The Khanya College study group programme kicked off on 18 March 2023, for the first time in 2023. The programme was attended by a variety of organisations, including the African Reclaimers Organisations, the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum, and the North West Community Health Care Forum. There were a mixture of adults and young people. The youth made up most of the attendees.
Just as with other Khanya events, the session opened with a discussion of the sexual harassment policy at Khanya College. Following that, there was a distribution of readings to put in files which were provided.
All the participants in the study group programme read chapter 1 of ‘Apartheid Health’ by Cedric de Beer. Following this exercise, the group discussed the chapter. Before the reading, participant Nobulawu Sitshaluza said that she always assumed that a person infected with tuberculosis (TB) was someone also infected with HIV.
From the floor, Julia Kgosi, a Community Healthcare Worker (CHW) from the North West province explained in detail the differences between pulmonary TB and the Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) variant of TB. Many participants were not aware of different TB strains.
Nomalizo Sizane, also a CHW from North West, added about the MDR variant and said, “[the] patient must be treated at a hospital for six months, not being with other people”. Sizane emphasised that this strain of TB needs to be treated correctly and that lots of discipline is needed to overcome it.
There was also a debate on why Lesotho apparently has little TB while it shares the characteristics of the other rural areas of South Africa like the Eastern Cape (then Transkei and Ciskei). These regions in the Eastern Cape (EC) are portrayed in ‘Apartheid Health and Health Services’ reading as a conducive setting for the spread of the disease, given the economic and socio-political conditions at the time.
One participant argued that Lesotho is just like the Eastern Cape (EC) but did not have widespread TB, even though it still has a few healthcare centres. Some participants argued that the small country of Lesotho was not subjected to apartheid like the EC. But in fact, Lesotho has the highest rate of TB prevalence in the world according to Africa-Press, which quoted the Health Ministry in the country.
Another big talking point was on the looming #NationalShutdown led by the Economic Freedom Fighters. The participants were asked to interview a participant they were paired with about the #NationalShutdown. Many participants felt that the strike would not achieve anything, and one participant suspected the EFF heavyweights of looking to exploit the political situation by going on this programme so close to the national elections next year. When asked to discuss with a partner and find out what they thought about the 20 March Shutdown, more than half of the participants did not show interest in the action. A lot of the school-going youth thought that the march would become violent.
Grade 9 learner from Buhlebuzile Secondary School and Habitat61 Creative Hub, Clithicia Mokoena (15) said she would not join the strike because she is too young. “It is not going to be beneficial,” she said.
Another two participants from the same school also spoke to Karibu!. Boithatelo Morake, also in grade 9, said, “Monday [20 March 2023] will affect a lot of people, shops will be closed. I do not support the strike, there will be lots of people hurt. The roads to hospitals will be closed.” She ended her comments by saying she supported some demands made by the protesting organisations, “we really struggle with lights, [it] affects cooking, and there is a danger of being raped.”
“I am not joining;” reported Soqhama Masimini, also from Phola Park. “I am new in Gauteng province. I was told that shopkeepers are in danger”.
Many participants thought that the EFF did not properly mobilise communities because it did not consult a lot of stakeholders in working class communities. The participants were asked to draw up lists of demands they would have made if consulted. The participants were divided into groups according to their work or kind of activities in the organisation.
The CHWs wanted good working conditions, working equipment, uniform and risk allowance as they enter homes that may have dogs. Wages promised by health officials also came up as well as the subject of respect.
Tsohang Batjha school youth called for extra facilities for sports, safety and security in schools and raised issues with uncontrolled litter. Other demands were about the need for stationery, intervention against overcrowded classrooms and substance abuse in schools, and proper behaviour from both learners and educators.
The environmental workers such as reclaimers demanded recognition from the government in the waste management value chain, inclusion and consultation. Reclaimers also need space for storage and are calling for socially owned renewable energy plans. Those in the mining sector said they want regulation for artisanal small-scale miners.
This article was submitted on 23 March 2023. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.