Written by: Benito Vergotine 

Australia are the ICC Women’s World  Cup champions. They are now the seven time World Champions and have had a clean sweep at this year’s finals. Terrific achievement.

Their celebrated and expected victory has been widely acknowledged and savoured by fans and the home side. Australia are now the holders of both World Cups and The Ashes. It was a fitting end to what has been a terrific tournament. Despite the challenges , Covid and travel – the organisers ensured that all teams and staff were well accommodated and tendered too during their stay in New Zealand.

The final itself was a Alyssa Healey affair with the Aussie smashing the record books with an unbeaten 170, the highest ever score in a final.
England captain Heather Knight rued her decision to field first. Healy’s record partnership with Rachael Haynes set the teams apart, and the chances England gave the two batters did not help their cause. A cardinal sin at this level.

England will now regroup with lots of preparation for their upcoming fixtures which include a test, ODI and T20 series  against South Africa starting in June.
During the tournament I spoke to Dr Swart Aries  from Qatar University about the team and how women’s cricket continues to grow and develop. Kamilla did reflect on South Africa’s performance on the cricket world stage which brought up awful memories of our capitulation at key points in respective tournaments. It resulted in SA cricket unfairly being weighed under the yoke of chokers!

Critics have given the women’s team that tag following their semi final exit at the hands of England. I do feel that it is not justified. Are we now indiscriminately labelling any loss as a result of ‘choking‘? Are we that intolerant of failure?

The semi finals followed a similar pattern with both fixtures being one sided affairs. Are we then suggesting that the Windies  are also chokers following their trouncing by Australia?

I am proud of the team’s achievement. Laura Wolvaardt, Marizanne Kaap, Shabnim Ismail , Ayabonga Khaka all highlighted the growth of this unit. The team had a credible tournament and have positives to build upon as they prepare for their tour of England in a few months.

Their semi final loss was tough as a fan but we also have to credit the opposition for the pressure they put South Africa’s under. Does this mean they choked?
Sometimes the opposition is simply too good!

Written by: Benito Vergotine 

When is South Africa going to grow up? When are we going to take our democracy forward and stop using it as a scapegoat for the woes facing our country?  Will this achieve anything? On Human Rights Day KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala suggested we do away with our Constitution; implying that our Constitution is a weak and feeble ‘being’ and in some way is to blame for the poor state of our democracy. I am surprised that there wasn’t more of a push back around his statements, especially as he uttered those missives on Human Rights Day. The Premier is suggesting that Parliament should be the overriding body of our democracy and policy.  A body that has yet to step up and deliver the oversight it is mandated to do. On paper the design is for all to see; whether its implementation is effective is doubtful given what we tolerate in South Africa.

Read more: Battle of the Streaming Services

The Premier’s comments are another sign for me that the ANC is under the cosh and are bereft of ideas and a vision to take this country into the 21st Century. What we are witnessing is a fight for political survival using society’s fragility as a lever for populist utterances and behaviour. It is a dangerous game as Operation Dudula has shown. Social justice activist at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Irfaan Mangera joined us on THT recently to share insight on where and how to strengthen our democracy.

In light of Zikalala’s comments it is encouraging that Irfaan says the future of our democracy lies with our youth. It lies with the youth recognizing and using their agency to improve accountability at a local level.

Two of the key parts which Irfaan highlights to me in our chat is that active citizenry and using that to demand accountability of local government, is  a way forward to build trust. Moreover this agency has the potential to strengthen community organisations. Local government is key and it is where we citizens see our democracy in action; but if local government is ineffective and poorly run are we surprised that citizens lose faith in the system? It is easy to blame it on our democratic system. It is far more sustainable to build community organisations that address the politics we want to see in action that serves the people and holds leaders to account! Strengthening our community organisations will develop agency and by developing agency we can shape politics to the benefit of all of society, and ensure that the politicians who we elect serve us, the people of South Africa!

Lets not get distracted by  self serving leaders desperate to avoid accountability

Written by: Benito Vergotine

This does sound very odd does it not? Decode. What on earth does this mean? Well it’s a loose term to indicate what we must do as consumers of media. For me we simply can’t trust what is being reported to us. Too much is at stake and far too many have vested interests in us believing what THEY want us too – whoever THEY are.

Allow me to disclaim and state that this is not a political analysis but rather my perception following a recent conversation I had on THT with Dr Andre Thomashausen from UNISA. As I listen to the news on my morning school run, I find myself becoming concerned that Russia’s continued isolation may further embitter and erode any chance at lasting peace. This is no justification for invading a sovereign state; that is a breach of International Law and Russia must be held to account.

Read more: Going gently into that good night

Time will tell on this one but history is littered with examples of leaders and nations who were made an example of with disastrous consequences. We are in this situation, partly, because The West lauded over the Russians in their post World War II negotiations and reneged on their promises around the role of NATO and it’s expansion.

decoding what the war in russia means

Putin didn’t do himself any favours either by fiddling with the Russian constitution to allow him a longer term in office. The democratic world noticed and was appalled. This according to Dr Andre Thomashausen was a significant turning point in the souring of relations between Russia and America. What happened then in Crimea simply hardened attitudes and the approach from America, in particular. I get the sense that the knives were already out for Putin and a platform was needed to punish him for going against democratic ideals. How dare Putin tamper with a document like the Constitution. It’s sacrilege.

Fast forward to December 2021 when Russia dutifully tried to raise concerns around perceived security threats, which the Western World saw as an opportunity to punish Russia for being undemocratic. Ukraine is merely a useful pawn to drive home the Wests’ distrust of Putin. Tragically we see the consequences of this Machiavellian approach – from both sides – with a looming humanitarian crisis. How long must innocent people continue to suffer poor leadership?

war in russia

Where does this leave us as media consumers? Simply put – in the midst of a PR war. They say the first casualty of war is the truth. How does one remain objective in the face of this onslaught of lies and hypocrisy? All sides are culpable to varying degrees as they try to promote their view as just and right! If we presume that nothing is ever as it seems then we must remain vigilant and not become complacent on consuming what we see and read.

I can’t see an immediate solution to this problem but we can help ourselves by consuming as much as we can. Hopefully this will widen our perspective and somewhere we will be able to find an understanding of context we can appreciate. I agree it’s far from perfect, but life never is. One thing seems clear…this conflict is not black and white and when heroes and villains are intertwined, we must ensure we don’t fall into the trap of becoming political fodder for someone else’s agenda.

Written by: Benito Vergotine 

Prolific actor Patrick Molefe Shai passed away towards the end of last month. Forty eight hours later, former Miss USA, Chesslie Krsyt  completed suicide leaving many shocked and surprised. Zozobini Tunzi shared a heartfelt condolence on Instagram recalling their warm and supportive relationship. These losses are even more pronounced owing to Covid and how grieving during Covid is not straight forward.  The most common of human conditions is not particular to anyone, nor of any one grouping;  regardless of who we are, all of us have been impacted. In fact the statistics suggest very few of us have been spared a loss during the pandemic. Do we have the necessary support and skill to grieve?

Professor Alida Herbst says our losses heightens our anxiety and adds to the psychological build up that is affecting our well being. If one then adds a pandemic to this,  the picture changes. How can we ensure we are mentally healthy?

the impact of grief on mental health

How can we grieve in a time when it is practically impossible to do so; natural interactions (have been) are regulated. We are struggling to grieve during Covid amidst the regulations and the tremendous uncertainty. This can have health implications.

In my recent chat with Professor Herbst , she said that by not grieving during Covid we risk a range of health conditions, namely, “prolonged grief disorder, complicated grief, disenfranchised grief and takosubo cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome. ”

The pandemic has made it very difficult to find closure for a range of reasons. Generally the regulations have thwarted many of our attempts to provide comfort solace to our loved ones. There are ways that we can increase awareness around our losses. The professor says for example we can have a National Day of Remembrance; fly our national flags at half mast; facilitate discussions on loss and health, and  have more stories of loss and grieve in our media. This is a tremendous chance. We owe it to ourselves to recognize how we feel…neglecting our feelings comes at a cost  we may not be able too meet.

I like how a practical step can have tremendous benefit for you and I.

Covid has brought home our vulnerability but it has also shown us that our strength lies in our humanity.  Grieving underscores our need for connection, comfort and community. Let’s be bold and build on that in our post Covid world.