POWER REPORTING COFERENCE 2015: Going undercover key to exposing Fifa corruption

The editor of London’s Sunday Times Insight team opened the 2015 Power Reporting Conference by reflecting on one of the most controversial corruption stories in the past year. Speaking in front of a packed auditorium at Wits University, Jonathan Calvert recounted the intricacies of an undercover investigation with fellow journalist, Heidi Blake, that resulted in an expose of bribery and corruption at Fifa, the world football authority.

The pair went undercover in 2010 to investigate alleged corruption that surrounded 2020 World Cup-winning bid from Qatar.

Going undercover has become a crucial tactic in investigative journalism and has enabled more stories to materialise successfully.

Calvert and Blake who were tipped off by an insider, decided to go undercover and pose as lobbyists with interests on behalf of the United States.


UNDERCOVER: Jonathan Calvert, editor of the Insight Team at the Sunday Times, was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the 2015 Power Reporting Conference in Johannesburg. Photo: Reuven Blignault.

Kitted out with minute cameras hidden in their clothing, the pair recorded meetings with six people on the bid committee. They formed part of the discussions on how to structure the campaign to lobby for support for the American bid. Eventually, two of the committee members (voters), agreed to “sell their votes”.

Calvert said that each World Cup brings in approximately four million pounds but added that, “We don’t know how they spend their money or where it goes to.”

With corruption presenting itself at the outset of their investigations, the pair pressed on and eventually presented their findings to Fifa which did not act on the allegations.

Calvert said when Qatar was announced as hosts for the 2020 soccer World Cup, “It was a surprise to everyone, but not really a surprise to us.”

Calvert said he feels that Fifa is “burning itself to death at the moment,” and has a strong feeling that “a big revelation” will be made public by February 2016 by journalists in the US who are continuing the investigations.

The pair have since co-written a book on their expose called The Ugly Game: The Qatari plot to buy the World Cup.

This article first appeared in Wits Vuvuzela, November 2015.

Through a Journalist’s lens, semester 2

Programme a ‘Road to Success’

The Road to Success Programme, launched by the Commerce, Law and Management (CLM) faculty, is focused on assisting students within the school with their academics and is looking to open the support programme to all undergraduate students at the university next year. 

A new programme that has been successfully helping undergraduate students with their academics in the School of Commerce, Law and Management (CLM) may be expanded to all first-years next year.

The Road to Success Programme (RSP) was started in CLM in January this year. The programme has been used as a support structure to assist the faculty’s undergraduate students with their academics.

As lecturer for the RSP and course coordinator, Danie De Klerk drew up a timetable which includes a series of tutorial and one-on-one sessions to assist students who are academically “at risk”. The programme also accommodates passing students who wish to attend the classes as an added benefit.

The programme has 25 tutors who have been trained by CLM and the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) to assist students with concepts which they find challenging, whether it be personal or academic.

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS: Danie De Klerk, coordinator of the Road to Success Programme, and Masego Modise, a Law tutor on the programme discuss how work is assessed in the Law School. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS: Danie De Klerk, coordinator of the Road to Success Programme, and Masego Modise, a Law tutor on the programme discuss how work is assessed in the Law School. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

De Klerk said that “Tutors are trained to identify a problem that is greater than just academic.”

De Klerk said that all first years in CLM were enrolled in the programme at the beginning of the year were taught “generic type skills” such as time management, studying skills, note taking etc. In the second semester, students who were “at risk,” or those who wished to attend voluntarily continued with the programme.

De Klerk said that in 2013, the university applied for development grant money from the department of education. The grants were received last year and have been used to fund such programmes within each faculty at the university.

He said other faculties refer to their support programmes as the “At Risk Programme,” however their faculty chose to name it the “Road to Success Programme” instead, as the term “at risk” is very negative and they wanted to use a motivational approach.

“Our take is unique,” he said. “We are the only ones with tutors, running a programme, focussing on the road to success.” They have taken their approach a step further by focusing on related aspects of a student’s life that can impact them academically.

“If a student is hungry, it’s difficult for them to pay attention to what’s going on in class and whether he or she passes or fails doesn’t matter,” De Klerk said.

“Literature shows that very seldom is it the academic aspect of their studies that is the problem,” he added. He identified food shortage, accommodation conditions and funding problems as the aspects that have directly impacted a student’s studies most severely.

“We are trying to resolve this,” he said.

The RSP also work closely with the CCDU to refer students for counselling if they sense a personal issue is impacting the student’s studies.

De Klerk said they have learnt a great deal in the nine months that the programme has been running and “are quite happy with where the programme is at the moment”.
“The programme is evolving,” he added, and said that they are opening their doors to all 5 200 undergraduate students next year.

“It’s a big thing, but we want the programme to be more than just the baseline of time management studies etc,” he said. “We want to see them graduating, which is what the whole programme is about.”

VIDEO VOX: What do you think of Facebook introducing a “Dislike” button?

Many social media users have asked the Facebook to include a “Dislike” button and after years of asking, the social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has considered it. 

Facebook is said to launch a “Dislike” button in the near future. Media reports said the company has been working on the concept for a while and expects to introduce it soon.

After years of Facebookers asking for the option to “dislike” a post, the company is finally ready to add it to the social network and Witsies have very mixed reactions about it.

Watch the video here:

Med school organisation debate legalising the sale of organs

The Chanceplant Initiative, a student organisation started by a group of Wits medical students, hosted the debate that: This house would legalise the sale of human organs.

The organisation was started earlier this year and aims to create awareness about organ transplantation and make it accessible to people who cannot afford private healthcare.

The debaters consisted of three speakers on the opposing team, and three on the proposing. Issues surrounding the harm done to patients, the exploitation and vulnerability of the poor, the possibility of human trafficking (if organ donation were to be legalised) and government funding were presented by the opposition team. The proposition suggested a regulated system providing donors with incentives for their organs,  addressed the issue of the black market and spoke about the power of positive change.

The debate was adjudicated by Constitutional Court Judge, Chief Justice Edwin Cameron, who addressed the attendees of the debate after discussions was opened to the floor.

Watch the video here:


VIDEO VOX: Who do you think will win the 2015 SRC elections?

#TeamVuvu took to the campus this week to ask students what their predictions for the 2015 SRC elections would be. While majority predicted that the PYA would win, there were hopefuls from other parties on campus as well.

#TeamVuvu asked Wits students what their predictions for the 2015 SRC elections would be. Voting began last week at the Parktown campuses which include the Education campus and Medical school, and commenced on Tuesday and Wednesday this week on the university’s main campus in Braamfontein.

Majority of Witsies predicted that the PYA would win, as they have held majority of the seats in the Wits SRC for the past six years, however students were also hopeful for other parties on campus.

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