30 May, 2014

Where do women belong in South Africa?

By Thandi Bombi

The Government has been sending mixed messages to the country in the weeks that have followed the national elections. 

Once the Premier lists for the provinces under the ANC were released, it was clear to everyone where the ANC thought women belonged. 

In that process; three female Premiers lost their positions and two of these were lost to men. 

The women however, were not discarded but rather placed in the positions of speakers in the provincial legislature. This means seven out of the eight ANC Premiers are of the male species.  

Can we really blame the ANC though? 

A decline in electoral support for the party in provinces in the 2014 election would have played a huge role in the selection of the person set to steer the provinces toward the 2016 polls. This is just an indication of what the ANC believes is the reason they are losing votes.

So the answer to the first question posed remains unanswered, but, what we do know where women don’t belong, and that is on ANC Premier Lists.

Is there really a place for women in a country where men feel the need to ensure that their women stay in line or pay the consequences?

Oscar Pistorius for example sits under public scrutiny for shooting his girlfriend. Headlines are quick to mention what a hero Pistorius was and still is to some. How he is suffering from so much anguish because of what has happened. How hard Gerrie Nell is being on him. 

We are bombarded with YouTube links to “Oscar in tears” or “Oscar Breakdown”. All this to a man that may or may not have murdered his beloved partner.

Where is Reeva Steenkamp in all this?

Dead… Buried… Forgotten.

Regardless of whether he intended to or not, the woman suffered and that has been overshadowed by Pistorius’ need to restore his amazing reputation. 

Closer to home we have lost another woman. Amanda Tweyi (21), a 3rd year BSc student at Rhodes University is believed to have been shot and killed by her boyfriend Nkosinathi Nqabisa. 

Although we can only speculate as to the events leading to this young woman’s death, it is clear that there was some kind of violence against her as a woman. Even though Nqabisa is unable to explain his way out of the murder charges, one still wonders what is it Tweyi did, for him to feel the need to put her in her place… Where she belongs.

So…Where do women belong in South Africa?

I am yet to figure that out but so far it seems they belong under the leadership of a man or in the grave.


By Dumisile Masuku
A fine line that distinguishes accountability from responsibility in a democratic country like South Africa. 

Accountability is when every decision you make as a public figure that occupies a high portfolio that affects the lives of ordinary citizens is not only important but is absolutely critical.

It is rather sad to learn that 20 years into democracy, the importance of accountability has been a dwindling phenomenon from the high class rippling down to the lower class. 

This makes it hard to determine who must take the blame. Is it the government or the people themselves who have elected that government?

The aftermath of the 2014 general elections in South Africa has once again granted the ANC the power to remain the ruling party despite previous outcries about service delivery and corruption.

“I feel that the president has failed to be accountable to his actions in this country because he has remained president even though he has outstanding fraud cases, and the ANC has only made empty promises and it has been unable to deliver”, says Lethuxolo Nxumalo.

When President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma announced his new cabinet soon after his official inauguration at the union buildings in Pretoria, the whole nation waited in anticipation of the fate of the Ministers; those who were unexpectedly ousted as well as those who would be embarking on a journey to drive Zuma’s second term of leadership.

Therefore, the big question that one may cautiously ask is who is to be held accountable for the fact that Angie Motsekga maintained her post even though according to most commentators, she did not deserve to return to parliament. 

Is it the government itself, or the society for singing Motshekga’s praises after the slight improvement of the matric pass rate in 2013.

This is despite a series of textbooks sagas that have engulfed the Minister since her tenure in office.

The public has expressed dissatisfaction against Motshekga because the blunders which have occurred in the Education Department under her reign were completely intolerable and have compromised the dignity of education in South Africa.

However, there are those who feel that despite some of the ‘loose strings’ from the South African government, there are some areas whereby the country can still be proud of. 

“Yes the government is still not where it is supposed to be but gradually it is going there, an issue of accountability is not an easy matter hence the society also needs to play a role in order to meet the government halfway”, added Mbongwa Nxumalo.

Dr Ramphela Ramphele, has recently condemned the IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula’s failure to act accountable, after a forensic investigation revealed that an IEC building sitting in Pretoria-was not found to have undergone a process that was fair, transparent, nor cost-effective.  It found that Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various people about what was expected of them in the process.

Moreover Ramphele criticized the president himself for failing to lead by example, describing his actions as a culture of impunity that ensured he did not have to be accountable for costly security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

A review into the past few years reveals that the current state of the South African democratic landscape in terms of accountability became more prevalent since President Jacob Zuma came into power. 

A radical question that one may opt to ask is that did former president Thabo Mbeki leave an open fissure prior his departure that needed to be dealt with first?

Or perhaps, Zuma’s starting point as president was completely driven by wrong motives and a ruptured agenda which might have emerged from his dark past with tycoon Shabir Shaik?

In 2010, soon after Zuma became president, the country has seen Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma accumulate wealth through tenders in mines that were worth millions, through unaccountable processes. 

Thus the phenomena of irregular tenders has continued to form an unfavourable trend and is still questionable in the country.

“Tenders are still granted to certain individuals who have not undergone the rightful process, whereas those who deserve the opportunity are not recognised”, says Thamsanqa Dlamini. 

He added that the government still has a long way to go because so far it has set an image that is corrupt, not to mention unaccountable.

Therefore, with all that has been said and done, it is hard to insinuate that there is ever going to be any change in terms of the government finally gaining the conscious to take full ownership when it comes to accountability towards the society. 
This is merely because the society itself has a role to play, because at the end of the day those who are in power do not end up there on their own, they are elected by a people who have to entrust them with the weighty job governance.

23 May, 2014

20 years on yet there’s more to be done


By Siyamthanda Capa

On the 27th April 1994 South Africans queued at voting stations to cast their vote for the very first time a miraculous moment for all. Twenty years into democracy, are we making progress or are we losing the plot?

It is of no uncertainty that South Africa is a better place to live in now than it was in 1994.

Indeed, as South Africans, we’ve come a long way. Gone are the days when a majority of South Africans were refused the right to vote; now they have the right to choose not to vote at all.

The long awaited 1994 election came, promises were made and expectations were raised. The ANC Manifesto 1994 focused mainly on improving the quality of life and promotined a democratic South Africa.

So did they deliver?

The first post-apartheid Census was conducted in 1996, according to Statistics South Africa, 60.7% of South Africans had access to running water. In 2011 73.4% had access to running water. Numbers show that the living conditions of 14.3% of South Africans were improved. What about the 27.6% with no running water?

In 1994 the unemployment rate was 20%, however, in 2014, the unemployment rate stands at 25.2%.  It’s no news that in terms of employment, the government has failed South Africa’s youth.

In the public sphere too, things have changed. The press was promised freedom, but in April 2013, South Africans saw the Protection of State Information Bill passed in parliament.

So do we have anything at all to celebrate?

The question was posed once again in an interesting debate on Interface. The discussion went on, however, at the end of the debate, presenter Tembisa Marele was left without an answer.

“Our government has done an exceptional job in rolling out policies and offering citizens a good legal framework, however they face a challenge when it comes to implementing them” said Sisonke Msimang who is Director of advocacy for the Sonke Gender and Justice.

South Africa has come a long way and a lot is yet to be done but the question still stands: To celebrate or not to celebrate? Twenty years into democracy are you as an individual satisfied with the quality of services you receive from our government?

Election Fever is gone, what is next for our country?

By Sandisio Ndlovana
The election buzz and feel is truly beyond us now. Political parties spent much time devising strategies and invested millions in efforts to convince voters.

The voting citizens were kept abreast about recent occurrences and the coverage was not-to-be-missed. The word manifestos became recognisable with us all. And in campaign season, voters were held to task in an effort to separate the prima donnas from the blueprint.

No doubt the exercise of assessing which party to vote for was a daunting task, particularly for those ‘born-free’. Essentially, what a voter requires is accountability from their chosen leader. The great neglect is the inability of the citizen to follow up on the progress made by whoever is elected.

It is often said that the true test for voting preference is the service delivery that follows. From a satisfaction point, one may safely assert that the time frame for evaluating advancement on the issue is primitive. But after the magic ‘x’ has been cast, what does the broader outcome mean?

We have witnessed everything regarding the past elections. Each of us knows where his/her favourite political party stands. Now what must we expect from our representatives?

The ANC has always talked about the national development plan. The citizen believed and voted despite all negative things said about the ANC. The question, however, is what are the ANC's plans for change and for creating good image for the organization that seemingly has been ruined. Are we going to see more or less of corruption cases, strikes, internal dispute and disagreement within the organization’s alliance?

What about the president? Mr. Jacob Zuma, is regarded as the least competent president ever lead democratic South Africa. Should the country expect another scandal after the controversial Nkandla house upgrade? With his leadership, where should we expect the country to be the next time people cast votes? Will the opposing political parties be strong enough to shake the ANC throne?

We haven’t had good news about the official opposition party recently. The DA, since their parliament leader Lindiwe Mazibuko left to study overseas; there have been big stories about the party's internal dispute. Reports say the DA leader Mrs. Zille launched a scathing attack against Miss Mazibuko. According to Sunday times, this attack has sent shock waves through DA, which is embroiled in a bitter battle over black leadership.

At a federal executive last Friday, Zille said she has made Mazibuko and saved her several times. She implied that Mazibuko had been incompetent and that she had been of her depth. However, federal executive chair James Selfe said on Saturday that the meeting had not been tense and emotive,'' there was an honest and frank debate. It was robust but without rancor and there was a great deal of honesty'', he said.

Zille's attack on her parliament leader come a week after Mazibuko announced she was resigning from her post in order to study at Harvard in the US. Earlier in the week, Zille said that there had been a strong possibility that Mazibuko would have lost the election as the DA's parliament leader. She said that she had offered Mazibuko the Gauteng premier candidacy but that had turned down. With such issues surrounding DA, the people who voted for them must surely be losing confidence in the party.

On the other hand, the most controversial political party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) seems to have a plan. They say they will use parliament seats efficiently. Party member ,Mr Dali Mpofu said, ''the EFF is the government in waiting''.

A young 14 year old boy Jacqueline Mojela from Johannesburg said '' Julius Malema is like a father to me, I want to fellow in his footsteps’’.

If the young generation feels so about EFF leader, these could be the sign of a brighter future for the organization. Hopefully, the EFF will stick to its motto and  serve the people as promised

With all political parties facing challenges after the elections; some have lost many votes when comparing to the 2009 elections, others are experiencing internal dispute about who will represent them at the national parliament. Surely then, the next elections will be far more interesting then the recent.

The citizens at large are expecting change and I have no doubt in mind that the next five years is crucial for South African politics.

16 May, 2014

Where to from here?

By Wandisa Ntengeto

Elections have passed and now the concern has turned to the future of South Africa. Uncertainty is among the many words used to describe South Africa’s future.

This year, the African National Congress won the votes of 11.4 million voters nationally and secured a total of 249 seats in parliament. Even though this may be a victory for the party and its supporters, this year’s votes have declined by nearly 3% compared to those of the 2009 election.

Out of the 18.4 million votes cast, the Democratic Alliance got a 4 million cut out of the election pie. They secured a total of 89 seats in parliament.

The new kid on the block, The Economic Freedom Fighters climbed their way to the top three with a 1.1 million victory nationally; leaving well established parties behind in the race. The EFF managed to secure 25 seats in parliament.

Siphesihle Matyila, 21, a Mdantsane resident says change is needed in South Africa because the government that has been in power for 20 years has failed the people.

“ I have no faith in our government because their main priority is themselves. Now that elections have gone we will be forgotten.”  said Matyila.

In 2009,among the many issues that government promised to deal with were the following : 



-job creation

-improvement in health department

-eradication of poverty

So what we have to ask now is - where are we today with these issues?

Nothembeka Makana,65, a Duncan Village resident explains that the last time she saw change was during Mandela’s era. She expressed disappointment in the Mbeki and Zuma administrations.

“ Prior to the 2009 elections we were promised houses, my grandchildren were told they would get free education but nothing has changed. Party officials come to us before elections and tell us all these good things that will happen when we vote them in power but after we cast our vote they keep quiet and play dead.” Said Makana

According to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the nation address delivered early this year:

Jobs are now being created again. There are now 15 million people with jobs in the country, the highest ever in our history, and over 650 thousand jobs were created last year, according to Stats SA. This is still not good enough. The unemployment rate still remains high. Youth unemployment in South Africa continues to be of concern, as it is throughout the world,”  said President Zuma

Aneziwe Sogoni, 35,Mount Frere resident said that she has been unemployed for the past 8 years. She explains that jobs have been promised but nothing is happening.

“ I am not a lazy person. I have been searching all over for jobs even those that seem small. During electioneering, parties came to us and gave us the same promises. What are we to do now? Our votes have come to waste.” said Sogoni.

President Zuma said they had created 3,7 million work opportunities over the past five years and they have created a public works programme, which they use to seek formal employment.

The issue at hand is how the government will help improve the current state of the country. Elections have passed and people have voted for the party that will strive towards a better South Africa. Where to from here?

Dumped ballot papers: Are elections really free and fair?

By Nompumelelo Kubheka
The Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) motto is “Ensuring free and fair elections”. One of their values is “Transparency”. So, are the dumped ballot papers found in Alexandra and Diepsloot in Johannesburg as well as Lynnwood in Pretoria part of the IEC’s values and Motto?

The dumped ballot boxes found on the 8th of May, post elections were apparently in the favour of the DA.

The discoveries caused a flutter on social media sites. Comments such as “The beloved ANC is always a suspect” and “Dumped ballot papers? What happened to honesty? The DA is obviously a threat” were made by angry DA supporters.

The IEC’s chief electoral officer, Masotho Moepya said that the discovery did not equate to an irregularity. He said ballots were counted in front of party officials from all involved parties at the voting stations. The party representatives then signed ballot slips to confirm the number of votes counted for their party before the slip was taken to a local counting centre.

Although the ballots had been counted, was it fair for them to be dumped in public for every voter to see? Were the DA supporters not put in danger of possible violence outrages?

Moepya further said that the IEC does not encourage people to mislay ballots. The ballots could have been stolen from where they were stored or possibly fell from a truck that was delivering them.

DA leader, Helen Zille’s response to Moepya’s statement was that the mislaying of the ballot papers was certainly not conducive to public confidence in a free and fair election. She added that it was worrying that the IEC appeared not to be able to transport ballot papers properly and that ballot papers landed up on the street. They need to be stored should a recount be required.

A similar incident took place again in Alexandra where IFP supporters held hostage a group of ANC agents after ballot boxes from the Women for Peace voting station were apparently loaded into a strange car.

Whether the ballots were stolen or really mislaid we will never know. However, we know that it was a matter of irresponsibility. I personally hope that the iec does something to prevent such incidents from happening in future and that elections be really free and fair.

25 chances for change or 25 opportunities to destroy?

By Sbongakonke Mbatha

After 20 years of democracy South Africa saw rise to infant political parties like the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) amongst many.

Potential game changers?

All forms of communication gave way to new players on the tracks. After that we witnessed what most political analysts considered to be the most contested general elections in the history of our democracy. South Africa’s fifth general elections were a sprint to the finish where all parties campaigned tirelessly to be crowned victors.

Amongst the infant contenders, the EFF, led by the highly vocal Julius Malema, shocked masses when it emerged as the third most popular party after the ANC and the DA.

When one recalls Malema’s bitter break up with the ANC, one of the questions that would surface amongst many would be: Who would have thought?

Really, who would have?

It is true that time is the most powerful storyteller because our reality is nothing we ever imagined. Nobody thought that the controversial former African National Congress Youth League leader would cause such a stir in the political sphere so shortly after his expulsion.

Many had drawn the conclusion that Malema was just making angry threats, blowing hot air and throwing tantrums like a woman scorned by an undeserving lover.

What seemed like a bitter revenge strategy has earned the EFF 25 seats in parliament.

Is Malema still trying to settle a score with President Jacob Zuma at the expense of all those who voted for him? Or does he genuinely have a vision for a better South Africa, or better yet, was he just looking for a proper position for his idea for change to materialize?

Looking at the long and very controversial campaign tracks that led to the elections finish line, there was one strong EFF weapon that many failed to pay attention to. Under those red barrets were young faces.


It is one recipe that gave this eight month old party political status, giving opposition parties a run for their money.

Malema cultivated a clever strategy of mobilizing the young, unemployed and frustrated. He tapped into a youth that sees no future and are without jobs.

Does South Africa need Malema leadership? How will this country benefit from Malema leadership that seems to have no stem of political support? Did he bite more than he can chew?

In an article posted by SowetanLive (online), a female EFF activist from Marikana has been selected as one of the party’s parliamentarians because she mobilized the Marikana locals and miners in support of the party. This woman used to live in a corrugated iron shack and these are some of the benefits she will enjoy once in position:

-          R80 000 salary per month

-          Free accommodation

-          Free flights to attend parliament

To my surprise the masses support this. “Viva parliament of the people viva”, are the exact words that echo. What does this mean for parliament? Entertainment of mediocrity?

Malema is making a lot of changes; rebellious actions to prove his point and expose how wrong those in governance are. It looks like parliamentary status is slowly being weakened seeing that such appointments are being made and EFF leader appears in parliament wearing overalls and carrying the correct articulation to justify his dress code. 

Questions. Bulks of questions. I give Malema 25 chances to answer me.

09 May, 2014

Voting for change yet not changing the vote.

By Chanté Petersen

Marking 20 years of democracy, there is little surprise as the African National Congress retains it’s 60% of the vote in the fifth general elections.

The picture makes a slight change in political-hue provincially, as the Congress of the People (COPE) becomes the official opposition to none. 

‘There were over a million people who voted for COPE in 2009, but where did they go?’ question raised by Daily Mavericks, Stephen Grootes. 

Although the 2009 figure came about in a political scene in which the Economic Freedom Fighters and AgangSA did not yet officially exist, COPE did. 

‘The more time you spend fighting each other for control, the less successful you will be. COPE is going to be written-up as the textbook case of that’, Grootes continued. 

While the Democratic Alliance may have claimed some of these voters, others may have shut themselves off into the world of non-voters and the last few may in no doubt have turned to EFF and AgangSA.  

COPE was not the only political party to experience fundamental change. The ANC seemed to have lost some popularity as it lost about three percent of votes.  In 2009, the ANC got 65.9% but now it looks as though the current stats will remain around 63%. 

With the ANC leading, the DA is up around seven percent. Although a dynamic with a long way to go, it is one with a clearly gaining momentum. Grootes also explains that if the DA gains seven percent now, it could gain far more in the elections of 2019. ‘Of course, that depends on whether a worker’s party is formed by then, because that will present people with genuinely different choices to the ones they faced this election’. 

There seemed to be a lack of eagerness in voter turnout for these elections. At the time of writing, the turnout stood at 72.61% and counting. This is said to be a good figure for a young democracy. ‘Barack Obama was elected in the USA with a voter turnout of only 57.5%, only being the highest in the USA since 1968’, writes Grootes. 

But I wonder, as to how voters are casting their votes. While they call for great change, majority seem to be keeping the ball of democracy in the hands of the same political players. 

It has been written that FW De Klerk based his decision on which party to vote for on ‘four tests’: who to trust with the constitution and the rule of law, an economic policy best ensuring economic growth and job creation, and based on which party is the most non-racial and has the best track record on corruption. 

Does this support that most of South Africa believes in the ANC as the ruling party to best trusted with the South African constitution and rule of law or because a violent past, are voters simply playing it safe? 

A first-time ‘eligible’ voter says she voted simply to keep the ANC-ruling party out of the Western Cape. While another says voting DA creates a strong opposition as it is needed to keep the ruling party under pressure to ensure performance. 

ENCA analyst Angelo Fick, said when the first results from Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape were announced, ‘one had to admire those individuals who cast their votes for the smaller parties’. He continues, wondering where everyone within that community knows who these smaller parties are. ‘If one party gains 148 votes and the next popular party get five, one wonders what factors have led to this conformity? 

“The winning party in such a place will claim that it is a true reflection of their popularity and success, and of the loyalty and gratitude of members. But in modernity, communities thrive on varieties of opinion and belief whether in matters of culture or politics”. 

With little surprise in any radical change from South Africa voters, an ANC online-response believes people vote ANC because ‘behind the scandal and media bias, they are the party that works to advance the struggle of the poor’. Also stating that whether we ‘admit it or not’, life is better because of the ANC and whilst there are many problems, that remains the bottom line‘. 

Perhaps the beauty of politics is that it is experienced differently by different people. One’s perception of the world is not the lived reality of millions of people in this country. 

But throughout all levels of reality, one paradigm should be made apparent: while inching towards a 25-year mark in democracy, we should want nothing less than a political ruling party we trust with the young democratic constitution and the rule of law of South Africa. 

We must keep in mind that people suffered to reach such a diplomatic solution, and that the 1994 election eradicated a brutal state of apartheid.