QUENTIN COETZEE: A decision has been taken to establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate the President's response to the Public Protector's Nkandla report. That report was released five months ago, and the fact that Zuma keeps delaying his response makes it seem like he is just trying to avoid punishment, if his previous actions in this matter haven’t already rung alarm bells.
While there have been a fair share of distractions from the whole Nkandla issue, there are a few questions about who is at fault for letting this get out of hand: the Parliamentarians or the people? That is more 'chicken or the egg' logic speaking when the real problem is how the rooster, who is now known to steal almost all the food, has been allowed to remain.
Thuli Madonsela's report on Nkandla, where she found that Zuma unduly benefited from the upgrades, was released in March and she had recommended that he repay some of the costs for non-security features. Considering his defence of Nkandla and its costs, including the ‘I didn’t ask for this, so why should I pay’ line, that action is as likely to be taken as him resigning from office on ethical grounds.
DEAN HORWITZ: Over the past few years articles and reports have used an abundance of statistics to inform and justify the argument that graduate unemployment is a rising concern in South Africa. Using real life examples of graduates unable to find work, articles and reports have led us to believe that graduate unemployment is a substantial issue facing our economy. But is this really the status quo?
According to the Labour Force Survey, 25% of South Africans are unemployed with 70% of these people under the age of 35. Even more striking is that the unemployment rate for South Africans under the age of 25 is over 50% and growing each quarter. These numbers are terrifying and suggest that South Africa is facing a growing youth unemployment problem which will negatively affect the economy for years to come.
KATY SCOTT: I stand with my mouth hanging as, “Would you like a bag?” becomes the most perplexing question I have had to answer all week. Do I want a bag? What do I even want, really?
I hit this point, usually once a week, where I just have no bloody clue. Thoughts and desires hurtle about in my head and bang against my forehead. Everything I was ever once certain about turns to mish-mashed potatoes. Supper. At least I know what I’m having for supper tonight.
I fear that there is no light, and I’m pretty convinced that I’m in a ditch, not a tunnel. It’s like I’ve been given a lucky packet filled with PMS, stress and distress. Don’t try to ask me what I’m feeling, I don’t know, (and I might depress you with my answer). Where to from here?
LAURIE SCARBOROUGH: So firstly, welcome back to UCT, fine people who read this column. Good on you to brave the mountainous campus for another four months (and for reading my column every edition). If your holiday was anything like mine, it was far from restful. If you flip over to the Features section you’ll see that I was involved in a musical at the Artscape, and rehearsal were almost daily, stretching into the darkest hours of the night. Very exciting and everything – dreams come true, standing ovations, gold stars, etc etc.
Besides the obvious stand-out moments of being on a stage that every performer lives for, I think one of things that will stick with me is the sheer amount of make-up that is smeared on your face in your pre-show preparation.
PARUSHA NAIDOO: Sexism, ageism and (South Africa’s personal favourite) racism, are generally the dominant themes that come to mind when we enter into heated debates about discrimination. But wait, there is another “ism” to add to our list of prejudices - accentism. Your response may be “Did she just make that up?”
While the word was underlined in red when I typed it, it does exist, at least that’s what Google tells me. Accentism essentially refers to the discrimination of someone based on their accent. So beyond skin tone, hair colour and gender, our accents act as signallers. We unconsciously associate accents with class, education and cultural backgrounds. We instantly form attitudes towards people based on their twangs and drawls.
LAURIE SCARBOROUGH: Too many times have I heard the refrain “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain”. It seems a rather narrow and weakly supported view that is dropped into conversation around election time. And while my left thumb is still stained a henna brown, I thought I’d be the devil’s advocate for a day.
So firstly, as a wise comedian by the name of George Carlin once said, “If you vote, you have no right to complain.” Dear Georgie argues that as soon as you participate in the voting system, you enter into the “game”, if you will. Voting has rules, and one of those rules is that somebody wins. You have accepted the invitation to the game and played it. You legitimise the voting system, even if you disagree with it on some level, by participating. You are then responsible (or collectively responsible with the other 18 million people who voted) for the outcome of the vote, regardless of whether your party wins or not, because you accepted the rules. He argues that someone who doesn’t vote, therefore has every right to complain because they are not responsible for the scoreboard results.
KATY SCOTT: It sits untouched in the assignments tab on Vula. You browse by every once in a while to check up on it with some vague hope that it may have disappeared.
Oh would you be so lucky. As the due date draws closer you reassure yourself that there is still time, there is always time. With great reluctance you open it 15 hours before it is due. You start off slowly, handling it with such care. Three hours later you’re 100 words in. Somehow you’re still positive, you’ve got this. Time pushes on. The letters on your laptop screen start to dance about and you take a break from Microsoft to mindlessly scroll down some form of social media. You whatsapp a friend for encouragement, only to be disheartened by discovering that they are 3000 words in. You seek comfort in the contents of your fridge.
ROBYN AUSMEIER: Press freedom is a crucial part of our democracy. It enables ordinary citizens to have a say in the country. The ability to write and speak what we feel in public is a basic human right that should be afforded to all people. Countries across the world battle with this liberty on a daily basis and South Africa itself has a past riddled with censorship. On May 3rd, in honour of media freedom, local and international communities celebrated World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Day was first established by the United Nations in 1993 to reassess the role of the press in countries around the world. Every year, there is an international conference on this date which hosts various organisations and media professionals from a range of countries. These groups come together to discuss a way forward and debate topical issues relating to media freedom. The conference is centred on a different theme each year and this year’s theme was"Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda".
DEREK BUCHLER: It has taken me a while to respond to the article "Could You Lend Me Some $ugar, Sugar?" for a number of reasons, one of them being that I did not know if it was even worthy of a reply.
The contention that trading for a sugar daddy is "prostitution camouflaged as profitable companionship, but “prostitution” connotes a person offering their body as a commodity for an unworthy purpose" is what raised my hackles. Did the author of this article, slap it together as a form of titillation, a piece of warbled upper class 'gazing' at 'what the rest of them are doing'? Did 'she' even for one moment think about body as commodity and what is 'unworthy purpose'? My dear sista writer, all our bodies are commodified and paid for by whoever makes it possible for us to don our Gucci jeans and tottering heels!
MOISES ANTUNES: Public Protector, Thuli Mandosela told Parliament in October 2013, “All that I can say to this nation and this committee is: corruption in this country has reached crisis proportions, there is no two ways about it.”
Corruption is one of the main factors crippling the very basis of good governance, social justice, democratic rule and economic freedom of all people in South Africa and in Africa as a whole. It deters the realisation of the African Renaissance.