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This week in 1994: Democracy 25
23 October 2019, 6:07 PM


This week we mark the start of government’s new large-scale electrification programme.

The project was in line with the ANC government’s Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which sought to ensure equal access to basic services for all South Africans.

On 26 October 1994, Eskom announced plans to spend R250 million to electrify 2500 schools and clinics in the country.

2.5 million houses were also to be connected to the grid over a five-year period.

The drive was a result of talks that had been held in 1992 at the National Electrification Conference, where a forum was established to shape an electrification plan for a new South Africa.

The ANC was involved in the negotiations as they ran concurrently with the political transition talks.

According to the GNESD Energy Access Knowledge Base website, stakeholders sought a plan that would be politically and practically sound and implementable.

The electrification conference also led the establishment of the National Electricity Regulator.

More than 5.2 million homes were connected to the grid between 1994 and 2010.

Twelve thousand schools were also electrified.

Preparations for the electrification programme were done in the late 80s and it was a second phase of South Africa’s electrification drive, which had mostly been in rural White farm households.

In the 80s, less than a third of the South African population had access to electricity.


At first, the power utility largely financed the programme.

The Treasury began funding the capital cost in 2000, using a national electrification fund.

Municipalities are the major distributors of electricity although Eskom does the same in some areas.

To date, Eskom, municipalities and non-grid service providers have connected at least 88% of South African households.

However, high electricity costs and power reliability remain a concern in some quarters.

While about 2.6% of South Africans benefit from government’s Free Basic Electricity, some say the high cost of living and rapid rise in electricity prices is turning electricity into a luxury for families who are already battling to pay municipal rates.

It’s also left finances of several major cities in the red.

Customers are now either reducing the use of electricity through energy efficiency mechanisms or theft. Others are switching to alternative sources.



Transformation in Corporate SA under scrutiny
22 October 2019, 7:20 PM


The face of Corporate South Africa has changed from what it used to be.

In the past, corporate culture was structured on the basis of race and all the jobs with perks were reserved for white people.

Today, government’s Employment Equity and Skills Development Acts seek to redress these discriminatory past injustices.

However, companies are dragging their feet in complying with the legislation.

While there are reasonable improvements in lower management structures, the middle to upper occupational levels still under-represent the Black majority.

White South Africans, particularly males, are still over-represented in top management.

Whites occupy 65.5% of top management positions, Blacks 15.1%, Indians 9.7% and the Coloured people 5.3%.

There are also claims that the stereotype of Black people being less capable still persists.

Black people are largely still receiving less favourable treatment than white counterparts who are viewed as the epitome of professionalism and excellence.

Our producer Lindiwe Mabena spoke to a labour rights activist who has first-hand experience of what she terms, structural racism.

Watch report below:

We also asked the views of JSE Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs Zanele Morrison and other South Africans on whether Corporate SA has transformed.

Anti-apartheid activist and psychologist Professor Saths Cooper believes more needs to be done to ensure truly diverse and inclusive work spaces.

Professor Cooper is urging South Africans to work together and build a better country for all.

Nelson Mandela
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
16 October 2019, 4:37 PM


This week we focus on the fallout over the integration process of former freedom fighters into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that had been troubling the new democratically elected government since the project’s inception.

Former uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) were upset about alleged exclusion of some of their members and the pace of the integration process.

They were also concerned over the dominance of the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the new force.

The former freedom fighters also felt like their military background was being undermined as the SADF was used as basis for integration and former members had higher ranks than most of them.

Listen to some concerns raised by the soldiers:

Tension and discontent marked the incorporation process since the project began in early 1994.

As tensions boiled over, some combatants marched to the Union Buildings from their temporary transit post in Wallmansthal in September.

While some returned to the base after Mandela’s intervention – others didn’t.

A fraction of unhappy combatants took leave without permission, prompting the newly elected President to step in again.

Mandela met with the former guerrillas on 20 October 1994, following talks with military bosses a week earlier.

He urged them to adhere to military discipline or face the consequences of their actions.

Watch Mandela speaking to the media following a meeting on this matter:

Several other protests, including a violent demonstration in Durban at the beginning of 1995, followed this.

Although things later improved, complaints over security of tenure, promotions and salaries continued to dog the process.

A deal, which saw a number of high profile appointments for MK cadres, was eventually struck.

Training of non-statutory force members was also promised.

At the end of the integration process, at least 16% of former MK soldiers reportedly remained in the army while at least 7% of Apla cadres were absorbed.

Researchers attribute the low numbers to various reasons, including some MK members not reporting for attestation with the new defence force and difficulties in tracing some of those listed on the Certified Personnel Register (CPR).

The demobilisation of former guerrilla combatants is also another factor.

Some former non-statutory army members resigned from the army, while others were let go due to age and/or health reasons.

According to a 2002 study by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the majority of those who resigned were from the self-defence unit, which had less trained and disciplined members as opposed to MK cadres who have been trained in exile.

Army bosses have hailed the merging into one of former warring forces as one of the biggest armed force success stories in recent times.

However, military commentators believe government failed to integrate the seven armies, saying liberation forces were merely absorbed into the South African Defence Force (SADF).




Birth2Twenty study stats
Shining spotlight on school violence
15 October 2019, 5:45 PM

Schools were some of the key arenas at which the fight against apartheid took place.

Fast forward to modern-day South Africa, the culture of violence in our schools still lingers.

But this time – it’s not directed on any system but children are killing each other.

Educators sometimes also find themselves victims to learners’ rage.

The latest crime statistics show that the number of child killers has risen from 47 to 736 over the past four years.

A 2012 study by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention indicates that at least 22.2% of high school learners had experienced some type of violence in school between August 2011 and August 2012.

Researchers are largely attributing this behaviour to the violence children are exposed to, either at home or the environment they grow up in.

Our producer Lindiwe Mabena visited a school that was recently rocked by allegations of sexual violence in Ekurhuleni.

Listen to report below:

Nelson Mandela at Capitol Hill
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
9 October 2019, 1:57 PM


This week 25 years ago – late statesman Nelson Mandela became the first foreign leader to address a joint session of the US Congress twice.

Mandela thanked the US lawmakers for the country’s role in ensuring the dismantling of apartheid.

Despite long and intimate historic ties between South Africa and the United States, Washington is credited with effectively facilitating the end of the legislated racial oppression.

This was done through the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which ordered sanctions against Pretoria.

It was passed by the US Congress and sought to push the apartheid state into the negotiation table with anti-apartheid activists.

During his address, Madiba expressed the hopes and fears of his young government.

“We came also to share with you our dreams of genuine independence, democracy and the emancipation of all our people, you whose forebears had, at earlier times, dreamt of independence, of democracy and of the emancipation of all the people of these United States.”

On challenges that lie ahead as South Africa embarks on the road of democracy he said: “The question that arises is whether we shall embark on that road walking alone or whether you will be with us, having decided thus, in the process of the exercise of your own sovereign will.”

Mandela also called for the eradication of poverty and conflict across the world.

Watch related video below:

The US Congress was left in awe by Mandela’s sense of purpose, lack of bitterness and hope for not just a fair, peaceful and just South Africa but a better world for all.

Reflecting on his legacy soon after his passing, Former House Speaker John Boehner referred to him as a champion of peace and racial harmony.

“His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president,” he said in a statement.

Mandela’s address of the joint the US sitting on 6 October 1994 was a second one.

His first was on June 26, 1990, two months after his release from prison.

He is, however, the only SA president and the third private citizen in US history to have addressed the US Congress.

Mandela is also the first foreign leader to have addressed the Congress twice.

He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1998, which is the highest civilian honour bestowed by the United States Congress.




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