Archive for May, 2011
South African local government elections took place on the Wednesday 18th May this year. I wonder how much interest the youth showed seeing all of them were born into democracy and they only read about our past.
Although the ANC won with over 60% overall, it was with surprise that the DA took some of the municipalities that were expected to go to the ruling party.
The ANC had 1.8 million votes in Gauteng, South Africa’s economic hub, by midday on Thursday, with the DA on 950 801. The ANC had 61.99% of the vote, compared to the DA’s 31.82%. The Congress of the People had 1.13% (33 854 votes). Total voter turnout stood at 1.3 million, with 5.5 million voters registered.
The Democratic Alliance garnered 59.94% of votes in the Western Cape compared to the ANC’s 30.04%, according to votes counted by noon on Thursday. The DA received about 1.4 million votes and the ANC 686 587. The embattled Congress of the People continued to feature on the results board, obtaining 2.37% or 54 186 votes. Total voter turnout so far stood at 877 862 in the province with some 2.7 million registered voters.
The DA was looking forward to results from major metropolitan areas around the country, its leader, Helen Zille, said at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria on Thursday.”So far it’s been great,” Zille told reporters. “We are looking forward to the metros.” She said the tightly-fought Midvaal area, where the DA had won 60.71% of the vote and the ANC 37.17%, showed “an increased maturity” in votes.
Midvaal had been the only municipality held by the DA in Gauteng. The ANC has furiously campaigned to win it from the DA. The DA was claiming nine of the 14 seats in the council, said DA strategist Ryan Coetzee. Zille said the election had helped the DA “break through race being the primary issue” of elections in South Africa. She was confident that the party would win 20% of the national vote. She congratulated the Independent Electoral Commission on a sterling job.
The ANC was blazing ahead in the Free State’s Moqhaka municipality, where it had built unenclosed toilets, according to election results in by 11.30am on Thursday. The party had 32 724 votes (61.43%) while the DA – also guilty of constructing open-air loos in Cape Town – followed with 14 404 votes (27.04%). According to results so far, of the 81 617 registered voters in the municipality, 16 356 had turned up to vote. The Congress of the People followed with 4 042 votes, or 7.59%. The Freedom Front Plus received 1 080 votes or 2.03% of the total votes cast in the municipality.
The unenclosed toilet saga saw much mudslinging between the ANC and the DA in the run-up to the 2011 local government election. The ANC had 52.14% of the vote in the Durban metro, followed by the DA with 26.30% by 11am on Thursday. The ANC had 82 761 votes and the DA 41 743 votes as the count continued. The Inkatha Freedom Party followed the DA, with 5.02% or 7 966 votes and the National Freedom Party, an IFP breakaway, 4.06% or 6 440 votes. In all, 1.7 million people registered to vote in the metro. A total of 158 726 valid votes had been counted.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and IFP coordinator Musa Zondi renewed old bonds of friendship at the Independent Electoral Commission results centre on Thursday. “This guy, he makes me laugh so much, Mantashe said as he and a giggling Zondi shared a joke. People nearby were taken aback at the jolly duo. “We are old political friends,” said Zondi as the pair shook hands and wished each other well in the elections. They were laughing about former Inkatha Freedom Party chairwoman Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, who now leads the National Freedom Party, an IFP splinter group. Zondi told Mantashe he had heard a rumour that Msibi planned to destablise the ANC. Laughing, Mantashe said the ANC had nothing to do with her and that she was “power hungry”. Showing that there was no animosity between the two parties, Mantashe then went and shook each IFP member’s hand.
The ANC had a tight grip on Tshwane by mid-morning on Thursday, with about 53% of the vote compared to the DA’s 40%. More than a million people voted in the municipality. By 10am, more than 100 000 votes had been counted. The DA was hoping for victory in the area, where it claimed to have made significant inroads in traditional ANC strongholds. The Christian Democratic Party held third place, with 0.60% of the vote.
Please note that the much anticipated coalitions eventually did not feature that much. That is with the notable exception of Durban where the IFP won through collaboration with other parties. Of course there were other coalitions but, like I say, they did not turn out to be as newsworthy as we’d expected.
Grahamstown was not to be outdone. She got her fifteen minutes of fame on the eve of the elections by appearing on national TV protesting against poor service delivery. They burnt tyres next to the BAB (Bantu Administrative Building). Protests like these are liable to litigation. That is not as bad as it sounds though.
We claim to have one of the tightest constitutions in the world. However, constantly challenging it strengthens it. If there are loopholes they get ironed out so that it doesn’t become a bug infested document lying in an office somewhere in the Union Buildings.
The outcome in the Cacadu District was not really surprising, the ANC and DA shared the spoils between them. But I hear from a very good source that COPE stood a very good chance as they are very strong in this region. However they decided to withdraw participation in this district when they failed to submit their candidates list before the cut-off date.
Let’s muse a little on this point. Most of us lived without the right to vote for a greater part of our lives. Now that we can vote we make a big issue out of going to the polls. So much that we throw toys about the state of democracy when it seems a candidate seems forced upon us. That was the point of the protest in Grahamstown – besides poor service delivery.
But, really, are we really that important on the galactic scale? While we’re worried about elections there could a major crisis in a star somewhere in the universe that we’re too primitive to know about. Staying on the global level, the elections came at a time when the world was putting pressure on Gadafi of Libya to step down. Our elections, therefore, will just be a footnote in this years news.
This year’s event took part on 16th & 17th May in the 1820 Settlers Monument. The VSA with sponsorship from the Schools Festival office had the privilege of taking fifteen awareNet learners from Grahamstown East (Benjamin Mahlasela Secondary School, Nathaniel Nyaluza High School, Nombulelo Secondary School & Ntsika Secondary School).
It was two cold days but you wouldn’t tell given the vibe and energy the learners had. Gumboot dance, concentration games, physical theatre and ‘the Facebook effect’ were among the workshops. I especially had the task of going up and down the stairs to see what was happening in the various workshop venues.
I remember on Tuesday morning when we had to be late because of the taxi the learners kept sending me ‘please call’ messages. So eager were they to get to the festival; and I think that eagerness resulted from their Monday experience. That took me back to the first time I attended the Schools Festival in my school days. I saw another protest theatre production called ‘Master Harold & The Boys’ and John Kani, our doyen of theatre, was one of the performers.
They mingled with learners from other parts of the province. I hope this reinforces in them how useful knowing the Internet is – you learn even more online.
The First Physical Theatre Company presented ‘On the Move’, a piece that uses physical theatre to explore the use of the word ‘falling’ (falling in line, falling in love, falling behind, falling flat, falling short, etc) in the English language. It is impressive how these dancers manage to control the way they use their bodies while throwing themselves around on stage.
Another interesting production was ‘Woza Albert’ (‘woza’ means ‘come back’ but here it means “Rise Albert”). It was written by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon in 1981 and during the 1980s this production was regarded as the most successful play to come out of South Africa, winning more than 20 prestigious awards worldwide.
Two actors play dozens of parts that involve them using many skills – acting, mime, singing and dance. They also create images using a few words and actions. They play various roles common to black South Africans – a vendor, barber, servant, manual laborer, soldier – in apartheid South Africa. The news that Christ (Morena) has arrived. Christ’s arrival precipitates a crisis, and the government launches a nuclear bomb against the peacemaker. In the ruins, great South African leaders in resistance to apartheid such as Albert Luthuli (assassinated African National Congress 1960s president) are resurrected.
The Grahamstown Foundation and the Village Scribe Association made it possible for 13 awareNet users to attend the Eastern Cape Schools Festival 2011 in Grahamstown free of charge. The grade 11 learners were chosen because of their high motivation and regular attendance at the awareNet sessions which are offered as extramural activities at their schools.
The Festival is taking place on the 16th and 17th of May 2011, which means the learners are in their workshops right now, accompanied by Thozi Ngeju, the VSA’s community coordinator, and Mr Kofi, Mahlasela SS’s principal. The learners come from Mahlasela, Nyaluza, Kuhliso, Nombulelo and Ntsika School, and for most of the learners it’s the first time that they get the chance to attend such a Festival, thanks to the generosity of the Grahamstown Foundation that sponsored the fees and transport.
We would like to thank the Grahamstown Foundation to make this happen! The learners will document their experiences by taking notes and photographs and then publishing them on awareNet for the others leaners to read, see and comment. We are looking forward to their news!
awareNet is going to have its own song, soon!
The VSA asked Gabriel Spilkin to produce a theme song for the social network with a lot of different uses such as:
- Being played in meetings and events.
- A chance for the community to learn a thing or two about how a song comes together.
- A chance for this community to partake in the actual creation of a song, and express some creativity,
- And hopefully, enjoyed by YOU!
The production of the song will be logged and awareNet users have a chance to vote for their favourite music style and much more. They can leave comments and influence the song by suggesting lyrics or perhaps even singing.
We are very happy that we got Gabriel – a music and media professional – on board. Thank you very much for your engagement!
The eLearning Africa Conference Photo Competition asked for pictures with the theme Capture this! How ICTs are empowering people across Africa. The VSA submitted 5 pictures including descriptions.
The photo with my favourite description was shortlisted for the Jury Vote! Congratulations to Thozi Ngeju who was supervising the HIV project that is described in the photo and to Philisiwe Mbongwana, the CE volunteer who took the photo!
Upstarters being aware (link to competition)
“An innovative, true multimedia project that drew a lot of attention: The Village Scribe Association (international NGO) and eKhaya ICT (South African local IT business) developed a social networking software awareNet especially designed to be used largely offline, adapting to rural and peri-urban setting. Eastern Cape learners benefit from free lessons and a partnership with the Zazi Foundation for educational video content about health: teachAIDS videos, provided by the Stanford University School of Education. Inspired by the World AIDS Day 2010, learners collaboratively worked on a project about HIV/AIDS in wiki style. Certain parts of this projects were selected online by the Management of Grocott’s Mail, Grahamstown’s independent newspaper, to be included in the November 2010 Upstart supplement (The Paper for Youth by Youth). Here you can see the learners proudly reading their articles in the Upstart Paper. The photograph was taken by Rhodes University Community Engagement volunteers who work with the learners on several projects on awareNet. Together they started an awareNet photo project in which photos for the ‘eLearning Africa Photo Competition 2011′ were taken, uploaded, described, and chosen for submission.”
My favourite photograph was taken by Lutz Scharf. It was ranked 3rd place (out of 126 submitted photos) by the online-voters. Congratulations again!
When power is more of a problem than owning a cell (link to competition)
“The barber shop in Nkwalini, South Africa, allows cell phone owners to recharge their coll phones for a fee of three Rand. The photo illustrates the influence of ICTs on the lives of the community, depicting a socio-technical interface between traditional and modern culture: the barber shop is not merely a filling station for empty cell phone batteries, it is at the same time a social meeting place where gossip is exchanged and social connections are groomed. Traditional and modern communication pathways meet and cross here in an innovative manner that highlights just one of the many positive influences of ICTs.”
Two situations observed at different times on different continents and my very personal thoughts:
A. Grahamstown Department of Home Affairs. Few people work, a lot of people wait to be helped. The vast majority is happy about the provided chairs and sits very patiently. Most of them for a very long time. A handful of people are busy with their cell phones or chat to someone. But the rest does absolutely nothing. They don’t move. Their faces express nothing.
What do they think? Where are their emotions? Is that some kind of a survival strategy to not think and see, otherwise you become insane by the sight of this useless and extremely slow bunch of people who sit behind the counter and does not know what the person next to them does or is supposed to do and where their boss is off to today?
B. Berlin subway. Everyone waits to be at their destination, hopefully soon. The vast majority is happy about the provided chairs and sits very patiently. Some of them for quite a long time. A handful of people are busy with their cell phones or chat to someone. And the rest reads. A newspaper, a magazine, a book, an advert, a scientific paper, anything.
Do these people still realise where they are? Did they escape into a different world to not become insane by the sight of these other tired and unknown people around them, the non-existing view and the unpleasant smell? Do they realise that this kind of escape – reading! – has strong impacts on their behaviour, their future, their culture, their life?
awareYet? began as a guerilla marketing exercise during the Social Enterprise World Forum 2011 in Johannesburg. The campaign aimed to affix a sticker with the characteristic eyes of the campaign onto every participant at the event, in recognition of the youth unemployed in South Africa. This was a random and fun thing and reflects the position of the youth, which likes fun, and is subjected to random cruelty.
Youth unemployment is a world-wide problem and occurs for a number of reasons. In South Africa, an upper-middle earning country (World Economic Forum) — the richest country of continental Africa! – youth unemployment is a result of a complex interaction of dysfunctional social institutions, including mainly education and local government, that lead to a “no hope situation“ for the 15 – 29 year-olds. Manyof them are in fact characterised as “unemployable”. An outrageous category for any person!
Xhora Mouth JSS – bricks as benches
Toilets at Zwelenqaba SSS
These youths are legally obliged to attend sub-standard schooling, with educators who are all too willing to skip school, because of problems of lack of equipment, lack of materials, an undertone of violence, absenteeism, filthy toilets, teenage pregnancy and drugs. Educators feel unqualified to handle the disaster that unfolds before them every day and they become accepting of their dysfunctional environment as they feel powerless to change it. Such youths contribute to the terrible statistics of South African youth unemployment:
“The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 years old is about 50 per cent, accounting for 30 per cent of total unemployment. Including those aged25 to 29 years old adds another million to the unemployed” (National Treasury 2011: 9).
Democratic revolution in Egypt
One can compare this to the unemployment rates in Northern African and Middle Eastern States: “Despite robust economic growth, youth unemployment rates in the Middle East are high, ranging from 20 to 30 percent in most countries in the region but exceeding 45 percent in some countries (e.g. Algeria and Iraq). Young people with secondary and post-secondary education face severe difficulties in securing employment mainly due to skills mismatches and long queuing for public sector jobs.” (Middle East Youth Initiative, 2011, visited 2011-04-28)
The eyes of the youth see change and are happy.
Energetic, unemployed youths turn in the best case to democratic activities, as witnessed in North Africa in early 2011. Here, fuelled by unemployment and enabled by ICTs youths went to the streets and won their rights in a humane and enabling manner. The region as a whole stands to gain much through their actions, their bravery and dignity.
On the other hand, unemployed youths can also try their hand at other things, such as violence and crime. “According to the United Nations Population Fund (1998:3), youth unemployment can drive many people into living outside the law both to survive and as a means of expressing dissatisfaction at the apparent neglect of their very existence.” (National Labour and Economic Development Institute, 2007). The co-existence of amazing wealth next to townships which lack even electricity, has quickly resulted in violence dominating the South African financial centre of Gauteng. The infamy of the violent crime in the region is second to none in the world.
WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
The Village Scribe Association was founded in 2008 to investigate ways in which ICTs could advance development in mainly rural marginalised areas and to promote projects that implemented such methods. What we have found in our years of investigation is that youth are the life and potential of such areas. Their energy and keen interest in ICTs and being connected to the rest of humanity and their peers through social networking is massive. They, like their North African brothers can lead a revolution, in rural and township areas.
This is why we developed the awareNet software and social network. Built for low-connectivity settings and mesh networks, awareNet equips learners with an appreciation for collaboration and teamwork at an early age. It harnesses their keen interest in ICTs and under the tutelage of trainers and champions, connects the youth with itself.
The world needs more socially aware enterprises to counter the imbalance in taking care of public goods that has overtaken the world in past decades. Adam Smith the original capitalist philosopher noted that market economies have little incentive to look after public goods such as clean air, or a strong vibrant environment for our youth. Only strong social values and faith in teamwork can redress the current imbalance.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
The Makana Municipality had R53.7m and didn’t spend it! And Makana’s councillors are furious that, just before their term of office ends, so few of the projects which they’ve spent months planning have actually come to fruition. From Makana Municipality’s capital expenditure and conditional grant budget of R69.6 million, R15.9m – a little over 20% – had been spent by the end of January. (Find out more in Grocott’s Mail.)
The Village Scribe Association has a number of projects that would help to uplift the Rhini/Grahamstown community on a very low budget. We believe that highest priority must be the right for good education. Several very respected and active stakeholders based in Grahamstown submitted a proposal to the Makana Municipality for building a hub of education, communication and IT training. We would only need a fraction of the money to renovate and furnish an existing building. All community activities by the different stakeholders have been running for a long time but would greatly benefit from a communal place where cooperations could be invigorated and forces bundled.
Act now, Makana! Prepare the building for your people! Make this communal hub happen before it’s too late and the money has to be returned!