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Category Archives: Politics

A lesson in history

Prior to reading this post, please bear in mind that I am a proponent for Affirmative Action and/or Black empowerment of any kind. I argue in favour of this not because that non-blacks be denied opportunities in this country. I do so because I am of a firm believe that structural damages caused by the legacy of apartheid needs to be repaired.

It seems that my fellow citizens of a lighter skin tone are antagonist to anything that seek to advance the black race economically.  I acknowledge the fact that we are living in the new democratic dispensation and as such every citizen must be afforded equal opportunities in order to live a better life as promised by the ruling ANC. However, it worries me that whenever a big corporate announces a job vacancy with a clause that those who will be considered are people from designated groups; there becomes a furore threatening boycotts against the company involved.

It should be unreservedly acknowledged that the apartheid history left an indelible mark to those who were considered sub-human during those dark days. A beautiful country such as South Africa, today faces challenges of many kinds. We are at the bottom of the foot chain in terms of quality of education in the world, people continue to perish as a result of communicable diseases and spatial developments in our communities leaves much to be desired. These challenges still prevails largely because of the disadvantage that the descendant of those suffered the injustices of the past bears.

For a corporate company like The South African Airways and Woolworths to adopt the Employment Equity policies is a gesture of attempting to address the inequities of  the past. Such interventions are implemented not to disadvantage the minorities in this country, but to correct the wrongs of history and put every citizen on an even playing ground. I mentioned two companies in particular, because, certain group of people threatened them not to buy at Woolworths nor fly SAA after they have publicly announced that the vacant posts are reserved for targeted groups.

It is to err to think any company that introduces Employment Equity plans discriminates against white people. It should be further understood that Employment Equity plans seek to address the shortage of designated groups in certain categories of employment, and to address these, a pool of applicants (largely black) is targeted.

It is the imperative of the constitution to fix our society so as to achieve the ideals of equal opportunities for all, that the opposing Democratic Alliance envisage. In actual fact, Affirmative Action is enshrined in our constitution as per section 9 (2). Therefore, it is fitting to assume that policies such as Employment Equity are necessary to fix the system; it does not fix itself.

My dear reader, walk with me down the memory lane as I remind you that Employment Equity policies are necessitated by some of the policies implemented during the scavenger-era of apartheid. Job Reservation Act, which prohibited black people from getting certification for their skills and trade is a case in point.

Lesson to be derived:

If there is a lesson to be derived in the history of apartheid and the prevailing state of affairs is that whatever decision you take, whatever choice your make, these might have a profound adverse impact on your descendant.

It is therefore unwarranted for the solidarity groups to oppose employment equity and to declare boycotts against those companies implementing Affirmative Action.

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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Politics

 

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The future is random, but can a pass mark be randomised?

Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way…..when you teach the children teach em the very best you can. ~ Harold Melvin and the blue notes.

If you teach the children, teach them the very best you can!

If you teach the children, teach them the very best you can!

Don’t you find it mediocre that 30% merits a pass mark in the education system of this country? To be exact, to pass Grade 12  – which is a school leaving level in South Africa –  you will need to obtain a minimum of 30% for three of the subjects  written and 40% for another three. That is approximately an average of 35%. At UCT a 35% merits what is termed ‘duly performance refused or DPR, in Stellenbosch a ‘Kwal-nie’ will decorate your academic transcript and in any other institutions of higher learning you will just not  get ‘predicate’.  A DPR, A ‘Kwal-nie’ or ‘do not qualify for predicate’ is what guarantees a pass mark in matric. A rather traumatizing discovery to say the least!

Who is at fault? who is to blame?

It is a worrisome factor that many learners drop mathematics at Grade 12 level for Mathematical Literacy, at the counsel of their teachers of course to push up matric pass rate. In her recent talk in honour of the late freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu, Dr Mamphela Ramphele expressed a rather poignant view on the issue of learners taking Mathematical Literacy at Grade 12 level. She said to quote her verbatim “Maths literacy… what is that? It’s worse than the arithmetic I did under Bantu education.”

Why is South Africa randomising the future of the young like these? Why do we accept this to prevail under a new democratic dispensation. Doesn’t this inspire laziness? I completely understand that the future cannot be predicted hence its randomness, but can a pass mark be randomised? I do not see how can an average mark of 35% warrant a pass under any normal circumstances?

With such a mediocre standard it comes as a surprise to myself that we expect the economy of South Africa to grow, flourish and prosper yet we do not produce intelligent human capital to work it. The naked truth of this trajectory is that this pass mark is mediocre, deceptive and it consigns thousands of those who achieve it to a life of hopelessness, helplessness and holds no promise to access higher education, employment nor a better life.

Our standard to pass matric is way too low, it is mediocre in every sense of the word. Do we expect these pupil who pulls off an average of 35% to go on pursue glittering careers or become newspaper columnists? Are we joking, are we kidding the poor? Are we gambling with our children’s future?

It makes me question whether these people who draft these policies do listen to music? Maybe the day they take a deliberate decision to do so a more pragmatic solution to this educational dilemma will surface. When they do decide to amend the current pass rate requirement, I urge them to listen to Whitney Houston’s ‘Greatest Love of all’ and take nothing but this:

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

Who do we hold accountable in this situation?

In conclusion, our high school education system is mentally-agonising both in character and in form!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Politics

 

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Environmental Matters: Working Together Saving Tomorrow Today

Climate change is such a huge issue that it requires strong, concerted, consistent and enduring action by governments – Peter Garret.

Picture appropriated from ZMEscience.com

If you are one of those individuals who really cares about what is going on in the world, you would know that the blogpost title comes from a slogan of the biggest climate change conference which starts on Monday in Durban, COP17/CMP7. Dear reader, let me take a liberty of shedding a light on what this conference is and what informed its inception. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, the parties being the 195 nations that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. UNFCCC is convention that was conceived in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. At that time, world leaders met in Rio, under the UN, to rethink economic development and find a path that would address the issue of climate change and environmental sustainability.

Few days ago, on my facebook page I asked who is this celebrity guy much anticipated by Durbanites called COP17/CMP7? The response to the question was negative – if there was one at all. It became apparent to me after such a reluctant participation on that status update that my generation is becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Oh yeah, we buy our drinking water in bottles. We litter. We do not recycle nor reuse papers. We print emails. We eat genetically modified organisms. and yet we are generation that is supposed to be well-informed because of the resource we poses in the form of internet and smartphones. In all those acts I have mentioned, I am embarrassed to state that I am guilty as charged.

For many young people the subject of climate change is relatively new and to a large extent its relevance is not clearly understood. Whether young people are apathetic when it comes to such issues is a different story, what is needed is the awareness on this topic. Our Universities and residences can play a significant role in continuing the discourse on climate change long after the COP 7 conference has ended.

Environmental experts and activists say that climate change promises threat of varying magnitude to the planet earth. At the same conference in 1992, in Rio De Janeiro, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, an environmental activist delivered a speech on climate change from a perspective of a teenager. She was 12 at the time and at age 9 she had founded the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues. The video summarizes the dangers of climate change so profoundly that it went viral with well over 8 million hits.

In her address she told the delegates that:

“I am only a child Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school you teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words.”

Watch this video, and be informed on matters affecting the environment. The video quality is not that good but the message is of top-notch quality.

To echo her sentiments, the challenges are great, but if we accept individual responsibility and make sustainable choices, we will rise to the challenges, and we will become part of the positive tide of change.

Let us treat the environment with harmony, dignity and tranquility which it deserves.

Source:  Time Magazine, UNFCCC, COP17/CMP7 conference website, Wikepedia, News 24.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Politics, Uncategorized

 

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Heritage Day: what exactly are we celebrating?

Braai (n):[‘brae’] /South Africa’s slang/: a barbeque where a meat is roasted normally in an open fire.

Some call it National Braai (barbecue) day but I would like to stick with its official name, National Heritage Day. For those who are living under a rock in an open sea, On this day-24th of September, the people of South Africa as a traditional practice braai meat or anything that can be barbecued to celebrate their rich history and heritage.

In fact, this day affords one the possibility to ask the simple question – when we celebrate Heritage Day and Heritage Month, exactly what are we celebrating?

Many decades ago, the esteemed American poet Countee Cullen, wrote a poem which he entitled “Heritage”. Its opening stanza says:

What is Africa to me?
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang When the birds of Eden sang?…
What is Africa to me?

You will remember that Countee Cullen asked this unequivocal but yet rhetoric question-What is Africa to me? – when he sought to fathom why America of his day denied him and his fellow African Americans their identity and therefore their ability to insist on their humanity.

This day gives me a further opportunity to reflect on what exactly happened during pre 1948, post 1994 and more importantly the years in between. What the students of history call the “conqueror” came down to Africa colonised the land and divided the people who lived in it. In lay term for a lay man, colonialism means divide and conquer!

The Former President of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki in a speech delivered in Royal Bafokeng in September 2010 He said and I quote “In apartheid South Africa, the conquerors made a desperate attempt to impose on a black race an identity they hoped they would accept, and which would serve their interests, by separating them into malleable fragments of different ethnic groups, each awarded a false identity in a Bantustan, seductively described as a homeland.”

I give you this brief history in deliberate attempt to try to answer the question I have posed in the beginning of this post, when we celebrate Heritage Day and Heritage Month, exactly what are we celebrating?

Let me err and perhaps say that in present day South Africa we have not yet fully utilised the opportunities that come with this spring day in September Month – The National heritage day. I err because in my eyes as a country we have not yet discovered a common and uniting identity as a people. That is evident by the way people behave in social networking platforms.

It is indeed difficult in South Africa- owing its bitter past- to discover a common and uniting identity. However, it is on this day that I am challenged to find common values that can unite South Africans-however long that might take.

I am reminded of a phrase “Proudly South African” which I believe it is that can be used as a fount and foundation to unite this beautiful country. Once again, let me bother your mind in asking you what does being Proudly South African mean? In grinding poverty that most of our society members live in, the pandemic of AIDS disease, and with highest unemployment rates in the world amongst other challenges, I stand with absolute doubt that this can make one a proudly South African.

You may ask, what then is that heritage we must discover to enable us to define for ourselves our identity as – Proudly South African!

Afford me another opportunity to educate you on what I think we must celebrate on this day.

  • The historic victory of Isandlhwana in South Africa in 1879.
  •  The victory of the Afrikaner people as they fought British imperialism during the South African or Anglo-Boer War.
  •  Those, through, their sustained effort had helped in ending the era of apartheid.
  • The 19th century and early 20th century South African intellectuals such as Tiyo Soga, Robert Sobukwe and others for their contribution in the fields of knowledge in various disciplines.
  •  The writers who have won Nobel Prizes for Literature, as well as others, as great, who have not, such Ntozakhe S Shange, Zakes Mda. J.M.M Coetzee and Mazisi Kunene.
  •  Legendary artists whose creative imagination has given us the music that inspired Africa jazz and other musical streams.
  • Other creative artists whose artwork gives South Africans something to brag about, such as PH Pierneef and Gregoire Boonzaier.
  • The National Symbols
  • And the National Orders

The last two aspects are important in a sense that they constitutes our common and unifying identity in terms of what has been done in our country in post-apartheid South Africa.

Bear with me while I take you through a short course on the matter of our national symbols, which constitute an important part of the heritage.

  • Both our flag and our national anthem represent bold and creative contributions to the country’s continuing task to further strengthen the national reconciliation.
  •  The coat of arm, which its parts mean different things, but importantly the shield in it represents the defence or protection of the nation.
  • Our National Motto,!ke e: /xarra/ //ke – which means – diverse people unite reaffirms our identity as a people.
  •  The national order of Mapungubwe: This Order is awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement.
  • The order of Ikhamanga: Ikhamanga is a Xhosa name for a flower known in English as Strelitzia,This Order is awarded to South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.
  • The order of Baobab: (The mighty tree) This Order is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the field of business and the economy, Science, medicine and technological innovation and Community service.
  • National Orders of Luthuli: The Order is awarded to South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution.
  • The Companions of O.R. Tambo: This Order is awarded to foreign nationals (Heads of State and Government) and other foreign dignitaries. It is awarded for friendship shown to South Africa. It is therefore an order of peace, co-operation and active expression of solidarity and support. The Order constitutes an essential pillar of international and multilateral relations.
  • The Mendi decoration for bravery: The Decoration is awarded to South African citizens who have performed an extraordinary act of bravery that placed their lives in great danger, or who lost their own lives including in trying to save the life of another person, or by saving property, in or outside the Republic of South Africa.

I thus see it fit to use the patriotism displayed by Americans towards their own nation when they adopted the so called “American dream” to coin a new word that I believe will instil loyalty amongst South African and that shall be called “The South African identity”!

After all this is a heritage that we all share and as such we must embrace and celebrate it.

The question I have posed earlier in this article – what is that are we celebrating? and that question raised by Countee Cullen in his poem – What is Africa to me? are questions that still remain piquant!!!

Happy National Heritage day!!!

SOURCE: The department of Arts and Culture

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in General, Politics

 

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The challenges of the South African Youth in a post-apartheid era

The youth of the apartheid era had a mission, a goal that they would fight to achieve at any cost. The youth of today should take conscious steps to address challenges that face them. (Pic Source: CDW)

 

Today marks the 35th year of  the Soweto uprising. This day, in 1976 young people went far and wide in the streets of Soweto to protest for better education and to fight against the use of Afrikaans and Bantu education which was an education system solely for black people. They achieved that because they fought in unity and they had a common objective in their minds. Although many died, they conquered that ill-system. So today, with the help of social media, how do we (Youth) fight the challenges facing us?

In post-apartheid South Africa it can be argued that we all stand equal chance of making it big in life.  As young people of this country we cannot claim that we fought for liberation, and yet we are the one who stand to benefit the most. The youth of 1976 liberated us, they had a compelling cause  to pursue and boy did these youth achieve a system greater than themselves?

Our constitution calls on us to heal the divisions of the past, improve the lives of all citizens and free the potential of each person (Check the preamble). Notwithstanding the significant achievement of the afore-mentioned youth, our struggle remain that of poverty, unequal access to education, diseases of every sorts and high rate of unemployment. These are the challenges that clouds today’s youth in this country. This is the plight that the youth of today in the democratic South Africa Should fight for? We should sweat and shed tear in pursuit of overcoming these challenges.

The planning commission led by Mr Trevor Manuel, has identified nine key challenges that confront South Africa in eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.These are: high unemployment; poor education; disease; divided communities; uneven performance by the public service; the marginalisation of the poor by spatial patterns; corruption; a crumbling infrastructure and the fact that the economy is resource based. Of these, two stand out: unemployment, and the quality of education for most black people. All these are what I see as the plight that South Africa’s youth should fight for.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the vice-chair of the planning commission he pointed out that unemployment and poor education exclude millions of people from sharing in the fruits of  democracy. For many of those with jobs, the large numbers of their dependants and long travel distances means that they remain poor. Most of the poor are black, female, low skilled and they often live far from economic centres.

We must first start by getting to the bottom of the causes of these problems and try to come up with the plausible solutions. That can be achieved through engaging in conversation by using social media and other platforms.

With liberation, came constitution, with constitution came the bill of right and with the bill of right came FREEDOM. Freedom?  What to do with all this freedom? Freedom has so many complex sides to it. The right to buy; the right not to buy. The right to spend; the right not to spend. The right to care for the poor; the right to live one’s life without giving a damn about the poor. The right to care only for oneself. These are the consequences and the pleasures of freedom that we enjoy today.

I believe that with a common purpose, a united spirit of co-operation and mutual sacrifice, we too, like the youth of 1976, can defeat the challenges facing us today. The youth of 1976 took conscious steps to address challenges that faced them. In pursuit of economic emancipation, together we can enjoy the fruits of democracy.

happy youth day……

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Politics

 

SINKING SHIP; THE ISSUE OF LEADERSHIP IN AFRICA

There is really no one who can predict the future. Whether you are a futurist, a sangoma or a fortune teller, you just cannot predict the morrow. Oh well at least, that‘s my affirmation.

What is really my point? If the so called “futurist” could predict the future, Couldn’t they tell us well in advance that the future does not look good in the North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa?

Oh well, the issue of leadership is quite serious. There is political unrest in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Cote’d ivoire.  What causes this unrest? Unplanned leadership, not so-solid constitutions or power hungry leaders who want to hang on the throne for dear life?

It is quite disturbing to learn that even in the 21st century; dictatorship is still the order of the day.  Mr Gaddaffi, Mr Gbagbo, and Mr Mubarak have been in the leadership seat for far too long. (Zimbabwean President is left intentionally in this example, because I still need to visit his country). The longer you lead, the more you lose the vision and the purpose of your role. One tends to be stubborn, arrogant, and greedy. A domineering leader ends up in a situation where he makes uniformed decisions. The vision has been lost, and the faith of the people you are leading is shaken.  That’s evident by the people of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt who have been protesting against the power that their leaders command.

The sinking leadership in this continent is detrimental to Africa and her people. Political instability occurs, and the stock market is being affected negatively. This event drives away investment opportunities out of the continent. The ordinary man in the street is the one who is hardest hit, as these dictators says “We command power, I am the boss here”.

How do we save the sinking ship?

The establishment of a leadership institute by the former president of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki is one good measure to save the leadership sinking ship in this continent.

How about making it a constitution of this continent that one cannot be a President for more than two terms? I believe that can go a long way in saving the sinking ship. I mean these guys are hanging in the presidential seat for a dear donkey’s years.

Oh, yes we have African Union. Mr Chairman how about you buy each of the new Presidents a book by one of the legendary leadership Authors? Just imagine what type of leaders Africa can have if each one of them read a book by Steven R Covey, Malcolm Gladwell, Robin Sharma and Rudolph W. Giuliani? We can have exceptional leaders, who are free of greed and full of optimism.

Who is responsible for the state of Africa?

Who is responsible for the sinking ship of leadership in this continent? Is Africa really free?

Leadership in most part of Africa is in a distasteful state. Many of our leaders have or are committing crime against humanity. Africans on a daily basis, suffers from hunger merely because of leaders who are greedy and does not serve selflessly. Africa is a developmental continent, we are doing well, but some of our leaders are putting all the hard work of former good leaders to waste.

A neat way to solve leadership issues in this continent, country by country is for each one of us to take responsibility in citizenry. As a citizen of a particular country in Africa, one must by far and large participate in issues of governance.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Leadership, Politics

 

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Tertiary education, The World most expensive commodity…

I sit here on my study table both sad and happy. Why such a dichotomy of feelings, you may wonder? Sad because tertiary education is becoming more commercialised. But also, happy and honoured that I am studying at a time when the university fees are still in five figures.

Well, you pick up a campus newspaper with a sheer determination to read a juicy and  inspiring stories, only to meet the soul crushing news of  the fees proposal by the university management. In the foreseeable future, tertiary education will become inaccessible to the poor and the middle class. It breaks my spirit that bursary opportunities in South Africa are being cut back and the tuition fees keep sky rocketing. Only the elite, will be able to  pay for tertiary education.

In South Africa, The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the scheme that seek to support people from designate group (The poor and the middle class) seem not to be increasing their financial support proportionately with the rising tuition fees. This leaves those who rely from the said scheme to have deficit on their student account.  At the end of the year, those students fail to get their results or fail to register the following year.

The talent of passionate youth is going to waste. I somehow feel that the human capital of this rainbow nation is under severe pressure.  As long as the university fees keep hiking, South Africa will remain a country with a shortage of skill and greater income inequality.  Rising fees will discourage people especially those from rural areas to pursue higher education, a violation of basic human rights, right there!

I sometimes think that the South African university are becoming highly commercialised and highly branded. Ey look, my degree bears a Stellenbosch/UCT/WITS/TUKS logo, it is like buying Nike/Adidas branded shoe, that’s how our Universities are turning into. On that point, don’t you think that we will be better off, if this institutions just get listed on the JSE?An opportunity of of raising capital by selling shares to the public?

We have seen more recently how violent students become in protest of rising tuition costs, something that pains me.How come I got this far without questioning the role of government in this matter? Right, I understnad that the government subsidise the universities, unfortunately that’s all I know regarding this matter. Why don’t the government charge heavy tax to institutions that raises tuition fees way above the inflation rate?

Established issues attached to Fee increase.

  • More students will rely on bank loans to finance their studies.
  • More poor people will be discouraged from applying to universities. (Accessibility to higher education will be limited.)
  • South African human capital will go extinct.
  • More university resources will be damaged as a result of protesting students.

It is worthy of note to also acknowledge all businesses, foundation and NGO that support students who are under financial distress. The following organisations and people deserve special mention, Thuthuka bursary fund, REAP, The Study Trust, Ernest Oppenheimer, Gallagher Foundation, GT Ferreira and my very best NSFAS.

Education is to become inaccessible in South Africa.  That’s a sad reality considering that we are 16 years post apartheid government.

Oh, well let me stop whining and think of a possible solution to this problem, which will be released on this website in the near future. keep your eyes wide open.

Oh cry me a river!

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2010 in Politics, Uncategorized

 

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