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    MISTRA-TMALI-UNISA International Conference

    Venue: University of South Africa (UNISA)

     November 12 2014

    2014 marks twenty years since South Africa made a transition from apartheid to democracy. Much has been achieved to transform and develop the country informed by the injunctions of the 1996 Constitution, which seeks to foster a shared common interest and formally guarantees equal opportunities without regard to race, gender and other social fault-lines. The decades since 1994 have seen a remarkable improvement in people’s quality of life and tentative steps towards national unity and social cohesion.

    TheMapungubwe Institute, the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at the University of South Africa will jointly convene 20 Years of South African Democracy: So Where to Now?, our combined conference to mark 20 years of democracy.

    Yet, much work lies ahead in realising the aspirations of many South Africans who still experience the effects of poverty and inequality. Much has to be done to build a capable state and active citizenry able to manifest in practical terms the narrative of an ‘Africa Rising.’

    The National Development Plan articulates a Vision for the country and the path towards a truly democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and equitable society; and it enjoys the support of most sectors of society. However, three related questions deserve interrogation: is the Vision appropriate and adequate; is there capacity and will to implement it; and what are the implications of pedestrian performance going forward? In brief, where will South Africa be in another 20 years? In answering these questions it would be important to ensure that the inheritors of today’s political economy, the youth, are active participants in the process of shaping the future. 


    The Conference provides an opportunity for projective reflections into the next two decades of democracy, informed firstly, by historical moments that led to democracy in South Africa, and secondly, by the experiences of the last twenty years. The Conference aims to deal with (1) the historical moments in the build-up to the democratic transition in South Africa, (2) theoretical perspectives explaining the state of South Africa in two decades of democracy, and most importantly (3) prospects for contemporary South Africa going forward.

    Some of the questions the Conference will seek to answer include:

    §  How do we internalise with common purpose what has been learned since 1994?

    §  What are the remaining structural deficiencies to be overcome in order to lead to growth with development?

    §  What can be done to translate the vision and programmes of the NDP into purposeful action by all stakeholders?

    §  What is the dynamic relationship between national unity, social cohesion and socio-economic advancement?

    §  Where is SA getting it right and wrong in terms of economic growth and development?

    §  What can be learnt from other democratic transitions, and countries that have sustained high economic growth rates and social inclusion?

    §  What is the combination of “big ideas and bold actions” that South Africa will need to embrace to launch onto a new trajectory?

    §  What kind of a society does the youth of today want?

    Download PDF of programme: Final Programme.pdfFinal Programme.pdf

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