23 April, 2008

A huge setback for Bafana

By Kobus Pretorius

Carlos Alberto Parreira has resigned as coach of Bafana Bafana. A shocking development some may say, especially if you take into account the recent performances of the national soccer team. They beat a highly rated Paraguay less than a month ago.

So why this bold step by Parreira?

Instead of getting cynical and blaming a whole lot of people, not least of all Parreira, there is a simple explanation for the highly rated coach wanting to return to his native Brazil.

It’s a word that most people embrace and protect because family is the most important thing in the world. And it seems that is exactly the way Parreira feels because he has just walked away from R1, 8 million a month to be with his wife who is reported to be suffering from cancer. Another reason, apparently, is that he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.

For most people it would be a no-brainer. Others may take a little while longer to see the bigger picture. After all, we are talking about R1, 8 million tax-free every month for the next two years at least.

So you can’t really blame him for quitting can you? Of course not. Especially not at his age where any normal person would like to take life a bit easier and spend it with their family. I mean, at 65, wouldn’t you?

Nevertheless, it doesn’t make the SA Football Association’s dilemma any easier. They now have to search for a coach before Bafana play a host of qualify matches at the end of next month for the Confederations Cup in 2009.

Apparently Parreira has pointed out a few potential successors with quite a few Brazilians among them. These include current Flamengo coach Joel Santana and Internacional boss Abel Braga.

Other high profile coaches linked to the post is current Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. Scolari won the World Cup with Brazil back in 2002 and took Portugal to the Euro 2004 final and World Cup semi-finals in 2006.

The bad news for Safa is that Scolari’s contract with Portugal only expires in June after Euro 2008. It may not be possible for them to wait that long to make an appointment as Bafana have a few crucial qualifying games as stated earlier before that.

Another option can be to give the job, albeit temporarily, to Parreira’s assistants, Jairo Leal and Pitso Mosimane. This would insure a certain amount of consistency until a permanent replacement can be found.

It is therefore likely that Safa will again look at an international coach before they consider local talent.

At least we know they are not scared to throw a lot of money around to make sure the team is a success.

18 April, 2008

Being a Student Journalist in SA- the hardships

Buhle Mbonambi (DUT)
These past few weeks have been so turbulant for the South African media that we almost believe that we can report on anything until the next controversial issue rocks us again. Think the UFS video, the DRUM journalist who got beaten up while covering the story in Bloemfontein, the Forum for Black Journalist vs Talk radio 702 drama and then the latest shocker, David Bullard's article.
Now you are probably wondering what all these issues have to do with being a student journalist, but they influence us big time...
These issues have made some of my colleagues and I to view the field in a different way. We were totally ignorant of all these issues and all of a sudden we now have to deal with them. Bahle Makohliso, a journalism student from DUT says; " It has shown me that we have been hiding behind this 'Rainbow Nation' facade. It is sad that the media created this image of our country and 2008 has brought about a change in our thinking, reporting, writing columns and has unfortunately brought fear in us student journos about the future of journalists and their wellbeing."
I was watching 3talk on Wednesday (16 April 2008), and the topic was about 'Media players at loggerheads'. To say that it was interesting is to disadvantage it. It was HOT! Heated from the word go. Noeleen had David Bullard, an intellectual from UNISA, Abbey Makoe of the FBJ and Katy Katopodis, news editor at 702, as guests on the show to discuss the issues they've in some ways started. They discussed everything professionally and they weren't scared to voice their opinions and that was so reassuring to know that we are after all allowed to voice our views on issues affecting us. Oh and David apologized.
Journalism should be about free and fair reporting and that isn't happening these days, even at the Sunday Times. Now it's all about who it is writing the column and racism is rife in the media. A friend , Fooh Mzimela said when we were debating about the FBJ in class: " I'd join the FBJ because the issues they standfor are true and I don't understand what the hype is all about." This is true, but the problem was how the matter was handled by the parties concerned and the manner in which the white journalists were excluded. She then added; " What would happen if a "Forum for Women Journalists" was formed? Would there still be an issue?"
Now that is the type of proactive thinking that student journos should be doing, and we don't seem to be doing it. I wasn't doing it. I wasn't looking at the bigger issue, just the small things that may affect us in the future.

17 April, 2008

The ongoing battle against xenophobia

by Thandanani Mhlanga

Xenophobia is one of the foremost prejudices still prevalent in South Africa today. According to the deputy commissioner at the South African human rights commission, Zonke Majodina, there’s been growing hatred towards immigrants and asylum seekers.

One reason according to the National Labour and Economic Development institute is that contrary to popular belief 48.5% percent of South Africa’s population is still living in poverty.
Many South Africans expressed sentiments that they are losing their Jobs to foreigners.
Vanessa Tsogwane, a Journalism student had this to say: “South Africans are lazy and these foreigners come here to work. Most of them are small business owners and they work very hard. South Africans wait for jobs to be handed to them and when foreigners start making money they resent them.”

I sat down with a group of Spa cashiers who openly dislike foreigners. They said that they found foreigners to have violent tendencies and didn’t practice personal hygiene and that they even dislike the way they look.
They did not say how the above directly harmed them but were expressive in their distaste with such passion that I began to wonder. To what extent does xenophobia stem from cultural myths than economic scarcity?

I grew up in Mpumalanga where foreigners are few and are shrouded by rumour and mystery. I was often told of their supernatural powers, how they had the ability to harm others and make money through “muti”. I never got the opportunity to interact with a foreigner and for that reason I couldn’t associate human qualities with them. This is hard to admit because I now count foreigners as some of my best friends. If I had indeed continued to live under those impressions and didn’t get the opportunity to come to a place where I was exposed to them and got to know them, I would also feel like those women.

The tragedy in all this is while we’re burning their shops and chasing them away from our townships we’re doing the same thing that long gone comrades fought to liberate black people from. When they sought refuge they were welcomed with open arms into those African countries. We’ve failed to identify the real enemy which is a lackluster youth that has no initiative in finding ways to gain income. How can someone from another country come to an impoverished community and thrive financially? Vodoo aside clearly something is amiss.

Shouldn’t the focus then be on learning from our African brothers and sisters? Combine what entrepreneurial skills they offer with the resources of our thriving country and start a new movement for change.

Lonwabo Busakwe, an activist of the black consciousness movement said: “As Africans we have a common history of being separated by colonialism. During that time we lost our cultures, religions, freedom and somewhere in between we lost ourselves. I see a time for us to restore our unity and humanity.”

This struggle will not resolve itself overnight. Mainly because there is so much misinformation blurring the cultural lines. Maybe if we all made the commitment today to approach a foreigner and simply say hello…

09 April, 2008

Why are people so nasty?

There is a difference between constructive criticism and just being plain nasty. Shooting future journalists down is not the way to go. We are starting out and we are learning.

I feel obliged to speak on the behalf of the team. Please people if you dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all. We all need a bit of criticism once in a while, but such criticism should build and not break. As for dissing Sipho that was way out of line. Why do people always have to resort to personal attacks?

Being part of the Future Journalist Programme is a learning curve and it goes without saying that mistakes do happen.

Thank you Richard for taking and interest in our blog and posting a comment atleast something good came out of this. Now we know that there are people out there who actually take time to read our blog.

08 April, 2008

a little bit more...

on that note, follow this link to a group on facebook with young Zimbabeans talking about the future if you're interested (im hoping it will work).


also, a spoof article i found online, does it amuse or offend you?


...and the wait goes on

Ten days after going to the polls and Zimbabweans are still waiting for election results. For a moment it reminded me of a time when I was back home in Zimbabwe and the electricity went and we waited 8 days before it came back. As I waited for the day when I would once again be able to take a hot shower I remember a part of me thinking that the electricity was never going to come back. I had given up hope and resigned myself to a life of book reading and flame grilled meals, then it came back. The power came back. I used the stove over and over and watched tv all night that day (unfortunately I couldnt get a hot shower because the water had been cut the day before) and promptly became the hopeful person Id once been, hoping I would never have to endure another week of darkness again. This week has made that week in the dark seem as long as the two hour power cut I had here in Cape town last night. How much longer? There is constant media coverage but never with the information I want to know. And speaking of media coverage have any of you noticed how before the election the media was giving the impression that Mugabe had already won and his strain was too much for the struggling opposition to withstand and now all of a sudden there is speculation that his day is done? What do you think?

Citizen Journalism and the Succession Battle: What are citizens saying?

Nqobile Buthelezi (UKZN)

We live in an information society, the age where citizens have become aware of the need to communicate, share information, ideas, thoughts etc. Where they have taken the role as custodians and storytellers of their own history and social knowledge. Ndesanjo Macha, setting the keynote to the 2007 Digital Citizen Indaba, labeled this transformation as a move "From Rock Paintings to Mental Acrobatic". This being the era where citizens are enabled to report news aided by growing and converging technologies. Therefore citizens are not only partaking in the consumption, but also in the production and dissemination of information as well. The 'commoners' in the street have assumed a new position as dual players in the media sphere, thus citizen journalism has become the new agent speaking truth to power, Ndesanjo elaborated.

Though a recognisably fast emerging phenomenon, citizen journalism does not fall short of concern and scepticism from the conservative body of professional journalists. Gus Silber, in the article "Now, anyone can be a hack", may not be too convinced of the significance of this new form of evolutionary journalism. Gus clearly puts to perspective the dangers of citizen reporters. His prominent argument equated to the odd likes of a citizen pathologist/cardiologist, if one would gladly welcome their service. Maybe not, goodness not; and there we seem to agree. However, we live in tried times in South Africa, with the Polokwane ANC Conference in December setting a prehistoric moment that shook and sent tremors in the South African political landscape, with great repercussions and that certainly cannot be ignored, whether one is a professional journalist or not.

Recent media reports on the ANC succession battle have prompted South Africans to stop and think about the future of politics in our country and inevitably the overall fate of our political economy. Pre 1994, realised the growing strength of a party that was to become a democracy bearer and liberator of the oppressed South Africa, into a world renounced democratic country, blended with multicultural and multilingual citizens. Prehistoric was that moment when former president, Nelson Mandela, walked out of Robin Island to transform the state of our country to one that was respected throughout the world. Yet, just under two decades, every media prides itself with reports and articles of a battle of words and power, with constant finger pointing and alleged corruption involvement from the successors of the dream Mandela was imprisoned for. Focus has shifted from the party's collective purpose, policy and strategies to serve a unified freed nation to the likes of "Zuma vs Mbeki" articles flocking the media sphere.

The current state of our government calls for concern, alarm and awareness from the citizens who happen to be the masses that put those concerned into power. With the knowledge of the current state of political affairs, the burning question is "what are South Africans saying?" Is the succession issue primarily a problem for those in government and mainstream media? It is no secret that any information traded on the succession battle becomes a powerful weapon, bearing invaluable economic weight that can either make or break our nation. But in the midst of this knowledge, citizens must engage and raise their views on this issue, this action simply being their democratic right. It must also be remembered that, government exists in order to represent a state, which in turn constitutes amongst other things people, who's interests should be foremost and respected. So, South Africa, what are you saying about the Zuma/Mbeki saga? Oh, and not to forget the ANC Youth League's power struggle . Members vandalised chairs at the conference venue, disputing the election of their newly appointed president Firebrand Malema, suggesting corruption and fraudulent activities from their executive members ! Is this the kind of leadership and behaviour we are vouching for presidency in the long run? Certainly not.

If there's any platform to express one's fears, joy concern or whatever the case might be on the succession, it is through the much contested citizen journalism (blogs), and the timing couldn't be more perfect. Both Zuma and Mbeki camps have stated their case and judiciary has passed its judgement. Mainstream media has reported on the issue, keeping in mind the essence of gatekeeping and censorship. Now is the time for us citizens, to give our perceptions and individual thought about our government. This act giving birth to true democracy; a pluralism where diversity of voices of the essence.

Some South African have been vocal and label the ANC Undignified, some feel Zuma is a victim of a media witch hunt whilst others label Mbeki: an out of touch, bewildered, denialist to the end. No matter from what angle citizens and journalists are approaching the issue, what remains is that they are simply not passive viewers to current affairs that have rippling effects to their own lives, and that is commendable. Anton Harber "Is our media ready for the challenge of change?" emphasises that irrespective of the kind, "the crux of the matter is how the media shape their coverage, which in turn will determine the shape and nature of the democracy, either strengthening or weakening our democratic institutions and how the public participates in them". I couldn't agree more. If citizens take the initiative to publicise and vocalise the flaws they witness in their government, then this act surely should avail a level of understanding of the kind of leadership, policies and needs the government should uphold in order to satisfy its people. This informed take on the situation then ought to empower citizens to partake in the decision making process alongside their leaders. After all, "it is up to the media and judiciary to ensure that government functions in an accountable, open and honest manner and makes the effort to treat each and every South African with respect", these being the good words of Chief Justice Pius Langa at the Joint South African National Editors Forum. Langa endoses an independent media and judiciary which works to preserve the citizen's freedom of expression, which I believe is the aim of citizen journalism: not to hurt or jeopardise the journalism profession, but to enforce and play a mending role where mainstream media fails- and that is getting ample public voice. So South Africa must start talking.