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Busisiwe Gumede – “All-Rounder of Journalism”

Tebello Mofokeng

Journalists give a voice to the voiceless and aim to bring attention to issues that matter most in our society.

Busisiwe Gumede (27) is an epitome of this attribute of journalism. Her career as a journalist began while she was still in high school while many of her peers deemed ‘The Daily News’ – which highlighted hard hitting social and economic topics to be ‘things of the older generation’. When asked about her passion towards the field, Gumede states that her fascination with journalism and broadcasting began at a very tender age.

“Watching the evening news at home was an occasion. As children, we were compelled to drop everything and watch news seriously.  It wasn’t until I saw News Anchor- Noxolo Grootboom, that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I would be taken by how eloquent she was in her delivery. She was Black, Smart and a Woman? Jackpot, Me too! I said. From there I knew what and who I wanted to become.”

Currently the host of a cutting-edge investigative show: Y-Talk, on Y-FM, The natural progression of her career can be summarized by the following pivotal roles she played within the spheres of journalism: Daily News Anchor, Host of Current Affairs shows on Y-FM and Sowetan Newspaper Columnist from 2008 till 2015; Producer of the investigative Current Affairs show on eNCA’s Checkpoint; Host of a Youth Political show on eNCA called Back Chat.  

During this period, she received numerous accolades which include, Mail & Guardian’s top 200 Youth South Africa; The Youngest anchors at eNCA.

On the topic of her show and listeners expectations, Gumede expressed that listeners can anticipate unparalleled journalism excellence.

“The listeners can expect a more in-depth current affairs show. I want a current affairs show that can be a reflection of who we are as the youth i.e., our dreams and aspirations. I want my listeners to pour their hearts out and share their experiences i.e., their fears and disappointments. In addition to covering politics and news that generally make headlines, listeners can expect an engaging show, a mirror that they can put up to their faces.”

Her role as anchor of a political show on Y-FM called: #TheSwingVote positioned her as an ambassador of the youth in 2014, just before the general national elections. Representatives of various political parties used the show as a platform to sell their manifestos as part of their electioneering campaign, in a quest to try and convince the youth to vote for their respective parties.

Therefore, it is an amazing opportunity to ask her questions that are on most people’s mind regarding the participation of the youth in politics. The involvement of young people in politics will be put to the test on the 8th of May during the general national elections.

According to the Electoral Commission approximately 6-million of the 9-million eligible voters who did not register are under the age of 30. A few factors can be attributed to this lack of participation such as: unemployment, racial discrimination and gender inequality.

Gumede puts things into perspective about the general feeling among the youth with regards to their role in elections and the effect of unemployment in the following words.

“I think the youth are tired of being spoken about like they are a big part of our population that cannot think for themselves. I think the youth is tired of election stunts and gimmicks. We are about hustling and making things work for ourselves. We aren’t waiting for people or politicians to tell us when and how to do things. This speaks to the high number of young people who have opted not to register to vote. They don’t have faith in our country’s democratic process.”

“There are so many young people who aren’t in training or employment. Curbing unemployment isn’t going to be an easy task. It is one that involves a multi-disciplinary approach. We must first start with our education system; our curriculum doesn’t teach the average learner to be independent.

“We need subjects that encourage students to be critical thinkers, business minded and problem solvers. I think that will go a long way in equipping young people for the real world. The real world is harsh and opportunities scarce. Government should keep a strict watch on the education system and try to implement new ways to generate a skilled labour force.”

Youth (35 years and younger) represent only 6% of the total number of the members of parliament. This disparity in parliament youth representation is likely to result in undesirable outcomes on policy making, especially since the youth contribute towards approximately 35.7% of the overall population of our country.

Busisiwe weighs in on this issue as follows:

“Disparity in the representation of youth in parliament can be crippling for many young people in the country, because essentially it would mean that the policies or decisions taken won’t be pointed towards the youth.

“Becoming a member of parliament is a role many say requires experience, that is why it favours the older generation. The average age of the members of parliament is around 50, with the DA having a larger number of young people. With political parties recently publishing their lists of candidates, I’d say that the EFF is showing a good force of young, active and educated bunch of fighters.

“Nevertheless, that’s not enough, we need more parties to follow suit. Young people are a key part of any democracy. I believe that if we increase youth representation then we can increase youth participation in politics.”

The issue of Land is one of great contestation especially when one follows the manifestos of various political parties.

The question to ask is: ‘Will the Land issue contribute towards swaying the vote of the youth towards either one of the three major political parties’? 

Gumede says: “What is important to most young people is redressing the injustices of the past. The South African constitution already allows the government to expropriate land without compensation ‘for a public purpose or in the public interest’.

The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters for example, has tried to push through a constitutional amendment that would set down more clearly that land can be taken away from owners if the government deems it necessary. Land is a big issue the youth will be focusing on; available evidence suggests that youth face significant and unique challenges when it comes to land and property.

“In many countries, rising pressures on land have left youth increasingly landless or holding only informal or secondary rights to land; South Africa is not an exception. Political parties need to focus on ensuring that the youth learn how to work the land. The land issue will definitely sway the vote of the youth, but to what extent it remains to be seen.”

Her advice to young people who would like to pursue journalism as a career is: “This isn’t an easy profession to be in, journalism is currently in a crisis. Literally everyone on social media is a journalist.

Stories which are investigated on aren’t yielding the desired outcome i.e., leaders aren’t being held accountable. I think you must go into journalism with a passion, but you also need a clear back-up plan for when things go sour.  I am passionate about my industry, but I don’t think that I will be in journalism in the next five years. I want my media company Busiseka Media, to do well producing black content and most importantly, for my clothing line Busi and Sill Avenue to succeed.”

Busisiwe Gumede is a nonpareil all-rounder who needs little to no introduction in the mass media fraternity. She is a true inspiration to many young journalists and entrepreneurs. Her venture into entrepreneurship clearly shows the route in which most young people are heading towards in this current economic and political dispensation.

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