Archive | December 2015

Arch Tutu to cut back on public life due to ill health

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Concerns mounted over the health of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu yesterday, after he couldn’t complete his weekly morning church service, and was also not well enough to hand out gifts as planned at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital.

The 84-year-old Struggle icon’s health has been monitored closely in recent months, after he spent nearly two weeks in hospital at the end of August, being treated for a persistent infection.

Tutu has been battling prostate cancer for years.

Yesterday his daughter Mpho Tutu said her father would steadily reduce his public appearances due to ill health.

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Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu (left), the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, yesterday visited mothers and their premature babies at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. With Tutu are Sophia Hendriks from Stellenbosch and her baby boy Cayden. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

The Arch, as Tutu is affectionately known, was to have joined her at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital yesterday.

Mpho Tutu, executive director of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, was instead alone as she handed over a cheque for R15,000 to the hospital’s unit caring for mothers and their premature babies.

She said the foundation had raised the money at a recent charity auction. Her father was to have attended, but was instead “taking a break”.

“He’s not feeling on top of the world. He’s had a couple of days of really not feeling like himself,” said Mpho Tutu.

She added that Tutu had battled after his recent hospitalisation and treatment.

“His progress has been slow but sure, as is probably expected for a person of his age,” she said.

“What he was describing as a gentle process of withdrawal from public life is taking more real effect.”

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Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu, the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, holds baby Cayden Hendriks at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital yesterday. The archbishop could not attend the event because his health is not in a good condition. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Meanwhile, at St George’s Cathedral in the city yesterday the congregation was left concerned after Tutu stopped short while delivering the morning service.

“He did mass this morning as normal, but then he was struggling to move. Somebody else had to take over,” one congregant said.

The City of Cape Town and the provincial government this week announced a Purple March for Reconciliation Day on Wednesday.

The authorities said in a joint statement that they wanted to honour Tutu and his wife Leah for dedicating “their lives to fostering peace and togetherness in a country that has overcome incredibly traumatic times”.

“The walk will be a peaceful celebration of two of this country’s most impactful leaders, so the mood will be festive and fun, with the intent of showing the Arch and Mama Leah gratitude, whilst also demonstrating the unity so vital to our society,” the statement read.

The Purple March will start on the Fan Walk in Somerset Road at 11am, and all participants are asked to dress in purple.

“This ties into the theme Purple, which is an acronym for Prayer, Unity, Reconciliation, Peace, Love and Equality, all the things our country needs to nurture the rainbow nation we all strive for,” the organisers said.

The provincial government has also lined Wale Street in the city centre with purple banners bearing Tutu’s smiling face.

Dancing across borders on Cape Town stage

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Body movements and not words helped a South African choreographer communicate to Chinese dancers her vision for a dance piece they will perform in the city on Monday night.

Moya Michael, who has lived in Belgium for two decades, was commissioned to work with dancers at the Shanghai-based Jin Xing Dance Theatre.

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South African choreographer Moya Michael. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Michael, originally from Johannesburg, said they could not understand each other’s languages but for the five weeks they rehearsed together they formed an understanding based mostly on body movements.

“It was a challenge in the beginning, even though there were translators. It takes a bit longer to work like that,” says Michael.

“But I work mainly with images, so most of the time I ended up showing what I wanted to say.”

Michael is among three international choreographers whose collaboration with Jin Xing that will be staged at the inaugural Cape Town International Dance Festival at Artscape Theatre on Monday night. It runs until December 6.

Michael’s half-hour performance is called Echo and she said it is a show of women’s strength.

“I wanted to work with women because of all the stereotypes of Chinese women who are seen as being subservient. I wanted to show the strength of women,” said Michael.

“The seven women dancers all look very beautiful and elegant. But when they move it’s just raw power.”

Echo was also the first performance on a Chinese stage with a “highly pregnant female dancer” said Michael.

“I reworked the piece recently after the dancer gave birth, to give her more movement,” said Michael.

When Michael first went to China, she felt “very welcomed” and did not rely on stereotypes when she landed there.

“We hear all these things; Chinese people are like this or that. But I was just interested to learn. I was lucky to see China on different levels,” she said.

“It’s very busy and fascinating. All your senses are opened. There is so much to see, hear, smell and eat.

“There’s so much western influence but they are so proud of their heritage.”

Jin Xing, founder of the company that commissioned Michael, said they met in Shanghai. She said she hired Michael because she is a “good choreographer”.

Xing started dancing in the Chinese military at age nine but years later studied and worked in contemporary dance in New York and Europe.

“I was a dance machine in the military, but I was doing propaganda work. It was a job and less passion,” said Xing.

“After I discovered modern dance, I decided to send a message through my work about what I’m thinking.”

Working independently, Xing soon discovered that Chinese audiences were not always open to her contemporary dance pieces.

But ten years on, she says there has been progress.

“Self-expression was difficult for audiences when we started. It has taken time but things have changed tremendously,” she said.

“I never worry about the audience anymore.”

Heinz Gerd Oidtmann, whose company produced the three dance pieces for Monday night’s performance, said after a decade of working in China he has also seen possibilities shift.

“It’s not easy (for contemporary dancers) because there is reluctance and resistance. But if you are determined you can do it,” he said.

“The dynamic of the country and economy offers a lot of opportunities for people who are ambitious and want to achieve something more.”

Russians are our friends, say Turks

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Russians are their friends and their governments should not enter into war, said Turks this week after tensions between the two countries led to talks of possible conflict.

Turkey had on Tuesday fired and grounded a Russian military jet apparently carrying out air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.

Turkey claimed the Russian warplane had illegally entered its airspace and ignored warnings about this, a claim Russia denied.

Russian president Vladimir Putin retaliated by forbidding his citizens from travelling to Turkey.

The Russian military also reportedly said it would respond to any future attacks on its warplanes.

Turkish citizens are meanwhile on edge, watching the news and feeling uncertain but hopeful that their countries will remain at peace with each other.

Yusuf İnanç, foreign news editor at daily Sabah newspaper’s office in Istanbul, said this week his country “does not want to fight Russia and escalate the tensions”.

“Ankara (the Turkish capital) thinks Russia’s aggression had to be responded to. Russian jets have previously violated Turkish airspace repeatedly,” said İnanç.

Russia has already retaliated though, said İnanç.

“Russian missiles in the Mediterranean Sea have threatened to down Turkish jets within Turkish airspace,” he said.

“Russia has started bombing moderate rebels and Turkish-speaking Turkmens in Syria. Turkish businessmen started having trouble in Russia.”

Turkey however depends on Russia for energy, meaning it would not seek to cut ties with it, said İnanç.

At the same time, he said, Turkey wants to “show Russia that it cannot do anything it wants in the region”.

İnanç said there have been a number of issues that contributed to tensions between his country and Russia.

“Disputes over Syria, Crimea, Armenia and the Kurdish issue have fuelled tensions between the two countries. Ankara is worried about Russia’s aggressive policies in Syria. It is backing Assad and Shiite Hezbollah,” said İnanç.

“And in Ukraine, Moscow annexed Crimea where a Turkish-speaking Muslim Tartar community lives.”

İnanç said it was likely that a proxy war could erupt instead of direct conflict between the two states.

“As long as the war in Syria does not end and the regional and international actors do not agree on a solution, the two countries will continue having more problems,” he said.

Süha Ünsal, a history lecturer at Bilkent University in Ankara, said he first heard about Tuesday’s incident “around an hour after (it happened) from my students”.

“We talked some time about the situation, but most of the students, especially male, have a heroic discourse,” said Ünsal.

He said despite this “heroic atmosphere” the “majority are afraid of armed conflict with Russia”.

“I think the majority are afraid of conflict with Russia and hope global forces such as the United States, European Union and even China will not allow the conflict turn into a clash.”

Ünsal added: “Some Turkish citizens were sent back to Turkey from Russian airports and some Turkish exports were refused entry into Russian by its customs.

“Two big Russian tour operators cancelled their tours to Turkey. This a very important impact on the Turkish economy. But the big fear is about natural gas which Turkey imported from Russia.”

Ünsal said he was “not sure if Russia and Turkey could get involved in a conflict”.

“I believe they have to find any conceivable solution as soon as possible, but I am afraid that the solution will be provisional,” he said.

Ebru Ünlü, a law student in Istanbul who has travelled extensively across Europe, said “people are scared” at the possibility of wat.

“Nobody wants war here. Russians have already been told not to not visit turkey. That would effect our economy badly,” she said.

Kadir Karakuş, a biomedical engineering student at Erciyes University in Kayseri in central Turkey, the atmosphere currently is “not really good in Turkey because people are afraid”.

“They don’t want to be in a war. They saw Syria. They don’t want to be like Syria,” he said.

“On the Internet I see that Turkish people say, ‘Don’t go to Russia. If you go there you will have too many problems’. But people from Turkey like Russian people.

“They want to have contact with them.”

Karakuş said the biggest impact would be economic as “there are many Turkish companies working in Russia”.

“If they can’t work there the economy is going to get worse. The results will be bad for us,” he said.

“I hope it will not be a big problem. Some people want us to get involved in a conflict but I don’t. We want to be happy in our country without problems. I don’t want people to die.”

University lecturer linked to student protest

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A senior staff member at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has this week been suspended for his alleged involvement in violent student protests.

Professor Mzikayise Binza, dean of business and management sciences at CPUT, was Tuesday told he was being investigated for allegedly assisting protesting students.

In recent weeks, CPUT students have violently demanded the institution cancels their debt and wavers their fees as they could not afford this.

They were seen smashing windows and burning the entrance of the main administration building on the Belleville campus. A security building and fees office were also set alight.

Weekend Argus tried repeatedly yesterday to contact Binza to ask him for comment, but all cellular telephone numbers for him were left unanswered.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley was brief in her response on the matter.

“I can only confirm the suspension and not comment on anything further. Pending a disciplinary hearing we will not be commenting further,” she said.

A source close to the matter, who did not want to be named, said Binza stood accused of meeting students who protested at the Bellville campus.

“It is being alleged that he was involved with the student protest. He was seen at the protest but he said that he was just trying to remove a burning dustbin,” said the source.

“He went against executive management’s back and met with students off campus. I don’t know if he was trying to meet them to stop the protest.”

Police have arrested several CPUT student protesters in recent weeks, charging them for public violence.

ANC blames DA for piling cash for elections

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Western Cape finance MEC Ivan Meyer has the cash to save the provincial parliament from collapse but plans to disburse these funds towards next year’s DA municipal election campaign, the ANC alleged this week.

Pierre Uys, chief whip of the ANC in the Western Cape provincial parliament, said Meyer had last week allocated only R300,000 to the local legislature which needs R34-million to address staff and operational challenges.

Meyer in his medium-term provincial budget allocations last week outlined how millions would be shifted within the Western Cape government before the end of the current financial year ends.

Uys pointed to Meyer’s medium-term budget, showing that he had concluded the provincial Treasury had a surplus of R217-million.

Uys also pointed out that the national Treasury recently allocated an additional R337-million to beef up the provincial Treasury’s coffers towards paying government salaries.

“How can you declare a surplus in November if you are not through a financial year? They need to render the service that is needed until the end of this financial year,” said Uys.

“The allocation of R337-million from national government to the provincial Treasury was for wages. They did not use all of it. They only used R214-million. There was a saving of R123-million.

“Then they tell me they don’t have money to help the provincial legislature. There’s sufficient money available at the provincial Treasury.”

Uys charged that Meyer, among the DA’s top leadership in the Western Cape, was “holding back” on the cash for political motives.

“The DA is building a fund for the local government (municipal) elections (in 2016). They will then start dishing out the money,” said Uys.

“They will have shows and go to communities and people will say the DA is giving them money.”

Meyer dismissed these allegations: “Unlike the ANC, the Western Cape government does not allocate resources for political reasons.”

He explained the R217-million surplus was declared to “respond to the constrained fiscal outlook”. It would be saved for shortfalls and expenses in the 2016/17 financial year, said Meyer.

Meyer said R123-million of the R337-million from the national Treasury was also to be used “in the next financial year (2016/17) due to further funding shortages”.

Uys charged: “The surplus is totally wrong. It is out of order. It was to be allocated where needed.

“We need more staff in the provincial legislature. We received a report about challenges. There were nervous breakdowns and absenteeism of staff.

“One of the needs was to appoint more staff. How can they say there’s no money in this financial year to address that?”

In August, the provincial parliament’s speaker Sharna Fernandez told Weekend Argus they urgently needed R34-million to solve a staff shortage crisis and fix operational matters.

This included easing pressures on overburdened staff, a shortage of security cameras and outdated technology.

Fernandez said at the time she had appealed for help from Meyer, who then said his department would assist.

Meyer’s R300,000 allocation to the provincial parliament last week was for an accounting-related systems upgrade, to be outsourced to a service provider.

“I am aware of the budgetary pressures facing the Western Cape parliament and these will be considered during the process of finalising funding allocations for the 2016/17 financial year,” said Meyer.

James Retief, spokesman for the provincial parliament, said they were in contact with the provincial Treasury regarding its future budget allocations, with the possibility of securing extra funds.

“Members and staff are only too aware of the dire financial constraints faced by the country and the province,” said Retief.

“This remains a challenge and we are working tirelessly to find solutions and to maximise existing resources.”