Thando, the 17-year-old from Isencane Lengane, has ignited a public discussion about her decision to leave her marriage. Despite being married for two years, her age has raised concerns among South Africans who feel she is too young for such a commitment.
Thando Msomi, however, asserts that she has a well-thought-out plan for her future that doesn’t involve being in a polygamous marriage or assuming the role of caretaker for a man.
Thando, who has been married to Siyacela Dlamuka since 2019, acknowledges her willingness to support him in getting his life back on track after dropping out of school in grade 9. However, she firmly states that she is not ready to become a sister wife or take on the sole responsibility of caring for the household. Siyacela’s desire for a second wife, as expressed on the Moja Love show, doesn’t align with Thando’s vision.
Thando’s aspirations extend beyond marriage and domestic responsibilities. She is determined to complete her matriculation and pursue a career as a social worker. She believes this profession will allow her to help people facing difficulties, a calling she deeply values.
Her initial decision to marry at a young age was supported by social workers who wanted to ensure she was making a well-informed choice, but she now expresses doubts about her husband’s changed stance.
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Despite social media appeals for her to divorce her spouse, Thando remains undecided. She recounts how she met Siyacela at a wedding, where she was a bridesmaid in 2016. They initially lived in different parts of KZN, and their decision to marry in front of the church with a six-month engagement was influenced by his father. Siyacela, however, has made it clear that he has no intention of seeking employment or returning to school, instead expressing his desire for a second wife, with both wives jointly caring for him.
Thando’s situation has prompted debates on social media, with many advising her to leave her unfaithful husband. She acknowledges that her marriage didn’t turn out as expected and emphasizes that she would never encourage her own child to marry at such a young age. The story has generated significant public interest and discussion, inviting diverse opinions on the matter.
Easing job jitters in the digital revolution
EU researcher Professor Steven Dhondt, an expert in work and organisational change, has emphasized the opportunities, rather than threats, posed by automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to jobs. His remarks follow a four-year study in which Dhondt led an EU research project called Beyond4.0, which explored how businesses and welfare systems could adapt to support workers facing technological changes.
While concerns about technology’s impact on jobs have existed throughout history, Dhondt stressed the importance of technology being used as an enabler rather than a threat. The study highlighted businesses that took proactive steps to empower their employees in the face of technological change.
For instance, a Dutch glass company called Metaglas invested in its workforce, allowing employees a greater voice in the company’s direction and product development. This approach, known as “MetaWay,” helped the company retain workers and turn a profit that was reinvested in the workforce.
Dhondt’s research underscores the role of management in determining whether technology enhances or downgrades the quality of jobs. He argued that technology can be an enabler when used to enhance jobs, benefiting both workers and organizations. This perspective aligns with the idea that technology can augment human capabilities, resulting in improved productivity and job satisfaction.
Moreover, the study highlighted the importance of regional collaboration among businesses, job trainers, and policymakers. For example, the Finnish city of Oulu, once a stronghold of Nokia, managed to transform itself into an entrepreneurial ecosystem by fostering collaboration between Nokia, local universities, and policymakers. This collaboration helped create new high-tech jobs and mitigate the effects of Nokia’s decline.
In cases where people were out of work, the project explored new forms of welfare support. The research evaluated Finland’s two-year trial of a “universal basic income” (UBI) and assessed the feasibility of a different model called “participation income.”
While UBI provided participants with a monthly unconditional sum, the evaluation suggested it might weaken the principle of solidarity in society. In contrast, participation income requires recipients to undertake activities deemed useful to society, such as caregiving. The project’s findings, including those related to welfare support, aim to help organizations navigate the changing technological landscape.
Overall, the study’s focus on enabling workers, fostering regional collaboration, and rethinking welfare support reflects a holistic approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by automation and AI. By emphasizing human-centric solutions and policy innovations, it seeks to empower individuals and communities in the face of technological change.