In issue Number#19
we are proud to announce the completion of, and release of two research
reports: Essays on the Evolution of the Post-Apartheid State: Legacies,
Reforms and Prospects and Patronage Politics Divides U
We also report on the Inaugural Pixley ka Isaka Seme Annual Lecture Series at Columbia University presented by Joel Netshitenzhe, MISTRA’s Executive Director.
Issue#19 also reports on a range of tributes to former President Nelson Mandela by Joel Netshitenzhe, Yacoob Abba Omar, Gail Smith, and Mcebisi Ndletyana; as well as articles by David Maimela, Jeffrey Sehume and Radhika Perrot.
And we’re proud to include a profile of Dr Thandi Ndlovu, a member of the MISTRA Board of Governors, who was recently awarded the Business Woman of the Year Award by the Business Woman’s Association of South Africa.
Launch Conference on: The Evolution of the Post 1994 South African State
On the 29th November 2013 MISTRA launched its Research Report entitled Essays on the Evolution of the Post-Apartheid State: Legacies, Reforms and Prospects. Essays on the Evolution of the Post-Apartheid State: Legacies, Reforms and Prospects is a collection of essays by independent scholars and researchers in various fields which are a product of a variety of sources, including interviews, and official documents and reports. This publication is intended to generate strategic reflection beyond issues to do with the day-to-day chores of governance.
The release of this report was the culmination of eighteen months of research. The report investigates the evolution of the South African state, particularly the transformation efforts that have been undertaken since 1994; and it is made up of the following essays:
•The South African Police: From an Instrument of Terror to a Legitimate Modern Policing Agency by Themba Shabangu
•Citizenry Participation Within Public Institutions and Processes: A Community's Police? by Vanessa Barolsky
•The Simulacrum of Equality? Engendering the Post-94 South African State by Lisa Vetten Conditional Grants: Municipal (Mis) Use? by Robert Cameron
•Political Administrative Interface and the Capacity of the State by Mashupye H. Maseremule
•State Evolution and Sovereignty: The Case of South Africa by Ralph Mathekga
•South Africa's Embedded Environmental Dynamics and Their Impact on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development: A Critical Appraisal by Thami Mazwai
•South Africa's Posture in Global Relations: Challenges and Opportunities by Oupa Makhalemele
Launch Conference on: Patronage Politics Divides Us: A Study of Poverty, Patronage and Inequality in South Africa
On the 12th November 2013 MISTRA launched its Research Report on Poverty, Inequality and Patronage, entitled Patronage Politics Divides Us.
The report is a profile of socio-economic life in South Africa’s various communities as experienced not only by locals, but also by foreign-born residents. The findings also show the relationship between councilors, business interests and local party organisations. Issues examined by the research include:
survivalist strategies do the poor adopt to manoeuvre the patronage minefield?
do they conduct themselves in relation to the often selective enforcement of
municipal by-laws, which itself creates fertile ground for patronage and
local residents come into conflict with foreign-born nationals or even with
migrants from other parts of the country – is this reflective of a shared
grievance among the majority?
do political parties discourage or entrench patronage politics and, in turn,
what effect is this having on the parties themselves?
The Launch Conference focused on some of the findings of MISTRA’s research, and some of the recommendations for consideration by policy makers. These range from internal party democracy in processes to select candidates for municipal elections, to the vexed question about the insidious impact of the current system of party political funding.
- Joel Netshitenzhe, MISTRA Executive Director
- Xolile George, CEO – SALGA
- Mcebisi Ndletyana, MISTRA Political Economy Faculty Head
- Oupa Makhalemele, Member of Research Project Team
- Ralph Mathekga, Member of Research Project Team
- Robert Gallagher, Member of Research Project Team
- Khaya George, Member of Research Project Team
- Yacoob Abba Omar, MISTRA Director of Operations
Inaugural Pixley ka Isaka Seme Annual Lecture Series at Columbia University
presented by Joel Netshitenzhe
MISTRA Executive Director, Joel Netshitenzhe presented the First Lecture in the Pixley ka Isaka Seme Annual Lecture Series at Columbia University in New York
on 29th October 2013. Hosted jointly by the South African Consulate General and The Institute of African Studies at Columbia, the title of the lecture is: "The Vision of Seme 107 Years On: Is Civilization Still a Dream and is the Regeneration of Africa Possible?
A hundred and seven years on, the words of Pixley ka Isaka Seme still reverberate in the hallowed chambers of the University of Columbia, summoning Africa and the world to a new way of thinking and a new way of doing things. The erudition of their framing, the profundity of their meaning and the eloquence of the prose – all remind us of the quality of leadership required to lift individual nations and the global community onto a higher state of humaneness.
Should we, of the current generation, feign an understanding of the full meaning of Seme’s injunction, as we continue to revel in pursuits that place the immediate before the long-term? Should we celebrate or even critique his notion of “civilisation”, given our current preoccupation with the comforts of modern technology to which we prostrate ourselves in the manner of slaves to a deity? Indeed, can we claim that, in the tradition of Seme and other intellectual giants of his generation, we have continued to view all knowledge as interrelated, across the hyper-specialisation that is today in vogue? Have we not turned the vocation of ordering world affairs and social relations into a narrow profession of a select few; a form of employment that is shorn of sense and sensibility; a huckster’s paradise; and one that spawns social exclusion, inequality, corruption, economic crises, the threats of sovereign defaults and even social conflict and wars?
Nelson Mandela: A Legacy Transcending Centuries – The Struggle Continues
By Joel Netshitenzhe
The attribute of great leadership is the ability at once to follow and to inspire. Its attendant punishment is the loss of the private self: becoming, often by default and sometimes by design, common property. Some glide in comfort at this challenge of leadership. They ride the wave in perfect harmony with the tide. They indulge themselves in the glory of power and authority. Thus myths are created around them. Others suffer the discomfort of pretence. Thus they seek artificially to create their own myths.
Individual styles of leadership over millennia have reflected the tricky balance between these extremes. Where perfect balance in the middle is attained, a good leader emerges, able to take a nation to new heights but not necessarily remarkable in the public consciousness as “a maker of history”.
*Originally published in the Sunday Independent
‘I come from the land of Nelson Mandela,’ I said.
By Yacoob Abba Omar
In this past week the world has been treated to a kaleidoscope of tributes, obituaries, and eulogies. Each ray of light reflected the multi-dimensional giant that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was. Each ray refracted into our individual beings, bursting into another medley of colours as we all found a slice of Madiba in us. Such was the light that Madiba brought into our lives! We have seen it on display these past few days with thousands upon thousands recalling when they met him, touched him, enjoyed a laugh, shared a tear, danced to the same tune, or simply listened to his words.
There are so many elements to him – leader, reconciler, astute negotiator, a fount of wisdom… The list of appellations is endless. He was for me, foremost, the Great Sacrificer. As we stormed the citadels of apartheid power, many gave up their lives inspired by the choice Madiba had made during the Rivonia trial - he and his comrades were willing to go to the gallows for our freedom. His life-long comrade, Ahmed Kathrada, put it well ‘there was no room in our plan for lack of courage and conviction’.
This incendiary commitment lit up the passion for struggle in my generation of the 1980s, leading to the largest broad front assaults on apartheid. Comrades had to sacrifice time with families, who in turn were not spared the brutality of apartheid’s repressive machinery.
Obama does not deserve the honour
By David Maimela
October 9 2009, nine months into his first term. Alfred Nobel dictated in his will as to what kind of person should receive the award. Accordingly, he counselled that the prize be conferred on a person who “shall have the greatest benefit on mankind”. Fast-forward to 2013 at the memorial service of Nelson Mandela, when Obama was shockingly allowed to speak (on what basis only the heavens know) and receive his second most important award, equal to or even greater than the Nobel peace prize: an opportunity to eulogise Mandela.
*Originally published in City Press.
Mourning and Politics never linked
By Mcebisi Ndletyana
Not far from the Mbashe River, at the village of Qunu, the Earth welcomes into its bosom one of the finest men ever known to humanity, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He was born 95 years ago on the bank of this river, at the nearby village of Mvezo. Today the stream of the Mbashe River will flow calmly, conscious not to disturb this momentous occasion. The normally wild wind that blows over the treeless, open veld of Qunu will follow a rhythmic pattern, generating a melody as if to soothe the mourners. All this shall happen today because Umth’ omkhulu uwile. Yalal’ inkomo isengwa! (What we once thought impossible has come to pass.) Mandela had singularly occupied our public imagination and, to a lesser extent, global attention for the latter part of the 20th century into the 21st century. He was present albeit invisible, hidden by incarceration.
*Originally published in the Sunday Independent
Saluting a Political Colossus
From Beijing to Bloemfontein, Cairo to Cuito Cuanavale, London to Lagos, Nelson Mandela was revered as a statesman, a prophet of peace, a man of integrity and a beacon of hope. From 1994 to 1999 he was our president. In retrospect, it’s easy to forget that Mandela’s tenure as the first democratically elected president of South Africa was often a rocky affair. Crime, unemployment, housing, education, racism – many of the quandaries that continue to dog our country today – weighed heavily on Mandela’s shoulders. As did the weight of expectation of a divided nation. When he took the oath of office on May 10 1994, Mandela was already embedded in the hearts of the nation. Nothing, it seemed, could hoist him any higher in the stakes of public opinion. But Madiba’s response to news of his R700 000 presidential salary – “No, this is too high. I would like you to cut it down.” – did just that.
Described by journalist John Carlin as “the moral colossus of our age, an individual whose example will inspire humanity forever”, Madiba set the bar of expectation very high in his aspirations for our country. He repeatedly stressed that it was a collective effort and that together we could attain the lofty ideals of his vision. His 1999 state of the nation address emphasised the fundamental importance of discipline, a work ethic, personal responsibility and a respect for life.
Three years earlier, during his 1996 address, he said: “We can neither heal nor build if the rich in our society see the poor as hordes of irritants; or if the poor sit back, expecting charity. All of us must take responsibility for the upliftment of conditions and prepare to give our best for the benefit of all.”
* Originally published in City Press.
A Ruling Party Frozen in time
By Mcebisi Ndletyana
VUSI Pikoli’s book, poignantly titled My Second Initiation, is more than a narrative of his experience in government. It also provides a rare insight, painting a lucid picture of a political party frozen in time. The ANC’s old liberation character has become an albatross that stifles the party’s performance in government.
Herein lies the tension: the demands of being in government are at odds with the old character of a liberation movement. The latter resembles a family unit, held together by strong personal bonds, while a party-in government demands an impersonal conduct, regulated purely by rules. Familial relations are affectionate and protective of one another, whereas institutions demand of officials to relate towards others on an impersonal basis, which often even calls for meting out punishment.
Shale gas – a game changer, but at what cost?
The South African government has a daunting task – on the one hand, it needs to ensure that future energy supply is secure, while, on the other, with crunched information, it needs to make decisions that involve towering energy investments and risks. It has often been that energy projects are commissioned long after energy was first needed, but energy demand plans need to be revised as economic conditions have changed.
Some estimates of energy demand were justifiable when South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate averaged 6% a year. Currently, GDP growth lingers at around 2% a year. This downslide has a characteristically permanent feature to it, for, even if consumer demand increases, it will be much less than what was previously planned for by 2030.
Operation Clean Sweep… dirty game?
Does anyone understand Joburg’s idea of a clean city? The cleaning isn’t just about removing litter. It also involves taking hawkers off the pavements. “Operation Clean Sweep” has not only seen thousands of hawkers pushed off the streets, but has also cut off their source of livelihood.
Officials reckon hawkers are part of the city’s unseemly sight, a manifestation of urban decay. In removing them, city planners hope to bring an end to “illegal trading; illegal dumping and littering; land and building invasions and other by-law contraventions; illegal connection of infrastructure including theft of electricity and the lack of a sense of civic pride and ownership”. Downtown Joburg sounds like a real mess, doesn't it?
Any law-abiding citizen must of course sympathise with the city government. It is, after all, their job to maintain law and order. However, a closer look that casts the eye beyond this particular incident, to how the city has generally treated its hawkers, reveals a much more fundamental problem than just a dirty pavement.
*Originally published in the Sunday Independent
Corrosive effects of patronage politics
by Palesa Morudu
PATRONAGE Politics Divides Us, a report released last week by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra), makes for essential but disturbing reading. It sheds light on why many communities are in a state of intermittent revolt. It is the result of a two-year research project and "a profile of socioeconomic life" in South Africa’s various communities as experienced not only by locals, but also by foreign-born residents.
The findings also show the relationship between councillors, business interests and local party organisation," says Mistra executive director Joel Netshitenzhe. It describes the systematic normalisation of corruption and patronage, and the resulting delegitimisation of governance at local level
How Poverty Fuels Patronage Politics
by Carol Paton
AN IN-DEPTH study of local politics by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) paints a disturbing picture of how corruption and patronage have come to dominate all political relationships, from employment in public works jobs to the selection of African National Congress (ANC) electoral candidates in municipalities.
The study unpacks the symbiotic relationship between poverty, patronage and local political institutions, revealing how these three together have given rise to and fed systemic corruption. The implication is that local government corruption must be tackled by strengthening and reforming political institutions, and by dealing with the vulnerability of poor people topatronage.
Philanthropy for think-tanks can deliver a better future
By Jeffrey Sehume
PHILANTHROPY towards intellectual organisations such as think-tanks is still a new phenomenon in South Africa. The results of this philanthropic vacuum are evident in the weak public discourse on strategic policy issues. The lack of material investment in intellectual products produced by think-tanks may be reducible to the fact that philanthropy is perceived as synonymous with welfare and charity.
Initiatives such as Lead SA and the Gift of the Givers do need support and commendations for addressing direct human needs. Still, for South Africa to reach its fullest potential, there is a need for projection into the future in addition to concerns about present urgencies. If we neglect to dream much further than our present circumstances, we risk sacrificing our collective soul as a nation.
Humanity and its supportive ecosystems need long-term reflections and interventions to survive and conquer tomorrow’s world of uncertainty. To anticipate this world of uncertainty, or the "black swan" events spoken of by Nassim Taleb, what should also be championed is philanthropy aimed at lifting South Africa’s trajectory from the ordinary to extraordinary realms such as those once reflected by the Rainbow Nation and African Renaissance projects.
*Originally Published in the Business Day.
The Principle of Responsibility to Protect in retrospect
by David Maimela
The military invasion by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Libya in 2011 brought the spotlight on international law and multilateralism sharply into focus. The intervention was done under the pretext of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1973 which sought to ‘protect civilians’ from an imminent massacre by the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
For the first time since its insertion into the international law regime by the United Nations World Summit of the General Assembly in 2005, the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was tested in the theatre of real life. Before Libya, no other experience so aptly illustrates the extreme application of the principle which ultimately led to regime change, loss of more life and the destruction of Libyan economic infrastructure, the cost of which amounts to billions of US dollars.
In summary, as Ruben Reike explains, the principle of R2P consists of three elements or humanitarian and security considerations. "First, States accepted the responsibility to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Second, States promised to assist each other in fulfilling their domestic protection responsibilities. And third, the international community took on a collective responsibility to react, in a timely and decisive manner, if particular States are manifestly failing to protect their populations from the abovementioned mass atrocity crimes."
Winning Women – Dr Thandi Ndlovu: The houses that innovation built
By Sue Grant-Marshall
It was Dr Thandi Ndlovu’s medical background, and a hobby, that led to her creating the now mammoth Motheo Construction Group. She was running a private medical practice in the Orange Farm informal settlement in Gauteng in the mid-1990s when she became increasingly concerned about the levels of ill health caused by the poor living conditions she saw there. So she built an attractive clinic complete with waterborne sewage
“so that ill people would feel uplifted”, she says. But then a puzzled patient, who was used to long drops and pails, asked where the water took his waste matter.
*Dr Thandi Ndlovu is a Member of the MISTRA Board of Governors
MISTRA Senior Researcher, Radhika Perrot, attends AfricaLics Innovation
Workshop in Maputo, Mozambique, 2-3th December 2013
Globelics is a worldwide and diverse community of scholars working on innovation and competence building in the context of economic development. Africalics is one the regional chapters of Globelics, and was created with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Africalics network of scholars currently represent Algeria, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. Africalics network is intended to become a strong dynamo for capacity building, in the field of innovation and economic development, both at the individual, institutional and country levels.
This is expected to allow African countries to design policies suitable and responsive to their own needs, and instigate corrective measures to ensure the smooth production, dissemination and use of knowledge for economic development, including poverty alleviation. Radhika Perrot of MISTRA was selected as project leader for the Low Carbon Innovation Research Network team, comprising of nine research team members from across Africa working on innovation, and clean and renewable energy. Scholars who contributed to the low carbon innovation theme were representatives from countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Sweden, India, and Denmark. The team is currently working on a research proposal for a seed grant to further develop and conceptualise their research on ‘Innovation for Energy Access in Africa: Drivers, Models and Outcomes.’
David Maimela contributes to Focus 71- State and Nation
MISTRA Researcher, David Maimela, contributed a chapter in The Journal of the Helen Suzman Foundation ISSUE 71 November 2013, entitled State and Nation. According to the Helen Suzman Foundation, this edition of Focus is devoted to exploring some of the issues which confront state and society in South Africa. In His Chapter is titled “The 21st century Africa- Challenges and Prospects” Maimela argues if Africa is truly going to claim the 21st century as its own, it needs to reassert pan-Africanism as the basis of its agenda.
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