VIDEO: In memory of Ruth First

Ruth First, a South African journalist, activist and former Witsie was assassinated 32 years ago, yesterday. Every year, Wits awards a fellowship in her name, to address the need for in-depth reporting on social issues. Wits Vuvuzela spoke to this year’s fellow and others about the impact of the fellowship on communities around the country.

 

Pay dispute endangers students

Low night shift allowances for Campus Control are allegedly leading to increased absenteeism among security guards—and putting students in danger.

Security guards are paid a monthly night shift allowance of R203.94.

They work seven night shifts a month, each of which are 12 hours long.  This means they are paid about R29 per night shift in addition to their basic salary.

Chairperson of the Wits branch of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) Nnwamato Sadiki said the low allowance and long hours have started a trend of absenteeism amongst security guards working the night shift.

“Each and every shift you cannot find people that are on shift, some of them are reporting they are sick and some of them are reporting that they are not interested in coming due to various reasons,” said Sadiki.

Campus Control security guards are meant to be posted in the Braamfontein area for the protection of students who live in the area.

Campus Control liaison manager Lucky Khumela said security guards did take off work for sick leave or other reasons. He could not say whether there was increased absenteeism due to unhappiness with the night shift allowance.

“I cannot say no or it’s not a problem that has been identified yet because you find that people get sick or they need to get off work,” Khumela said.

ONLINE 27_Campus control

UNDER WAGE: Guards from Wits campus control are unhappy with their night shift allowance. Wits union leader, Nnwamato Sadiki, says guards are earning an extra R203.94 for the seven night shifts they are required to do per month. They want R272. Photo Anazi Zote

“I have never really heard of any issue that workers are reluctant to come to work because of low pay. Wits University is competitive when it comes to campus security companies especially in comparison to other universities,” he said.

However, Wits Vuvuzela reporters who live in the area have noticed a lack of visible Campus Control security guards. Many students also said they felt unsafe in the area, especially when they stay late at school to complete their assignments and study for exams.

Matsepo Khumalo, 1st year BA in Dramatic Arts, said she feels unsafe in Braamfontein without security guards.

“I witnessed a mugging outside Bridgeview and that is relatively close to campus. It is really scary to think that you can be mugged near campus … It would be nice to just walk freely,” Khumalo said.

Khumalo told Wits Vuvuzela that while Campus Control was short-staffed, shifts were adequately staffed even after security guards call in sick.

“Although we are we are very short-staffed we are fortunate that we have security officers who stay around Braamfontein and some of them stay on campus. Whenever someone books off sick another security guard will come to replace him,” Khumela said.

Sadiki said the safety of students could be comprised because security guards are not motivated to work.

“We can’t say we need to compromise the lives of the students but if we are not getting enough of what we deserve and of what we have worked for, it can bring the morale down,” Sadiki said.

Deputy chairperson of Wits Nehawu Billy Cebekhulu said the disputes over the night shift allowance has been going on since 2009.

According to a Wits human resources memorandum sent to Nehawu in March of this year, management acknowledged that the night shift allowance had not increased for six years to 2008 from 2002. It said the night allowance “remained constant for reasons of security industry compliance.”

However, management said that while the allowance was fixed, the total pay package for security guards increased “without fail” every year.

Khumela denied that Campus Control security guards were underpaid.

“Wits University pay their security well and if that was not the case there would be no security guards on campus,” said Khumela.

But Cebekhulu told Wits Vuvuzela that Wits security guards were receiving lower night allowances when compared to the University of Johannesburg.

Sadiki said the security guards believe they are also receiving lower pay packages when compared to other service staff at Wits. He feels Campus Control are not being treated equally to the people they are protecting.

“I am disappointed in Wits because I thought it was an institution with a good reputation since it produced intellectual students.

“They are getting exposure from green pastures everywhere but they forget the environment of working classes, which is the security officers on campus, is deteriorating,” Sadiki said.

Nehawu said they were planning on taking action with regards to the night shift allowances to upper management at Wits.

VIDEO: My first time

Witsies reflect on their first time. Who did they experience it with, how did it feel and what did they do straight afterwards?

If you are unable to view the full video, click here

 

Great Debate series ends with ANC and DA emphasising job creation

The ANC's Minister Ebrahim Patel, eNCA's host Jeremy Maggs and the DA's Tim Harris at last night's final Wits Great Debate. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

The ANC’s Minister Ebrahim Patel, eNCA’s host Jeremy Maggs and the DA’s Tim Harris at last night’s final Wits Great Debate. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

With just five days until the national general elections, Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel and the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Tim Harris punted job creation at last night’s Wits Great Debate.

This was the final event in a series of five, titled “The final countdown,” with both speakers focusing on their parties’ plans for economic growth.

[pullquote]“Cutting corruption leads to jobs for all”[/pullquote]

“Our plan is to create six million real jobs,” said Harris, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Finance. “Cutting corruption leads to jobs for all.”

Patel, an African National Congress (ANC) MP, challenged Harris’ attempts to discredit the ANC’s track record in job creation. He argued that StatsSA has information showing the success of the ANC’s job creation initiatives. “The information is publicly available, I suspect the information is very embarrassing and therefore the DA has chosen not to publicise it,” he said.

When asked by Patel if the DA will reach its target of 30% Harris responded by saying that they [the DA] “the fastest growing party since 1994.”

Last elections, they got 16.7% of the vote, nationally and this election are aiming for “significantly more than that,” according to Harris.

Neither of them would commit to a specific number, although the ANC is aiming for a two thirds majority, according to Patel. Both spoke of growth and overwhelming support for their respective parties, constantly making reference to job creation.

While the DA’s “upbeat, positive” plan is to create six million real jobs, according to Harris, the ANC plans to “build on the strength of what we’ve done well and learn from our mistakes,” according to Patel.

Both Harris and Patel “blinded us all with very elegant statistics,” said debate host, Jeremy Maggs. He asked both representatives to explain exactly how their parties plan on creating “six million real jobs.” Both avoided directly answering the question and instead continued to emphasise the importance of job creation.

Harris told Wits Vuvuzela after the debate that theirs (DA) was a three-tiered plan which involves reforming the labour laws and ensuring that workers have a say as to when they go on strike. This will enable “businesses to grow and hire more workers,” he said.

ANC and DA supporters at last night's final installment in the Wits Great Debate series. Photo: Anazi Zote

ANC and DA supporters at last night’s final installment in the Wits Great Debate series. Photo: Anazi Zote

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Small parties are still relevant in South Africa

WORLD DOMINATION: Small parties of the collective democracy conglomerate, are gearing up for a "radical change" in government that is accountable and transparent.  Photo: Nqobile Dludla

WORLD DOMINATION: Small parties of the Collective Democracy conglomerate, are gearing up for a “radical change” in government that is accountable and transparent, come May 7.  Pictured from left are Mkhuleko Hlengwa (IFP), Forouk Kassim (Cope) and Bantu Holomisa (UDM) Photo: Nqobile Dludla

 

By Anazi Zote and Lameez Omarjee

A ‘quality over quantity’ government was the unanimous call of the three political parties represented at the Great Debate (#witsdebate) held last night on the Wits education campus in Parktown.

Bantu Holomisa, of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and a member of parliament (MP), Farouk Cassim, Congress of the people (COPE), and Mkhuleko Hlengwa of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) participated in the third debate which focused on the viability of small parties as opposition to the African National Congress (ANC) and the larger opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Quality over quantity

“[It is] not about numbers, [but rather] about quality that counts in the politics of a (our) country… Look at the numbers of big parties, they can’t even deal with their corrupt president,” said Holomisa.

In the same voice, defending their party size, Cassim, of the still relatively new COPE party, said: “We may be small in size, but not in vigour and voice. In vigour and voice we are powerful, the country hears us”.

“Whether we get the numbers or not, the IFP is here to serve … the populist agenda, which the main party is relying on, is going to be broken,” added Hlengwa.

Cassim told Wits Vuvuzela, “Mass parties world-wide are going to be extinct, they are going to be of no value because the trend of the future will be smaller parties … acting as conglomerates.”

Ethical governance 

Hlengwa emphasised that opposition parties did not exist simply to oppose but to constructively create progress.  He told Wits Vuvuzela that “if you criticise for the sake of criticising, then there will be no progress”.

All three parties echoed the sentiment of having an accountable and transparent government for the benefit of all South Africans.  “In the past five years, there has been a lack of accountability and responsibility,” said Hlengwa.

[pullquote]“This is no longer a democracy, it is a demo-crazy”[/pullquote]

Holomisa warned South Africans  not to follow the footsteps of a corrupt government because it will collapse. Small parties have a role to play in ensuring that there is no corrupt governance. “If we are quiet and we don’t expose these things, then we will be like other countries in the continent,” said Holomisa.

He also blamed the lack of votes for small parties on the misuse of government resources by the African National Congress (ANC), which relies heavily on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to be its [the ANC’s] mouthpiece.  “

This is no longer a democracy, it is a demo-crazy,” he said. The final installation of the Wits Great Debate happens next week Thursday and speakers are still to be announced.

 

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No change in change rooms for parking officers

parking officers

The bad conditions in the parking officers’ change rooms has been left unattended for a long time. Photo: Anazi Zote

Parking officers at Wits University have complained about the condition of their change room facilities since the renovation of Origins Centre. They were moved out on a temporary basis while the building was under construction but were promised they would return.

They have been filing several requests and suggestions for buildings they could occupy whilst they wait for their new change rooms but these suggestions have been ignored. Parking officers are starting to lose patience after receiving endless promises from the Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD) on West Campus.

Other structures within Campus Control, such as security guards have received response to their request for new change room facilities. No one has been able to explain why the security guards are prioritised instead of the parking officers.

[pullquote]“The building is caving in and water is seeping through it. Sihlala nama kati apha (We sit with wild cats here)” [/pullquote]

There is no electricity, the toilet facilities do not work as there is no running water and the drains are blocked. “This is not justice, we can’t change and drink our tea in these conditions,” a parking officer said. Inside the building there are parking signs stacked on the damp carpet and in the corner of rooms.

“The building is caving in and water is seeping through it. Sihlala nama kati apha (We sit with wild cats here),” another parking officer said.

Several requests have been sent to the deputy director of PIMD, Rias Adams, but have been not been attended to.

Adams acknowledged that he received these requests and said the parking officers would be located given rooms in the new science building which is currently being built on West Campus. This building is due for completion by the end of this year.

While this renovation continues parking officers are left with no option but to stay in the building. Adams said, “The university struggles with space and priority is given to education requests.”

He also told Wits Vuvuzela  there are structures in place and if the parking officers had any complaints they would have to direct them to the head of Campus Control, Robert Kemp. He said the requests he received from the parking office were sent to the director of campus development and planning, Emannuel Prinsloo. Prinsloo was unable to comment on the matter.

 Robert Kemp, the head of campus control, says the change room facilities for parking officers was going to be allocated near the new Maths building but this was allocated to contractors instead.

While renovations of the science block are taking place, he said, “going forward we look at temporary space near the squash courts on West Campus.”

In the long-term he hopes to secure adequate space through the space allocation office.