28 May, 2008

Why violence?

By Azwihangwisi Mufamadi

The past few weeks have laid witness to xenophobic attacks in different parts of South Africa. Those who claim to be experts on the issue have given a few lousy explanations for the reasons of the attacks. Some argue that it’s because local people fear that foreigners (or should I use black foreigners) are taking their jobs. This is a lousy explanation. If this was the case the people who live in Musina, just a stone throw away from Zimbabwe, would not have managed to live and share their jobs with people from Zimbabwe.

Another explanation is that foreigners, particularly Nigerians, are taking South African women from their men. This is a sad but funny one. If these Nigerian men are taking other people's girlfriends, well good for them. They obviously give them the treatment that they deserve unlike their South African counterparts. People need to learn from these guys. In fact, it’s about time South African men learn to keep their women in their beds. Everyone has a right to love whoever they want to love. What happened to "may the best man win". Are we really that scared of competition? The answer is yes to those who are not certain, you will feel the pinch if you don’t treat your woman like a queen.

Back to the matter, although nothing is known about what might have sparked these attacks it is certain that they are here and spreading all over South Africa despite Ngqakula denial that it’s a crisis. It’s really embarrassing how instead on trying to counter the problem our Safety and Security Minister is busy arguing that it does not fit the definition of a crisis. First it was the denial that crime was and still is a problem in South Africa and now this. Why doesn't someone propose a motion of no confidence against this guy? I guess we'll have to wait for the next election

22 May, 2008

"There's no crisis in South Africa" this I thought Zizi would say!

MOTHERLY LOVE . . . Zimbabwean Beauty Mpofu playing with her baby in Bokfontein. In the midst of the brutal and senseless mob attacks meted out against foreign nationals in Alexandra and Reiger Park residents of Bokfontein were last week celebrating the presence of foreigners in their township. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya (Taken from online City Press dated 17/05/2008)

As violent xenophobic clashes that have claimed at least 42 lives spread from Gauteng to Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the "involvement" of the military. It is claimed that the attack that took place in Kwa-Zulu Natal was not based on xenophobia but on politics and I really fail to distinguish between xenophobia and politics especially when the victim is not a South African. SA Catholic Bishops’Conference president Buti Tlhagale described the xenophobic attacks as “new apartheid mentality”.

Looking briefly in the history of South Africa, not so long ago we had our own refugees in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola to name but few. These people went to exile in order to ensure better future for South Africans. What is interesting is the way they were accepted in those countries, they were fed, given a place to stay, were educated and impowered. This was all done legally with great care and control.

Comparing this period to the crisis we facing in South Africa today I really see something different. Firstly, I want to say that I have been keeping the future of SA closer under my eyes and noted that South Africans are not happy with other people who are not South Africans,people such as Nigerians, Somalians, Chines and Parkistans. This is not something new in SA but started long time ago, we have seen them being burned in their houses, burning their businesses,killing them-shocking happening that took place in various parts of SA.

Now the issue is with our neighbours, I know there are many justifications around violating these people, they take our jobs-some will claim! they take our girlfriends, we do not have a place to stay because of these people, but is brutal killing really a solution? Well! I would like to put blame on the government for this crisis!It is esteemated to about 3 million refugees who are in South Africa today and the number is expected to increase. Only few - if any - of there people are legally allowed to be here, note that I do not mean that they must not be allowed but pointing that the government failed to properly control this immigration. In fact there's no crisis in South Africa!

Since I have been watching my this country closely I am really not amazed of what is happening and I really do not believe that military will do the job of managing refugees properly unless there will be a river of blood across South African streets. South Africa it-self is not well developed, it is very poor, amazingly the government says that refugees has to be given a space to live. where exactly? people lives in only three room RDP houses with family of more than 10 people while those living in suburbs finish moths without visiting other rooms in their houses because they are too many to count-why they do not take these people to their houses? With the little food that South Africans have they have to share with these brothers-what is the govenrment doing about that?

South Africans might be lazy, as some people expressed their views in the post by Thanda, that is one reason, but what about the exploitation of these refugees? I know of a farm owner who chased all those who were living in his farm because of the South African Labour Law based on wages and employed these refugees because he knew that they were not legally allowed to be in SA. After they harvest was done guess what happened? He did not want to pay them and when they were complaining he just called the police and said that those people invaded his farm that morning and they were taken by trucks to the borders where they were left to find their way home. Well this sounds good because the farmer was clever enough to rob people of their rights but how good it is for humanity, for the spirit of ubuntu that SA always boast off?

This reminds me of the Rwandan genicode! Again I do not think that the military would be a solution to this matter, you really can not put out fire by petrol. The Lawyer for Human Rights had this to say in a statement "Such use of the military risks exacerbating the situation and creating a security environment similar to that continuously used prior to 1994. In any event, investigation of crime, public safety and the prosecution of crimes committed against foreigners require members who are trained in those areas. The military is not equipped to bring to book perpetrators of crimes against xenophobia victims,".Defence Ministry spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said there would be a military presence in the strife-hit areas "as soon as all that needs to be done is complete". My question is: who knows what will take place when where?
It is really bad because if your skin is darker you'll be burned. South Africa is the youngest to get freedom but the laws that it passed shocked the world and things that are happening are just another shock to the world,what else? If Mbeki is fit enough to intervene in Zimbabwe I think it would be much better to first sort out what is happening in South Africa unless "there is no crisis in South Africa". Taking into considerations that in our country there are many other people from various countries not only Zimbabwe and we are all human, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity as human beings as well and any justification around xenophobia is just meaningless. The government need to take formal control as soon as possible before we see another genocide.

Have your say.

Simphiwe Kanityi

13 May, 2008

Racism on campus

Yandiswa Tembani (University of Fort Hare)

Racism is a form of discrimination based on race, especially the belief that one race is superior to another. Racism generalizes and some racists humiliate others, which reinforces their superiority and the inferiority of the victim of such humiliation.

Race related incidents have had a great impact on South Africans. It reminds us of our worst traits as people, but speaking openly about it can enable South Africans to confront the and allow us to see how much common ground has been created since 1994.

The recent racist video produced by four white students at the University of Free State generated a lot of fury from many South Africans. The contents of the video are an indication of the lack of transformation in tertiary institutions and the shallowness of the reconciliation among youth born a few years before democracy. This, tthanks to the circulation of this contoversial video, is a disturbing truth that has now been exposed to the whole world.

A tourist visiting South Africa at the time the video surfaced might have thought that racism was dead in South Africa and that the four UFS students were awakening an unwelcome ghost. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that racism in South Africa is not dead. It still thrives in many places and the UFS scandal is just one incident.

The incidents shocked the higher education community, A a result about 2000 students, lectures and directors of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's George campus marched against racism on in tertiary institutions. Campus principal Professor Fabricious expressed serious concern about the racial tension simmering below the surface in places of higher education.

Racial tensions are also running high at the University of Johannesburg's Kingsway campus after a string of violent incidents. Drunk white male students allegedly bursts into a womenʼs bathroom and beat up a black student and another black student was attacked and thrown down the stairs.

These are racially motivated incidents of violence and humiliation reported by UJʼs SRC in recent weeks. The SRC president, Mhlobowethu Hoyi, believes that the levels of racism on campus are unacceptable. The Star newspaper reported that the SRC has threatened the institution's management with mass protest action if urgent attention is not given to the problems.

Professor Grain Soudien, the chairperson of a committee set up by education Minister Naledi Pandor to address racism on campuses, said it was unavoidable that race related incidents were happening in South African universities.

As South Africans we are all part of the post apartheid South Africa and it is our responsibility to become catalysts for unity in our country.

11 May, 2008

Pressure builds on Joel Santana

By Kobus Pretorius (CPUT)

Joel Santana hasn’t even started his new job as head coach of Bafana Bafana but already high expectations are expected from him.

In an article that appeared in the Independent on Saturday’s May 10 issue, Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke said that Fifa expected the host nation of both the Confederations Cup in 2009 and the 2010 Soccer World Cup to reach the second round of both tournaments.

"We would like to see the host nation of major events such as the Confederations Cup and World Cup to get at least to the quarter-finals or semi-finals. That would help keep the interest going in the host country.

"It would not be good if Bafana were knocked out in the early rounds of either the Confederations Cup or World Cup. That is why we hope the new coach (Santana) will succeed with Bafana and make sure South Africa produce a competitive host team for the events."

Valcke also expressed the hope that Santana would continue the work Carlos Alberto Parreira, his predecessor, started in early 2007.

The draw for the Confederations Cup, which features eight leading countries, would be held in Johannesburg on November 22.

These comments by Valcke will add more pressure to a man already expected to turn a steadily descending Bafana around and making them competitive for the two looming tournaments.

We’ll have to wait and see if it is enough time for Santana to overturn Bafana’s fortunes and make them serious title contenders.

07 May, 2008

Financial Exclusions in a Failing Economy

Nqobile Buthelezi (UKZN)

We live in tried times in South Africa. With the rising fuel prices, everything else has gone up. Relative prices for food, transport and oil have hit and cracked the price ceiling. Goodness, even "some pumps can't handle it"- eTV said last night! Yet consumers haven't seen the end of this outrageous phenomenon as they are already experiencing a rise in rates costs and electricity bills as well, with every resident and company caught in this spiral web of an inflatory environment. As if the problems aren't enough, it should be expected that unions will demand an increase in wages to compensate for the erosion of pay by inflation. Thus, inevitably, educators like other workers and their education institutions will demand more pay in school fees from students. Bad as it sounds, nothing can be done. Our economy truly is detoriorating and one can only wonder how the devastating blow will be like in the much awaited 2010! Now let me hold that 2010 thought before it gets too depressing to the soccer lovers!

Basically, it feels like all odds are conspiring against South Africa's much dreamed of economic success. It is a sad fact and a burden to know our economic reality and to think that students will also bear this load. Some of them were struggling with their tuition fees even before this downhill trend began. This makes me think three weeks back when approximately five hundrend students from the University of KwaZulu Natal faced financial exclusions. This resulted from these students registration appeals deemed 'pending' based on their inability to pay tuition fees. The students were thus put on a sort of probationary phase until such outstanding fees were settled, however, still allowed to attend classes. "Those weeks were truly a confusing time as we did not know whether we are real students and it became a hustle to submitt our assignments as we would not reflect in the sytem anyway," says Xola, a third year media student who at the time sat outside the appeals office with a dozen other fellow students, "feeling as if the college was out to get [them]".

Talking to Dean of Students, Dr Ngcobo who assisted students on the issue from the beginning of the semester, I was better enlightened on what this Appeals process is. As chairperson of the Appeals Committee, Ngcobo and collegues "look at the student's needs versus those of the university" he explained. It does make sense that such institutions of higher learning should be paid for the world class services they offer students. "However, the truth is that South Africa has not reached the standard of economic freedom where R18 000 comes easy to ones pocket" I said, obviously in sympanty with the wailing students in the foyer. Dr. Ngcobo emphasised that "they are very progressive in terms of understanding students needs and deal with each case thoroughly". "We go through files and agree where we need to find out more information" Ngcobo laid down the procedure as he said he understood very well where the panic and confusion set in. The problem was apparently with the use of the word 'pending'.

"Pending does not mean that the student is now banned from entering the premises or attending lectures. It simply means there is some information still missing from the student's file, like how they are going to finance their debt, over how long a period and who will be responsible" said Ngcobo . "The university wants to know, with the money you owe, how and when are you going to pay it and also requires evidence. If you say two years, the answer is obviously no, because now you'll be setting a trend for a two year payment plan" Ngcobo said, making me understand the university''s protocol.

So, I got the sense that students basically misinterpreted the 'pending' for a dismissal of their plea, or a shatter to their education dream, when in actual fact it was there to assist them. At the end of it all, I also learnt that students were given ample time to sort out their documents, but being a student myself, I often have fallen victim to the procastination syndrome very well. Infact, the Appeals Committee was linient enough to grant the students extra time as the decision process was prolonged yet two weeks after the initial closing date. How kind can 0ne get. At the end of it all, it goes to show how youngsters generally do not take the initiative to ask what is going on with matters partaining their own future. This entails finding out information in time in order to promptly gather the required data and documents so that a timely processing of whatever the situation can be done.

As Dean of Students, Dr Ngcobo also alerted me of his concern towards student political parties who use such situations as a tool for their mass mobilization just prior the elections. That explains a lot why in the Shepston foyer was a display of one such party whose main agenda was coincidently the abolishment of financial exclusions.
True, we live in an opportunistic world! Get them when they're down and under and you'll be sure to get that vote. Hey, George W. Bush used the same tactic. When the Americans were vulnerable and shocked from the apparent terrorists attack, he mobilised them for a war- it is a tried and tested method! My worry though is that no matter how deeply capitalist minded we are, we have no control of the outcome of any situation. If your currency is strong in the morning, chances are that by sunset you'll sleep a very poor man.We live in a confusing world and time. I can only wonder if by nightfall the fuel price will be stable. We can only wait and prepare to hit rock bottom.

05 May, 2008

Constitution, Democracy & Succession

By Mulibana N. Ernest (University of Johannesburg)

Andrew Heywood, the American author, defined constitution as “a set of rules that seek to establish the duties, powers and functions of the institutions of government and define the relationship between the state and the individual”. He also defined democracy as “the rule by the demos (many), thus the rule of the people for the people by the people”. The combination of these concepts makes what Charles W. Kegley JR refers to as “constitutional democracy”, which he defined as “government processes that allow people, through their elected representatives, to exercise power and influence the state’s polices”.
With the above vignette in mind, try to think about the succession process in the Republic of Botswana.

Botswana is a democratic territory that has a codified and inflexible constitution. Therefore, this country is bound by the democratic and constitutional polices. Democracy allows people to vote for the government and leaders of their choice. However, in the Republic of Botswana things seem not to go that way. The automatic succession of president in Botswana is a phenomenon that one would be curious about. Is the automatic succession appropriate for democracy? What does the Botswana constitution say about the automatic succession?

It is clearly stipulated in section 35 (1) of the Botswana constitution that “Whenever the President dies, resigns or ceases to hold office, the Vice-President shall assume office as President with effect from the date of the death, resignation or ceasing to be President”. The Botswana Constitution was amended in 1997 to ensure that the Vice President would automatically take over from the President in the event that the president either retires or can not serve as president. In 31 March 2008, Ian Khama (55), automatically succeeded Festus Mogae who was president of Botswana for the last decade.

As people have different in many various phenomena, so they do in this regard. Some think the automatic succession is inappropriate for a democracy. Whilst others think there is no problem with automatic succession. Some of the Botswana students at the University of Johannesburg who wanted to remain anonymous think the automatic succession is not a big issue as peace still remains within the country.

However, other South Africans, who also asked to remain anonymous, believe that the automatic succession is an absolute violation of democratic principles.