Eight Books to help you understand what’s up with Palestine and Israel

This article was originally published on The Daily Vox.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has quite generated an incredible amount of literature and if you’re new to the history, it can be difficult to figure out where on earth to start reading. STUART LEWIS has put together a list of eight books that can help you understand what exactly is going on in the Holy Land.

1. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Mark Tessler (1994)
Mark Tessler’s extensive history is predicated on the idea that the contest over land between Palestinian Arabs and Zionist Jews has always been the source of the conflict. So thorough as to be rather dry in some places, this book is a relatively balanced and fair-minded account of many of the factors that brought us to the modern conflict and is a great starting point for uninformed readers.

2. The Question of Palestine – Edward Said (1992)
Edward Said is considered to be one of the founders of post-colonialism, and for good reason. Though now quite a bit out of date, his book tackles the emergence of the modern Palestinian state and how it came into conflict with Israel and Zionism. A simple and clear account, this book is often prescribed reading for university courses dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Read the full article here.


The price of sanitary pads is a tax on womanhood

This article was originally published on The Daily Vox.

If you happen to own a uterus or have ever been shopping for someone who does, then you’ve no doubt noticed how ridiculously expensive pads and tampons actually are. These are crucial products that many people depend on at least once a month but, thanks to what is known as the tampon tax, are priced through the roof.

In South Africa, it is estimated  that around 7 million girls miss school each month because of menstruation.

Writing  in 2011, Jen Thorpe calculated to cost of menstuation in South Africa like this: “In her lifetime, the average woman uses 11 000 tampons, or 22 sanitary products (pads or tampons per period). In South Africa with the average tampon costing about R1.50 each (yes, that means R33 a period, or R16 500 in her lifetime) and a pack of 10 sanitary pads costing R18 (which translates to about R36 a period, or R19 800 in her lifetime). This means that having a period is an expense that many cannot afford. Most South Africans still live below the poverty line, which means that they must use alternative means of stemming the flow. These include using towelling or material which is rewashed. However, in some cases this too is unaffordable.”

Read the full article here.

Why Cell C is fighting for unregulated over-the-top services

This article was originally published on The Daily Vox.

Before last week’s parliamentary portfolio committee meetings on over-the-top (OTT) services regulation, Cell C released a statement by its CEO Jose dos Santos that said that “Vodacom and MTN have declared war on consumer interests” in a bid to maintain “their stranglehold on a vital artery feeding [South Africa]’s economic and social future”. But why is Cell C alone among the major networks on the side of unregulated OTTs? STUART LEWIS tries to figure it out.

Founded in 2001, seven years after its two biggest competitors, Cell C is still largely a new kid on the block. However, in its stand against the regulation of OTT services like Whatsapp, it has drawn a line in the sand, with Vodacom and MTN on one side and itself, OTTs and the South African consumer on the other. To understand why it makes perfect sense for Cell C to do this, you have to understand the industry that it is operating in.

The South African mobile market is divided into two kinds of operators: those that own infrastructure, and those that piggyback off of infrastructure built and owned by other companies. The four largest players in the country are, in order, Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom – all of whom built and maintain their own real world network of cellphone towers and other connections.

Read the full article here.

South Africa isn’t alone in feeling the wrath of El Niño

This article was originally published on The Daily Vox.

South Africa is in the middle of its worst drought since 1982, millions of households are facing water shortages and the cost of basic food staples like maize meal has shot through the roof. Extreme weather phenomenon El Niño has returned with a vengeance and we aren’t the only country feeling its effects. STUART LEWIS rounds up five other places dealing with the effects of El Niño.

El Niño is an extreme weather phenomenon that occurs regularly every couple of years.

Some of the worst El Niños on record have also coincided with the with drought in South Africa in 1982 and the previous hottest year on record in 1998. But this year’s one is the worst on record and has crippled South Africa with the worst drought since 1982.

Read the full article here.

“How long must I suffer to get a house?”

Originally produced for The Daily Vox.

Vusumzi Michael Mdyogolo (55) is a lifelong Grahamstown resident and struggle veteran. He has been trying to get a government house for the last decade. Now, thanks to the social workers at his local municipal clinic, he is closer than ever, he explains to STUART THEMBISILE LEWIS.

Are you a journalist? Good. I want you to tell my story.

I’ve just come from the clinic now. I was with the social worker there, they’re helping me to get my house. They wrote this letter, here that says my disability is permanent. (more…)