Mandela’s legacy in question

Representatives of several political parties came together on Friday to debate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Representatives of several political parties came together on Friday to debate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

“Don’t blame Mandela because black people are lazy”.  The president of the Wits Debating Union (WDU), Jamie Mighti, said he was willing to be unpopular and tell fellow black students this “inconvenient truth”.

Mighti was speaking at a debate held by the WDU about former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy focused on whether Mandela sold black people out in the name of peace and reconciliation.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) representatives Hon M A Mncwango and  Bonginkosi Dhlamini, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Makashule Gana and Andile Mngxitama of the Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF also formed part of the debating panel.

[pullquote align=”right”]”Mandela cut deals with white people at the expense of black people.”[/pullquote]

The IFP, DA and WDU all argued that Mandela did not sell black people out but rather “chose peace over justice” so the country could move forward.

This is in light of Mandela’s decision to protect the private property rights of the wealthy, who were still mainly white.

Mandela was also criticised for his decision to keep South Africa a capitalist state.

Public figures such as his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, have publicly called him a “sell out” for choosing to have black and white people live and work together on what they have called the “stolen” land of black Africans.

Gana of the DA said it was important to consider history and context when looking at what Mandela did for South Africa: “Many other African states were collapsing and skilled people were leaving these countries with no skills transfer … He was driven by that fact and the Freedom Charter, which stated that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”

Mngxitama was the only panelist who disagreed with the stateman’s approach to building a new South Africa: “Mandela cut deals with white people at the expense of black people. That is his unique contribution, that’s his legacy.”

The activist-turned-politician was met with a room full of applause and cheers when he said the EFF planned to “take the land and he economy back.”

He also said that under their (EFF) rule, all members of parliament would be forced to use public hospitals and take their children to public schools – “then they’ll be sure to make Baragwanath a quality hospital”, he said, to which the crowd responded with more applause and screaming.

[pullquote]”Don’t try party like a white kid. He’s going to leave you behind because he’s 12 years ahead of you.”[/pullquote]

Mighti said he was alarmed by the approach of “the Andiles and Malemas of this world”. He urged fellow students to forgive and forget about the apartheid regime and focus on being better students to ensure a more promising future. “What Andile says makes for good slogans, but it doesn’t make for a good supper”.

He said more black students needed to be in the library and “not at Puma [Social Club].

Don’t try party like a white kid. He’s going to leave you behind because he’s 12 years ahead of you. He had a good education, you have catching up to do.”

A student, who chose not to be named,  shouted at Mighti: “You insult us as blacks and yet you are black. This is what the system wanted.” He argued that the 24 hour libraries on main campus are used by black students, objecting to his claim that black students don’t put in as much work as their white mates.

He said white students were able to do better because they had resources like Apple iPads, computers with internet access and cars, which made their learning simpler.

Mighti ended his address by saying to black students “look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are not the top student in your class. There’s too much ‘instagraming’ and ‘facebooking’ going on”.

The debate ended without final remarks from Mngxitama as he was “summoned” to Soweto to join the EFF’s National Assembly.

The debate, which was held at FNB 101 last night, was aimed at addressing what the WDU has called “ongoing conversations” among young people.

Another debate will be held next week Friday as part of the WDU’s “Responsible Reconcilliation” Series. Next week’s topic is Socio-Economic Integration.

Top debater gets banned


TALK THAT TALK: The Wits Debating Union’s Jamie Mighti (right) has been banned from participating in an upcoming tournament   in Durban     Photo: Provide

TALK THAT TALK: The Wits Debating Union’s Jamie Mighti (right) has been banned from participating in an upcoming tournament in Durban                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Provide

THE PRESIDENT of the Wits Debating Union (WDU) has been banned from a tournament in Durban following allegations of  sexism.

The Howard College Debating Union (HCDU) executive committee banned WDU President Jamie Mighti from participating in its second annual debating tournament on April 26 after receiving an anonymous complaint.

Mighti was accused of making sexist remarks on the Nationals 2011 Facebook page towards HCDU members Kimera Chetty and Lindelwe Dube.

The war of words began when Chetty posted a comment on Facebook about the Jozi Rumble, a debating tournament hosted by WDU earlier this month.  Chetty asked about television coverage of the tournament, which she said had been promised by Mighti.

“Hey Jamie, which channel can we catch the syndication of the Jozi rumble debates? #excited,” Chetty posted.

Mighti responded to Chetty with a post accusing her of using sexual favours to succeed in debate and saying she had a “flat bum”.

“You can sleep your way to the top but how will you sleep your way to this?” wrote Mighti. “Do you know what your mother wishes…that she had done better, than having a cry baby for a duaghter [sic]”.

Chetty fired back against Mighti on Facebook calling him sexist and arrogant.

“I am VERY glad that everyone is getting to see you for the sexist creep you are,” wrote Chetty. “Your problem is that for all your arrogance and general self-arse-kissery, you have trouble dealing with things directed specifically at *you*.

Lindelwe Dube then joined the Facebook conversation to defend Chetty:

“We all know Kimera or anyone who does well in our community didn’t sleep their way to the top. I for one was on my way to beating the crap out of Jamie for the statement he said about Kimera,” she wrote.

Mighti responded to Lindelwe Dube’s comment by claiming she was bitter because he had refused her advances. “If you went to gym more, who knows what could have happened, let go of the KFC girl.”

Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that Chetty’s comments were attempts to undermine the work the WDU had done in hosting a successful tournament. “In that post she was trying to ridicule and mock the tournament,” explained Mighti.

He added that his online argument with Chetty was not an isolated incident. “Me and Kemira have had many, many differences over the years…and even on that wall [The Nationals 2011 Facebook Page] there we have many interactions where we will shout at each other.”

Wits Vuvuzela tried to reach Chetty for comment but received no response.

In an official email to the WDU, the HCDU executive committee announced Mighti’s exclusion from the tournament. “Due to Jamie’s utterances on FB page, he falls into that category of individual that the HCDU wishes to dissociate itself from. This ban is applicable only to Jamie and does not attach itself to WDU,” read the email.

Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that he felt his comments should not reflect badly on the WDU and said he acted out of anger and frustration. He also turned to Facebook to offer apologies to Chetty and Lindelwa Dube. However, he denied that his comments were sexist or untruthful.

“I am sorry I called Lindelwe fat, this was a hurtful thing for me to say, I do not think it was sexist,” Mighti wrote.”I am sorry I said Kimera slept her way to the top, I have no business discussing people’s sexual histories or calling them names. I did not in any way ever mean that WOMEN are as a group incapable of making it on their own and that they can’t do anything.”

“In a moment of anger I also said something about her, which is not untrue but also very hurtful,” said Mighti.

Mighti wrote that he hoped to find a way to move past the dispute with Chetty and Lindelwa Dube. The WDU has since decided to withdraw from attending the tournament. WDU Treasurer Gwinyani Dube said a double-standard had been applied to Mighti as the two HCDU debaters had not been suspended despite having also made insults.

Gwinyani Dube defended Mighti from accusations of sexism and said they were a matter of “perception”.

“The idea of sexism largely relies on perception. We as a union…don’t view the insults as sexist but rather a personal insult that has been inflated into a broader woman-based issue,” Gwinyai Dube said.

Mighti said that the exclusion from the tournament would not affect the WDU’s ranking as number one in Africa and 23rd in the world. The tournament hosted by HCDU was a friendly and not mandatory to attend, he added.

Wits res students called to open their mouths

THE national debating champions at Wits are gearing up for greater residence participation.

Last year, the Wits Debating Union (WDU) took first place at the national championships held at the University of Pretoria.

“We don’t want more residence students necessarily but we just want more residence participation,” says the head of the union, Leon Mithi.

The 2nd year law student says, “Debating is an important activity and social experience, it’s important for a democratic society.”

The union held a tournament between first year students as a way of making them feel included, says Mithi.

“We had a pilot tournament with a few prizes, like allocating R1000 to [the winner’s] fees.”

Thando Yende, a 2nd year LLB student, and the organiser of the residence tournaments, believes these tournaments have an important function. “We involve [students] in debating and public speaking so that they can have confidence in themselves.”

Sechaba Motseki, a 1st year medicine student found out about the society through residence house committee.

“It’s a challenge,” he says. “But it’s interesting. I’ve done public speaking before, and I think debate can help with my course.”

Mithi says this is the union’s intention. “We are going to start having [sessions] during lunchtime, so that we can include medical students, and students from other campuses. It’s important to expose everyone to it.”

Currently the WDU meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“On Tuesdays we do training- to improve skills and logic and on Thursdays we have practice debates,” says Mithi.

The union meets in Senate House basement room 2, from 6pm. Mithi says they are looking for all kinds of students to join, whether they are familiar with debating or not.

“People don’t realise how debating adds to your CV,” he says. “It makes you different and says you’re a different kind of person.”

WDU have been the national champions for two years in a row.