IMBIZO a hotbed of discussion

11 July 2002
THE House of Imbizo was launched this month with a heated and often emotional discussion about Government's policy concerning HIV/AIDS. Using the literal meaning of the Xhosa word "Imbizo", which means people from a community gathering to discuss important issues, UCT's Imbizo is the brainchild of two students, Sean Grobbelaar and Phiwa Sukumane.

The pair wants to create a platform for students to gather and discuss important issues.

"By participating in public debate, students are promoting a community discussion about controversial bills and issues and encouraging democratic participation and expression of differences in the public sphere," explains Sukumane.

The Imbizo, which was held in the Robert Leslie Social Science Building, was well attended by students who had the opportunity to ask a panel of high profile politicians from the ANC and the DA, as well a member of SHARP and UCT lecturer and epidemiologist "KC" Goyer, pressing questions about HIV/AIDS and the Government's role.

Although Grobbelaar and Sukumane hold senior positions in the Democratic Students' Society (DSS), they were quick to stress that the House of Imbizo is not in any way affiliated to the DSS or its politics. "The House of Imbizo is a completely separate initiative, anyone who is interested in the legislative matters can take part," adds Grobbelaar.

Both young men believe that party politics in the University's student body has often hindered formal discussion around South Africa's socio-economic situation. The House of Imbizo wants to promote student debate about pressing national issues without involving individual party politics.

"We purposefully chose HIV/AIDS as our topic for discussion because there has never been a debate or discussion about it on Campus where students had their say. One-fourth of this campus is said to be infected with HIV, what do they have to say about it? What does SHARP have to say about it? This is an issue that affects you no matter what your politics."

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