Expect the unexpected

Rollercoaster effect
Rollercoaster effect

The year 2016 has been an economic and political rollercoaster. Former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela’s parting gift to South Africans, the State of Capture Report, once again unleashed a new can of worms alongside shocking but not entirely unexpected revelations.

And while some parastatal CEOs are stepping aside, others steadfastly refuse to do so. Despite growing dissatisfaction from the people, the President still seems fairly secure, together with the full support of his party members.

However, looking abroad, it’s quite clear that it’s not just our general public who feels displeased with the status quo. Two of the world’s most powerful nations have just demonstrated that when the people are unhappy with the way things are done, they will go to extremes.

The first of these global shockwaves came in the form of the Brexit vote on 23 June, when 52 per cent of some 30 million British citizens voted to leave the European Union.

Then, just a few months later America experienced what some have called the unthinkable, when Donald Trump won the electoral system’s vote to be become the next President Elect of the US.

It would be naïve of us to believe that both local and international incidents don’t have some sort of impact on the global emotional psyche. In many ways, these are examples of days that shook the world.

However, in the midst of growing negativity and even natural disasters, simple random acts of human kindness manage to restore our faith in mankind.

Last week, Johannesburg experienced a series of freakish thunderstorms and flash floods, which devastated parts of the city, including many informal settlements.

Among the hundreds of photos showing the force of nature at its most awesome and sometimes terrifying, there emerged so many images of people stopping and risking their own safety to help save the lives of complete strangers who found themselves trapped in the floods.

Another one of my favourite stories to come out of the past week, was the one of taxi driver Leonard Cohen, who flagged down a paramedic, asking for his assistance in helping to rescue a family of ducks who were attempting to cross the N1 highway near William Nicol.

The story ended with the mommy duck and all five her ducklings getting a safe passage across the highway in peak hour Jo’burg traffic.

The #Feesmustfall protests have raged on in 2016, with devastating consequences not only for the institutions themselves, but for thousands of non-protesting students whose studies have been directly impacted by the violence, destruction as well as interruptions to classes and exams.

One of the issues that the protester groups have made clear is at the top of their agenda, is their wish to eradicate the use of outsourced security and cleaning services.

The issue of outsourcing vs insourcing has been a hot topic in South Africa in recent years, with protest action at institutions around the country calling for an end to outsourcing. This impacts on a variety of industries such as cleaning, maintenance, and security.

These protests, primarily at tertiary education institutes, are based on the belief that insourcing staff in these areas would provide them with a host of benefits that would include higher salaries, access to education for themselves and their beneficiaries, and greater protection in the workplace.

However, the impact the elimination of outsourcing could have on the private security industry is massive, and poses potential problems in terms of the overall security of the institutions that would be forfeiting the services provided by professional security firms, as well as regulation of the industry going forward.

The key to making an informed decision that could ultimately have a long-lasting impact on South Africa’s private security industry is understanding both the benefits and pitfalls associated with either outsourced or insourced security services.

The private security industry’s industry bodies have raised several cautionary flags about what the impact of eradicating outsourcing could mean for future employment of any security officers.

With limited understanding of the laws intended to actually protect security officers working in the industry, protesters are calling for an end to something they do not quite fully understand the full implications of.

Next month, we’ll focus on the issue of insourcing vs outsourcing, with particular focus on the security industry itself.

And while we are on this topic, I believe it is worth making a comment about the exceptional way in which the police have conducted themselves during the student protest action this year.

While we are often quick to criticise our police services, it is only fair to give credit when it’s certainly due.

In the face of mounting violence and savage attacks, I can’t recall one incident of police violence or brutality.

Police have exercised exceptional restraint and managed to control crowds in often completely intolerable circumstances. That certainly deserves some recognition.