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Why the notion of a Fourth Industrial Revolution is so problematic by Tim Small (Tim Unwin's Blog), 9 March 2019

25 March 2019

Watching a video last Wednesday at UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week produced by Huawaei on the Fourth Industrial Revolution reminded me of everything that is problematic and wrong with the notion: it was heroic, it was glitzy, women were almost invisible, and above all it implied that technology was, and still is, fundamentally changing the world.  It annoyed and frustrated me because it was so flawed, and it made me think back to when Klaus Schwab first gave me a copy of his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution in 2016.  I read it, appreciated its superficially beguiling style, foun

People must take back the municipalities by Fani Ncapayi and Lungisile Ntsebeza (Mail and Guardian) 8 March 2019

12 March 2019

Addressing MPs on May 15 last year, the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Zweli Mkhize, lamented the state of the municipalities, describing 87 out of 283 of them as dysfunctional. In his words, there are a growing number of “municipalities which are becoming distressed or dysfunctional, including those that are regressing in audit outcomes”.

He identified “mismanagement and political instability or interference, corruption and incompetence” as contributory factors.

The Challenge of Preserving the Historical Record of #MeToo by Nora Caplan-Bricker (The New Yorker) March 11, 2019

12 March 2019

Around the height of the #MeToo revelations, in the fall of 2017, I interviewed an archivist at a prominent research library for a piece about social-media preservation. It quickly became apparent that he knew less about the subject than I did; he saved Facebook posts by painstakingly copying and pasting them into Word, comment by comment, and manually pressing print. The longer we spoke, the more visibly annoyed he grew by my questions, to which he offered no answers. He leaned farther and farther back in his chair and gazed over my left shoulder.

H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic by Apoorva Mandavilli (New York Times), March 4, 2019

6 March 2019

For just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.

Protesters killed in vain as taps still run dry, by Selloane Khalane (New Frame), 26 February 2019

27 February 2019

he televised police shooting of community activist Andries Tatane on 13 April 2011 shut down the small cherry-farming community of Ficksburg in the Free State.

Tatane was 33 years old when police opened fire on unarmed residents during a protest in Meqheleng township. Strewn with debris and potholes, the township lies on the outskirts of the small town, which borders Lesotho.

Kitlano Leeuw, 16, was also shot and killed during a protest in Taung, North West, in April last year. But residents say the killings of Tatane and Leeuw were in vain.

Africa’s student movements: history sheds light on modern activism by Dan Hodgkinson and Luke Melchiorre (, February 18, 2019

20 February 2019

On 9 March 2015, a student hurled faeces at a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes. This act led to the statue’s removal. It also inspired the most significant period of student protest in post-apartheid South Africa’s history.

South Africa falls off the map by Mike Schussler (, 3 May 2018

9 May 2018

South Africa has dropped off the investment radar of firms and business people. It is a dark reality that a few investment lions are not going to fix.

About seven years ago I was phoned by agents who arrange for their clients to talk to researchers in a country they are interested in investing. The money was good, and as I knew the South African economy quite well, the conference calls became quite an income for my business.

Rural migrants better off in cities by Justin Visagie and Ivan Turok (Mail and Guardian), 26 Apr 2018

9 May 2018

Moving to a city in search of work seems to pay off for many poor rural South Africans.

Data that track changes over time indicate that as many as 385 000 people were lifted from poverty between 2008 and 2014 after moving from rural to urban areas — their poverty levels were halved, together with a fall in unemployment. So government ambivalence about urbanisation should be replaced by a more positive and proactive approach.

An analysis of the tax proposals in the 2018/19 National Budget by Imraan Valodia and David Francis (Daily Maverick), 27 February 2018, South Africa

28 February 2018

The budget is about more than just income and expenditure. It should provide a vision for the economy, which deals with the current challenges but also offers an insight into the type of society we want to build. The key message in the 2018-19 budget is that South Africa’s public finances are in very bad shape, and we have to find more revenue. The budget proposes that we all need to tighten our belts and make sacrifices to get out of trouble and to get the economy on a sustainable growth path. It asks all citizens to pay more, and all income groups to share in the burden.