Volunteer for GroundUp

Journalism that makes a difference to people's lives

GroundUp is a community news organisation. We focus on social justice stories in vulnerable communities. We want our stories to make a difference. When we uncovered corruption at the Department of Home Affairs, the department investigated it. When we reported that the streetlights in Khayelitsha were broken, the City fixed them. We don't only want to report the world; we want to change it.

We are looking for local and international university students or graduates who would like to volunteer with us. This is substantial work; we won't make you do the photocopying. We expect you to be independent and willing to go out and find hard hitting important stories that will be published under your byline.

To volunteer for us, please email info@groundup.org.za.

Here is what volunteers have said about GroundUp:

As an intern with GroundUp over the summer, I was given the freedom to explore topics that truly interested me. This is not a typical internship filled with busy work and mindless tasks. At GroundUp, I was treated as a colleague rather than a subordinate. I have built relationships and a written portfolio that I look forward to sharing with everyone back home in the States. I will be earning my Masters of Public Health, so I ended up writing feature pieces on HPV and circumcision. By writing pieces that were relevant to my academic and professional interests, I learned a great deal about the state of public health in South Africa and the inner workings of community journalism. I would definitely encourage students visiting South Africa from abroad to intern with GroundUp.
-- Edirin Okoloko, Yale

Jackal Narratives and Predator Control in the Karoo

Seminar
6 August, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Nicoli Nattrass & Beatrice Conradie
CSSR Seminar,R4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

This paper discusses the historical roots of, and scientific evidence for, rival ‘jackal narratives’ about the problems posed by black-backed jackals for South African sheep farmers and conservation policy more broadly. The jackal has recently decolonised many South African sheep farms as agriculture became less economically and politically important, as land use patterns changed and as government stopped subsidising predator control. The influential ‘environmental jackal narrative’ shaping conservation policy, that lethal control is undesirable and ineffective, is rooted in the science of predator ecology but the linked recommendation that farmers learn to ‘live with the jackal’ is on less solid ground. The rival ‘farmer jackal narrative’, that jackal populations need to be suppressed on agricultural lands, in fact resonates with conservation theories justifying the culling of jackals in national parks. Contestation over values is important in shaping attitudes, but these competing plausible hypotheses about jackal control suggest that further scientific studies may be helpful in the construction of policies that are acceptable to both sides.

 

" Discourses of “deservingness”: Regulating access to disability grants in South Africa.

Seminar
30 July, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Gabrielle Kelly
CSSR Seminar Room,R4.29,Level 4 Leslie Social Science,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

The disability grant (DG) has featured prominently in debates around social security in South Africa, both inside and outside government, because it has raised major questions about social development and poverty alleviation strategies that extend well beyond concerns about disability.  Debates around how to regulate access to the DG and who “deserves” the grant reveal discursive tensions within government and civil society around concepts of disability and the value of social grants as a developmental intervention. In this seminar I will discuss the recent history of DG regulation and the discourses of "deservingness" that are visible in the debates on how to manage access to the grant. This is based on an analysis of minutes and recordings of parliamentary debates, legislation, policy documents and departmental plans and reports. 

 

Families, Kin and the State in South Africa

Workshop
14 August, 2013 - 09:00 to 18:00
Prof Jeremy Seekings & Dr Elena Moore
CSSR Seminar Room,R4.29 ,level 4 Leslie Social Science Building,Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 

Policies and laws are important in shaping family and personal relationships both in terms of the assumptions they make about normative family life but also in the resources they provide to improve people’s well-being.

The workshop sets out some of the ways in which the law and policy in South Africa affect family lives and relationships. Drawing on new in-depth research on people’s experience of customary marriage and research on care, the workshop will address questions of how to support care and commitments in personal and family relationships.  The workshop hopes to provide a considered and politically relevant perspective on these issues, important for researchers, policy-makers and students alike. 

 

 

Workshop on Social Protection

Researchers and practitioners - including a team from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) - met for a workshop on Social Protection in Africa in the CSSR on 27-28 May. Sessions focused on: new technologies of identification and registration of beneficiaries and the delivery of grants; the local politics of grants in South Africa; and the politics of cash transfers in Africa. Viviene Taylor and Isobel Frye discussed some of their experiences in policy-making in South Africa. The workshop was organised by Kevin Donovan, who has just completed his Masters thesis on the use of biometric technology in South Africa's welfare programmes.

Farmers, farmworkers and conservation in the Karoo

SSU researchers have been busy in the Karoo.  On June 13, a group of workers from Laingsburg spent the day in a workshop run by UCT Honours student Inge Conradie, assisted by PhD student Annabelle Wienand. The workshop focused on their employment histories, The previous week, Beatrice Conradie, Marine Drouilly and Nicoli Nattrass presented ongoing work on the history, economics and biology of predator problems, to a group of Karoo sheep farmers. Both events were held at the Lainsburg Flood Museum. We are grateful for the support and assistance of the farmers, notably Lukas Botes and Piet Gouws in making this research possible. Nicoli and Beatrice's first paper on "jackal narratives" is available as CSSR Working Paper 324.

GroundUp story makes the Cape Times front page

GroundUp was responsible for the lead story on the Cape Times today (21 May), exposing corruption in the Lingelethu West Traffic Station in Khayelitsha. Read the story and the accompanying editorial. GroundUp is a community journalism initiative, run by Nathan Geffen, and based on a collaboration between the CSSR at UCT and the Community Media Trust. We are looking for students interested in helping with the project.
 

Tax(i)ing the poor- transport and labour market outcomes in South Africa.

Seminar
21 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Andrew Kerr
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus.
Abstract / Description: 

This paper explores the effects of the low density of South African cities on commuting times and costs, as well as labour market outcomes. Commute times for workers are much longer than OECD countries- average commute times for black South Africans are 2.5 times longer than EU commutes and twice as long as US commutes. Monetary costs are also relatively high for those that pay to commute, although a substantial fraction of workers walk to work.
Minibus taxis are the dominant mode of transport for commuters in South Africa but they are also more expensive than publicly funded or subsidised buses and trains. The recent bus driver’s strike illustrates that an alternative to government provided buses is good for commuters. However the government’s current policy seems to favour a shift towards publicly funded buses and away from minibus taxis. I discuss the pros and cons of this policy.
 

Food Security and the Urban Food Policy Gap

Seminar
14 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Jane Battersby-Lennard
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The right to food and the challenge of food insecurity are being increasingly articulated in public statements of the ANC, DA, COSATU and other political players. However, while the right to food and food insecurity are gaining increased public political presence, this paper argues that the existing policy responses have significant gaps. The ‘face of food insecurity’ is increasingly urban and the food security and yet current food security policies lack an explicitly urban focus, leaving cities with no mandate to address food insecurity and the wider urban food system. The outcome of this is urban policies and by-laws that ultimately hinder access to food for low-income residents of cities. This paper presents data from the AFSUN Cape Town baseline survey to argue for the development of a specifically urban response to food insecurity.  

 

Deserving and undeserving poor: Assessments of claims made on kin and state in Cape Town, South Africa

Seminar
7 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Professor Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus.
Abstract / Description: 

The distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor is fundamental to the design of most welfare states. Similarly, private individuals typically discriminate in who they do and do not support, for example supporting close kin more than distant kin. This paper examines how young South Africans distinguish between deserving and undeserving claimants on both the state and kin. Data are from survey experiments using vignettes included in the fifth wave of the Cape Area Panel Study (2009). I show that there are clear and generally intuitive hierarchies of desert with respect to both public and private welfare. I examine how these are affected by the characteristics of the respondent, and the efficacy of attempts to persuade respondents to change their minds. Finally, I examine the relationship between the perceived hierarchy of desert with respect to public welfare and the perceived hierarchy with respect to private welfare.

A History of the Surplus People: Resettlement and the Making of the Ciskei, South Africa, c.1960- 1976

Seminar
30 April, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Laura Evans
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science Building,4.29
Abstract / Description: 

The extent of urban segregation, widespread poverty and the proliferation of shack settlements are striking images for any observer of contemporary South Africa. But beyond the country’s city spaces, which share some similarities with others in the global South, the ubiquitous and sprawling rural settlements of dislocated ‘urban’ poverty are perhaps the most sobering and defining features of the post-apartheid landscape. Sada and Ilinge, located at the northern extremity of the former Ciskei Bantustan, in the Eastern Cape, are two such places (fig. 1). Established in the early 1960s, these rural resettlement sites grew rapidly in the following two decades, as the apartheid government restricted new housing development to basic provision in the rural and impoverished Bantustans. Families and communities resident in small towns across the Cape were brutally removed, very often at gunpoint, and transported like cattle to barren, isolated and inhospitable sites where they were greeted by little more than a single tent for a family. Farm tenants were also relocated in this way. The minimal provision of prefabricated housing was blithely advertised to farm dwellers looking to escape farms for alternative accommodation, sold as a promised land of ‘milk and honey’ by officials wishing to expedite their removal from residences on white-owned farms. The rapidity of such resettlements, the mass uprooting of people with already-marginal livelihoods and the poor provision of housing and infrastructure in the new resettlement sites precipitated a major humanitarian crisis. Food rations provided were barely enough to prevent starvation. Widespread infant mortality and the ubiquitous presence of malnutrition and related diseases were reported in shocking press accounts of these areas, which quickly became known in critical discourse as the ‘dumping grounds’ of apartheid.

This presentation will lay out some of the key findings of my study of the experiences engendered by mass resettlement in the northern Ciskei in the period 1960- 1976. Social inequalities of class, gender and generation shaped a diverse range of experiences and the subjective meanings that individuals attached to their resettlement. Housing shortages, deep poverty, unemployment and widespread reliance on the wages of young migrant men were crucial dynamics in the making of power and the hegemonic projects of new Tribal Authorities in the self-governing Ciskei.

 

 

GroundUp thrives

GroundUp - the community media project involving a collaboration between the CSSR, the Community Media Trust and social movements - is thriving. See www.groundup.org.za. In March, two CSSR students edited 'special issues' of GroundUp: Kezia Lilenstein edited a special issue on labour market issues, and Gabby Kelly eidted a special issue on social grants. Kezia's masters dissertation is on the labour market, and Gabby's is on the disability grant. In this week's issue, a third CSSR-based student, Amanda Purtell, reports on her recent trip to deep rural Mozambique, to find and reinterview two sisters who were recently deported to Mozambique by the South African Department of Home Affairs. The sisters came to Cape Town in 2004. Their father was abusive, and in 2007 they were placed in a registered care facility.

The Karoo Predator Project

Seminar
2 April, 2013 - 13:00
Marine Drouilly
CSSR seminar room, Leslie Social Science 4.29
Abstract / Description: 
Marine Drouilly will give a presentation on the "The Karoo Predator Project - Carnivore and biodiversity research on Karoo farmlands". Marine is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences, and is working with Beatrice Conradie, Nicoli Nattrass and other CSSR researchers on the sheep-farming industry in the Karoo, focusing on farmers' attempts to manage jackals and other predators that farmers identify as the primary challenge facing the industry. Marine has been running large numbers of wildlife cameras to monitor the diversity of wildlife in the north-east part of the district of Laingsburg.
 
We hope to have lunch available from about 12h30.

Implications of Social Networks for Voting Behaviour: Survey Evidence from South Africa

Seminar
19 March, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Collette Schulz Herzenberg
Room 4.29 Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

<P>In South Africa’s highly divided society voters live in politically homogenous social environments. As a result, many voters are likely to reside in homogenous political information networks where their partisan identities reflect widely among their personal discussants. This paper argues that political discussion within social networks plays a primary role in shaping political attitudes and vote choice. Moreover, the extent of partisan homogeneity or heterogeneity within interpersonal discussant networks has important, yet distinct implications for voting behaviour. Using the 2004 and 2009 post elections surveys the research examines distributions of politically homogenous versus heterogeneous networks in South Africa and finds that network types are fairly evenly distributed and voters are not overly embedded in either network type. The research also demonstrates the consequences of the different network types on voting behavior by showing that homogenous discussion networks tend to encourage greater participation at the polls but also less defections and far greater consistency in vote choice. The analysis also shows how momentous socio-political events at the time of a particular election can change the nature of social networks, with consequences for electoral outcomes.</P>

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