New DA leader ‘passionate’ about student issues

Newly elected DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, addresses criticisms on student issues and politics.

Mmusi Maimane speaking at an event. Photograph: Stock images by The Democratic Alliance [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Mmusi Maimane speaking at an event. Photograph: Stock images by The Democratic Alliance [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

New Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane spoke to Wits Vuvuzela this week after his election as party leader.
Maimane said that he is passionate about the youth and the issues that affect them, with focus on issues such as funding for students.
“My passion is for the youth,” he said.
As a former Witsie, Maimane described his experiences at the university and said his problems were typical.
“Like all students I struggled with the same issues such as tuition… but I found it a great experience.”
“Historically, Wits University has always been at the forefront of freedom of expression and always active in protests,” Maimane said
He also had high praise for Vice Chancellor Adam Habib: “I celebrate Adam Habib and the way he solves leadership problems.”
Maimane added that the DA was growing on campuses, citing the DA Student Organisation’s SRC victory at Fort Hare University.
“We are the dominant SRC at Fort Hare, the university where Nelson Mandela went as well as many others,” he said.

It is not only fundamentally racist but it is also what Steve Biko warned against…that in fact the powerful weapon of the oppression is the mind-set of the oppressed.
However, when asked about students politics at Wits he said: “A lot more can be done.”
In an interview with VowFM, earlier this week, Maimane addressed some of the issues he has been critised for including being a black ‘puppet’ for a white party. This comes after he was elected as the first black leader of the DA with some calling it a strategic move for the party.
“It is not only fundamentally racist but it is also what Steve Biko warned against…that in fact the powerful weapon of the oppression is the mind-set of the oppressed.”
He also answered questions regarding the DA’s position on affirmative action and the party being accused of not being fully committed to addressing race inequalities. “The long term destination of South Africa is to build diverse work places…We support triple ‘B’ [black, broad-based] and double ‘E’ [employment equity] but we don’t want to do it like the ANC wants to do it.”
In the radio interview he spoke about youth unemployment “We need a growing economy for young people. We need to ensure micro-enterprise is brought forward for young people.”
Maimane also answered questions about whether the youth wage subsidy is an adequate response to youth unemployment in the country.
“The project of making sure that young people are getting into the economic stream is a project that must involve multiple dynamics, with one of them being the youth wage subsidy. These issues are multi-faceted and require multiple prongs to address youth unemployment.”
On a lighter note, Wits Vuvuzela asked Maimane what his nicknames were. He told us that his wife, Natalie, calls him “my love”.

mmusi 2 edited (Conflict Copy)

Q&A with Tony Leon

Tony Leon, former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA). Photo: Provided

Tony Leon, former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA).   Photo: Provided

 

Tony Leon is the former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA). He was also South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina between 2009 and 2012. He studied Law at Wits and was elected onto the the Wits SRC during the 1980s.

How do you think the DA has fared since your departure?
Electorally, the DA has done well and improved its position in each national election and gained some share of the elusive Black vote. But it failed in its declared objectives of either getting 30% of the national vote in May 2014 or winning the province of Gauteng. Existentially, it faces the prospect of being overshadowed by the bare-knuckled tactics of the EFF as an opposition and then in defining itself as a distinct entity from the ANC.

What are your thoughts on the new opposition politics?
I would add that the real dilemma for opposition politics is that, notwithstanding significant public disenchantment with the ruling party, there is still a 40 point spread between ANC and DA and the ANC governs in eight of nine provinces, but this could shift as conditions deteriorate.

Do white males have a future in South African politics and why?
There are still many white males in the DA (and certainly in the small FF Plus) and even one or three or so in the ANC. But I think there has been a withdrawal of whites from the body politic, which is a pity since, under the constitution, there should be room for all races to participate and prosper in politics.

What are your thoughts on the current conflict in the Middle-East?
I think it is a war without end, sadly. Many states do not recognise Israel’s right to exist, which is the existential issue at the heart of the conflicts and Israel certainly has made the conditions for a properly constituted Palestinian state almost objectively impossible to achieve. Now we have the rise of extremist Islam in the form of IS and the Sunni-Shia divide playing itself out across the borders of states which, in the case of Iraq and Syria, do not really exist as functioning entities. Democracy arrived briefly via the Arab Spring and, with perhaps the exception of Tunisia, never took root anywhere. It is a profoundly depressing picture.

What inspired you to write your new book Opposite Mandela?
I was encouraged by my publisher, Jonathan Ball, to write the account which appears in Opposite Mandela on the basis that, with all the accounts of Mandela and his hugely impactful leadership, no one, until this book, had written from first-hand observation an eye-witness memoir of what it was like to be in opposition to Mandela and still have a good, often warm, relationship with him and his presidency. Hopefully my book sheds some new light on this extraordinary man and the time when he led our nation.

ELECTIONS: OPINION: Born-frees not inspired enough to vote

 

born-free

FREE, NOT TO VOTE: Many ‘born-free’ South Africans are staying away from the polls in this year’s national general elections. PHOTO: File.

Although it’s only been 20 years since South Africa achieved democracy, an entire generation, known as the “born-frees” is already showing signs of political fatigue with nearly one million of them choosing not to vote.

Tomorrow, and on just one day, South Africans will take to the polls and cast their vote in this year’s national general elections but the ‘babies’ of a free South Africa are not clamouring to the polls as was anticipated.

In staying away from the polling booths, the children of democracy, who are supposed to be proud to make their mark for the first time, are effectively failing the nation. But their reasons for standing on the sidelines on such a momentous day are varied.

“I’m not voting because … I believe that regardless of who I vote for the ANC (African National Congress) will win … I feel as though it’s between the ANC and the DA (Democratic Alliance), and I don’t really mind who wins between the two,” said Dominic Dandajena, a BCom student from the University of Pretoria.

Sadly, South Africa is no longer a democratic country

A common excuse was the high levels of corruption among politicans. “They [politicians] are extremely corrupt. Especially the ruling party politicians, but nothing is being done about it,” said Mpho Mile, a student from the International Hotel School.

“Our country’s politicians are not exemplary. Most of them do not possess the qualities of a good leader and this leads to them leading the nation astray often,” says Lesego Pitsi, a performing arts student from the State Theatre, in Pretoria..

Others feel political engagement is very far down their list of priorities even though it takes just a couple of hours to cast one’s vote.

“This [degree] is important to me right now, so I am more focused on this than I am on politics,” said Gemma Cooke-Tonnesen, a BCom Accounting student at Wits.

“However, I believe I still need to take an interest in politics.” Despite this sentiment, she is not registered to vote tomorrow.

While born-frees are well aware of South Africa’s history, they would prefer to “forget about the past,” according to Zongezile Qeba, a second year chemical engineering student from Wits. This has manifested itself in the form of apathy and for many, the decision not to vote.

“Sadly, South Africa is no longer a democratic country, but rather a crazy country that continuously tosses to and fro.”

Qeba is choosing not to vote because he, like many of his generation, are not “inspired enough”.

Born-frees are special

Even though she won’t be voting, Mile believes being a ‘born-free’ means she is already privileged: “Being a born-free, I have numerous amounts of opportunities. That doesn’t mean everything will be handed to me without no effort. There are opportunities that we are given the resources to attain,” she said.

“The born-free generation represent an era of redemption, a generation that is free from all forces of apartheid,” said Pitsi.

While the small percentage of registered born-frees is worrying, these elections will have an impact on them whether or not they choose to vote. The government and leaders elected into power will ultimately set the agenda for the youth, even those who care little about politics.

Getting a degree and finding employment after school will always be a priority for young people but if there’s one thing these elections have taught the nation, it’s that an entire generation of South Africans have already moved on from the past and need issues of the present and future to be taken very seriously, very quickly.

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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‘Zuma is still on top despite Nkandla,’ says DA’s Maimane

FRIENDLY ENEMIES:  Mmusi Maimane, Imaan Rappetti and Paul Mashatile pictured after a heated debate. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

FRIENDLY ENEMIES: Pictured at the Wits Great Debate (from left to right), Mmusi Maimane, Imaan Rappetti and Paul Mashatile. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

Corruption and race dominated discussions in the penultimate of the Great Debate series at Wits University last night.

The African National Congress (ANC)’s Paul Mashatile and the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Mmusi Maimane took to the stage in front of a packed Great Hall divided between supporters dressed in blue and those in yellow.

“The DA has some black members, but the black people in the DA aren’t good enough to go to parliament,” argued Gauteng ANC chair Mashatile.

Maimane responded to the lack of black DA MPs (members of parliament) by saying, “we haven’t said we’d reward cadres. We’ve said we’d reward the best, based on skill.”

Editor of The Star newspaper, Makhudu Sefara, who was part of the audience at the debate, noted that the DA “skilfully avoided questions of race and accountability, leaving the ANC to over-capitalise on it”.

The high levels of corruption was also addressed when an audience member criticised the ANC for its lack of transparency, citing Nkandla and budget deficits as affecting the legitimacy of the government.

Maimane capitalised on the criticism when he said, “ANC says it scans its lists for people charged with corruption but Zuma is [still] on top despite Nkandla”.

Mashatile, in response, focused on Gauteng specifically by saying: “There is no corruption in Gauteng.” He went on to blame increased migration for the current budget deficit in the province.

The final leg of the debate series will take place tonight at Wits University starting promptly at 8pm. For tickets, click here.

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Begging eGoli with no idea for a new ID

When Louis and his brother first came to Johannesburg they had arrived by train from Kimberly with nothing but a backpack each.  They were welcomed to the City of Lights, the City of Promise by being mugged The few personal items they had were taken, including their ID documents

Instead of the City of Gold offering riches and opportunity, two years later they still pursue bags of gold in the form of a few rands.

Louis Vermaak (37) spends 12 hours a day outside the PicknPay on Jorissen street in order to survive.

[pullquote]”I think this is because we help when we witness some crime”[/pullquote]

For the first seven months after Louis and his brother arrived they lived on the pavement behind the Protea Parktonian hotel, a place that hosts many new arrivals to the city with four-star hospitality. Now they beg so they can afford to stay at the Braamfontein Shelter.

Louis is still saving up to pay for a new ID. Over the past week, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor received criticism for the new ID smart card prices. The Democratic Alliance (DA) released a statement saying that R140 for the new identity cards was too much for the poor.

DA spokesperson Manny de Freitas said for many South Africans R140 was the difference between survival and hunger.

Braamfontein is a largely student populated area but Louis said he liked that.

“I chose this area because we are not chased away by the security here. I think this is because we help when we witness some crime. The students are also friendlier than older people. Some students generally donate some food for me too.”

[pullquote align=”right”]”I told myself I would rather beg than steal”[/pullquote][/pullquote]

When Louis stayed behind the Parktonian, he met a fellow street dweller who introduced him to informal recycling. Louis worked as a recycler for six months but then his trolley was stolen but he did not have money to replace it..

“This is how I ended up begging. I told myself I would rather beg than steal.”

Louis hopes to get an artisanal job once he has made enough money to pay for his ID. “That ID will be a ticket for me to have a decent job so that I can even afford to have my own family one day.”

There may be hope for Louis to get his ID though. The spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs Ronnie Mamoepa said Pandor was in “discussion with National Treasury regarding fees for certain categories of persons that may be exempted”.