31 May, 2012

Your dignity is important than my right to write

Sphelele Ngubane

For the past two weeks South Africa has been engaging in discussions and debates about the Spear.  This portrait which depicts the genitals of President Jacob Zuma has created a lot of racial controversy, with some people saying this portrait was aimed to defame black people.  As journalists and artists with our democratic right to express ourselves where do we draw the line?  Where do we say this is where I end, I cannot go overboard, I need to pay respect to this situation?

When we look into South African Constitution, we are given the freedom of expression.  This right simply allows people to express themselves either verbally or non-verbally.  On the other hand we have the right of human dignity, which says everybody has to be respected.  Now with the Spear we have two rights which are in conflict.  Who has to compromise his right?  Murray has a right to express himself and President Zuma has a right to human dignity.

For me all these rights are equal and important.  Compromising one of them would bring us into inequality and having one of the persons living in a tight space.  As all rights come with exceptions and responsibilities, I would say before we come to exercise our rights, we should look into some aspects that might have a potential to contradict or bring conflict amongst people

In South Africa, as a rainbow country, we have many cultures.  We ought to pay respect to everyone’s even if we do not agree with them.  The artist, Brett Murray had a democratic right to express his thought.  For him, drawing a portrait with the genitals, it might have meant that Zuma sleeps around with women like nobody’s business.  We cannot deny the fact that Zulu people lawfully practice polygamy and is promoted over private affairs.  I am also not in favour of this practice, but I cannot criticise it because people doing it feel that it is the best.  This is where one has to compromise their right, so we can bring peace.  Who should have compromised his right?  For me, Brett could have because it would not harm him than what it has done to Zuma and his family.

Above all things, not from any country I have heard that a president has been mocked.  Even if we do not like the person elected to sit in the president chair, we still need to respect his office.  As the president governing the country, he has to be respected and be recognised.

Having a right to voice out what we feel might not be important as paying respect to the people in authority.

When I spoke to the eThekwini Municipality official, Mr. Loggie Naidoo about this portrait, he said Murray became an opportunist, he realised that if he could make a painting which disgraces South Africa, surely European countries would buy it.  As it happened, the portrait had been sold for R136 000.  A question which may rise is that, “Where was this buyer taking the portrait to? And why out of all portraits drawn everyday did he decide to take the Spear?  A value of money might end up messing our relationship with people around us.  We may not know his reasons of drawing this but if it was money-driven I would say he got it wrong; you cannot have money in expense of other person’s dignity.

On the other hand, I am not in favour of what people have created out of this entire saga.  We have seen and heard a lot of people saying this portrait is about racism, I do not believe so.  Why every time in South Africa when a white person does something wrong, it has to do with racism?  It looks like as South Africans we are not going anywhere because of this word ‘racism’.  There has been a lot being done to bring people together.  We should get over the skin colour and language but live in this democratic country with harmony.

It is time we as a journalists start looking into what we are writing and ensuring that it does not affect other people.  We have this democratic right but it is not as important as giving a space for right to human dignity.


Business and Democracy


Businesses are big contributors to SA’s Gross domestic product, but business owners feel that they get exploited by the Unions and that democracy has done little to improve the business environment.
The manager at Champs chicken says employers were being exploited by onerous labour laws. He adds that employees do exploit these laws unduly, and that government should balance employer and employee interests more equitably.
Mr Bruce Hoft says employees “have the right to be treated fairly”, as should customers. Fairness to all employees leads to a good working environment. He adds that both employees and customers should be entitled to voice their concerns and not be afraid of the consequences.
Mr Gray Simons of Saveways Supermarket says he supports the rights of employees and all his employees have a right to belong to a Union.
 He says rising costs have made doing business more difficult, which in turn negatively effects customers and employees. Turnover has declined and everything has become expensive.
He says the only way a business would get state assistance is by registering as a public business or by having a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partner.
He sees the tax laws as unfair because foreign small businesses are not taxed. ‘They are killing the business as they are not actually creating employment’.
Mr Hoft says it is government’s duty to maintain ‘a peaceful law abiding environment’ since employees and customers were exploited at the past era. However, some regulations hinder business.
He says that, the only intervention from government to his business should be making sure that the environment is clean; therefore government intervention should be limited to health regulations only. 
Nosipho Nqala Champs employee, keeping the environment clean.
The branch manager at Capitec bank in Alice views the customer rights as a necessity. Personally he believes that it is their duty as employees at Capitec bank to help customers.  Regarding the bank, he says there are policies that help customers.

Customer assistance at Capitec bank.

The employees at Capitec bank are protected by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Mr Casey as the manager views them as a necessity for the protection of employees.
He says that the rights of customers help increase the profits of the bank because customers know that their rights are not taken for granted. Therefore the rights of customers are helpful in ensuring fair business practises and in boosting the bank’s profit.
Mr Casey says that the National Credit Act which is there to protect customers from indebt as being important. He says that ‘without the National Credit Act (NCA) there would be no control over how much customers should borrow’. Therefore he sees the NCA as a positive contributor to the banking industry.
The bank manager says the bank is an independent company; in terms of government subsidies. Furthermore, the acts which government apply do not necessarily affect the bank, because they are compliant with the labour act and the NCA. The branch manager sees no need of government linkage to the bank as it is an independent company.
Champs Manager Mr Bruce Hoft
Save ways manager Mr Gray Simmons
Capitec bank branch manager Mr Casey

Pictures by Banathi 'Nathi' Sigaji

My Democracy, My write: Young Journalist Speak out

Durban University Of Technoloogy Students speaks aboutt the effects of the Secrecy Bill on Democracy.

My Democracy...My Write

The effects of “New media” and “Social media” has on today’s society
 The days of getting access to current affairs only from newspapers or television are a thing of the past. The world has become engrossed with the web and internet. People no longer make friends like in the old days or talk and interact, there is facebook, whatsapp, which are social networks that people use to interact. There is rarely a need to talk face to face. It is hard for anyone to say they have genuine friends. This is all because of new media and social media. Media plays a vital role in everyday life. Today many people, eat, drink and sleep media.These media's  are important and they have both a postive and a negative effect to them. Both these media's exist in South Africa because of Democracy.
New media is defined as “websites and other digital communication and information channels in which active consumers engage in behaviours that can be consumed by others both in real time and
long afterwards regardless of their spatial location”(sage publications).

Social media on the other hand is defined as, “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies (networks) e.g. Facebook to transform and broadcast media monologues into social monologues” (Wikipedia).
The pro of new media and social media is that when people go online, "they are able to construct new identities for themselves.  This means that in chat-rooms, one can become free of gender, age, nationality, race, since these are not seen by the people that you are communicating with" (J.P.Wade). The con of creating a new identity is that criminals as well are able to create these identities and use them for their criminal activities, therefore making it hard to be able to arrest the real culprit.
Another pro of new media and social media is that it is able to reach millions of people at one go. For example newspapers (old media) cannot reach every one; they can only reach certain people at certain areas. New media on the other hand can reach millions of people especially over the web. The con of new media is that old media e.g. newspapers are slowly but surely becoming non-existent. Most newspapers today have online websites where people are able to access news.
Also with social media and new media, it has improved citizen journalism which is another pro in my view. People are now able to produce their own news and stories from the comfort of their homes. Technology such as hand cameras, cell phones, and internet blogging are allowing people to tell their stories they own way. Another pro of new media is that, it is not as costly as old media to create news. The con of new media is that, only people with access to the internet are able to access it and most people who can access new media need to be literate to use the gadgets, unlike old media.
Another huge positive for social media, is that it is a way of communication for people all over the world. There is no language barrier. It also helps with people who have families in different countries.Some people even mange to find their soul mates on social media. The negatives of social media are also rapidly increasing as well. The first negative of social media that I can think of is ‘invasion of privacy’. I mean on our facebook pages, we put pictures and information that in real life we would actually never give away.  We think that our social pages can be accessed by only our friends but unfortunately that is just not reality. Another negative of social media is Isolation, seriously people are spending more time on their cell phones and computers then physically interacting with other humans beings. Another negative of social media is ‘stalking’; since personal information of individuals is easily accessible.  The positive of social media is that people can use the platform to fight for worthy causes that they believe in.
Both these media’s have both the good and the bad of them. Democracy has allowed many South Africans to be able to take part in both new media and social media. I’m personally for them as I have only experienced the good effects of them. Social media and new media is the future for journalism.Media is an important asset in a Democratic Country like South Africa. Whether it is the crimes, the election campaigns or just moral responsibility the Media is playing an important role to cover the news.

1) Wade, J-P. 2012.  Lectuer at UKZN.
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media
3) http://www.sagepublications.com/


FJP ASSIGNMENT MY DEMOCRACY MY WRITE Natasha Phiri and Sthembiso Sithole

Natasha Phiri

Brett Murray's painting -The Spear , which shows President Zuma's genitals has caused a lot of controversy. The ANC and the general public took to the streets of Johannesburg on May 29 to march against Zuma's portrait .Question is , in the Democratic South Africa we live in  are we talking freedom of expression too in terms of Brett Murray's potrait?This radio piece was compiled by Natasha Phiri and Sthembiso Sithole
Sthembiso Sithole

Brett Murray's painting -The Spear, which shows President Zuma's genitals, has caused a lot of controversy. The ANC and the general public took to the streets of Johannesburg on the May 29 to march against Zuma's portrait .Question is , in the Democratic South Africa we live in  are we talking freedom of expression too in terms of Brett Murray's portrait? This radio piece was compiled by Natasha Phiri and Sthembiso Sithole


FJP Assignment - Is democracy the best form of governance?

When given the topic, “My democracy, my write”, the first thing that came to mind was what does democracy mean? And is democracy the best form of governance?  Democracy, in its ideal form means a lot to me, brings a lot of hope and somewhere, also looks like the only fair way of governance we can have; yet, the way its real picture comes out is murky, to say the least.
It comes with its own drawbacks, yes, but then can we imagine being ruled by dictators? Can we imagine being enslaved by another nation, just because it happens to be more powerful? Can we imagine having a king, who has to be worshipped, has to be appeased and whose word has to be considered the final word just because he happens to come from a royal family?
There is a reason why all this came to an end, a reason why people stood up against it, a reason why nations saw lives abundantly being sacrificed to become democratic, to become a country that is ruled by its people and not a handful of individuals, to become an entity where the leaders are under the people.
The system of ‘one man one vote’ otherwise known as democracy began in 1994 in South Africa. Since the system began it has undergone various trials and tribulations over the centuries and it is quite obvious that the entire democratic world thinks that it is the best way to choose a government. But is it really?

Tshepiso Setokoe, a lecturer at Walter Sisulu University said he felt that democracy is everything but the best form of governance. He further said that democracy has shown us that it is more a romantic ideology than a way to serve the people of Africa.
“History has shown us how democracy has deeply divided the African continent by making a few politically connected elites rich and plundering the rest of the masses into further destitute and in some countries total hunger and economic breakdown. African democracies dating back to Ghanaian independence in the late 1950s were based on democratic principles and yet they came short in terms of what the romantic ideology was set to achieve.”
Bomikazi Rasmeni, a Building Science student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University said: “The democratic system is good only if some way could be found to educate every voter on the importance of what he or she is doing. Not everyone is able to understand the workings of government and the democratic system allows almost anyone to stand for government.”
She further went on to say that people are easily persuaded by fiery speeches and sweet talk which accounts for some of the disasters that are often voted in as leaders.
Nolubabalo Yantolo, a journalism student at Walter Sisulu University said: “The workings of democracy are seen to be short changed in a country where the ruling party is advocating constitutionally offensive legislations such as the Protection of Information Bill and the Traditional Courts Bill.”
In spite of all the weaknesses of the democratic system, the alternatives, communism, oligarchy, dictatorship, to name a few have led the world to disasters of great proportion. History has shown in cases such as Castro’s Cuban, Communism in China under Mao, and the Eastern Bloc how less democratic forms of governance led to gross human rights violations, perpetuation of propaganda and suppression of people’s independence. Moreover, we can see that if people can be educated, democracy is a workable system. The problem then lies in directing attention at educating the voters. In spite of all its disadvantages, democracy is thus far the only system which listens to every citizen in the country. It is the only system where the common man has power. In the absence of anything better, the ‘one man one vote’ system is the best system we have.

Bomikazi Ramseni, Building Science student, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Nolubabalo Yantolo, journalism student, Walter Sisulu University
Tshepiso Setokoe, lecturer Walter Sisulu University
[Accessed 30/05/2012]
[Accessed 30/05/2012]

30 May, 2012


The youth want freedom of education

Apartheid struggle for better education-Soweto  uprisings 1976

As South Africans citizens we have a right to basic education. The Bill of Rights and the constitution stipulate that the state has a responsibility to make education accessible to all.
The Soweto uprising of 1976 was the watershed moment in SA history when the unequal access to education was made obvious to all. The youth generation sowed the seeds of a revolution that matured into democracy.
18 years into the myth called education democracy. The sad reality is that this is questionable. Education democracy should be learning that is significant, appealing and empowering.
Youth need academic freedom and this should take the form of self discipline.

 Cry for better education-22 March 2011.Photo SowetanLive
Education must be embedded in respect of young people who actively participate in their education journey.
It must be approached in a way that compliments, honours and listens to each voice within it.
The country faces bleak future as it seeks to achieve a complete democratic society.  Democracy greatest strength is the truth that people do think differently and resist propaganda.

Wits University student protesting  inside campus regarding higher education for all or no education at all.Pic Peter  Mogaki:16/09/2009.Sowetan  Live
Through public education societies allow individuals to grow their own values. This is my reflective anticipation that it is doubtful true democracy will ever lead to entire conformity to the kind of evil experienced by Africans under apartheid.
The strikes and mass demonstrations beginning each academic year in Universities and class boycotts in High schools is an attest that our country continues to faces a crisis in education even after 18 years of democracy-SAPA.
18 years of democracy won’t be complete without emancipating the youth through education. Those who are truthful about the times gone under apartheid regime will agree. This history means that the youths’ call for education freedom is reasonable.
This common agreement on the opinion cannot be erroneous for consent on how that freedom should be achieved. The government has done its best to ensure that youths have access to education.
The legacy of apartheid continues. In this age some youths believe that education institutions are not modern democratic in nature. Their understanding and behaviour towards the very institutions is pathetic.
Freedom without sense of duty and responsibility would be rebellion. Youths should respect learning places and mustn’t tolerate those who undermine the integrity of institutions.
The question arises what must education be to become democratic?
              Voices from around Alice community, Eastern Cape
Prince Ncube, UFH, 3rd year  Bsc ...I don’t understand education democracy, if education was  for free as many suggests that will be a burden to workers as it means heavy taxation by the government to sustain it...
Luxolo Nqala, UFH, 2nd year BA comm. Management ... social status should not determine the kind of education one get, there must be equal opportunities for everyone  ...
Sibonokuhle, Nzululwanzi High School ... input of leaners should be considered in schools, teachers and parents should not decide the curriculum for us. If they do it means we don’t have freedom of choice to decide what’s best for us...
Ms Yose, Administrator officer, Lovedale Public FET College South Africa must have its own curriculum and not adopt curriculum from other countries. The gap between traditional schools and modern schools should be narrowed...
Mndileki Zoko, Treasurer PASMA, UFH 3rd year B.ed “... socialist education not to say zero percent fee but equal access to University. Education means freedom to Africa it should be in favour of us, free from corruption and bribes. It should promote black students if we learn western education we don’t have democracy we are still colonised through education....
Praise Khupe, UFH 2nd year BA ...true democracy will be right to be heard, freedom of expression, diversity and equality for everyone...
Learning conditions are inflexible to the most serious social issues of today. There is inequality in how schools are funded, bursaries awarded and the accessibility of NSFAS. These petitions make students feel worthless, stressed, isolated and academic excluded.
The education ministry need to address this issue through creating real opportunities for young people to experience the power and possibilities that education provides. The country has resources to provide education that is meaningfully, relevant, engaging and empowering.
The education system must be transformed based on respect of human rights, freedom values, responsibility, participation, collaboration and equality.
To create a more just and sustainable South Africa, we need education where future leaders will learn the principles and values of democracy.
This piece of opinion will raise a greater awareness and a better understanding of issues related to freedom of expression, transparency and democracy. It will promote youth participation and critical reflection on the education democracy.


FJP Assignment : Democracy

FJP Assignment: What does it mean to have democracy in a county?

By: Nompumelelo Mncube

Democracy basically means when people choose their leaders and hold their leaders responsible for their policies and their manner in office.

The people themselves are the ones who decide who will stand for them in parliament.  Also they decide who will head the government at the national and local levels. They do this just by choosing between the competing parties in regular, free and fair elections.  The government is based on the approval of the governed.

In a democracy, the people play the role of being sovereign—they are the highest form of political authority. Power simply flows from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily. Laws and policies have a need of majority support in parliament, but the rights of minorities are protected in various ways.

The people are free of charge to disapprove of their elected leaders and representatives. They can also observe how they conduct the business of government. The chosen representatives at the national and local levels have responsibility to listen to the people and respond to their needs and suggestions.

Elections have to occur at regular intervals, as arranged by law.  Those people in power cannot enlarge their terms in office without asking for the approval of the people again in an election. For elections to be free and fair, they have to be administered by a neutral, fair, and professional body that treats all political parties and candidates equally.

All parties and candidates must have the right to fight freely, to present their proposals to the voters both directly and through the mass media. Voters must be able to vote in secret, free of pressure and violence. Independent observers must be able to observe the voting and the vote counting to ensure that the process is free of corruption, intimidation, and fraud. Any country can hold an election, but for an election to be free and fair requires a lot of organization, preparation, and training of political parties, electoral officials, and civil society organizations who watches the process.

Furthermore the key role of citizens in a democracy is to participate in public life. Citizens have a responsibility to become updated about public issues, to watch carefully how their political leaders and representatives use their powers, and to express their own views and interests. Voting in elections is another important public duty of all citizens. But to vote sensibly, each citizen should listen to the views of the different parties and then make his or her own decision on whom to support. Participation can also involve campaigning for a political party or candidate, standing as a candidate for political office, debating public issues, attending community meetings, petitioning the government, and even protesting. 

A very important form of participation comes through active membership in independent, non-governmental organizations, what is also called the “civil society.” These organizations represent a variety of interests and beliefs:  farmers, workers, doctors, teachers, business owners, religious believers, women, students, human rights activists. 

Also it is important that women participate fully both in politics and in civil society. This requires efforts by civil society organizations to educate women about their democratic rights and responsibilities, improve their political skills, represent their common interests, and involve them in political life.

Therefore in democracy, participation in civic groups should be voluntary.  No one should be forced to join an organization against their will. Political parties are vital organizations in a democracy, and democracy is stronger when citizens become active members of political parties. However, no one should support a political party because he is pressured or threatened by others.  In a democracy, citizens are free to choose which party to support.

Democracy depends on citizen participation in all these ways.  But participation must be peaceful, respectful of the law, and tolerant of the different views of other groups and individuals.

Source List:

What is Democracy?
Ketchum, Richard M., 1922-
New York : Dutton, 1955.
[1st ed.]. 1955 

Democracy Article