Are Afrikans schools to blame?

Paul Colditz The recent court struggle over Overvaal High School and the EFF’s protest at the school on Wednesday have placed the spotlight squarely on language issues and admission of learners in public schools. Gauteng politicians and officials were quick to attribute the crisis that inevitably arises each year at the beginning of the year when thousands of learners have not yet been admitted to schools, to the so-called refusal of Afrikaans schools to allow English learners to attend these schools. This reeks of opportunism. Let’s look at the numbers. There are 23 719 public schools in South Africa. Of these, only 2 484 schools use Afrikaans as language of instruction, either in single, dual or parallel medium. The single medium Afrikaans schools make up 1 279, or 5% of the total number of schools. If you also count the dual or parallel medium schools, 10% of the total number of schools in the country has Afrikaans as medium of instruction. The table below shows the complete picture of the number and distribution of schools with Afrikaans as a language of instruction, with the numbers in brackets in column 2 indicating single medium schools. (In the third column, the numbers for 2016 are indicated because the information for 2017 has not been published yet). 1 Over the pa

SA lawyers demand $130m refund from firms

South African prosecutors have called for two consultancy firms to repay $130 million (£94.4 million) they earned from the state power company, Eskom. McKinsey, and a local firm called Trillian, were paid the sum in 2016 for giving advice. Trillian was controlled by the Gupta family, whose closeness to President Jacob Zuma led to corruption charges. Both the Guptas and Mr Zuma, who has said he will set up an inquiry into the family, deny any wrongdoing. Officials are investigating whether McKinsey allowed money from Eskom to go to Trillian as a way of winning the consultancy contract. McKinsey, which has lost clients over the scandal, said it stopped working with Trillian once it realised its connection to the Guptas. The global firm has also said it is happy to return the money it earned in the deal. McKinsey, which admitted in October it "made several errors of judgement", also maintains it gave no money to Trillian. Last month, a South African court gave prosecutors permission to freeze the $130 million (£94.4 million) relating to the Eskom contract. This is the latest in a series of corruption news stories concerning Mr Zuma and the Guptas. The powerful family is accused of "state capture", chiefly that it used its ties to gain government influence and lucrative state contracts. This is one of the first times the government has taken action against the Gupta family. The broader context here is that President Zuma's political authority is fading as the governing AN

Zuma’s fee free plan may cause chaos at SA’s universities

President Jacob Zuma’s move to scrap tuition fees for students from poor South African homes and freeze tariffs for those from working-class households may cause chaos during registration at public universities this month.
Zuma unveiled the plan on December 16, two days before Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ruling African National Congress and two days after a body representing the 26 state-owned institutions said each would raise fees by 8%. The University of South Africa, the country’s biggest with more than 400 000 students, held fees at 2017 rates, it said on December 7. On January 1, the universities said they won’t allow walk-in applications from people who qualify for free education, but people should instead submit details online for assessment. A day later, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party condemned the move and called on all academically deserving students to report to universities of their choice for registration. “Zuma’s announcement on free tertiary education is very much a political project and it puts a lot of pressure on the new ANC National Executive Committee,” Joleen Steyn-Kotze, a senior research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council, said by phone. “It is possible that there will be chaos and universities are going to be on high alert.” Earlier protests Weeks of violent protests at universiti

Ramaphosa promises to target investment, corruption

South Africa wants to attract foreign investors to help it kick-start economic growth and will crack down on corruption, the new leader of the ruling African National Congress said on Saturday. Cyril Ramaphosa, who narrowly won the race to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader last month, also used a speech to mark 106 years since the founding of Africa's oldest liberation movement to call for party unity after a bitter leadership contest. South Africa's economy has slowed to a near-standstill over Zuma's two presidential terms, as allegations of influence-peddling in government and mismanagement of state-owned enterprises have dented consumer and business confidence. But Ramaphosa's election win has injected a sense of optimism that the ANC, which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, could win back the trust of voters and investors disillusioned with Zuma's rule. Ramaphosa, 65, a former trade union leader and one of the country's wealthiest businessmen, pledged during his campaign for ANC leader to address record unemployment and a sluggish economy. "South Africa is open for investment," he told tens of thousands of cheering ANC members in a stadium in the Eastern Cape province on Saturday. Through foreign investment "we can grow our economy, create jobs, end poverty," he said. "We must have an economy that offers policy certainty and addresses areas that inhibit investment, growth as well as social inclusion." Ramaphosa rea

Solar steam powers homes – and new jobs – in South Africa

The power plants are part of SA’s push to cut its climate changing emissions by 2030. South Africa may still get most of its energy from coal, but in the country’s sunny Northern Cape province, a different electricity source is taking hold: solar steam. A Spanish renewable energy company has opened three thermal solar plants – which use the sun’s heat to create electricity – in the province. The plants – which use sun-heated salt to drive turbines – produce enough electricity to provide power to just short of a million people, or almost the province’s entire population, according its operators. That represents an important shift in a country that suffered power shortages as recently as 2015, but that now has excess power to sell to neighbouring southern African countries. Just as important, the plants have provided new jobs in a province with one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country, at more than 40%, according to U.N. officials. They recognised the clean-energy project at climate change talks in Bonn in November as a creative model for bringing scarce private cash into renewable energy projects in Africa. The first solar steam plant – KaXu Solar One, opened in 2015 in Pofadder – provided about 80 new permanent jobs, and about 1 700 temporary jobs, according to Sarah Marchildon, a spokeswoman for the UN climate change secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative. The other two plants, including Xina Solar One, co

Will Cape Town be the first city to run out of water?

Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, African penguins, sunshine and sea, is a world-renowned tourist destination. But it could also become famous for being the first major city in the world to run out of water.

Most recent projections suggest that its water could run out as early as March. The crisis has been caused by three years of very low rainfall, coupled with increasing consumption by a growing population. The local government is racing to address the situation, with desalination plants to make sea water drinkable, groundwater collection projects, and water recycling programmes. Meanwhile Cape Town's four million residents are being urged to conserve water and use no more than 87 litres (19 gallons) a day. Car washing and filling up swimming pools has been banned. And the visiting Indian cricket team were told to limit their post-match showers to two minutes. uch water-related problems are not confined to Cape Town, of course. Nearly 850 million people globally lack access to safe drinking water, says the World Health Organisation, and droughts are increasing. So it seems incredible that we still waste so much of this essential natural resource. In developing and emerging countries, up to 80% of water is lost through leakages, according to German environmental consultancy GIZ. Even in some areas of the US, up to 50% of water trickles away due to ageing infrastructure. A growing number of technology companies are

Youth should not only chase tenders

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has urged South African youth to make the most of the state's Black Industrialists Programme, and come up with innovative business ideas instead of chasing tenders and shareholdings at established companies. Gigaba was speaking to the SABC on the sidelines of the Progressive Youth in Business breakfast in the Eastern Cape on Thursday, ahead of the ANC’s birthday celebrations to be held this weekend in East London. He also highlighted government’s role in helping SA youth access markets. SA has one of the world's highest rates of youth unemployment. According to StatsSA's quarterly labour force survey for the third quarter of 2017, youth unemployment stands at 38.6%. “We want young people to become innovators and entrepreneurs, to come up with fresh ideas and take advantage of the Black Industrialists Programme,” he said. The Black Industrialists Programme was launched in 2016 and is driven by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) to promote a more inclusive economy by increasing black ownership of industrial enterprises. Government has been making an effort to remove barriers to entry for the youth, but they have to “organise” themselves and identify sectors they want to be involved in, said the finance minister. “[They should] not only focus on seeking tenders in government and seeking shareholding in existing companies,” he added. “Young people are the group in society which can provide more lon
de lille

De Lille: This is an attack for power and position

Patricia de Lille has hit back at those calling for her removal as mayor, saying their actions do not represent the City of Cape Town, and show they are pushing to get rid of her to replace her with a party member of their choice. On Wednesday it emerged that the DA's Western Cape executive wants De Lille removed. This comes as De Lille has found herself at the centre of a political storm, facing several allegations levelled at her by senior colleagues. On Wednesday De Lille said the move by the DA's regional executive "does not represent the City of Cape Town DA caucus, because they never met". 'No mandate' "Secondly after this statement by (DA Western Cape metro chairperson) Grant Twigg was issued I received numerous calls from members from various the branches of the DA saying that they have never been consulted on this statement by the regional executive nor have they given them the mandate." She said the regional executive was meant to represent DA branches as well as members. De Lille said the regional executive needed to provide proof of when they had met the branches and what mandate they had received from the branches. "They can do this by providing a list of the meetings which took place when branches took decisions," she said. 'Rush to get rid of De Lille' De Lille said the regional executive was confused about its role. "This is yet another example of the flagrant disregard for process within the DA in their rush

Populism or the South African economy

The biggest challenge facing South Africa’s incoming president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is not his hostile party manager, Ace Magashule, the resentful nationalists in KwaZulu-Natal, or the new ANC NEC. It is the ANC’s newly found populism. The poisoned chalice that Jacob Zuma had prepared for his successor means Ramaphosa would have to dance a delicate dance around issues like land expropriation and free tertiary education, without avoiding the tough steps demanded if the country’s economy is going to be stable and growing. It’s a stark choice: join the populist chorus and be popular now, but within a year or two face the music of a collapsed economy, increasing unemployment and poverty, and possible public revolt. The way out for Ramaphosa is to talk the populist talk, but quietly do the right things. Like he did in Nongoma at the weekend, talking about the Garden of Eden that expropriation of land without compensation could bring – and then adding the caveat: If it leads to higher food production, if it doesn’t harm the agriculture sector or food production. The ANC has largely avoided cheap political populism since it became the governing party, apart from occasionally allowing its Youth League to make wild statements. But then Julius Malema arrived on the scene and refused to be controlled by Luthuli House, and populism gradually became mainstream politics. That was the fertile ground the Zuma/Gupta axis – ably assisted by British PR firm Be

Manyi’s PPF: We are not funded by the Guptas

In a previous version of this story, Fin24 referred to Siphile Buthelezi, secretary general of PPF. Buthelezi alerted Fin24 to the fact that he has resigned from this role. Cape Town – The Progressive Professional Forum (PPF) “is not owned or funded in any way illegally, or legally or clandestinely by the Gupta family”, it said in a statement on Monday. PPF president Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi, who is a former ANC spin doctor, is also head of policy at the Black Business Council (BBC) and leads the Decolonisation Foundation. These organisations are spearheading a drive to tackle a lack of economic transformation in South Africa and the BBC gave a presentation last week at Parliament’s hearings into the banking sector’s progress on the topic. However, the source of their funding has come under the spotlight, with Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier seeking information from state-owned entities and departments to see who is funding the organisations. So far, parliamentary responses to Maynier’s questions by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies revealed that government has been funding the PPF and BBC. Brown revealed that Eskom and Transnet sponsored the PPF with R840 000 in donations, while Davies disclosed that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) gave the BBC R7m over the past three years. Regarding the BBC donation, Maynier said in a statement that “it looks like the DTI is funding a dodg