Call for students to participate in a global business challenge

Following the success of the Wits Team Monomotapa in 2012, four African teams stand the chance to participate in  a global business challenge which will be hosted in South Africa this year.

South African full-time undergraduate students with a flair for business and finance have been invited to apply for the Global Business Challenge (GBC), an international business competition, run by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), and is designed to identify business leaders of tomorrow.

This is the fifth year that South African students have been able to participate in this global challenge.  The deadline to register is 2 April 2013.

Witsies who were part of the winning team in the 2012 challenge. Photo Courtesy: CIMA

Witsies who were part of the winning team in the 2012 challenge. Photo Courtesy: CIMA

Teams of four compete by analysing a case study based on CIMA’s test of professional competence and submitting a 3000 word report by 19 April 2013. Last year 74 teams competed to be shortlisted for the final.

Once reports are submitted and assessed, four teams are selected and the shortlist will be announced on 24 April. These teams are invited to participate in the South African final on 16 May 2013.

The winning teams from the other 24 participating countries will fly into South Africa for the international final in August. Teams representing Australia, Bangladesh, Mainland China, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Middle East, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UK, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are expected to take part in the challenge. Organisers have said this would make the challenge bigger and better than ever.

CIMA Africa regional director, Samantha Louis, said she was excited that four African teams were participating this year.

“We are excited to display the depth of talent coming from our continent. It provides students with a great opportunity to test the depth of their financial knowledge and expand upon their competitive ability. In addition, it has previously led to internship opportunities from well-known organisations for many of the participants.”


Down with life’s referees!

Down with life’s referees!

Charlotte Chipangura

Being the wanna-be scriptwriter I am, I watch a lot of local soapies, especially Generations. My heart always breaks when I read comments made about talented actress, Maggie Benedict, who plays the part of Akhona, on social networking sites.

People seem obsessed with her looks and call her ugly. Some of the unpleasant comments include@khuts7 who said: “Generations is nonsense no beautiful women watsover only noluntu and dineo that’s it everyone else is just a WOLF especially Akhona”(sic), @ZinDj: “How could they show Akhona crying without an age restriction?” TheRealGeeStar: “Akhona arrested for scaring Kids to death at a birthday party.”

I think she is a fabulous actress. She even made her debut in New York, sharing the stage with Morgan Freeman! There are many great people out there who are not known for their good looks, but people celebrate what they do best, be it sport, music, or acting.

It was while I was watching the Afcon games over the past two weeks that I detected how similar those who pass ugly comments are to referees. (No offence to all referees out there. I know they are paid to do what they do and that is the nature of their jobs.)

When a soccer player commits a foul, the referee springs into action and sprints across the field with a yellow or red card to punish the player. But when a player scores a goal, the same ref simply blows his whistle with a stern face to show he saw that too. He doesn’t join in the victory dance, nor does he even give the scorer a pat on the back to congratulate him.

There are people who live like that: people who never celebrate when other people do well, especially when these people outdo them. They feel better about themselves when they see the bad in others.

Instead of focusing on what others do well, they would rather search hard for what they are not. They don’t stop there either. They need to trumpet to the whole world how awesome they are and what a bunch of losers other people are.

This is what I’d like to tell them: you don’t brighten your candle by blowing out somebody else’s. People who are comfortable in their own skins don’t feel the compulsion to keep singing about themselves or proving their awesomeness. They just chill.

It’s those who struggle with their own demons who feel they always have to speak out negatively about other people and make them feel so small that, sometimes, they fail to realise their potential.

So to all Akhonas out there, watch out for the evil people following you around constantly shouting about your ugliness – instead of seeing your inner beauty and your achievements. You have your own place under the sun and you don’t need anyone to validate your existence.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 1st edition, 6th February 2013

First year accommodation troubles strike again

Accommodation woes dog 1st years

Charlotte Chipangura and Zandi Shabalala


THE accommodation problem at Wits has reared its ugly head again.

Wits Vuvuzela witnessed tearful first years sitting dejectedly in Senate House with their luggage. Some of them were accompanied by their parents.

Lunga from Pietermaritzburg was among those that found themselves without a roof over their heads. He and his mother huddled in a corner near International Office with boxes of take-away. Lunga said he got a NSFAS loan, which caters for accommodation as well, but was told all places were full and the accommodation office was not accepting late registration.

Other individuals offering alternative accommodation wanted deposit upfront, which most new students did not have.

Accommodation flyers were being distributed around campus. On average single rooms were going for R1 700 per month, shared rooms for two people going for R 1 500 while apartments were R2 750.

The problem of housing for first year students is a recurring one. While they continue to struggle with accommodation a solution is yet to be found.

An official from the accommodation office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said housing was allocated on a point system. There are four main factors to be considered when an application is processed: geographic location, age, the time of the application and also matric academic results.

He said most students who were being turned away had not applied on time and would not get accommodation. He said those that wanted to register late were often accompanied by their parents for good measure but their efforts would ultimately be futile.

Another accommodation office official said he felt bad for the students who didn’t make it because their parents often pleaded and said Wits was their last hope.

“You really feel for the parents…they say ‘I’m from Limpopo, my child has no other options,’ it’s sad.” said the official.

However, his colleague told Vuvuzela: “I got used to it, you have to keep it moving.”

“We have limited spaces and we can’t offer a space to everyone…but we do give them a list of the private accommodation that accepts even NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] students.” said the colleague.

Lindokuhle Sibanyoni, a LLB 1st year student from Mpumalanga, explained how she had applied for accommodation on time but was put on a waiting list.

When she went to the accommodation office she was told she only had 71 points and needed 79 to qualify for accommodation. Her brother and mother had accompanied her and were now frantically helping find alternative accommodation.

In 2011 Wits Vuvuzela reported that of the 15 000 first years who applied for residence, there was only space for 739 students.

Wits Vuvuzela requested comment from Accommodations Office head Rob Sharman but had not received a response by the time of going to print.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 1st edition. 6th February 2013

Home Affairs graces Wits

WITSIES were spared the traditional queues at the Department of Home Affairs when officials came to campus on January 21 and 28 to help foreign students apply for new study permits and renewals.

The officials, from the Johannesburg Regional Office: Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) Division, were on campus for a limited time. International House was so busy that some students were worried they would not get served. However, student reaction to their visits was positive.

Milla Malavoloneque, 3rd year LLB, from Angola, said she was glad to have the officials on campus. “There are long queues in town. So if they come here they will send the visa here and international office will call you. Then you won’t have problems.”

Malavoloneque chronicled the problems she had experienced in the past. “I studied at Dansa International College in Pretoria before coming to Wits,” she said. “When I got a place here I applied for a four-year study permit but was only issued with a 15-day one for my previous school.”

She said she was grateful to Wits International Office as they took care of everything to ensure that she eventually got a permit, which came after a year. “I sat for a year without a visa. I had problems with changing my account at the bank, I couldn’t travel home, and could not get my driver’s licence without it.”

An MSc Engineering student from Zimbabwe, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he feared giving his name would worsen his plight, said he was disgruntled with how home affairs had handled his application for permanent residence.

He was given a five-year quota work permit which had to be endorsed annually. “The first three endorsements went well. In February 2011 and again in 2012, I did not get the stickers to show the renewal of my permit. They kept telling me to ‘come back and check again, it’s coming’.

“After five years here, I now qualified for permanent residence which I applied for. I was told that my PR could not be processed until I got the two endorsements. It’s just that I’m naturally a cool person or I’d be really cross.”

Acting Head of WIO, Gita Patel, said her department invited the Department of Home Affairs onto campus four times in a year, January and February, July, and October.

“The purpose of the drive is to assist the international Wits community (staff and students) to submit their applications for work and study visas,” she said.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 1st edition, 6th February 2013




CJC, Wits students butt heads with Aengus

Wits students staying at WTF Lofts have been left in the cold following protests by Central Johannesburg College (CJC) students and an investigation by Wits Vuvuzela.

Things came to a head last week after students from CJC ran amok and accused Aengus Property Holdings (APH), a company contracted to give them accommodation, of favouring Wits students because they were paying more money.

After Wits Vuvuzela called APH to investigate, a Wits student, Gundo Mmbi called to say she and other Witsies had been stopped from moving into WTF Lofts after they had paid a deposit and signed leases.

Mmbi said she had been asked to come and collect her keys and move into her room. On arrival at APH with their luggage, she and other Wits students were told to go back home as they were not getting accommodation anymore. Their banking details were taken and they were advised they would be refunded on Monday.

“There was no explanation why we are being refunded or any logical explanation or an apology.”

On Monday, Mmbi said she called APH to ask about the refund and was told her money would be in her account within 21 days. She also accused APH of favouring CJC students.

“CJC students are supposed to pay R2250 per room two people sharing, and they put four of them in that and that means they make more money by overcrowding them. Now we are homeless.”

APH CEO Peter Schubach said agents had accepted money from Wits students, promising them accommodation which was no longer available. He said the Wits students would have their deposits reimbursed.

Mmbi believes she and her friends were denied the promised accommodation because Wits Vuvuzela had approached APH over allegations that Wits students were getting preferential treatment over CJC students.

According to the CJC students the company has a contract with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and CJC to provide accommodation.

CJC students had already moved into WTF Lofts in January, however, on the night of the 29th, an official from APH came to inform them they would be moved to another building in Langlaagte.

“We don’t want to go to Langlaagte. It’s too far, which means we would be late for our lessons every day. The bathrooms there are dirty, transport is poor, water supply is poor,” said a student would only identify himself as “CK”.

The CJC students marched from the building they were being ejected out of, WTF Lofts at the corner of Juta and Biccard streets, to RAD Lofts on Bertha Street, just opposite Wits University.

They sang and toyi-toyied outside and marched back to WTF Lofts where foam single-bed mattresses were being loaded onto a truck.

Students took the mattresses from the truck and carried them back into the building but were denied entry.

Some of the CJC students got rowdy and blocked traffic along Juta Street. One female student threatened Wits Vuvuzela journalist, Zandi Shabalala.

“You will be sorry if you take pictures of us,” she said before hitting Shabalala’s camera with a fist. Another CJC student threw a mattress at her.

A comment could not be obtained from the CJC co-ordinator.  Another official from the school, who would not give his name, referred all questions to APH.

Schubach said CJC students evicted were never meant to stay at WTF Lofts permanently.

“[They] were just supposed to be housed temporarily for one or two nights while we looked for other accommodation. They did not even sign leases.”

Schubach said some students agreed to be moved while those that resisted had to be forcibly removed.

One of the students that moved to Langlaagte told Wits Vuvuzela that conditions at the residence were deplorable.

“We live in a commune and the showers do not have curtains. The rooms have no windows, it’s just walls and walls.”

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 1st edition, 6th February 2013


New Law for Lawyers

Students feel that the poor should not be used as “guinea pigs” for law graduates.

Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) held a debate between UJ and Wits students about the pro bono clause of the Legal Services Bill. The clause says graduates must do pro bono work for a year after graduating with law degrees.

Sbu Mdluli, a UJ student, said the issue of poor communities not being able to access legal services has been a thorny one and is a result of South Africa’s history. Mdluli said he was against poor people’s legal woes being used as a way for law students to practise their skills.

“We want proper justice for all from qualified lawyers who will not use the poor as guinea pigs.”

He also argued that being made to work without being paid would make law graduates less passionate about their work.

Erica Emdon from ProBono.Org said community service should be voluntary but the Bill made it compulsory. She, however, felt voluntary work would benefit the student and the organisation being served.

“Community service would expose the student to a side of life they have never experienced before. It also provides extra capacity that does not have to be paid for by the organisation.”

Emdon said supervision and mentorship would be essential during community service to alleviate fears of unqualified lawyers being “let loose” on poor people.

Wits final year law student, Anastasia Okai-Brown, was upbeat about the possibility of community service.

“Community service would be a foot in the door. I would meet people who know other people, and network,” she said.

According to News24, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe said the Bill is a landmark towards improving access to justice among the country’s poor communities.

The Wits Law Clinic, one of the biggest in the country, offers a compulsory practical course for the university’s final-year law students. It also provides opportunities for graduates to do their articles.

The two other universities with law clinics, University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Mandela Metropolitan University (MMU), also have compulsory practical courses as part of their law degrees.

If the Bill is enacted it would add more pro bono work for law graduates from these schools.

SLJS public relations officer Tinyiko Mbentse said they were not in support of the Legal Services Bill as a whole, but do support certain concepts within the Bill such as community work.  “We see community service as a way to train students and diffuse legal knowledge into society,” Mbentse said.

One problem with the Bill is the possibility of students not being paid for that year. Mbentse said SLJS is researching medical and engineering paid community work and could suggest it be used as a possible framework for legal community work and stipends.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition

So you think you can sign?

AS THE world commemorates Deaf Awareness month, the Wits Language School (WLS) has taken the awareness campaign up a notch by introducing a competition So You Think You Can Sign.

The competition is the brain child of Dr Kim Wallmach, senior lecturer and coordinator in Translation and Interpreting at the WLS, and Ayesha Ramjugernath, who teaches South African Sign Language (SASL) at Wits.

Wallmach said the purpose of the competition was raise awareness to the fact that deaf people need interpreters to communicate. “Imagine not ever being able to listen to the news,” she said.

“There are more than 600 000 deaf people in South Africa and not enough people to interpret sign language.”

Wallmach said anyone in South Africa, including schools, was welcome to enter and the deadline is the September 17th.

“People can enter in any size of group, but if the majority of group members are deaf there will be bonus points. We are trying to encourage deaf and hearing people to collaborate.”

Executive Director for the South African Translators’ Institute, Marion Boers said Deaf Awareness Month was a very valuable initiative to raise the profile of both the needs of the deaf community and the availability of persons with the necessary skills to assist them to lead a full life.

The Department of SASL will be providing a free introductory SASL class on Fridays from 2:30pm to 4pm on September 21 and 28.

Click here to see a professional interpreter’s entry to So You Think You Can Sign.


SABC criticised, yet again

The South African media serves a diverse audience in terms of class, gender, race, religious beliefs, and sexuality but offers no diversity, according to Prof Tawana Kupe, a prominent media scholar.

Kupe, Dean of the Wits Faculty of Humanities, was speaking at the launch of a report on the SABC’s (South African Broadcasting Corporation)  lack of diversity at Wits recently.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), researched and compiled the report. Thandi Smith and Lethabo Dibetso from MMA said it was critical that content by the public broadcaster represented South Africa in all its diversity.  They said they had monitored SABC’s programming from April 1, 2012 to May 15, 2012 and discovered that 76% of all programmes broadcast were in English across SABC 1, 2 and 3.

They also noted variety of children’s programmes and very few programmes that “spoke” to people in rural areas in the own languages. There was also concern over the dominance of North American programmes.

Smith said 62% of news sources were organisations’ representatives and spokespersons, and one “always knew what they were going to say”. Eighty percent of the sources were seen to be male, and they recommended that diverse and equitable sourcing be inculcated in all SABC newsrooms.

Dibetso said the SABC was failing in its mandate to “be varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information, education and entertainment meeting the broadcasting needs of the entire South African population in terms of age, race, gender, interests and backgrounds” as stipulated in the Broadcasting Act.

Carol Mohlala, from Save our SABC Coalition said she was unhappy about the non-representation of Ndebele and Sepedi and wanted to know what ICASA and parliament were thinking about SABC’s performance.

Responding to the issue of repeats, Ingrid Bruynse from Bright Media said repeats were no always a bad thing if they related to children’s education. “But poor repeats serve absolutely nothing.”

Akieda Mohamed, representing South African Screen Federation, said her organisation had face “a bleak, bleak time for the past five years” and had a vested interest in the functioning of the public broadcaster.

Click here to read the complete report.

BBC Africa debate dissects inequality

South Africa has overtaken Brazil as the most unequal society in the world, according to BBC Africa.

Against this background, the BBC Africa Debate focused on the question “Does black and white still matter in the rainbow nation?” at a recording of the monthly show, this time at the Wits Chalsty Centre last Friday, August 31.

Wits students Este Meerkotter (19) and Palesa Phora (19) were joined by matric students Rorisang Moseli (17) from and Mitchell Black (17) on the panel of discussants. Meerkotter is studying psychology while Phora is a student in law and international relations. The panelists relied on their personal experiences as scholars and students to add value to the debate on race and equality.

Wits student Este Meerkotter speaks at the BBC Africa Debate. Pic: Wits Vuvuzela

Meerkotter said she saw Wits University as a “colour blind” institution because of the prevalent racial variety. She however felt that race was brought into issues that were not racial, but rather cultural differences.

Phora said she did not think people were being racist if they stuck with people of the same race as themselves. “People socialise with people from similar backgrounds, like black, white, Zulu, Sotho, or people from rural areas.”

Moseli, who attends a private school in Johannesburg, said he was the only black student in a class of 27. “We therefore can’t sit here and pretend that we live in an equal society,” he said. Black said efforts to use Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) to redress inequalities between blacks and whites were futile.

“BEE is not helping the man on the street. it is just helping the wealthy get wealthier.” This met with dissent from some members of the audience who felt BEE was being twisted by “the biased liberal media” to make it look problematic when it was actually effective.

Among those that were given the chance to air their views was Afriforum spokesperson Ian Cameron who said that “integration is not working in South Africa because it is being forced on people”. He said it was his organisation’s belief that whites were being aggressively forced out of the economy.

Cosatu representative at the debate, Ronald Mampani said there was no way South Africa could be seen as an equal nation when “we still think of soccer as black and cricket as white. “We must see whites [mixing with blacks] at Baragwanath and at taxi ranks, not just at rugby matches and at big soccer matches. The rainbow should be seen everywhere.”

In response to a request from BBC anchor, Audrey Brown, about support for the nationalisation of mines among the audience, about three-quarters of the audience were against it. Commenting on this particular , Ziko Pali, outgoing secretary of the Wits Student Representative Council said “a debate bigger that the paranoia about losing investors [if mines get nationalised] is needed.”

The BBC Africa Debate is a monthly initiative of the BBC Africa News service which allows an invited audience to “engage robustly with a distinguished international panel to help inform global perceptions of the continent.”

Big companies shun Humanities Careers Expo

by Charlotte Chipangura

The annual Humanities Careers Expo was shunned by major companies after only two organisations showed up for the event on August 29.

Thabang Madileng  of the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU), which organised the event, said 13 different companies had booked for the expo but had simply not turned up. Only Robert Bosch indicated that they would not be able to attend.

“This year we tried to make it diverse by inviting employers from  non-governmental organisations, government and the private sector. We think they did not come because we did not attach a fee to the expo,” explained Madileng.

Humanities students felt let down and disappointed by the no-show. BA Honours (Media) student, Lethabo Malatsz said she was “not happy”.

“Im feeling discouraged, I’m having second thoughts. I’m thinking I wasted my time doing humanities. I’m doing my post grad now and was hoping I would find companies offering bursaries. I thought I would see YFM, SABC and News24 here. IT, Accounting, Commerce and Chemistry career expos had major turnouts.”

Madileng said there would be another general expo this year but not another one exclusively for the Humanities. Responding to questions about the poor response, Madileng said: “It’s a big concern. We market for all students but just struggle to find employers for our humanities students. Some companies have specifications, like engineers and accountants.

“Consulting companies usually take students from humanities but it’s mostly students who do Industrial Psychology or other programmes that are industry specific.”

Vega contact navigator, Palesa Mofokeng said the university should target companies that best benefit the students and invite those.

“It’s not that there is no demand for humanities students. It is just poor planning.  If companies are made to pay R500 to book their spots here, trust me they would be here because people always turn up when they are made to pay.”

Vega came to Wits to recruit post graduate students for the programmes the college offers. The second organisation that attended was the Avril Elizabeth Home for the intellectually disabled, represented by Linda Spangenberg and Jenny Ford. Spangenberg said the home was looking for volunteers to do their accounts as well as physiotherapists to assist the physically handicapped.

Health workers with attitude

A GAY man who went for a routine HIV test in the Johannesburg CBD was told by a doctor to remember “Sodom and Gomorrah” and that “the mouth is meant for eating only”.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man shared his story in a group discussion at a health cafe at Wits recently. The health café was held to educate media practitioners on writing correctly about issues surrounding HIV. 

“I don’t know the name of the clinic but it’s in the Johannesburg CBD inside Carlton Centre,” the man said. While waiting for the results, he asked the doctor about the risks of contracting HIV through oral sex.

“He [the doctor] giggled and asked if I was a Christian. I said yes and that I believed in God. And then he said that I would remember then what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. I was shocked. He told me that people back then were behaving like that. That’s why God burnt the town. He told me that the mouth is meant for eating only. I was totally taken aback by this.”

During the discussions, journalists from different media houses mentioned that they were reluctant to get tested because of the “bad attitude” displayed by nurses and doctors in conducting tests.

Another journalist,  who identified himself only as Thabo, said he had also gone to a clinic for an HIV test and the nurse on duty passed a snide remark, suggesting that he had come for a test because he had been having unprotected sex.

“She then asked me to take out my penis so that she could see if there was evidence of a disease.  She looked at it and told me that I was fine.”

Some women in the group complained they had been subjected to HIV tests without their consent while pregnant.

Dr Sindi Van Zyl, who specialises in HIV with Anova, encouraged patients to know their rights in the face of violation by medical personnel and overcome all barriers by getting tested for HIV. She said “angry nurses” intimidated men from clinics, but they should just go and get tested anyway.

Van Zyl added that foreigners should be able to access anti-retroviral drugs. A memo was passed in 2008 to this effect.

Melissa Meyer, HIV and AIDS media project manager with Anova, said patients should not just accept bad treatment from nurses and doctors.  “The same way you go to a restaurant and say: ‘This is not what I ordered,’ is the same way you should react when you get bad service at clinics.”

The HIV and AIDS Act of 2006 stipulates that “an HIV test on another person shall not be undertaken, except with the informed consent of the other person”.