- Greg Nicolson
It would be awfully ironic to note it never rains, but pours for South Africa’s farmers, especially considering the drought that poses an imminent threat to food security, and has drastically diminished farmers hopes of bringing in a decent harvest at the end of the season. Employing this idiom, however, suffices when you examine the current challenges facing some of South Africa’s farming communities around Heidelberg. The drought, according to farmers, is only half of their problem. The other is mining. By BHEKI C. SIMELANE.
Practical problems associated with academic reading and writing tend not to feature prominently in the language debate at Stellenbosch University. Arguably, the most pressing pedagogical issue in the current debate is the role of written language, and increasingly English, in fostering academic literacies across a range of knowledge areas, or domains, not just nationally but globally. The argument that universities need to reflect regional demographics and promote “mother tongue instruction” rides roughshod over this issue. By LLOYD HILL and STEVEN ROBINS.
Distraught residents wander amongst the ash, corrugated iron, rubble and smoke of Section D in Masiphumelele, a township in Cape Town's south peninsula. In a few hours on Sunday, thousands have lost their homes and possessions. Two fire engines stand at the edge of the burnt areas. By GROUNDUP Staff.
No one knows how many South Africans are living with Hepatitis C, but the virus affects everyone from injecting drug users to suburban housewives. For decades, treatment has been priced out of reach and largely unsuited for those living with HIV. Now, South Africa has received its first shipment of a new wave of cheaper, faster and better Hepatitis C medicine and has HIV activists to thank for it, write LAURA LOPEZ GONZALEZ and KYLA HERRMANNSEN for HEALTH-E NEWS.
As the ANC's hold on power in South Africa continues, it is using a series of tactics to deal with the assaults upon it. In some cases, such as in Gauteng, it simply tries to govern better. In other provinces, it seeks to crack down on opposition. In Parliament it tries to change the rules, or interpret them, in the way that suits it best. And cracks down on opposition. But one particular tactic, which has been successful for several years, is now beginning to rebound on the party. It is the tactic of trying to get behind whichever dynamic is driving society, to give the appearance of having led it all along. That tactic, the hijacking of the other organisations' political protests, may eventually hurt it, and badly. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Having represented the torture-survivors for ten years with no remuneration, Egon Oswald has now lodged an application for leave to appeal Judge Dyalan Chetty’s decision to dismiss claims by Xolani Siko and Simphiwe Mbena - the first of 231 potential St Albans plaintiffs. If the plaintiffs’ application is successful, it could pave the way for one of the largest damages claims ever instituted against the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. On the other hand, Chetty’s judgement was more than damning in its criticism of both the claimants and the defence witnesses. By CAROLYN RAPHAELY.
While confirmation that the charismatic and influential former Sunday Times editor, Tertius Myburgh, was a voluntary spy for the apartheid government is one of the more sensational revelations in veteran journalist and editor John Matisonn's just-published book, the work is also a detailed and unflinching examination of the symbiotic relationship between business, journalism and politics. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Cosatu ended a four-day congress on Thursday with not much clarity on its future than at the start of the week. Its top set of leaders was re-elected, with only one new face filing the vacancy that was created when Zwelinzima Vavi was dismissed. There was some hard talk to drill home the message Cosatu did not want Vavi or metalworkers union Numsa back in the fold, but the voting figures told another story. Cosatu continued to drum out the same old rhetoric and aired the same grievances. Meanwhile the ground continues to shift and Cosatu continues to be left behind. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
On Wednesday, Auditor General Kimi Makwetu released the national and provincial government audit results, including 167 departments and 301 public entities with a total budget of R1,111 trillion. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, there were only slight improvements. GREG NICOLSON pulls some of the key numbers.
The ANC and Cosatu are, we are told, in an alliance with each other. So, when a cabinet minister who is an ANC deployee addresses a Cosatu conference, one can expect lots of hugging and singing. Instead, we have the sight this week of the Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant telling Cosatu delegates that in fact strikes have become a "fashion statement" and that they are being used to show how much support a union has, rather than to further the aims of workers. It is yet another sign that the ANC is battling to manage the conflicting dynamics of being the employer, while claiming to speak for the employed. And Oliphant herself is a major part of why there are so many strikes in the first place. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
On December 7, a constitutional challenge to the cannabis prohibition – brought courtesy of Jeremy David Acton, leader of the Dagga Party, and experienced litigant Ras Gareth Prince – will arrive before the Western Cape High Court. The defendants in the matter include the national director of public prosecutions, the minister of health, and the minister of police. KEVIN BLOOM speaks to the chief plaintiff in the case and gets a look at the state’s heads of argument; what he learns is that nobody is playing around.
Sheer curiosity and a benevolent photographer pushed me up what felt like the steepest driveway in Bedfordview. The reward – an hour inspecting the home of arguably the country’s most infamous crime boss and the opportunity to allow myself to slip into an alternate universe narrated by Marlon Brando and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. By MANDY WIENER.
If ever evidence was needed of the glaring contradictions in Cosatu and the tripartite alliance, it was on display on the second day of the federation’s 12th national congress. The route to socialism via the ANC, which is not fighting for socialism, the attack on capitalists, who happen to be funding the congress, and the ringing endorsement of Cyril Ramaphosa for president, who represents what Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) consider to be the enemy of the working class. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
South Africa is often a contradiction. A documentary on the Marikana Massacre can win an Emmy, but won't be shown on public television. The families of the victims who are at the heart of the story can be venerated, but they still haven't received compensation. It's time these contradictions end. Miners Shot Down must be aired on public TV, and the country must come to terms with its past, which is still its present.
On 23 November, Geoff Sifrin's book,'Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris – How humanity, morality and humour helped lead a community', was launched at the Great Synagogue in Johannesburg. In his speech, JUDGE EDWIN CAMERON addressed Harris's commitment to reaching out across the divides in the South African Jewish community, as well as perhaps the most vexing question facing many Jews: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By GROUNDUP.
What stood out about Nelson Mandela was that he repeatedly changed his political understanding over time. This was notably in his attitude to the use of force, taking up arms when it was necessary, and working to build peace when possible. This demonstrated that a leader must have the capacity for introspection, and consequently be able to re-evaluate modes of operation. By RAYMOND SUTTNER
Stereotypical pictures of illegal abortion practices are of doctors with bloodied aprons and carving knives, but modern “clinics” are usually run by criminals. Women are instructed to take drugs (orally or vaginally) and are sometimes told that the baby “will dissolve” or be “flushed away”. By ROBYN WOLFSON VORSTER
South Africa is 21 years into democracy, and many poor people are still without houses, basic services, and continue to routinely face inhumane evictions. Dysfunctional cooperative governance relations; a lack of capacity, and the ineffective application of policy, are some of the reasons for this, according to a report by the South African Human Rights Commission. KOKETSO MOETI unpacks some of the housing issues and recommendations of the commission.
Parliament's ad hoc joint committee on probing violence against foreign nationals has finally submitted its report. There is little new in its findings, and if past reports on the issue are an indication, few of the broad recommendations will be implemented. But policy changes resulting from the attacks on foreigners this year are likely already decided: Implement harsher controls of those coming into SA while attempting to build township economies. By GREG NICOLSON.
There can surely be no doubting the fact that while the star of Zwelinzima Vavi has been totally eclipsed in the Cosatu planetary system, the Sun that is S'dumo Dlamini is now in control. Forced to take a minor, relatively quiet role while Vavi was general secretary, he is now the public face of the Federation. Addressing Cosatu's congress on Monday evening, it was only human for him to see the moment as a symbol of his ultimate victory over Vavi. But he also clearly believes the battle for Cosatu is still not over. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
There was a time when those mediating the conflict in Cosatu believed the only way to navigate out of the crisis would be for S’dumo Dlamini and Zwelinzima Vavi to step down as president and general secretary respectively. Cosatu took another route. It dismissed Vavi earlier this year and, on the first day of its 12th national congress, re-elected Dlamini for a third term as president. It was a triumph for the dominant faction in Cosatu. But the minority faction staged a fight back that saw heated debates for most of day one, which ended with a rather baffling speech by President Jacob Zuma. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
President Jacob Zuma, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande and Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini will all speak at the opening of Cosatu’s 12th national congress in Midrand on Monday. For them, this congress will be a triumph over their detractors. Cosatu now needs to redefine itself in a shifting political and social landscape where nouveau radicalism and hashtag protests are on trend. But the Vavi-Numsa bashing and preoccupation with ANC succession could defocus Cosatu from what its core business should be. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.