Young People urged to vaccinate

By Ashley Malepe

The south African national government confirms vaccine registrations for members of the public between the ages of 18-34 to start ahead of time on the 20th of August 2021. This decision was made after the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) delivered recommendations to Cabinet suggesting that vaccine registration be made more widely available to the South African public considering positive efforts to speed up the distribution of jabs.

“As part of increasing the vaccination roll-out programme, Cabinet approved the vaccination of persons aged between 18 years and 35 years from 20 August 2021,” Cabinet said.

Furthermore, to achieve herd immunity, the vaccine rollout programme must be expanded and inclusive to the larger population which is what the Cabinet is trying to achieve. Nelson Mandela University has been participating in the programme towards herd immunity as it has prepared vaccination sites both at Gqeberha and George to offer services to the general public, staff and the university’s 29 000 students.

Despite the COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy, young people in South Africa are turning up in numbers to get vaccinated out of the desire to resume normalcy and to protect those most vulnerable around them. As of the 23rd of August, Nelson Mandela University Summerstrand site managed to vaccinate a total of 356 young people, with 178 being the university’s students. George campus vaccination site which is part of the Harry Comay Hospital outreach agreement that operates every Tuesday, managed to vaccinate more than 50 students.

“It has been great to see the turnout of students these last two days, especially since we got sense that there wasn’t a great appetite for vaccination from a recent survey we conducted,” said Sr Althea Hawkins, Nelson Mandela University Student Health Service.

Among the students who decided to get vaccinated is Pontsho Hlongwane, Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Pontsho encourages and urges students and young people to actively fight against the spread of COVID-19. “My vaccination is therefore part of my unwavering commitment to the fight against COVID-19. I would like to encourage all students to come to the vaccination site.”

Erin Harty, BA student decided to get vaccinated because she would want to be able to travel for sporting commitments. “I do not worry about what side effects I may get, but this is important to me because I want to travel overseas, as a community, if we want to return to ‘normal’, we need to get vaccinated.” Erin said.

Nelson Mandela University Summerstrand vaccination site is open Monday-Thursday, from 09:00-14:00 and Fridays from 09:00-12:00. George vaccination site is open only on Tuesdays from 09:00-14:00. Visit: https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/ to register for the vaccine.

PHASE TWO VACCINATION ROLLOUT

By Liyema Mpompi

After AstraZeneca has been confirmed to be less efficacious against the 501.V2 virus that is dominating in the country, the South African government has received wide criticism as to how the procurement of 1 million doses was finalised without checking the efficacy level of the vaccine against the variant. Later in February minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the purchase of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which happens to be efficacious, and the plan was to vaccinate health workers in the first phase.

Now with phase two vaccination rollout set to begin mid May 2021, the speed of vaccination compared to other African countries like Morocco has been questionable. The eligibility to qualify to get vaccinated still remains unclear to many people. According to the department of health phase two vaccination will focus on people above the age of 60 years and people above the age of 18 with co-morbidities to vaccinate.

The main reason for the slow speed of vaccination is that South Africa is facing a different and more dangerous variant as compared to other countries which makes it impossible to use the vaccine that is available in big quantities and is being used by other counties. Making it a bit slower, are the lengthy procedures that need to be followed and different phases of vaccinations that we use for rollout. 29 March 2021 president Cyril Ramaphosa visited the aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha and said, “220 Million vaccines are for the continent of Africa, and out of 220 million, 30 million will be made available for South Africa.”

Lessons on Covid-19 and dead bodies

By Mbali Ngube

It has been over a year since the first Covid-19 case was announced in South Africa, and citizens have not been able to bury their loved ones in the dignity they so wish.

Funerals were restricted to 50 attendees and later 100, with strict social distancing, wearing of masks, and no open casket. Families were not able to view the body of their loved one as it would be wrapped in plastic, and undertakers were the ones standing around the coffin at the gravesite, wearing full protective gear.  

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued out a communique on their website on questions around Covid-19 funerals. After an article published by Eyewitness News dated 13 January 2021, where open casket funerals were now permitted on the basis that corpses of Covid-19 patients cannot transmit the virus. This follows families who wanted to exhume the bodies of their loved ones to remove the plastic wrapping.

The NICD said there was no evidence of transmission of Covid-19 from a corpse, however it is possible that one could get Covid-19 by touching the body of a deceased person. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the use of a body bag to transfer a corpse from a hospital bed to the mortuary or funeral parlour for preparation. They do this to help avoid exposure to bodily fluids.

The NICD advises these steps to protect yourself:

  • Avoid touching, hugging, or kissing the body of a deceased person who had confirmed or suspected COVID-19 before and during body preparation, especially if you or a member of your household are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after any contact with the body. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Sources: COVID-19 Funerals FAQ | NICD, WHO.org, Do I need to Take Extra Precautions Against COVID-19 | CDC

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Student aid scheme under financial strain

By Ashley Malepe

The extension of the academic year for tertiary institutions was made official in August by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, to end in March 2021. The extension was highly anticipated both by students and tertiary institutions as one of the possible ways to save the academic year lost due to the Covid-19-induced delays. Minister Blade Nzimande has told public universities and colleges that students should not be expected to pay any additional accommodation and tuition fees that will incur for the remaining three months. “The cost for university-leased accommodation remains at the same level for the 2020 academic year, regardless of its length, subject to an agreement that the original fee would be paid for both the 2020 academic year and 2021 academic year (with an agreed inflation-linked increase for 2021),” he said.

However, most students that rely on bursary donors and government aid will still need funding for food provision and necessities. With nearly 700 000 students relying on NFSAS, the financial aid scheme had to revise its funding requirement. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) calculated the required funding for the extended months to be at R4.6bn. “At that time, it seemed likely that the academic year would be extended to a thirteen-month year, [end February 2021], depending on the epidemiology and effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. The initial financial effect of the extended academic year was estimated at R4.6bn, based on a three-month extension across the sector as of July 30, 2020,” Nzimande said.

Moreover, some tertiary institutions are confident that they would still be able to complete the academic year before the end of 2020, prompting NSFAS to bring down the required funding to R2.5bn.

BusinessDay stated that “The additional funding required by the NSFAS, though now reduced, will put more pressure on government finances which are already in a dire state due to the health crisis.”

Sources

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/education/2020-10-04-additional-funding-for-student-aid-scheme-nsfas-revised-down/
https://www.nsfas.org.za/content/media-releases/MEDIA%20RELEASE%20-%20NSFAS%20ALLOWANCES%20UPDATE.pdf
https://www.iol.co.za/the-star/news/nsfas-will-not-pay-private-accomodation-providers-more-money-after-academic-year-spills-into-2021-says-blade-0bb1f807-ba21-4d92-835a-0af2cba8b294#:~:text=The%20National%20Student%20Financial%20Aid,had%20been%20extended%2C%20Nzimande%20said.&text=The%20payment%20of%20the%202020,2021%2C%20the%20minister’s%20directive%20said.

COVID-19 Return to Campus info pocketbook

To assist you in adjusting to new ways of working, studying, lecturing and living at Nelson Mandela University in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the University has produced a Return to Campus pocketbook.

The 20-page pocket-sized reference publication is available in both printed and electronic format. It is also in the process of being translated into isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

The COVID-19 Return to Campus pocketbook includes information on:

·     What COVID-19 is

·     COVID-19 prevention measures

·     Steps to take before returning to campus (acquiring your Personal Protective Equipment), mandatory online COVID-19 training for staff and how to book screening testing

·     Do’s and Don’ts as you return to campus, and

·     Key contacts 

The pocketbook is an abbreviated version of a comprehensive COVID-19 Nelson Mandela University Handbook, which is in development.

The Handbook will contain all new protocols, standard operating procedures and other guidelines to help each of us navigate the many behaviour changes and new ways of being during these unprecedented times.

The digital pocketbook is housed on the new Return to Campus webpage or by contacting Lyndall.sajoe-derrocks@mandela.ac.za for printed copies. 

It is also available on the COVID-19 online screening tool https://webapps.mandela.ac.za/screening site which staff and students need to use twice daily in monitoring their own wellbeing.

Download the pocketbook

https://www.mandela.ac.za/www-new/media/Store/documents/corona/RTC/home/Mandela_Uni_Covid-19_Pocket_Guide-(DIGITAL).pdf

Coronavirus Task Team

Communication and Marketing Workstream

Reasons to be Proud: In their Own Words

Photo of Wandile Msomi in New York

Port Elizabeth – Reasons to be Proud is a newsletter, started by Nelson Mandela University roughly seven years ago. The aim is to celebrate its students and their achievements in various fields, but who are the people behind the accolades? Here we provide you with the answers to the questions you might have had about the recent honourees and we take a closer look at the reason we are proud of these individuals.

For our readers who don’t know you, who would you say Wandile Msomi is?

Wandile is an easy-going young man with a keen sense of humour. I’d also like to think that I’m funny. I get sarcastic or very quiet when I’m tired, I get along with everybody – unless you’re the problem – and I’m very stubborn.

You’re a politics student – what attracted you to the world of politics?

I’ve always been fascinated by politics. You probably won’t believe this, but my love for politics started in 2006 when I was in grade 2. At the time, President Jacob Zuma was embroiled in his legal battles. I couldn’t even speak English, but I remember watching the trial [on TV] and I would have my family explain to me what was going on.

Also, I come from a political family: my mother’s sister was a UDF leader, back in the ’80s in Kwamashu, my mother works for the IEC and my grandmother was a member of the ANC woman’s league, so in a way, it was only natural that I gravitated towards politics. I am however the only child of my parents who are interested in politics.

How did your trip to the New York WFUNA International Model UN (WIMUN) come about and was this always your goal? (WIMUN is a simulation organized by the World Federation of United Nations Associations).

It started with an internal Model UN early last year. At the time I didn’t even know what the Model UN was, but I managed to [ ] get two honourable mentions. From there I was selected to go to Pretoria, where I was a UK delegate in the Security Council and I got the Best Delegate award. There the adjudicator suggested that I put my name forward for the WIMUN, which I also didn’t know about until I Googled it. I applied, not thinking much of it at the time, and I was accepted [ ] about two days later. After that, the processes of fundraising and visa application started. Three weeks before going to New York, I heard that I had been elected as the chair of the committee I had been assigned, meaning I was no longer going to be a delegate. 

Your journey to secure funding for the New York trip wasn’t easy. Can you tell us about that?

I started looking for funding here in PE. I first asked Nelson Mandela University in August. I think that might have been short notice [ ] because they didn’t reply. I then asked the city, but I didn’t receive any financial support in PE. I then went back home, to Durban, where I received plenty of support. I went to many media platforms and they were very excited; I went to three radio stations and I was featured in a newspaper article. The Department of Education in KZN [ ] managed to organise funding for me. The journey wasn’t easy, but my parents were willing to take out loans for me and we also opened an account where private individuals could [ ] make donations – I managed to raise a lot of money there. My friends also supported me by contributing whatever they could.

At the WIMUN your job was to ensure that your committee reached a consensus. Would you say that you’re a great negotiator and what do you think makes a great negotiator?

I think I’m a great listener. I can tell you what makes a bad negotiator – someone who doesn’t want to listen to anyone else’s view and [ ] just wants to focus on their view, which they consider to be the best thing since sliced bread. Although I’m stubborn, I think the greatest gift I possess is my ability to listen. It allows me to see other people’s points of view. That’s something I tried to pass down to the other delegates while I was there.

The topic you discussed at the WIMUN was Violence and Harassment against Men & Women in the Workplace. What did you identify as the causes?

We didn’t discuss the causes of violence and harassment – we looked at who is most likely to fall victim to harassment and how you can remedy it and stop it from happening. We also looked at what you can do once it has happened.

We had people representing the government, workers and employers (which is different from other UN sittings where one would usually only see representatives from the government) all in one room to discuss the topic and come up with a solution. The debate was predominantly centred around the question of who is most likely to fall victim and the protection they should be afforded. It was easy to agree that women are vulnerable, but when it came to men, the discussion required specificity, for example, ‘men in the LGBTQ+ community’.

Were there any solutions that came out of the discussion?

We came up with a number of solutions. The ones I remember at the moment are: to have hotlines where people can report an incident anonymously, clear legislation that protects people should be introduced and there should be campaigns to educate people on what it means to be harassed or violated [ ] because some people don’t know what harassment is.

What are Wandile’s plans for the future?

My short-term goal is to send a delegate to New York in January [ ] next year. There’ll be another WIMUN and I hope that I can go back with a delegate that I have passed down the knowledge I gained through my experience to. Something interesting about the WIMUN is that it was the first time the United Nations simulated the International Labour Committee, which is a committee that has been established for about one hundred years already. History will show my name amongst the first participants in this venture [ ] which is something to be proud of, but I want to expose more people to the WIMUN. Career wise, I am not completely sure, but I’d like to work in the UN and represent my country in the Human Rights Council. 

How do you think your experience at the WIMUN will help you and the community?

The reason I went to the WIMUN in the first place was because I saw that South Africa has a non-permanent seat in the Security Council and we’re calling for a permanent seat. This to me, meant that we’re taking on more responsibility [ ] as a country, in the international community. I, therefore, felt that I needed to equip myself, others (by sending a delegate) and ultimately the country so that when South Africa takes on these new roles, we have the necessary capable people in roles of influence.

Mine is not to uplift my immediate community – mine is to uplift the country. For me, this is about South Africa and its role in the international community. So, I want to capacitate myself and others to help our country.

Fast Facts;

Favourite Food: Burger & chips

Favourite Sport: Football

Inspiration: Ban Ki-Moon, Barack Hussien Obama & Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Star Sign: Cancer

Quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Deaf Ears or Closed Ears: On-Campus Rape Incident (Again)

This one hits close to home. I cannot even remember the number of rape protests I’ve attended at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) with the cry for one thing which is protection of my female body. I’ve been here since 2016, marching since 2016, but when has NMU ever prioritized women’s safety?

All we ever get is a correspondence talking about how the matter is “receiving attention” and that of how awareness in the form of initiatives continue to run to combat the matter. How is it that for 3 years we have been talking regularly, normalising a dark side to university life, walking over issues of rape and continuing with life after the momentum that came with a hashtag and a march has died?

It is obvious that the security at our residences is under-equipped to deal with the repeated accounts of rape experienced by students. The initiatives and campaigns that were launched for such purposes are clearly out of the question. So, what must a student do now? How do we stop the rape cycle in our own safe spaces? A place that is intended primarily for privacy and habitation?

A student has been raped in her own room by another student of the same university, and now as we shut down the University and beg once again for protection, the student will be the one who must bump into their rapist at a test venue or at the gym, while investigations are pending right?

Rape is a real thing, as real as the way a victim is treated afterwards.

Stop brushing this off until the next one happens, stop keeping us silent by giving empty promises simply because of our vulnerability. Something has really got to be done.

Enough has been enough, we are exhausted.

Are our cries not being heard simply because of our communication, or are our cries just being blatantly ignored?

Image by Tembelihle Menziwa

First Annual Nelson Mandela Convention for Youth Develoment Launched

MadibazNews Madibaz News

The waves of change in South African society and the higher education sector in recent years have necessitated deep reflection and introspection on the content and pace of transformation. Young people have been key participants and contributors to conversations around the deepening of transformation in the country and sector, as witnessed during the campaigns for access, transformation and decolonisation in the last few years.

In a concerted bid to elevate and make the youth voice a more prominent contributor to policy, Nelson Mandela University is launching the Annual Nelson Mandela Convention for Youth Development, spearheaded by the Student Governance and Development directorate under the Dean of Students.

The convention, which will take place over three days (30 July – 1 August) under the theme Living in the Age and Hope of Madiba, will zoom in on issues relating to education, leadership, employability, entrepreneurship and health and wellness. Dean of Students Luthando Jack says: “Young people in their various forms of diversity constitute an important stratum in our society and are the future leaders and inheritors of our country. Nelson Mandela University believed that there is need for a sustained focus and discourse on the needs, challenges, aspirations and visions of young people.”

This, he adds, through facilitating generational and intergenerational dialogues on Nelson Mandela and youth development, and generating and propagating ideas and knowledge for youth development through mobilizing and activating young people to be the centre of this enterprise.

The convention bodes well with the University’s belief that “higher education plays a major role in the development of a vibrant society and is key to delivering the knowledge requirements for development that will enhance the quality of life for all citizens”.

The University set itself a compelling vision of becoming a dynamic, African university recognised for … read more

A Recap of the Madibaz Radio Men’s Forum

On the 11th of August, the Madibaz Radio team hosted a Men’s Forum. The event saw the likes of Siya Beyile, Phiwe “Pastor” Nozewu, Lex “Dr Smile” Leo and Kojo Baffoe descend upon the shores of the windy city, on a sleepy Saturday afternoon.

I know right? A men’s forum…in women’s month? Counterintuitive much?

Actually, it is quite the contrary.

While insights were gleaned during the first half of the event, as the distinguished guests weighed in on their careers and respective journeys. Baffoe advised, “Take competition out of it,” when considering success. Leo said, for him a career is a “natural progression of what he loves to do.”

The main thrust of the affair was its second half, which considered the role women played in each of their trajectories. Beyile recounted a harrowing tale of domestic abuse and expressed admiration for his mother’s strength, especially her overcoming the ordeal and coming to forgive his father all in the name of healing. The footprint of women is also evident in his company, The Threaded Man, where the CEO is a black woman, as well as its general staff demographic.

Nozewu spoke about the impact that his mother and grandmother had on his parenting, allowing him to be more of a ‘mother’ to his own children.

To witness prominent men throw off their cool and speak honestly, about their careers, issues of gender, violence and the women in their lives was truly remarkable. Especially in an age, where masculine culture, as advocated by ‘lad mags’, depict a detached mode of manhood and success, determined by acquisition rather than being.

With this event Madibaz Radio subtly subverted norms, by making a space seen as designated for men, an intersectional space of engagement. A much needed balm after the tenseness of this year.

GENDER GAP IN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

Although we are slowly advancing towards a more equitable platform, in terms of gender equality in the “working world”, it could be argued that the current pace is not fast enough.

Despite constituting a substantial portion of employees within the higher education sector, women are still occupying the most menial jobs. Some attribute this discrepancy to the power gap in such environments where women feel intimidated to apply for management jobs – due to the fact that their male counterparts often get chosen over them.

In 2013, it was found that the number of educated women employed was 10% lower than their male counterparts with the same level of education. In terms of earnings, females earned only 82% of what their male counterparts earned, albeit having the same level of qualification.

What these figures indicate is that, on average, females expect to be remunerated at a lower rate or lose a job opportunity to their male counterparts even though their qualifications are not differentiated at the margin.

We are very privileged to be a part of the educated subset of the African youth who are tech-savvy and able to access a lot of information, such as these statistics.

The only evident message here is what more information would it take in order for young people to rise up and solve such pertinent issues within our immediate societal contexts – which will not only affect our generation but also the future generations to come.