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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

Ryanair’s dubious honour

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     24th June 2022 Given the daft things that some people get up to, I have decided to award a Mampara accolade for public figures that engage in really silly behaviour from time to time. A ‘mampara’, a term used throughout Southern Africa, is a foolish person or idiot. The winner of the inaugural Africa Beat... 

Corruption: We are too tolerant

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     17th June 2022 A mea culpa is in order before I proceed: this piece focuses on an unforgettable quotation from someone I have mentioned multiple times in this column, and I might therefore sound like a broken record to regular readers. That person is Kenyan-born intellectual PLO Lumumba and the quotation,... 

Corrupt corporates

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     10th June 2022 The adage that it takes two to tango appears to be perpetually in the blind spot of those who don’t miss an opportunity to highlight how venal politicians can be. It’s always the Jacob Zumas of this world who are the chief villains of the piece in popular narratives about how corruption has... 

Are gas amasela loading?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     3rd June 2022 Social commentator and broadcaster Lukhona Mnguni courted controversy last year when he branded politicians amasela – Xhosa for thieves – who steal public money. The context of this unsavoury characterisation was the spiriting away of taxpayers’ money that was meant to insulate both lives and... 

OAU/AU report card

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     27th May 2022 Two days ago (assuming you are reading this piece on its publication date, May 27), many Africans at home and abroad were celebrating the fifty-ninth anniversary of the founding of the antecedent body of the African Union (AU), the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). I can visualise distracted... 

Camel-ccino on the menu

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     20th May 2022 One will be hard-pressed to name a country whose economy has not been ravaged by Covid-19. Many countries are now ‘building back better’ – some in not-so-conventional ways – as they attempt to reverse the pandemic’s devastation. One of the out-of-the-box ways of ensuring that more and more people... 

Digital authoritarianism

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     13th May 2022 How do you tell when an African leader is about to go rogue? The clearest tell-tale sign is when he (there are very few she’s) starts displaying a propensity for engaging in such behaviour as clamping down on the free flow of information, a herd instinct among dictators. That’s precisely what... 

Sport bans won’t move Putin

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     6th May 2022 As some predicted, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has proved to be a drawn-out affair, a far cry from the swift conquest that the Kremlin powers that be had bargained for when they issued the orders for the invasion back in February. With no end in sight, the peoples of the world – including those... 

Deportation by another name

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     29th April 2022 This week I revisit the issue of migration, which I touched on a few months back in a piece in which I cited Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah, where the point-of-view character retraces her footsteps back to Nigeria, having failed to acclimatise to the American way of life. I called... 

DRC’s move to the east

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     22nd April 2022 In a move that will go some way towards the realisation of the dream of an integrated Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joined the East African Community (EAC) late last month, becoming only the second country after Tanzania to have dual membership of the East African bloc and the... 

Silver lining?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     15th April 2022 A couple of weeks back, I wrote about how, despite being thousands of kilometres away, the Russia-Ukraine conflict would hit African countries hard. But there could be a silver lining, at least for those countries that are endowed with hydrocarbons. First, the context: European Union (EU) member... 

Our underpaid educators

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     8th April 2022 That teachers are an important cog of any society is not debatable. They give children hope, set them up for success as citizens of the world and inspire in them a drive to do well and succeed in life. But do they get a just recompence for their efforts? Not so, if the frequent strike action by... 

Collateral damage

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     1st April 2022 South Africa may be half a world away from the war theatre that Ukraine has become since its invasion by Russia on February 24, but the implications of that conflict – which, in my view, will be a drawn-out affair – will be felt in this country and on the rest of the continent for a while. As for... 

It’s time journalism changed tack

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     25th March 2022 I may not have any survey data to back this up, but I don’t think I would be far off the mark in saying commuter taxi drivers and traffic cops who use the slightest pretext to squeeze a bribe – the infamous ‘cooldrink money’ – are the worst nightmares of Mzansi’s urban motorists. Our commuter... 

Soccer’s double standards

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     18th March 2022 A FIFA World Cup sans Russia, which was a presence at 11 previous tournaments, starting in 1958 is what is in store when the desert nation of Qatar hosts the quadrennial tournament from November 21 to December 18. And that’s because Vladimir Putin decided to unleash his country’s military might... 

The gift of the gaffe

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     4th March 2022 Remember former President Jacob Zuma’s 2013 blooper about the state of roads in Malawi, uttered when explaining why his government was introducing urban tolling on Gauteng freeways? His exact words were: “We can’t think like Africans in Africa generally. We are in Johannesburg. This is... 

What’s in a name?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     25th February 2022 South Africa’s under-fire top cop goes by the name of Khehla Sitole. But it’s surprising how his last name gets misspelt, with the culprits being not only several of the country’s major media outlets but also some of the civil society organisations that want him out of office for one alleged... 

Ugly side of beautiful game

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     18th February 2022 There may be debate as to who coined the phrase ‘the beautiful game’ – some say it’s the man known to much of the world as simply Pele, while others aver it’s the brainchild of English former media personality Stuart Hall, who used it as far back as 1958. But what is not in dispute is that... 

No cure for coups just yet

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     11th February 2022 One of my ‘go to’ sources of international news is the website of The Washington Post. The credibility of the newspaper – which hardly gets its ‘facts’ wrong and promptly corrects any errors that may slip through – is an obvious pull factor. But I’m also drawn by its subeditors’ way with words.... 

Africa’s chronic youthfulness

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     4th February 2022 Planet Earth will be home to more than eight-billion of us before year-end and a further ballooning to 9.5-billion by 2050 is projected as sustained high fertility rates and declining mortality in Africa more than offset falling births in other regions. Writing in the UK’s The Guardian newspaper... 

SADC’s elephants in the room

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     28th January 2022 Southern Africa’s political overlords had their first regional shindigs of 2022 early this month. The events, hosted by Malawi, whose new leader offered much hope initially but is proving to be an utter disappointment, were remarkable – not for what was discussed, but for the elephants in the... 

My 2022 wish list

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     21st January 2022 A repeat of the last two years, when Covid-19 decimated lives and livelihoods, is the last thing anyone would want to see this year. But it appears that the pandemic is here to stay, at least for the short term. My wish, therefore, is that we find ways to mitigate its impacts. The starting point... 

Chinese debt trap

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     10th December 2021 China has been a key African benefactor for a while, providing financing for all manner of infrastructure and rendering other forms of assistance. Even Mzansi’s Eishkom – as the national electricity utility is derisively called in some quarters, on account of persistent load-shedding – has been a... 

An early Second Coming

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     3rd December 2021 This week I’m aboard a time machine that has taken me to the year 2121, a century from now. Time is moving ever so slowly. To avoid descending into boredom, I decide to do some light reading. After rummaging through a couple of drawers, I come across a history book, written over a century ago.... 

Migration – the pros and cons

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     26th November 2021 I have a suspicion that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an obscure name to many Africa Beat readers. But that’s certainly not the case in the world of the literati. The Nigerian-born novelist is celebrated worldwide for her writing process. Her latest accolade, bestowed a fortnight ago, was from the... 

New era of the silent majority

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     19th November 2021 The 2021 local government elections have come and gone, and pundits have written column centimetres upon column centimetres about them. But the temptation to also weigh in has been too much for me. The voter turnout was the lowest since the dawn of democracy – a paltry 33% of those whose names... 

I told you so, didn’t I?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     12th November 2021 Having looked into my crystal ball, I wrote in this column not so long ago that military coups were on the comeback in Africa and that they were poised to become an all too frequent mode of power transfer, despite the fact that they are now well-nigh unheard of elsewhere in the world. In that... 

The neighbour from hell

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     5th November 2021 Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi comes across as someone who is so cool headed that one would expect him to always display diplomatic nous, even in the face of provocation. But that façade was rattled somewhat last month when it became apparent that, try as he did to secure the cooperation... 

Misplaced honour

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     29th October 2021 Presidential elections are due in six African countries next year, namely Angola, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Somaliland and Sudan. While in some countries elections have tended to be robust affairs – to put it mildly – it is the Kenyan poll, to be held on August 9, that gives me the greatest sense of... 

Frontier stalemate

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     22nd October 2021 A key consensus among Africa’s postcolonial leaders is that the national boundaries drawn by the European powers that partitioned the continent in Berlin in 1884 are as sacrosanct today as they were back then. It is thus confounding that Kenya and Somalia are at loggerheads over their maritime... 

Promises, promises . . .

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     15th October 2021 Someone once remarked that football matches are the most heated contests in much of Africa. But in today’s environment, where most countries are doing their best to at least be seen to be abiding by democratic precepts, that distinction, I dare say, belongs to elections to public office. As I... 

Tribute to Hammarskjöld

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     8th October 2021 Just over six decades ago, former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold died in mysterious circumstances in what is now Zambia. Some cried assassination, with more than a couple of accusing fingers pointed at the South African government of the time. As I read a piece about the... 

Shining in the world

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     1st October 2021 Africa’s got talent! For the latest evidence of this, one need not look further than US news magazine Time’s 2021 list of the most influential 100  individuals on Planet Earth in various spheres of human endeavour. The African game changers – and those with roots on the continent – who made the... 

A forlorn continent

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     24th September 2021 We Africans are an unhappy lot. I am not joking – scientifically derived statistics are available to back this up, and it appears the advent of Covid-19 has exacerbated our collective melancholy. The latest evidence of our poor showing in the happiness stakes is contained in the 2021 World... 

Coup d’état comeback?

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     17th September 2021 I remember, as a freshman in journalism school, a lecturer telling us that some Western newspapers and other media organisations had settled on a stock headline to use each time an African government was deposed in a military coup – and it was ‘They have done it again!’ I cannot vouch for the... 

Joblessness scourge

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     10th September 2021 While the joblessness numbers released by Statistics South Africa recently make for sad reading, bringing the country’s unemployment scourge into sharp focus, the key takeaway is that it is young people who are bearing the brunt. The situation is quite scary: a whopping  46.3% of those aged... 

Costly blackouts

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     3rd September 2021 Africa’s despots – and they are numerous – are increasingly developing a worrying penchant for switching off social media networks to prevent citizens from sharing information they dislike or when they feel such exchanges may threaten their hold on power. The latest to resort to this trick was... 

Dear ex-Prez Lungu

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     27th August 2021 I guess you are busy moving house, following your electoral defeat, which spelled the end to your tenancy at State House in Lusaka. When things are less hectic, please spare a few moments to read this missive – it’s not that long. I feared for the worst when, in the midst of vote counting, you... 

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