Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Endless snipping scissors and sewing machines churning out garments will be out of sight tonight (SATURDAY) when Cape Town’s factory workers gather to crown their Spring Queen at an annual fashion pageant.
For the last four decades the Southern African Clothing and Textile Worker’s Union (Sactwu) has organised the pageant. The event venue has shifted though, from the traditional Good Hope Centre to Athlone Stadium for the first time.
Sixty-four finalists each representing a different factory are set to compete for the Spring Queen title in a competition that seeks to also encourage support for the local clothing industry.
Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel believes their campaign has seen successes in a market that over the last few years has seen a negative impact due to clothing imports.
Kriel says they have worked with the government to push back and create jobs.
“We believe deeply in the importance of promoting and growing our local manufacturing industry. Local production means more jobs,” says Kriel.
“National government has declared that all clothing, textile, footwear and leather products bought by all spheres and departments of government must be locally manufactured.
“The impact of it all is that after many years of job losses our industry has stabilised.”
At factories this week, workers have been finalising dresses for their contestants who have meanwhile been rehearsing for their big night.
An inaugural Junior Spring Queen Pageant has also been introduced this year, with ten girls aged 13 to 16 participating.
Talented performers drawn from factories are scheduled to entertain an audience that usually amounts to thousands of factory workers and their families and friends.
Shiehaam Green, who does hand sewing at a women’s clothing factory, will compete in the finals for the third time. The Hanover Park single mother of three children says she was “having fun” going up against “girls much younger than me”.
“My oldest son is 21 and he can’t believe that I’m doing this. His friends asked him if I’m his sister when they saw my pictures from the last pageant on Facebook,” says Green.
“I live alone with my children and this keeps me busy. It could not have come at a better time.”
Green says she searched the Internet for inspiration for her dress for the finale. Factories sponsor the manufacture of the main dress but each participant needs to cover related expenses, such as hair and make-up.
Candice Caswell, a factory clerk from Manenberg who is entering the pageant for the first time, says this is where support from co-workers was vital.
“The factory sponsors the dress but you have to get your own jewellery and make-up. The other girls help with fundraising for the stuff we need,” says Caswell.
She found that after starting her factory job earlier this year the pageant was a way for her to meet new friends at work.
“When I started in this job I knew nobody. The pageant gave me confidence to speak to them (colleagues). I met a few girls and we became friends,” says Caswell.
“I’m getting a lot of support from the people I work with, especially my manager. They are all excited for me. I’m having fun.”
Caswell says the part she enjoys most about entering the pageant is the “steps that you learn, especially the dancing sequence”.
Alisha McNeil, a quality controller from Mitchell’s Plain, is entering the pageant for the second time.
As she rushed off to rehearsals in the week to “practise how to walk and dance” she said she was “super excited”.
A heartfelt moment during the last preparation week for packer Kerr Facolyn from Bonteheuwel was when her machinist mother Pearl Facolyn offered her advice.
Two decades ago Pearl entered the Spring Queen pageant. Mother and daughter now work at the same factory in Observatory.
“She said I mustn’t stop smiling, no matter what happens,” says Kerr of her mother’s words.
“I knew she also entered before. That made me curious to see what it’s all about.”
Kerr was named Miss Personality in last year’s finals and as she walks through the factory she talks about what makes her nervous about entering the contest.
“I’m nervous because I want to make them (co-workers) proud. I don’t want to disappoint them. They worked hard to make my dress for the event. I want to give my best to thank them,” says Kerr.
“I am very excited. All of the people in my factory are with me 100%. The support from my company is motivating me.”
Kerr says in the end the event is meant for everyone to “come together and just have fun”.
“It’s all about factory workers and bosses trying to come together. Usually, it’s just work, work, work. Now you don’t have to worry about production. It’s just a fun day,” she says.
“We are with each other more than we are with our families at home. To just celebrate and be together for something other than work is nice.”
Sactwu’s Spring Queen pageant will be held at Athlone Stadium today from 3pm. The day’s events include a junior pageant before the main event.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Bo-Kaap residents are taking action against the negative effects of neglect from local authorities and gentrification, which they claim have placed their communal heritage at risk.
Sadiq Toffa, an architecture lecturer at the University of Cape Town, was born and raised in Bo-Kaap and is among residents leading this campaign. He has even taken their cause to the New York-based World Monuments Fund (WMF).
WMF this month listed Bo-Kaap among places where “cultural heritage (is) threatened by the forces of nature or the impact of social, political, and economic change”.
Its spokesperson Daniela Stigh said this recognition aims to “provide an opportunity to raise public awareness, foster local participation in preservation, leverage resources for conservation”.
Within days of the WMF announcement, City of Cape Town officials publicly advertised a plan to engage Bo-Kaap residents to “proactively look towards the enhanced protection” of the historical area that dates back to the Dutch colonial period.
Toffa and other residents said city officials needed to act swiftly though to ensure Bo-Kaap’s heritage was not further eroded.
Post-apartheid gentrification, when race laws fell and the area was open to property buyers from outside, is part of the problem, say locals. They say this has pushed up rates and levies as property prices continue climbing.
Irresponsible tourism, which does not engage or benefit locals, has also led to disenchantment as locals are expected to maintain a façade of picturesque colourful houses but with no support.
“In Bo-Kaap, there’s a legitimate sense of feeling marginalised by authorities. We need authorities to include the community in new legislation that offers formal (heritage) protection,” said Toffa.
Toffa said there were two forms of heritage being lost in Bo-Kaap as a result of a lack of protection: “heritage of things and also ordinary lives and experiences”.
“We see the rezoning of houses to commercial buildings, which erodes the community fabric. We see pedestrian streets becoming overloaded with traffic.
“We see hotels coming up and poorly maintained buildings losing their architectural value. We see an eclecticism of historical styles eroded.”
Toffa said Bo-Kaap as a coloured area has been “historically marginalised” during apartheid, claiming this remains unchanged.
“Bo-Kaap lacks libraries, public squares and social infrastructure. Heritage has an opportunity to address this marginalisation and reinvigorate this community,” said Toffa.
Bilqees Baker, a tour guide who lives in Bo-Kaap, said city officials could do a better job at helping locals preserve the area’s heritage.
“I walk around the area on a daily basis and see homes that are becoming dilapidated. And these homes get broken down eventually,” said Baker.
“Beautiful old wooden shutters are being replaced with aluminum shutters. That’s because to replace a custom-made wooden shutter in an old Bo-Kaap home costs a lot of money.”
Baker said the house she lives in dated back to 1890. Other homes are likely older and to preserve this heritage was a challenge for locals, she said.
“We are situated on Signal Hill. Little streams of water used to run down the hill. The houses had blocked this water and the water now finds its way through the walls,” said Baker.
“Our home had major damp problems. You have to paint your house regularly. The damp will get worse. But some people can’t afford this. They need help.”
Baker said tourism authorities “use Bo-Kaap for advertising but they don’t do anything more than that”.
“We pay our rates and taxes, but if you walk through Bo-Kaap on any given day the streets are dirty. I’m embarrassed to take tourists around,” she said.
“This is Bo-Kaap, which looks so pretty in the pictures but people might be turned off when they walk in a dirty street.
“We have cobbled roads that are part of the heritage of the area. The roads are in a bad condition. They are over 200 years old. The city needs to fix the roads, but maintain the heritage.”
Mishkah Bassadien, another resident who has studied the effect of gentrification and “responsible cultural tourism development” in Bo-Kaap, said the local government needed to step up to help residents.
“The city could help protect the neighbourhood against gentrification. I know a family that had to sell their house because they couldn’t afford to pay the rates anymore,” said Bassadien.
“We also see modern offices going up in Bo-Kaap, that have been built against heritage guidelines. This has a negative physical impact on the area.”
Bassadien said the cultural impact of foreigners moving in meant prayer gatherings were sometimes disturbed when new neighbours “would come and drink and party opposite the mosque”.
Responsible tourism was needed to involve residents in taking visitors around and sharing their stories, said Bassadien.
“Bo-Kaap attracts tourists. The negative impact is we have big buses coming into the area and tourists walking around without taking any interest in locals. They are in their own world,” said Bassadien.
“There’s no real interest in the culture, but just the colourful buildings. Responsible tourism means that you have tourists who are interested in the local products.
“A local industry can develop when you have locals doing tours. Guides who are not from the area fabricate and sensationalise stories about Bo-Kaap too. Locals are not able to tell their own history of growing up in the area.”
Toffa’s plan is to document Bo-Kaap’s heritage while working with locals and authorities to ensure it is preserved.
“I want to document and record the forgotten and neglected aspects of Bo-Kaap’s social, political, intellectual history. This is going to be done through an audio-visual project, an oral histories project as well as a permanent exhibition,” he said.
“There is a lack of understanding of what Bo-Kaap’s heritage resources are. We see all kinds of inappropriate preservation based on flawed and distorted narratives.”
Councillor Johan van der Merwe, the city’s mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said their plan includes implementing a Heritage Protection Overlay (HPO) zone in Bo-Kaap.
Van der Merwe said the HPO would “require any proposed alteration to an existing site or any new structure to have city heritage consent”.
“It will help ensure that new buildings are appropriate and do not compromise the heritage significance of the Bo-Kaap. It is the first time that a place is designated as an HPO since the city’s new zoning schemes came into being,” he said.
Van der Merwe said the city would also begin working on a conservation management plan to “provide a shared common vision for the future management of the heritage of the Bo-Kaap”.
Van der Merwe said the city’s “efforts to enhance the heritage and social fabric of the area are contrary” to accusations that it does not do enough to curb the negative impact of gentrification and tourism in Bo-Kaap.
“As with the other historic areas in the central city area which are affected by the normal urban pressures experienced by a big city, the city does its best to ensure that sustainable urban development takes place,” he said.
“Investment potential is unlocked while recognising the important social and historical value of these areas.”
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Legendary Springboks have joined a chorus of calls for national rugby team coach Heyneke Meyer to be fired, circulating via email their scathing attack headlined “Heyneke Must Fall”.
Wynand Claassen, a national rugby team captain from the early 1980s, and Divan Serfontein, named SA Rugby Player of the Year in 1982, penned and circulated their concerns in a letter to a long list of former Springboks.
The letter was sent out late last week after the two decided to do “something effective”. The letter lays blame with Meyer for the “decline” of the national rugby team over the last four years.
They said they wrote the letter because “our own people as well as us, as ex-Boks, that have so much pride in the Springbok jersey, are feeling ashamed about the performances of the Boks”.
“One man is responsible for this, namely Heyneke Meyer,” they wrote.
The South African Rugby Union (Saru) appointed Meyer in 2012 to the top post and yesterday declined to respond to the letter.
Claassen and Serfontein launched their attack on Meyer less than a week after South Africa was placed third at the end of the Rugby World Cup tournament in England.
“He (Meyer) said people must judge him after the 2015 World Cup… Well, the tournament has come and gone and now is the time to judge him,” reads the letter.
“(He) is blaming the players’ lack of skills as the reason for the World Cup disaster. The skills of the players are being suppressed in his rigid, predictable pattern and he actually points a finger to himself by acknowledging that the skills are lacking.
“The team was therefore not coached properly.”
The letter continues: “Heyneke now tries to justify himself that to finish third was not so bad… Heyneke’s coaching record speaks for itself.
“The Springboks under Heyneke simply lose five tests just this year and seven tests since last year’s end-of-the-year tour.
“Heyneke does not understand the modern game. All the rugby playing countries know exactly how the Boks play and plan accordingly. An object lesson was Japan.
“This so-called meaningless rugby nation (Japan) at the time outsmarted the Boks by tackling low around the ankles so that these battering rams could not gain momentum… and then at the breakdowns made fools of the Boks.
“And what did the Boks do when it did not work…? Falling back to the game plan of kicking away possession so that the Japanese could start again with counter-attacking.
“The ‘arrogance’ of the Japanese by not kicking for goal to draw the game with the last penalty, was a slap in the face of Springbok rugby. So little respect they had for the Boks, that they went for the winning try.”
Japan had beaten South Africa during the early rounds of the Rugby World Cup in September.
Claassen and Serfontein refer in the letter to another Springbok defeat earlier this year, in building their case against Meyer’s leadership.
“Earlier this year the Boks underwent the biggest humiliation in that a weakened Argentinian team destroyed them in Durban. The writing was already on the wall in Heyneke’s first year as coach,” they say.
They accuse Meyer of having a “dictatorial coaching style”.
“He is coaching pattern rugby instead of individual skills. He is obsessive with size and power and does not realise that skills would basically always win. His archaic pattern doesn’t work anymore, but he is still persisting with it,” they allege.
“It points to stubbornness and he does not realise that the rest of the rugby world (for example Japan, Argentina and even Georgia) has already moved on towards playing total, 15-man rugby, which is exciting for both players as spectators.
“The players of other countries develop and improve. South Africa’s are going backwards.”
Blatantly, they claim: “If one takes everything above into consideration, Heyneke Meyer has failed. But despite this, he defends his list of performance and now pleads for ‘continuity’ to retain his job – that while the poor supporters pay his salary by spending heaps of money on test tickets, memorabilia and overseas tours.
“This brings us to the extremely suspicious process of Heyneke’s appointment for another term for a further four years by Saru… The silence of the rugby bosses about the non-selection of transformation players (which led to demonstrations before the tournament) is deafening.
“Can SA rugby afford someone that performs like a maniac in the coaching enclosure, wearing his Springbok blazer, in the eyes of the whole world on television? Is this the example of a role model?”
It concludes: “We are therefore addressing this letter to all of those who still have SA rugby at heart. This is also a plea to all ex-Boks, other ex-players and supporters of Springboks that still feel something about the well-being of our rugby, to stand up and be heard.
“We now need regeneration with fresh ideas and therefore cannot walk the road with Heyneke Meyer any further.
“Let us stand together and fight for change in South African rugby, so that we as loyal South Africans, could again be proud and that players could get the opportunities to develop, thrive and to wear the Springbok jersey with pride.”
Saru, the “custodian of the game of rugby in South Africa”, is tasked to “ensure that South Africa reclaim its place amongst the world’s top rugby playing nations”.
Its spokesperson yesterday said its executive council would in December review the current coaching and management team positions.
Saru chief executive Jurie Roux said in a statement the “contracts of all of the national team’s coaching, medical and logistical staff expire at the end of the year”. This includes Meyer’s job, which could see a new person in the contested seat.
Weekend Argus contacted the sports ministry’s spokesperson for comment on this matter but did not obtain comment by late yesterday.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Religious leaders have failed to mobilise their congregations to protect the environment, claimed lobby group Greenpeace International’s executive director at a Christian university in the city yesterday.
Kumi Naidoo, who has led Greenpeace for the last six years, told his audience at Cornerstone Institute in Salt River the “faith community must come to terms with a very inconvenient truth”.
“The silence of religious leaders has been deafening. God created us, the mountains and all other species on the planet,” said Naidoo.
“Religious leaders have failed us. They need to fulfill their obligation and stand up for the environment.”
Naidoo said he was a “very secular person” but wanted to engage religious communities to join Greenpeace in its environmental conservation efforts.
“The numbers of people we need to stand up to our governments won’t come from NGOs, student groups or unions,” he said.
“Congregations in mosques, churches, synagogues and temples are organised. There’s a lot of work on the shoulders of religious leaders. There’s enough environmental wisdom in every religious text to be found.”
Naidoo was spending his last few months with Greenpeace, he said, and planned to return to South Africa in January. The lobby group has its headquarters in Amsterdam.
Naidoo said once he returned home he wanted to work with young people because “we need to get them when they’re young”.
He said if South Africa had a “progressive government” there would be a stronger focus on environmental awareness at schools.
“When I get back next year I’m hoping to spend as much time as I can in high schools,” said Naidoo.
“It’s going to be young people who make the right choices about what we will need for the environment for the next century.
“Children are already educating their parents about the environment. They are running around the house putting the lights off. Education has an impact.”
Naidoo pointed out that environmental groups and other non-governmental organisations needed to be more creative with their fundraising campaigns in tough economic times.
Greenpeace is known for its confrontational approaches via its fleet of battle ships and often makes headlines when its activists are arrested.
“There will be more divestment (in the NGO sector) and we must become more creative. We need to use people, volunteers and money better. The model of the future is NGOs without full time staff,” said Naidoo.
“We need to create alternative ways of income and resource generation. It’s a problem facing millions of organisations globally. The private sector needs to be moved in creative ways (to assist).”
He added: “It’s hard to be positive when we can’t meet the budget. But we need to get out of our state of despair.”
Another factor to consider in protecting environmental resources was to reduce the number of meat consumers globally, said Naidoo. He said this was because meat-based agriculture was affecting the environment negatively.
“We will not be able to solve the climate crisis unless we get people to eat less meat. We support campaigns like Meat Free Mondays,” said Naidoo.
Noel Daniels, chief executive of Cornerstone Institute, which offers tertiary education, said they invited Naidoo to engage with Christian groups.
“We can’t see things in isolation. This is part of seminar series and we have to also look at the environment,” said Daniels.
Ncumisa Magadla, spokesperson for Green Anglicans, said yesterday’s talk indicated that religious groups could do more to help create environmental awareness.
“Religious groups have a lot of power. We need to take more action,” she said.
“Advocacy is one of the things we do. We need to speak to people about what God says about the environment. We need to see the earth as sacred.”
Magadla said Green Anglicans runs a water saving campaign, recycling project and environment-related activities for young people.