Joburg’s digital economy – a boom or a bust?

Thirty-seven percent of South Africa’s population is missing out on the progress of a digital economy because they do not have an internet connection.

There is a digital skills gap in South Africa resulting in the outsourcing of over 300 000 jobs and the loss of R8,5 billion in export revenue each year. This is according to Derek Davey.

South Africa is one of Africa’s top five economic hubs according to Ventures Africa, but does the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) have what it takes to bridge the digital skills divide and become one of the continent’s leading tech hubs with a thriving digital economy?

Before we can dive into this question, we first need to understand what the digital economy is about.

According to Bukht and Heeks, the term digital economy simply refers to the effect that digital technologies have on economic activities. These digital technologies include but are not limited to, digital infrastructure and media platforms. Within the digital economy, people produce and consume goods and services obtained from these digital technologies.

Head of Digital Skills at Wits University’s Tshimologong Precinct, Carol Jaji, describes people as being “users embedded at the core of bringing together economic activities.”

The digital economy, which is mainly supported by information and communication technologies (ICTs) – defined as “a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information” by Unesco – is the driving force behind economic growth in both developing and developed countries.

A study conducted by the World Economic Forum in 2015 found that emerging markets are experiencing a growth of 15 to 25% yearly in the digital economy. Furthermore, the WEF’s 2023 Digital Transformation Framework states that digitally enabled technologies and business models will carry approximately 70% of the world’s economy over the next ten years. It is therefore essential that all economic hubs worldwide adapt to the digital transformation, considering its potential to offer a new form of economic growth and employment opportunities.

There are five pillars proposed by the World Bank that can help countries benefit from digitalisation, and be fully engaged in the digital economy according to a report compiled by the Brookings Institution on the digital divide in Africa.

The first pillar is about access to the digital infrastructure needed so that people can engage in digital activities. For the digital economy to succeed, there needs to be high-quality and affordable internet connectivity.

Approximately 37 % of SA’s population have no access to the internet according to the IOL. Furthermore, a survey conducted by the 2023 Digital Quality of Life Index on 121 countries making up 92 % of the world’s population ranks South Africa 63rd in internet quality and 52nd in internet affordability. This shows that the country still has a long way to go before it can achieve the high-quality and affordable internet connectivity needed for the success of a digital economy.

The second one relates to digital entrepreneurship which shows the strength of the digital economy through entrepreneurs’ ability to easily find new products and work opportunities in the digital sector. This is determined by the access to venture capital and credit.

In the past five years, the South Africa Investment Conference (SAIC), companies have pledged a total of R200 billion in the country’s digital services and ICT sectors. In addition, the National Skills Fund (NSF) will allocate R800 million to fund digital skills training for unemployed youth. This was announced in one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s weekly newsletters.

Digital finance is the third component of digitalisation. It measures people’s access to financial services that enable them to conduct digital transactions thus enhancing financial inclusion. 

The fourth determining factor is access to digital public platforms where the government can digitally provide public services and engage with citizens.

Lastly, there is the digital skills component which looks into the skills and education capacity necessary for an active digital ecosystem. Countries need to prioritise equipping their people with digital skills because digital technologies can only be useful if people are taught how to use digital infrastructure and platforms. A digitally competent workforce and government will not only allow the digital economy to flourish but will also enable an efficient transition into digitalisation.

According to the Department of Economic Development, it “ has two main areas of responsibility; it is tasked with ensuring that the right environmental framework and initiatives are put in place to foster economic growth and job creation in the province. Secondly, it is responsible for ensuring that sound financial management policies and structures are in place.”

Various policies and strategies have been implemented through the work of the department’s units, activities and programmes to achieve this.

As one of the department’s key performance areas, the Sustainable Employment Facilitation (SEF) directorate aims to decrease youth unemployment by providing skills development training programmes for youth with various skill levels. To facilitate these programmes, the department has entered into partnerships with private and public companies, other government departments, and educational institutions.

The SEF directorate states that the skills development training programmes subunit aims to:

  • Obtain internal and external funding sources
  • Have precise training records and constantly check training progress
  • Make sure that they look for the appropriate training providers
  • Track the city’s training interventions and compile annual reports from the COO’s office training and development forum
  • Have a database registration for opportunity seekers that can connect unemployed individuals to public and private companies

Wits Vuvuzela tried contacting the department of economic development to access the data on the progress of the policies mentioned above but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

In an attempt to keep up with the rapidly growing digital economy, the city has partnered with organisations such as WeThinkCode and MTN to offer various digital literacy and e-learning programmes designed to train the youth in digital skills.

Since its establishment in 2015, WeThinkCode has had 500 graduates, with 93 % of whom have found full-time employment. MTN on the other hand, has enrolled 900 unemployed youth throughout the country into its “Digital Skills for Digital Jobs” programme.

“Our ‘Digital Skills for Digital Jobs’ programme will enhance the link between digital skills training and demand for jobs”, says Nompilo Morafo, who is the Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer at MTN.

Given its growing penetration into the city’s economic activity, measuring the digital economy has become an essential process, which is unfortunately flawed considering the lack of available data sets. There is not a lot of data on the country’s digital economy (let alone of Johannesburg) and the little that is available is not of the best quality. The city’s directorates acknowledge the growth of the digital economy but the exact size is not clearly outlined.

However, considering the evident gap in the digital sector and the pace at which digital skills training programmes are being facilitated, it is clear that more partnerships need to be formed as the government cannot tackle the 60% youth unemployment rate on its own.

Sisters in activism  

Combatting performative activism, one activist at a time.  

To celebrate Women’s Month, the Sesi Fellowship and Skill Hub facilitated specialist training for aspiring activists, with the hopes of increasing their level of active citizenship. 

The Generation Equality Fellowship ran over two days, August 5 and 6 at the Bannister Hotel in Braamfontein.  

Generation Equality Fellowship volunteers and trainees at the end of the last session on Saturday, August 5. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula

Project lead, Mpho Rachidi, said Sesi – which translates to ‘sister’ – is focused on sisterhood so they had to ensure that the fellowship catered for women. “[We] wanted the girls to take the skills that they learnt here and implement them in the spaces that they’d find themselves in,” she said. 

When participants were selected, they “looked for beginner to intermediate activists or those who have had exposure to the space but need guidance as to how else they can contribute,” said Rachidi. 

There were various team building exercises and presentations around defining activism and its various forms, personal growth and community development, and the different roles one could occupy as an activist.  

Sesi project lead and manager, Sinoxolo Cakata, said learning about “the different qualities required to become an impactful activist” could help combat performative activism – a term A.F Thimsen described as applying to “instances of shallow or self-serving support of social justice causes”. Performative activists “only talk about the issue when it’s trending and not do anything about it,” said Cakata. 

She created a campaigning activity for the budding activists in which they had to create a hypothetical social justice campaign. Each group had to figure out the role that each member would play in ensuring their campaign’s longevity in relation to their educational background, experiences, skills, and interests.  

One group was given a topic on conscious consumerism, and they came up with a campaign on sustainable fashion in which they would hold fashion retailers accountable for child labour, inhumane working environments and other unethical practices. Each person’s role was determined according to the degree they were pursuing in that a law student would oversee the legal department for instance. 

Third-year Wits law student, Tshegofatso Modiba, told Wits Vuvuzela: “I [applied for] this programme because I wanted to find my own form of activism.” By the end of the day, she discovered that her favourite form was artistic activism (where artists create pieces that evoke emotion and inspire social change). 

Rachidi said more young women “need to use their voice”, and their future projects will be developed with this in mind.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Sesi volunteer, Sibongile Radebe, facilitating a training session. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula


Young Lions oppose mother body 

By: Sfundo Parakozov & Nonhlanhla Mathebula 

The ANC Youth League demanded that the ANC pull out from all coalitions, calling them “anti-democratic”. 

The ANCYL finally held their first national congress after an eight-year hiatus on Saturday, August 5, using their platform to oppose Luthuli House on a range of issues.  

The first leg held between June 30 and July 1, 2023, at the Nasrec Expo Centre was an elective conference, leading to the elections of Collen Malatji as president of the ANCYL, Phumzile Mgcina as deputy president, Mntuwoxolo Ngudle as secretary general and Tsakani Shiviti as deputy secretary general. 

While the second leg at the Johannesburg City Hall focused on policy positions under the themes of social change and economic freedom.  

To hell with Coalitions  

The ANCYL was clear on its anti-coalition stance, urging the mother body to pull out from all coalitions that do not benefit the majority of South Africa.  

During the National Dialogue on Coalition Governments held in Cape Town on Friday, August 4, ANC Deputy President Paul Mashatile said that these partnerships have the potential of igniting the hopes of South Africans.  

While secretary general Fikile Mbalula added that the party was willing to enter “grand coalitions” with other parties with the condition that the party with the most votes must lead in the respective municipality. 

In response to this, Malatji urged Mbalula, (former ANCYL president between 2004 and 2008) to write a letter to all municipalities telling them to “pull out of those things [coalitions]”.  

The youth league president emphasized that people voted for ANC thus they should govern alone. “The ANC cannot reject its own manifesto and implement the manifesto of Al Jama-ah which was voted by five people,” said Malatji. 

The burning question of Unemployment  

The youth league called for the removal of two ministers from their respective positions, accusing them of hindering youth employment. Malatji called the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, “the minister of unemployment,” and accused the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel of obstructing the process of re-industrialization. 

In response, the ANC released a statement on Monday, August 6 which called the utterances a “denigration of personalities,” which they would not tolerate.  

Malatji, emphasized the need for radical industrialization as a way of creating more jobs and developing the South African economy, noting that 75% of South African raw materials need to be kept within the country and economic corridors need to be occupied by at least 50% of the youth.  

They did, however, praise Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi for creating employment through the Nasi ISpani programme and further urged premiers from different provinces to learn from him.  

The new leadership told Wits Vuvuzela that their tenure would signal the return of the ‘voice of the voiceless’ and championing of youth issues.  

FEATURED IMAGE: ANCYL comrades posing for a photo at their 26th National Conference at the Johannesburg City Hall. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov


REVIEW: Barbie’s pink world turns blue 

‘Barbie’ dominates the box office, with millions of tickets sold in its first weekend of release 

In a whimsical fantasy comedy film, Barbie’s, writer-director Greta Gerwig humanises the infamous doll by critiquing the unrealistic beauty standards it represented for many young girls around the world.  

With the rise of the feminism movement in the 2000s, Mattel Barbie doll’s popularity waned as consumers did not like what the doll stood for: sexism, negative body image, and its lack of diversity. 

Bearing these debates in mind, Gerwig’s movie takes a different route, in the film, she takes us through the journey of Barbie, played by actress, Margot Robbie, whose perfect world is tainted after she repeatedly has thoughts about death.  

To fix this, she is advised to travel to the real, to meet her owner, who might be the one struggling mentally. She is accompanied by fellow doll Ken, who discovers patriarchy and seeks to implement it in Barbieland.  

One particularly pleasing aspect about of the film is how it was able to showcase that women in the real world are still being reduced to their beauty and body; while in Barbieland, they are seen as people, who are celebrated for their intellects 

Matriarchy and patriarchy are both put to the test in the film. However, although the film tries to send across a message of women empowerment, it makes it seem as though a world run by women would disregard the role that men play in society. This is in contrast with what feminism stands for, and that is equality for all genders. 

In its first weekend of release, the movie made $162 million in North America, while cinemas in Sandton, Montecasino and Clearwater Mall in Roodeproot were filled with eager fans. 

Whether you love or hate the seemingly perfect doll, are male or female – we all have something to learn from her. Be it doing some self-introspection or unlearning patriarchal mindsets. 

The Barbie movie premiered in cinemas on Friday, July 21, 2023. 

Vuvu rating: 8 out of 10 

FEATURED IMAGE: Barbie movie poster starring Margot Robbie who plays ‘Barbie’. Photo:


Students’ fate hangs in the balance after NSFAS defunds them 

Aspiring graduates who were wrongly defunded by the government’s financial aid are left in the dark as they try to rectify the situation   

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) remedial process of defunding students who were financially assisted based on incorrect information, leaves some in a precarious position — as the financial aid scheme erroneously stopped supporting students who qualify. 

Thabo Ngubane*, a third-year Wits mechanical engineering student found himself squatting in the library and bathing in the gym after NSFAS incorrectly defunded him without warning.  

He told Wits Vuvuzela that he realised that he was defunded in June when he checked his application portal and noticed that he was flagged for having a household income of more than R350 000.  

But he insisted that the scheme has made a mistake: “My mom works in HR and earns less than 350k [and] my dad passed away,” he explained. 

In July, NSFAS said it initiated the process to act on the findings of the Auditor General and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). This is after in April, an SIU investigation revealed that NSFAS had paid more than R5 billion, from 2018 to 2021, to students who did not qualify for bursaries. 

Aphilile Zulu, a second year NMU BCom Accounting student said she received an SMS in June stating that her funding was “revoked because of missing documents, while I’ve [been] receiving NSFAS for the past five months”. She is currently appealing the matter.  

Masego Modisane, who currently owes UNISA R6000 in school fees said when she checked her account on the NSFAS portal, “it said that I had exceeded the n+2 rule” despite being in her final year of studying towards a BA in criminology.

According to the Nsfas website, the N+2 rule states that a student can take up to two additional years to complete their qualification, if need be, on top of the number of years it takes to complete their studies.  

Meanwhile, Wits SRC’s compliance officer, Karabo Matloga said that the financial aid scheme should have at least allowed students who were currently enrolled to continue with their studies. “They have made the commitment [at the] start of the year therefore it is also their responsibility to fulfil that commitment for the year.”  

In a statement NSFAS said, “We have, however, received complaints that some students were defunded incorrectly. If such cases are true, this is regrettable.

“A process of verifying these complaints will be immediately initiated and were proven otherwise, remedial action will be taken.” 

Wits Vuvuzela made multiple attempts to contact the scheme for comment on how long the remedial process for students who were wrongfully defunded will take; but is yet to receive a response. 

*Name changed to protect identity.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits engineering student studying in the computer lab with his sleeping bag and belongings beside him. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.


GALLERY: Wits Humanities grads cross the stage

Wits University’s Winter Graduations are taking place between July 10 and 14, 2023.

Hundreds of postgraduate students will be conferred with their PhDs, Master of Arts and Honours degrees during the ceremonies. Wits Vuvuzela’s Seth Thorne and Nonhlanhla Mathebula caught the Humanities ceremony on July 11, to document and congratulate the students from the Wits Centre for Journalism, as they had their fifteen seconds of fame with Wits chancellor, Judy Dlamini on stage.

FEATURED IMAGE: Malaika Ditabo, now a News24 journalist, takes a break from the politics desk to savour her achievement. Photo: Seth Thorne


PROFILE: Passion for storytelling takes filmmaker abroad 

From almost dropping out of high school to focus on his rap career, film and TV master’s student is participating in leadership programme to benefit his production company.  

A Wits master’s in film and television student is headed to the USA after winning a spot in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Siyavuya Mfenqa will take part in the six-week programme hosted by the University of Delaware in Newark – starting on June 16 – that brings together young leaders from every country in sub-Saharan Africa to the US for academic and leadership training. 

He first applied for the fellowship in 2017 after completing a diploma in dramatic arts the previous year at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), but his application was unsuccessful. He decided to apply again in 2022 while pursuing an honours in film and television at Wits University because he “felt ready” adding that “the work I’ve done over the years was sufficient enough” and now, he is in the 2023 cohort. “This time around I was more confident, and my work spoke for itself,” he said.  

He said he was looking forward to gaining leadership skills that he can implement in his production company – Ntuli Films which he named after his clan names – and networking with others in the programme. “My dream is to grow my production company into one that employs young creatives in the country and tells authentic African stories.” 

The 28-year-old filmmaker was born in Kokstad, a KwaZulu-Natal town on the border with Eastern Cape. He said that he used to write songs in high school and perform them at school functions. In grade 10 he “wanted to quit school and become a rapper”. 

He is currently working on a master’s research project on cancel culture which is “the mass withdrawal of support from public figures or celebrities who have done things that are not socially accepted today”. 

Mfenqa’s research focuses on how certain individuals in the entertainment industry have been shunned for things they have been accused of doing in their personal lives and how these have tarnished their professional reputations. He added that “Cancel culture holds people accountable for their actions but it can also be detrimental if people are wrongfully accused.” 

While pursuing a diploma in dramatic arts at DUT which he completed in 2016, he realised that he enjoyed writing more than he did acting because “acting does not give you the platform to tell your own stories and to be in control of the narrative”. He decided to come to Wits six years because “I wanted to move to Joburg and felt that Wits would be the perfect fit for me.” 

Last year, the KZN Film Commission funded his trip to Rwanda where he pitched a film to distributors at a festival hosted by the Rwanda Film Office – where filmmakers from all over the continent pitch their ideas to large distributors such as M-Net and Netflix, in hopes of obtaining information and assistance with promoting and developing their audiovisual projects.  He received endorsements from distributors for his film.  

“The film that I took to Rwanda and am currently working on is a film I wrote six years ago. I’m still working on this idea because I believe that it is going to change my life.” 

He told Wits Vuvuzela that being committed has helped him get this far. “Sometimes you stay without a job, but you feel that you have this million-dollar idea, so you keep pushing”.  

Throughout his six years of being in the film industry, he has worked as an assistant director on various productions such as Imbewu: The Seed on eTV, and Gqom Nation on MTV Base. 

Presently he is working as an assistant producer for Yellowbone Entertainment, a Safta Golden Horn award-winning film production company.  

Theatre director and actor Othembele Nomgca who is Mfenqa’s friend, said, “Siyavuya’s way of writing and telling a story is very authentic …”, adding that Mfenqa “goes into detail over things that people usually overlook”.   

Younger brother, Yongama Mfenqa (16) who is currently in grade 11, said although the family had concerns about Mfenqa’s choice in studying drama regarding “what it will do for him”, they started being more supportive of his career “after seeing him on MTV and BET.” 

Nomgca added that “Siyavuya is a genuinely caring person and very funny. One thing he is not though, is agreeable. He does not just agree to anything to please anyone.” 

The once aspiring rapper has managed to make quite a name for himself in ways much greater than his high school self could have imagined.

FEATURED IMAGE: Siyavuya Mfenqa at an orientation workshop for the Mandela Washington Fellowship at The Capital Hotel in Sandton on June 1. Photo: Supplied


REVIEW: Shero, super Smanjie, attempts to save South Africa  

Loyiso Mkhize’s comic book Kwezi has been adapted into a play – with a stellar cast  

The Adventures of Super Smanjie sheds light on how rampant corruption can cripple a country’s economic prospects.  

The comedic play is an adaptation of Loyiso Mkhize’s comic book Kwezi, which was done by the Market Theatre Laboratory’s graduates. 

The show takes viewers through the life of a shero called Smanjie (played by Mathuto Mahlangu) who is gifted with superpowers at birth by her ancestors — but ends up misusing them to gain popularity on social media.  

She is told by her ancestors in a dream that she needs to save the city of Marapong from Muḓagasi, meaning electricity in Tshivenda. Muḓagasi is the city’s villain who has been stealing electricity cables to make himself stronger. To defeat him, she must first overcome her desire to use her powers to gain followers on social media for social approval. 

The production was composed and performed by Market Laboratory graduates: Rofhiwa Mundalamo, Mathuto Mahlangu, Slindokuhle Shabangu, Jack Moloi who is currently doing his postgraduate diploma in dramatic arts at Wits, and Wits fourth year theatre and performance student Zilungile Mbombo — whose illustrious performances provided a convincing mockery of the state of our country. 

The comedy’s simple set with just a chalk drawing backdrop of the city and and actors wearing plain colored t-shirts with leggings and sweatpants forced the viewer to focus entirely on the rawness of acting presented by the team.  

I was captivated by their exaggerated and mimetic use of body language to tell the story.  

Smanjie’s ancestors gifting her her powers at birth. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.

However, all the actors played more than one role in the play, which made it a bit difficult to follow on the development of each character. There was also not enough time in the play to memorise who played which roles exactly. Super Smanjie is the only exception, as she only played two roles. 

Although the play needs a certain level of familiarity with the South African social media landscape to understand some of the jokes, one can expect some serious comic relief that lightens up the mood on some of the issues affecting the country.  

Moloi told Wits Vuvuzela that it was hard producing the play themselves due to their busy schedules. However, the practical experience they received at Market Laboratory equipped them with valuable skills to finish the play.  

The show ran at Emakhaya Theatre on the 19th floor of Wits’ University Corner from May 26 to May 28, 2023. 

FEATURED IMAGE: The cast of The Adventures of Super Smanjie during their curtain call. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.


Azasco advocates Black Consciousness at Wits

What sets new party apart from other political parties is that ‘we actually do what we say’, says chairperson. 

The Azanian Students Convention (Azasco) can finally set out its plan to “bring back the ideologies of black consciousness amongst students” after months of dealing with rejections and appeals. 

This is according to the party’s chairperson, Matthew Clarke, who told Wits Vuvuzela that the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA)-led SRC had delayed their registration. 

Azasco had its first executive committee election on May 15, where Clarke and seven other members were elected to the executive committee.  

The 22-year-old BA law student added that when Azasco “first became active in early 2022”, they were told by the SRC that they could only campaign on campus once they had sent out an application to be considered as a club and society (CSO) at Wits. When applications opened in August 2022, they sent out their application but this was rejected in February.  

When he enquired why their application had been rejected, Clarke says student governance officer Wiseman Khumalo told him it was because they were a political organisation, and that they first had “to do some groundwork and establish some sort of visibility before [they could be] an official CSO”. 

The appeal process started two weeks later which delayed Azasco’s registration even further. “This was clearly an attempt [by the SRC] to push our appeal back until it [was] too late to register”, says Clarke. 

Khumalo, however, says, “There were several abnormalities such as the March protests which caused delays in the appeals process.” 

After taking the matter up with deputy dean of students Tshegofatso Mogaladi, Azasco was finally registered on April 4, thus overcoming the SRC’s said “attempts to prevent” them from registering. 

Clarke says although they were given more time to campaign outside Umthombo Building and to hand out membership forms and sort out other admin documents, it was difficult as they had “missed out on the opportunity of campaigning during O-week” and had to settle for a time in which students were now preoccupied by “assignments and exam season”.  

Azasco wasn’t the only political organisation whose application was rejected by the SRC. Wits Build One South Africa leader, Nikilitha Mxwina, told Wits Vuvuzela that their application was also rejected and one of the reasons given by the PYA was that their programme was “vague”. 

The SRC told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The Wits SRC is committed to ‘providing democratic, transparent, effective, accountable and coherent student leadership’, as such we hold no bias against any CSO applicants.” 

As the student wing of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), Azasco aims to “produce a self-reliant and accountable student populace for black students” by reviving “the ideals and proxies of black consciousness, radical [and] revolutionary left-wing politics, and to decolonise and Africanise the education system …”, says Clarke.

Unlike other parties, they plan to “actually do what we say in our plan of action”, Clarke says. “Watch and see us on the ground, and you can say what makes us different.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Azasco chairperson Matthew Clarke makes up for lost time in recruiting students to join the party. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula


BASKETBALL: Wits Lady Bucks spring win over UJ

Win ‘too close for comfort’, says Wits player while UJ forward rues ‘poor defence and messy offence. 

Wits Lady Bucks beat the UJ Women’s Basketball team 62-57 in a tight game of the Gauteng University Basketball League (GUBL) in Hall 29 at Wits on Sunday, May 21. 

UJ started off strong leaving Wits 13 points behind by the end of the first quarter.  

As the second quarter progressed UJ’s defence weakened as they struggled to gain momentum throughout the rest of the game. Wits, on the other hand, elevated their defence in the second quarter and ended up shooting 25 more baskets. 

Although UJ caught up with Wits, tying the score at 42-42 in the third quarter, their efforts went down the drain as Wits ultimately reigned supreme at the end of the last quarter with a five-point lead. 

“We lacked mental toughness and discipline, which led to our poor defence and messy offence,” said Ariane Bitchong from UJ who played the power-forward position.   

Top scorer of the day, Chineye Eneanya who shot 14 out of the 38 Lady Bucks baskets, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “Although we eventually won the game, it was too close for comfort. If we constantly keep playing like this, we are gonna lose.” 

Twenty-year-old Lady Bucks supporter, and second-year computer science student, Oriinga Maudu,  was full of praises for Eneanya’s performance, emphasising how “She provided value throughout the 35 minutes she played, despite being tired.”

Pleased about the win, Wits Lady Bucks manager Nametso Raltou said, “This win was a confidence boost for the team as the girls now know that it’s possible to win if we all put in the work.” 

The GUBL started on Thursday, May 18, and is jointly hosted by Wits and the University of Pretoria (Tuks). There are 14 teams in total with half being the men’s teams. The league ends on Sunday, May 28. 

So far Wits has played against Varsity College, Vaal University of Technology and UJ.  On Saturday, May 27, they will play against Tshwane University of Technology, and against North West on Sunday, May 28.   

FEATURED IMAGE: A UJ Women’s Basketball team player pushes through a Wits player’s defence. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula


Paid to speak, yet state spokespeople refuse to 

A lack of transparency about government activities is a result of media contending with increasingly unresponsive officials, whose taxpayer-funded job is to communicate.   

Government spokespeople need to be held accountable for their unresponsiveness. This was the message of an online seminar hosted by the Wits Centre for Journalism (WCJ) on April 26. 

Titled “Why We Investigated the Thabo Bester Story”, the seminar was addressed by Nathan Geffen, editor of GroundUp, the media outlet that broke the Thabo Bester escape story. He said, “Government spokespeople are paid well for their work, but don’t seem to be doing a good job in responding to journalists.” He lamented that “The quality of information framing from the state has declined.”

Geffen added that although one can “never be sure that what [they] publish is definitively true”, there needs to be a great deal of evidence to support their story. Facilitated by Wits adjunct professor Anton Harber, the seminar learnt that newsrooms are facing a big problem in which government spokespeople are becoming increasingly unresponsive, which has resulted in a lack of transparency in the media. 

In a recent article, “Thabo Bester escape: Many unanswered questions about the death of Katlego Bereng”, GroundUp revealed that a South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson had refused to provide comment about how a body had ended up in Bester’s cell. 

One Twitter user was moved to comment that “Something is fishy,” emphasising the public’s mistrust in state officials. 

Responding to a question by advocate Glynnis Breytenbach in Parliament, retired justice Edwin Cameron of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services said it was out of frustration at the law enforcement officials dragging their feet that he leaked the information to GroundUp about the burnt body found at the Mangaung prison not being that of Bester.

The reality is that journalists need information from state officials to ensure the credibility of their stories. How then, can the officials be held accountable or even be absolved of their actions if they refuse to speak? 

As Harber concluded: “There needs to be transparency from state officials” (regarding the Thabo Bester investigation) as it is “their constitutional duty” to bring forth critical information to the public.

FEATURED IMAGE: An Illustration of reporters holding microphones and taking notes. Photo: Adobe Stock


Old threads, new drip

It’s been just over one month since the first thrift store became a new tenant at The Matrix at Wits University’s main campus. 

Ali Monama poses in his shop during an interview with Wits Vuvuzela. Photo: Sbongile Molambo

On March 1, 2023 Zaza Clothing – located on the first floor of The Matrix, across Fade Barber and Salon – opened its doors, after a nearly two-year delay.  

Owner Ali Monama (31) says when he started out his business back in 2016, he used to ride around town on a bicycle, selling thrift items from a basket – and now he has his own brick-and-mortar store. 

According to Karen du Plessis, the Operations Manager for Commercial Services at Wits, “Zaza Clothing is the first of its kind at the Matrix.” 

Despite business being slow over the first month, Monama says it has been a fun experience meeting new people and interacting with different personalities. 

From afar and through the windows, it looks like a laundromat but when one gets closer, the vintage clothing and gothic accessories come into focus.   

All clothing items at Zaza Clothing are R100, while accessories range from R50 to R150 per item. Monama says this price range is tailored to his customers, who are mostly students on a tight budget.  

Monama initially wanted to open in 2021 but was held back by pandemic-related delays and long procurement procedures. “It felt great to finally be able to trade after going through so many trials and tribulations,” he says.  

Dan Kabongo (21), a fourth-year film and television student has already made a few purchases and considers himself a regular.  

He says thrifting in the Johannesburg CBD can be dangerous and out of reach, so this location is ideal. “The ideal places “that people usually thrift at are far away and are not really places I’m comfortable going [to],” says Kabongo.  

Thrifting is a shopping experience that allows buyers to find unique and interesting items at a discounted price, Zaza Clothing aims to do just that.  

FEATURED IMAGE: A customer browsing through the racks at Zaza Clothing. Photo: Sbongile Molambo