Friday, July 30, 2010

War of Words with Ndaedzo Nethonzhe

Tshepo Tshabalala

So came another exciting evening of debate organised by Cool Politics. The venue, the intimate Kaldi’s Coffee and this time around, the guest speaker was Kaya FM journalist and former TUT graduate, Ndaedzo Nethonzhe.

As always the evening began with live music from up and coming artists. This time around we were dazzled by the sounds of Edd and Adam van Veen (from Our Heritage) and Bongiziwe and the Fridge, but this time Bongiziwe was without the fridge. Nevertheless he did not disappoint but instead he put on a performance that had most people chanting for more at the end of his set.

The topic for the evening was about the future of South Africa after the World Cup. We talked about the impact the World Cup has had on the country; negative and positive, our expectations from government now that it is all over and what the World Cup has meant for our country. Ndaedzo opened the floor by asking about our experiences during the world cup. For many in the room, we concurred that we as South Africans were great hosts and we put on a spectacular show. There were many positive reports about the country, both from international and local media. Bronwyn of Cool Politics commented by saying that the World Cup showed us that our government, that has been in power since 1994, has the capacity to deliver what they have promised. They showed this by putting together a great world cup, within the deadline that was given by FIFA. One needs to ask the question, if the government could render such world class service, from infrastructure, tourism, security etc because the whole world had their eyes on them… will they be able to maintain the excellence they have displayed without the pressure from Fifa and the rest of the world? Will they remain loyal to their own people who put them in power?

We surfed on the motto ‘Alive with possibility’ by hosting a World Cup set on tight deadlines, why can’t the same government that built great stadiums, build houses and schools of the same caliber as the stadiums, to the poor people of this country. It is believed that the country received an amount of R93 billion from Fifa, of which is not the profit but has to cover the debts from constructing stadiums, roadworks and other major developments that were made from the World Cup. Ndaedzo truly believes that whatever the profit South Africa makes from Fifa, 60% of that money should be spent on education. He believes that the ‘1 Goal’ initiative that was advertised throughout the soccer spectacle will not benefit anyone. “A great PR exercise” is what he called it.

“South Africa needs to reach a point where we move to a phase where we want to be”, said Ndaedzo. We need to think and act like a developed country. A war of words erupted when the debate touched on the recent Xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in the country. The floor seemed to be split between those who believed that the government has handled these threats exceptionally well and those who argued that our government is far too reactive. They wait for problems to spiral out of control first before they take action.

The evening came to an end with many unhappy and unsatisfied debaters. This showed that there needs to be dialogue at the very bottom to work on the challenges we face as a nation and how we can move forward. There is a need to teach the nation on how to use the media to their advantage and to become a ‘no-nonsense’ type of a society.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mac Maharaj Says Madiba Always Fought For Human Rights & Wants Xenophobia To Stop

It was a jubilant scene in the Tshwane University of Technology’s Prestige Auditorium as people sang struggle songs with dancing during the speech by former transport minister and Robben Island inmate Mac Maharaj.

The lecture was to honour former president, Nelson Mandela, ahead of United Nations recognised International Mandela Day on Sunday. Maharaj spoke about the type of person Madiba is describing him as someone who always fights for human rights, even for hardened criminals.

He told a story of how the country’s first democratically elected president tried to stand up for another Robben Island inmate who was being assaulted by prison guards only for the prisoner to deny everything Madiba was saying. “We later found out that the man had been bought off by the guards with a packet of tobacco.”

He said all his fellow ANC members laughed at Mandela when he returned to them, but the young Madiba insisted that he would stand up for anyone who was in a similar situation.
Maharaj went on to say a lot of problems South Africa is facing at the moment are a result of poverty and the remnants of the country’s past. “Apartheid taught us not to know about Shangane people. It also said black people could get nothing with white people getting everything. Indians and coloureds were somewhere in the middle getting crumbs,” Maharaj explained.

He believes apartheid divided people and that led to a fear of the others and a suspicion among different ethnic groups. He says this fear and a suspicion of others is what has led to xenophobia as well. “They were only allowed here to be just manual labour.”

During the call to action for this year’s Mandela Day there have been various announcements asking people to learn about others in their various communities. Maharaj also made this call during his lecture.
This comes after renewed threats on foreign nationals living in South Africa. This morning the Mail And Guardian newspaper reported that the number of people crossing the border back to Zimbabwe has increased. Many of these people are fearing for their lives after several shops owned by Somalis were looted in the country.

Authorities have said these are just acts of violence and have not come as a result of xenophobia in South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma has also urged foreign nationals to go to the police should they feel their lives are threatened.

Maharaj ended by saying good deeds should not only last for 67 minutes.