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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Don’t Miss the Climate Change Exhibition and Public Lecture at the Origins Centre at Wits

Climate Change: Briefings from Southern AfricaThe Origins Centre at Wits University is holding an exhibition exploring Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa by Mary Scholes, Mike Lucas and Robert Scholes.

The exhibition will a highly interactive and family friendly experience. It will run from Thursday, 3 December 2015, with a public lecture on Tuesday, 2 February 2016.

Normal entrance fees for the Origins Centre are R50 for temporary exhibitions. Visit the site to find out about special rates and deals for children, seniors and groups.

Don’t miss it!

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Leading Scientists Address 55 Frequently Asked Questions in Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa

Climate ChangeWits Press is proud to present Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa by Mary Scholes, Mike Lucas and Robert Scholes:

Climate change affects us all, but it can be a confusing business. Three leading South African scientists who have worked on the issue for over two decades help you to make sense of this topic.

Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa takes the form of 55 “frequently asked questions”, each with a brief, clear scientifically up-to-date reply. The authors’ introduction provides an overview of current national and international policies aimed at regulating climate change. The four main sections take you through the science of how the climate system works, the projected impacts in Southern Africa during the 21st century, what this means for South African society, and what can be done to avoid harm.

  • How do greenhouse gases regulate the Earth’s temperature?
  • How hot will it get?
  • Will South Africa run out of water?
  • Isn’t climate change just part of a long-term natural cycle?
  • Do cow-farts really cause global warming?
  • Is sea-level rise something to worry about?
  • Will marine fisheries collapse?
  • Can solar and wind power meet our energy needs?
  • How can I reduce my carbon footprint?
  • Is there any chance of runaway global warming?

These and many other questions are answered in this full-colour, illustrated book.

The profuse illustrations and local examples help to explain complex issues in simple terms. The book is aimed at interested but non-scientist readers, including business people, decision-makers and students, and is very timely in relating to impending international treaties and national efforts to avoid the worst consequences of a changing climate.

The year 2015 is regarded as a watershed for global climate change action if a global average temperature rise of more than two degrees above the pre-industrial level is to be avoided. This book provides compelling evidence that the impact on agriculture, fisheries, water resources, human health, plants and animals as well as sea levels will be dangerous. However, the book ends on a positive note by offering advice on how the world can avoid such bleak outcomes, while allowing a good life for all.


Foreword by Minister Naledi Pandor

Overall introduction to the book

How do governments assess climate change?

SECTION 1: Earth System Science – the processes that underlie climate change


Why is Earth habitable?
How do greenhouse gases regulate Earth’s temperature?
Is water vapour the most important greenhouse gas?
Why are clouds the wild card in climate change?
Isn’t climate change just part of a long-term natural cycle?
Are climate variations just due to volcanoes or other Earth processes?
How do El Niño and La Niña events affect South African weather?
How hot might it get in South Africa this century?
How might the rainfall in Southern Africa change in the 21st century?
Are extreme weather events related to climate change?
How do land-use changes and deforestation add to global warming?
What is South Africa’s contribution to global warming?
What happens to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions?
Can ecosystems keep sucking up carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel burning?
Could ocean currents slow down or change direction?
Is there any chance of runaway global warming?

SECTION 2: Consequences of a changing climate for the Southern African environment


How resilient are ecosystems to climate change?
How will South Africa’s plants respond to climate change?
Could rising carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations boost plant growth?
Is bush encroachment caused by global change?
Will South Africa’s land animals cope with climate change?
Are South Africa’s birds taking flight?
Will South Africa run out of water?
How will climate change affect freshwater ecosystems?
How much, and how fast, will sea level rise?
What is ocean acidification?
How will ocean acidification affect marine organisms?
How is climate change affecting South Africa’s coastal seas?
How is our marine life responding to climate change?
Will coral reefs survive climate change?
How are Antarctica and the Southern Ocean responding to climate change?
Climate change at South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands

SECTION 3: Consequences of a changing climate for society


Is the South African economy vulnerable to climate change?
How will climate change affect agriculture?
Will there be enough food to eat?
Do cow-farts really cause global warming?
How will forestry in South Africa respond to climate change?
How will climate change affect South Africa’s marine fisheries and aquaculture?
What are the human costs of climate change?
How do climate and air pollution interact to affect human health?
Will climate change cause malaria to spread in South Africa?
Should South Africans worry about rising sea levels?

SECTION 4: What can we do to avoid and adapt to climate change?


Is it cheaper to tolerate climate change or prevent it?
Is carbon trading desirable or useful?
Is it possible to take carbon dioxide (CO2) back out of the atmosphere?
Could fertilizing the ocean fix climate change?
Could we reduce incoming solar radiation?
Are there viable alternatives to coal for South Africa?
Can nuclear power provide the clean energy we need?
Can we turn garbage into energy?
Do biofuels offer a solution?
Could spekboom save our bacon?
Can we help plants and animals to adapt to climate change?
Can we build climate-friendly houses and cities?
How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

About the Authors

Robert (Bob) Scholes is a Professor of Systems Ecology at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has worked on the issue of climate change since 1990, and was a Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s influential assessments in 2000, 2007 and 2014. His specialty is the interaction between terrestrial ecosystems in Africa and the global climate, and he is widely regarded as a world expert in this field.

Mary Scholes is a Professor in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits University, Johannesburg and is the SARChI (South African Research Chairs Initiative) chair with a focus on global change and systems analysis. Her climate change research focuses on agriculture and food security as well as impacts of acidic deposition resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.

Mike Lucas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. He is the South African and African member of the International Scientific Committee of Oceanic Research (SCOR), a special committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU). His own research focuses on how climate change affects the marine environment, particularly the Atlantic and Southern Oceans, and how this in turn can affect global climate.

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Catapulted into the Study of Fossil Man: Phillip Tobias Shares the Story of His Career (Podcast)

Into the PastTobias in ConversationJenny Crwys-Williams recently shared an old interview with Phillip Vallentine Tobias, who sadly has since passed away, on her CapeTalk/ Talk Radio 702 book show. The paleoanthropologist speaks about his memoir Into the Past.

In the interview, Crwys-Williams asks Tobias to share how he made the jump from his interest in genes to paleoanthropology. In response, he says most people who study fossils pay little attention to the genetic aspect, which he regards as very unfortunate because “genes are in fact basic to what we are. He explains that “what we see when we dig up bones is just the by-product of the genes”.

Tobias describes the series of experiences that “catapulted” him into the study of fossil man, when he had been “dead set for working on the living peoples of Africa through genetic insights”. Along the way, he speaks about the significant skulls, like “Dear Boy” and “Mrs Ples”, he has worked on during the course of his career.

Listen to the podcast:


Book details

  • Tobias in Conversation: Genes, Fossils and Anthropology by Phillip Tobias and Goran Strkajl, edited by Jane Dugard
    EAN: 9781868144778
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Jacob Zuma Likes to be Cast as a Man of the People, But is He? – Susan Booysen

Dominance and DeclineThe twilight of Jacob Zuma’s controversial leadership of the governing African National Congress (ANC) and the country finds both in a parlous state. The party is in decline and centred on Zuma’s personality, while his flawed leadership undermines its ability to govern competently. I explore these themes in Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma. This is an edited extract from the book.Susan Booysen, University of the Witwatersrand

President Jacob Zuma’s entrance ticket into his Polokwane 2007 election was “reconnection with the people”. He was “the man of the people”, close to those who, the Zuma camp argued, then-president Thabo Mbeki had alienated. The evidence of this having been achieved is ambiguous.

Judged by general citizen sentiment expressed at the grassroots, Zuma failed to bring the ANC closer to the people. My research has shown substantial alienation between the ANC and the communities:

  • On general democracy issues citizens felt aggrieved that they frequently only saw their elected representatives at election times, and that ANC leaders care more for themselves than for the people. In election campaigns they are flooded with ANC visitors, leading to another round of “empty promises” and appeals for support for the “liberation movement”.

  • In ANC structures and meetings there are two trends: the insiders that speak glowingly of the great work of the movement; and those who regard themselves as ANC supporters (and often are ANC members), but feel excluded, for example not welcomed into branch meetings.

Research decimates the Zuma camp’s argument that the people do not care about the Nkandla scandal, involving the use of public funds on his private residence, and similar issues. The people greatly care and deeply begrudge the new political elites and their president for greed and consumption of public resources. My research project showed hardly a word of pardon or praise for the president. Instead, there was a wall of condemnation and ridicule.

The research findings contrasted with ANC staff and workers on the 2014 campaign trail, for example, testifying how Zuma was welcomed with accolades and warmth when he went campaigning. Such images were also beamed across South Africa when Zuma’s community appearances were televised.

Zuma’s “people charm”, bolstered by the general pull of power, was his great redeeming factor in his relentless quest to get into and retain presidential power for all of his second term. The Jacob Zuma Legacy Special advertising campaign put together by the state-transporty company Prasa proclaimed that he has “mainly endeared himself to people through his personal charisma and magnetic charm”.

In an interview with Business in Africa in 2009 on the eve of becoming South Africa’s president, Zuma singled out Oliver Tambo as one of his role models in becoming “a man of the people”:

While Tambo was a great thinker, he was very simple. There is nothing he did not do … When people came to him he attended to them. He would even attend to somebody who comes to raise the issue of the shoe that doesn’t have shoelaces, he would ensure that the shoelaces were found … I am not a great man. I am a man of the people. I believe in people and I think that the people are everything. Once there is disconnection with the people you have problems …

Zuma’s connection with the people is partial. At least two major events, in Gauteng and in Limpopo (one was Nelson Mandela’s memorial service), saw Zuma being booed by large numbers in the audiences. ANC strategists, subsequently, carefully managed Zuma’s exposure to avoid public embarrassment.

Some “closeness to the people” was evident in the audiences Zuma has entertained at his residences in Pretoria and Nkandla. Across class, aspirant “tenderpreneurs”, (the name given to entrepreneurs who have created businesses from government tenders), and modest community members with pension and social grant issues rub shoulders while waiting for and then consulting with Zuma.

Many of the after-hours visitors are put in touch with relevant government departments. These meetings give insights into the Zuma presidency’s creation of personalised patronage networks, the other side of the formal government networks and operations. Aspects of the meetings also resemble traditional leadership community meetings.

In refutation of Zuma as the president of the people who understands their culture, my research reveals popular ridicule of the president. When focus group participants from across the demographic spectrum received the positive prompt of “Zuma is a leader, a man who understands our culture”, there followed scorn, laughter and comments on polygamy and showering.

Further prompts encouraged participants to abandon this tone, to no avail. Both this project and others confirm that voters separate their opinions of the president from their willingness to vote ANC (at least at the time, in 2014).

Zuma has nevertheless carved a safe personal net with many South Africans, especially those also of Zulu origins. Little had the Mandela-Mbeki axis of the 1990s imagined that their deployment of Zuma to get peace in the war fields of KwaZulu-Natal (and bring the province into the national post-liberation ANC) would have the repercussions it did. They helped create the platform on which Zuma would rise into power.

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal as electoral giant awoke late, and then sustained the ANC when it started declining in other provinces. Without the KwaZulu-Natal performance in the national elections of 2009 and 2014 (largely facilitated by Zuma) the ANC would have looked pitiful even if still winning.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Join Susan Booysen and Judith February for the Launch of Dominance and Decline at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma

Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of ZumaWits Press and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to the launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen.

The author will be discussing her book and the question of whether or not the ANC will recover after Jacob Zuma’s reign with Judith February, senior research associate at the Institute for Security Studies.

The event will take place at The Book Lounge at 5:30 for 6 PM on Tuesday, 24 November.

See you there!

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Join Vishwas Satgar, Dinga Sikwebu and Saliem Fakir for the Launch of Capitalism’s Crises at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Capitalism's Crises: Class Struggles in South Africa and the World

Capitalism's Crises: Class Struggles in South Africa and the WorldThe Book Lounge and Wits University Press invite you to the launch of Capitalism’s Crises: Class Struggles in South Africa and the World, edited by Vishwas Satgar.

Satgar will be in conversation with United Front national coordinator Dinga Sikwebu and Saliem Fakir, head of the WWF’s Living Planet Unit, about radical transformation, confronting the crises of capitalism, and the possibility for change in South Africa in light of new activism emerging here and in the world.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 18 November 2015
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Panel: Dinga Sikwebu and Saliem Fakir
  • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

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Join Susan Booysen and Angelo Fick for the Launch of Dominance and Decline at Exclusive Books Rosebank

Invitation to the launch of Dominance and Decline

Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of ZumaWits Press and Exclusive Books Rosebank Mall would like to invite you to the launch of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen.

In Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma, Booysen shows how the ANC has become centred on the personage of Zuma, and that its defence of his extremely flawed leadership undermines the party’s capacity to govern competently, and to protect its long-term future.

The event will take place on Tuesday, 17 November, at 5:30 for 6 PM at Exclusive Books Rosebank Mall. The author will be in conversation with Angelo Fick, commentator for eNCA.

Don’t miss it!

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Will the ANC Recover from Jacob Zuma’s Reign? Susan Booysen Considers the Question in Dominance and Decline

Dominance and DeclineAs Jacob Zuma moves into the twilight years of his presidencies of both the African National Congress (ANC) and of South Africa, Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen takes stock of the Zuma-led administration and its impact on the ANC.

“There is no shortage of books about the modern ANC. However this one provides evidence-based answers to two key questions that are frequently asked but seldom answered persuasively. The questions are: what is the current basis of the ANC’s support and how likely is this support to endure?”Tom Lodge, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick, Ireland

Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma combines hard-hitting arguments with astute analysis. Booysen shows how the ANC has become centred on the personage of Zuma, and that its defence of his extremely flawed leadership undermines the party’s capacity to govern competently, and to protect its long term future.

Following on from her first book, The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power (2011), Booysen delves deeper into the four faces of power that characterise the ANC. Her principal argument is that the state is failing as the president’s interests increasingly supersede those of party and state.

Organisationally, the ANC has become a hegemon riven by factions, as the internal blocs battle for core positions of power and control. Meanwhile, the Zuma-controlled ANC has witnessed the implosion of the tripartite alliance and decimation of its youth, women’s and veterans’ leagues. Electorally, the leading party has been ceding ground to increasingly assertive opposition parties. And on the policy front, it is faltering through poor implementation and a regurgitation of old ideas. As Zuma’s replacements start competing and succession politics takes shape, Booysen considers whether the ANC will recover from the damage wrought under Zuma’s reign and attain its former glory. Ultimately, she believes that while the damage is irrevocable, the electorate may still reward the ANC for transcending the Zuma years.

This is a must-have reference book on the development of the modern ANC. With rigour and incisiveness, Booysen offers scholars and researchers a coherent framework for considering future patterns in the ANC and its hold on political power.

About the author

Susan Booysen is a political analyst and commentator, and is based at Wits University’s Graduate School of Public and Development Management (P&DM). She is the author of the best-selling political analysis, The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power (2011), and writes a regular column for the Sunday Independent.

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Join Vishwas Satgar, Dinga Sikwebu, Mark Heywood and Adam Habib for the Launch of Capitalism’s Crises at Wits

Capitalism’s Crises: Class Struggles in South Africa and the WorldWits University Press invites you to the launch of Capitalism’s Crises: Class Struggles in South Africa and the World by Vishwas Satgar.

Satgar will be in conversation with Dinga Sikwebu, the United Front’s national coordinator; Mark Heywood, executive director of SECTION27 and a national executive member of the Treatment Action Campaign and Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of Wits University. They will discuss the role of South Africa’s Constitution in local social justice struggles and the possibilities for radical transformation in light of new activism emerging here, including the recent student protests, as well as struggles elsewhere in the world to confront the crises of capitalism.

The event will take place on the East Campus of Wits University in Braamfontein on Tuesday, 10 November (today) at 5:30 for 6 PM. Parking will be available at the Origins Centre in Yale Road.

See you there!

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About the book

“This volume shows that the processes of global change start from the peripheries of the world system. And for the visible future that reality will continue to govern the struggles for the emancipation of labour and peoples …”Samir Amin, a leading Marxist intellectual and author of numerous books including Capitalism in the Age of Globalization: The Management of Contemporary Society.

The global economic crisis is far from over and has been considered the worst in the history of modern capitalism. This second volume in the Democratic Marxism series breaks new ground in our understanding of the complexity and depth of the world-wide economic crisis. The contributors, from across the global North and South, employ political, economic and ecological prisms to reflect the wide-range of left responses – from the Occupy Wall Street movement, such as the People’s Budget Initiative in India and left think-tanks, to labour unions and left parties such as Syriza and Podemos in Europe. Their compelling analyses showcase the global impact of capitalism’s failure in the twenty-first century. This is the second volume in the Democratic Marxism series. It elaborates on crucial themes introduced in the first volume, Marxisms in the 21st Century: Crisis, Critique and Struggle (edited by Michelle Williams and Vishwas Satgar).

About the author

Vishwas Satgar is a senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award from the World Association of Political Economy for initiating and editing this series.

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“For Any Service, You Must Pay” – Deliwe Mzobe, Spokesperson for Wits Outsourced Workers (Podcast)

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionRewolusie op ysInguqukombuso YeNingizimu Afrika Eyabondwa YashiywaNtwa ya Boitseko e Fanyehuweng ya Afrika Borwa

The University of the Witwatersrand has agreed to stop outsourcing. This concession came after weeks of student protests.

Deliwe Mzobe, spokesperson for the outsourced workers at Wits University, recently spoke to John Robbie about the agreement reached at Wits, and the continuing protests at the the University of Johannesburg.

Mzobe says that their is a lack of trust of the unions among workers, which is complicating the process of reaching an agreement.

“For any service, you have to pay for it,” Mzobe says explaining the importance of establishing acceptable remuneration and working conditions for workers. She says it is a battle that has been fought for the last 15 years.

Adam Habib’s office released a statement last week listing the agreements reached after engagement with outsourced workers’ representatives as well as students.

Read the statement:

1. Wits agrees to insourcing in principle.
2. A commission to be constituted by all stakeholders will be established by 6 November to determine the details of how insourcing will be implemented in a way that ensures sustainability of the University.

Related stories:


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Wits reaches agreement with students on outsourcing

RDM News Wire, 1 November, 2015

Outsourcing was one of the contentious issues raised by students in their demands to the university.

In a statement on Sunday‚ Professor Tawana Kupe‚ the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for Transformation‚ HR and Advancement‚ said that following two days of engagement with the representatives of outsourced workers and students‚ the university had agreed in principle to insourcing.

He said a commission would be established to determine the details of how insourcing could be undertaken in a financially sustainable manner.

“In the upcoming week‚ the workers’ representatives‚ students‚ academics and management will determine who will serve on the commission. The representatives will report on the progress of establishing the commission on 6 November 2015‚” Prof Kupe said.

He added that in terms of the agreement‚ the Commission would negotiate the contents of a proposed Workers Charter; a Memorandum of Understanding on the way forward would be drafted; and the children of outsourced workers who qualified to study at Wits‚ would receive financial aid from the university.

The R1‚500 examination supplementary fee would also be waived.

Moreover‚ qualifying‚ financially-stressed final year students in 2015 who owed R15‚000 or less‚ would not be required to pay this amount in order to graduate‚ as this might prevent them from finding a job.

“It is proposed that the examination period be postponed for one week. It will run from 9 November 2015 to 4 December 2015. This is subject to approval from Senate‚ the highest academic decision-making body of the University.

“The University is of the view that through engagement with various stakeholder groups‚ we have reached a point of unification that will allow the University to return to normality with a focus on the examinations for the remainder of the year‚” Prof Kupe concluded.

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