Ted Bloom, Independent Energy Expert, joined Benito Vergotine on The Honest Truth, to unpack and explain the recent spite in load shedding.

If you want to know The Honest Truth, listen to the conversation here: The Honest Truth about load shedding

Dr Thobile Sifunda joined Benito Vergotine on The Honest Truth, to tell us more about her book ”  I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African”.

Listen to the conversation here: I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African

 

A SECOND LOOK AT AFRICA’S HISTORY AND A SECOND CHANCE FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S FUTURE

In her first book, KwaZulu-based psychologist Dr Thobile Sifunda will not only have you redefining your identity as a South African, but give you a textbook-style manual of effecting change from the inside out. Titled I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African, this is a must-read for everyone who calls South Africa home. 

In the current political climate, we can go from a politically-charged discussion about the state capture to an emotionally-uplifting heart-to-heart about #ImStaying in a matter of minutes. Such is the dichotomy of our complex nation.

In this unconventional book, Dr Sifunda’s style merges academic honesty with human truths, and her experience in the field of psychology, especially within the areas of identity and education, is abundantly clear. Between these pages, ground-breaking theories and ideologies intersperse her own life story to look at age-old topics through a fresh lens. As she takes the reader along her own journey of introspection and self-discovery by means of an intimately straightforward discussion, Dr Sifunda demonstrates a deep respect for her readers. At the same time, there are moments within this discussion where she holds a mirror to her readers, to you. 

The result has the potential to shift paradigms and perceptions and to change lives. With these hard-to-swallow pills in mind, Anthony Miyeni, South African Ambassador to Mali, rightly describes the book as ‘not for your comfort, but for your enrichment’. 

He explains, “The book releases latent energy that illuminates the present with bright light that shines on the vision of the future within our grasp.”

Dr Sifunda has a manner of addressing topics that redefines the very core of the subject, be it in the way she tackles apartheid, Ubuntu, a London Michelin-star restaurant, or traditional African weddings. Applying a method which she calls the ‘onion peel test’, Dr Sifunda asks as many questions as it takes to lead to the actual root of issues, even if it means addressing an elephant in the room. But by the end of the book, you will never think of certain words and terms in the same way again. 

In her open and honest prose, Dr Sifunda says, “These tools assist us to engage openly with our blind spots post-apartheid.” And so with an analytical gaze and a multidisciplinary approach, she does just that.

But as much as Dr Sifunda tells her story in this book, she constantly reminds you that it is not only her story she is telling, it is your story, too. There are numerous psychological theories surrounding identity, be it from the well-known Freud, Piaget or Skinner. As seamlessly as she juxtaposes these with African identity theory, Dr Sifunda also compares what she learnt while studying at university with what she learnt from what she calls the ‘University of Life’. In the same vein, her use of quotes and references for further reading only enhances her transcribed life experiences as a psychologist who has worked in the education, social cohesion and nation-building space for years. 

In Chapter 1, after considering reasons for her reader to either carry on reading or stop right there, Dr Sifunda says, “My appeal is that you take your thoughts further and think: is this you who is thinking the way you are thinking now or is it how you were socialised to think?”

Dr Sifunda’s literary debut balances every problem with a solution; moments of guilt with reasons to be proud; psychological metaphors with local colloquialisms – and overall, logic and fact with emotion and hope.

I refuse to be called black – Unapologetically African is out now!

Ms Tara Garady the National Psychosocial Coordinator of TB/HIV Care , joined Benito Vergotine on The Honest Truth to tell us more about the Step up Project.

Listen to the conversation here: Harm reduction’ approach to drug use supports

The Western Cape MEC for Health, Prof Nomafrench Mbombo, opened a drop-in centre for
people who inject drugs in central Cape Town on Wednesday, the 4th
December 2019. The centre, run by NGO TB HIV Care’s Step Up Project, is part of a recent approach to people who use drugs that seeks to reduce the harms associated with disordered substance use instead of demanding
abstinence. The Step Up Project has already provided support to over 900 people in the greater
Cape Metro.
People who inject drugs are at particular risk for blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis
B and C, as well as facing the dangers that come with social marginalisation as a result of the
criminalisation of drug use. The Step Up Project aims to reduce these risks by providing a
package of wellness services which includes sterile injecting equipment, opioid substitution
therapy, HIV testing and screening, and psychosocial services.
The drop-in centre itself is not new. A similar space has been operating in Woodstock for the past
two years. However the new location in central Cape Town brings the services closer to the
people accessing them, many of whom are living on the streets of Cape Town’s inner city.
The teams have had more than 10 000 contacts with service beneficiaries, which range from
providing health education to testing people for HIV and starting them on antiretroviral treatment.
Nearly 9000 ‘harm reduction packs’, which contain sterile injecting equipment, have been
distributed.
‘That may seem like a lot of needles in the environment, but we need to think of each of them as a
potential infection averted.’ Said Prof Harry Hausler, CEO of TB HIV Care, at the launch ‘Our
clients are also provided with portable ‘sharps’ containers to store their used needles safely until
they can return them to us and we undertake regular outreaches to pick up used needles that
have been discarded inappropriately.”
Speaking about the importance of reaching vulnerable populations, which will enable South Africa
to reach goal three of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs 2017-2022 ‘leave no one
behind’ as well as echoing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda which
“endeavour(s) to reach the furthest behind first.”, MEC Mbombo mentioned the strides the
Western Cape has made in reaching marginalised groups such as people who inject drugs, as
well as sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgendered people and inmates in
correctional centres
Naomi Burke-Shyne, Executive Director of Harm Reduction International NGO dedicated to
reducing the negative impacts of drug use and drug policy, commented on how encouraged the
international community is by developments in subSaharan Africa, “To see government
represented in the room today, supporting this initiative, is inspiring.”

 

 

 

How healthy soil can mitigate Climate Change.

Karen Shippey, Chief Director for Sustainability at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, joined Benito Vergotine on The Honest Truth:

Listen to the conversation here: 5 December is World Soil Day

Land degradation such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities, mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmental friendly practices are all human activities that affect our soil.

World Soil Day is held annually on 5th December, to raise awareness of the importance of soil quality for human well-being, food security and ecosystems. Soil carbon that is released into the atmosphere, through land degradation, is a big contributor to climate change.

Karen Shippey, Chief Director for Sustainability at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) says: “Soil is essentially a non-renewable resource as it takes years, decades, even centuries, to grow a centimetre of healthy topsoil.”

Soil is the second largest carbon store, or ‘sink’, after the oceans. Carbon sinks absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere helping reduce the greenhouse effect. Shippey adds that often people don’t see the link between climate change and soil but in actual fact when plants photosynthesise, they draw carbon out of the atmosphere and it gets distributed through the roots of a plant, the surplus of which is deposited in the soil.

“If undisturbed, this carbon can become stable, and remain locked away for thousands of years. Healthy soils can thus mitigate climate change. But they also help us adapt and be able to withstand climate change impacts. Soil provides both a solution to the cause, and an answer to the impending problems associated with climate change.”

Healthy top soils provide a sponge-like effect that can absorb rainfall, reduce the risks of floods, retain water and increase storage of groundwater.

“These are all vital functions required in a warming world where more severe floods and droughts are expected in the Western Cape,” says Shippey.

In South Africa there is limited fertile land and the majority of crop farmers need to increase the fertility of their soils to achieve good crop yields and those in fertile soil areas also need to maintain the fertility of their soils, as frequent cropping depletes the soil of nutrients. A dependence and overuse of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides reduces long-term soil fertility, causes soil erosion, pollutes water supplies, poisons fragile ecosystems, exposes farmers and farm workers to toxins, and contributes to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.

Annually, we’re still losing an estimated 500 million tons of sediment, composed of mainly soil and topsoil. Much of this is occurring in the little arable land that we have. Over 60% of the national terrestrial carbon stock is located in grassland and savanna ecosystems in the northern parts of South Africa. Within these two ecosystems, more than 90% of the total carbon pool is located below ground mainly in the form of soil organic carbon.

“The Western Cape has lower carbon stocks in the soils of the Fynbos and Karoo ecosystems, but these are still equally important not only for soil carbon stocks but for maintaining soil functionality that will continue to support both crops, grazing lands and natural ecosystems that provide us with food, water, and climate buffering functionality through spongy soils that protect us from droughts and floods,” says Shippey.

As provincial government, the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy, The SmartAgri Plan and the Western Cape Provincial Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan collectively aim to tackle this challenge through multiple programmes and interventions.

Shippey adds that ending land degradation and restoring degraded land would get humanity one third of the way to keeping global warming below 2°C (or 1.5.C), the target climate scientists say we need to avoid the most devastating impacts to human civilisation.

Yusuf Abramjee, Founder of Tax Justice South Africa, joined Benito Vergotine in conversation on The Honest Truth.

Listen to the conversation here: Fight for tax justice

A TAX revolt is not the answer to the corruption and criminality that is crippling South Africa’s economy, anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said on Wednesday.

Instead, he urged, we should all be joining the fight against the criminal tax evaders who are looting the nation of R100 million every day.

Abramjee, founder of Tax Justice South Africa, was responding to warnings that increasing numbers of SA citizens are threatening to withhold tax in protest against government corruption and mismanagement.

“We have to pressurise government, we have to pressurise civil society, to really make sure that the government gets the billions of rands lost annually,” Abramjee said in an interview on Salaamedia online radio.

“On average, R100 million is lost every day through illicit trade – in the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, the textile industry, the tobacco industry.

“That is the money that should be invested right back in the community in providing much-needed basic services.

“People are sick and tired of the lack of basic service delivery, and yet it’s the criminals smiling all the way to the bank. We say follow the money and lock them up.

“Money is getting stolen from the economy. We must fight that scourge. Going down the route of a tax revolt is not the solution.”

-ENDS-

Notes to editor:
The establishment of Tax Justice South Africa is a rallying cry to the people and to Government to take action against organised criminal gangs that are plundering South Africa.

Founded by Yusuf Abramjee, Tax Justice South Africa is campaigning for a lawful and prosperous South Africa and for urgent action against criminals who steal billions in legally due taxes every year.

Every day approximately R100 million is looted from South Africa by criminal tax evaders, undermining the Government and the rule of law, and robbing its people of a brighter future.

Tax Justice South Africa will work to raise awareness of this national menace and show how these stolen funds could be used to build a better nation.

The campaign is supported by Makali Lepholisa, former Commissioner for Customs in  Lesotho, and Andy Mashaile, Interpol Turn Back Crime Ambassador, who join Yusuf as the Directors of Tax Justice South Africa.

#LockThemUp