There comes a time when all birds must fly the nest and leave the comfort of their parents’ home, but for Generation Z, the time is nigh, and it seems there may be nowhere else to land.
“Out of reach.” “Impossible.” “Unaffordable.” These are the words used by members of Generation Z (Gen-Z) on the possibility of buying their own house in their twenties, according to an experimental Instagram poll of 38 respondents run by Wits Vuvuzela.
However, a 2022 Rocket Mortgage survey revealed that 72% of their Gen-Z sample (2000 people of ages 18-26) are highly motivated to buy a home in the near future but, as interest rates reach their highest peak in 15 years this month, buying a house in South Africa is more expensive than ever.
The South African Reserve Bank responded to a world-wide increase in inflation rates, which neared the 8% mark in South Africa at the end of 2022. Raising the bank repo rate to 8.25% meant that the prime lending rate rose to 11.75%, the highest it has been since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. A higher lending rate means that taking out large loans from a bank, such as a bond on a house, becomes more expensive. For younger generations hoping to live on their own, this has added another obstacle to an already almost impossible dream.
“Unfortunately, it is very difficult for young people to purchase property in this country. The current interest rates are higher than they have been in years, economic times are hard – many young people don’t have good credit scores which negatively affects their lending profile and many young people are not aware of the upfront costs that are required when purchasing a property [bond and transfer costs],” says Rob Pound, a real estate agent working in Johannesburg.
The latest FNB property barometer reveals that first-time-buyer numbers are on the decline and the average age at which South Africans can afford their own home is 35. The report cited the rising cost of living, inflation rate and unemployment rate as causes for so few people in their twenties affording homes of their own.
This is supported by real estate agent Ronald Oliphant, a Braamfontein area specialist who said that he has seen fewer young people looking to buy or rent properties this year. Braamfontein, Ferndale and Fontainebleau remain popular areas for young first-time buyers in Johannesburg, but the latest Lightstone report indicates that only 18% of stable homeowners in Ferndale are under the age of 35. This number decreases to 16% in Braamfontein and 5% in Fontainebleau.
For those young people who overcome financial burdens and manage to buy their own homes, the struggle does not end there. “I once had a client who was 27 years old and he found one of my properties, which was R850,000. He said he could afford it because the bond repayments would be the same cost as the rent he was paying at the time, and he was so excited to be purchasing a property rather than ‘paying someone else’s bond,’” said Pound. “He wasn’t aware of the upfront transfer and bond costs that are required when buying property, which in his case were around R56,000. He had to come up with this money in two months in order to buy the house, but he was living hand-to-mouth, there was no way he could afford it.”
South African banks, aware of this difficult situation, are open to giving first-time home buyers a bond of 105% in order to cover the upfront costs for properties under the value of R1.8 million. However, for this young buyer only one South African bank offered to grant him this deal.
Jesse Van Der Merwe (24), a recent Wits engineering graduate also decided to invest in her own property when she started her working life, however, after buying her own apartment, realized that she could not afford to keep up with the day to day costs of owning a property and living alone. “I realized that I can’t really afford to live [in the apartment] and like…eat, so I’m renting it out while I stay at home until I can actually afford to move into it.”
With unaffordable upfront costs and bond repayment rates, many young people who can afford it are pushed into renting property instead. This has led to a high demand for rental properties which, according to the FNB report, has made rental costs in Johannesburg more expensive in recent years. “Real-estate is simply supply and demand,” said Pound.
According to Oliphant, a tenant may only be considered for a property if the rent does not exceed one third of their income, but, as rental rates increase due to high demand, many young people apply for rentals that they do not comfortably afford.
Julia Rolle (24), a 2D character animator from Johannesburg who works remotely, made the decision to move away from the city to the seaside town of Wilderness on the garden route. To afford the rent on what she refers to as a “teeny tiny place”, Rolle pays 35% of her income on rent. When asked if she has had to sacrifice paying for other things for her accommodation, she answered, “Of course, but I wouldn’t trade the independence and having my own space.”
Interest rates have remained steady the last two months as inflation begins to slow, giving hope to young home hunters that the situation might yet improve. However, in a press conference held on July 20 in Pretoria, Governor Lesetja Kganyago said that the interest rates have not yet peaked, “Is this the end of the hiking cycle? No it is not. It depends on the data and the risks. That’s what it boils down to.”
In such an economic climate, some young people such as Jennifer Greef (25) have no choice but to stay in their family home for longer than they planned, “I do think I could move out, but my living conditions at home are just so much better than what they would be if I moved out because I would have to move somewhere really small,” she said. “I think still living with my parents is the right way to go about things right now because then I can save and spend my money on other things such as insurance and medical aid rather than rent.”
FEATURED IMAGE: Feature Image: A real estate agent hands over keys to a young gen-z as they buy their first home. Photo: Kimberley Kersten
Another explosion mere weeks after the last, rocked the Johannesburg CBD on Tuesday.
This blast was accompanied by a one-storey high fire on the corner of Bertha and De Korte streets in Braamfontein at 15:15 on September 5, 2023.
A Total Braamfontein petrol attendant, Emmanuel Legau, told Wits Vuvuzela he heard a loud bang and then, “I saw fire erupt from the ground, and I saw someone rolling on the floor, near the where the fire broke [out].”
The explosion in an open manhole with an Egoli Gas maintenance team in it, led to their gas truck catching alight and then the flames quickly spread close to the entrance of South Point’s Epozini student accommodation.
According to the city’s mayor, Kabelo Gwamanda, the team was carrying out “preventative maintenance” on pipeline infrastructure, to be proactive and not have a repeat of the Bree Street explosion just six and a half weeks ago.
The fire was luckily extinguished within half an hour. Spokesperson of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Nana Radebe-Kgiba said “five people were injured and assessed on the scene,” with one Egoli Gas employee rushed to the hospital. All the injuries are said to be moderate.
In a statement, Egoli Gas called the fire on the gas line “unfortunate” and said they will be working more closely with the City of Joburg when carrying out maintenance in future to ensure public safety.
Floyd Brink, member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) said an investigation is underway to determine the cause.
FEATURED IMAGE: A crowd look on as a from a gas pipe explosion engulfs a maintenance truck and a nearby vacant building. Photo by Terri-Ann Brouwers.
The Wits student forum hosted the second part of the Project Revolutionize campaign which aims at tackling the lack of sanitary products and menstrual hygiene education within the university.
In a two-day activation campaign, which took place at Wits’ Ampitheatre and education campus — Project Revolutionize empowered students with knowledge and tools to help them manage their menstrual flow.
Project Revolutionize was formed by the Wits Business School student council to work towards eliminating period poverty at the institution; it has since been joined by different faculties within the institution.
Day one of the activation was themed “Painting the campus red.” The day consisted of engagements between the hosts of the event and the students, where they taught about feminine hygiene. Later, a pad drive was conducted where students were asked to donate if they had the means to.
The campaign collaborated with the Mina Foundation – an organisation also working towards alleviating period poverty. The foundation assisted by handing out menstrual cups to students, while informing them how they worked. They managed to give close to 200 menstrual cups to students.
“Ending period poverty is one thing we are keen to do; and currently we are doing that very well, we have [since] given out about one thousand cups here at Wits and today we are giving out more”, said Angela Shongwe, a junior facilitator of the Mina Foundation.
The second day of the activation was called “A REDvolutionary night” – and it only consisted of a panel discussion. The keynote speaker was former Witsie and one of the leaders of the 2015 Fees Must Fall movement, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa. She is currently the chairperson of the portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation for the ANC in parliament. She said that pad drives should be paired with something like a developmental programme that equips the needy with skills.
“I find it very cringey when people go to an area to donate a box of pads that’s going to last the people a month at most, not to say it’s not appreciated but those people need so much more than pads,” explained Mkhatshwa.
Meanwhile, Tshifhiwa Manyage, the co-founder of Project Revolutionize, invited the attendees to share their experiences of what it was like when they first had their periods.
“[When I got my period] I asked one of my teachers to get a pad and luckily she had one, but when I got home and explained what happened I was[not met with] conversations about what happens, that you going to experience period pains…Instead my mom said ‘I take you to school to get an education and this is partly what I’m expecting them to teach you’”, said Siyamthanda Mashicila, a Wits Honours in Arts theatre and performance student, sharing her experience.
In her closing remarks Mkhatshwa advised the students who are in councils to go to the Gender Equity Office and advocate for menstrual leave; saying that its unfair for women to have to show up when they are going through a tough time because of their periods. “Other countries have it and if they can do it, we can also do it”, she added.
Yolisa Sphambo, co-founder of Project Revolutionize and the Transformation Officer of the Wits Business School student council reflected on the activation and said: “People know what Project Revolutionize is and that is what makes me happy because if they know about it then they are going to start talking about it”. She said this will help break away from the shame about periods and work towards combating institutional period poverty.
On the last day of the campaign, Manyage told Wits Vuvuzela that although the outcome did not meet their expectations as they were hoping for a full house, Project Revolutionize had achieved its intended outcome for the day, “I’m grateful that at least we got a lot of engagement and a lot of discourse going”.
The evening was wrapped up and the audience was given an opportunity to have one on ones with speakers if they wished to and were offered refreshments.
FEATURE IMAGE: Yolisa Sphambo the co-founder of the project at day one of the activation.Photo:Aphelele Mbokotho
Top achieving students were invited by the Wits Counselling Careers and Development Unit (CCDU) to network and fast-track their next career moves with potential employers.
The CCDU Professional Speed Dating event saw over 100 students from different faculties engage with representatives for multiple companies on August 25, at the Professional Development Hub (PDH) at Wits University.
From companies like L’Oréal South Africa, Life Health Care, BMW Motors, and Standard Bank, students were spoilt for choice when it came to potential suitors. Students with a minimum average of 65% were allowed five-minute interviews, rotating between the companies to gauge what each field had to offer and to gain firsthand interview experience.
Between the dates, ten-minute informative sessions on the latest developments in specific fields were given. This included everything from new disinfectants against bacteria, to transformative constitutionalism in South African law and discussions around decolonizing the content in the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement’s (CAPS) economic document.
Along with this, students were also given slots to present some of their research through presentations.
Organiser of the event, Bongi Ndlovu told Wits Vuvuzela that the purpose of the event is to ensure that Wits graduates are “employable” and that they “possess the right attributes sought by employers.”
Many students seemed to have learnt a lot from the event despite only getting five-minutes with each employer. LLB Student Shaheed Wania told Wits Vuvuzela that there was a lot of competition, but he has learnt that “just because you are doing something in a particular field, it does not mean you are stuck in that field.”
Companies in attendance found the event promising with Ndlovu saying that BMW South Africa and the Boston Consulting Group (BSG) have already been contacting students who attended, impressed with their work. Ndlovu said the event was all about “opening opportunities for students.”
South African Breweries representative, Rene Kohler-Thomas said that their company is not looking for “skills” in the general sense but are looking for students who are “dreaming big” and can adapt to change. She added that she has thoroughly enjoyed engaging with students as you can see the “quality of the talent coming through.”
Ndlovu says the CCDU is planning to host more events like this in the future as it teaches students valuable skills for the working world, provides them with networking opportunities, and gives them the chance to brand themselves to potential employers.
FEATURED IMAGE: LLB student Kamogelo Mathekga being interviewed by law firm, Louw Genis & Rajoo Incorporated during the Professional Speed Dating Event at the Professional Development Hub. Photo: Georgia Cartwright
Trailblazing women encourage young women to challenge patriarchal norms.
“Being a black woman is extremely difficult especially when you get to the top, because the assumption is that you slept your way to it,” these were the words of former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
She was speaking at the Women in Leadership symposium held at the Wits Senate room on August 22, where the theme ‘Dare to lead’ was aimed at encouraging young women to assume positions of power without fear.
Along with Phakeng, The Wits School of Social Sciences invited speaker of the Johannesburg City Council Collen Makhubele, Group executive director in mining, Sibu Majozi and Policy advisor, Lutfiyya Dean to the women month event.
Attendees were eager to know about tackling power dynamics and sexism in the workspace, which panellists addressed as they delved into their personal experiences.
Majozi argued that women need to understand that they live in a post-colonial and patriarchal world, but they must rise above the entrenched system. “You need to earn the right [to take on a leadership position] especially if you’re a black woman,” said Majozi.
Emphasizing the inherent double standards of patriarchy, Phakeng said the media and the public alike have been overly critical of her over trivial things like dancing. “There was a male vice chancellor in this country that was charged with gender-based violence at this very university [Wits] but the parents, students and women in this country did not raise their voices,” said Phakeng.
Attendee, Sibusiso Msibi enquired about the significance of feminism in empowering women, where the panel reached a consensus that the socio-political movement is only relevant to some extent because of its lack of intersectionality and failing to consider ‘the struggles of black women’.
In response to the fact that women hold 29% senior management positions globally, Makhubele told Wits Vuvuzela that there is clearly something we have not cracked as a society, and it must come from the current generation of young people. “In order to change the political space-we need something more than a feminist movement,” said Makhubele.
At the end of the seminar, panellists encouraged students to reach out if they need personal mentorship.
FEATURED IMAGE: Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng speaking at the women in leadership symposium at Wits University. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov
The Accounting Student Council partnered with Absa to teach students on campus about investments and savings
Over 250 students from various fields of study overcrowded room five at the FNB venue at Wits on Thursday, August 17 in the pursuit of learning how to manage their money.
According to the World Bank , financial literacy is becoming increasingly important due to high levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. But the lack of data about people who are financially illiterate, makes it difficult to measure how bad the problem is.
However, in 2021, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a survey noting that only 42% of adults in South Africa are financially literate. This means that over half of the adult population does not understand basic financial concepts such as interest rates, inflation, and savings.
The event focused on compound growth with Keith Davids, investment specialist at Absa. He encouraged students to start saving and investing as soon as they start working.
Absa representative Nells Mokgahla, said his passion for financial education and freedom inspired him to help organize the event.
“The financial literacy gap keeps widening because of the assumption that upcoming graduates know how to handle their finances but as a responsible bank we wanted to close the gap,” said Mokgahla.
The initial plan was to have 150 final year accounting students; however, the event garnered students from different years of study and faculties, overloading the underestimated venue —some students had to sit on the floor.
The hosts tried to make the session as interactive and engaging as possible by asking the audience questions and giving them gift bags for each correct answer.
Davids told Wits Vuvuzela that the turnout amazed him and served as a testament that more students were eager to be financially literate. “What I loved the most is that there were so many women in the audience compared to the guys, normally it’s the opposite- so I’m excited and proud that people want to learn more about finances,” he said.
Final year student in mathematics and finance, Machuene Mahladisa told Wits Vuvuzela that he simply saw Absa banners outside the venue and decided to join. He said the seminar was informative, especially for young people who are entering the job market. “What shocked me mostly is finding out that less than 20% of South Africans can retire comfortably, so it’s important to invest in retirement annuity at an early age.”
FEATURED IMAGE: Private wealth banker, Tshepang Masilo giving a financial literacy talk at Wits university. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov
The failure by registered organ donors to disclose their intentions to donate to their families – is causing a stumbling block for the growth of this kind of surgical procedure, which saves lives
As Organ Donor Awareness Month comes to an end, the lack of donators continues to be a concern for doctors and organisations that work to bring awareness about this medical procedure in the country.
According to the Western Cape Government, more than 4000 people are awaiting a life-saving organ or cornea transplant, however, the country has a mere 0.2% of registered organ donors. In addition to this, South Africa has one of the lowest rates of deceased organ donations in the world with merely one in four donors per million population.
Dr Sharan Rambarran from the transplant clinic at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre explained that there are various factors contributing to the low number, including religious and cultural.
However, even those factors considered, being a registered donor means nothing if the giver is not having the necessary conversations with their loved ones. This is because the organ donation system in South Africa uses an “opt-in” approach — meaning regardless of whether an individual is a registered organ donor or has their wishes to be a donor expressed in their will, their family would have to consent to the donation.
“You can be registered with every association, you can be signed up on every organ donor registry, ultimately when you are declared brain dead your family have the last say as to whether or not you can be an organ donor,” said Rambarran.
Dr Sharan Rambarran in his office at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre Transplant Unit after discussing the various factors which contribute to the low number of registered donors in South Africa.
Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers
The president of Save Seven Jonty Wright, and vice-president, Naazim Nagdee said they have since learned that this problem can be avoided if interested donors can inform their loved ones about their intentions to donate.
“We ran a small survey and realised that over 90% of our peers didn’t know this simple fact and that’s a part of why young people don’t sign-up, it seems complex and time-consuming when it is actually not,” said the pair that works to raise awareness around organ donation.
Tanya Bothma (43) has experienced both ends of the spectrum. Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, she said in December 2017, she had a double lung transplant after living with a chronic lung disease since birth. It was the first transplant of its kind to be done anywhere in Africa. However, five months prior to her transplant, Tanya lost her brother in a paragliding accident. Her brother was an organ donor and although his organs were unable to be harvested, he was able to donate tissue and help 26 people in need.
The sad reality is not every story ends like Bothmas. Jessie Ann Losper faced a different reality when her husband was diagnosed with stage four renal kidney failure in 2020.
Although Losper was a match for her husband, he died before the transplant could take place. Losper said this was an eye-opening experience for her as she got a first-hand encounter of what the people in need of transplants and their families go through.
“Not many are as fortunate as we were to find a donor. Donors are desperately needed for many. During Taariqs’ (her husband) time at the hospital we met so many people who have been on the programme even longer than him and are depressed and hopeless because they have no support from family or friends.” She continued, “Loved ones have abandoned them because of them not being able to be as active as they once were, to earn salaries, even because of the level of care they sometimes need. It’s heart-wrenching to see and know.”
After experiencing both ends of the spectrum Bothma pleads with the public, “Please have the conversation with your family members about donating your organs after you have died, to save more lives like mine.”
Infographic: Six facts about organ donation
FEATURED IMAGE: A Wits student registering to become an organ donor on the Organ Donation Foundation website. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers
A national dialogue on stabilising coalitions in our democracy was held to find common ground; but was overwhelmingly met with disagreements, walkouts, and boycotts.
Picture this – it is 2026 and South Africa is on its tenth democratic president. Public confidence in the government is at an all-time low shown by well over half of eligible voters not turning out to vote.
Power and water cuts are frequent, wastewater treatment plants are spilling raw sewage into rivers and unemployment, inequality and poverty levels remain on an upward trajectory. Yet, no administration has enough power to implement policy or provide service delivery because another motion of no confidence is around the corner, threatening their tenuous positions in key national departments.
This hypothetical becomes a reality if coalitions at a provincial and national level operate similarly to coalitions in the country’s wealthiest city, Johannesburg.
Since the 2021 local government elections, Johannesburg has seen a revolving door of executives – five administrations in two years. Three of the five have seen partnerships with the African National Congress (ANC), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and other ideologically aligned parties. The other two seeing coalitions with the likes of the Democratic Alliance (DA), ActionSA, the Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP) and other largely anti-ANC and EFF parties.
This is why a dialogue on developing a framework for stabilising coalitions was hosted by Deputy President Paul Mashatile for political parties on August 4 to 5. However, it caused more friction than consensus – with an expert suggesting that a national referendum is needed for people to democratically decide how coalitions function before next year’s election.
Referendums are nothing new to our country in formulating a working democracy, as evidenced by the one in 1992, when (only) white voters indicated whether they supported the negotiations with newly unbanned political organisations, leading to the proposed end of the apartheid system.
In his analysis of the event hosted at the University of the Western Cape, a senior lecturer of political science and governance at Wits University, Dr. Kagiso Pooe, said that the dialogue did not provide a solid framework for stable coalition governments because “power politics was the main game.”
Quelling the chaos
In May 2023, a conceptual document was created by the Institute of Elections Management Services South Africa (IEMSA). The document identified the dysfunctionality of local government because of coalitions and provided suggestions to stabilise these marriages of convenience to best serve residents rather than party interests.
Instability at the local government level has “resulted in diminishing public confidence, poorer service delivery and allegedly millions of rands squandered.” as said by the author of the document Nkululeko Tselane.
However, coalitions are here to stay. The 2016 and 2021 election results in major municipalities showed no political party emerging with an outright majority. Something the ruling party is alive to, ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula admitted: “We are fully confident that 2024 will result in not us or anyone having the outright majority to govern.”
The DA, ActionSA, IFP, Vryheidsfront Plus (VF+) and three other ideologically aligned parties have already signed a pre-election coalition pact with one another, in anticipation of this reality.
Infographic: These are the 2021 municipal results in metropoles of Gauteng, with no outright winner, each municipality was forced into unstable ‘marriages of convenience’ to achieve a 50% + 1 to form a government. Graphic: Seth Thorne
Blame game ensues
Although the consensus from parties was that they believed that the issues of coalitions stemmed from their formation, those hoping for an agreement on the way forward were left bitterly disappointed. This is because political party leaders sought to shift the blame of instability from themselves rather than meet each other in the middle.
As has been the case at the municipal level, larger parties blamed smaller parties for the instability, and smaller parties pointed the finger right back.
The “[root of the issue is] not about the formation of coalitions, but the reality that politics in South Africa is failing and cooperation is going to be needed,” argued Pooe.
Thresholds and boycotts
The EFF boycotted the initial dialogue citing the “ANC’s involvement in the formulation of the framework… [is an] attempt to protect their fading grasp on power.”
The two current largest parties, the ANC and the DA, are suggesting implementing legislation which would ensure that the party that receives the most votes within a bloc governs the coalition. They also argue that should be a minimum threshold for parties to join any coalition (1%).
Pooe said this is an example of power politics on full display, and “gives insight into the fractured nature of power politics in South Africa, the ANC and DA in one corner and other smaller ones [in the other].”
Parties such as the VF+, Good, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) are strongly opposed to these legislative suggestions. Dr Pieter Groenewald of the VF+ said that these suggestions were “not based on true representative democracy.”
Pooe expected opposition given much of the country’s link to kingmaker politics at the local government level – which is a system where smaller parties generally decide the fate of larger parties. “[The opposition to the threshold] only makes sense [because] parties like them and others would want to negotiate what the new rules of the game might look like.”
It is important to note that these suggestions could inhibit the growth of other parties and arguably prove hypocritical from some of the contributors. “It’s rather odd that had… this proposed action occurred in 1994, there would be no DA today,” said Pooe.
The horse has bolted
Backlash arose when Cooperative Governance minister Parks Tau revealed that a bill on coalition governments was already in the process of being developed and is expected to be finished by the end of the year. Pooe believes that this lies at the heart of the problem.
Some parties are accusing the ANC and DA of sidelining contributions from smaller parties and using these dialogues as a coverup of a preexisting deal between the two largest parties in the country.
However, both parties refute this. Mashatile criticised the accusations from opposition parties arguing that “inputs saying that the ANC and DA have a grand deal… there is no deal.” Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen responded on social media saying “[The DA] want to build an opposition majority that will unseat the ANC, not keep (them) in power.”
In an open letter to Mashatile, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa slammed both the bill and dialogue: “… it is safe to assume that the Bill has, firstly, already taken into account the ANC’s basic ideas and secondly, it does not take into account the majority of opposition parties’ views on most issues, for example on the issue of thresholds.”
A way forward
Pooe believes a referendum is the only way forward. “We have had a multiparty approach, and to change the game so drastically needs a referendum. This referendum should speak to things like thresholds,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the ANC in government has a history of feigning public participation and then simply ramming through policy positions… and given the ANC and DA seem to have a spotted a chance to resolve their failures to map actual coalition talks, it only makes sense for them to create new barriers to entry,” Pooe added.
Coalitions are seemingly here to stay and legislation would shift how our democracy currently operates. With no real consensus amongst parties as to the way forward, maybe it is best for us, the everyday citizen that feel the negative effects of bad coalition deals, to be as decisive as possible at the polls come 2024 to decide how our democracy should operate and function going forward.
Summary of the views of each of the parties represented. Graphic: Seth Thorne
FEATURED: IEC officials alongside political party representatives counting the secret ballot votes at the Joburg City Council on May 5, 2023, electing its 5th mayor in two years. Photo: Seth Thorne
Thirty years on, members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) say South Africa is ‘Not Yet Uhuru’.
“South Africa is a different and better place! But sadly, our beloved country has many failings. Corruption in the private and public sectors is rife. The gap between the rich and the poor is unconscionable.”
These were the utterances of one of the UDF’s founders, Valli Moosa. The anti-apartheid movement celebrated its 40th anniversary on Sunday, August 20, at the Johannesburg City Hall.
The organisation was formed on August 20, 1983, in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town by Dr Allan Boesak, Valli Moosa, Popo Molefe, Murphy Morobe and Reverend Frank Chikane amongst others.
Rooted in the values of non-racialism and justice, the UDF brought together 400 public organisations including trade, student, women’s unions and religious organisations.
Addressing the media last week at the Country Club Johannesburg in Auckland Park, Reverend Chikane said this 40th anniversary celebration is an opportunity to highlight the importance of active citizenry.
“In the past, the key value of the organisation was anchored in unity as people joined the movement to fight for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and just society. We all took a step, we refused to collaborate with the apartheid system, and they took us seriously. Anybody who is in government if we get organised, they [those in government] will take us seriously.”
The theme of the UDF40, ‘Building Active Citizenry for Transformation and Accountability,’ called for the mobilisation of the people to find resourceful ways to marshal their energies towards defending South Africa’s hard-won democracy.
Speaking at the event, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged the challenges South Africans are currently faced with.
“The task before us is that those amongst us should not cling to the baton, they should take the baton and pass it on and set sights high on how to overcome challenges facing the people of South Africa,” said Ramaphosa.
Former trade union leader and chairperson of the South African Tourism Board, Dr Thozamile Botha said the struggle for economic emancipation and social housing continues. He added that we should draw lessons to sharpen our ideology from the UDF as we head into 30 years of democracy.
FEATURED IMAGE: People gathered in their numbers to celebrate the UDF’s 40th anniversary at the Joburg City Hall. Photo: Yunus Chamda/supplied.
A group of South African opposition parties have signed a coalition pact ahead of next year’s elections and promised the electorate an “alternative government”.
Seven political parties signed an agreement ahead of the 2024 national election, they pledged to work together to unseat the African National Congress (ANC) and keep the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) out of power.
Party leaders labelled the two-day negotiations held at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park a “great success” as it resulted in the signing of acommon declaration labelled theMulti-Party Charter for South Africa.
This pre-emptive formation hopes to avoid the chaos seen in municipal coalitions across the country.
“If we want to unseat the ANC as a government then there is no other option because there is no single opposition party who on their own will get a majority [of the vote]… we must ensure that we work together [so] that we have a stable coalition,” said Vryheidsfront (VF+) leader Dr Pieter Groenewald.
The DA, IFP, VF+, ActionSA, Independent South African National Organisation (Isanco), United Independent Movement (UIM) and the Spectrum National Party (SNP) agree that this, “alternative government” as IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa put it, would be one that promotes a free-market economy, decentralised power and minimal government interference in business.
Hlabisa argued that the bloc would be decisive on matters of “crime, unemployment, loadshedding…” because the “current government has failed us”.
No red and yellow here
Parties are open to broadening the pool of partners in the months to come if they share their governing priorities and values.
Leader of ActionSA Herman Mashaba said that they ruled out any possible working agreements with the third largest party, the EFF because of fundamental ideological differences as they are a party who are self-described as following a Marxist-Leninist school of thought.
When asked if this agreement would push the ANC and EFF to form a coalition agreement of their own, parties shrugged it off, and Mashaba said, “they can do what they want”.
In response, EFF spokesperson Leigh-Ann Mathys told Wits Vuvuzela that the issues parties want to solve (like unemployment and poverty) are the same, however, their approaches are fundamentally and ideologically different. “We are unapologetically a leftist party [and are] willing to work with parties who would implement similar ideological policies,” said Mathys.
Who rules the roost?
The bloc is in agreement that power would be shared, relative to the proportion of votes counted. The party with the most votes was promised the position of deputy president.
But these candidates have not yet been chosen, Hlabisa said that deciding on a candidate before the elections would “give an unfair advantage to that party.”
Given the highly publicised squabbles amongst party leaders, a professor at the Wits School of Governance and independent chairperson of the convention, William Gumede, said that “[party leaders must] rise above petty squabbles, egos and every decision they make must be in the public interest.”
The ANC lost its overall majority for the first time in the country’s democratic history in the 2021 municipal elections, which gave rise to the idea that no political party will achieve an outright majority alone to govern, following 2024’s elections.
Parties argued that by setting the terms now (should they come to power) they are not left scrambling in the 14 days after the elections to form a united government.
FEATURED IMAGE: A collage of all of the party leaders of the multi-party charter during the closing remarks of the two-day conference at Emperors Palace on August 17, 2023. Photos: Seth Thorne
Fourth year fine arts students learn the organisational and financial aspects of being an artist.
The Wits Fine Arts department’s graduating class hosted the New Work Auction at the Point of Order gallery on August 10, to raise funds for the print of their first physical catalogue in four years, since disruptions during the covid-19 pandemic.
Reshma Chhiba, curator at the Point of Order, told Wits Vuvuzela that at the end of the fourth year of the fine arts degree, the class is graded through a New Work exhibition at the Wits Art Museum, and a printed graduation catalogue.
The evening started out with a silent auction (where bids were written on a piece of paper) and was followed by a live auction (where an auctioneer called for bids). The auction exhibition featured artwork by both students and staff.
Simangaliso Sibiya, who is part of the fine arts honours class, said that his colleagues had placed starting bids as low as R50, and the live auction helped get as much out of the auction as possible. By the end of the live auction, the highest bid was R3500.
Sibiya’s auctioned work was a portrait of the late Bhekizizwe Peterson, who was a professor in the Wits African Literature department. A tribute to Peterson for a recommendation that influenced Sibiya’s entry into the fine arts programme. In the portrait, Peterson is surrounded by a circle of dancing children and a border of QR codes, both symbolising that his contributions, will live in the future.
Sibiya said he appreciates the New Works Project because it teaches them one of many ways to make an income from their work.
Chhiba also said that the New Work project facilitates the development of some skills that the students will need when they begin work as professional artists. Because this is a student-led fundraising initiative, they get to learn the organisational and financial aspects of being an artist.
Masindi Mbolekwa, who was part of the organising team, and whose work was also part of the auction, said that it was significant in teaching him “how to navigate these kinds of spaces, how to talk to people, how to engage with people when they are interested in the work.”
The New Work exhibition will be showing at the Wits Art Museum in November of this year.
FEATURED IMAGE: Image of a bid sheet for the silent auction at The Point of Order gallery, where the Wits fine arts department held their fundraising auction. Photo: Morongoa Masebe
Through advanced scholarship and direct engagement, the purpose of this Centre connects with evolving African journalism, fostering a link between academia, professionals, and the public.
The Wits Journalism department was formally rebranded as the Wits Centre for Journalism, signifying a new chapter in its academic journey. The launch to mark the shift was held on Friday, August 10 at the Wits Club on West Campus.
Inaugurated in 2001 within the Graduate Centre for Humanities then integrated into School of Literature, Languages and Media SLLM, the Wits Journalism department began as a postgraduate initiative that was coordinated by Eve Bertelsen. Anton Harbor assumed the externally funded Chair in Journalism, becoming its first department head and as they say, the rest is history.
According to the Wits website, a centre (centre of excellence) is a name used to refer to a research unit in the university which has maintained a high level of consistent research and external funding. The Wits Centre for Journalism (WCJ) has done this through projects like the Africa-China reporting project, the Justice Project and the annual State of the Newsroom report. Harber said, “Wits Journalism becoming a centre is a natural evolution.”
The keynote speech by Judge Bernard Ngoepe underscored the importance of responsible education and research in the field of journalism. “The media can change a country’s course in history… All of the brutality of 1976 [the Soweto Uprising] was exposed to the whole world through one picture. That is how powerful the media is,” he said.
Ngoepe also touched on the ethical fault lines in South African journalism today, which he said comes from the need to “get the scoop first”, something which can ruin reputations and lives with very little recourse he lamented.
Dr Dinesh Balliah, WCJ’s inaugral director, said that the work done at the centre for journalism would not be possible without the support of its industry partners, who continue to support budding journalists through bursaries and work opportunities.
Former student and WitsVuvuzela journalist, Tannur Anders is one such recipient and now works as financial journalist at Thomson Reuters.
She said, “It is great to be here for the official launch of the Wits Centre for Journalism; I studied at Wits last year and it was just the most amazing experience, not only did I learn a lot about journalism, what’s news and what’s newsworthy but I made really great friends.”
FEATUREDIMAGE: Director of the Wits Centre for Journalism Dr Dinesh Balliah on the far left with fellow attendees at the Wits Club for the launch of the Centre. Photo by: KimberleyKersten
In this episode we take a look at the work of Joburg Theatre, through the eyes of the people that work at there. Justine, who has been at the theatre for more than 20 years, walks us through its history, and Mbongeni, a ballet dancer, tells us how he came to make this beautiful theatre […]