Archive | March 2014

University finally gets new leader, end to protests

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) this weekend settled on a new rector and vice-chancellor, ending weeks of protest against its current leadership and recruitment process.

Professor Tyrone Pretorius was named as predecessor to UWC’s current rector and vice-chancellor Brian O’Connell.

“Pretorius will arrive at UWC during the second semester of this year to allow for a smooth leadership transition at the university. He will take up his new role in 2015,” read a UWC statement.

Pretorius said yesterday his new role was a “responsibility I gladly embraced”. He said the university was a “remarkable institution”.

Pretorius worked previously as UWC’s dean of the faculty of community and health services. He had also been its deputy vice-chancellor.

Pretorius left UWC nine years ago and is currently the vice principal at the University of Pretoria.
“I have been away from UWC for a long time so I need to understand the new UWC, reconnect with old colleagues, and get to know new colleagues,” said Pretorius.

He said he would focus also on transformation at UWC, creating an institution that would carry the “primary responsibility in providing opportunities to talented people from all backgrounds, but especially the socially devalued and historically marginalised”.

“We should be concerned about access for talented young academics, especially black academics. We know that the number of young black people entering academia is declining for a variety of reasons and I am keen to ensure that we find creative ways to address this issue,” said Pretorius.

“But transformation is not only about numbers. It’s also about what we teach, and the impact of our research.”

Pretorius said his priority at UWC would be to “explore and identify opportunities and potential for strengthening research and innovation, teaching and learning”. He also wanted to “enhance the international stature of the university”.

“There is national and sector-wide concern about post graduate output and UWC like other institutions are looking at ways to improve postgraduate access, retention and completion,” he said.

Pretorius said he intended to focus on building a “sense of community and identity at UWC”, particularly after students protests earlier this month unsettled the institution.

Student protests called for O’Connell’s dismissal. O’Connell said last year he would resign. UWC had been interviewing various candidates for the top post.

Among these were Rhodes University vice-chancellor Saleem Badat who reportedly alleged that UWC’s recruitment process lacked integrity. Badat is set to take up a post at the Andrew W Mellon Foundation in New York.

Pretorius said: “I hope that I can play a role in strengthening staff and student belief in and commitment to UWC; what it stands for and what it wants to achieve.”

New rector and vice-chancellor’s track record
Professor Tyrone Pretorius was born in the Eastern Cape.
He matriculated at Carlton Van Heerden High School in Upington.
He is the current president of University Sports South Africa (the sports federation of Universities)
He is the Vice-Principal at the University of Pretoria
He is the former President of Monash University South Africa
He has spent almost 25 years working in higher education leadership positions, including four years as chair of the Cape Higher Education Consortium
He is an emeritus professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia
He has doctorates from the University of the Western Cape and the University of the Free State
He is a member of the Statistics Council of South Africa
He is a Yale Fellow
He has completed a leadership course at Oxford University

MyCiti bus seeks bidders for multi-million rand contract

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

City of Cape Town staffers are running the MyCiti bus service’s control centre while officials start looking from today for bidders for the multi-million rand project.

MyCiti’s control centre comprises its hardware and software systems, including operating automatic vehicle location systems, emergency phones and close-circuit cameras on buses.

Lumen Technologies, the company that previously ran the centre, had its contract terminated for alleged non-performance.

Councillor Brett Heron, mayoral committee member for transport, said yesterday the City intended to have a new contractor running the centre by mid-May.

“The City is deploying staff to undertake some of the tasks manually. No other company has been appointed. We are inviting other companies to submit quotes for completion of the work,” said Herron.

The new contractor would be employed for the “completion of the outstanding works to supply, install, test, commission and maintain the MyCiti control centre hardware, software and related systems,” said Herron.

He said the new contract was “expected to include a relatively short maintenance component, after which a full new tender will be issued”.

“We expect the contract period to run until not later than June 2015,” said Herron.

The previous contract had reportedly been worth R234-million and Herron said the cost associated with the new one would “be determined through the competitive process we are about to undertake”.

The City said it would today publish on its website a “request for quotations” from companies interested in winning the tender to run the MyCiti control centre. Bidders would have three weeks to send in their applications.

Herron was also unable to “comment on this at this stage” on whether City officials would take legal action against Lumen for alleged non-performance.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille last week told the City council the MyCiti service was running on track. She said the City had already spent R4,6-billion on the service.

“Last month, an incredible 761,000 passenger journeys were made on our buses, with our West Coast and Inner City routes remaining the most popular,” she said.

De Lille said an Atlantis route would launch in April and the service would be extended to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha in July.

Fashion… and all that jazz

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Young designers Julia M’Poko and Ernest Mahomane will show six looks at the “Fashion and All That Jazz” show as part of the Cape Town Jazz Festival.

Julia M’Poko (25) and Ernest Mahomane (30) are two of a trio of fashion designers showing six looks at the Fashion and All that Jazz show as part of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) on March 27. Winner of the AFI Young Designer of the Year 2012, Kim Gush is the third exhibitor.

Having launched their own labels only last year, M’Poko and Mahomane are focused on learning the business and honing their skills, and not interested in the fame.

The 15-year-old jazz festival’s organisers launched the fashion show, encouraging festinos to “express their inner jazz persona by wearing local”.

Designers were given a brief to cater for a festival audience while maintaining their signature.

CTIJF has also partnered with the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union, to “encourage the design, making and purchase of locally produced goods”.

Pretoria-raised M’Poko completed four years of studies at the Cape Town College of Fashion Design. Last year she was one of eight participants in the Elle Rising Star Design Awards and showed her debut collection at Mozambique Fashion Week.

Julia M'Poko. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Julia M’Poko. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

“It’s a little intense. I wasn’t planning on becoming a designer for another 10 years. After graduating I wanted to work for other people and gain experience in the industry so that once I come out with a brand I would know exactly what I’m doing,” she says.

“There’s a lot that you don’t learn in college. I wanted to learn how to produce and build a brand. I wanted to study business perhaps. But then the Elle show happened. Now I’m a designer.”

M’Poko is taking baby steps though, sewing at the kitchen table of her St George’s Mall apartment in central Cape Town. She keeps her brand close to home too, having named her label Julienne as a tribute to her grandmother, who taught her how to sew.

“She used to wake up at 4am and started designing and sketching wedding dresses and so on and used a lot of African fabric. I’d take scraps of her fabric and try and assemble doll’s clothes,” says M’Poko.

Turning to her own collection, M’Poko said she was “inspired when I went home to Pretoria and saw all these Jacaranda trees. I thought how Jacarandas would look if they had a feeling and sound. So I drew a Jacaranda sound wave and imagined what that would look like. I sketched that and had the fabric printed.

“I’ve never really seen an African print in purples and blues. I wanted it to be really soft and feminine. It’s a different kind of colour palette that I would normally use.”

She adds: “I thought about all the textiles that South Africa has to offer and tied it into the whole Jacaranda theme and played with more organic fabrics. I played with leather, mohair and silk. I made this collection for a vibrant, confident young woman who wants to look good all day. It’s ready-to-wear but with glamour.”

M’Poko says she does “love the fashion show experience” but, unlike numerous young startups, is not very interested in being famous.

“One of my mom’s friends, who is also a designer, told me, ‘You don’t have time to be famous. You need to be sitting and designing clothes for clients every day. Forget about fame. It’s not going to pay your bills’. That’s so true,” she says.

“You can be in every magazine but that’s not going to pay your bills. If my clothes could be shot without a photo of me or without me having to walk onto the runway that would be awesome because I’m a very shy person.

“I would like people to wear my clothes. I want to turn this into a business, find people that I can employ and slowly but surely create a nice little business for myself.”

Mahomane started sewing in his mother’s studio when he was still in high school. He studied fashion at the University of Johannesburg and worked as a buyer for a retailer before opening his own studio.

Ernest Mahomane. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Ernest Mahomane. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

After four years, Mahomane moved to Cape Town to spend almost two years as a junior designer with Gavin Rajah’s studio. He launched his eponymous label at Cape Town Fashion Week last year.

“When I graduated, I was so afraid of being one of those designers who walked in young and then exited from the industry before 30. I wanted to take my time, discover myself and not be pushed in a direction that I wasn’t interested in,” he says.

“When I moved to Cape Town, I met a lot of youngsters who have just rushed into things and then it didn’t work out. I want to still be designing years down the line.

“But even with this media thing, after my show I was so afraid of the media. I didn’t want to talk about my work. I wanted them to decide for themselves if it was good or not. I still need a few more years to build my confidence. I’m still scared of what might happen. I know what I want to show though.”

Mahomane says his jazz collection is in honour of late African singer Miriam Makeba. “I wanted the look to be African. I looked at all the musicians that represented Africa all over the world. The one woman who stood out was Miriam. She travelled all over the world and her style was beautiful,” he says.

“I researched her so much. I named the collection Songbird. It’s going to be chic glamour – a little twist on Miriam on stage.”

Mahomane says he designs clothes for a sophisticated woman in her 20s up to her 40s.

“Having worked with clients, a person walks into my studio and they say they want this. As a designer, you want the money and you make it. I’m now past the point of making something that someone wants. I want to make something that looks beautiful,” he says.

The Fashion and All that Jazz show takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on March 27. Jimmy Nevis and Shakatak will also be performing. Tickets costs R500 per person or R5 000 for a table of 10 and includes a three-course meal and complementary wine.

For more info visit

Central Cape Town’s facelift takes shape

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Long Street was “dark and dangerous” when Kurdish restaurateur Baran Kalay opened Mesopotamia eatery on this reveler’s stretch almost two decades ago.

Kalay says Cape Town’s central business district (CBD) has changed for the better since then. And this is matched with an increased demand for residential and commercial property.

Kalay recalls that back in 1997, when he opened shop on Long Street, “everything closed at 5pm because there was a lot of drug dealing in town”.

“When I first rented Mesopotamia the city was very dark and dangerous. For the first few weeks I couldn’t run a business. One day, with my broken English, I told the city’s electrical department the street lights need to be fixed,” says Kalay.

Baran Kalay. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Baran Kalay. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

“They said they couldn’t fix the lights on Long Street because their guys were not safe to go there. I realised what Long Street was like and that it was going to be difficult to run my business.”

Kalay says police officers at that time asked him “if they could watch the streets from my balcony, but I said no because then the criminals would kill me later”.

A few years later commercial developments such as Century City, located beyond the CBD, lured businesses out of the city too. Property prices plummeted.

“Loop and Long streets were for sale. There were buildings that were being sold for R1-million and now it’s worth R15-million,” says Kalay.

In the late 1990s, the City of Cape Town embarked on a turn-around strategy and worked with the non-profit Cape Town Partnership (CTP) to rejuvenate the CBD. Surveillance cameras went up on street corners. Private security firms were employed to keep the streets clean.

CTP’s chief executive Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana says they turned the city from “just too much crime where nobody wanted to live” to an attractive playground.

It was just before the Soccer World Cup in 2010 when the CBD “started seeing a conversion,” she says.
“Corporates moved out and we started seeing offices converted into residential units. There was a property boom. The sale of those units showed there was growth in town,” says Makalima-Ngewana.

“A lot of those units were sold and resold while still on plans and not yet built. Then we had our first R1-billion investment in the city when Mandela Rhodes was built. Today we have just over 5,000 residents living in the CBD and we want to increase that.”

Makalima-Ngewana says the next challenge is to ensure that locals in particular can find affordable properties to buy or rent in the CBD.

“Cape Town’s CBD is the most unaffordable space compared to other cities in the country. We have such a small space and we can’t build up very high. We need to make sure that we maintain sight lines with Table Mountain. A lot of the downtown area is heritage and we can’t lose that,” says Makalima-Ngewana.

As a result, she says, “developers find it’s easier to go out of the city and develop where they don’t have all these restrictions”.

CTP is working also to ensure that the CBD has a mix of residential and commercial development, adds Makalima-Ngewana.

“At the last count there were close to 2,000 creative businesses in the CBD. We have many restaurants in town and a lot of informal trading,” she says.

“The problem now is that it is highly expensive to buy an apartment in town. It will cost on average R1-million for an apartment that’s not that big. We are looking at creating affordable housing in town. People should be able to rent and buy in town.”

Kalay has meanwhile gone from renting space to owning property in the CBD. He says his apartment block comprises “60% locals and 40% foreigners”.

“There are many foreigners who stay in the CBD. They don’t want to live outside the city. There are many students who are studying English in Cape Town. Locals who work in town want to live in the city,” says Kalay.

Residents say they find living in the city ideal for its proximity to their jobs. It has various challenges though.

Capetonian Evangeline Brandt moved to the CBD almost two years ago.

“It’s convenient and central; only five minutes from my work. It’s a bit more expensive but I save on traveling costs. It’s worth it paying an extra bit for the convenience. It would be a huge change if I need to move,” says Brandt.

She also does not “really feel unsafe”.

Evangeline Brandt. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Evangeline Brandt. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

“There are mostly homeless and street kids around. They always bother but they aren’t out to hurt you. I never felt threatened in the CBD. I have friends from the suburbs who come to me and we explore town and walk around at night.”

Garreth Bloor, the City’s mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, says the local government wants to create a CBD with a mix of business and residential spaces.

Bloor says this “promotes vibrancy and economic opportunities”.

“Greater resident activity also promotes greater safety through passive surveillance. Increasing the resident population also has an impact on travel demand management and sustainability. While most are trying to commute to the city, others are commuting in the opposite direction or not needing to use their cars at all to get to work,” says Bloor.

Insight into city living…
A recent survey by the Cape Town Partnership offers insights into city living in Cape Town.
Between 2001 and 2011 the CBD residential population tripled in size. It now sits at 5,286 residents.
People prefer to live in the inner city because it is close to places of work, it offers entertainment options and ease of access to other neighbourhoods in Cape Town.

Challenges to living in the inner city include social development issues, parking and affordability.
Among the reasons for having more inner city residents are increasing economic opportunities, decreasing carbon emissions due to traffic and creating a diverse city.

TRAILER: Imagina na Copa (Imagine the Cup)

Watch it here:

Imagina na Copa (Imagine the Cup) is a 33-minute documentary film by Yazeed Kamaldien. It explores protests in Brazil against the upcoming month-long Fifa Soccer World Cup starting in June 2014. It also features voices of residents in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, claiming that their government wants to evict them in a clean-up campaign ahead of the soccer tournament and the Olympic Games planned for that city in 2016. Officials meanwhile say the Soccer World Cup will improve life for locals. The film will be screened at various venues. Search Facebook for the page Imagina na Copa (Imagine the Cup) for more information.

Fashion and photography for Cape Town Jazz Festival 2014

Also published here:

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Jazz music remains centre stage at the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, but its overwhelming schedule this year includes a fashion show and photographic exhibition honouring Nelson Mandela.

Rashid Lombard, who organises the 15th festival unfolding next weekend, has already named his line-up of local and global stars. They will play at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and public venues.

Artists on the official programme include iconic soul singer Erykah Badu from the US and local vocalists The Soil.

A free evening concert at Greenmarket Square, in central Cape Town, kicks off the festival next Wednesday. Artists to perform here are Shakatak from the UK, Tasha’s World from the Netherlands and the local Schools All Star Super Band.

Organisers say it is the “festival’s way of showing appreciation to the people of Cape Town, by giving them a taste of some of the world-class performers at no charge”.

On Thursday, artists perform in Gugulethu township as part of the festival’s development efforts to introduce jazz music to those who may otherwise not have access or instruments.

Fashion meets jazz on Thursday evening at the Jazz Fest Ballroom where three local fashion designers will showcase their clothing design collections. It is a new addition to the festival, intended to be an annual mainstay. Of course, jazz musicians will also feature at this event.

By Friday at the latest, the rest of the world would have descended on Cape Town’s shores for two days of music appreciation. This is an annual migration that locals generally revel in, partying alongside friends from elsewhere.

Lombard usually refers to his festival as “Africa’s grandest gathering” as nearly 60 000 festinos attend annually.

A list of after-party venues has also been identified for festinos – as festival-goers are called.

Throughout the festival, a photographic exhibition in the event’s Duotone Gallery, set up in the convention centre, will not only “show jazz in motion” but also pay homage to deceased Mandela.

It will display photographic work by “amateur and professional industry professionals that documents the emergence and growth of jazz globally”.

Images have been “culled from the [festival’s] archives, especially with reference to the photographers who have consistently covered it over the years”.

Mandela’s images are “from the files of the festival’s director [Lombard] who, as a photographer back then, extensively documented South Africa’s transition to democracy in the 1980s and 90s”.

Participants in the last three years of the festival’s jazz photography workshop will also exhibit their work.

Lombard says he has watched since inception how the festival has grown to have “such a massive impact”.

“It’s got its own beat now and we just love the fact that we are able to keep giving people what they want and to promote jazz and jazz related as a music genre in this country. Surprisingly, jazz is much bigger than people think,” he says.

“It really does have broad appeal as evidenced by the growing ticket sales.”

Quick guide to the jazz festival:
March 26: Free festival from 5.30pm to 11pm at Greenmarket Square, central Cape Town
March 28 to 29: Festival runs each night at Cape Town International Convention Centre

Festival after parties will be hosted at these venues:
The Piano Bar, 47 Napier Street, Green Point
Swingers, 1 Wetton Rd, Wynberg
Marco’s, 15 Rose Lane Bo-Kaap
Zula Bar, 98 Long Street, central Cape Town
The Crypt, 1 Wale Street, central Cape Town

International artist line-up:
Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet (US), Chris Dave and the Drumhedz (US), (US), Hiatus Kaiyote (Australia), Carmen Lundy (US), Kenny Garrett Quintet (US), Rakesh Chaurasia and Friends (India), Snarky Puppy (US), The Foreign Exchange (US).

Local artist line-up:
Dr Philip Tabane and Malombo (South Africa), Jaco Maria – the Storyteller (Mozambique), Jimmy Nevis (South Africa), Jonas Gwangwa (South Africa), Ological Studies (South Africa), Reason (South Africa), Shane Cooper (South Africa), Soul Housing Project (South Africa), The Muffinz (South Africa), The Soil (South Africa)

Visit for more information.

Child rights campaigners shortlisted for world prize

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Pakistani teenager, Malala Yousafzai, a fighter for girl’s education in her homeland, was this weekend name as one of three finalists for an international prize to honour child rights campaigners.

She has been shortlisted for the World’s Children’s Prize to be announced in Sweden on October 15. The other two nominees are John Wood from the US who runs educational programmes in developing countries and Indira Ranamagar who works with child prisoners in Nepal.

The prize is awarded by a Swedish-based non-profit organisation, started in 2000, annually honours child rights campaign leaders from across the world.
Its patrons include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Queen Sylvia of Sweden and Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Yuu Kyi from Burma.

The Surve Family Foundation, its local donor, organised this weekend’s event that included Swedish royal family guests.

The foundation’s Saarah Surve named the three finalists. Close on forty million children worldwide will start voting for the first, second and third prize winners.

Marlene Winberg, who coordinates the World’s Children’s Prize in South Africa, said children at 800 local schools would vote for their favourite candidate. She said children aged 10 to 18 from 108 countries vote on election days at their schools.

Winberg said the project would this year focus on commercial sexual exploitation of girls via its Rights and Democracy for One Million Girls project.

“The project extends to boys and girls but we want to focus on the sexual exploitation of girls because it is an issue. We are creating safe spaces for them… The most beautiful thing is watching a child grow from silence to being able to speak her story without shame,” said Winberg.

As part of the democracy project, Amanda Mtambo started a “girl’s club” at Chris Hani high school in Khayelitsha. Twenty-one girls were trained to run the club.

They found poverty, “parents who abandon their children”, and the township’s taxi drivers all contributed to sexual exploitation of girls.

“We formed a girl’s club where we can tell our stories and break silence on sexual violence, that too many think is normal… We have come to understand that we are not alone,” said Mtambo.

“We are sad that other girls in the world suffer as we do. But this project gives us courage as we learn how other girls fight against sexual exploitation.”
Nadia Kamies, a South African goodwill ambassador for the prize, said all three finalists would receive financial assistance for their campaigns, once the awards are announced.

“South Africa has been closely involved with the prize since its inception. The Western Cape education department has (recently) come on board,” said Kamies.

“Annually we reach thousands of teachers and schools and children learn about their rights and democracy. The prize results in recognition of children’s rights in the media and in society and brings attention to the violation of these rights.”

She added: “We’re working towards respect for children’s rights, respect for democratic values and respect for the environment… The voting process is to educate children about democracy, with the hope that they will grow up with respect for democratic values and use their right to vote.”

Iqbal Surve, from the Surve Family Foundation, said they “take issues of children’s rights seriously”.

“For millions of children in this world, the only fault is that they have been born into extreme poverty, many without parents and support systems. We made a decision to support such initiatives,” said Surve.

“It’s important to highlight the issues of children being exploited. It gives them hope. We can do something about it. I would like to see these kinds of stories being told in our media. I would like to see children having a voice in our media, telling their stories.”

“We need more people to say we can do something about it. Everything little thing we do can make a big difference… People who have money, power and resources should use that to stop the exploitation of children. As a family, we will continue to support this prize.”

The foundation also supports a youth band in Delft and offers educational bursaries to young people.