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LIMPOPO Ieader NUMBER 1 AUGUST 2004

DISPATCHES FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF THE NORTH

The transformation of higher education:

WHAT IT MEANS TO LIMPOPO Turfloop law week:

A CONSTITUTION FOR ALL SEASONS


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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PREFERENCE WILL BE GIVEN TO SHORT LETTERS. Aim for a maximum of 100 to 150 words or expect your epistle to be edited. Please give contact details when writing to us. No pseudonyms or anonymous letters will be published.

H E L P U S F I L L T H I S PA G E YOU’VE SEEN THE MAGAZINE, NOW TELL US WHAT YOU THINK. Comments and suggestions – and even criticisms – will be welcomed. Or is there a particular topic you would like to see covered? Let us know, and we’ll bring your ideas forward to our planning process for future editions.

ADDRESS YOUR LETTERS TO: The Editor Limpopo Leader PO Box 96306 Brixton 2019 South Africa Fax: (011)792-7140 E-mail: dgrwrite@iafrica.com

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FOUR OF THE BEST FOR ONLY R50! Whether a UNIN alumnus, a Limpopo professional or business person, a potential investor, or simply someone interested in the fortunes of a dynamic South African province with a vibrant university at its heart – you’ll need to keep in touch with L i m p o p o L e a d e r. You can beg, borrow or even steal a copy. But the easiest way is to subscribe. All we need is your name, your occupation (so we can see who is reading the magazine), and your postal address. The annual subscription rate for four copies of L i m p o p o L e a d e r is a negligible R50. For that, we’ll deliver the most exciting magazine in Limpopo province. Please communicate via e-mail (dgrwrite@iafrica.com), fax or letter. Pay by cheque and send it to PO Box 96306, Brixton 2019.

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WELCOME TO THE FIRST ISSUE OF L i m p o p o L e a d e r. Yes, it’s a university magazine, published by the Marketing and Communications Department of the University of the North. But it’s much more than a news medium for on-campus activities. The University is taking very seriously its new role as a ‘flagship’

tertiary institution, an honour conferred on it by the Minister of Education last year. After the merger with the Medical University of South Africa, our name will change to that of the province in which the university is situated. All this attention means that UNIN is nationally recognised as a very good university – a far cry from the institution that once bore

L i m p o p o L e a d e r is

a politically negative image. But L i m p o p o L e a d e r is not designed simply to blow the

published by the Marketing and Communications Department,

university trumpet a few times a year. Instead, we want to blow the

UNIVERSITY OF THE NORTH

trumpet of the province by covering those stories and issues that are

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important to us all. Limpopo is South Africa’s most rural province, but its economic

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potential – not least through mining and mining-related activity – is enormous. It is also South Africa’s gateway to the rest of the continent,

EDITOR: David Robbins

beginning of course with our SADC neighbours. L i m p o p o L e a d e r

Tel: (011) 792-9951 or

will take account of all this, making it an important resource for everyone

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with an interest in the province and the issues by which it is affected. Take this inaugural issue. What are the implications for Limpopo of

ADVERTISING: Gail Robbins

the transformation of the national tertiary education sector? Our

082-5721682 EDITORIAL COMMITTEE:

coverage starts on page 4. Or what has been the impact of South

EDITORIAL

Tel: (011) 792-9951 or

Africa’s much-praised Constitution on the lives of ordinary citizens? The Law Week held recently at Turfloop and attended by high-profile

Aifheli Gelebe Elizabeth Lubinga DK Mohuba (chairman) Peter Nagel

legal academics and practitioners provided some solid answers, beginning on page 12. Then there are stories on community radio, the personal testimony of a teacher of mathematics, the importance of

Norman Nyazeme Herman Pietersen David Robbins Gail Robbins Robby Sandrock PHOTOGRAPHS: Robby Sandrock

water in development, disturbing new trends in rural health, and quite a lot more. To sum up: L i m p o p o L e a d e r will serve two primary functions.

First, it will provide serious information about a dynamic province; second, it will show what the premier provincial university is doing to support the further development and well-being of that province.

South Photographs, pages 17, 18 ,19 D E S I G N A N D L AY O U T:

H a p p y r e a d i n g.

JAM STREET Design PRINTING: COLORPRESS PRODUCTION

NEXT ISSUE

M A N A G E M E N T:

LIMPOPO IS ABOUT TO BE DEEPLY AFFECTED BY THE HUGE DEPOSITS

DGR Writing & Research

OF PLATINUM BENEATH ITS FAIR LANDSCAPES. The next issue of

Articles may be reprinted with acknowledgement

L i m p o p o L e a d e r, due out in early November, will provide details of many aspects of this mining bonanza, giving particular emphasis to the participation of ordinary people through a unique system known as ‘junior mining’.

ISSN: Pending

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IN THIS ISSUE cover picture: Autumn Graduation at the University of the North, April 2004

page 4: The transformation of higher education. What’s the difference between a university, a combined university and a university of technology? Read about the wide-ranging changes that have descended upon South Africa’s tertiary education sector over the past ten years, and what it means for UNIN and development in Limpopo province.

page 12: Focus on community radio. A community voice from UNIN.

page 14: A Constitution for all seasons. South Africa has arguably the best Constitution in the world. But it’s not mouldering on the shelf. It’s in daily use, as delegates to UNIN’s third Law Week learnt, and it’s influencing at many levels the way our society operates.

page 21: Publications from the School of Law.

page 22: Profiles. A senior academic returns to Turfloop, and a campus writer builds his future.

page 24: Exploding the great maths fallacy. How one man brought the political struggle into the lecture room – and won.

page 27: Water and sanitation. Training support for water delivery at the local level.

page 30: Health research. Research at Dikgale is revealing disturbing new trends in the rural health picture.

page 32: Final flourish. Click onto the e-zine.


The transformation 1994 not only marked the start of democracy in South Africa; it also saw the launch of a major overhaul of the tertiary educational sector. So in 2004, while the nation celebrates a decade of freedom, universities are looking back at a decade of restructuring and realignment that promises great things for the future. In particular, the effects of the overhaul are pointing to more productive relationships between universities and their three major partners: the various tiers of government, corporate business and funding agencies, and grassroots communities. Now read on ...

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C O V E R

S T O RY

of higher education

THE THRILL OF SUCCESS. Through these pictures, and the one on the cover, some of the excitement and seriousness of graduation is transmitted. This is what university life is all about. The photographs were taken during the 2004 Autumn Graduation Ceremony at UNIN when hundreds of diplomas and certificates were awarded; and 501 Bachelors degrees, 136 Honours, 32 Masters, four Doctorates and 42 other postgraduate degrees were conferred.


The transformation of higher education:

THE NATIONAL PICTURE THE NEW STREAMLINED TERTIARY EDUCATION SECTOR. In 1994 there were 21 universities in South Africa, 15 technikons and 27 teachertraining colleges, making a total of 63 institutions. After ten years of radical reform – and plenty of wrangling and compromise – the tally stands (or shortly will stand) at a total of 22 tertiary institutions, comprising 12 universities, five comprehensive universities (combined universities and technikons) and five universities of technology (the new name for technikons). All the training colleges have been absorbed into other institutions. The philosophy behind the restructuring process has been to spread tertiary facilities geographically (rather than racially), and to ensure that through a process of decentralisation, facilities and expertise are available more evenly through all nine provinces. A good example of this is the merger between the University of the North and the Medical University of South Africa (currently situated in Gauteng), a move that will bring a medical school and accompanying teaching hospital to the northern parts of the country for the first time.

Figures provided by SA Universities Vice-Chancellors Association

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THE PRE-1994 PICTURE WAS HARDLY SATISFACTORY. The universities stood apart from other tertiary institutions such as training colleges and technikons. Within the university sector itself were three distinct groupings: the Afrikaans universities, the English so-called liberal universities, and those universities that had been specifically established to cater for African (and coloured and Indian) students. Added to these divisions were other problems, the chief of which was a lack of any real linkage between university education and the demands of the national economy. The post-1994 period, on the other hand, has been characterized by efforts to deal with the legacy of apartheid while at the same time responding to the needs of a domestic economy struggling to come to terms with international disinvestment, chronic manpower shortages, and looming globalisation. By the late 1990s the universities themselves had divided into those that had been historically disadvantaged (by apartheid) and the rest. This occasionally bitter divide was exacerbated by the ‘size and

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shape’ debate that revolved around the premise that the policy of separate development had led to the creation of too many universities, or at least to a set of universities where too much academic duplication existed and too little cognizance was taken of the social environment in which the universities operated, and of the national job market. The ‘size and shape’ debate led to attempts to restructure the higher education sector as a whole. Some universities were merged, and the assimilation of not a few colleges of education and technikons into existing universities has occurred. Finally, in 2001, the National Plan for Higher Education (NPHE) sought to ensure institutional diversity through mission and programme differentiation. Crucially, universities were instructed to submit for ministerial approval their proposed programme and qualification mix (PQM) which had to be based on national and regional needs in social, cultural and economic development. These policy pressures on universities have wrought significant changes to the sector –

although it can be argued that some of the changes beginning to emerge were possibly unintended when the new policies were devised. In addition, many questions have been raised to which answers must still be found. The main objectives of the NPHE relate primarily to building institutional capacity, increasing efficiency across the education sector, and ensuring quality. All these objectives are beginning to be met. But there are other impacts that relate much more closely to the nature of universities as articulated through their relationship with various primary players. The PQM requirements relating to ‘relevance to the institution’s location and context’ has encouraged a more active relationship with surrounding communities. This has been good for the communities, and for general development theory and practice. But has this new focus been responsible for the decline in the quantity and quality of universities’ research output in recent years? The need, as expressed by the Department of Education, for universities to raise a percentage

of their own running costs has pushed tertiary education institutions into the marketplace to seek more productive partnerships with corporate business and international and national funding agencies. The need for comprehensive policy interventions over the past ten years has forced universities into a closer relationship with the state. Indeed, some people are already asking whether higher education is not moving towards over-regulation by a centralist education authority. As pertinent to ask, though, is whether universities can more actively assist government at second and third tier level in their efforts to improve social and economic development – and participatory democracy – in their common geographic areas. Beneath these changing relationships and the questions they raise lies a fundamental reality: that democracy is making as profound an impact on universities as these institutions are deepening the democratic experience. Now turn the page to see what’s been happening at the University of the North ... L

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The transformation of higher education:

WHAT IT MEANS AT TURFLOOP THE UNIVERSITY OF THE NORTH IS NOW REGARDED AS LIMPOPO’S FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITY. But it hasn’t all been easy sailing since 1994. After the tensions of the final years of the struggle, when campus unrest and the presence of the military were the order of the day, UNIN entered into a prolonged and often painful interregnum. On campus the closed system of education of the past began to give way to a version of the new open system in wide international currency. A democratic Council was elected. Nelson Mandela was appointed Chancellor, and the accomplished writer and academic Professor Chabani Manganyi filled the hot seat of on-campus Vice-Chancellor and Principal. A Broad Transformation Committee was formed, and this body played a crucially important role in the urgently required strategic planning process that for the first time deliberately involved all stakeholders and aimed specifically at genuine openness and full accountability. The result was a collectively defined vision and mission statement, as well as a process, initiated by the then Administrator Professor Patrick Fitzgerald in consultation with the Academic Planning Committee, of rationalising the academic structures of the University. In place of the eight old faculties with their 48 departments

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have emerged three faculties with 11 schools. These are: • The F a c u l t y o f H u m a n i t i e s, containing the schools of (i) Languages & Communications; (ii) Education; and (iii) Social Sciences. • The F a c u l t y o f S c i e n c e , H e a l t h & A g r i c u l t u r e, containing the schools of (i) Computational & Mathematical Sciences; (ii) Physical & Mineral Sciences; (iii) Molecular & Life Sciences; (iv) Health Sciences; and (v) Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. • The F a c u l t y o f Management Sciences a n d L a w, containing the schools of (i) Economics & Management; (ii) the Turfloop Graduate School of Leadership; and (iii) Law. After a period in the early years of the new century when UNIN was placed under provisional management to establish organisational and financial stability, the Minister of Education announced that he was conferring ‘flagship’ status on three of the nation’s universities that had been historically disadvantaged by the policies of apartheid: the University of the Western Cape; Fort Hare and the University of the North. Clearly, this honour is in recognition of the will at UNIN to

transform itself into one of South Africa’s leading universities, regardless of its past. As UNIN’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mahlo Mokgalong, remarks: ‘We know that the flagship tag means that the national Department of Education has confidence in what we are trying to do. We went through our PQM restructuring with the realisation that it was no longer feasible to compartmentalise knowledge. Hence the interdisciplinary schools, where an opportunity is constantly provided to contextualise specialist knowledge. But I must say that our flagship status, while strengthening our hand in many fields, will not mean much unless we rise to the challenge and ensure that the epithet fits. The responsibility is with us to search for excellence in research, academic output – in fact in everything we do.’ Few doubt that the University will succeed. On 1 January 2005 the University of the North will merge with the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) and the name of the new institution thus created will be the University of Limpopo. ‘Our relationships with our grassroots communities, already strong, will increase,’ says Professor Mokgalong, ‘and these communities – around the campus, all over Limpopo province, and into the SADC countries to the north – will continue to feed their


cream into our courses and programmes. Our relationship with government will also be strengthened. Already, we’re working extensively with provincial education and agricultural authorities. And important new partnerships are looming with health and mining and a lot more.’ Mokgalong talks of the University’s financial resources as being ‘a major concern’. The national Education Department is insistent that tertiary institutions should look increasingly to ‘third stream’ income sources to cover costs. The first two streams come from the basic government subsidy and from student fees. The third stream represents partnerships with the private sector and funding agencies in return for specific services. ‘Clearly, our flagship status will help in this regard. It improves our profile with the donor community and helps with funding for research – providing we’re good enough. Increased research of high quality in turn raises our attractiveness as targets for private sector investment. The potential for this institution is now enormous.’ All this is a far cry from the institution that grew out of South Africa’s preoccupation with apartheid, and from the ‘bush university’ taunts of the past.The University at Turfloop now looks like a youthful giant in South Africa’s revamped tertiary education sector – and it’s standing tall and optimistic for the province whose name it will soon carry. L

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The transformation of higher education:

WHAT IT MEANS FOR DEVELOPMENT SNAPSHOT OF UNIN IN ITS DEVELOPMENTAL ROLE Varied research activities, in partnership with provincial government departments, local authorities, industry and local communities, promote and support many of the development projects in Limpopo. Some of these activities are found in the School of Physical & Mineral Sciences (mining in Limpopo); School of Health Sciences (health transition in a rural community); School of Molecular Life Sciences (biodiversity of Limpopo, and environmental health and safety); School of Agricultural Environmental Sciences (small scale farming); School of Social Sciences (HIV/AIDS); School of Languages & Communication Sciences (oral narratives collection, and development of African languages in Limpopo); School of Computational Mathematical Sciences (Telkom Centre of Excellence); School of Economics Management (land development). ‘The multifaceted, quality research support UNIN provides is a major driving force in the betterment of the province and its people,’ says Professor Dirk Wessels, UNIN’s Director of Research Development and Administration. PA G E

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LISTEN TO THE DESCRIPTIONS: South Africa’s fastest growing province; South Africa’s gateway to the rest of the continent; South Africa’s platinum treasure trove; South Africa’s tourist paradise. The impression is unmistakable: Limpopo is on the move. From being a backwater in previous times, deeply rural and administered for the most part from Pretoria as a sub-district of the old Transvaal, Limpopo is now asserting itself. From being riddled with underdeveloped Bantustans, Limpopo is now geographically united. Certainly, the province has its problems, but there’s a new determination to solve them and to bring prosperity to all its people. Take a few examples. The new platinum smelter outside Polokwane is up and running. New mining operations will soon be opened. Increasing use is being made of the rail links with Maputo, Limpopo’s closest sea port. New roads and airports have been built. Agriculture is exploring new export opportunities; and manufacturing is on the increase. Now look at this list from a different angle. Think of the research needed to underpin such growth and change. Think of the skilled manpower, the managers, the technology boffins needed to sustain these endeavours.

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Isn’t this where a powerful university (hardly a stone’s throw from the province’s capital city) fits into the picture? Kgomotso Maaroganye agrees. She’s the Communications Manager for Trade and Investment Limpopo (TIL), an organisation devoted to the development of the province. She talks of ‘an economic turnaround’. She says that one of the most significant reasons for this growth has been the government’s decision to change the name of the province. ‘This has enabled the province to brand itself as never before,’ she says. Now the name change in the pipeline for the University of the North is another interlocking piece in the overall development picture. From 1 January 2005, and strengthened by a merger with the Medical University of South Africa, the University of the North will become the University of Limpopo. This is like bringing the institution directly into the Limpopo development team. It’s a recognition of the crucial role the University will play as the province grapples with the many development possibilities and challenges that lie ahead. In this way, the transformation of tertiary education – not least through the revolution in programmes and qualifications mix –

will impact directly on the progress of the province and its broader geographic region. ‘Our university at Turfloop is famous for the political leaders it has produced,’ says Maaroganye, ‘and we need to be proud of its achievements. But more importantly we need to recognise it as a development tool. It’s a significant resource.’ In particular, Maaronganye mentions two areas where UNIN is making important contributions. • The first is among TIL personnel. The organisation, originally named the Northern Province Investment Initiative, which in 1994 employed three people, now has a staff of 40, many of whom are receiving specialist in-service training from the Turfloop Graduate School of Leadership at Edupark. • The second is in the field of mining, and Maaronganye describes the development of a Mining Unit on the main UNIN campus as ‘a major asset’. ‘We need skilled people in a broad range of fields,’ she says. ‘The growing strength and versatility of the University means that local labour can be more readily trained, rather than being overlooked if the big companies who are investing here are obliged to import skills and expertise from elsewhere.’ L

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BY PROFESSOR BHEKIMPILO SIBANDA

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY RADIO

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MODERN SOCIETIES THRIVE ON INFORMATION. Through information people are able to know not only what is happening around them but also about critical occurrences further afield. Radio plays an important role in disseminating this information. The trick is to get the correct balance between local and more general information. For obvious reasons, the big radio stations concentrate on national and international events. But the result is that local news, often of vital concern to individual communities, is neglected by the very medium best equipped to deal with such issues. Community radio fills this information gap. The advantages of community radio are enormous. For a start, it’s community owned and controlled. Then, because it broadcasts to a radius of only about 50 – 100 kms, it can achieve an intimacy and relevance not possible through other media. Community radio can also serve as a very important aid to democracy and good governance because ordinary people are accorded the opportunity to express themselves. Even though community radio is a very simple instrument of development and information dissemination, it needs to be managed very carefully. Technology changes rapidly and its impact on societies constantly needs to be evaluated. This is where the Department of Media Studies at the University of the North comes in. The Department teaches Media

Studies from first degree to Honours and Masters level. The Masters degree is currently achieved through research which can answer such questions as: who is listening? When are they listening? To what? The reason why it is important to know this is because there is so much competition in the media. Not only will community radio compete with other radio stations, public and commercial, but with different media as well. Television and a variety of print media are major competitors. Simply by broadcasting in mother-tongue languages is not enough to win audiences. Media Studies, launched as a sub-department in 1995, now has 300 students. Most are in the undergraduate phase. Over the years, there has been an average of about 20 Honours students and ten registered Masters students. Research at the doctoral level is in the pipeline.

NEW HOME FOR MEDIA STUDIES As a response to the growing need for media graduates, the University of the North is expanding the discipline. The first floor of the new K Block at Turfloop is undergoing extensive renovations. When complete, the space will have mini radio and television studios, a well-stocked print media resource centre, a satellite television viewing room, and a computer room equipped with ten Apple computers for desktop publishing. Plans to renovate the old micro-teaching

studio are at an advanced stage. The department recognizes that a good media degree strikes a balance between theory and practice. This means that students specialising in radio will soon find themselves ‘on air’ via the University’s own community radio station, Radio Turf.

A CAMPUS RADIO STATION WITH A DIFFERENCE What makes Radio Turf, one of the first stations to get a community licence in 1994, unusual is that it combines its functions as a campus station with one that serves the needs of the densely populated peri-urban areas sprawling around the University’s Turfloop home. This combination of functions makes it a useful partner for the Media Studies programme. Students use Radio Turf for training and research purposes: for example, students participated in Radio Turf’s recent licence renewal campaign. Staff at Radio Turf also benefit from the partnership: they participated in the week-long Community Radio and Democracy production workshop, run earlier this year by the Department in preparation for the 2004 elections. In fact, all six community radio stations in Limpopo province attended. Participants in the workshop, which included Media Studies students, benefited by learning not only the latest techniques in the industry but how they are applied by community radio stations in the field. L

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A Constitution for

My view is that South Africa is moving in the right direction in the way it is handling its governance and judicial issues. The country has a fine Constitution, and I have great confidence in the judiciary to uphold it. The rest of the world looks to South Africa as an example of a people who have gone from one extreme to the other – from the degradation of humankind under apartheid to a champion of human rights under a democratic dispensation. The way the Constitutional Court has gone about its business of adjudication in the first ten years of democracy shows clearly that the country is living up to these expectations. If in addition the government continues to fight corruption as it is doing now (corruption generally destroys the fabric of any functional society), then there is much hope for this constitutional state.

Professor Chuks Okpaluba

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all seasons

Nigerian-born Professor Okpaluba, Director of UNIN’s School of Law, studied law at the University College of London and Toronto University. He has taught law at universities in the West Indies, Nigeria, Swaziland and South Africa.

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A Constitution for all seasons:

UNIN’S THIRD LAW WEEK

Judge Arthur Chaskalson, Judge President of South Africa, participating in UNIN’s Law Week. His keynote address was entitled C o n s t i t u t i o n a l i s m a n d i t s i m p a c t o n o u r l e g a l s y s t e m .

THIS PRESTIGIOUS EVENT WAS HELD DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY 2004. The subject under discussion: Te n years of constitutionalism and constitutional adjudication in South A f r i c a . Many big names in the legal field were there. A glance at the programme of UNIN’s third Law Week gives an insight into what the South African Constitution – frequently described as one of the finest in the world – is actually achieving in the daily life of the country. As the pre-publicity for the event pointed out: ‘A constitution, however elegantly framed, remains in the domain of the dead words of its drafters until it is pronounced upon by the courts.’ True to say then that ‘the Constitution is what the Constitutional Court says it is’. The Law Week programme provided the framework for a thorough appraisal of the South African Constitution in action.

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Papers dealt with the idea of constitutionalism itself, with constitutional interpretation, adjudication and litigation, as well as constitutional theory and jurisprudence. The keynote paper was delivered by Judge Arthur Chaskalson, Chief Justice of South Africa. Thereafter, scores of legal experts examined various aspects of the central theme. The Law Week was organised by UNIN’s School of Law, and the School’s Director, Professor Chuks Okpaluba, talked to L i m p o p o L e a d e r about the ‘relevance and impact of the Constitution in almost every sphere of the legal system’. Before 1994 this system had become skewed – indeed, seriously flawed – by apartheid and the many laws that had supported it. But the new Constitution, finally adopted in 1996, has begun to clear away the apartheid morass in which the country’s legal system was ensnared.

‘For the first time in South Africa, the Constitution has given access to justice for all, in particular for the common man,’ Okpaluba said. Okpaluba outlined six elements of the Constitution in particular that were serving this crucially important end: • The expansion in the categories of people who can challenge the actions of the government, and the removal of barriers that existed under the apartheid regime to hold the government accountable for the impact of its actions. This has given rise to what is called ‘public interest litigation’, of which the activities of the Treatment Action Campaign (regarding the distribution of antiretroviral drugs to combat the ravages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic) are a well-known example. • The enforcement of the Bill of Rights at individual and


Chief Justice Chaskalson and Deputy Chief Justice Langa and others at a hearing at the Constitutional Court.

group levels, and particularly in the sphere of the Bill’s economic implications. These protections simply did not exist in written form before they were entrenched in the Constitutions of 1993 and 1996. • The main legal systems encountered in South Africa in the past – Roman Dutch law, as well as the English and African systems – have all supported the suppression of women. The new 1996 Constitution has broken through these old barriers. • The right to equality is central to the Constitution. All people, regardless of gender, social standing, race, ethnicity, age or belief, are equal before the law, but subject to any regulations designed for the protection of specific groups (such as the restrictions on tobacco products to minors) or of other people (such as the restrictions on granting a

driver’s licence to a person with impaired sight). • The right to litigate against government to recover compensation for wrongs or omissions or negligence perpetrated by agents of the state. An example: if a man is arrested for rape and, upon being released on bail, rapes again, the second victim can litigate against the police and courts who allowed the alleged rapist out on bail, knowing him to be a danger to society. • Generally, the pervasive nature of the Bill of Rights affects in no small measure the interpretation and the administration of the common law and of the administration of justice in the lower courts. Academics from the universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town, Potchefstroom, Free State, Fort Hare, Venda and UNISA, and from the Durban Institute of Technology, attended the

Law Week. In addition, provincial officials from the Premiers’ offices of the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape, as well as Gauteng, North West and Limpopo, and the national Department of Justice, were among the delegates. Law students from Venda and UNIN participated in a Moot Court competition that was presided over by Judge M Leeuw of the High Court of South Africa and Advocate Seth Nthai, Senior Counsel. Okpaluba described UNIN’s third Law Week as stimulating and characterised by lively debate. ‘There was broader representation than last year, and attendance is improving. The Law Week is definitely established now as an important annual event.’ L

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A Constitution for all seasons:

ACCESS TO THE COURTS

- a constitutional imperative THIS YEAR WE HAVE BEEN CELEBRATING A DECADE OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY. This has provided an ideal opportunity to consider some of the profound changes that have occurred in our country since 1994. At the heart of this process lies the Constitution, the engine powering our transformation. This inspirational document provides not only a legal framework but also a goal for our country with its vision of a society based on democratic values, social justice and human rights. The courts have a fundamental role to play in achieving this goal. Indeed, access to the courts is crucial to the enforcement of constitutional rights and the delivery of remedies for their breach. Before 1994, courts were rarely places of fairness and justice. In fact, the courts were an integral part of the apartheid system dedicated to racial oppression and discrimination. Given this history, how could the majority of the population be expected to have confidence in the courts? Steps had to be taken to restore confidence in the judicial system. Our democracy is founded on ideals of equality and fairness. Such ideals are realised only when the least powerful members

t Building in progress at the new Constitutional Court – picture taken from the old ‘Number Four’ prison. A view of Constitution Square from one of the two stairwells from the Awaiting Trial Block which have been preserved to remind visitors of the Square’s history. The Constitutional Court is to the right and the entrance to the notorious prison, Number Four, is seen to the left with the blue roof.

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The recently opened Constitutional Court. ‘Constitutional Court’ is written in the 11 official SA languages.

Excerpts from the paper delivered at the UNIN Law Week by JM Hlophe, Judge President of the Cape Provincial Division of our society have the means to enforce them. For many South Africans, however, numerous obstacles continue to impede their efforts to access the courts. These obstacles include: • P h y s i c a l a c c e s s. For too many people the court environment remains intimidating, frustrating and alienating. Certain basic changes that could be implemented to address the problems of physical access include: (i) the provision of adequate signage within courts in a number of official languages; (ii) the establishment of information desks close to the main entrances of courts; and (iii) the availability of trained personnel fluent in at least three official languages to provide advice about routine court procedures. • P r o m o t i n g t h e c o u r t s. The courts need to be marketed professionally to combat the perception that they are out of touch with what is happening in our communities. It is essential that the courts are responsive to the needs of those who use them. This in turn will assist in maintaining confidence in the fairness and relevance of our laws. This can be achieved if the public is kept informed, whether this is

simply about the differences between the various courts, or the procedures applied, or even the reasoning behind decisions taken by judicial officers. • L a n g u a g e s i n t h e c o u r t. It is of grave concern that Afrikaans and English are still accorded preferential treatment in many courtrooms, at the expense of indigenous languages. The Constitution provides for 11 official languages and places an obligation on the state to take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of these languages. The need to respect and protect linguistic diversity is closely allied to the need to demystify the law. • Tr a n s f o r m i n g t h e j u d i c i a r y. According to the Constitution, there is a need for the judiciary to reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa. In this regard, there has been an increase in the proportion of black judges to approximately 34% in 2003 from under 2% in 1994. Fortunately, judicial appointments are no longer made behind closed doors. The Judicial Service Commission allows for a more transparent appointment process.

• T h e c o s t o f a c c e s s. Justice for all is a meaningless concept when so many South Africans lack access to a lawyer. These unmet legal needs disproportionately affect the poorer, less educated members of society. It is unacceptable for a nation to have one of the most powerful constitutions in the world only for the rights it upholds to be unavailable to those who cannot afford legal fees. This problem is compounded by claims that legal practitioners are losing their social conscience. Certain measures have been instituted to rectify the problem of affordability, but lawyers must also rise to the challenge and take the lead in ensuring that our democracy flourishes. Facilitating access to justice and to the courts is a constitutional imperative. It is a key means of empowering people. Our freedoms are fragile and depend on the ability of every citizen to assert in a court his or her rights under the law. Indubitably, our laws and freedoms will only be as strong as the protection they afford the most vulnerable members of our society. Remember – law is a means of bringing about social change! L

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A Constitution for all seasons:

FOUNDATION OF SA’s STABILITY FEW PEOPLE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WILL DOUBT THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSTITUTION, THE CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT PROCESS OF ITS BIRTH, AND THE JUDICIAL BODY – THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT – THROUGH WHICH IT IS MADE SUSTAINABLE. In a paper entitled Judicial authority in a changing S o u t h A f r i c a, Professor Hugh Corder of the University of Cape Town provided a useful constitutional narrative for delegates attending UNIN’s Law Week. The blueprint for the South African Constitution, he said, had been extracted from the proceedings and points of agreement reached in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) which existed formally from December 1991 to May 1992. By 1993 an interim Constitution was agreed upon and formed the basis not only for the first elections of 1994 but also for the final Constitution of 1996. ‘I presume it is well known that the formal key to (South Africa’s) political transition was the two-stage nature of constitutional negotiations; the first being the production of a constitution of limited life, agreed to by political groupings prior to the first elections based on universal franchise; the second, modelled on and constrained by the first, being negotiated by that first freely-elected parliament, and having to be ‘certified’ by the Constitutional Court for compliance with the constitutional principles contained in the first (interim) Constitution.’ But the Constitutional Court has done a lot more than simply certify the Constitution. It has also been called upon to interpret it and bring to judicial life its various imperatives. As Professor Corder asserted: It is clear that the Constitutional Court plays a pivotal role in determining the success of the enterprise (the paramountcy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights it contains). ‘Any review of the early jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court must take account of the balance struck between establishing the Court’s legitimacy in the eyes of the majority (ordinary people) and earning support from Parliament and Cabinet. While this sort of balance is integral to much of the debate about the

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proper role of judicial review (by the Constitutional Court) in a constitutional democracy, the weight of responsibility resting on this first Constitutional Court as guardian of the foundational values of the Constitution has been particularly onerous.’ In other words, the trick has been simultaneously to gain the respect of politicians and the public at large while at the same time boosting the credibility of the Constitution. Professor Corder’s opinion is that the Constitutional Court has generally succeeded in stimulating widespread respect for human rights, and, when necessary, in limiting government action in terms of the relevant clauses of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court consists of the Chief Justice of South Africa, the Deputy Chief Justice, and nine other judges. ‘The members of the Court,’ says Corder, ‘are, almost without exception, men and women with a deep knowledge of the political and socio-economic reality of South Africa. Several of them were directly involved in political activity, outside their careers as lawyers, while the practising lawyers all were involved in or at least familiar with attempts to use the law in the struggle against injustice.’ Other strengths inherent in the Constitutional Court include: • An able leadership, so that no obvious factions have developed – no mean feat considering the strength of many of the personalities involved • A team of researchers of great calibre • An increasingly significant library, leading to judgments which refer, as a matter of policy, to a wide range of foreign comparative law – a feature that has propelled the South African Constitutional Court into international prominence, and that has engendered respect for its work throughout the world. The single most important source of support, according to Corder, has come from ex-President Nelson Mandela. ‘That he chose to do so on several occasions immediately in reaction to judgments which had found legislative or executive conduct unconstitutional made such a stance all the more significant.’ L


PUBLICATIONS FROM THE SCHOOL OF LAW A new book, L a w a n d C o n t e m p o r a r y S o u t h A f r i c a n S o c i e t y, contains a collection of essays arising from research and presentations by academics, legal practitioners and public officials at the first UNIN Law Week held in May 2002. Each essay systematically analyses the massive overhaul of the former oppressive laws by which South Africa was governed. The book, edited by Professor Chuks Okpaluba, commences with a discussion of the enforcement of socio-economic rights in the Bill of Rights. It then moves on to examine the controversies surrounding the provision by government of Nevirapine to curb mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The issues dealt with include children’s rights, the land question, and the protection of the environment through law. Other chapters focus on the horizontal application of the Bill of Rights in mercantile, company and labour laws. The 410-page book is published by New Africa Education, an imprint of New Africa Books in Cape Town.

UNIN’s School of Law has just published the first issue of T u r f L a w R e v i e w, an accredited journal under the editorship of UNIN’s Professor David Matlala. It deals with all aspects of South African law and jurisprudence. Articles in the first issue include: Independence and impartiality as twin pillars of the right t o a f a i r h e a r i n g ; and T h e p o l i t i c a l r e a l i g n m e n t o f t h e mining sector: a review of the Mineral and Petroleum R e s o u r c e s D e v e l o p m e n t A c t 2 8 o f 2 0 0 2 . The editorial board comprises eminent South African judges, academics from UNIN, as well as UNISA and the universities of Rhodes, the Free State, Fort Hare, Stellenbosch and Pretoria. The journal is to be published twice a year in April and October. To subscribe, contact the School of Law by telephoning (015)268-2686. PA G E

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B Y H O S E A R A M P H E K WA A N D C Y B R I E N S E N YAT S

Profile:

THE WRITER FROM SEGOPJE

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‘EVERYONE IS AN ARCHITECT OF HIS OR HER OWN FUTURE,’ SAYS PROMINENT NORTHERN SOTHO AUTHOR LEROLE MAMABOLO, WHO IS ALSO A FINAL YEAR STUDENT OF MEDIA STUDIES AT TURFLOOP. Isn’t it a bit presumptuous to call a 30-year old student ‘a prominent author’? Not in this case. Lerole Mamabolo has already written and published plays, poetry and short fiction. And his first book – a story about family child abuse entitled M p h o o a . . . ! – was nominated but not finally selected as one of the 100 best African books of the 20th century. The book, first published in 1998, has nevertheless been prescribed by the National Education Department at tertiary level. Mamabolo was born in Limpopo province, in the small village of Segopje which is situated 30 kms from Polokwane, Limpopo’s capital city, and a mere 10 kms from the Turfloop campus. He matriculated from Sesoai High School with a distinction in Northern Sotho in 1994. But he didn’t at first have money to further his studies, so he got a job at a garage in another small village straddling the R71 to Tzaneen. Meanwhile, nothing could stop the young writer from sketching out the first bold designs of his own future. He wrote as fast as he could, and it is interesting to note his early influences. There was, and still is, Solly Mmola, Mamabolo’s standard eight class teacher. Then there’s Diphete Bopape, owner and editor of the vernacular newspaper S e i p o n e. Of this continuing influence, Mamabolo says: ‘He is as close to me as a brother and a father. He is my role model. He is encouraging me to write as many books as I can.’ Another powerful figure in the young writer’s life is Skepe Kgope, a UNIN librarian who introduced him to the world of publishing. As his time on campus increases, Mamabolo finds himself the chairman of the Translation and Linguistic Student Society. But writing remains the core of his life. ‘I’m currently writing another North Sotho novel,’ he says. ‘In fact, I would like to see myself as one of the great African writers. I want to publish at least 25 books.’ That’s an impressive architectural blueprint from which to build his future. And the bricks continue to be laid. Some new work, he says, will be launched internationally in June this year during the conference of the Southern African Applied Linguistics Association. L

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Profile:

BONNIE IS BACK

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AFTER AN ABSENCE OF 11 YEARS, PROFESSOR BONNIE ROOS HAS RETURNED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF THE NORTH TO JOIN THE ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING PROGRAMME IN THE UNIVERSITY’S SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT. Professor Roos was born in Tzaneen and during the 1960s and early1970s worked for and did his articles with a firm of chartered accountants in Tzaneen, at the same time studying through UNISA. He joined the staff of UNIN for the first time in 1977. ‘It was an impressive university, even then,’ he recalls. ‘People sometimes referred derogatorily to it as a bush university. It wasn’t that at all. I have always regarded it as academically one of the best institutions in the country. I am of course speaking from the point of view of my own speciality. I cannot speak for other subjects. I’ve lectured at various universities, and I can honestly say that the School of Economics and Management here is as good as the best in the country.’ Professor Roos took up a post at the University of Potchefstroom in 1993 because his children were studying there. His son nevertheless did a Masters degree in clinical psychology at Turfloop. This is indicative of the high regard in which Professor Roos holds the University of the North. He is currently looking forward to UNIN becoming an accredited university by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). When he left UNIN, none of the black universities had been accredited. The situation has now changed. From 2004, the Accounting and Auditing programme at Turfloop is offering, in partnership with SAICA and the Rand Afrikaans University, a fully accredited B Com degree. The Accounting and Auditing Programme is also embarking on a drive to increase its post-graduate outputs. When asked to make a comparison between his first and second experiences of Turfloop, Professor Roos says that the situation has improved tremendously. ‘Earlier, because the students were not able to vote, the only way available for them to express themselves was through mass action and class boycotts.’ His final remark on the new improvements was: ‘The relationship between students and lecturers is much better too. Eleven years back, the lecturers were always trying to convince their students that they were sincere. Today, it seems to me, our sincerity is a more readily accepted part of our relationship. There is a calmer atmosphere generally, and everyone seems much closer now to one another. This is conducive to creating a positive academic climate.’ L

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EXPLODING THE GREAT MATHS FALLACY

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WE’VE ALL HEARD IT – THE GREAT MATHEMATICAL FALLACY. It goes like this. Black people will never do well at maths. There are even some fanciful theories attached to the statement. They’ll never do well because black people think in circles and curves rather than in straight lines. Because they’re unable to expand beyond two dimensions! And so on. Professor Sentsho Mashike laughs. He’s the Director of UNIN’s School of Computational and Mathematical Sciences. He has a PhD in mathematics. There’s a picture of Einstein stuck to the wall of his cluttered office. ‘But there is a serious side,’ he says. ‘It’s what this fundamentally misdirected and prejudicial stereotyping has done to the recipients. In the rural areas, maths is referred to as d i p a l o n t s h e t s k e r e, which, literally translated, means difficult sums. Here was a large psychological barrier. We couldn’t do this stuff because the white man said so.’ Now listen to the story of how Mashike exploded the myth. He was born and grew up in Lady Selborne in Pretoria (a small township that was later ‘removed’ to Bophuthatswana because it was deemed too close to the surrounding white settlement). He was a gifted boy, and in high school he excelled. There was a single bursary that would have sent him to university in Durban to study medicine. He set his heart on this – but politics intervened. ‘I noticed,’ he recounts, ‘how the professional people in my community used to work among the people, addressing political meetings. Very soon I became more interested in politics than in going to watch football. I became an activist. In 1960, during the uprisings that started in Sharpeville, I was arrested and detained for three months. When I was released, I didn’t go back to school. I lost the medical bursary. But I continued with my studies through UNISA.’ Mashike developed rapidly into a brilliant maths student. ‘I was the only black person in the class – something of a curiosity – but I passed my first and

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How one man brought the political struggle into the lecture room - and won second degrees c u m l a u d e . Trouble was, when it came to graduation, I had to go elsewhere because I was black. So they told me to drive to Turfloop to get my degree.’ He liked what he saw. He went to some parties and had a good time. He met people he liked. Then he was approached by the Turfloop authorities and offered a teaching post. The date was 1971 and Mashike was in his early 30s. ‘I was regarded by the predominantly white staff as an aberration of nature,’ he says. ‘I think largely for three reasons. The first was that I had dared to study maths in the first place. The second was that I had had the audacity to gain a distinction. And the third was that I was now claiming to be able to teach this esoteric subject to other black people.’ Teach them, he did. At first, in his particular speciality, he taught the service courses that students were required to take when studying for other science degrees. Then he started teaching first years, then the following year second years, and finally the third years. What struck him immediately was the high drop-out rate. A class of 30 first years would dwindle to one or two third years. Here was the gloomy prognosis about black people and mathematics being made manifest before his eyes. Or was it? Mashike read into the prevailing white attitudes a distinct political statement that was meant to emphasise their own superiority. He countered with a political statement of his own. He had noticed that the results within his own maths speciality did not show such depressing results. But rather than argue with his white colleagues about their teaching methods, he took on the teaching of a group of 20 first year students across all specialities (algebra, real analysis, complex analysis), and stayed with this group until the end of the third year. The results were overwhelming: more than 70% passed their third year exams, with several students achieving over 75%. ‘The fallacy was exploded once and for all,’

Mashike says. ‘Of course, I was hardly the darling of my white colleagues. But it was a quiet triumph for me. Some of those students are with me in the department today. One went on to do a maths doctorate. And what was most gratifying was to see the steady growth in black students willing to take on maths-based science degrees. The increase in students doing more than the service courses has also grown until today my department teaches 2 000 students.’ Mashike, the maths activist, is now in his early 60s, but he’s never stopped his personal quest to improve the accessibility of maths to black South Africans. When he became departmental head, he worked closely with maths teachers in the schools in the Northern Transvaal Maths Organisation. After 1994 he exercised considerable influence in uniting the provincial organisations into the Association of Maths Educators of South Africa. More recently, thanks to contributions from Eskom and other funders, a computer-equipped Centre for Mathematics Explorations has been established inside the school where educators and learners at school level are introduced to the power of the subject. ‘When you think of it, all the technology we have today comes out of maths,’ he observes. ‘Yet maths is much more than that. It’s a very pure form of logic, and it’s the best teacher of rational thought. It also persuades you to suppress your emotions and to concern yourself with the facts. As such it’s a discipline of essential relevance to lawyers and scientists and business people. Yet everyone needs its influence. I often wonder how people can possibly go through life without maths.’ Recently, the Einstein poster has disappeared from the wall of Professor Mashike’s office. When asked about its disappearance, he smiles. ‘I’ve lent him to a group of students who are doing something for Science Week,’ he confides. Here is a characteristic gesture by someone who has always been willing to share his own resources for the greater good. L

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WAT E R

A N D

SUPPORT FOR DEVOLUTION AND SKILLS TRAINING An introduction to the work of the Limpopo-based National Community Water and Sanitation Training Institute

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S A N I TAT I O N :


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WATER IN SOUTHERN AFRICA IS A MAJOR PREOCCUPATION. We’re always looking at the sky and wondering. We’re conscious of rivers and dams in a way only people living in semi-arid regions are conscious. As the nation develops, the provision of dependable water supplies becomes a primary concern – and ‘sustainable delivery’ an even more important factor. This much is known. What is perhaps less known is what has happened in South Africa since 1994. In line with our dream of a truly participative democratic model, the national Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has devolved responsibility for the delivery of services (water and sanitation included) right down to district and local authority level. So here is a situation where water and sanitation assume a dual role, with their efficient delivery serving not only the physical and developmental needs of people but also their political expectations. In short, water becomes a player in our struggle for democracy rather than an autocratic centralisation of service delivery. But right at the heart of this dual role lies the essential challenge. It concerns the capacity of local and district authorities to deliver. The reality is that the capacity to deliver at

this level is often severely diminished by lack of capacity. Quite simply, third tier government structures lack facilities, support networks and properly promulgated rules and regulations affecting the financing and provision of services. But most of all, there is a lack of human resources to drive efficient delivery. And that’s exactly where the National Community Water and Sanitation Training Institute (NCWSTI) comes in. The Institute is an independent, non-profit organisation that was officially established in 1996 in terms of a directive contained in the 1994 White Paper on Community Water and Sanitation Policy. The headquarters of this important organisation is housed in buildings on the campus of the University of the North, an arrangement that greatly strengthens both the NCWSTI and the University. ‘Our core business,’ says the Institute’s Executive Director, Dr Abbas Shaker, ‘is to build a national centre of expertise and research in support of adult training in various aspects of water and sanitation management and the administration of delivery of these services.’ In pursuit of this, the NCWSTI is currently the only national organisation that is accredited by

the Local Government Water SETA. Like other SETAs (sector education and training authorities), this body takes a small percentage of wage and salary bills as a skills levy for use in the training of personnel employed in the water and sanitation sector. This means that all education and training offered by the NCWSTI can be claimed back from the SETA. Under this system, hundreds of people from local authorities have already been trained to varying levels. ‘Obviously, though, we can’t train them all,’ says Shaker. ‘The further education and training (FET) institutions, like the old technical colleges and the higher education institutions (the universities), must play their part. But who will coordinate?’ There’s a Water Services Sector Leadership Group upon which Shaker serves. In fact, he’s co-chairman of the Skills Development and Training Committee. One of the major challenges facing this committee is to enumerate the present situation. In other words, how many people are employed in the sector and to what levels have they been trained? Coupled to this should be appropriate targets that state clearly how many people should be employed (to provide sustainable water and sanitation delivery to all South

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Africans), to what level should the various categories of employees be trained, and who is to do the training? A study has been commissioned that begins to answer some of these questions, and it seems certain that the NCWSTI will remain heavily involved. Serious work has already been done at the Institute in developing training courses for the sector. These are divided into FET courses and higher education and training (HET) courses. The Institute has developed over 100 short modules at the FET level. These include technical courses for operators of water and sanitation systems as well as maintenance staff; human resource management in the sector; financial and administrative learning programmes; supervision and management of water and sanitation systems; and computer literacy for staff from the water sector, local government and industry. At the HET level, certificate and higher certificate courses have been designed. In addition, there’s a BSc degree in community water services and sanitation. This programme is offered jointly by the NCWSTI and UNIN and can be undertaken either full-time or part-time. Aspects covered include the technical, legislative, financial

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and social aspects of the provision of water and sanitation services. As well as this crucial training role, including the design of appropriate training material, the NCWSTI performs a valuable advocacy and networking role as it tries to influence the sector. To this end Shaker sits not only on the Water Services Sector Leadership Group but also on the Local Government Water and Related Services SETA. He is also becoming increasingly involved in advising water authorities in other parts of the continent, giving real credence to the NCWSTI’s tag line: ‘unlocking Africa’s potential’. The Institute is located on 5.5 hectares of land on the Turfloop campus. Here are three sets of office buildings, a resource centre (boasting a collection of nearly 4 000 catalogued publications), and three training venues. These comprise an auditorium, a field water laboratory, and a computer training centre. And beyond the fence stands the full resources of one of South Africa’s flagship universities. The position and facilities could hardly be bettered as the NCWSTI works towards equipping communities throughout South Africa – and beyond – with the skills to maintain sustainable water supplies and efficient sanitation services. L

THE NCWSTI AT A GLANCE T h e I n s t i t u t e ’ s m i s s i o n : To be the leading national community water and sanitation training support centre via technical training, training support, applied research, developing standards and advocacy, facilitation and networking. T h e I n s t i t u t e ’ s s t a f f : Grown from three in 1996 to 30 in 2004. The Institute’s achievements: Trained 3 500 students from 2000 to 2003, including 450 BSc degree students. The Institute’s pilot p r o g r a m m e s : the first accredited water and sanitation skills programme in Limpopo province, and the first national service provider actively involved in learnership programmes in the water sector. The Institute’s address: Private Bag X1106, Sovenga, 0727, Limpopo. Telephone: (015)268-3437 Fax: (015)268-3263 Website: www.ncwsti.co.za


H E A LT H

R E S E A R C H :

Disturbing companions:

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASE UNIN’S DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEILLANCE SITE AT DIKGALE, established in 1995 with assistance from medical scientists at the University of the Witwatersrand, is revealing disturbing new trends in rural health

DIKGALE LIES ACROSS GENTLY ROLLING COUNTRY ABOUT 15 KMS TO THE NORTH-EAST OF UNIN’S TURFLOOP CAMPUS. The 71-square km district is home to 8 000 people (1 200 households) living in eight villages at an average population density of 112 people per square km. A lot more than this is known about Dikgale. Every year a detailed census is taken that records in detail all births and deaths and maternity history, the educational and economic status of individuals and households and at intervals the socio-economic status of households, as well as all in and out migrations from the area. This census has been undertaken since 1995 when Wits scientists from the Agincourt site in Bushbuckridge assisted UNIN to set up the census procedures and database in Dikgale. What’s the point of this intense focus on one small area? There are several points. One is that it’s cost-effective to focus

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on a clearly defined area that can serve as an example of conditions across a much broader district or region. Another is that the data, particularly as it accumulates over the years, becomes increasingly valuable as the basis for specific research projects. Here’s an example: the study of non-communicable diseases (diseases of lifestyle) in rural populations. By using the Dikgale database, an accurate study has been possible on the recent dramatic growth of diabetes, hypertension and obesity among adults in rural areas. And within that overall focus, post-graduate students have studied the relationship between diabetes, blood pressure, serum lipids, physical activity and obesity; the effect of alcohol on hypertension and blood lipids; and the presence in rural black populations of the apoE genotype associated with raised cholesterol and coronary artery disease (CAD) common in Western

populations with their high fat diets and sedentary lifestyle, but less common in developing countries. When populations in developing countries with a high frequency of the apoE genotype adopt a Western lifestyle they could expect increased rates of CAD. This local work is greatly enhanced by international comparison – and this has been made possible by the recently established International Network of field sites with continuous Demographic Evaluation of Populations and their Health (INDEPTH). Over 30 sites in Africa and Asia, including Dikgale, are now linked and comparative studies are being undertaken. ‘It is through this international focus that our work is collaborated and placed in a broader focus,’ says UNIN’s Dr Marianna Alberts who runs the Dikgale site. ‘We have already observed in Dikgale that stunting in children was widespread, and

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that this in turn may lead to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in life due to reduction in physical activity and increased calorie intake. We also know that our relative proximity to an urban area has increased the intake of foods higher in calories and fat and lower in fruit, fibre and vegetables than the conventional homegrown rural fare. What we didn’t know, until the international comparisons made possible through INDEPTH, was that we were reflecting a global trend.’ Professor Steve Tollman of Wits, and chairman of INDEPTH’s board of trustees, best sums up this disturbing trend. ‘The traditional rural health agenda of malnutrition and communicable diseases has not yet been overcome,’ he says, ‘yet a new agenda, characterised

by emerging epidemics of non-communicable diseases and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, is already requiring urgent attention. This dual agenda confronting health and social services is appearing in South Africa earlier and to a greater degree than anywhere else in Africa. Thus Agincourt (and Dikgale) find themselves in the unusual position of helping to generate relevant health care responses and systems that will be useful throughout the continent.’ With regard to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Dikgale will soon be involved in research into various impacts of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme recently introduced in Limpopo. In particular, the participation of rural women in less fortunate socio-economic circumstances will be examined. L

WHAT WAS UNIN DOING IN VIETNAM IN MAY? The Dikgale Demographic Surveillance Site was represented by Dr Marianna Alberts at the INDEPTH Annual and General Scientific meeting held in Hanoi in May. The meeting was jointly hosted by the Filabavi Demographic Site situated some 60 kms outside Vietnam’s capital city, and the Hanoi Medical University. Dr Alberts is a member of the ‘adult health and ageing working group’ which was engaged in putting forward proposals for international comparative research in (i) physical ability and cognitive skills in elderly people, (ii) chronic and non-communicable diseases, and (iii) the impact of death on rural households. The work being planned on non-communicable diseases would impact directly on the research already being undertaken at Dikgale. Dr Alberts said that comparative work on NCDs (obesity, increased blood pressure and blood lipids) had already revealed that Indonesia was worse off than Ethiopia, for example, and that South Africa was more affected than East Africa and Indonesia. These results mirrored the levels of socio-economic development that had been achieved in the respective countries and regions. The higher the development, the more pronounced the diseases of lifestyle.

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B Y

P E T E R

N A G E L

Final flourish:

WHEN YOU’RE THROUGH WITH THE MAGAZINE TURN TO THE E-ZINE THE SCHOOL OF LANGUAGES AND COMMUNICATION STUDIES WILL SOON BE PUBLISHING THE FIRST EDITION OF AN E-ZINE (ELECTRONIC MAGAZINE) ON THE SCHOOL’S WEBSITE. The purpose of the e-zine is to report and comment on newsworthy events within the University of the North (UNIN) and surrounding areas, by Communication Studies or Media Studies student reporters. This joint venture between the two disciplines in the school is an initiative of staff in the two disciplines to give students experience in writing articles for publication in electronic media. Student Representative Council (SRC) President of the school and third year Media Studies student Elijah Moholola says: ‘For us third year students, this is a big opportunity for us to practise our writing skills and interact with the ever growing world of technology before going into the field.’ The e-zine has been in the pipeline for the past two years on the School of Languages and Communication Studies’ website. The webmaster of the School and Discipline Manager Communication Studies, Pieter Nagel, has designed a website for students in his discipline that allows them access to P o w e r P o i n t TM slideshows containing lecture notes. Nagel has also been publishing an online newspaper, T u r f O n l i n e, since 1997 on the school’s website, with contributions from Media Studies postgraduate students. ‘The e-zine is a logical extension of this idea, because it is not restricted to postgraduate students, as is the case with T u r f O n l i n e.’ The Director of the School, Professor Salomi Louw, says the e-zine is welcome because one of the objectives of the university is to encourage students to become computer literate. ‘An e-portal which informs them and to which they can react will help our students learn to make critical decisions academically.’ The e-zine will provide coverage of events not only in the English language, but also in the l i n g u a f r a n c a at UNIN: Northern Sotho, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Regular e-mails will be sent to staff and interested persons who wish to subscribe to the mailing list, informing them of new updates on the e-zine’s website. Should you wish to become a free subscriber, please send a blank email to nagelp@unorth.ac.za with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line. A searchable archive will also be available for reference purposes. L

t The website is http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm http://www.unorth.ac.za/FacultySchools/sch-lang/index.htm

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