Students need to think more say SA’s leaders

Let South Africa speak, be taught and do business in an African language.”
Musician Simphiwe Dana made this point during the Golden Key Thinkers Symposium at the Great Hall on Tuesday. The annual symposium is an initiative that aims to encourage a thinking community with the hopes of transforming society.

Dana is known not only for her award-winning music, but also for her strong views on the poor state of public schooling in the country. She also fears a loss of diversity as African ethnic groups lose their culture and their languages. For this reason she proposes the re-instatement of mother-tongue education in schools.

In her address, Dana said African states were failing because they had not yet moved on from the scars of their past, pre-independence.
“A lion cannot deny its carnivorous nature. It will die, just like African states are floundering because they are upholding colonial systems.”

As she finished speaking, she faced a sea of hands, but only two questions were allowed. One of them questioned the logistics of her proposal for mother-tongue education in a country with 11 official languages.

“Diversity is beautiful,” Dana responded. “Africa has a million languages. But we need to unify towards a common cause.” She said this was a step towards developing a united Africa.

Other guests included cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi, who drew attention to the statistics that showed that broad-based empowerment had yet to reach its target in various sectors.

Advocate George Bizos stressed the importance and strength of the country’s Constitution and the way justice had grown from the days of apartheid to build South Africa into a budding democratic state.

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel urged the audience to equip themselves with a “toolbox” of attributes that the country needed in its leaders. He highlighted, among many qualities, a commitment to service, without a sense of entitlement.

“Why are we doing what we are doing? If the objective is service, then you are more likely to be recognised as a good leader,” he said. It does not work the other way around, he added.

“The test of leadership is frequently in circumstances adverse to where you want to be.”

Other speakers included Primedia’s head of news Yusuf Abramjee, columnist and Twitter celebrity Khaya Dlanga, environmental strategist and SABC weather presenter Christina Fatti and other leaders in their fields of expertise.
The symposium also managed to trend on Twitter. By the end of the evening, #GK_Thinkers was trending across the country.

Final Edition Cool Kid

This week’s Cool Kid is 1st year LLB student Sduduzo Mhlongo. S’du is a founding member of a non-profit organisation.
Q: What’s been your biggest highlight of the year so far?
A non-profit organisation, The Community Development Association, that I started with some friends.

Q: What is it about?
A guy doing his PhD was always telling us about how people complain about what the government doesn’t do, so we thought “why not help, do something ourselves and empower people [in high schools so that we bridge the gap between high school and varsity]?”. Our target area is Alexandra township.

Tune in to DJ Fixx’s show, The Drive By, VoW 90.5 FM on Monday 5:15pm for the follow-up interview

Court challenge to varsity SRC constitution changes

The official banning of political affiliations at the University of Free State and the formation of a new constitution has been met not only with a student protest, but a court order too.

Student at UFS and South African Students Congress (Sasco) member, Motsoahae Tom Thabane, has filed an application at the Bloemfontein High Court against the newly elected SRC of 2011/2012.

Professor Jonathan Jansen, the university’s vice chancellor, made this decision last year in August after a sports meeting between UFS and University of North West when matches were disrupted and eventually cancelled as a result of political campaigns taking place during the event.

As Vuvuzela reported in its August 26 edition,  60 protesters were arrested for causing chaos on campus and throwing slurs at Jansen. Jansen said his decision was “taken to curb racial conflict driven by political formations on campus”.

Since their start in office two weeks ago, the new SRC has had to deal with Thabane’s high court charges.

Rick Smith was in the 2010/2011 SRC and part of the team responsible for writing the new constitution which was adopted on June 3 this year.

He says that Thabane’s charges are based on a misconception (on Sasco’s part) about the role of politics on campus.

“They’re upset that ‘politics has been banned from campus’, which isn’t the case at all. Politics is welcomed on campus, they’re just not allowed to campaign in the SRC elections.

“This gives a much larger group of students the opportunity to run for SRC”.

Smith also said that since its implementation, it has improved the quality of student leadership, with individuals serving in respective portfolios “and not just members of a party being put forward to fill in the proportional seats in the SRC”.

He said that the new system required candidates to have maintained a minimum overall average of 60%, and must have served in a recognised UFS leadership position.

Jansen dedicated his column in The Times on September 15 to the  incoming SRC. He said: “You were part of the celebrations when the UFS held its first truly non-racial elections in 2011, when black students voted for a white man and white students for a black woman”.


Swazi student protesters put their stamp on 2011

This year has seen young people all over the world stand up and speak out against issues affecting them, their future and their countries.

The most recent example is  Swaziland University students protesting after the varsity’s closure on August 8 due to financial problems. It re-opened three weeks later.

Swaziland is in debt and asked for an emergency loan from the South African government, which agreed to assist the kingdom of Swaziland with R2.4-billion.

Tertiary students studying in and outside of Swaziland depend on the government to fund their tertiary fees.

“Almost all the tertiary students’ [fees] and all the fees in the University of Swaziland [specifically] are paid for by government. It’s only a few [students] who are sponsored by individual families,” said Swaziland Students Association (SSA) vice chairperson, Simphiwe Simelane.

Simelane highlighted the fact that a potential contribution to the country’s current crisis was that after graduation students do not return to work for their country, or pay back their loans.
“They [the government] don’t have any mechanisms to track us to really go back there, but by law we have to go back there.”

The kingdom’s scholarship board has allegedly recently awarded scholarships to “only 5% of students intending to study in SA, most of who were relatives to the government bureaucrats”, said a statement circulated among Swazi student associations within South Africa.

Concern about the likelihood of government paying for students in tertiary institutions outside Swaziland is rising.
But chairperson of SSA, Zandile Mtsweni says: “With regards to the ones in South Africa, government has assured that they will pay for everyone although most have been paid for but not everyone.

“But we have received assurance that they will pay and money catering for their fees has been reserved.”

Student protests  for change in fee structures within education departments have also occurred  in Chile, South America. The University of Fort Hare students also protested after going weeks without water and electricity last month.

African solutions need corrective surgery

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was at the Great Hall on Wedenesday evening for a lecture in honour of struggle icon Ruth First.


Themed ‘In search of an African Foreign Policy’, the lecture was based on Wits associate philosophy lecturer Eusebius McKaiser’s research on Libya, as the 2011 Ruth First fellow. 


McKaiser is the world debating champion, an Oxford graduate and a regular commentator on South African media and politics.


Ruth First Trust recipient Lisa George, from Jeppe Girls High School, spoke about First’s contribution to society as a young Jeppe girl and also touched on the values that had motivated her throughout her life. 


A photo exhibition of Anton Hammerl’s last filed photographs from Libya before his death, were on display. 


Wits Journalism’s head Anton Harber spoke about Anton Hammerl and the role of photojournalists in the media industry.


 “The largest category of journalists who have lost lives on the job are photo journalists,” Harber said, adding that “war photographers can only do their job with great risk”.


Hammerl’s daughter and father were present to listen to McKaiser’s research findings on Libya’s and South Africa’s foreign policy strategy for the sole party country.


 “South Africa needed to express a clearer view on [their position with] Gaddafi…We are not, but the world thinks we are, propping up Gaddafi” said McKaiser.


“South Africa doesn’t fully appreciate the importance of investing fully in our foreign policy,” saying that lack of investing in a quality international relations policy would have “repercussions on our internal matters”.


He concluded by saying, “We must urgently invest in the AU (African Union). If we don’t then I’m afraid ‘African Solutions for African Problems’ will like its cousin – ‘African Renaissance’ – be a dustbin filled of promises”.


Former Robben Island prisoner Ahmed Kathrada said he found the lecture “most interesting, educational and informative. It was well prepared”.

INTRIGUED: An onlooker admires one of late photographer,Anton Hammerl's last pictures







Somalia: a country in need of a revolution

Young Somalians in a deli shop.

Newspaper and TV images portray hunger in Somalia but a much grimmer picture was described by Gift of the Givers founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman recollecting his week there.

“It was heartbreaking. Children are dying slowly. Parents are watching their children die in front of their eyes and can’t do a thing about it,” he said.

The owner of this Somalian delicacy shop stands unders a Somalian flag.

The famine in Somalia, more particularly in the capital city of Mogadishu, is due to the worst drought the Horn of Africa has seen in 60 years and has left thousands without food and water.

“Little Somalia” in Johannesburg is home to many immigrant Somalis who expressed their fears about the famine in Somalia.

Young Somalian in a clothing shop.

Abdurahman Mahdi, who is from Kismayo, fled Somalia in 2007 because of political unrest.

 “The problem is that the political climate is very dangerous, everyone is fighting. They all want to be winners, when it comes to fighting, there’s no other idea that they have, and all they are thinking about is fighting each other so they can’t help the people,” he says.


Mahdi says he contacts his family every month. “I try to help them if I get some money. The situation is very dangerous this time because there is no food, people cannot farm.”

Mahdi is here with his wife and children, but other immigrants are not as fortunate.

Haleema Abdul broke into tears when asked about her family back in Mogadishu. She says the situation there is serious. “I hope my country has peace, a good government.”  

Nasreen Mohammad, who has been in SA for 18 months, is the youngest in her family and fled Somalia on her own.

Mohammad and her family are from Mogadishu. She says she has recently had problems contacting her family.

“I don’t know where my family is, that’s the problem. In six months I can’t send anything to my mother because I don’t know where I can send it to. But I will try where I can.”

The country has seen an estimated 29 000 children under the age of five die in the past 90 days, and more than 600 000 Somalis fleeing its borders.

Adding to the severity of the situation is the war between the government and rebel group Al Shabab. Each group wants to have power over the people in the area. Even within the Somali government, power conflicts get in the way of any decision-making processes making government action about the famine ineffectual.

Food donation collection points are set up outside the SRC shop in the Matrix, under the 1man 1can initiative which MSA-WITS are working under. 

The Gift of the Givers has pick up points at their Johannesburg branch at Mint Road, Fordsburg.

Deputy President discusses Libya

DEPUTY President Kgalema Motlanthe will address this year’s annual Ruth First memorial lecture on Wednesday, August 17.

The theme of this year’s lecture is In Search of an African Foreign Policy. The focus of the lecture will be on Libya. 2011’s Ruth First fellow, Eusebius McKaiser, will be presenting his research findings into foreign policy on Libya. 

An exhibition of photographer Anton Hammerl’s work from Libya will also be on show. Hammerl was shot and killed while covering the Libyan conflict.

Last year’s lecture – themed How policy is affecting the marginalised and its impact on poverty – was addressed by Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Vavi reflected on First’s contribution to social injustices and highlighted the struggles the country is still facing.

“Her disdain for capitalism and her striving for social justice are amongst the lessons that we as workers continue to draw from her legacy, 28 years after her brutal killing by the apartheid state.

“The overriding lesson we continue to learn from her is that capitalism and imperialism have inflicted immense misery on humanity.

“She would be shocked…that 48% of South Africans live below R322 a month and 25% of the population now survives on state grants.

“As we celebrate women’s month, she would have to face the reality that income inequality is still racialised and gendered: an average African man earns in the region of R2 400 p/m, whilst an average white man earns around R19 000. Most white women earn in the region of R9 600 p/m, whereas most African women earn R1 200 p/m.”

[Do we need to go this far back if we have space problems?]McKaiser is an associate lecturer at the Wits Philosophy Department and the Wits Centre for Ethics. He is also a political commentator who writes for local and international media on SA politics and ethical debates.

Wits Kudus put on their running shoes

This past Sunday a Wits  marathon was hosted by the athletics club, Varsity Kudus.

The event was attended by a large number of
running clubs, families and Wits students and staff members.

The colourful crowd, dressed in their respective club attire and personal garb turned out early on 30 July to take part in the event.

Parents were also there with their children, in prams or on foot and the mixture of runners was a refreshing sight on a usually student filled campus.

Three races were planned for the day; the first two 10 and 21 km ran simultaneously.

The 5km fun run, which was free for Wits students and staff was held on campus, offering walkers a scenic view of the
universities two campuses, east and west.

Varsity Kudus chairperson; Julian Blonski

“This type of race is a first for the athletics club,” said club chairman Julian Blonski.

On a sunny and warm day, in the middle of the winter season runners embraced the weather and donned their sun protection
and head gear.

Race committee member Heather Kennedy, said “I think, luckily, the weather was good. We’ve had a good turnout of runners”.

Seeing as this was a trial run for the new running distances, the club hopes to grow over time and gain the favour and support of their fellow Witsies.

“We were happy with the turnout from Wits students, in time it will grow as we continue with it in the following years to come”, said Blonski.

Lesego Kgatitswe, MA Health Sociology student who ran the 10 km race said, “the route was hectic, it was so steep. Never run a marathon without training. I’m definitely doing it again, I’m going to run the 21km”.

If you want to join Varsity Kudus athletics club, contact Julian on 0845814605

Witsies slow to claim R200-million

TWO hundred million rand of national funding for graduate students in debt has apparently gone unused by Witsies.

The fund was set aside by  Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande in his budget speech in May. The fund was created for students who have either been blacklisted or are in debt and cannot graduate because of their unpaid fees.

The fund will clear their debt so that they can find employment. Since the announcement, the Wits SRC says they are having difficulty reaching the students, and that no students have come forward to claim from the fund.

Wits SRC treasurer, Tshepo Ndlovu, says the reason behind this apparent lack of action on the part of the affected students is miscommunication from the department of higher education.

“The department itself did not inform institutions properly, so that they might create avenues where students could know about the fund.

“There were no posters, there were no adverts. At least in newspapers there should be something that alerted those graduates that [they should] go to the relevant offices or institutions so that they can source the funding.”

Deputy Minister of Education, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, says the department expected university institutions to play their role too.

“They have to assist [and] promote that information. We thought that they would write to people who are affected,” he said.

The minister also encouraged the use of social networks in an attempt to spread awareness of the unclaimed funds. “The student leadership has to use their social networks to encourage their members to come forward and take advantage of this”.

Ndlovu says that they have begun to make efforts for those still in the university’s system.”We have lobbied the Alumni Relations office that we should try and track down the people who are still on the system and with outstanding fees.”

David Molehlane, 3rd year BA, says it was the first time he had heard of the fund. “I don’t even know who to call, the SRC, do I call the fees office? You see that’s the thing, they don’t even put the information out. That’s their problem.”

Wits Kudu Marathon

A road race in and around campus takes place on Sunday morning. The Wits road race is open to all members of the public, including Wits students and staff. The event is sponsored by the university, the alumni office and the Varsity Kudus running club. Entry fees are R25 for the 10km race and R50 for the 21km race. The 5km race is free to Wits students and staff members (subject to card identification). Entries will be taken on race day from 6am. The 21km and 10km races begin at 8am, while the 5km Intra Varsity fun run starts at 8.30am.

For more information visit: or                   



Diepsloot’s heart uncovered

Vibey Diepsloot eatery, Boza’s Kishin, hosted the launch of Wits Professor Anton Harber’s latest book Diepsloot on May 10.

The main purpose of the book is to break down the stereotypes surrounding the township.

It includes Harber’s observations, analyses and conversations in and around the township located just past Fourways.

The presence of the book’s main subjects at the launch, Diepsloot residents, is something Harber considers a success.

“The most important thing was to launch it in Diepsloot and acknowledge the assistance I had from key people there,” said Harber.

Philip Makwela, outgoing ANCYL chairperson in the area, said: “Diepsloot is known as dangerous, poor, and a crime-ridden community. There is another side where we exist to bring hope.”

It is this other side that he feels the book brings across – balancing the rampant poverty with the residents’ aspirations.

“It is an opportunity to tell our own story. Anton brought [out] the side that Diepsloot has leaders and has plans for development [to light].”

Connel & Anne Theunissen, a couple that has been helping and educationally facilitating with pre-schools in Diepsloot for years, said: “We know Diepsloot people to be loving, kind and supportive.

“We feel as safe in Diepsloot as we do anywhere else.”

Harber accompanied them once on their weekly trips and described them as a “remarkable couple, they are unbelievably dedicated missionaries”.

Diepsloot residents Hlokomani Nzizi & Calvin Ngwenya, who are also employees of Boza’s Kishin, said: “It’s a bit of an inspiration, I am happy about this [event, because] it means there are good things about Diepsloot,” said Nzizi.

Ngwenya agreed, saying, “It’s something that brings joy to Boza’s Kishin because this happened here and it was successful, [so] more people will want to do their thing here”.

Boza’s Kishin part owner, Jabu Nkabinde, said he was “ecstatic” about hosting Harber’s book launch, and “was eager to dig into the book”. Nkabinde is one third of the team behind the chisa nyama business, which includes Cannelle de Ruig and Thabo Bogopa (also known as musician JR).

Harber’s family also shared in the residents’ elation over the book.

“This evening’s been a thing of great pride for me,” said his mother, Zara Harber.

“Anton’s done it [writing the book] with such great feeling, perception and understanding. It will help us all to have a greater social understanding.

“I did not know he would be a journalist – I thought he’d do something more reliable,” she quipped about Harber’s choice of career. Porn or innovative strategy?

Photo courtesy of Naked News International

Free-to-air television channel has signed a 13week agreement with The news show debuted on April 22.

Naked News Africa chief executive, Craig John, has expressed the website’s interest in finding online presenters in South Africa and is considering launching a South African weekly version.

Quentin Ndlovu, assistant producer for Naked News SA, says there are a lot of people showing interest in presenting. He says although auditions were open to females of all races, they would be wary of accepting people desperate for money.

Presenting Naked News entails striping down to your birthday suit while reading the news, or in other instances, conducting interviews fully naked.

Views about the show and the possibility of a South African version being introduced are supported by male students Alex Lovic, 3rd year bio medicine and Barry Msibi, 2nd civil engineering.

Lovic says: “It’s a free country, just get naked, no one cares. I’m European so it’s normal [to me]. This country is too conservative.”

Msibi says: “It would be hot. If [the presenters are] naked South Africans like Khanyi Mbau, Nonhle Thema and Bonang I would definitely watch it.”

Thembi Dzonzi, 2nd year BA, says: “You wonder who okays these shows. Can you imagine [them] telling you Osama is dead while they’re naked? I wouldn’t take it seriously.”  

Ashleigh Kater, 2nd year BSc, says: “It takes away the seriousness of the news and it appeals to guys more than girls,” adding that it would “attract women that are desperate for money”.

The going rate for presenting is R2 000 a shoot.

Although its creators insist that Naked News is not associated with pornography as no under 18s are allowed to access the site, the show is aired on Friday evenings after the 10pm movie. This slot was previously occupied by soft-porn movies.