The PII’s first seminar for 2019 was a true reflection of the initiative’s aim to encourage knowledge sharing, cross-disciplinary collaboration and communication – both within and beyond the university community – to expand and raise UCT’s collective contribution to addressing poverty and inequality in South Africa. The event, hosted with the SALDRU and in partnership with UCT’s Children’s Institute (CI), served as the Cape Town launch of the South African Child Gauge 2018. This issue of the CI’s annual review of the situation of South Africa’s children addresses the theme “Children, families and the state: Collaboration and contestation”. The seminar provided a platform for lively discussions on the need for government policies to be cognisant of the various, and fluid, family formations in South Africa.
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.
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.
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.