Life remains intolerably hard for most South Africans

Wednesday was Budget day in South Africa, an annual event for the state. But for most citizens, budget day is every day or, if they a slightly luckier, a weekly or monthly calculation to try to remain at least afloat economically. So what happened last week, along with the plaudits and the protests reflected in the media, will not cause any excitement for more than half the population.

Mar 3, 2015
Terry Bell
Mlondolozi Madlingozi rebuilding his shack. Photo by Masixole Feni.City does not care if it is wrong as long as no one else knows it

When the Madlingozi family in Mfuleni extended their shack without authorisation, the City of Cape Town removed the extensions, amidst a dispute over the facts. Jared Sacks argues that the City presented its position without checking the facts.

Mar 2, 2015
Jared Sacks
Premier Ace Magashule. Photo taken from Free State government website.Response by Free State government to whistleblowers

On Friday 27 February GroundUp published a whistleblowers' account of the state of the Free State health system. Before publishing GroundUp sent a list of questions to the Free State Department of Health and the office of Premier Ace Magashule. Here is a response written by Mondli Mvambi of the health department and Makalo Mohale of the premier's office.

Feb 28, 2015
Mondli Mvambi and Makalo Mohale , for the Free State government
Houses of Parliament (Cape Town) by I, PhilippN. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.orgHelp us help you, Minister Nene

For 21 years, the Minister of Finance has tabled budgets announcing that large amounts of money will go to social services that are meant to improve the lives of the poor. But, even the staunchest government supporter would agree that the country has not derived full benefit from this money. Year after year the Auditor General, Public Protector and others report on inefficiency, poor accounting and corruption in all categories of public spending.

Feb 27, 2015
Albert van Zyl
Equal Education members Richard Ubisi (left) and Niek Marutha (right) stand united with Benny Wenda of the Free West Papua Campaign. Photo by Joshua Maserow.West Papua's "Cry for help, Cry for Freedom"

On 17 February Equal Education hosted a talk by Benny Wenda of the Free West Papua Campaign at the Wits School of Education. He is in South Africa to spread awareness about the West Papuan fight against Indonesian colonialism and gross human rights abuses of the West Papuan people. He said he was also here to "learn how [South African] leaders fought against apartheid, for justice and against [racial] discrimination."

Feb 25, 2015
Joshua Maserow
Terry Bell.A R12,500 spectre, cool heads and wage talks

Although there is speculation that the spectre of the R12,500 a month minimum wage demand is stalking the gold mines, no mandates have yet been received by the unions involved. This pay demand came to prominence at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in August 2012. It has now developed something of an iconic status among mine workers.

Feb 23, 2015
Terry Bell
Rebuilding at the shack in question. Photo by Masixole Feni. City of Cape Town: Unauthorised extensions to homes hamper housing delivery

The City of Cape Town has policies in place, not to make it more difficult for our residents to live dignified lives, but to ensure that land use and housing delivery is equitable. The undeniable fact is, there is limited land available. And there are many people coming into our city for a better life. So, we have to be as fair as we can.

Feb 20, 2015
Priya Reddy
Sikhula Sonke Citrusdal farm worker leaders Mutwe Fransman, John Adam and Sarie Louw. Picture by Henriette Abrahams.Farm workers still fighting for dignity and their rights in the Western Cape

All kinds of nice things are being said and promises are once again being made by all the political parties around the State of the Nation speech and debate in parliament, writes Henriette Abrahams. But the reality on the ground for farm workers is very different.

Feb 20, 2015
Henriette Abrahams
Zonnebloem Boys Primary School. Image from school website.School governing bodies have vital role to play

Zonnebloem Boys is a primary school in District 6 in Cape Town. In March, along with all South African public schools, it will hold elections to decide who will represent its parents, teachers and learners on the School Governing Body (SGB). Much is at stake in these elections: SGBs have the potential to ensure that quality education is distributed more equally across our population.

Feb 20, 2015
Frances Eberhard
A defaced Metrorail carriage. This graffiti is relatively talented compared to what you usually find on train carriages. Photo by Nathan Geffen.Commuters must organise to improve Metrorail

The Metrorail website claims that it carries up to two million passengers per day countrywide. Finding a reliable estimate of how many people commute daily using trains in the Western Cape is challenging. Estimates range from 300,000 to over 700,000. Whatever the number, a lot of people, mostly working class, depend on trains to get to and from work.

Feb 19, 2015
Nathan Geffen