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Martin Zhuwakinyu

Martin Zhuwakinyu

Martin Zhuwakinyu is Senior Deputy Editor for Engineering News and Mining Weekly.

He studied at Harare Polytechnic, the University of South Africa and Tshwane University of Technology.

Tel: +2711 622 3744

Email: newsdesk@engineeringnews.co.za

Congratulations, Malawi

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     10th July 2020 Jacob Zuma’s acerbic tongue is well known. Malawi was once at its receiving end when the former President, in an attempt to convince Gauteng residents to pay urban e-tolls, blurted: “We can’t think like Africans in Africa, generally. This is Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi.”... 

Unlamented dictator

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     3rd July 2020 Owing to the mediation role that South Africa played in conflict-prone Burundi, thus guaranteeing the Eastern African country a spot on our media agenda for many years, very few news-consuming citizens of Mzansi would need to be told who Pierre Nkurunziza was. The 55-year-old breathed his last in... 

Food security amid Covid-19

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     26th June 2020 It’s well known that Africa faces an imminent dilemma as far as food security is concerned: the majority of its farmers are in the twilight of their careers, aged 60 on average, and their offspring – who see farming as not being chic enough – are not too keen on taking over when they call it... 

Sophia the robot turns four

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     19th June 2020 In one of the earliest instalments of this column, I wrote about Sophia, the social humanoid robot that was granted citizenship – with a passport to boot – by Saudi Arabia in October 2017, becoming the first nonhuman to achieve this feat. Sophia was witched on in February 2016, which means she is... 

Bones tell slavery story

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     29th May 2020 How enslaved Africans were shipped across the Atlantic over centuries is a story that has been told ad nauseum, generating a wealth of knowledge about this massive blot on the history of mankind. Surprisingly, in Latin American countries like Mexico, African roots are well-nigh invisible in... 

Celebration-less Africa Day

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     22nd May 2020 In a few days, Africans at home and in the diaspora will be celebrating the fifty-seventh anniversary of Africa Day, which marks the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the antecedent body of the African Union (AU), back in 1963. Were it not for the physical distancing and bans... 

Fatal inaction

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     15th May 2020 With Covid-19 having shaped up into a health crisis of unprecedented proportions – with equally unprecedented economic implications – it is not inconceivable that governments and other stakeholders may be tempted to drastically scale down efforts to tackle existing health threats, preferring to... 

Nature’s fury

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     8th May 2020 The Covid-19 pandemic has hogged news headlines during the past couple of months, and understandably so. The upshot has been that other crises have received comparatively little attention from the media. A case in point is the scourge of climate change, which some say will cause a ‘climate... 

No laughing matter – really?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     1st May 2020 The coronavirus disease – or Covid-19 – is dead serious business. According to the United Nations, the pandemic will likely consign 300 000 sons and daughters of the African soil to the grave, while slowing economic growth on the continent this year from a previous forecast of 3.2% to a paltry... 

Diminished productivity

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     24th April 2020 It has been about a month since President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered a national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 – a decision that earned him plaudits far and wide, even from his political opponents. Only the Democratic Alliance (DA) attempted to rubbish the national response to the pandemic,... 

Trapped by Covid-19

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     17th April 2020 African elites are notorious for seeking medical care abroad, eschewing medical facilities in their own countries, many of which are in a sorry state, having been starved of cash for maintenance and the acquisition of modern equipment. That the continent’s healthcare professionals are poorly... 

Ubuntu lacking in our leaders

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     10th April 2020 I am a great admirer of Kenya’s PLO Lumumba, who is often on the speaking circuit in African capitals, preaching the gospel of African unity and good governance. The gist of what he says is that, divided, Africa will remain an economic backwater. To illustrate this point, the former law professor... 

‘Moo-ney’ deal

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     3rd April 2020 I become quite sceptical whenever the old argument that Africans must find African solutions to their challenges is invoked. The argument’s biggest proponents have been the many obnoxious dictators that our continent has been cursed with over the past few decades, who are wont to trot it out to... 

Let’s prioritise mathematics

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     27th March 2020 March 14 was celebrated live and online around the world as the International Day of Mathematics. This was the first time this happened and followed a decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), taken at its fortieth general conference, on November... 

Leadership deficiency

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     20th March 2020 Africa continues to face a paucity of political leaders whose democratic credentials are worthy writing home about. The latest evidence of this is the decision by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation not to name a recipient for the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership for 2019. Financed by... 

You can say ‘next tomorrow’ – and it’s correct English

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     13th March 2020 The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), described by some as “the last word on [English] words”, has been updated with 29 Nigerian English words and phrases. These include ‘severally’, as in “he reminded me severally about the issue”, ‘ember months’ (the final four months of the year), ‘next... 

Whither, SAA?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     6th March 2020 I start with a disclaimer: the only discipline in which I received training is the art and craft of journalism. I have never been anywhere near a business school or a lecture hall where the economics of the aviation industry were unpacked. But even a lowly scribe can offer his two pennies’ worth... 

Dateline Harare

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     28th February 2020 My wife persuaded me to attend a wedding in Harare on the Saturday after Valentine’s Day. We got one of the earliest flights out of OR Tambo International Airport – just to make sure we would witness the proceedings from the word go. No sooner had we taken our seats than I realised that the... 

Shame on you, AU and SADC

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     21st February 2020 Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni famously excoriated the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as a trade union of dictators. That was in the mid-1980s. Back then, he was leading an insurrection against his country’s autocratic government. He was apparently frustrated by the seeming indifference... 

Second-generation Presidents

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     14th February 2020 As I have pointed out before, the flare-ups of anti-immigrant sentiment among some communities in our beloved Mzansi do not define South Africans – especially those at the base of the socioeconomic totem pole, where this sentiment mostly manifests – as inherently xenophobic. Rather, this is... 

No, we don’t love Trump

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     7th February 2020 That Patrice Motsepe is a jolly good fellow is beyond question. He has proved to be one of the world’s more benevolent billionaires, having joined The Giving Pledge in 2013. By so doing, he committed to giving half his wealth to charitable causes. But he is a mere mortal and is prone to... 

The more things change . . .

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     31st January 2020 Constantino Chiwenga’s name should be pretty well known – at least in Southern Africa. He is the army general who, in November 2017, led the coup that toppled the late Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s hitherto strongman President, who had just about run his country to the ground during his well-nigh... 

Amazing SA inventions of 2019

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     24th January 2020 South Africans are an innovative lot. Much of the world knows about Chris Barnard, the surgeon who performed the world’s first heart transplant in 1967, but many other citizens of this great nation who introduced a multiplicity of amazing innovations in various fields remain below the radar.... 

Climate denialists’ silly obduracy

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     17th January 2020 The myriad of extreme weather events experienced in 2019 should be enough to convince even the most obdurate naysayer to accept the conventional wisdom that global warming – caused by the spewing of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – is behind climate change. I have heard someone argue that... 

Backward glance

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     13th December 2019 This year has been quite eventful for Africa, and some of the occurrences that came to pass were captured on this page over the past 50-odd weeks. In this last edition for 2019, I take you down memory lane, highlighting some of the noteworthy events. Perhaps one of the major African news stories... 

Blazing Africa’s smartphone trail

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     6th December 2019 Three events in the past few weeks will go some way towards closing the digital divide between Africa and other continents. News-consuming South Africans should be familiar with one of these events – the unveiling, in mid-October, of a R1.5-billion state-of-the-art smartphone manufacturing plant... 

The unifying power of sport

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     29th November 2019 South Africans are still basking in the afterglow of the Springboks’ triumph at the Rugby World Cup. Party poopers like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) tried their damnedest to diffuse the euphoria through reckless utterances that emphasised the country’s racial diversity in unhelpful ways.... 

A good move for SA tourism

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     22nd November 2019 Tourism is something of a cash cow for South Africa. Narrowly defined, the sector accounts for 2.9% of the country’s gross domestic product, but the figure jumps to 8.6% when supply chain linkages and the total value creation across the economy is taken into consideration. The tourism workforce... 

Wide chasm

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     15th November 2019 The term ‘digital divide’ found its way into common parlance yonks ago. Initially, it referred to the division between those who had access to the telephone and those who did not. After the late 1990s, it began to be used mainly to describe the split between those with and those without Internet... 

Staying put in Mzansi

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     8th November 2019 Humans have a propensity for being highly vocal when they are unhappy about how they are governed and for showing little hesitation in moving to lands where the grass appears to be greener. South Africans are no exception. Prompted by push factors ranging from a job market that is not  growing... 

The tale that Mr Latta told

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     1st November 2019 I’m not sure what to make of remarks by Nick Latta, a counsellor at the British high commission to South Africa at a conference in Durban a fortnight ago. She said the UK decided the break away from Europe in the so-called Brexit move because of its belief that the future of trade lay in a... 

Hyperinflation déjà vu in Zim

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     25th October 2019 Some of us began to smell a rat when, in early August, Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, banned the publication of annualised inflation figures until February next year. Ncube and his Cabinet colleagues are obviously unaware of the African saying that it’s futile... 

Death of a dream

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     18th October 2019 A couple of months back, I waxed lyrical about an initiative to nurture Africa’s high-end information technology talent for placement with global tech companies. Its beauty, I wrote, was that the youngsters who were taken on board were not required to leave the continent’s shores but worked out... 

Curse of the anointed successor

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     11th October 2019 Botswana nationals go to the polls in less than a fortnight to elect local government representatives and Parliamentarians. Bar a near miss in 2014, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has comfortably won each election since attaining independence from Britain in 1966. But, this time around, it’s... 

A species under siege

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     4th October 2019 It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that Africa’s rhinos have been under siege for over a decade. They are targeted by unscrupulous elements who sell their horns to buyers in the Far East. Statistics show that the poaching crisis began in 2008 when the number of beasts killed jumped to... 

Afrophobia: Back to the future

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     27th September 2019 The latest flare-up of antimigrant violence in parts of Gauteng has been a major talking point across Africa. Regrettably, emotions seem to have taken precedence over cool logic in much of the discourse. If you ask me, the kind of sentiment towards non-natives that is coming to the fore in... 

A hero who went rogue

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     20th September 2019 As news of the demise in the wee hours of September 6 of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe broke, keyboard warriers went into a frenzy. One tweet encapsulated the predominant sentiment. It cited a quip by legendary American lawyer Clarence Darrow, who said in 1922: “I have never killed... 

Oil raises hopes of a better Kenya

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     13th September 2019 So Kenya has joined the ranks of oil-exporting countries. Its maiden shipment of the so-called black gold was dispatched late last month, headed for China. The development was indeed good news for Kenyans, raising hopes the nascent oil industry will deliver substantial socioeconomic and other... 

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