” he explained.  

In the future, he plans to go into the creation of dramas and short stories.

FEATURED IMAGE: Lifestyle content creator Lebo Rampedi posing for a picture. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho


Tackling period poverty one dispenser at a time

The Wits School of Business Sciences Students Council are making plans to install free pad dispensers throughout the University. 

Feminine hygiene and access to sanitary products were the topic of conversation, as members of Project Revolutionize engaged strangers in an awareness drive on May 8, 2023.  

Period Poverty refers to the lack of access to menstrual products, and this is what the project is aiming to eradicate by installing free pad dispensers across campuses.  

Transformation officer of Project Revolutionize, Yolisa Sphambo said that they identified the need for the project while in a bathroom. She said “where are the pads” had been scribbled next to a free condom dispenser. 

 Sphambo said that Project revolutionize is different to similar past projects as they are focusing on sustainability and making the provision of pads a norm. 

She said their project was aiming to revolutionize a women’s whole period, “Revolutionary [to us] means to feel comfortable to be soft within your period cycle”. 

A business sciences student, Babongile Tshabalala said that “I think it is something we truly need within the Wits society, because pads are more of a need than a want compared to the condoms that are readily available in the bathrooms.” 

Sarah Eram, the chairperson of the project said to Wits Vuvuzela, “The quality of pads students use is important as using unsafe menstrual products can lead to health issues and these are some things students don’t know.”  

“We have started speaking with people that are going to install the dispensers, we have found some people who are going to fund pads for the dispensers and some of lectures have committed themselves to donating” said Sphambo. 

Melissa Zulu, senior lecturer of marketing told Wits Vuvuzela “I decided to support this project because… girls and women should be able to go through it with respect and dignity.” 

This is a three-part launch, and the awareness week is the first step, the next steps involve having a workshop around the education of feminine hygiene and the installation of the dispensers. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Babongile Tshabalala shares her opinion on the importance of free pads. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho


Imperfect end for Parkview coffee shop

There will be no more ‘perfect’ cups of coffee for residents of The Parks as café closes its doors.

Closed café will be replaced by a grab-and-go from a trailer. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

The Perfect Cup coffee shop did not open for business on Tuesday, May 2, as the rental increases had become more than the owners could afford to pay.

After three years of operating, customers were welcomed by a notice posted on the Parkview café ‘s door. Owner Michelle Dancer mentioned building renovations and rising costs as the biggest factors in closing.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Dancer said because of the building renovations she had lost customers because of all the noise that was happening around the shop. This added negative impact came as the business was still recovering from the covid-19 lockdown.

“Our biggest issue was that we could no longer afford paying rent because it had increased from R35 000 when we first opened in 2019 to R50 000 a month, and the landlord did not want to negotiate”.

Dancer is planning to run a grab-and-go from a trailer. That will see the business only keeping four permanent staff, and letting go of three contractual ones.

Vimbai Mamgoya, one of the workers that will be kept, told Wits Vuvuzela, “[The shutdown of the business] affects us but there’s nothing that can be done because of rental [costs], but I hope Michelle will help the others find jobs.”

Lara Venter, a regular at the coffee shop said that she was sad that it was closing. “They had affordable good food and coffee. Michelle and the staff were kind and warm and it was very comfy inside the shop.”

Businesstech reported in January that more than 1 900 business had shut down because of the rising costs and loadshedding. This week, The Perfect Cup joined those businesses.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Perfect Cup coffee shop has shut its doors because of rising costs. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho


REVIEW: Braam has a spicy new spot

Johannesburg Mexican food-lovers go loco over new restaurant.  

The first of its kind in Braamfontein, Loco is a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar that opened for business on April 1.  

Churros for dessert served with chocolate and caramel dip. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

Located on 73 Juta street, the six-week-old spot is situated under The Playground Market and next door to Uncle Faouzi, both local crowd pullers. The pink walls and black and white ceilings are aesthetically pleasing. One can take great pictures inside because of the good lighting. To top off the beauty of the interior design is the student friendly prices and atmosphere. 

Between the groovy Latin-American music and the cacti dotted all over the restaurant, one is instantly transported from the streets of Braam to the streets of Cancun.  

Loco manager, Bulelwa Mbonambi explained their choice of colours, “Pink is a happy, soft, luxurious colour and green is a nature colour, we want our customers to feel like they are living a soft life when they enter our space.” 

The restaurant has 12 square standalone tables that can be combined for group settings. Two of the tables have couches as additional seating options. They have a small outside area that is facing the Bannister Hotel and Kitcheners.  

The menu has two sides to it, the first side with a service window between 9am to 5pm, offering breakfast and brunch options such as the breakfast burrito and corn fritters. The second side is reserved for lunch and dinner meals served from noon onwards.  

The prices are a student’s dream, ranging from R65 to R145 for food and drinks from R20. One could eat a decent meal for just R200.  

Wits Vuvuzela put the waiter’s recommendations of a chicken and beef taco to the test.  The beef taco was new on the menu, and they were assessing to see how customers would find it. While the chicken taco, is their best seller. The waiting period was around 15 minutes to 20 minutes, and this was not bad for lunchtime as there was a bit of traffic. Laid out on a medium sized plate, the chicken taco had diced tomatoes, roasted sweet corn, avocado, pressed red cabbage and that was sealed together with chipotle vinegar which gave a bit of sweetness to it. 

When it came to the taste test, the beef taco proved more flavourful than the chicken taco. From the first bite one tastes the green pepper, feta cheese, onions and the spicy sweet relish that made everything come together so well. A bonus to this was that the beef was tender.  

To round off the experience, churros off the dessert menu were ordered. They were not overwhelmingly sweet, and they are served with either chocolate or caramel sauce.  

The chicken taco with diced tomatoes, sweet corn, avocado and pressed red cabbage. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

All in all, the bill was R275. The tacos were R50 each, churros R75, and the two coca cola cooldrinks which were R30 each. 

Mbonambi said: “This is a contemporary Mexican restaurant instead of traditional because the palette needs to be relatable and still be educational to the SA market.”  

The restaurant also offers a unique tequila tasting experience in the evenings. Loco is open from 9am to 10pm from Wednesday to Saturday. 

FEATURED IMAGE: The restaurant – LOCO – pictured during its less busy hours as the security guard on the side watches people pass by. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho


Pele Pele hold Wits to goalless draw 

The Braamfontein side is languishing in 10th position after it had topped the log at the beginning of the season.  

Wits University Football Club and Pele Pele Football Club were forced to settle for a goalless draw on Saturday, April 22, hindering both teams from moving up in the Gauteng ABC Motsepe League.  

In a thrilling game, Witsies started the first half strongly as they were dominating the game. On the other hand, Randburg stars Pele Pele were struggling with possession. Out of eight chances Wits created, three were on target, threatening the Pele Pele goalkeeper, Tsebo Tsotetsi. One hit the goal post, denying Wits a goal. At the other end, Pele Pele managed to create five chances with only two on target.  

Towards the end of the first half Pele Pele were awarded a penalty due to a handball. Fortunately for Witsies, the ball deflected off the crossbar. Halftime statistics showed two yellow cards for Pele Pele, against Siyabonga Buda for rough tackling and Tshepo Kakora for wasting time.  

In the second half, tables turned as Pele Pele proved to be the hungrier of the two teams, with increased possession and confident display. Pele Pele managed to create an additional five chances with a lot of scrappy passes in between. 

Witsies did not manage a single chance at goal up until the 80th minute when a ball coming in from out wide landed in the box for winger O’Neil Hendriks to break the tie. A heroic block on the line from Pele Pele defender Nhlakanipho Myeza was a decisive moment in the match.  

Three minutes of extra time were added but neither team managed to score, and when the final whistle blew, the score was still 0-0. Wits football coach Alzavian van Rheede told Wits Vuvuzela that he was not bothered about what the result meant for the team’s position in the league. “It was more the performance that we were looking for, the tactical agreements that we were working on in training because we tried something new today and we’re happy with what we got out of the game.”  

Pele Pele player Neo Mumble and Wits player Hakeem Marx eye the ball. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

With 33 matches played so far, Wits are currently 10th on the log. This is a far cry from November 2022 when, after eight matches, Wits topped the log. They went on to lose 12 matches, and now, with 47 points, are left with two games to try and make it into the top eight. 

Seemingly the Braamfontein side has accepted that this season is a loss as winger Hendriks told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We are not fighting for anything now, we just want to enjoy the games that are left.” 

Mncedisi Sibiya, football coach of Pele Pele, said that the result was disappointing as the third-placed team, with 66 points, was chasing the second spot. “We hope that the [Soweto Super United FC] throws or loses the game, but we still have two games to play. We will keep on pushing. We will get the two points [necessary to move up].” 

Centre back of Pele Pele, Neo Mumble, said, “I think we should have won this game given that we played better than these guys. It was a tough, good game.“ 

Wits will next play away to Tembisa-based M Tigers Football Club on Thursday, April 27. The venue is yet to be confirmed.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits player, Lehlohonolo Mollo, wins the ball, leaving Pele Pele’s Neo Mumble in the dust. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho


Canon Collins Thekgo Bursary helps students graduate

A non-profit initiative wants to help humanities students graduate regardless of historic debt.

Each year as graduations roll around, some students watch on despondently, knowing they will miss theirs because of fees owed to the university. A group of professionals is looking to put an end to that for some.

The Canon Collins Thekgo Bursary promotes access to higher education and has been assisting students with debt to cover the shortfall needed to get them their academic records.

Graduates patiently waiting for the end of the ceremony. Photo: Colin Hugo/File

One of the founding members of the initiative, Grace Musila told Wits Vuvuzela that the bursary only covers R10 000 of student debt and that humanities students are the focus as funding options remain minimal for these students.

Musila said this year, they are covering students in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Northwest who have completed their studies. Selection criteria includes academic performance, community participation and financial need.

“Our aim is to support such students to release their academic certificates so they can proceed with other plans, whether that is [to] further[their] studies or pursue employment opportunities,” Musila said.

 Wits University senior manager of financial accounting Amanda Kort told Wits Vuvuzela that the number of students who are eligible to graduate this year but will not be able to due to outstanding debt was estimated to be at 2800 with a total debt of R138m.

Kort said that students with a gross household income of less than R600 000 per annum are assisted by the university. “These students may sign an acknowledgement of debt if they owe less than R15 000 and may enter into a payment arrangement to make payment after they have started working.”

Wits has a Discretionary Fund which students are advised to apply for.  Kort said although funding is not guaranteed, the university can match students with the financial need to donor’s requirements.

For this year, applications for the bursary will close on April 26, and can be submitted here.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Chancellor, Dr Judy Dlamini commences the ceremony. Photo: Colin Hugo/file


Wits, Nehawu strike a deal

After four months of negotiations, the union finds the university’s offer “fair” .

The Wits National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has accepted the university’s offer of a 6.9% salary increase plus R3 800 once off.  

The agreement, signed on March 23, was the culmination of negotiations that started in November 2022 when the union demanded a 15% salary increase for 2023. There was deadlock after the university countered with a 5.5% offer. 

Thabo Modise, Nehawu Wits secretary told Wits Vuvuzela that, “Picketing started on March 6, 2023, because the [university’s] offer was below the consumer price index (CPI) which is 6.9% for the year 2023.”  

Apart from the salary increase Wits Nehawu was demanding that “parking fees be reviewed as we think the fees are unreasonably priced for the staff. We want to contribute to parking fees, but we want to see how the university calculates the amount it charges the staff,” Modise said.  

The union was also demanding a staff housing subsidy “because the majority of the staff in Nehawu do not have houses”, according to Modise. 

Wits Nehawu members picket in front of the Wits Great Hall on March 23. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho

He told Wits Vuvuzela that the 6.9% increases was a win for the union as it was a fair offer, and it benefited all workers. “Our main goal as a union is to ensure that members have fair working conditions and that there is no abuse of power by the employer.”  

Other union demands that have not yet been resolved include the issue of night shift, that the university should provide transport that drops workers at their individual locations, instead of the current policy of dropping everyone off in Parktown. The union expects the outstanding matters to be resolved by April 25.  

The university spokesperson, Shirona Patel, told Wits Vuvuzela that they had considered the financial affordability and sustainability for the university while also paying attention to the need to maintain the livelihoods of staff when they calculated the salary increase. The university enters negotiations with the recognised unions such as Nehawu and the Academic Staff Association of Wits University yearly. 

“Only about 40% of Wits staff belong to a recognised union. Sixty percent of Wits staff are not members of a recognised union. It was prudent for management to observe good labour relations practice by concluding negotiations with Nehawu before exercising its prerogative to apply the agreed increases to all eligible employees,” Patel said. 

A maintenance worker belonging to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa told Wits Vuvuzela that he did not know why his union had not taken part in the picket, but that he was happy to benefit from the salary increase negotiated by Nehawu. 

Nehawu was not only striking at Wits. Its members were on strike nationally, along with other unions in the public service, demanding a 10% salary increase whereas the government was offering 3%. 

After some unions accepted the government’s final offer of an average 7.5% increase for the 2023/24 budget year, Groundup reported on March 28 that “Nehawu says it will not consider the 2023-24 wage agreement with the government, which other unions have signed, until a deal is reached on 2022-23 wages.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Nehawu members wait on March 23 to hear from chairperson Sam Mandela about the university’s latest offer. Photo: Aphelele Mbokotho