In 2015, an ambitious albeit very important parliamentary process was initiated by the legislature’s Speakers’ Forum: to assess how effective post-1994 legislation has been in contributing to the transformation agenda of the developmental state, and the possible unintended consequences of these laws. This undertaking was led by a high-level panel of eminent South Africans, headed by former President Kgalema Motlanthe. The panel produced a lengthy 601-page report that has been in the headlines sporadically since its release in November 2017. What is less known, perhaps, is that four of the 14 panel members were from UCT, while five other UCT scholars and a PhD student also contributed to expert reports commissioned by the Panel. The Panel members from UCT are all members of the PII, and we spoke to them about their experiences of this process.
Poverty and Inequality Planning Group member Associate Professor John Ataguba has been selected to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Future Council on Health and Healthcare. He is director of the Health Economics Unit at UCT's School of Public Health and Family Medicine. His role within the WEF Council will be to promote an agenda that benefits Africa as well as the developing world at large. He’s also been tasked to design new healthcare initiatives which could be implemented globally and be appropriate for all people.
Why has it not been possible to give effect to the promised rights in the South African Constitution as quickly as people had hoped and expected? And what strategies can address the slow pace of transformation in South Africa? These were the key questions that steered the inquiries of the Mandela Initiative – a national multisectoral collaboration that emerged out of a UCT-hosted national conference, in 2012, on strategies to overcome poverty and inequality in South Africa. The report on the MI process and findings was launched at a recent PII seminar. A key recommendation from the inquiry was that a focus on the poor only is inadequate because inequality is the most damaging legacy of apartheid, and requires urgent attention. The now-completed MI process could also serve as a springboard for the University of Cape Town to promote debate about a new vision for the country that can guide policy to reduce inequality and eliminate poverty.
A proposed MPhil specialising in theories of justice and inequality has been conceptualised in the wake of longstanding demands for curriculum transformation and debates about who is regarded as a knower, what is regarded as knowledge, who is regarded an adequate theorist and what is regarded as theory. As framing a curriculum that can address these questions calls for a dialogue between different disciplines, the Theories of Justice and Inequality team in association with the PII and the Rethinking Politics and Philosophy Platform of Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, recently hosted two workshops to contribute to the debates. Trevor McArthur from the Department of Sociology and programme coordinator of the proposed new UCT academic programme reflects on these gatherings and their value-add to the development of the proposed new MPhil degree.