11 December 2012

Africa: Who Will Win Africa's Student Debating Crown?


It's a debate to the finish in the South African capital, Pretoria, this week as contestants from across the continent take part in the 4th annual Pan African Universities Debate Championship (PAUDC or Pans - as it is affectionately known).

Begun in Botswana in 2008, PAUDC is a pan African debate movement whose central aim is to promote the use of debate as a tool for engagement on critical, contemporary issues and challenges facing Africa and its peoples.

This year's competition involves 150 teams from 13 Africa countries - Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Lesotho, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Uganda and Namibia - and kicked off with the motion 'This House would deploy the military to combat poachers'. This is a very topical issue in South Africa at the moment given the increasing slaughter of the country's rhinos - but seems less pertinent to other countries. But there are many rounds to go and there will be a wide range of topics debated.

Hosted by Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the debates are based on the British Parliamentary system and adjudicated by a pool of carefully selected judges drawn from the competing institutions, while the entire tournament is managed by a team headed by the Chief Adjudicators - Clive Eley of Oxford University and Charity Makhala from the University of Botswana.

Change and conflict are always present and the only option for the survival, development and success of humanity is continued interaction and engagement on issues of change and conflict management," said Dr R.E. Moraka, TUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Corporate and Student Affairs. "Debate is an activity that assists with the generation of intellectual discoveries, which could make a positive contribution to the effective and efficient management of change and conflict."

OSISA's Swaziland Programme has helped 10 students to participate in the championship.

"The championship is an excellent platform for robust debate on a number of themes ranging from politics, culture, religion, economics, development, human rights, education and gender," said Velaphi Mamba, OSISA's Swaziland Programme Officer. "This is a great opportunity for students from across Africa - and hopefully a Swazi team will win the event."

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